Sebastian's Birth Story

Today started off pretty sad, my son turned five, which is awesome; but he spent last night at his Dad's house, which meant for the first time, I didn't get to wake up with him on his birthday, and as each year he becomes more excited about the prospect of birthdays in general - I do feel as though I massively missed out.
It's the product of being one of a pair of separated parents though, and next year his birthday will be flipped on it's head so that I get the excitement of the morning, and he goes to his Dad's house after school. Not all bad.
My sofa is humbly decorated with presents (I picked out what I thought was particularly nice paper), I've got 50 balloons to inflate before he finishes school, and this evening I'll be serving hot dogs, fries and cake to a small collection  of his closest friends; as goes the 5th Birthday on a Budget. It'll be lovely though, I've no doubt.

Today I thought I'd celebrate Seb's birthday here by sharing his birth story, which is something I've never talked an awful lot about on any of the blogs I've written over the years. With a new baby due in just a matter of months, I want Seb's own entrance in to the world to have a place on this site before the next one!
N.B to any pregnant readers: before you read on, Seb's birth was generally a very positive experience, there were things that I think could have been improved, which I'm working on this time around, but there is no horror story here. To any non-pregnant readers: I am very much of the mind that pregnant women should not hear/read/see birth horrors, it's hugely counter-productive to a successful labour and birth. The following account is accurate to memory, but I'm not going to talk in depth about pain, because I don't want pregnant ladies (or ladies who may one day fall pregnant) reading about that.
Seb was "due" to be born on the 27th April 2010, a day which passed with no more event than me having a particularly good pedicure. I never really experienced the "fed up, I want this baby out" feelings that many women recount, having gone "overdue". I was understandably uncomfortable, but healthy, happy, and ready - just not desperate. A couple of days passed. On the 30th April, the day that would eventually mark Seb's birthday, I went shopping. All day. I had a mozzarella, tomato and basil panini from Costa Coffee, and I bumped in to an ex-boyfriend from school. It was, for the most part, just another day. In the evening, my parents popped over with a few last minute baby bits, and to take me over to Homebase to buy a curtain pole for the baby's nursery (ever a tad last minute). I felt pregnant, but at no point did I feel remotely close to giving birth.
As I swung my leg in to the back of my step-Dad's car I felt a sudden pouring sensation - not the pop, or gush that some women experience when their "waters break", but as though someone were slowly pouring a small bucket of water down the inside of my legs, except, there was loads of it, and it kept coming. In shock, I spent what felt like five minutes, but was probably around five seconds, poised, half in, half out, of the car, with sopping wet leggings, before saying "erm, I think my waters have broken". I never went to Homebase.
Instead I waddled back indoors, and peeled my saturated clothes off on to the bathroom floor whilst a bath ran. Who knows what happened to those clothes... someone must have picked them up eventually! Wrapped in my dressing gown, I made two phone calls, the first was to the maternity ward at my local hospital, the second was to Jade, my best friend and intended birth partner, who promised to make her way over, and whilst I stood with the phone pressed to my ear, I felt the first of my "contractions", a low, dull, achey tightening.
My time spent at home was short lived. My parents had carried on to Homebase without me, planning to meet me back at home with the curtain pole, and I washed the amniotic fluid from my legs in the bath and promptly got back out again in order to be able to answer the door. It's a funny thing, being single and giving birth, you have a sense that someone or something is missing - that this isn't supposed to be a One Woman Job, and at the same time, and empowering ability to make it just that. When Jade arrived, I sat on the sofa, she put the kettle on, and before it had boiled, before my parents had returned, we decided to make our exit for the hospital (on my instruction). I remember nothing of the journey, but it was only five minutes at the most.
We must have been at the hospital before 7:30pm, I was initially assessed by a student midwife, who I begged to allow me some pain relief, but who was unfortunately unable to do so without being overseen by a qualified midwife - all of whom, were otherwise occupied. Jade did her very best, along with the student midwife, to be comforting and encouraging and at some point, someone came in, OK'd gas and air, and things progressed as they do.
For the next three hours or so, I laboured on my back, and upped the gas and air to a pethedine (diamorphine) injection - the one thing I'd expressly said I wouldn't entertain. In my NCT antenatal classes we'd been given the opportunity to discuss, in depth, the range of pain relief on offer at an NHS hospital. Pethedine, I was told, not only crosses the placenta and effectively "drugs" your baby, but can also slow labour down and in some cases, cause it to stop altogether. Didn't sound cool. No thanks.
