Polly Blossom entered the world at 10.08am on Friday 1st February 2019 weighing 5lb 6oz. If you’re like me and you love a birth story then here is mine...
I had a growth scan at 38 +6 weeks, my bump was measuring small and hadn’t grown in two weeks so I was booked in for a scan to check up on the baby. Of course I worried, but the baby was continuing to move so I didn’t panic too much. The scan showed that the blood flow in the umbilical cord was low, so it basically wasn’t doing what it should be. I got a call the following morning saying to come into hospital as they wanted to induce me, “this baby needs to come out” the nurse said. Uh oh, panic mode. I did not prepare or expect an early induction, I had been doing Hypnobirthing for 6 weeks and wanted the most natural labour possible. Well that went out the window!
I was induced at 11am on Wednesday 30th January with the 24 hour pessary tablet and with my freshly washed hair & little bit of make up I was geared up and ready to have our baby!
After a few boring hours of sitting around, Dom & I walked into town to get my nails done. Needs must! The walk brought on some movement and once 6pm hit I got my first lot of contractions. Once we was back at the hospital I tried to stay as active as possible but all I wanted to do was chill in bed to save my energy where I could. I said to Dominic that by 9am Thursday I’ll have her for sure! I had been doing Hypnobirthing classes so I was all prepared with my positive mindset, affirmations, and my relaxation tapes. I wanted the most natural labour possible, this being clearly noted on my birth plan NO DRUGS, and no intervention. What I didn’t prepare myself for was being induced and forcing my body in labour.
After 8 hours of contractions it was around 1.30am Thursday I felt a strong baring down pressure & demanded the midwife check how dilated I was. “Oh”, she said, “you’re 5-6cm!”, so out came the 24hour pessary as it was no longer needed, I was in active labour! Yes! I thought, it’s happening, the baby will be here by 9am no doubt. Off I was wheeled to the labour ward.
Settling all 6 of our bags & pillows into our new room - we felt like we was moving in - our midwife introduced herself along with 2 doctors and a paediatrician - this was all due to the baby having heart complications, they wanted to be present at the birth for safety reasons. I remember feeling excited at this point and scared, thinking this is where I’m going to have our baby! I was so tired and just looking forward to getting it over with. The doctor wanted to break my waters to speed things along - so much for no intervention! When they explain how they are going to break your waters it makes your stomach turn, but in the moment of labour I think you stomach anything and I am such a queasy person, I really did surprise myself throughout! The doctor checked me for dilation and said “who checked this woman?!”, I looked at her thinking ‘yep the baby’s head must be there, I just know it I can feel somethings happening’, The doctor looked at me and said “I’m so sorry, you’re barely 1cm!”. My heart sunk and I just wanted the ground to swallow me up and for everything to stop. I wanted out, I had lost all strength mentally and physically. After 8 hours of contractions I had gotten nowhere, active labour hadn’t even begun. So I was wheeled back to the antenatal ward with all 6 of our bags and pillows piled on Dom, and I had such little hope that I could even go on and start over again. I just cried.
At this point I asked for pethidine - my “no drugs” policy went out the window - which as I was only at the beginning of labour wouldn’t affect the baby being sleepy/drowsy at birth. That’s what I didn’t want was to harm the baby or affect her delivery in any way, particularly with her health condition. I managed to doze in and out of sleep for 4 hours whilst contracting, all I wanted to do was just sleep sleep sleep. I remember looking down at Dom sleeping on the cold floor as I was coming in and out of contractions. 8am Thursday morning my Mum turns up with bags of food, a yoga mat for Dominic to sleep on and she’s fresh and raring to go - unlike Dom & I!
My Mum was like “right come on, you gotta get up and get moving! Get on your ball and start bouncing!”. I’m saying “yeah yeah I’m going to in a minute”, I was so tired already I just wanted to lay in the bed and sleep. I think I got out of bed and showered at some point, it made me feel better and the water on my tummy during a contraction was really nice! So bouncing on my ball I went & if I hadn’t used the gas and air before this point I was now - I can’t actually remember at what stage I used it but I was initially saying I didn’t want to at all. I think with the gas and air I didn’t take in too much because I didn’t want to feel that high woozy feeling, it was more so a distraction. After Dom googling what could help contractions, I think he was desperate to help in any way bless him, the TENS machine seemed a good idea. I was down for absolutely anything that was going to help!
Off my Mum went to Mothercare and £100 later we had the TENS machine - it was worth every penny I think!! By Thursday lunchtime I was using the TENS machine and it’s ‘boost’ button during every contraction which seemed to help! The day dragged on and I had no idea what time it was but I remember going for a walk around the hospital to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. It was icy cold outside and I was strolling in my nighty, dressing gown and the lovely circulation socks they give you, we went into the hospital newsagent for some treats and as we was queuing I got a contraction. I just held onto Dom so tight and buried my face into his arms just trying not to make any noise! The man at the till was just looking at me confused - I’m sure I’m not the first woman to be contracting in that shop! I had my TENS machine on and every contraction I would stop and hit the boost button to help counteract the pain.
