Maddox's birth story

 Wow. It's been a while.

I have so many draft posts saved on here, many that I wrote while pregnant, but never actually finished or posted. This post isn't about being pregnant, so I won't dwell too much on that, but it was a very different experience to my pregnancy with Peyton.

I've not written on here since February 2020. When Covid happened and lockdown hit, like many, life just went crazy. We were both working from home full-time with a toddler home 24/7. I just didn't have the time to spend on this and, also, didn't really know what to write about. 

So, here I am. Breaking my way back in to share with you my birth story. I mean, some of you might have not even known I was pregnant again, let alone had had another baby! 

One of the first things people have asked me when they've seen me since giving birth has been 'how was your labour???' I genuinely love hearing and reading other people's birth stories. So, if you're as interested as me, settle down with a brew and some biccies - cos it's going to be a ride!!

Maddox Jack Kershaw

Born Tuesday 18th May 2021 at 12.46am weighing 8lb 2oz

I'll give you a brief (
lol, who am I kidding, probs won't be brief!) overview of my pregnancy before we dive into the birth.

We found out I was pregnant again in September 2020; two days before my sister-in-law's wedding to be precise. Obviously we didn't tell anyone until that was out of the way, so avoiding the fizz all day was very difficult! Thankfully I'd volunteered to drive so got round it that way! I was already much further along than when I found out with Peyton, so quickly got a date for my 12 week scan - which was the same week as my birthday.

Because of Covid, Tom wasn't allowed to be with me at the scan. He had to stay outside in the car. So, prior to the NHS scan, we went for a private scan. I was around 10ish weeks when we had it and Tom was able to be there. Neither of us wanted me to go to the first scan alone incase there was anything wrong and I had to find out alone. At the private scan, the sonographer said she could see, what she thought was, a bruise in my uterus. She said it could often happen when the embryo implanted itself and it wasn't a worry to her, so we thought nothing more of it.

Nothing was mentioned at the 12 week scan, other than baby looked happy, healthy and "wild" - another wild one, excellent! I had a little cry when I saw baby on the screen then. Not sure if it's because I was on my own, but I just felt such a sense of relief that everything was ok. The weeks leading up to it had been pretty crap for some of our closest friends and family, so we felt something was sure to go wrong with us; and almost felt guilty that we could be happy while they were all going through so much. (That's what one of my draft posts is about!)

Fast forward a few weeks to Remembrance Sunday (approx 16 weeks), and I had a bleed. It was the Saturday morning when I went to the loo. I kept checking every few minutes afterwards, and there was nothing more. So I thought no more of it. However, Sunday morning was the same; but more. You can imagine how I felt. I told Tom, and he was convinced something bad was happening.

I called 111 for advice, given that it was a weekend and I wasn't yet at the point where you could ring maternity triage. Honestly, I wish I hadn't. The initial call handler was really helpful as I explained to her, through my tears, what was going on. A doctor called me back almost straight away and I really wish I'd got his name because I would've registered some form of complaint against him/recommendation he works on his communication skills.

He basically told me that there was nothing anybody could do. Because of Covid, the Early Pregnancy Unit wasn't seeing anyone for bleeding unless they also had severe pain; which I didn't. He said that "it sounds like it could be a miscarriage but you just need to wait two to three weeks then take a pregnancy test to see if you are still pregnant". I had no words and just burst into tears. I'm no medical expert, but surely there must be a better way to word that?! He could obviously tell he'd been a nob because he quickly added: "Or you can ring triage for a second opinion". Yeah, cheers pal, you better believe I will.

I rang triage and they said that, unfortunately, what he said about not being seen by Early Pregnancy Unit was right; but agreed he should have picked his words better. They said they would speak to the unit when they opened that morning and ask them to get in touch with me and, while looking at my case notes on the computer, spotted that I was rhesus negative. That basically means I have negative blood and if I have any episodes of bleeding or bumps to my tummy need to go in for an AntiD injection. 

Early Pregnancy Unit rang me back shortly after and asked me to go in for my bloods taking and injection and said that they had a space for a scan that they could book me into to check everything was ok. We all bundled in the car and headed to York. Tom wasn't allowed in with me again, cos of Covid, so I went by myself. He took Peyton to McDonald's and the park while I was there. I think it was the longest few hours ever for us both. But, everything was fine. They said they could see no reason why I was having the bleeds but said baby was happy and healthy; which was all that mattered.

