That left me with 999 as my support if labour was to occur! I panicked wondering how I would cope if labour completely took over, having to phone 999, phone a midwife, phone my husband, and then get Charles ready for a trip in an ambulance and trying to stay calm so he didn't see me in pain.
Thankfully 1 o clock came and my husband was home, today wasn't the day, phew! Curry for tea, lets get this baby out!!
Sunday, 3rd July: I woke up really fancying spending an hour or so quality time with my husband, we dropped Charles off at my mums and we decided to head to our favourite place for breakfast. I pigged out on pancakes and Eton Mess, deciding to take full advantage of my last days as a "can-eat-whatever-she-wants-pregnant-lady"
We then picked Charles up and drove to Fritton Woods for a nice long walk and to let Charles run free and hunt for dinosaurs, Rhinos and the Gruffalo.
Once we'd finished our stupidly long walk we went home and as the boys washed the cars I spent the afternoon bouncing on the birthing ball.
Monday, 4th July: 8:45 I come downstairs and am greeted by my husband in the kitchen. Asking if I was ok I burst into tears. Feeling gutted that nothing was yet happening and I was only 2 days away from my due date. "he'll come when he's ready" was my husbands reply. He gave me a hug, and off he headed to work. I sat down with some Alpen and a cup of tea. Had a quick cuddle with Charles, until I had to ask him to move because I started to get some pains, this was only 15 minutes after telling my husband that nothing was happening!
I stood up to take my empty bowl and cup into the kitchen and felt the pains again, only a little stronger. I headed into the studio [converted garage] to tell my husband that he may need to get ahead on his work as I felt something might be happening. Whilst in the studio I had another pain which caused me to tear up and grab onto my husband. He urged me to ring the hospital to get checked. I said I'd wait to see how I felt at 10 o clock.
I was expecting my mum round any minute so phoned her to see where she was. She hadn't even left. I asked her to hurry as I may need her soon, not knowing how slow or quick things would happen if in fact I was in labour, so she left straight away.
I was concerned as to how quickly things may develop. I desperately didn't want Charles to see me in any pain at all. I let him play in the garden and stood in the kitchen watching him. My mum turned up, I had a warm bath and then I phoned the Dolphin Suite at our local hospital, the new midwife led unit which would ensure [hopefully] I would get my longed for water birth.
I had to wait for them to ring me back on two occasions so was getting quite frustrated. Did they want me to go in or not?!
Eventually they got back to me and as I was on the phone I had a contraction, it was at this point I realised the pains I had been having were definitely contractions. As with Charles they were irregular and couldn't be timed. They decided that I should go in, due to the fact the pains were so bad that I was having to go on all fours at times and that he was my second baby and also due to the fact that Charles came so quick-with me going into hospital at 8cm.
After the nightmare of arranging childcare, my mums work colleague wouldn't stay on for the afternoon so I had to hope my dad could get away from work, after a 5 minute wait whilst he checked with his boss I had the phone call saying he was on his way! Phew!!
So finally at 12:30 we left to go to the hospital. Walking from the car to the Dolphin Suite I had 3 strong contractions. At 1 o clock we were officially signed in to the unit. I wasn't examined but after a half an hour chat with the student midwife who was looking after us she, as well as the head of the unit, decided I was in labour, even though contractions were still not regular. At this point I sensed it was going to be a long day and hoped they would examine me, they didn't as they said it was clear to see I was in labour.
They told us to go for a walk to the cafe downstairs to get some lunch and we decided to definitely get the hospital bag. I wanted to walk down the stairs.This was a nightmare decision, in the short walk down the stairs I had 2 contractions, a member of staff even stopped to ask if I was ok. I was humiliated. I didn't want anyone to see me in labour, I even hated midwives seeing me in labour, but I continued to head towards the cafe.
In the 40 minutes we were away from the Dolphin Suite I'd had 11 very strong, very public, contractions.
We sat in the room we were due to give birth in, with a birthing pool, for a while and then decided it would be good for the midwife to examine me. 5cm. Fair enough. At this point i had switched from my TENS machine to the gas and air....forgetting how great it can be! She kept asking if I wanted her to fill the pool yet, I didn't, I wanted to go in there when I felt things were really going to happen.
