My Birth Experience.

May 28, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

My Birth Experiences

by Lorraine Jardim of Ellie J Photography

 

During a newborn photography session I just love talking to new mums and dads about their birth experiences.

No matter how it happens, there is no doubt that welcoming a new baby into the family is a momentous experience and over the years I have heard some truly amazing stories from clients.  I have shed tears on more than one occasion listening to tales of IVF, adoption, and even babies who were delivered at home via 999 phone instructions before the paramedics arrived.

I've been blown away by the strength of my clients, some of whom had struggled for years to achieve their dream of parenthood.  I've spoken with clients who had given up on trying, only to find themselves pregnant a short while later and I've met some who hadn't even realised they were expecting until months into their pregnancy.

I find these stories fascinating, and thought for this blog I’d share my own personal experiences of bringing our children into the world. Please excuse the awful hairstyles in the following photographs.

We are blessed with three children; a son and two daughters.

In creating our little family there has been heartache, worry and complete surprise.  Overall, however, there has been an incredible amount of love and happiness.

Our Eldest - Born 1990

Our first born arrived 30 years ago this year.  As I’ve often told clients, things were very much different back then.  For starters, I was actually told to eat liver during pregnancy to help with iron levels and, once he had arrived, I was taught the importance of lying him on his side to sleep, with a rolled up blanket behind to prevent him lying on his back, which was at the time considered a cot death risk.

Overall, my pregnancy had been good.  I only suffered sickness in the first few weeks and from then on, I bloomed.  As you can see below, my bump grew rather large with him!  I only had one worrying incident in my pregnancy which found me rushing to hospital worried that my waters had leaked.  Apparently, my weak bladder was to blame (too much information I know!).  I remember feeling very stupid until a lovely nurse told me that it was quite common for ladies in later months to have little incidents such as I had experienced.  I blame my sons vigorous kicking.

When baby’s due date came and went with no sign of him wanting to put in an appearance, hubby and I tried everything.  Curries, long walks, tennis games and yes, plenty of the other.  Nothing worked.  Eventually (and eleven days overdue) I was referred by my female GP to a male Consultant.  

Now as a young and fairly naïve girl I had never been examined by a man (with hubby as the obvious exception) and I got myself in such a state worrying about it, that when I walked into the examining room my blood pressure was through the roof.  I was admitted immediately to be induced the next day.  All this without having to remove a single item of clothing!

Our son was, and still is, a rather laid-back individual. As my hubby put it at the time, he didn't want to 'cut his holiday short' and be born on his due date. Here I am on my 23rd birthday, shortly before his arrival.   

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His eyes were wide open when he was born, my first beautiful baby.

The day of our son’s birth finally arrived, and prior to going down to labour ward I phoned my husband and told him that he should wait until it was all underway.  I assured him I was very calm and that he should not worry about coming over until my labour had begun.  Immediately on reaching labour ward and hearing a fellow patient scream however, my resolve vanished and hubby was immediately summoned.

Our son was born approximately eight and a half hours after I was induced. I had an epidural, which worked brilliantly.  So brilliantly in fact that hubby and I were playing cards when the midwife looked at the monitor and said “You’ve just had a massive contraction” I hadn’t felt a thing.  The only negative aspect of my first delivery were the sudden and unexpected bouts of projectile vomiting that began almost as soon as labour proper started (sorry, too much information again).  Incidentally, this was the same with all three of my births.

When the time came I did not feel the urge to push which could have been a problem.  However, our son was a big strong boy and the midwife later told us that he seemed to help push himself out.  I remember the midwife lifting him up onto my chest and his eyes were wide open.  He was staring right up at me (yes, I know he couldn't actually see me clearly at that age but humour me).  He had bounced into the world weighing 8lb 10oz and for those first couple of hours with us, he didn't cry once.

You know that bonding experience new mothers have with their babies?  Well, that didn’t happen at first. It came a few hours later.  Hubby had gone home and in those days after giving birth, your baby was taken to the nursery so you could rest.  As I am sure many new mums will tell you, when you’ve just given birth and your adrenaline is still racing around your body, the last thing you can do is sleep.

I remember lying there in my bed, trying to sleep but all I could hear was one baby crying.  The crying went on, becoming more and more frantic and I just knew it was him.  Eventually a midwife came in and, handing him to me said “I think he needs his mummy”.  As soon as she put him in my arms he shut up.  He just looked up at me with those huge eyes and that was when that amazing bond hit me like a brick.  From that moment on, I knew there was nothing I wouldn’t do for this child.

