My Labour Story

3 May 2017

My due date of March 11th came and went with no signs of Peanut joining the world any time soon. Three days later, I had an appointment at my hospital to discuss options as my blood pressure had risen suddenly and an induction was booked for 6 days time. I had always been opposed to induction, as the idea of having labour started artificially scared me somewhat, and truthfully, I really wanted things to get going on their own. 'Baby will come when baby is ready' was how I'd always focused my mindset. However, having an induction booked as a plan b meant that Dan could plan things with his work should I get that far, and it gave us an idea of when we would be finally meeting our baby.

6 days flew by, and Dan and I made sure we went on a final date night to eat Nandos and go to the cinema to see the new Beauty and the Beast. I had some twinges over the weekend along with some bleeding, but nothing happened. It was obvious that the induction was looking likely.

Monday 20th March

Dan went off to work as normal because we didn't know what time I'd be called into hospital. I rung at 8am and was told to make my way in for 1pm. My hospital bags had been packed for weeks, so I didn't really have anything to prep beforehand. In fact, I had a really nice, extra long shower, blow dried my hair and watched lots of Pretty Little Liars to keep me nice and chilled before heading into hospital. Dan arrived home at midday and we made our way to the maternity department.

I was given a private room with en suite and we made ourselves comfortable. A midwife came and took some blood and put me on the monitor to check Peanut's heart rate - all of which was fine. They then began the induction - for me, this was a pessary called 'Propess', which is basically a teeny tiny flat tampon that's left inside of you for 24 hours to get labour going gradually. Whilst they started the induction, I was also told I was already 2cm dilated which was positive! I was advised to walk lots to help the pessary do its thing and to keep active around the hospital grounds. Dan and I ended up walking around the hospital not really knowing where to go or what to do, and hoping for contractions to really get going start. During the afternoon, I was moved to a 6 bed ward (slightly disappointing because the en suite was such a bonus!) and I just read lots of magazines and had a few naps.

At 9pm, all partners had to leave to go home. This was where I had my first lot of tears. I didn't want Dan to go home! What if something happened overnight? Would Dan be ok at home on his own? I've never been bothered about staying in hospitals on my own before, but this time seemed different. We had been anticipating the birth of our baby for so long, and with impending contractions, I just wanted him with me. Fortunately, I had a fantastic midwife called Nicky and she let Dan stay until 10pm. We had a big cuddle and kiss, and he said he'd be back first thing in the morning, unless something happened before. Once he'd gone, I snuggled down under the sheet, read some of my magazine and got ready for hopefully my last broken nights sleep.

Tuesday 21st March

I woke at 6am to very slight contractions and couldn't help feeling disappointed. Why was it taking so long? I still had over 6 hours of this pessary and it certainly didn't feel like I was in active labour. Dan returned back to hospital at 7:30am and we went for another walk around the hospital and grabbed some breakfast. At 10am, my Mum popped by with some Clarins goodies and some fresh towels so I could have a nice shower, and she also brought Max along to say hello who was obviously missing me greatly. I had a long, hot shower and remember wondering if this would be the last time I carefully climbed in and out of a bathtub with a massive bump in front of me.

At 2pm, a midwife came and checked my pessary, but it was nowhere to be found. It must have dropped out when I went to the loo at some point, and this would explain why I hadn't had any mega contractions yet! I was SO frustrated, my blood pressure went up and I had a good sob to Dan. When would we get to meet our baby?! A senior midwife came and started the second phase of the induction - this was another pessary, but this time it was a dissolvable tablet called 'Prostin' that takes 6 hours to work. I was still 2cm dilated and told to carry on walking around the hospital grounds. Around 7pm, my Dad popped to the hospital to see me and brought Dan some food to keep him going. At this point, only family and limited friends knew that I was in hospital so I was dodging all 'Any baby yet?' questions like the plague! In fact, my last ever pregnant selfie was sent to Victoria, so consider yourself lucky girl! At 10:30pm, midwife Nicky put me back on the monitor for 45 mins. I was getting significant contractions according to the monitor but they weren't painful at all and I just carried on reading through them. Once all of my checks were done, Dan left at midnight (Nicky was amazing and let him stay for all important things). I told him to get some sleep but I'd ring him if there was any progress, as Nicky had told me that my waters would be broken in the morning if nothing else happened overnight.

