My friends and I have a ritual – normally associated with birthdays – where one/some/all of us will buy the birthday boy/girl what we call a ‘next level game changer’. The game changer is normally in the form of alcohol – the stronger the better, preferably including a worm – and it is usually from that point in the evening that things will take a turn for the silly.
I had my very own ‘next level game changer’ moment at precisely 3.54pm on Wednesday August 29th when my 7lb 9oz son – George William Robert Lister – made his way noisily into the world, a day earlier than expected.
His arrival marked the end of a rather fantastic 16 hour labour (yes I said fantastic, bear with me) during which I had gone for a walk up Leytonstone High Rd, sat and had a cup of tea with my fellow pregnant friend Susan, watched Blue Valentine (6 popcorns) and generally chilled out at home waiting to get to the magic ’4 centimetres’ mark. This all followed my waters breaking *slightly* at about 11pm on Monday evening followed by a more definite ‘break’ at 5am the following morning after which I thought it best to call the midwife.
I arrived at hospital 8am Tuesday morning where it was confirmed that my waters had indeed broken (we later discovered it was my ‘hind’ waters) but that I hadn’t even started dilating yet so off back home it was on the W15 bus to begin the aforementioned list of activities that would carry me through to 11pm Tuesday evening. It was at this point the pain was uncomfortable enough for me to be quite vocal – ahem – and Jim decided it was time to take me back in.
Turns out I’d managed to get to 4cm using only my friends borrowed TENS machine and a few paracetamol so I was feeling quite positive when admitted to Homerton’s midwife led unit. ‘Gas and air should help ease the pain’ I thought to myself. Ifi the lovely midwife was happy to oblige and handed me the sucky thing with strict instructions to ‘breathe very deeply and slowly when you get your next contraction’.
Turns out gas and air doesn’t agree with me so one dizzy spell and a copious vomit later and I was bellowing YES THIS IS VERY NICE AND I FEEL BRAVE AND EVERYTHING BUT I’D LIKE AN EPIDURAL. NOW. PLEASE.
I was moved 5 metres round the corner to the labour ward where we once again had our own lovely room and the anaesthetist was there within half an hour to administer the wonder drug that is epidural. I wanted to kiss her. I may well have done, I was quite tired and emotional at that point. This was at about 3am and what followed was 10 hours of relaxed, chilled labour during which we slept (well – Jim did on a mattress the midwife very kindly brought in for him, I dozed for about an hour but was far too excited to sleep properly), ate breakfast, read Grazia and Marie Claire (me), Mojo and Uncut (Jim), listened to Jim’s iPod, met the new midwife Sylvia who I absolutely loved because she got me up off the bed and onto a birthing ball and met the Ade, the lovely doctor who would eventually deliver George.
Midway through this it was decided I wasn’t progressing quickly enough so they gave me oxytocin which sped things up somewhat. It got to about 2.30pm when Ade came in to confirm that I was indeed fully dilated but unfortunately George’s head was in the wrong position – he asked me to lie on my side in the hopes the contractions would turn him but did warn that if they didn’t we would have to be taken into theatre for a c-section. Boooooooo.
Anyway – this wasn’t necessary because George managed to turn himself round within the alloted 30 mins and I was asked ‘are you ready to push? You’ve got until 3.30pm to push him out on your own, if not I’ll have to come and help’.
This made me very determined. I love a challenge. And I honestly *thought* I was ready to push him out. But no sleep for two nights and three doses of epidural meant that not only was I already exhausted but I couldn’t really feel where/what I was pushing properly (the midwife had warned me this may happen when I had my last top up but I couldnt go from no pain to 10 cms dilated pain and remain sane). I tried all manner of positions – all fours, sitting up, on my side – each with Jim holding onto me and telling me I was ‘doing brilliantly’ but when push came to shove (arf!) I just didn’t have the energy.
Ade came back into the room, clapped his hands and proclaimed ‘right – shall we get this baby out?’, got his forceps out and then it seemed that within minutes George was here. A screaming bundle of wriggle, lying on my chest and looking into my eyes with a ‘what the HELL took you so long?!’ expression on his face. And he was born to the sound of a special ‘labour mix’ his dad had made for him – which was nice!
So as I said – the labour was great, the midwives and doctors at Homerton were exceptional, Jim was as amazing as I knew he’d be and George was 100% healthy with all fingers and toes and a healthy set of lungs. All was well in Lister world.
The only thing that didn’t go well was breastfeeding. I don’t want to go into too much detail here as it is a very private thing, it’s an extremely contentious issue and I always promised I wouldn’t talk about boobs on my blog but we tried for two weeks – with the help of breastfeeding specialists, midwives and my health visitor – and unfortunately it just didn’t work out for George and I. To say I was devastated is an understatement – I felt terrible. Like I’d failed as a mother and wasn’t giving George the best start in life. I was an emotional wreck – not an ideal state for your first weeks of motherhood.
So after nearly two weeks of stress, tears and – eventually – a painful bout of mastitis, I decided to stop. I spoke to Jim, spoke to my friends (those with and without kids) and have since spoken with my midwife and health visitor and everybody has been so supportive. The only person making me feel bad about the decision was me and happily this has now passed. I had to think of myself, my state of mind and the health of my son – these were my priorities.
I wasn’t going to discuss the breastfeeding thing here as I don’t like discussing anything too contentious on my blog – and I have seen how ugly the conversation can get around this topic – but Jim encouraged me to as it may help reassure somebody who is going through the same thing. One thing I think it is very important to remember – we’re all different, our bodies work – or don’t work as the case may be – in different ways and what is right for one person may not be right for another. Breast is definitely best but formula is a fantastic alternative. And my healthy, happy, chubby boy is testament to that.
Mrs L xxx