Come 10pm Thursday 31st I was back on the labour ward, finally! My contractions started to slow right down and went from one every 5 minutes to every 12, I didn’t mind this at all, I was enjoying the break and trying to sleep in between! But of course labour doesn’t work like that and it needed to speed up to get the baby out! I was put on the hormone drip and all I remember was my contraction pain going from 0-100! I went from gas and air laying in bed trying to doze, to clawing up the bed and full “exorcist mode” hit! I have never experienced anything quite like it, I had Dom hitting the ‘boost’ button on the TENS machine at every contraction and my Mum rubbing the bottom of my back. All the while I was screaming into the gas and air suction - not really breathing it in correctly as I couldn’t focus. I was pulling myself off the bed, standing up and sitting back down just moving in any way to ease the pain but nothing helped. The pain felt like I had a giants hands around my pelvis and they was slowing crushing me, that’s what it felt like, horrendous.
never say never!
I’m not quite sure how long I was contracting for until I demanded an epidural, which initially I was completely against and even turned my nose up at it when we had a labour ward tour at the hospital weeks before. I laughed and said “god no, why would you not want to feel anything for” - if there’s one thing I have learnt from my labour experience, NEVER SAY NEVER! How I managed to sit dead still for them to put the epidural in I don’t know, my mum says to me now she doesn’t know how I sat so still and was not bothered in the slightest about the needle. All I was thinking was please hurry up and take this pain away, no needle was going to bother me. Then it hit me, the cooling sensation of the epidural flowing down my body... wow. An absolute God send! I was so chilled after that, I kept saying “everyone should have an epidural!”, I might of even slept, I have no idea all I know was that labour was a very long time.
It’s funny because before I got put on the hormone drip my midwife said “have you thought about pain relief?” I had said “no I don’t want any pain relief” to which she chuckled because she just knew what was to come didn’t she and I had no idea. I honestly could not have done that without an epidural, I’m not disappointed that my birth didn’t go to my Hypnobirthing plan. Maybe it’s because I was induced and the hormone drip really did make my body jump from 0-100, but then I have nothing to compare it with as it’s my first labour. I’m glad it wasn’t too late for the epidural, it made the last part so much more enjoyable I was just chilling - so it felt like!
Fast forward to 8.30am Friday morning, my midwife said “in 45 minutes you’re going to start pushing” which I thought was weird, I’m like what’s the hold up, I’m ready now!
After 40 long hours of labour from start to finish, Polly Blossom arrived into the world at 10.08am on Friday 1st February and I could not believe how tiny she was at 5lb 6oz! The feeling of her leaving my body really was such a high, I wish I could relive that moment again. Polly was put onto my chest and my first words to her were “hello poppet, I’ve been waiting for you!”. Dom cried (don’t hate me for saying that Dom!), which set off both the midwives and my Mum crying, I remember looking round at them all like why are you crying for, I was just glad it was all over! I turned to the midwives and said “well that was easy!”, to which they all laughed and said “no Lucy it’s because you had an epidural”. My biggest fear was the pushing part and the baby getting stuck or getting in distress in some way & honestly after 40 hours of labour... yes 40, I found that the easiest part, which yes was probably down to the epidural.
When I was pushing, the epidural had started to wear off but I didn’t want to press for anymore as I wanted to feel what was happening. I could feel my contractions ever so slightly so I knew when to push. I used my Hypnobirthing techniques during this stage, I just had my eyes closed the whole time I pushed and was visualising Polly smoothly moving through the birth canal and that it was all very straight forward and I could do it. I think it helped at this point to stay in a positive mindset, baring in mind I had been in hospital for 2 whole days and slept in total for probably a couple hours. I was exhausted and realised why they say to save your energy for the pushing stage. I remember feeling very confident that I was able to push Polly out, and that I was able to do it smoothly and swiftly. Feeling her move down further was an amazing feeling, when everyone said “her head is out, the next push your baby will be here!” - it actually brings me to tears to recall that moment, it’s just so magical. Then one huge push later - Dom said I was turning blue - it felt like Polly flew out and everyone gasped in excitement!
We were lucky enough to capture a short video of Polly’s birth which we will treasure forever, hearing that first croaky cry melts my heart. Dominic cut the cord, which I surprised him with at that moment demanding “Dom will do it”, I think he would had done anything after watching me go through labour! After he cut it he said, “never make me do that again”, he is such a queasy person I’m surprised he didn’t faint at all.
It felt like Polly was on my chest for all of 10 minutes before she got checked over by the paediatrician, due to her heart defect and Down Syndrome they had to check her. Dom dressed Polly, with the help of my Mum - my cleverly labelled sandwich bags of ‘vests, baby grows, hat’ etc came in handy at that point so he knew what was what! Having an epidural I was bed bound as my legs were completely numb, so Dom had to take charge right away as I couldn’t help. Once Polly was dressed she was taken away for a heart scan, I had been stitched up at this point and was waiting for my cup of tea and flapjack which I was dying for. Dom went with Polly for her echo scan, whilst my Mum went out to make calls and the midwives left the room also. I was on my own drinking my tea and felt so many emotions, overwhelmed and so proud of myself for giving birth and then sad because my baby wasn’t with me. Polly was brought back following her echogram and the doctors confirmed her large AVSD - a big hole in the heart - which we already knew about so it was no shock, but they wanted to take her to NICU to observe her. I felt sad at this but had told myself beforehand they probably would need to monitor her, they wouldn’t just let us home without seeing how stable she was. We was told that she was going to be kept in over the weekend for monitoring, so after a cuddle for an hour tops the nurses came in to take Polly away and that was so hard.