At 20 weeks, my scan showed the reason for the bleeds. I had a blood clot at the back of my uterus. I think this is what the private scan picked up when they said it was a bruise. I was already under a consultant due to blood loss in my delivery with Peyton, so he kept a close eye on me with extra appointments and scans to monitor the situation.

He said there was a chance my waters could break early, due to the clot, and it was likely I'd go into labour early, too (remember this remark when we get further on!!!)

I had a few more bleeds after then; one on Christmas morning - far from ideal, Every time I had one I had to go into hospital, alone, to be checked over and have my AntiD.

Because of the clot I also had more growth scans. Towards the end the rules changed and Tom was allowed, once again, to come to appointments with me. So that was nice. But, other than getting to see the baby more, the growth scans were a complete and utter waste of bloody time! Not only did each appointment leave me sat waiting for hours, but the scan itself said something different every time.

I was told he was going to be huge, that his weight had dropped, and then again he was going to be big.

Three days before my due date they told me he was already 9lb 2oz...! So as I went more and more overdue I was panicking about having a 10lb baby!!

So, onto my labour. Having done hypnobirthing with Peyton, I decided to do a refresher course this time around. We opted for an online, digital course which covered everything again.

I was pretty relaxed about labour again. Probably because we were trying to get our house move sorted at the same time, so didn't have time to worry about giving birth!

I ended up going past 40 weeks, which I was surprised about. Not only because of my consultant's words, but because I felt like I was carrying so low. I had a sweep at 40+4 (Tuesday11th May) and, that night, had a bloody show. The next morning I felt like I'd lost my mucus plug, so started to get excited things were starting! 

That afternoon I was woken up from my afternoon nap by tightenings. Now, I'd been having Braxton Hicks for agesssss, so I didn't get too excited initially. But when they continued to come every 10-15 minutes, even when I changed position/moved about, I wondered if it meant things were getting going. I text my mum and we agreed we'd take Peyton to their house after nursery just incase we needed to get to the hospital in the night. We dropped her off and went for a walk when we got home, still getting the tightenings every 10ish minutes.

The Thursday morning I was disappointed we'd not had a hospital dash in the night. We walked to Lidl (for the bakery) and things felt like they were getting closer together and a little more intense. However, when we got home, everything stopped completely. I said to my mum we'd get Peyton as it seemed pointless her staying there if nothing was happening. She dropped her home, but soon took her back after she spent 45 minutes crying saying she didn't want to be at home and wanted to go back to nana and papa's house!!

I picked her up on the Friday as, still, nothing was developing. Just the same pattern as the previous two days. 

I had another sweep on the Saturday (15th May) morning and the midwife said I was about 3cm dilated and fully effaced. It sounded as though my body was ready, baby just wasn't! We discussed induction and agreed to book me in for the Monday if nothing happened over the weekend.

Had we not been moving house that week, I probably would've waited and just let baby come when he was ready. But I was very aware of the fact the move was a week away and I didn't want to be in labour/giving birth while we were meant to be moving. 

Nothing happened over the weekend, so on the Sunday evening we went for tea at my mum and dad's house before leaving Peyton there. I felt really emotional driving home. I think it's because I knew the next time I saw her she wouldn't be the baby anymore and would be a big sister. But also because I didn't know how long it would be until we saw her, not knowing how long being induced and my labour would take, but also if I would need to stay in hospital after the birth.

On the Monday morning, I rang the ward at 7.30am and was told to go straight in. We had been worried that Tom might have to leave if I didn't go in early enough. Because of Covid partners of those being induced had to leave at 8pm if you weren't yet in established labour. So I was hopeful that, by then, things would have got started. Especially as I seemed so close already!

We arrived at the hospital just before 9am and took all our luggage in. Tom said he felt like he was at an airport as he pulled the bags through the car park.

We got to the ward and were shown to our room. It was really nice! It had a bed, sofa, birth ball, and a bath. I was put straight on the monitor so the midwife, Sophie, could see what was happening. I was having tightenings while I was on it, which she could see on the graph when she came back in. When she examined me she said I was around 2-3cm dilated. She was unsure what course of induction to take, and I did make it known I preferred the most natural ways possible (mainly wanting to avoid the hormone drip!)

