Just a heads up - this is a long post which is probably TMI for some people, so only read if this is something you’re really interested in :)
So it’s been two weeks (edit – actually 5 now when I’m posting this!) since little Ruby Allegra was born (where has that time gone?) and I really want to sit down and write out her birth story before all the details fade from my memory!
You can also watch my video if you prefer (I also included a few clips I filmed of the day!)
I never thought I’d want to share this before giving birth to my beautiful bubby but now that I’ve been through it I really do understand why people want to share their story! Everyone’s experience is so different and it’s such a special memory. I want to record all the little details that I know I’d forget if I didn’t write them down and I also had such a positive experience (despite some slightly dicey moments towards the very end just as she was being born) and I really wanted to share this and maybe help someone else who might be feeling nervous about the whole birth thing!!
*EDIT – reading this back I can see that some people may not have felt this was a super positive experience. Ruby did end up needing to be taken to the NICU for a day (I’ll go into more detail later) but for me it really was very positive. The labour experience was great, the recovery was so much better than expected and most importantly Ruby had such amazing care and we were reassured that despite needing to be taken to the NICU that she would be perfectly fine (which she was!)*
When I first found out I was pregnant that’s the thing that really terrified me - how this little baby was going to get out! I obviously had the anxieties of what it would be like being a mum and how it would change our lives, but the main worry in my mind from the beginning was the birth! There just didn’t really seem to be a good way to get this little person out!
I was born by emergency caesarean (and Tom is definitely a rather tall, much larger person than me!) so from the beginning I always had in mind that a C-section was probably going to be a high possibility! I was fine with that, even considering an elective caesarean at one point, but I was obviously concerned about the healing time and other complications that can go along with that. At the same time, the thought of having a baby come out “down there” was also not in any way appealing!
In the end as bubby was head down and measuring on the smaller side (a “Lauren sized baby” as my doctor put it) and after discussing the pros and cons of each option quite extensively with my obstetrician, we decided to see how it went with a vaginal delivery. I was booked to be induced on the 18th of September.
In the end though, our little Ruby decided to make an early appearance at just 37 weeks 5 days so she got to pick her own birthday!!
I went into labour on Thursday night the 5th September.
I must have known something was up because I spent most of that day packing my hospital bag and pottering around her nursery doing last minute things. The night before we’d gone out for dinner with friends and I’d been sooo uncomfortable and full. I actually had this slight feeling that something might end up happening soon and it turned out that feeling was correct!
On Thursday morning I was feeling a bit nauseous and just a little flat but it subsided towards the afternoon. I went for a short walk in the late afternoon to enjoy the beautiful weather and then spent a few hours editing my third trimester pregnancy vlog (managed to finish it just in time!)
Around 6:30 my mum asked if I’d like to come over for dinner as Tom was out. I headed round at about 7:30 and was feeling a bit funny in my tummy. I went to the bathroom as I felt I was going to pee myself and noticed a little bit of fluid on my undies, (sorry for TMI but this is a birth story post!) as well as what was possibly the mucous plug. It was tiny though and very hard to tell if it was my waters breaking (the hind waters can apparently sometimes be just a little trickle!) or if I’d wet myself!! I had a feeling it probably was my waters as I’d not had any pelvic floor issues at all up until this point but it wasn’t very obvious, so I figured I’d just wait a little longer and see! I felt like I was having a few Braxton Hicks contractions for a few minutes which then died down so I ended up messaging Tom just to let him know, finishing dinner at my parents and then heading home to to have a shower and finalize packing my bag.
My message to Tom was pretty chilled out really, I’m kind of surprised how calm I was!
I had a feeling something might be happening but I figured we probably had a long time before things really got going so I was pretty calm and relaxed at this point. If your waters break you do have to call and head straight into hospital but it was such a small amount (and quite possibly nothing at all!) so I wanted to wait a little longer before I called.