New mums are discharged from hospital so quickly these days. Thirty years ago and even though baby and I were both healthy, my hospital stay was five days.  During that time we were given lessons on how to properly top and tail our baby, how to bath him and how to feed him.  When we finally came home I was well rested and full of confidence that I knew how to care for our son.  I do feel sad when some first time clients confide in me that they felt rushed out of hospital before they were completely ready.

Our Second - Born 1994

We had caught so quickly for our son that we assumed the same would happen a couple of years later when we wanted another baby.  Sadly, things didn’t go to plan.  After over a year of trying and failing I finally became pregnant again only to suffer the pain of a miscarriage.  We were both so upset, but then a miracle happened, and I found out I was pregnant again.  It happened so quickly that I even began to suspect I may have been expecting twins and lost one, leaving the other alive and well.  This wasn’t the case of course, but to illustrate how close the dates were, the baby we lost was due on July 27th and our second child and eldest daughter was born on August 11th, albeit three weeks early.

My pregnancy with our eldest daughter wasn’t as easy as with our son.  From around 28 weeks I had to have scans twice weekly as there were concerns with her rapid heart-rate.  On one occasion I was taken into hospital and told to prepare for a very early birth, only to thankfully have a Consultant overrule the decision.  In the end, I was induced at 37 weeks, by which time I was a nervous wreck and very concerned about my baby's health.  

I was obviously meant to carry my babies for longer, because despite being induced, our young lady just did not want to be born. I had another epidural but this time it wasn’t as completely effective.  Little one was back to back and I was in slow labour for almost three days. By the time she was ready to be born and despite my best efforts I was just too exhausted to push her out. Forceps were discussed, but ultimately were not needed.  I always say things happen for a reason, and it turns out that the sudden bouts of explosive vomiting I was again experiencing during this second labour were a blessing in disguise!  Our eldest daughter practically flew into the world when my body suddenly spasmed as I heaved to be sick.  I still remember the look of shock on the midwife's face as she caught our daughter, demonstrating lightning fast reflexes that Roger Federer would be proud of.

After a worrying pregnancy, when I was admitted to hospital I was very afraid for my baby's health.  You can tell by the way I'm hanging onto my Crucifix here!

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This photo was taken shortly after she was born.  I think the exhaustion I felt is plain to see. 

The happiness we had at being blessed with a daughter soon evaporated as it became clear things weren’t all as they should be.  I remember watching a Consultant Paediatrician and my husband talking in low voices and feeling absolutely terrified.  Thankfully, after being tested her heart seemed fine, but then there were concerns about her breathing.  She was taken to the Special Care Baby Unit and there followed a week of worry and regular trips from my ward on the top floor of the old maternity building at Walsgrave Hospital, to the basement SCBU.  The lifts in that building were not the most reliable and once or twice I had to drag my aching post-birth body down several flights of stairs to see her. When I first saw her in an incubator,  hooked up to monitors, her little body fighting so hard to breathe and with what looked like an enormous drip in her tiny arm I was beyond upset.  I desperately wanted to hold and breastfeed her, but all I could do was watch as a nurse used a pipette to drip feed her a few drops of my breast milk at a time.

The nursing staff were excellent however and a few days after she was born, I was finally allowed to hold her and try to breastfeed.  She had gained so much strength in those few days and I remember crying with joy when she latched on to feed. Her birthweight of 6lb 10oz had dropped to 5lb 8oz by the time we came home with her and I remember watching her like a hawk those first few weeks.  When he visited us at home, an elderly GP said  “Well, she's a scrawny little thing, but some mothers milk would soon sort her out!” He was absolutely right.

Before I finish talking about the arrival of our second I'd like to just mention here something that I have heard many new mums say. When you've had one baby and are expecting your second, you may well worry that you could not possibly love your second child as much as your first. You might think that there is just no room in your heart, because it is so full of love for your first born.  I thought like that, I really did.  But from the moment I held my daughter, I knew it wasn't true.  At the risk of sounding extremely sentimental, I swear my heart just doubled in size to allow me to love them both equally.  (By the way, your heart can just as easily triple in size too!)

So, with our planned for and very much loved two children, our family was complete.  Or so we thought!

