Friday, August 29, 2008

Five Star Birth?

Seeings as lovely Tara at From Dawn Till Rusk is asking us for our birthing stories, let me share how having son #1 in the UK versus having son #2 in the USA went...


• First call to midwife at local Berkshire NHS hospital, "She's screaming in agony, contracting every 8 minutes, can we come in?" “No, we haven’t got any spare beds. Get her in a nice warm bath and pop on the TENS.”
• Second call to hospital, “She’s wailing. She bit me.” “Has she had a show?” “She’s putting on a bloody show!”
• Fifteenth call to hospital, “She’s in the car. Contracting every five minutes. Is the birthing pool available?” “Not sure. But we might have the ‘Feels Like Home’ room, if you get a move on. It’s Christmas.” Click…burr.
9pm: Wave off maternal grandparents and drive the 6 miles in our Peugot 206 via back roads to avoid the traffic (what traffic it’s Sunday night). In between contractions am texting my BF to say, “This is it!”
10pm: We’re back home because the maternity ward sister said, if I could walk into the place, I wasn’t ready to be admitted yet.I texted all the way back in outrage!
10.20pm: My mum makes us all egg and chips to keep us busy (!)
10.35pm: Am back in the Peugot, am sure this IS IT as I can’t even bring myself to text.
11pm: Him Downstairs (HD) and the hospital security guard are arguing over parking spaces as I pant, “I don’t give a s**t if you get towed, I’m having a baby!”
Midnight: We’re back home (again) because although I was wheeled into the maternity ward and crying more than Gwyneth at an Oscar speech, the midwife had announced I was still only 2cm dilated and I couldn’t be admitted until I was 3cm. Grrrr.
1.30am: Here we are again. This time I really can’t take it and pure contractual exhaustion has set in. A wonderful midwife takes one look at me and whips me on the pethadine so I can get some sleep. “You’re just in time love,” she says, “I have a lovely bed for you and you can get some rest, else you’ll never push this baby out!” (HD btw is busy counting his change to see if he has enough for the meter).
2.30am: Hurrah we reached 3cms! We can stay in. The pethadine was grrreat.
3.50pm: After some lovely massages from midwife, some wooziness on the birthing ball and some delightful gas and air, my beautiful firstborn finally waved hello to me daddy and midwife. (Well actually he looked like he’d been 10 rounds with frank Bruno. Bless.) We’re moved away from the sounds of someone else’s labour pains next door and into the ward.
4.45pm: A nurse finally offered me a bloody cup of tea!
8am: We’re kicked out because they need my bed. We've been clamped.

