There were two things I thought were almost certain before I gave birth to my third child. Firstly I thought I’d go early, given that baby no. 2 was born at 36 weeks + 5 days and also because this baby was measuring big throughout the pregnancy. Secondly, I had a feeling that it would be a quick labour, again similar to my second baby, and I was prepared for a mad dash to the hospital arriving just in time to deliver. Like I predicted I went into labour at 36 weeks + 2 days but unlike I thought it was not a short labour. Looking back the labour was coming on the whole week leading up until his birth on Sunday April 10th at 12.22am.
Monday 4th April: First official day of my maternity leave, after a weekend of very irregular mild contractions I wake up feeling great. It’s a bright, sunny albeit cold Monday and the kids are back at school/pre-school after the Easter holiday and serious nesting kicks in. I frantically rush around doing the laundry, polishing, hoovering, wash the windows and set up the crib. I have some contractions that are mild, completely irregular, on and off all day.
Tuesday 5th April: Offically 36 weeks pregnant today according to the hospital even though the first private scan I had puts me nearer 36+4.
Not such a great morning, wake with bad cramps at 5am and can’t get back to sleep so get up to walk it off. In the mid-afternoon I crawl into bed and sleep for four hours. I have a definite feeling baby is on the way. Feel somewhat brighter in the afternoon & in the evening just as I’m about to make dinner more regular contractions start. I ring Niall to say not to work late just in case & he suggests we go in to get it checked out just in case. Start to time them with my contraction app, regular enough at 7-8 mins apart. We drop the kids to my mum’s house & head in to the Rotunda, all the while getting more regular contractions. The hospital isn’t too busy and 10 minutes later get checked out. Literally as I lie on the bed in the emergency room the contractions stop. The midwife looks at me like I’m a little crazy but puts a trace on the baby and monitors for 20 minutes. Still nothing after 20 minutes so the doctor does an internal check just in case. Not dilated. Looks like a case of false labour so back home to my mum’s house.
Wednesday 6th April: Hang around my mum’s house for the day just in case, contractions are on and off all day, mild and somewhat uncomfortable, stronger than braxton hicks but nothing too painful. I take it easy for the day & do very little.
Thursday 7th April: Wake at 5am with some contractions and sore back. In the loo I notice some bright red blood which I’m pretty such is the bloody show, even though I’ve never had it on the other two. Feel like real labour couldn’t be too far away now and at 6am I wake Niall to warn that this might be it as they get more intense, he gets the kids up and over to school but by 9am I haven’t had a contraction in over an hour so I tell him to go to work. I spend the day lazing in bed, feeling very emotional, the back cramps are quite uncomfortable so I do nothing but binge on Downton Abbey on Netflix.
Late afternoon I get up and have similar contractions to the ones earlier but definitely stronger, so I ask my mum to come over. At this stage I feel like the baby’s head has dropped right into my pelvis and find it hard to walk even more than a couple of metres. Niall is off to a black-tie event and as he leaves I remind him to keep both phones by him just in case. Get the kids dinner and put them to bed. At around 11pm contractions start again but I don’t panic as I’m positive they will disappear, 10 mins later another, 10 mins another so again I start to time them, they are definitely more painful.
Contraction app tells me to ‘Go to hospital immediately’ so I text Niall to say come home. He doesn’t reply so I ring him, no answer, text again……starting to get a bit nervous. Finally just before midnight he rings back and tell him to come home.
Friday 8th April
12.30am: put two sleepy kids in the car and drive into town through empty Dublin streets and ring my mum to come meet us there.
1am- Arrive at the Rotunda, sleepy kids moved into mums car and we’re into the emergency room quick enough. After a quick examination they tell me I’m 1cm dilated, they monitor the baby for 30 minutes and decide to admit me to the early labour ward. So this is it, it’s all very exciting. Things speed up over the next few hours, contractions are painful, every 7-8 minutes lasting over a minute each. The midwife suggests I take a bath which they have on the ward, which sounds good, I soak in the big tub and Niall times contractions.
5am– I really love the bath but feel I better move about, I notice a bleed while getting out of the bath which I mention to the midwife. She looks concerned and puts a trace on me and baby, she puts an IV in just in case. The contractions have eased off and I manage to dose off for a half hour.
7am- contractions start up again but not regular: 7 mins, 8 mins, 10 mins……..20 mins apart. I start a family WhatsApp group to keep everyone updated on baby’s impending arrival. I start to lose my mucous plug, again something I never had on the other two and there is a LOT of it. This labour is so different to the other two.
8am-12pm- shift changes, new midwives, monitoring, panadol (ha!) for pain relief, contractions completely irregular but definitely getting more painful. Breakfast arrives but can’t eat anything. Niall is exhausted having been up for over 24 hours at this stage.
1pm- go for walk around hospital, contractions get stronger.
2pm-5pm: back in ward, contractions ease off 😤 Nap for a bit in between contractions, take a LONG shower, Niall goes off to get some dinner, midwives shifts change again, they tell me I’m not officially in labour until 4cm dilated but they don’t want to examine me either to determine how far along I am. I realise I have only packed enough clothes for two nights in the post-natal ward so send Niall out shopping for extra maternity nightwear. Google how long early labour can last and don’t like Google’s answers, anywhere between couple of hours to 1 week. I can’t keep this up for A WHOLE WEEK!!!
