Oliver’s birth is not the birth I had planned.
On Tuesday 15th January, I woke up at exactly 3:00am to my waters breaking. I wasn’t quite sure at first, I sat up in bed and was convinced I’d wet myself; especially since my bladder resembled the size of a chicken nugget and I was getting up to pee every hour through every night.
I quickly waddled my way to the bathroom and sat on the toilet, my undies soaked. Definitely my waters. I sat for a minute processing what was happening before shouting Myles to wake up to come and confirm what was happening. He brought me lucozade from my bedside table, I drank and instantly threw up in the sink next to me. I’d actually been throwing up for a few days at this point and nothing was staying in my system. I can remember feeling really dizzy and dehydrated, my mouth burning from acid reflux.
For the next ten minutes, Myles ran around frantically not making much sense as I sat there in a bit of a daze on the toilet with the door open, watching him whiz from room to room. I texted my parents and let them know that it was happening and Myles’s mum called and gave him a pep talk which I was thankful for, as he returned to the bathroom in a more focused mindset. We called the hospital to let them know my waters had broken and spent the next half an hour grabbing last minute bits to pop in my hospital bag, all whilst ticking off my pre-made “last minute hospital bag checklist”. I threw on a hoodie and some joggers and slippers, grabbed half a bottle of diet coke, a bottle of Fanta, a bottle of water and a lollipop. Desperate to get some fluids in me and get rid of the horrible taste in my mouth.
With our bags in the boot, the car seat and my birthing ball in the back seat, we set off in the dark for the hospital. My contractions started kicking in at this point and they felt like very hot, intense period cramps. They were coming thick and fast so I started to count them on an app I’d downloaded the night before. Every two minutes apart lasting for around a minute each time. My app told me I needed to get to hospital as soon as possible!
By the time we got there, it was around 4:00am, the frost was still on the ground and the walk from the car park to the labour ward felt like it took forever. I had to stop every minute for a minute whilst I breathed through a contraction, poor Myles looked like a pack horse loaded with all our bags. Once we got onto the labour ward, the staff on reception didn’t think I was anywhere near ready for birth and sent me down to the pregnancy assessment unit to be monitored for the time being.
In the pregnancy assessment ward, we sat waiting for a room to become free and I remember my waters just gushing all onto my seat. By this point I could tell it had gone through to my joggers and the midwife laughed when I said it was like a waterfall and encouraged me to stand to walk through to the bed they’d sorted me. As I stood up, my waters ran down the seat, down my legs and pooled at my feet. Thankfully I managed to kick off my new slippers off before they got ruined! I waddled down the corridor leaving a messy trail behind me – any dignity I had arrived with, had already left by this point. The midwife checked the colour of the waters – they were brown. Turns out that our dear unborn son had kindly shat inside of me and was floating around in it. Or for a more technical term – he had passed meconium. Thanks kid.
The midwife took me straight back to the labour ward, I was 4cm dilated and actually in active labour and baby was arriving today.
Once I settled in the bed, I put on one of my nightgowns and sat chatting to the midwife and Myles between contractions. They must of noticed a change in my pain threshold before I did, as I was offered gas and air. I breathed deeply on this with each contraction and by the third, I was absolutely loopy-loo. Apparently calling my parents and Myles’s mum and chatting absolute shit, laughing spontaneously and saying weird things as my voice went deep, such as “omg I sound like Shrek”. I must have kinda passed out between puffing on the gas as I can hardly recall a lot of my labour, I remember asking the midwife to check how far along I was and at 5cm I asked for the epidural. Getting that fitted was bloody horrible, but oh my god how much it took the pain away!
I continued to use gas and air with the epidural and my eyes stayed closed for most of the time, occasionally opening to a blurred looking midwife or Myles smiling sweetly at me trying to get some sense out of me. I remember them putting a clip on baby’s head to monitor his heart rate and at some point I kept moaning that someone was pulling on it. It took a while for someone to take me seriously and check the wire, it’s a good job they did as all of a sudden I was fully dilated and baby was making his way down the birth canal. It was him moving the wire! The midwife was shocked at how quickly I’d come along and told me that soon I would have to start pushing. However, she then pulled the alarm bell and around ten doctors, nurses and midwives burst into the room and started hooking me up to different machines and different wires were coming in and out of my hands and downstairs area. Our baby’s heartbeat had dropped and he was in distress. I remember hearing this and frantically looking for Myles whilst a doctor was in my face telling me that they had to deliver our baby as soon as possible.
I remember loads of doctors asking me questions and telling me what was about to happen, but I couldn’t process it properly until I saw Myles. He came in the room wearing scrubs, that’s when my brain finally heard someone telling me they were wheeling me down to theater and I actually thought I was going in for a caesarean section.
I was wheeled down in the bed pushed by the team of doctors, nurses and midwives that were in the room before. Once we entered the theater, I asked what was happening and one of the girls to my left told me that my baby needed help and they were going to use forceps. I asked for a sick bowl as I knew I was going to throw up. Unconvinced, she got me a tiny dish that I completely filled and overflowed. My legs were put in stirrups and Myles entered the room and sat on my right hand side holding my hand. I was told that they needed to perform an episiotomy to get baby out safely and quickly which I agreed to without even thinking about – worry had finally kicked in with me now that my epidural and gas had been taken away. I was talked through the whole process, from being cut, to the forceps grabbing his head. They told me when I was having a contraction and I pushed long and hard until they told me to stop. His head was half out and they were helping it to ease out gently to prevent me from tearing. Another big push, a very quick gasp of breath and half a push later and our baby boy was born! In two and a half pushes!
