Hi Mamamates, we’ve had a very special positive birth story sent to us by Leona aka @lelogrant on Instagram. The reason for this blog being so special is because this birth story was written by Leona as if she’s telling her baby about the lead-up to bringing him into the world. Nothing less than a chapter from a book, keep reading to be taken through every phase of the birth in depth! We hope you enjoy this story as you step into the moments that Leona has captured so clearly 💜 It’s as if you’re actually there 👀
Part 1. A visit from the magpie 🕊 The days leading up to the big day.
On the third of August. I woke up at about 5am. And there was a tapping on the window. It wouldn't go away. I got up to see what it was. There was a magpie, and it was tapping on the bedroom window. Fin was asleep in the spare room. The magpie didn’t fly away when I opened the curtains, it was looking at me. I walked to get my phone to see what time it was and came back to take a photo to show Fin as I knew he wouldn’t believe me. The magpie moved from the floor where it was tapping to the edge of the balcony, where again, it was still just watching me. After a minute or so, it flew away.
Throughout the day, I had a little bit of stomach cramping; nothing to write home about, just a little bit of discomfort. That night, I was pretty unwell. I felt nauseous and really tired, I lost my appetite and was cramping but again it wasn't the world's worst cramping. We joked I might be in labour but laughed it off as it was still only 37 weeks, and I wasn’t that bad. I assumed I had eaten something and got food poisoning. Fin sat with me for a couple of hours until I felt well enough to try and fall asleep.
We were both really tired the next day due to having had a late night. I was still quite sore, but Fin had to get up for work, and I had Pree coming to clean the wool rug. I sat chatting with Pree most of the morning. Fin was working from home as we were isolating in the lead up to the big day, the 18th, when I was due to have my ECS surgery, and you were due to arrive into the world at 39 weeks on the dot.
I was uncomfortable, so I decided that I needed to distract myself. Our cleaner (Rahel) was on holiday in Spain for 3 weeks, so I decided to clean the flat a little bit. I started with the bathrooms just after lunchtime, by the time I finished the second bathroom, I was in a bit more pain than before and went moseying through into the nursery/Fins office to moan and lay on the bed. It was only around 1pm. By 3pm I was having really bad cramps and personally just thought it was trapped gas, that was extra sore because of all the excess things going on in my body, and maybe I worked too hard cleaning and needed a rest. We still didn't think it was anything more than that. And I certainly didn't want to be one of those people that go to the hospital thinking they're in labour, just to get sent home because it was trapped gas. So we waited a little bit, Fin worked, and I rolled around the bed in the nursery, moaning and complaining.
Finally, at 4pm, Fin decided that we probably should go to the hospital for the midwife to check me over, just in case something untoward was happening. We rang the midwife team to get their opinion and explained my symptoms. The midwife said to come in to triage, she didn’t seem worried or anything she just stated it was best to be checked over as I was 37 weeks to the day. So we went in, Fin drove us to Whipps Cross, and we arrived by 5/5.30pm. After waiting for a short while, we were taken into a side room to have a heart monitoring thing and a contraction monitoring belt put on my belly, they were keeping an eye on the heartbeat in line with the cramping, which turned out to be my contractions. They weren't sore, a little bit of discomfort, but until the midwife confirmed active labour, we assumed they were Braxton Hicks. The midwife confirmed that I was in active labour at around 7pm.
Part 2. Setting the scene 🎬 Anticipation to the lead-up
I saw a Consultant Doctor at around 7.30pm. Obviously, with the ECS, they wouldn't just send us home in case I progressed quickly and therefore couldn’t have the section. The doctor said, ‘it is my expert opinion you are definitely not in labour, there's no way you're in labour, you are far too relaxed, your demeanour is too chilled out. To be fair I was sitting cross-legged on the bed, but this was comfortable for me! He said ‘Do you hear that you would sound like those women if you were in labour’. One person was screaming so loud a few rooms down.
Unsure what to do next, as I had chosen not to do any internal examinations that could risk my waters breaking and the baby catching GSB, Fin, and I spoke through our options. 1 was to go home, and 2 was to have an examination to prove what I already knew to be labour. We did the examination because the doctor was so convinced that I wasn't in labour, and I was so convinced that I had to have been. Had we gone home, I would have been worried all night and would have possibly ended up having you at home in a frenzy! At least that way, we knew what the situation was and what to expect, and if I wasn't in labour, then we knew that the pain would be a lot worse. We did the examination, and the Doctor said, ‘oh, okay, so it turns out you are in labour, you're one centimetre dilated, it is my expert opinion to keep you in and get you booked in for an emergency C-Section tomorrow.’ By this stage, his ‘expert opinion’ meant very little to a frustrated me. Instead of staying in, which we decided not to do because of COVID-19 and a sleepless night in a ward alone vs being at home in my own bed, not really a question.