• First prenatal (as they call it here) appointment at my OB’s office: “You can come into the hospital as soon as you start contracting. We’ll be calling you anyhow to see how you’re doing. We can schedule it with the hospital, if you want. Get you booked in for induction in case?” Can I get you anything? Water? Juice?
• !!
• At almost 41 weeks preggers I went in to see my lovely OB and was gutted to discover I was barely effaced and still only 1cm dilated. An induction was booked. “You’re all set!” he said. “I’ll be there, don’t worry” Still not used to idea that the doc I’d seen throughout whole pregnancy would actually see it through to the end.
1pm: Come home from doc’s office. Feel crap. Can’t text anyone. (It’s just not that popular round here it seems). Parents are due to go back to UK in 3 days. What if second born doesn’t arrive in time for them to meet him?
9pm: Eat pizza. Feel a bit odd. Go to bed.
7am: Wake up HD. Say, “Think I’m having a few contractions. Don’t go to work in case.” “Right,” he says. “I’ll just go mow the lawn as this’ll go on for hours won’t it?”
9am: Me and my mum are sitting in my bed holding hands as I do my whooshy breathing. HD is nowhere to be found. Couldn’t find my TENS. Anyway my OB’d looked totally blank at me when I asked if I could use one in his hospital.
11am: Contractions feel more intense, but I am handling it so feel no need to panic. After all, last time this went on for days.
Midday: Suggest to HD we call my doctor. “But you’re not even in that much pain yet are you?” he says. Me and my mum refrain from punching him.
2pm: Take a shower to relieve back labour and tell HD I really think we can call the doctor because I’m contracting every 4 mins and it’s lunchtime rush hour.
2.30pm: “She’s at 4 minutes? You should have bought her in hours ago. We’ll meet you at the hospital.”
2.40pm: I throw up. This sent HD into panic mode because I’d thrown up right before I needed to push with son # 1.
3pm: I can’t climb up into his ridiculously huge 4x4. My whole family hoist me in. Am seriously feeling like am about to give birth in the back of the car.
3.40pm: Arrive at huge and gleaming hospital and a porter brings a wheelchair to the car door (!) and another guy valet parks the car (!!)
3.50pm: Receptionist at maternity ward fires all sorts of insurance and identification questions at us (“We have to have this for our paperwork Sir”) until a passing doc takes one look at me panting and heaving and shouts, “Somebody get this lady into Triage!” (I would have felt like I had a starring role in Greys Anatomy if I wasn’t in so much pain)
3.55pm: We didn’t really know or care what Triage was, I just knew it was a step in the right direction. I’m wheeled into an assessment room where at least four nurses fuss over me, whip my clothes off, put me in a lovely gown and announce, “She’s 7.5cms. You’re having this baby honey!”
• I remember screaming for drugs. Over here they’ll give you whatever you want. None of this the anesthetist’s gone home nonsense. Although I’d been all for the natural no-drug birth thing, I quickly decided drugs were the way to go. I was gutted when told, “You’re too far for an epidural. You’ve done good so far. You don’t need drugs.”
• !!!
4.24pm My beautiful son #2 arrives with not a bruise in sight. He literally flew into my doctor’s arms. And he was surrounded by daddy, mummy, three nurses, a resident,and a pediatric specialist (in case). What an audience. And we were in a private room.
4.30pm: A tray full of coffee, water, juice, cookies, bagels and cream cheese magically appears.
5pm: Two nurses wheeled us into our recovery suite (complete with bed for mummy, bed for daddy and bed for baby plus en suite bathroom and view). A porter wheels our bags. Another nurse comes in and gives me her personal phone number, “If you need me when I’m not outside your room.”
5.15pm: Another nurse comes in and shows me that everything I need for baby is right in the drawers under the cot: combs, nappies, nappy cream, onesies, mittens, hats, sheets etc. It was all mine. “Take it all home!” she says. “And all your feminine needs are right there for you in the bathroom. Oh, and right across the hall is the refreshment suite. Help yourself to coffee muffins and brownies as often as you want, and if there’s anything you want we don’t stock there, call this number on speed dial,” (points to high tech phone by my bed) “and someone from the restaurant will bring it up to you. No need to rush home. Stay as long as you want.”
• !!!!!!!!!!!!
• When it came to us leaving (actually only 24 hrs later because I missed son #1) the valet guy came and bought our car round to the front door for us.

Personally I can’t wait to check in there again. It was the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in!


  1. Someone with blog-sense tell me how to get rid of the link to my own site I accidently seem to have put up above this post. Pretty pur-lease! I feel like a fool.

  2. I remember my SIL from London being amazed when I told her that when I decided I was ready for an epidural at 2:30 a.m. the anesthetist was in the room within 5 minutes. When she wanted one in the UK, she had to wait several hours.

    My hospital wasn't quite as fancy as yours, but still very nice.

  3. My three were all very good despite two c-sections. It's great to have the doc you've been seeing for the last 9 months (and further back) actually there to deliver you. But take a look at the bills when they start coming through. Even though health insurance takes care of most of it, it really makes your eyes water.

  4. Having relied so heavily on the health service last year for major surgery and cancer treatment I am very glad I don't have to rely on medical insurance.
    I had two cataract operations here in England. One on the health service ( service awful but free) and one done privately ( service fabulous but cost £3,000). I would always go private if I could afford it, but since I don't qualify for private health insurance I am very glad I don't have to pay for my treatment!