I remember them taking him to the table, he was covered in his own shit and made no sound. Each second he didn’t cry I could feel myself welling up, I was starting to think he hadn’t made it. Myles kissed my forehead and we heard his high pitched crying, I burst into tears and we squeezed each other tight before he went over to take some photos. I vaguely remember the doctor telling me that my placenta had also come away and they were starting to stitch me up.
Oliver Charles Parker was born at 10.22am weighing a tiny 6lb 24oz. He was brought over to me on the table all swaddled up in a blanket with a red knitted hat on and I got to see him properly for the first time whilst I was stitched. He was swollen and covered in white cream cheese-like substance (vernix caseosa) with a huge forceps mark down his face over his eye. He looked all puffy and red faced as he was actually screaming a tonne at this point. Myles was sitting over us and all three of us just cried together until I was wheeled into another room waiting to see what happened next.
I lay in the bed with Ollie down my hospital gown having some skin on skin time and Myles was sat at our side. A male nurse came over and got Ollie to latch and start breastfeeding and I was later wheeled on to the high dependency unit. Not the expected maternity ward.
I was hooked up to fluids and told that my bloods had come back abnormal. I had to be under strict hourly observation and different doctors, nurses and specialist came to talk to me every now and again whilst I ate toast and held our baby. I don’t remember much at this point either as I was just so exhausted. At some point I had my bloods taken and later told that I had to stay in overnight for a few days as it had been found that I had pregnancy induced acute fatty liver disease. On top of that, my kidneys were retaining too much water and I had abnormal blood clotting (I’m still unsure what was so abnormal about that).
Acute fatty liver disease is a very rare condition (it occurs in about 1 in 20,000 pregnancies) where women develop a type of fatty liver in the final trimester (last three months) of their pregnancy. Apparently more common in first pregnancies, male babies and twins.
It is not known what causes this pregnancy specific liver condition but some feel it is a variant of pre-eclampsia. It has also been linked to an inherited enzyme deficiency called long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (LCHAD) in the baby.
LCHAD deficiency is a rare autosomal recessive disorder. This means a gene must be inherited from both parents for an individual to be affected.
Often men and women do not know they are a carrier of this changed (mutated) gene, as their bodies are able to continue to metabolise fatty acids normally. However, when both mother and father carry the gene and both genes are passed on to the baby, the baby is then unable to metabolise some fatty acids and a build-up can occur in the womb.
The un-metabolised free fatty acids return from the baby, via the placenta, to the mother’s blood stream. This can result in hepatic stress for the mother, causing fat infiltrations to build up in the liver (fatty liver disease). Basically meaning that Myles and I both carry the mutated gene and we would have to be wary of the symptoms in my next pregnancy.
For a week before I gave birth, I had almost every symptom known for this and just assumed it was my morning sickness coming back. Thinking about it now, I feel so stupid for not going to the doctors with how bad I felt. I couldn’t keep food or fluids down and was constantly throwing up and feeling dizzy and tired. Luckily our little boy came early at 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant and that potentially saved both of us from the worsening condition.
I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the high dependency unit having blood tests taken every hour among other observations. Myles stayed with me the whole time sleeping in a chair by my side and I half heartedly began motherhood drugged up on painkillers and a crazy lack of sleep. I was still throwing up every now and again and I felt pretty weak and wobbly but otherwise ok. My emotions were pretty up and down for a few days. I remember Myles taking me for a shower and I cried so hard because my cannulas in my hands were hurting and my catheter was pulling and hurting my stitches. I just wanted to go home.
Friday I was moved to the maternity ward hoping I’d soon get my discharge papers. The day dragged and so did Saturday and Sunday, although it was nice to be allowed to have visitors now. Myles and I were finally allowed to take our baby boy home after six days in the hospital. We got my discharge papers and raced to the car with Ollie, as we set off I cried with relief, finally free! I cried as we pulled into our road, partly in disbelief at what we’d been through that past week, partly because I was so tired!
We ordered a pizza, sat watching TV and held our son together before going to bed at 8pm.
I honestly can’t thank Myles enough for getting me through labour, birth and our stay at hospital. Without his support, love and care I wouldn’t have been able to stay as strong as I did. I’m sorry that you had to sleep in a chair for six days!
Our families couldn’t have been anymore helpful and supportive either! So thank you to everyone who brought us supplies in and out of hospital, cleaned our house ready for Oliver’s arrival, did our laundry and kept us company during our crappy time. We love you all so much and our little our little boy is so lucky to be able to call you all family.
I’m so grateful and honoured to be able to call Oliver ours, he’s a month old today and honestly the light of our lives. Myles and I are so proud to have him.
It is not the peaceful, dimly lit water birth that I had planned, but it was a birth I’m proud to have gone through, even though it was scary at times. Although I would love to experience a water birth, next time (no, my experience didn’t put me off) I will be opting for gas and air, the epidural and in favor of an episotomy as they heal a lot neater and quicker than tearing!
Thank you for reading this long ass story of Oliver’s birth ❤️ I hope you didn’t cry reading as much I have done writing this! If you have posted your birth story, please leave a link in the comments! I bloody love reading them and found them helpful when I was writing my birth plan and preparing my mind for what I was in for.
Love Charlie x