It was funny as my little sister was totally weirded out at dinner! My mum was getting excited - she wanted to drive me home to be sure I was okay but I knew I wanted some time by myself just to get everything packed and sorted so I promised I’d message her and let her know what was going on. It’s pretty cool actually because now I have time stamps from those messages of how I was feeling!
I got home around 7:50pm, had a hot shower and just pottered around finalising my hospital bag and tidying the house so it would be nice and clean when we got home in case this actually was labour.
Nothing more was leaking out at this point but around 8:20pm I did start getting some slight cramping in my tummy and back. Nothing major, just tightening that was a little uncomfortable. I started timing them and they were roughly every 9 minutes.
Around 8:30pm I messaged Tom again as I was pretty sure things were starting at this stage. He headed home and by 9:45pm I figured it was time to call the labour ward as the crampy-ness was starting to ramp up. Still very manageable but definitely getting more intense.
As it wasn’t clear if my waters had broken the midwife suggested popping on a pad and lying down for 45 minutes before standing up and moving around to see if there was any gush of fluid. She also suggested taking a couple of Panadol now before the cramping worsened. So I did that while Tom packed the car and got things ready for when it would be time to leave.
The contractions were getting pretty uncomfortable and were a lot worse when I was lying down but I was like “I need to stay lying down for the experiment!”. I ended up standing up after 30 minutes because it was getting too painful, but was much more manageable if I was standing.
So I got up and there was no more fluid so I called the labour ward again at 10:50ish. The midwife said it sounded like my waters hadn’t actually broken so it was fine to stay home for now.
By this point the contractions were getting stronger and I was thinking – “hmm how much longer do people deal with this at home? - I don’t think I could deal with another 10 hours of this before heading into hospital!” (particularly as the contractions had ramped up so quickly within about 2 hours!) but I didn’t want to be wimpy!
I asked the midwife how soon was too soon to come in. She said they never like to say it’s too soon and that if I was struggling I could head in, but she also suggested I try having a hot shower and getting some sleep as often the contractions can fizzle out a little if I try to lie down. She said as it was my first baby it was likely to be a while so it would be good to get some rest at home. She suggested seeing how I went and giving them a call back in half an hour if I needed to. She also asked what my birth plan was and I was like... err “ Get an epidural?” (That was literally all I’d planned lol!!)
The contractions were actually getting much stronger at this stage and I was pretty sure there was no way I would be able to sleep, so I decided to hop in the shower. I had a few really strong contractions while in the shower but the hot water did help a bit. When I got out though I had a super strong one where I was on my hands and knees on the floor! It was actually so painful! I remember thinking... is this only early labour? That was super painful - how much longer am I going to have to deal with this?!!
It was probably around 11:40pm at this point and Tom was having a nap so I decided I would try lying down. I had one contraction while I was lying down which was SO painful and I was like – “Nope! Can’t deal with this anymore! Tom we are going to the hospital NOW!!”
So I quickly called labour ward again at 11:51pm. I was like – “I’d really like to come in now if that’s okay” and the midwife was like “of course it’s okay!”
Tom says he remembers we left our house to go to the hospital at 12:01am
I was not particularly happy at this stage! The contractions were around 2 - 4 minutes apart and lasted about 1 minute and every time I had one I was squirming around going “it’s okay it’s okay it’s okay!!” trying to talk myself through it.
They were right down into my back and bum and down my thighs and I had to move around heaps to deal with them. It all happened so fast I thought I was being really wimpy going in to hospital so early but I was thinking – if this is just early labour, what the hell is active labour like?!!!
We got to the hospital around 12:20 and a midwife showed me to my room and gave me a gown to pop on. I told her “I’m not coping very well at the moment!”. I remember having a lot of trouble getting the gown on properly. I was not in a great frame of mind at that point and the buttons were confusing me!
I was standing by the bed moving around when a new midwife came in and said “well it certainly looks like labour to me!!”
I sat on the bed and my waters broke (not fully just a little gush but obvious this time!) She checked and goes – “Well you’re half way to having a baby!” I was 5 cm already!