  5. Right, I'm coming over to have a baby, I want a hotel like that please. Anyone know how to reverse a vasectomy?

  6. I have to admit that I had both children at Hexham hospital (20 mins. away) and I had absolutely fabulous care from them. New to myself each time, toast, tea, one-to-one midwife. Did not cost one single penny! (Mind you had there been any problems I'd have been shipped off to either Newcastle or Carlisle!(at least 30/40 mins. away in either direction))

  7. Thank you for the blogroll inclusion. Very nice of you indeed!

  8. Ho Ho! And friends ask why I didn't want to have a baby in the UK!? Public Healthcare is great and all but you really do get what you pay for...

  9. That is hilarious (I hope you can laugh about it now!). Just goes to show how different it can be - I hear so many 'horror' stories of women having their baby in the hospital car park because they've been turned away, or another mum being assigned to a bed before the other mum has had the chance to pack her bag!
    Oh and egg and chips - you are so a girl after my own heart!
    Thanks for taking part in the 'Labour Party', your story was great!

  10. aa - it deffo was a different experience the NHS to here, just wish I'd had that blinking epidural! thanks for stopping by btw..

    expat - yes the bill was huuuuuugggge! and mine was a pretty basic visit. No special needs, no drugs. It must've been all the brownies I consumed!

    lakeland - thanks for visiting my blog. Yes paying for treatment all the time here does get a bit much. I don't take the kids to the docs as much as i would in Uk as I know I'm going to be $30 worse off just for stepping over the threashold...I hope you are well now?

    mh - haha bet there's a blog out there to tell you!

    ht - thanks for stopping by. Your hospital sounds much better than my Berkshire experience. You got toast?? Actually, the hosp was nice. It was clean. I just wish they'd had more tea (and toast) to offer.

    tgw - True. And we pay - oh sireee do we have to pay! Thanks for stopping by btw..

    tara - glad you enjoyed. Thanks fro sparking my memory. Soz about the link fiasco. Do you like beans on toast with some nicely grated cheddar and a plop of HP on the side by the way?

  11. That settles it. I had already told The Doctor (hubby) that if I ever have another child, it's going to happen while we're in the US - no more NHS postnatal wards from hell for me. Your story just confirms things!

  12. t visito todos los dias esta muy bien tu blog visita mi blog y si t gusta deja un comentario y nos linkeamos los blogs

  13. Hi, I saw your site when I was visiting "not wrong just different" and had to come visit. I'm glad I did. I've been in the States for almost 9 years now and had 2 babies here - none in the UK. Wow, am I ever glad I didn't have to do it there!

    Your US hospital sounds phenom! I need to move where you are!

    It's always a treat to find more ex-pats, I'll definitely add you to my feed reader.

  14. I'm not sharing my story - too traumatic. Sufficed to say I'm sticking at one. Maybe I should move the US?

  15. Wow. I had no idea delivery was like that in the UK.

    After I had my twins I was treated like royalty. It was so wonderful.

  16. I would add my birth stories but I had such an easy time of it and people tend to dislike me afterwards

  17. "4.30pm: A tray full of coffee, water, juice, cookies, bagels and cream cheese magically appears." -How wonderful! I gave birth in the Chelsea and Westminster (London) and it was a bundle of laughs. The highlights were my partner getting a parket ticket when he dropped me off(he was only in the hospital for 10 mins),waiting forever for a cup of sickly sweet tea after the birth(like you), sweating all night on plastic sheets and not being able to sleep anyway, because the woman next to me kept crying because she didn't want to breast feed but the nurses kept forcing her to do it - to the extent that they took away the bottle and formula her husband had smuggled in. Good old Blighty.

  18. I can't believe the difference in the two stories! I would've moved to the states just to have had Small Child but seeing as we're not having anymore the NHS memories will have to suffice! Great the way you write! Like you I've been stopping by all of Tara's award nominees! Will be back for more and am blog rolling right back at ya!