After spending what felt like a couple of short hours with my brand new baby girl, who at this point still not named, we got taken to the postnatal ward without her. Once we was in the cubicle on the ward and Dom had fallen asleep in the chair, everything just hit me and I couldn’t stop crying. My heart was aching to hold my baby and look at her face, I was just looking at photos of her on our camera trying to remember what she looked like. I felt so much sadness with such a heavy heart, I was asking God, “why?” Why us, why does she have to have a heart defect and why does she have to be away from me. It’s a really strange feeling I hope I never have to relive. Carrying your baby for 9 long months, the overwhelming experience of giving birth and meeting them for the first time, to them being taken away and you just sat in a bed with a deflated stomach without them. The connection you already have to your baby is so strong but they are not with you, so you feel a longing for them as if your body is pulling you towards them but you cannot get to them. Luckily we got moved to our own room, sitting in a bay seeing other women holding their babies is a little depressing. I kept reminding myself of the mothers that don’t even get to have their baby and to be grateful that we have Polly on Earth with us.
6 hours from Polly being taken to NICU, we got to go see her and give her a feed. Only NICU parents will know the feeling of walking through the doors to the ward and seeing your precious little newborn in an incubator for the first time, I’ll never forget that. Seeing Polly with a cannula in her hand, wires all over her body, oxygen and feeding tubes from her nose, it’s a surreal feeling like is this really happening? My hormones were just uncontrollable as you can imagine having just given birth, and the tears streamed from my eyes. That happened for another 3 weeks, every day we said to each other “she will be out this week”. Three long weeks Polly spent in NICU, she went from strength to strength though, coming off her feeding tube at day 5 and taking her first full bottle, then she was off her oxygen at day 10 and into a cot. The better the baby gets the closer they move you to the door basically, so every week we would walk into NICU and Polly had been moved which was always such a positive. Sometimes Dom and I took it in turns to go and sit with her, when we left we would call each other right away with an update on how she’s doing. Looking back now at the 1000 photos I have of Polly during her NICU stay, I don’t know how we both did it, day after day. It did not get easier and I think there was probably 2 days out of the 24 she spent there where I didn’t cry. Every morning I woke up with puffy eyes where I cried in the evenings, when we got home from our last visit of the evening I would sit in the kitchen and just cry. Or Dom could see something was up and ask what’s wrong, then my eyes would just pour with tears. I couldn’t of got through those weeks without him being so strong, I don’t know how he was but he did it and I know he did it for me. The only positive out of Polly’s stay I must say to lighten the mood was I got 8 hours of sleep every night - haha! Being so exhausted emotionally and mentally, I had no trouble sleeping and I wish I had cherished that sleep a little more as it’s very different now she’s home!
After 24 days in NICU, we took Polly home on the 24th February and I finally got the photo I had been dreaming about. The simple moment of walking out the hospital while your other half carries the baby in the car seat. Every time I see a Dad in the hospital with a car seat I always get emotional as I know they are preparing to take their baby home. It felt like she was never going to come home and it was so hard to stay positive, when we was at home I couldn’t imagine her being there. I didn’t want to set up her pram or the bedside crib in case I was jinxing it. But as I lay here at 5am writing this with my little Polly snoring on one side of me, and Dom snoring away on the other side - I couldn’t imagine my life without her now. I must kiss her cheeks 1000 times a day and as hard as those night feeds and broken sleep are, I just look at her face and think she’s not going to be little for long so I’m cherishing every moment.
If you’re reading this and you are a Mumma to be please don’t let birth scare you, I’m sorry if my story has. During labour I wanted for it to end and just stop and I wanted to go back in time and not be pregnant, because I felt so exhausted I felt as though I couldn’t go on. But I did, and I would honestly do it all over again just to have Polly and meet her for the first time again and again. What’s two days out of your whole life?! Nothing! Time goes so fast, your labour will be over before you know it and your baby will be laying next to you at 6 weeks old snoring away.
If you’re reading this and you’re a NICU Mumma, or you may be at some point (hopefully not) my words of advice are this. It is hard, it will never be easy and it will only get harder but know every day is a day closer to having your baby home and they will be home. There is always someone worse off than you, and there will be another Mumma in there who’s baby will be there a lot longer than yours. Go home and sleep, please sleep as much as you can and don’t feel guilty for it. Don’t feel guilty for having the nurses look after your baby while you’re not there, you need to sleep and rest to be mentally and physically well for your baby while they are in NICU and for when they are home.
To every Mumma out there and to all the Mumma’s to be, YOU GOT THIS QUEEN!