At this point she was like “I’m just going to call the anaesthetist and your doctor now” as I think she was a bit surprised how far along I was and how fast things were ramping up! She said for a first baby things were going very quickly and it wouldn’t actually be long before we had a baby!!
I remember saying in a slightly panicked voice “It won’t be too late for the epidural will it?!” And she’s like “No, if we get them out of bed they’ll pretty much always give you the epidural!”
While she was out of the room I had a few super intense contractions. I had no concept of time at this point and was basically just on my hands on knees on the bed! I remember Tom was getting the camera out (just to get it ready he said) and I snapped at him not to take any photos of this part! Haha :p Although looking back it would have been kind of interesting to look back on!
I remember asking around 12:50ish how long the anaesthetist would be and the midwife said probably still another 15 minutes! I was like “Is there something I can have for the pain?!” and she said I could try the gas.
I breathed it in during the contractions and it really didn’t do much other than make me feel really weird and light headed which I wasn’t a fan of. “Yeah it’s not for everyone” she said.
I was just moving around on my hands and knees at this point trying to deal with it and I remember her having to say in a rather stern voice “Lauren please be careful – you’re a bit high on the gas - don’t fall off the bed!”
Eventually I remember her saying – “The anaesthetist is here Lauren, you’re going to have to find it in yourself to stay really still for this part.”
I sat up and the anaesthetist did his spiel about the risks etc. I remember thinking he looked really sleepy (we had just woken him up!) and I was like “I know you have to tell me this but I went to the epidural lecture, please can you just do it!!” Haha!
Clearly getting a bit desperate at this point (props to anyone who has a baby without an epidural – you’re super heroes – but I had absolutely no interest in being a super hero :p)
I remember asking “How much is too much with the gas - can I overdo it?” because I was kind of worried about how I would go staying still while he did the epidural! He said as long as I kept breathing normally I could just continue to use it so I sat on the side of the bed, Tom in front of me to catch me in case I fell forwards and I basically just continuously breathed in the gas. I could still feel the contractions which were really painful at this point but I was so high/dissociated it didn’t seem to matter as much so I guess it did kind of work!
I remember the anaesthetist saying you’ll feel a little sting - “sting sting sting” and then feel a cold trickle down your back. The epidural didn’t hurt at all (I didn’t even feel the sting but I did feel the cold trickle!)
The anaesthetist was counting backwards for some reason (I guess as he was taking the needle out and finishing up) and I had that experience you see when someone has a drug trip on TV! You know how the world spins – that’s exactly what happened. It was like everything was spinning in big wheel and then clicked back into place when he got to one! “That’s all gone very straight forward”.
It obviously takes a while for the drugs to kick in though, so I still kept breathing the gas as the contractions were still very sore! I remember after a while though the midwife said “Lauren - are you contracting?” And I was like “ummm?!! Is this a trick question? I don’t know?!”, and she goes – “I think that’s enough of the gas now!” Everything got much better after that!
I don’t remember her putting the catheter in or checking me, but Tom said she did that right after the epidural was done (while I was still high on the gas!) and I was already 8cms!
Once the epidural started working I was so happy! It was amazing!
I did get very shaky but that’s a normal side effect that can happen with an epidural and the midwife also said it was also just my body going through the transition stage of labour. Regardless, I was just super happy the pain was gone, so shakiness was nothing compared to that!
Tom called the Cord blood collection people again (he’d called when we first arrived at the hospital) and told them I was 8cm already. They were also pretty surprised apparently so sent someone straight away. The cord blood collection lady came quickly and got things organized (basically she just took some blood, checked the kit was all in order and ready and then said she would be outside and would come in when it was time to have the baby!)
The midwife said to Tom “I’m not going to set up the bed because by the time I do it will be baby time!” So Tom rested in the chair in the corner and I just chilled out a bit. I even put on a little concealer and my fave lip colour (wanted to make sure I didn’t look too rough for the photos haha!) Clearly the epidural was very effective!
I was just sitting upright at this stage as that was most comfortable for me. While the epidural was amazing I’m glad I was already 5 cm by the time I had it as I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to have to be in bed not moving for hours!!