We got out to the car around 9.30/10pm and rang Dougie, followed by Mum, Dad and Tiegan. I sent a quick message to Liam and Laura too. We came home and ordered a Yard Sale Pizza, phoned Max and Sophie – groggily, they answered the phone from their bed. And then tried to get some sleep. Neither of us slept even a little bit. We were up and ready to go by quarter past six in the morning on the fifth of August, both absolutely shattered. Getting ready to go into the hospital to meet the baby, which is really exciting. I was awake from around five o'clock, just really excited and anxious about what the day was going to be. We got up, had some Belgian Waffles, and I had a cup of coffee and lots of water. We sat in your nursery, the spare bedroom, Fin’s office, and I watched the sunrise while Fin finished some last-minute work. He put his “out of office” on, and took the bags to the car. I had to stop eating and drinking as early as possible so that I was prepared for surgery because you can't eat or drink for six hours before, and I wanted to make sure that if I was going to go in, it could be sooner rather than later.
We headed to Whipps Cross at 6:40am. It was weird leaving the house the last time as two. The drive only took about 15 minutes. We sat in the little waiting area and let the midwives who were on shift know that we'd arrived, and that we'd been there last night and that we had checked out and been told to come back first thing. A lady from the surgical team came down and called about 4 of the 7 women through to the ward. They were the C-sections booked for that day. Technically I was an inpatient, so I wasn’t on the list. With a little conversation and explaining, we were taken through and everything was clarified and sorted out. We were given our own little room. It was a really reasonable room with a curtain for privacy. Fin and I cuddled on the bed for a bit, and he tried to distract me.
We met our midwife, Emma. She was really, really lovely and helped keep us both level-headed. The day after I had you, she even came back the next day early to say bye to you before we checked out from the Mulberry Ward, which was really sweet of her. Emma came and introduced herself, and we did some blood tests, re-hooked me up to a contraction and monitored your heartbeat. Emma explained everything that was going to happen throughout the day and that we were waiting for the booked C-Sections and any emergencies to take place, thereafter I would be seen. We tried to chill out and relax. Time flew but also stood still.
Part 3. It’s happening 📣 Baby Time!
Because of Covid-19 babies and their mums had to labour alone until the last minute when the dad would be allowed into the room. Thankfully this changed in June/July and I could hang out with Fin all day in our room as long as we wore our masks in the corridors. By the time it got to midday, we were a bit anxious that we hadn't been taken through yet. And Emma kept coming back and saying that there were emergencies and that there were other people going ahead of us, so we just kept getting pushed back and delayed. Slightly after 12pm Emma came in and told us we would be seen at 1pm-ish. My cramping and contractions were getting worse. So we were a bit anxious, in case my waters broke as we didn’t want to expose you to Group Step B. The anaesthetist team came and introduced themselves, and talked us through what was going to happen in surgery. A little while later, the surgeons came, they didn't talk us through what was going to happen, but they just asked if we had any questions, introduced ourselves, and said to mentally prepare as I would be seen really soon.
2pm was go time, Emma came back and said let’s go. Fin grabbed a quick picture of me as one last memory of mommy with you inside. I nipped to the toilet and realised I had lost my mucus plug which meant labour was really progressing! We went and got ready (changed into our gowns), we put on our little white caps to keep our hair out of the way, and we wandered along to the surgery room, which wasn't too far along the corridor. Fin had to wait outside the room whilst they prepared me, because it was a surgery and the room needed to be sterile. They didn’t want too many people in the room, saying that there were about 15 people! They all introduced themselves to me, but I don’t remember any of their names now, one person I do remember was Jenny. She was an anaesthetist from near Aberdeen, and she'd lived in Texas and she'd lived in a Nordic country for a while too. She chatted away to me telling me all about herself and asking lots of questions about me, Fin, and you, keeping me calm and distracted while the team prepped me.
