Harper Faye, born at 3.33pm on Monday 2nd July 2018
weighing 7lb 12ozs.
I've thought long and hard about whether or not I should write this. For the last 15 weeks I've struggled to come to terms with what happened the day Harper was born and I'm still waiting now to speak to professionals about how I process it and move on with it. I hope it will help other mums that have experienced birth trauma, and also help raise awareness of the support that is needed after a traumatic birth.
So let's start at the very beginning, Mr K and I decided in May 2017 that it was time to try for baby number 2 - our eldest was 6 now and with us both being 37 it dawned on us that we weren't getting any younger if we wanted to give Sophi a brother or sister. I'm not denying the thought of going back to sleepless nights, bottles and nappies wasn't daunting - it seemed like so long since we had to think about any of that.
After a few weeks of feeling 'out of sorts' on 31st October (Halloween of all days!) just before leaving the house for a late shift at work I took a pregnancy test - I really didn't expect to see the positive result that came up on the test so quickly. In a blur of shock and a bit of disbelief I face-timed Mr K and showed him the test. I was strangely relieved to see that he was as shocked as I was at the news that we were pregnant.
After having a complicated and consultant led pregnancy with Sophi (due to me having pre-existing hypertension) I prepared myself for the same again. I couldn't have been more wrong - other than a little bit of heartburn and some anti-bodies showing up at my gestational diabetes blood test (which thankfully turned out to be nothing serious) this time round it was smooth sailing.
I remember the day my community midwife told me I met the criteria to deliver at the 'birth place' - a midwife led unit at my local hospital. I never thought that would be an option for me due to my labour with Sophi. It was pretty quick, my waters broke at home at 5am, I was assessed at the hospital between 9am and 11am and sent home to return the next day if nothing happened. I had some minor back aches between 12 and 2pm (for which I took 2 paracetomol!!) god knows what I thought they were going to do. Then all of a sudden everything ramped up - we arrived at the hospital at 2.40pm and Sophi was born 29 minutes later at 3.09pm with a little bit of gas and air.
So fast forward to Harpers due date - 29th June - the day after Sophi's school sports day - an event which both me and the baby were under strict instructions not to miss. We made it to sports day - during what was the warmest summer we had for years. By this time I was aching and swelling in areas I didn't know was possible and my pregnant waddle was in the running to become the new dance move to take over from the 'floss'.
I was already booked in with my midwife for 3 sweeps if I went passed my due date - little did I know what events were lying ahead of me. We entered the weekend after my due date with the constant flurry of 'any news?' and 'Isn't it about time you had that baby' texts. The weekend came and went and by this time I was fed up and convinced baby was staying put and I would end up being induced.
Monday 2nd July - I took Sophi to school on the school run as normal, popped into the local Tescos on the way home and had yet another day at home waiting for signs of baby's arrival. In the afternoon I text Mr K to tell him I was going to do the school run. Understandably concerned as I was now 3 days late he told me to text him when I got to the school, when we got back to the car and when we got home - so he knew we were ok.
I drove to the school and asked at the office to pick Sophi up from there - the waddle round to her classroom was just too much in the heat. At about 3.10pm Sophi and I walked back to the car and I sent a text to Mr K telling him we were on our way home. Shortly after this everything changed..
I was driving home - the usual way - stopped at a road junction and all of a sudden, out of nowhere I had the worst, gripping, contraction pain I've ever experienced. It was so strong that in that instant my waters broke with an enormous gush! In a complete state of panic I drove across the junction and not knowing what else to do I pulled up on the pavement got out of the car and rang the door bell of the nearest bungalow. My contractions were immediately coming thick and fast - the pain was so intense and I was desperate for someone to help me. A man answered the door - I'll never forget the shock on his face as I explained I was in labour, I needed an ambulance and for him to get Sophi out of the car for me.
At 3.18pm (I only know this from my mobile phone call log) I rang 999 for an ambulance - I tried my best to explain to the operator between my contractions what was happening - she assured me an ambulance was on its way but that I really should go inside the house. By this time I was frantic as I could feel the baby's head and there was no sign of the ambulance I so desperately needed. I went inside the house, the gentleman was looking after Sophi and I was doing my best to breathe through my contractions. It was at this point the man's wife returned from shopping, she quickly realised what was happening and took my mobile from me as I could no longer speak to the operator.
The next thing I remember is being in a bedroom, a paramedic came through the door - my longed for ambulance had finally arrived! The paramedic told me she had the gas and air and to tell her when I needed it - by this time it was too late for that - I had to push! 2 pushes and my baby was born at 3.33pm - the paramedic literally was there in time to catch her. After unravelling the cord which was round her neck twice (something I only found out later) I heard my baby cry for the first time. I have honestly never felt so relieved and shocked in my life.
23 minutes after collecting my daughter from school and 18 minutes after my waters broke I had delivered my 7lb 12ozs beautiful baby girl.
At 3.37pm Mr K rang my mobile - I hadn't text him to say we were home - the paramedic answered it and told him his daughter had just been born and the address details of where we were. Just before 4pm he arrived at the house and met Harper for the first time.
Shortly after this we were transferred to the local hospital - I sustained a 2nd degree tear which needed to be treated and Harper needed to be monitored due to her rapid arrival. With everything being well we were both discharged at lunchtime the following day.
We have been back to visit the couple who helped us on that day - I will be forever grateful for the help they gave me. Harper didn't just enter our lives that day she entered theirs as well.