The midwife did have to keep coming in to readjust the monitors as apparently I was very fidgety and kept moving them!! I remember her coming in to give me some blood pressure medication too as it was going up quite high but she said she thought it was due to pain so she gave me another dose into the epidural (that must have been as the epidural was starting to work actually).
At around 4:30 am she came in to check again and I was at 10cm!
She said – “Your doctor has asked me to break your waters and she’ll be coming in at 5:15am and we can start pushing”. So she did that – I didn’t feel anything and apparently there wasn’t actually that much fluid – my waters must have mostly broken already anyway!
I messaged my mum at 4:40am telling her that by the time she woke up she might be a grandma, closed my eyes for a few minutes and then before I knew it my doctor arrived (a bit early – around 5am).
She said “We’re going to start pushing, we’ll tell you when but the best way is to do 3 pushes per contraction – count to 10, snatch a breath and do it twice more before having a little break.” I remember thinking – “err okay, not sure I’m ready for this but I guess this is happening now!”
So they set everything up and started pushing. My doctor and midwife were so encouraging and kept saying I was doing a really great job. I figured they probably say that to everyone, but Tom said they did seem genuinely surprised by how well and effectively I was pushing. Which is good because I didn’t really know what I was doing and couldn’t actually feel anything at all! (Which I was very happy about I must say!) The midwife had said I would feel lots of pressure but I didn’t actually feel anything! (I must admit I had been quite liberal with pushing the patient controlled analgesia button thing!)
After a little bit of pushing they noticed the baby was starting to get a bit distressed so they did start setting up the vacuum to have it all ready but after a few more pushes my doctor was like “Actually I think you can do this by yourself Lauren, we shouldn’t need to use the vacuum.” They could apparently see her head and I remember them saying she has lots of hair!! I asked for a mirror but they didn’t have one handy and were like - just push!
At this stage she was getting quite distressed though so my Doctor said we needed to get her out really quickly. She said she was going to do an episiotomy. I remember saying “ummm would it be better to use the vacuum” because an episiotomy did not sound good to me, and my doctor was like “this way you can do it all yourself!”
I remember thinking “I really don’t care if I do it myself” but there was obviously a reason behind what she was saying (the “you can do it yourself part” was just a nice way of saying it to keep me calm).
I remember the midwife said “don’t watch this part Tom” while she did the episiotomy and then after just a few pushes - the last one they counted to 10 for me and after 10 were still like “keep pushing!” That push I did kind of feel like I was going to pass out from lack of oxygen but it was worth it because they were like – “her head’s out!”
The cord was wrapped super tight around her neck to the point that my Doctor couldn’t unloop it so she said she would have to cut it before the rest of her came out and then we’d have to get her out super quickly. I remember her saying “sorry Tom” because he was planning on cutting the cord and Tom was obviously like “No need to be sorry! Do what you need to do”. She came out really quickly after the cord was cut and they took her straight to the special bed thing for the paediatrician to check her out.
I remember being a bit worried because she didn’t cry straight away (took a little while actually!) but my Doctor was so great and reassuring saying “it’s okay, she’s fine just a little stunned because she came out so quickly!” I think I was a bit stunned too and kind of in disbelief that it had happened already!
It was 5:13am that she was born so I actually pushed for less than 15 minutes!
My Doctor asked “does she have a name” and I said “Ruby…. does she look like a Ruby?” and she was like “yes she looks like a Ruby” and then “we have the best job” and “she got to choose her own birthday!”
After checking she was okay they put her on my chest which was the craziest thing. I remember looking at her and holding her hand and thinking “OMG… what??? This is crazy”. I think I said something like “Hello baby” and she turned her head a little because she recognised my voice. It’s quite funny because I posted the first photo Tom took of her on my chest to Instagram and everyone was commenting that it was such a beautiful photo. My best friends though thought it was really funny because they were like “she is clearly freaking out!” which I definitely was! I don’t think it had quite registered that this was my baby that just a few minutes ago had been in my tummy!
