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Hollie Furbank: My birth story

"I laid there in shock, thinking what just happened?!"

Author Hollie Furbank
Categories   Birth Stories

The Edit

Having returned from honeymoon in October 2021 I took a Covid test as I had lost my sense of taste – later that week I had a negative Covid test but a positive pregnancy test! Having only been married a month, with a house renovation to complete and now a baby on the way, there was a rollercoaster of emotions going through the Furbank household. 

Having returned from honeymoon in October 2021 I took a Covid test as I had lost my sense of taste – later that week I had a negative Covid test but a positive pregnancy test! Having only been married a month, with a house renovation to complete and now a baby on the way, there was a rollercoaster of emotions going through the Furbank household. 

The pregnancy gave us a goal to get the house renovations completed by. We finished off our bedroom and ensuite which had been ongoing projects. Henry, my husband, ripped out our family bathroom when I was 25 weeks pregnant, adding fuel to my raging hormones, but promised me it would be completed before baby arrived – which he managed to keep, just! 

At 36 weeks I was in the maternity unit having some routine monitoring when I saw the look on the midwife’s face as she took my blood pressure. Working in healthcare I know ‘the look’ and the midwife calmly said to me ‘we will just repeat this in 10 minutes’. I then turned the monitor around to see my blood pressure was rather high.

I remember feeling shocked it was so high as I felt so good. I was then reviewed by the doctor who confirmed I had started with pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) and was started on medication. I was sent home to relax (that was really hard) and advised to be vigilant for symptoms of pre-eclampsia.

The week went on and my blood pressure continued to spiral, despite being on medication. We were back and forth to the hospital for checks, scans and appointments and my patience was starting to wear thin. The hospital team were keen to get me to 37 weeks so were doing everything they could to keep this baby inside of me and keep us both safe.

Following a growth scan on the Sunday at 37 weeks, we found out our baby had barely grown in the past three weeks. The consultant came to see us, and we agreed the best course of action for both mine and baby’s safety was for them to book us in for an induction – something I was keen to avoid but knew it was for the best. I was booked into the induction clinic on the Tuesday, but before leaving the hospital a midwife examined me and informed me I was already 2cm dilated. She advised me to go home, get the oxytocin flowing and maybe I could beat this induction.

Tuesday arrived and we headed to the induction clinic. The hospital was still running with Covid precautions, so Henry left me at the ward door and headed down to the café to sit and eat cake and wait. My blood pressure was now the highest it had been, despite the medication. I recall texting my mum for advice, who interestingly had a very similar pregnancy journey to me.

The doctors and midwives did their review and were now discussing whether I needed to be admitted. I knew if I got admitted I would never go into labour naturally and did feel disheartened about this.

Luckily I was allowed to go home, but I had to come back on the Wednesday afternoon for a review. I had been examined and I was still 2cm dilated. I accepted to have a stretch and sweep and was placed on the list to have my waters broken.

I felt relieved to be leaving the hospital that day, and now just desperate to get this labour started. Knowing my waters were on the verge of going I headed off to my pregnancy yoga class that night. Zoe, the class leader, made sure I got into every position possible to try get these waters to go. I remember leaving the class feeling relaxed, refreshed and mentally prepared for labour – I just wanted it to happen.

We got into bed that night and I said to Henry this could be our last sleep just us – a surreal feeling. I had the best night’s sleep, and still joke to this day that it’s the last time I had a proper night’s sleep!

I woke up on the Wednesday morning with some tightenings, had a shower and washed my hair and as I got out of the shower, I felt different. The tightenings seemed to be more regular. Unsure if anything was happening, I called my maternity unit for advice.

I didn’t know if these were contractions as they didn’t seem painful enough to be, and I told the midwife they were about 15 minutes apart. The alarmed look on Henry’s face said it all – he asked if I’d lost all concept of time, as he had timed them to be about 4-6 minutes apart.

The midwife advised me to head into the unit for a review. Remaining calm I insisted I dried my hair and that we did not need to rush into hospital as people are in labour for days – especially with your first. I was fully expecting we would be getting sent home.

We got into the car and set off to hospital, it was a beautiful sunny day and I remember thinking what a nice day to have a baby. We’re about 40 minutes from our hospital and luckily it was mid-morning so we had no rush hour traffic to contend with, which was reassuring as I was always fearful of having baby on route - not to mention how Henry would feel as he loves his car!

Arriving at hospital we made the waddle to the maternity unit, to be met by a friendly face - the midwife who had seen me the week before. Henry was not allowed on the unit so once again he headed to the café for some lunch. The midwife got me hooked up to the monitor and informed me that the tightenings were contractions.

My waters were still intact and baby’s heart rate was dropping with each contraction. I was aware of discussions between the midwives and doctors but not taking note in order to remain calm. I just felt relieved we had made it to the hospital, and it was now looking like I had skipped that induction. Following an examination by the midwife, my waters finally went and I leapt up off the couch as the pain really ramped up now. I rang Henry and told him to grab the bags from the car with an order not to dawdle! 

We met Henry on route to the labour ward. We hit the delivery suite and I was asking for pain relief – anything! I managed to tell the midwife I did not have a birth plan, but wanted all the pain relief I could have - an epidural was preferable, but I quickly worked out we were past that point

I was handed the gas and air, but after a few puffs it was clear that was not going to touch the pain and it was making me feel really drowsy and out of control, so that got thrown back to where it came from. Funnily enough, the calming breathing techniques I had practiced for so long were now no longer cutting it either!

I just remember closing my eyes and thinking, oh my goodness this is all happening so quick. My body seemed to just take over - I had no control of what was happening. I was aware doctors and midwives were coming in and out of the room, conversations were being had and I was starting to think, are things going wrong? But no one was panicking, everyone was calm and, most importantly, Henry was calm so everything must be OK.

I overheard a conversation between the midwife and consultant about taking me to theatre. I don’t know what came over me, but I thought ‘we are not leaving this room, I will have this baby out now’. Some inner strength came over me and I delivered my baby boy. 

I opened my eyes and my baby boy was on my chest, Henry by my side, and I remember laying there in shock, thinking what on earth just happened! I had been in the delivery suit 1 hour 40 minutes. 

Edwin Michael Furbank was born on 15.06.2022 at 3:46pm weighing 5lb 4oz. 

Following a discussion with the midwife, I discovered it’s common for ladies with PIH to deliver fast as it’s the body’s response to get the baby out to manage the blood pressure and bring it back to a safe level. It really is true that our bodies know exactly what to do, and we need to trust them. 

I’m forever grateful to the midwife on the maternity unit, the midwife who delivered our baby boy safely and Zoe, my pregnancy yoga teacher. You are all absolute superstars!

Author Hollie Furbank

Hollie and Henry live in East Yorkshire with Edwin who is now 9 months and a house full of animals; three dogs, a rabbit and pony. Hollie currently on maternity leave is a NHS physiotherapist and Henry is a dentist. Both have a love for the outdoors and cannot wait for our adventures as a family of three. 

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