So they explained what was going to happen, they asked me if I wanted an epidural or spinal tap. I decided on spinal tap, because it's a one-hit wonder. And the risks associated are less long term. I sat on the edge of the bed, bent over like a prawn and had my back sprayed with this pink freezing spray. They did that a couple of times. And then they put the spinal tap in. They gave me a numbing injection that felt no worse than a bee sting, then went in the spinal tap. They said that they found the area at the bottom of my spine really easy to locate and asked if I did yoga haha. I didn't really feel the injection truth be told, it wasn't bad at all.
Really quickly, they had to shift me onto the bed before it kicked in! So I was really quickly urged to lie down as my legs started to feel warm and heavy. I'd had a cannula put in my hand but it was really, really sore and I was in tears every time someone touched me and it moved even a little so they had to change it and put it into my wrist. It was in correctly but apparently, sometimes they are in and rub on the meeting area of two veins and cause real pain. I’ve got a scar actually from both cannulas. Then they hooked me up to all of the anaesthetics and monitors. They were touching parts of me to see if I could feel it, and it was really strange because I could feel the sensation of them touching me, but I couldn't feel them touching me, when they nipped me really hard I could feel the nip, I couldn't feel the pain. So the pain was blocked, but the sensation of touch wasn't, which was really interesting.
Once I was all prepped and ready to go, Emma went and got Fin, it was 2.30/2.40pm. I was laying there, Fin was sitting next to me, you'll see from the photos. We were calm, but we were excited, a tad anxious.
Part 4. The first cry, forceps and a healthy baby delivered 🎉
We'd asked that the first voice that you hear be Fin’s, so Emma made sure to remind everyone that as soon as the first incision is made, everybody must be really quiet, and not to welcome you to the world. So it was really, really quiet. You could hear the doctors working away and talking in really hushed voices. And then we just heard this gargle. And then a little cry. You were still mostly inside me at this time. Your head was low in my pelvis so they had to use forceps (without asking me, even though I requested them not to) to get you out. You were on your way for a vaginal birth! We heard this little gargle. And there's a really cute picture of Fin holding your hat by my face; Emma captured the moment when we heard you let out your first ever little cry, and you can see that I am just so overwhelmed with emotion.
Then you started to really go for it, as you came out, you must have been really cold, and it must have been quite dramatic to come out from the nice, warm, cosy floaty place. They lifted you up above the curtain, but from my position, I couldn't really see you, but Fin had a clear view. After that, they put you on my legs, which I couldn't feel and went about delivering the placenta (which was small, they took it away to do research on) after a bit of delayed cord clamping (so that you could get lots of blood back into your body) they took you over to the baby section just to make sure that your lungs were clear and that you were breathing okay. For this minute or two, you were wailing.
Once that was done, they brought you over to us and put you in my arms. And it was incredible, Fin and I just both welled up, and we had no words. It was magical, you started to try and latch straight away, suckling around, you latched onto my chin, which made us all laugh. We were really proud that you were able to do that because it meant that feeding you was going to be a little bit easier because your reflexes had kicked in. As Fin held you the surgeons started stitching me. Fin says he could feel this warmth on him and you peed down his stomach and into his belly button and seat. I only lost 400ml of blood which is less than half what they anticipated.
The head Surgeon actually came up and said to me, I did a really good job, which of course, is exactly what I wanted to hear. They were all jumping around afterwards high fiving being like, did a great job, man. Well done, 10 out of 10, which is really nice, they all seemed really proud and happy. You then got passed back to me because nobody's allowed to walk with babies in case you drop them. Once back in the room we straight away tried to put you on the nipple and you latched right away, which was a really funny feeling for me because I didn't know what to expect. We sat doing skin on skin which was really lovely, and we just had a really beautiful couple of hours like that, where it was golden time for you and me.
Thank you so much to Leona for sending in her story and for sharing such a detailed experience to help women who might be having a baby or would like to know what the journey is like.
When I started Mamamade’s Positive Birth Story blogs, my aim was to help as many new mums and mums-to-be feel prepared, seen and ready for their journey. Along with creating a community that can support, encourage and just be there for fellow mums and partners. Looking back, I would read birth stories all the time when I was pregnant and to be honest, they actually helped me feel a sense of power just to see how strong and amazing women really are!
If you’ve enjoyed this blog make sure to check out “Mamamade Birth Stories - Sophie's Positive Water-Birth Experience With The Help Of A Doula”, “Mamamade Birth Stories - A Positive Home Birthing During COVID-19”, and “Pandemic Pregnancy And The Birth Of Her Son, Arthur David”,
Lots of love,