Contractions were still not regular and only tended to come if I was active or rocked on the ball, so I did this as much as possible.
The contractions seemed very intense when they came, I can remember a lot from my labour with Charles 2 years ago and definitely remember not feeling much pain at all with a contraction, more of a pressure on my bump and pelvis. This time the pain was intense in my hips, back and bottom of my bump. I was concerned at the fact that I didn't feel anything at the top of my bump as according to the midwife the contractions helped to push baby down, although it felt as though this wasn't happening in my case. I made the midwife aware of this but she didn't seem concerned.
Everytime I went to go to the toilet I would have to rush out, lay over the bean bag and breathe heavily on the gas and air.
I was getting very tired and very emotional, I missed Charles and I kept picturing his face as I came to the end of a contraction. There was of course then, lots of tears. I had moments of thinking that I couldn't do it. I had suspected I would become scared when it came to pushing and I was. It was constantly there in my mind "soon you will have to push, soon you will feel the burning ripping feeling of a baby crowning, soon you may end up pooing in front of people you've never met before and your husband!"
We decided to fill the pool at 7pm (ish) and I got in. It felt really lovely getting into the warm water and I felt relaxed. Although I was concerned again because I knew that just sitting there was going to do nothing, it was clear that by staying active, rocking my hips side to side and back to front was encouraging the contractions. I didn't want it all to stop. So I sat in the pool moving around as much as possible with little room! I had the urge to pushat around 8(ish)
At 9 o clock I was examined again, student midwife said 7cm, qualified midwife said 8-9cm, so we went with the latter.
Back in the pool I went, bored, fed up and feeling a bit let down by my body.
There was a shift change over now and I'd become quite attached to my midwives. The student midwife was supposed to go home at 8 but decided to leave at 9:30, she really wanted to deliver my baby.
At 9:30 she announced she had to go. I burst into tears and told her I was gutted etc. She gave me a hug and a kiss and left. We were then left with another student midwife, who didn't talk much and wasn't very hands on, and another midwife who at first I seemed unsure of as she seemed a bit too nice.
The light was turned off and we were left with the light situated IN the birthing pool. I eventually asked for the big light to be put back on as I was aware I wasn't alert enough and said "this isn't supposed to be romantic so we don't need the soft lighting in the pool"
It turns out my original feelings for the new midwife was silly. She was too nice but it was lovely. She was stroking my arm, the back of my neck and the top of my back. At one point she was twiddling my Pandora bracelet. She asked me at one point whether or not my charms had a meaning, as I started telling her I then had a strong contraction so said "back in a minute" had the contraction, and then continued telling her what the charms were as if there was no interuption at all.
My hair was up in a hairband which I ended up throwing because it was annoying me. Later on, in a very motherly way, she collected the hairband and put my hair up for me. She was amazing.
I kept telling her that although I was having the strong contractions and they really hurt, I was getting too tired and felt as though nothing was happening each time I pushed. I knew something wasn't quite right.
At 12:30(ish) am we decided to get me out of the pool for an examination and that we would consider having my waters broken to get things going.
This is where this now gets hard for me. In this time I had a whole load of contractions, I needed to go to the toilet but was too scared to go alone, so made my husband come with me (the toilet was an en suite) The urge to push was so strong yet and I was pushing as hard as [I thought] I could but still felt nothing was happening.
The midwife examined me and said I was fully dilated but she could feel something she didn't like. Almost like a ridge. She wanted a second opinion and went to get the senior midwife.
Now I was scared.
I had asked every midwife I'd seen to keep me updated with exactly what was going on, even if it was bad news, and this midwife did exactly that and I have huge respect for her for following my wishes.
The senior midwife agreed and said she also felt whatever this thing was.
I was now so tired, I couldn't understand a lot of what was going on so I decided to switch to part of my birth plan, and asked my husband to make all decisions for me. A midwife was talking about what would happen but I couldn't hear her due to taking in some gas and air, so I just looked at my husband. He gave me a reassuring look but I could tell he was scared too. I trust him with my life.
The plan now was to speak to the Registrar, get him to examine me too, and to assess the situation. I may of needed a scan and then a decision be made over whether or not I would be going for a C-Section or if I would be able to give birth naturally.