We decided on the gel, which is basically the hormones needed to kickstart labour put directly onto the cervix. She put it in and we settled down and got relaxed. Well, I say we got relaxed, we watched Line of Duty! Not the most relaxing! I bounced on the ball and tried to stay as active as possible. I noticed the tightenings getting more regular, but were still not at the three in 10 stage.

I had lasagne and chips followed by apple crumble and custard for my dinner, watched Pretty Woman, and ate a load of pick n mix sweets. I was loving life. I must say, this side of being induced was great. I liked that we were able to get Peyton organised and settled as well, rather than everything being a mad dash.

They'd decided to move me to the labour ward at 4pm to have my waters broken, so we gathered all our stuff together. My preference was for a water birth, so we asked for a pool room. When we got over there we had a lovely room with a pool and a bed in. When I had Peyton, the room only had a pool so meant any examinations etc had to be done on the sofa - which wasn't the most comfortable! 

This room also had amazing lights and a light projection show. Everyone who came in said how 'zen' it felt. I was loving life.

My waters were broken around 5pm and, wow, what an experience that was. With Peyton, my waters broke when I was in the pool. So I didn't really get to experience, as such, what it was like.

This time Laura, the midwife, broke them for me with a little plastic hook thing. It was the strangest sensation. As she pulled the hook out it was like Niagra Falls. My waters literally shot up and out and across the room. Poor Laura was bloody soaked!! Honestly it was so strange. Every time I moved more gushed out, and with every contraction I felt more too. 

But it definitely got things started. My contractions started feeling more intense, with me needing to focus on my breathing in between, and were definitely getting closer together. My preference throughout labour was to remain as active as possible - so bouncing on the ball, moving around the room etc. I didn't want to get into the pool too early, like I did with Peyton, and didn't want to just be lying on the bed. 

However, it soon became apparent with each contraction that baby was struggling. His heart rate was dropping and taking a while to get back up. Laura (the midwife) suggested that I try sitting on the bed to see if that helped, which it did. So we moved the bed into a sitting chair position and that was me. I think this was around 6pm.

Shortly after, and with his heart rate was still dropping with the contractions, it was decided to put a clip on the top of his head to monitor him directly. This meant that I had to stay on the bed, and couldn't move around. But also meant I wouldn't be able to get in the pool. But this was fine. I was far more open-minded about this birth, having seen how my 'plan' went awry with P's labour. This time I didn't have a birth plan, I had preferences. 

When I was examined again at 8pm I was found to be 4cm dilated - which meant active labour. Hallelujah! The midwives swapped over around this time so Laura went and Chelsea took over.

From then, my contractions really felt like they were ramping up. I was really having to focus on breathing through them and was finding them way more intense. I was even starting to moo through them, which is the weirdest, most involuntary sound ever. It really felt like I must have been dilating quickly. 

I was trying to keep my energy up so was making sure I was eating and drinking plenty - flapjack was my go-to snack! I remember at one stage Chelsea coming back in whilst I was mid-contraction eating a piece of chocolate flapjack. She couldn't believe I was sat eating halfway through my contractions!

At 11pm I was examined again and was fully expecting to be, like, 8cm dilated. But no, still 4cm.

I won't lie, I was disappointed. I didn't see how I could still be the same as 3hrs earlier when everything felt so intense and close together. But I tried not to get too disheartened. 

Chelsea suggested that we try the hormone drip to try and get things moving along a bit. She said she knew that I didn't want to, but thought it might help get me going a bit quicker. I agreed, and we decided to just introduce a tiny little bit at a time to see if it would help.

By midnight, baby's heart rate was struggling again. A doctor came in who'd been watching the machine from outside and said he was a bit concerned. He asked if he'd be able to examine me and 'tickle' the top of baby's head to see if it helped his heart rate pick back up. He did, and it can't have had the desired effect because he came back wanting to do something else.

By this point, I was absolutely exhausted. My attempts at eating and drinking to keep my energy up didn't seem to have worked as I just felt completely burnt out. I was falling asleep between contractions, even though they felt like they were coming on top of each other. Those brief seconds where I wasn't having one I was straight off.

The doctor came back about 12.15ish and asked if he could do a procedure to take some blood from the top of baby's head to test his oxygen levels. He said it would show one of three things which would indicate whether things were ok or if they needed to get him out ASAP via a caesarean. 

“I have too much to do this week to have a caesarean!!!” I said to Tom.

