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Cara's first birth story

The arrival of Eva Elizabeth


Posted: 8 November 2005
by Cara Frost-Sharratt

About Cara

Freelance journalist Cara and husband Paul had a completely natural birth planned for the arrival of their first child, but as the hours ticked on she welcomed a helping hand and a forceps delivery encouraged Eva Elizabeth's entry into the world.

Like the majority of expectant mums my due date arrived without the slightest hint of a contraction. Despite the statistical evidence stacked against me, I still held out a vain hope that this mythical date might indeed herald the arrival of the baby. The empty bag of raspberry leaf tea and the bin overflowing with takeaway curry cartons were just a couple of the signs that I was ready.

I don’t know if either of these played a part but just three days later I woke up with abdominal pain. Strange as it sounds, I didn’t immediately think this might be the onset of labour so it was a shock when I realised the pain was coming at regular intervals – every ten minutes. I tried calling my husband, Paul, but a phone downstairs started ringing instead; he hadn’t picked the best day to forget his mobile. The contractions got steadily stronger throughout the day and, needless to say, he was a little surprised to be greeted at the door when he got home by a wife in the throes of labour.

Watery wait

The only bonus was that by the time I’d progressed enough to benefit from water, one of the pools was free ...
The Hours Tick By
We called the hospital around midnight then held on for as long as nervous, first-time parents could be expected to before heading off. One hour later we were making the return journey, as I was only 2cm dilated. However, we barely got through the front door before the contractions intensified and the pain was becoming unbearable so we drove straight back.

I wanted a water birth but both pools were busy so I was given a room in the antenatal ward where an examination revealed that I was now 3cm dilated. The next eight hours are a bit of a blur of contractions, gas and air, gulps of Lucozade and the buzz of the TENS machine, but unfortunately no progress on the cervix front. The only bonus was that by the time I’d progressed enough to benefit from water, one of the pools was free.

A Family Affair
I spent about four hours in the pool and, as my waters still hadn’t broken of their own accord, my midwife helped the process along. Then at last it seemed as if we might be getting somewhere: blankets and towels were brought in, everyone began conversing in those hushed tones that precede a momentous event and more midwives squeezed in around the tub as I hoisted myself rather inelegantly over the side for another examination.

I was therefore distraught to hear that I was still only 5cm and had nothing to show for my stint in the pool other than very wrinkled fingers. Neither the gas and air nor those well-rehearsed yogic breathing exercises seemed to be offering any relief and I just had to yell my way through each contraction.

This was possibly not the best time to be told that my family had arrived and were waiting in my room across the corridor. They’d assumed that the baby would have been safely delivered hours before and thought they’d pop in to offer their congratulations. As it was, they heard me screaming like a banshee and presumably sat nursing the champagne and flowers, trying to make light-hearted chit chat while the noise got progressively louder.

Despite obviously not being capable of popping out to say ‘hello’, I really couldn’t bear the thought of seeing anybody; every last bit of energy I had was being channelled into working through the contractions. Each one was so incredibly intense that everything and everyone around me paled into insignificance in the effort required to work through the pain.

Plans unravel

There wasn’t really time to dwell on the fact that decisions I’d spent the last nine months deliberating over were being re-made in seconds...
The Final Furlong
It was at this point that the midwife put an arm around me and suggested I think about having an epidural. The prospect of another night of agony made the decision an easy one and I was taken through to the ward and hooked up to drips, injected with drugs and strapped onto a monitor. There wasn’t really time to dwell on the fact that decisions I’d spent the last nine months deliberating over were being re-made in seconds but I knew I couldn’t continue either physically or emotionally for much longer.

Within minutes of having the epidural the pain disappeared and I experienced an enormous feeling of relief and just an hour later I was 10cm dilated and ready to push. However, it wasn’t over yet: no amount of pushing seemed to encourage the baby to move and after yet another examination they discovered that she was lying spine to spine and that her head was swollen. These two factors meant it was unlikely she’d be able to arrive unaided.

A hasty decision was made to go into theatre to attempt a ventouse delivery and, if that failed, I’d have to have a caesarean. I felt like I’d been in labour for an eternity and that the whole situation was now completely beyond my control, which I suppose it was at that stage. I just wanted it to be over and for the noise and pain and people to disappear. My natural birth seemed a million miles away as I blinked under the luminous theatre lights surrounded by ten medical staff who all seemed to be gathered around the bottom end of the bed staring between my raised legs.

When a loud popping sound indicated that the ventouse had come free, forceps were tried and then, after one long, final push, Eva Elizabeth entered the world. She was handed to a relieved and utterly shell-shocked Paul as my repair work was done and we stared at her in awe, and at each other with a mixture of relief and sheer exhaustion.

I don’t think people are being entirely honest when they say you forget the pain immediately – it’s just not possible when you’re still lowering yourself gingerly into herbal-infused baths two weeks later. However, the sheer amazement of giving birth to a tiny, perfect little human completely overrides this and the memories do start to fade eventually!

Eva Elizabeth

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Discuss this story

planned a natural birth without a epidural ended up with a forceps being used hubby was pushed to my head and my bp and pulse was to fast and our baby was in trouble so we landed up with no say it was that or lost our child and maybe me 2

Posted: 21/01/2008 at 23:06

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