5pm-10pm: tea arrives, still can’t eat, contractions still irregular, getting tired and frustrated, midwife says nothing will happen soon and Niall decides to head to my mums for some sleep.
Saturday 9th April
12am-5am: actually sleep for 2-3 hours on and off, in between contractions that are 7-10 minutes apart for half an hour or so and then nothing for 20 minutes. I find the best position for dealing with them is on all fours on the bed as lying down makes them more intense. Various midwives take my blood pressure throughout the night and listen to baby every three hours or so, they put a trace on every now and then and everything looks fine, uterine activity isn’t strong enough on the trace to warrant an examination. It’s a surreal night as others in the ward come and go, others seem to be in a lot of pain, I struggle through each contraction without making much of a fuss and by morning there’s only three of us in the ward, everyone else has moved to the delivery suite.
7am-2pm: more new midwives, breakfast arrives, which I manage to eat, contractions are STILL irregular. Niall comes in with some magazines and newspapers. One midwife suggests perhaps it’s just braxton hicks, I feel like strangling her!
My sister-in-law is in town and comes in for a visit, so we meet her in the coffee shop, go for a short walk and when get back to the ward where they discuss perhaps sending me home until active labour starts. At this stage I’m so fed up in the ward I want to go home.
They suggest the doctor checks me before I leave and I agree, she examines me and to my surprise, relief and joy she says “you’re not going anywhere”. I’m now 2cm-3cm dilated, waters bugling and completely effaced. I’m so relieved, all that pain was some sort of progress….whoo hoo! The doc suggests if I go for another walk it would get things moving.
3pm-7pm– I walk and do various pelvic exercises, keep distracted on my iPhone with Downton Abbey on the Netflix app and the contractions start to become more regular.
A student midwife asks me have I thought about pain relief, I say I’m thinking about the epidural, she suggests a bath…….
I laugh but decide I might as well have another bath, if nothing else but to pass the time. Afterwards contractions are still going strong so at the next trace they determine uterine activity is definitely increasing and they decide to take me into the delivery suite in the next few hours.
8pm- admitted to the delivery suite finally! Feel excited & nervous and somewhat anxious but overall happy. I request an epidural and the midwife arranges it. The docs arrive to check me and I’m 4cm dilated, they decide I’m ok to get the epidural & they will break my waters after I get it.
I get a lot more consistent & strong contractions while waiting. The midwife gives me some gas to tide me over, this does nothing. A minute later another contraction, right before the anaesthetist arrives, that feels like my spine is being crushed, I’m not going to sugar coat it, it is agonisingly painful. The anaesthetist rhymes off a list of possible complications of the epidural, I nod and agree and think to myself ‘ok ok just give me the drugs.’ 5 minutes later I start to feel its wonderful pain reducing effects, they tell me it’ll take about 20 minutes to start working but I’m already blissed out. Niall decides to grab a quick bite to eat as I relax back and enjoy the pain relief and my midwife goes to do some paperwork outside.
Suddenly I feel very hot and dizzy, at first I think maybe it’s my breathing and need my inhaler but then I feel like I might faint. Things go fuzzy. I start to call for someone just as my blood pressure monitor beeps and everyone rushes in, they drop my bed explaining my blood pressure has dropped quite low and start me on fluids through the IV. I feel better immediately and soon get back to relaxing into the stage of labour. Have I mentioned how I love the epidural, it is AMAZING and I start to feel like myself again.
11.30pm- A sharp pain in my lower side hits me and I find myself having to breath through it. The midwife looks at me and thinks I shouldn’t be feeling anything so tops up my epidural. 10 minutes later another very sharp pain what feels like under the right side of the bump, midwife asks if I feel pressure and I’m not sure so she checks me and gives me a look that indicates things have progressed and fair enough I’m ready to push. We joke about whether he’ll make it before midnight as both the other two were born on Saturdays.
Sunday 10th April: Finally He’s Here!
12am- The delivery room lights have dimmed, a second midwife comes to help, she cautiously enters the room in anticipation of my reaction but when I smile at her and say ‘hi’ she relaxes and responds with ‘ah you’ve had the epidural’. They tell me to continue pushing at each contraction but like earlier the contractions don’t appear to be regular and it’s hard to tell when they are coming on. I can feel a lot of pressure in my pelvis but no pain, with each subsequent push I feel definite movement. The older midwife takes my hand to feel the head, I blurt out “that’s freaky”.
At the final stage the midwife tells me I don’t even need to push but to simply lie back and relax and at this point I feel his head emerge. Seconds later a wonderful cry rings out and a startled pink newborn is placed on my chest. It’s just 12.22am. He’s amazing and beautiful and perfect. Every minute of the last nine months has been worth this moment. He stops crying as he feels my warmth & opens his eyes for his first look at the world very briefly as Niall cuts his cord.
Because he’s a little early the pediatrician checks him over and everything looks ok. 7lbs 12ozs, he’s big for an early baby. Niall dresses and cuddles him while I get stitched up, get some tea and toast and then it’s down to the post-natal ward. I am absolutely exhausted at this stage, the adrenaline that’s kept me awake for the guts of three days now is slowly draining and one of my legs is still completely numb from the epidural. The nurses let Niall stay for a bit so I can get some sleep. I kiss Mr. Man and drift off happily into the deepest sleep I’ve had in a long time.
💙Welcome to the world Cian Peter Molloy 💙
Check out Cian’s First Month HERE