Our Youngest - Born 2003

When our daughter was just over eight years old and we had long since settled into the next phase of parenthood, we had a huge surprise!

I remember I had been going through a busy period at work.  At the time, I worked for the local Authority in Health and Safety.  I had been rather stressed and my period had been all over the place.  One day and completely out of the blue, hubby asked me if I had taken a pregnancy test

“Don’t be stupid” I remember telling him.  “I’m stressed, that’s all!”  I knew I couldn’t possibly be pregnant, we’d been taking precautions after all.  To this day he can’t explain why he suspected I might be pregnant, apparently it was a ‘hunch’.

Hubby kept on about it, so one day I decided the only way to shut him up was to do a test. 

I was on my way to a meeting and, files in hand, I nipped into a chemist and brought a pregnancy test kit.  So sure it would be negative, I took the test in the ladies on the way back to my office. To say I was shocked at the result is an understatement!  I remember walking back into the office and, when one of our new starters asked me if I was ok because I looked pale, I just burst into tears! 

Don’t get me wrong our youngest was very much wanted, but to this day,  I honestly don’t know how she came into being.  One of the 2% of pregnancies to evade birth control I guess!

This time around my pregnancy was awful. I don’t know if it was because I was that bit older, but I just felt horrible.  I was constantly sick in fact, I lost over a stone in the first three months and was on the verge of being admitted to hospital.  Then everything began to balloon.  I became huge;  with my swollen face and huge cankles I demonstrated the exact opposite of what a glowing, beautiful pregnancy would be.  I won't say I hated being pregnant because that would just be untrue, but its fair to say that towards the end of my pregnancy that very hot summer, I was more than ready for baby to be born.  

After being previously induced twice, I had really wanted to experience going into labour naturally but sadly this wasn’t to be.  Three days before her due date my blood pressure was so high I was instantly admitted to hospital for induction.  Again, it took a lot to get me started but after a 24 hour labour she was born in the early hours of the morning.  I had asked for an epidural when labour started but, thanks to my temperature being raised, I wasn’t allowed one.  I bought our youngest into the world on just gas and air and with hindsight, I am so glad I did.  It may have been a lot more  painful than my other deliveries, but I am so pleased I finally experienced that natural urge to push.  What an amazing feeling!  I describe it as an out of body experience.  I will never understand why you hear medical professionals on TV telling labouring mothers ‘not to push yet’ because believe me, there is no way on God’s good earth I could have stopped my body from taking over when the time came to push my baby out. Despite predictions of a nine to ten pound baby our youngest daughter came into the world a dainty 7lb 6oz.  While our son is now just under 6 feet and our eldest daughter taller than me at 5’ 8”, our youngest, at the age of almost 17, remains dainty to this day.  Standing at 5’4” and a tiny dress size 4, followers of my Social Media pages will know her well as she regularly models for me.

Our unplanned, but very much loved, surprise.

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The above image is a section from a photo I have never shared before, even with family! I have converted it to black and white and removed unnecessary (and highly embarrassing) elements.  Despite the frankly gory detail of the original colour version, this image is one I treasure.  Snapped by hubby, it captures the actual moment our beautiful daughter came into the world.  I love so many things about it; the smile on our lovely midwife's face, my hands reaching up to take our baby, the poster which I focussed on during contractions and, of course, our baby girl as she took her first breath. 
The photo below is us just a few hours later when she looked a lot less messy! The look on my face seems to say "Yep, I still don't know how this happened!"
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One final memory I will share from all three of my birth stories concerns my wonderful husband.  He has an underlying health condition and at all three deliveries, whilst being an amazing source of support to me, its fair to say he did have a tendency to lose consciousness now and then.  I have a clear memory of watching him after the birth of our youngest, lying prone on a bed himself and being fussed over by a couple of nurses. I have no doubt he thoroughly enjoyed every second.

Mothering Sunday 2004.  Every contraction was worth it.

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Well, I realise I have written a lot of words here.  You see, I told you us mums like talking about our birth stories!   

One of the amazing things about having a baby is that, almost as soon as your baby is delivered and placed in your arms, the pain stops.  Over the coming weeks, the memory of that pain becomes less and less. I can only assume Mother Nature made it this way to ensure that women would go on to have further children.

If you’ve made it to the end of my very personal birthing blog, thanks so much for reading. If anyone has an interesting birth story they would like to share, I would love to hear from you.

Take care and stay safe!

Lorraine x 


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