Wednesday 22nd March

Once Dan had gone, I settled down in my hospital bed and decided to read about Disney trivia to take my mind off the contractions which were coming in thick and fast, but at this point were very doable. Around 1am, I was reading about Pocahontas (I know...classic Tamsin) when suddenly I felt a spurt of water in my Tinkerbell pjs. Could this be my waters? I got out of bed and suddenly it was like Niagara Falls between my legs - yes, this was definitely my waters! Nicky came and put me back on the monitor to check Peanut, and I was suddenly very aware that I was now just casually sat in my underwear with a giant maternity pad on, feeling water just gush out of me. Nice! At 2am, Nicky told me to call Dan and my Mum (my other birthing partner) and tell them to get into hospital asap as I would be going to Labour Ward at 3am. I remember wanting to punch the air - YES. This was IT. This was MY TIME!

I chilled in the corridor of the maternity department until 3am when Dan and my Mum turned up drinking freshly brewed Costa Coffee's (priorities to keep them awake obviously!) My Mum was telling me how she'd been flashed by a speeding camera on the way to the hospital, and Dan felt sick with excitement and nerves. Nicky took us to our room on Labour Ward and wished us luck. I felt so sad to say goodbye to her as she'd looked after me for 3 days, but my new midwife, EJ came and said hello and I liked her straight away. Contractions were still doable at this point but were pretty painful. I found the most comfortable position was standing up and leaning over the bed so that's what I did.

Around 4am, contractions got heavier and I started with gas and air. Let me tell you now, gas and air is a wonderful thing! It made me so dehydrated but it worked wonders. Contractions were full on at this point and Dan, my Mum and EJ were talking me through them. I was using my hypnobirthing techniques and went very much into myself - I took myself off to another location in my head, breathed through everything, and used the breaks in contractions to my advantage - to really, really rest before it all started up again.

From this point, everything gets far more hazy. The midwife said it was like I was in a coma at points because I was so focused on my breathing and hypnobirthing. I was 5cm and I remember saying that I was getting lots of pressure in my bum. EJ told me it was far too early to push and to carry on what I was doing. Dan and my Mum carried on talking me through my contractions, and before I knew it, the room was saying 'wow Tamsin, you're just over 9cm!' I'd gone from 5cm to pretty much fully dilated in over an hour. I then got on the bed on all fours, and began to throw up all over Dan. EJ got really excited and said that being sick was great news because it meant I was nearly ready to start pushing. I remember everyone laughing at me because I'd been drinking blue isotonic sports drinks to keep me going, and it looked like I was throwing up WKD Blue.

By this point, the need to push was unbearable. And I mean really unbearable, like nothing I'd ever experienced. EJ gave me the heads up that if I wanted to push, I now could. FINALLY! Dan helped me onto my back and I began to push. I remember feeling so emotional at this point - pushing meant my baby was nearly here, but my pregnancy was almost over. However, I focused on pushing with support from Dan, my Mum and EJ and a few more midwives joined the room for extra support. Within minutes of pushing, I could hear people saying 'the baby has hair!' and that made me push harder. A doctor came in the room with some surgical instruments and I remember getting a bit teary at this point because I realised that they were going to give me a small episiotomy. However, I would have let them cut my left leg off at this point if it meant me getting to finally meet my baby.

I felt nothing of the episiotomy thanks to a minor injection, and with help from the ventouse, Peanut arrived in 2 final pushes. Suddenly, baby was on my chest and I was sobbing my heart out. Dan then said 'We have a girl!' and we both cried our eyes out together. My mum then cried with me saying 'You did it! You got your Disney Princess!' It was the best and most overwhelming moment of my life.

Grace Lilian Gardner joined the world 11 days past her due date, weighed 8lbs exactly and was an extremely contented baby from the second she was born. Dan snuggled into her whilst the midwife gave me a couple of tiny stitches, and she was back in my arms within 20 minutes or so. My labour was only 4 hours, was swift and problem free, and I had a healthy baby in my arms - I couldn't ask for more.

Whilst I was being stitched, I said 'I would do that again. Not tomorrow, but I'd do it all again.' And it's true. I would do it all again. Labour hurts but it's so, so doable. I fully believe that preparation helps so much, and I actually enjoyed the experience. I still get emotional thinking about it now, but wow, what a journey!

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  1. Gosh Tamsin this is such a beautiful post - I actually felt teary reading it all! Such beautiful photos as well, they really capture the moment and I'm sure bring memories flooding back! I was so apprehensive reading it because it must have been worrying having Dan go home at 11 and thinking, what if I go and he can't get here in time?! You must be so proud both of you, she sounds beaut xx


    1. Thanks Hannah! I definitely got emotional writing it! We're both so proud of Gracie xxx

  2. I really enjoyed reading this - so emotional! Congratulations again - she is beautiful xx


  3. Oh Tams, this was a really lovely post - and so nice to read about it after seeing how well you're all doing! She really is a little beauty and you must all be so proud, especially your mum... definitely worth getting flashed! Lots of love xx

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