In the hospital environment however, in the unfamiliar throws of childbirth, I at some point asked to have the injection, and thus it was administered. I of course have no idea whether Seb would have been born sooner were I to have avoided pethedine, but it certainly didn't retard my contractions in any way, and my labour continued to progress as it had been, despite my bursting in to fits of hysterical laughter at the end of each contraction and then promptly falling asleep until the next one began.
My labour included internal examinations, where a midwife pops her fingers inside to see how dilated your cervix is (you don't care much at the time), heart monitoring, and not a lot else.
When labour transitioned in to what is often referred to as "Second Stage Labour" (the bit others refer to as the pushing) I had a catheter fitted - bizarrely, this was the only thing that I objected strongly to, I couldn't tell you why. On hearing the midwife inform me that they would need to do this to empty my bladder, I became insistent that this was not an option. Obviously I gave in eventually (given everything else that had occurred up until now I didn't even feel this happen).
I had, up until this point, laboured on my back - and I urge everyone and anyone to avoid doing so unless it is the position they feel most comfortable and relaxed in. As the night drew on, I became overwhelmed by the need to get on to my hands and knees, some sort of primal instinct took over and told me that this is what I needed to do, and so that is what I asked of the midwife, who obliged and helped me on to my knees, raising the back rest of the bed so that I had something to lean on.
In just a few desperate pushes, during which I can't describe any pain what so ever, but the most almighty sense of pressure and weight that you can imagine, the intensity of which is very hard to explain (my bum felt like a bowling ball), Seb made his entrance in to the world, slightly bewildered, and off his face on drugs, but healthy at 8lbs 2ozs, and absolutely beautiful, of course.
Yes "The Ring of Fire" happens (the burning sensation as baby's head emerges and you are stretched to maximum stretchiness.) It's over in seconds.
I maintained my rather undignified pose, bent over the back of the bed, whilst his umbilical cord was clamped and cut, and then a midwife helped me back down to lay on the bed, and placed this tiny person in my arms.
It's probable that I felt some wave of love and maternal instinct and what have you - I couldn't say, and it's probably that which might put me off recommending or using pethedine in future births. It worked a treat as a method of pain relief, but perhaps I wasn't as alert and in the moment as I might have liked to have been, or perhaps I was simply overwhelmed. I had never held a tiny baby in my life, not that I remembered anyway. I'd never even held a particularly large baby in my life. When the first baby you've ever held is the one that you've just given birth to, I think some shock is allowed!
From the moment my "waters broke" at around 6:30, to Seb's birth being recorded at 11:45, it had taken me a total of 5 hours and 15 minutes to have my first child, which was remarkably "good going".
I had the injection to allow for a managed delivery of the placenta. This encourages strong uterine contractions which expel the placenta, rather than waiting for it to peel away, and then having to push it out. I threw up at some point.
Once baby was out, placenta was out, and I felt ready, I walked myself to the toilet, had a wee, threw up again, and then drank a cup of tea in the bath, with Seb laying in a plastic crib beside the tub. He slept, solidly, thanks to the morphine in his system and as things began to sink in and settle, I finally recognised that gush of maternal love towards this tiny person - he didn't care, he was asleep.
I wouldn't describe Seb's birth as magical, spiritual, or even the best day of my life - it was straight forward for the most part, medically managed, and went "to plan". I didn't come away from the experience traumatised or in any way unhappy about what had just happened, and both I and Seb were healthy, content people. It was, generally speaking, a textbook hospital birth, one which people have cooed over since as being the representation of childbirth going "perfectly", because nothing at all went wrong.
For me, it reaped the greatest reward, I had no concept, before Seb's birth, of how much his arrival would change my world. I would do it a thousand and one times over again to keep this thriving, funny, adorable character in my life. I was incredibly satisfied with my birth experience, but more so, overwhelmed by my own desire to be the best Mother I could be to Seb - which is arguably the point in all of this. I'm lucky, not because I had an uncomplicated birth, but because I get to be Seb's Mum.




  1. What a lovely positive birth story. It's a shame you didn't have Seb on his 5th birthday until later but it looks like he enjoyed his presents from yourself :) xx

  2. Lovely post Hun. Always great to here son positive birth stories. It's pretty scary when our kids grow up. My son is 7 and my daughter is 4 :( getting big far too quick x