In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Nina Malone shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I found I was pregnant unexpectedly. I’d had a pain in my legs for weeks, but as a runner, I assumed I’d sprained or pulled something. I thought it would loosen up or that I could massage it out. But it stayed. Two and a half weeks later, my mum made me go to the GP, who told me to go to A&E. It was a blood clot. I’d been having my period this whole time, so I wasn’t phased when they asked me to do a urine test just to rule it out. Alas, I was pregnant – 13 weeks to be specific.
It was a crazy way to find out, of course. I was in shock, but really tried not to panic. I was put on blood thinners for the clot and had to self-inject twice a day to my stomach. And from that point on, I had to start getting stuff in order – cancelling a big holiday to Mexico for my cousin’s wedding, sorting out my work. It was almost like rethinking my life.
Obviously I was high-risk, so there was a bit of the unknown. But giving birth? I was so excited! Really excited – I couldn’t wait.
When it came to it, I was overdue. I had one sweep and it did nothing, but when they monitored me, my baby’s heartbeat was steadily dropping and my iron was low, too. The second sweep got things moving.
I was at home when it started and my husband was out, so I called him to come back – my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came over, too, and my mum got the train down from Bristol. Despite having pains, my waters didn’t break so I went into hospital for them to manually break them.
That’s where things started to go slightly wrong. The baby’s heartbeat was still dropping, my blood pressure was rising. I was pumped with so many drugs; I had a pill up my bum, three drips from each arm, and my adrenaline was high.
I’d been told if I thought I was going into labour, I shouldn’t inject the blood thinner that day – but I had. So they upped the dosage on a drip to flush out the thinner, but then they had to flush something else out, too. It was a lot.
There were so many people in the room – a team for me, and a team for the baby – and so many words, jargon, things I didn’t understand.
All I could hear during this time was “heartbeat dropping”. Part of my hysteria was panic – I couldn’t stop my heart racing. There were so many people in the room (a team for me, and a team for the baby) and so many words, jargon, things I didn’t understand.
I ended up having two epidurals – not for pain, but for medical reasons – and it meant pushing was fine. They needed to use forceps a little to get him out, but it wasn’t too bad. And when he did come out – six hours after going into hospital – oh, it was sheer relief.
My husband and mum said I was incoherent at the birth, talking about random things. I tore right up to my rectum and needed 27 stitches – I was counting every single one, I could feel them. But I was just so happy my son was here.
Straight after the birth, I was taken to a high-risk ward and had a catheter for a good few days. My son was jaundice too, and the drugs would’ve been in his system, so we had to stay in for a week and be monitored.
Randomly, I met a distant cousin while on the ward. They kept on saying there were two of us with the same surname, which was wild. She came over to me after our names had been called out and we’d been mixed up, and we worked out we were very distant relatives. It was surreal – and we still see each other around the area now.
When I actually left hospital, seven days after giving birth, that’s when I cried. There was so much going on before, every time it looked like we could leave, there was something else. I’d held all my emotions in, and it felt like they all came out as we left.
Happiness, love, relief, sheer joy.
My birth advice?
Plan, but don’t get too attached to it. Don’t feel any shame. Try and be as comfortable and as confident as you can, whatever you need to make yourself feel better.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.