We headed to the delivery suite. They grabbed a wheelchair for me, I cried and cried and asked for a towel to hide myself. The midwife thought I meant to keep my dignity, it wasn't, I wanted the towel to cover my face. I was given a huge sheet and placed it over my head, my husband pulled the sheet off and I put it back. Next thing I knew we were entering the room and along came another contraction....yet I had no access to gas and air.
A lot of this is now a fuzzy memory and most had been fed to me by my wonderful husband.
I can't remember getting into the bed. I can't remember looking at the registrar. I just wanted to look at my husband. I remember being examined and hearing the registrar saying he could feel this thing too. I looked down and saw him rip open a long thing wrapper and knew they were about to break my waters.
My waters went by themselves in the birthing pool with Charles so I didn't experience the feeling of them going so was, strangely, looking forward to experiencing the feeling. Well, it was a very very strange feeling. I felt like it was never going to stop! Apparently there was A LOT of water.
Next thing I know I feel like I'm being attacked by 14 people, all holding me down, whilst my body is trying to lift itself meters from the bed. I was aware of my screaming, it was loud, very very loud. I remember my name being said by a midwife. I couldn't stop screaming.
Then I realised, the baby was almost out. Then I remember them saying, "you've done it, his head is out" one last push for the body. I pushed and out he was. This baby was placed on my chest.
And then I was ok. I was back in the room. Alert and awake. I was crying. I was sore. I clearly remember saying "what happened, I was asleep" I felt I had been asleep for 3 hours. I hadn't. It had taken just 3 minutes for Harry to be placed on my chest from when my waters went. 3 minutes!!
I was so sore and I was shaking. I knew my baby was ok (and had checked he was indeed a he!-yay!) but I felt like I had been ripped and torn to pieces. It had all gone so quickly and I was scared because I wasn't aware or alert through any of it.
I eventually pushed the placenta out with no contractions. I wanted it finished. I didn't want anything else coming out of me or going into me!
She roughly examined the placenta on the bed (in a bowl) so my husband could see what the problem was and the ridge she felt. We wanted to know exactly what was wrong and we loved that she continued to inform us of everything.
I only had a 2nd degree tear and remember screaming and crying as I was stitched by the midwife.
They then left us alone and my husband informed me that I had been swearing and screaming for him to get everyone out of the room. There was infact not 14 people attacking me, but 2 midwives holding my legs open so Harry could come out.
When the midwife came in again I apologised for my swearing and for anything else I did. She laughed and informed me that I kept trying to give her 5......this was a joke, she was infact telling that I kept hitting her hand off my leg.
Later on she came in to say goodbye as she was heading off home. She explained that she and a midwife had cleaned the placenta and studied it closely. I couldn't take in much more of what she said. It was now 7 hours since I'd given birth and I'd been awake for 24 hours. All I was aware of was that it was close to being very serious. She kept apologising for not giving me my water birth but I replied that it didn't matter. My birth plan was a rough guide as to what I wanted, if no water birth meant my baby was born safely then so be it. It wasn't as important as my baby.
The next day when the community midwife came round she asked how the birth went. I burst into tears. She read on my notes the words Vasa Praevia and I could tell by her reaction that it wasn't good. With every midwife I have seen since then I have had the same reaction.
We decided to Google the condition and now understand a lot more as to why things went the way they did.
Its been really hard to get over the what ifs and on August 2nd will be going for a debrief to understand how close we were to not bringing our baby home :-(
I said earlier that I felt as though my body was letting me down by not getting the baby out. I now know my body did me good by keeping the baby in, by not pushing properly.
I have never respected or trusted my body as much as this.
We still have a lot of questions to ask and I have a lot of flashbacks. The flashbacks never end the way the birth did, they end the way the birth could've done. And it scares me. I hope that by having the debrief we are able to get some closure and to feel a lot more positive.
As I've said before, it's ok to say "at least he's here and he's healthy" but its the what ifs that plague us as the moment. And the fact he almost wasn't here.
It could've ended badly and so very tragically. With a healthy baby losing his life.
If you got this far then well done for reading.
I ask you please just to head here to read more about Vasa Praevia, and to understand just how lucky I am and why I am suffering with birth trauma.
Harry Dale. Born at 1:43am, weighing 8lb 9oz to a very lucky mummy, daddy and big brother Charles.