To do this procedure, he needed me to lie on my side. I'd already tried moving onto my side to see if it would help baby's heart rate during the contractions and everything felt so intense I couldn't do it. But I dug deep, rolled over and, once again, held Chelsea's hand through the contractions. The doctor confirmed I was still 4cm (thanks!) and did what he needed to (it was like a smear test, essentially!)

Once the procedure was done, I rolled back onto my back. And this is where things really started to ramp up. It must've been about 12.30am by this time.

All of a sudden, the pain felt unbearable. It was a totally different type of pain to what I had been feeling all night. It felt like it was all in my bum.

I remember this overwhelming urge to poo, and apologising to Chelsea and Tom because all I felt like I wanted to do was poo. (Sorry if this is TMI!)

I started getting upset with myself, saying I couldn't do it. All I could think was 'if this is what it feels like at 4cm, how can I get to 10cm?'

Chelsea assured me that this was my body doing what it needed to, and I now realise this was the 'transition' period. But, at the time, I couldn't see how I could do it.

"I really feel like I need to push," I remember saying. Chelsea told me to listen to my body and push if I needed to. At this point, the doctor came back and asked if I wanted any pain relief, like an epidural. Chelsea told him to leave as the baby was coming so it was too late.

She told me she could see his head and called for another midwife to come in for the delivery.

I was absolutely exhausted and wasn't sure whether I could muster the energy or the strength to push him out, but somehow I did! And with just a few pushes his head was out, followed quickly by his shoulders. And before I knew it, he was on my chest; eyes wide open, looking around. Literally minutes after I was still just 4cm, I'd stormed to 10cm and he was here!

He didn't cry, he was just super chill taking it all in.

I couldn't believe it. It felt like such a different experience to Peyton's birth. There was barely anyone in the room this time, compared to with Peyton. When she was born she came out screaming the joint down, whereas Maddox was so quiet. And with Peyton I literally held her for a split second before she was taken away to be checked over. Whereas, with Maddox, I held him for what felt like hours before he was taken away to be weighed.

"What time was he born?" I remember asking about an hour later - I'd lost all track of time.

"Today!" Tom answered.

Well no shit, Sherlock!!

12.46am, Tuesday 18th May. 8lb 2oz.

11 days after my estimated due date. 

Born at York Hospital.

He came out with his hand up by his face so I had a little graze which required two stitches, but that was it. I hiiiiighly recommend doing your perineum stretches in the weeks leading up to your due date, ladies. It made the world of difference this time - no need for a cut and no tear!!

Just a few hours later I was up and about and in the shower. After that, I walked to the postnatal ward pushing Maddox in his little crib. With Peyton, I couldn't walk properly for at least 24 hours! And had to be wheeled around to the postnatal ward.

I was obviously glad that I felt better down there after giving birth this time, but more so because of the rules regarding partners visiting on the postnatal ward. Tom was only allowed to come in for a two-hour visiting slot which he had to ring and book at 9am. I didn't even need to look at my watch to know it was 9am as the phone on the ward started ringing off the hook as desperate partners tried to book their slot to come in. It was really sad.

If it had been like that with Peyton I'd have been stuck as I couldn't get out of bed or do anything by myself. Tom was back at 8am the morning after she was born, which was a godsend! 

We were hopeful that we wouldn't have to stay in this time, which we probably wouldn't had he not been born in the middle of the night. But because they needed to do his hearing test and other newborn checks before we could be officially discharged, it was recommended we stay as opposed to having to come back the next day.

As it transpired, we were out just after dinnertime anyway. So it wasn't too bad at all.

We were straight home to get settled and introduce him to his excited big sister.

Again, my birth wasn't exactly as my preferences had set out; maybe if we go for number three I'll manage a water birth then! But I had gone into everything much more open minded this time. I knew that things could take a turn, and as long as me and baby were ok they could do what they wanted. 

I managed to do my entire labour without any pain relief, not even gas and air this time. Even when I had my wobble right before he was born, I managed to calm myself, focus and breathe through it. I remember Chelsea saying to me "you've literally just breathed a baby out!" I know she probably compliments every woman who she helps to deliver a baby for, but she really made me feel like superwoman haha!

So, there we have it! I'm now a mum-of-two. And, in true mum-of-two style, it's taken me 17 days to write this hahahaha! Hopefully it doesn't take you as long to read it...!

Lots of love,

The Kershaws


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