They did have to take her away quite quickly to the NICU because she was having some trouble breathing and they said she would need to be on CPAP for a little while. Tom went with her while my Doctor finished stitching me up. I was obviously a bit concerned and did keep asking if she’d be okay but I was surprisingly feeling so calm about it. In hindsight it’s maybe a bit weird how calm I was about it all but everyone was so incredibly reassuring telling me she was completely fine and just needed a little help adjusting! I think the fact that they did put her on my chest after checking her made me think that things must be okay because they wouldn’t have done that if she wasn’t going to be alright. Probably also the fact that I was so sleepy as I hadn’t slept the whole night!
Tom came back quite quickly and reassured me that she was okay and then the midwife brought in some breakfast for us - some toast and orange juice. I filmed a little video clip of this and watching it back can clearly see I was still a bit in shock by how quickly it had all happened and the fact that we were parents!
I did feel a little sick after eating and actually ended up vomiting (I always have this fear of vomiting but it wasn’t as bad as I expected) so my midwife came in and gave me an antiemetic which helped a lot and I felt fine after that. I think I then napped for an hour or so before my midwife came back in just before her shift ended to help me express colostrum to give to Ruby while she was in the NICU. Hand expressing colostrum was a very weird thing! I think Tom had gone back down to the nursery at this point.
After that a new midwife came and she actually brought in some more toast and tea for us. Then she helped me get ready to go down to the nursery to see Ruby. I had to wait a little while as I was still pretty numb and couldn’t get up easily. I couldn’t get up to have a shower but I had a quick sponge bath and changed into pyjamas before then getting helped into a wheelchair. Another midwife then wheeled me down to the NICU and Tom carried the bags. I remember they were all so friendly and lovely!
Ruby was on a her little bed with the CPAP machine on. Looking back at the photos it all looks quite scary but I was so strangely calm and just really happy to see her!
I think I just knew she was alright and the nurse looking after her said she was doing well and breathing all on her own – the CPAP was just to open up her airways a bit more. There were also other babies in the enclosed cribs that looked in much more serious condition but Ruby was in an open cot so I think I was like – it’s okay, if the other babies are okay, she’ll be okay too!
We weren’t able to pick her up obviously but we could hold her hands and she was just so cute with her chubby cheeks!
We were then taken to our room on the ward and had a nap for a few hours because we had been awake all night!
After that we went down to the NICU around 3:30ish and she was off the CPAP at this point and just sleeping, looking so peaceful! I breastfed her for the first time and she did so well latching on! It was so nice to be able to give her a cuddle!
We went down again around 5:30 and my mum came to visit as well. She came into the NICU and her face just lit up when she saw Ruby! It was so sweet!
Later that evening our parents came to visit Ruby (and my Mum also brought a bunch of all the “listeria risk” foods that I’d not been able to eat before which was delicious!)
Ruby was pretty sleepy and kept nodding off as she was feeding this time so the nurse suggested that instead of breastfeeding overnight I express colostrum and bring it down for her – so I did that every 3 hours.
I remember they had such relaxing classical music playing in the NICU overnight and the nurse said to me that Ruby been very relaxed and settled.
The next morning they brought her up to our room!
… and that’s when the fun really began ;)
So that’s Ruby’s birth story!
Well done if you got to the end because it was definitely a long post!
It’s so funny because I had really not been looking forward to the birth part but it all went so well and was actually so exciting! I’m even looking forward to doing it all again someday! Even the pain and healing from the episiotomy wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. It was sore obviously (and I did continue to take my pain killers religiously for the next week or so) but I think because I had such low expectations of what it would be like it was all much better than expected!
So I’ll leave it at that!
Hopefully this can reassure anyone who’s going to be giving birth soon and is kind of scared like I was that it can be a really wonderful experience (thanks to my awesome doctor, midwife, anaesthetist and the magic of epidurals! Haha)
As always I’d love for you to come say hi over on Instagram @laurennatalia.co :)
Lots of Love