Saved by the Bell and a suction cup: a birth story

Letters to the Popple, Pregnancy / Wednesday, April 20th, 2016


Dear Popple,

I’ve seen lots of people share their birth stories on their blogs, so I’ve decided to write yours down in case you’re ever curious.

It was 2am. I woke up with cramps but I didn’t think much of it, since I’d been having Braxton Hicks (‘practice’) contractions for weeks at that point and they hadn’t led to anything. I tried to fall back asleep, but the cramps kept coming at regular intervals.

“Holy s**t,” I thought. “This might be it.”

I went into the spare room to get Daddy. (He was sleeping in a separate bed because I was using a pregnancy pillow that took up three quarters of our bed.)

“I think I’m in labour,” I said.

“Harrmgh,” Daddy said, because it was about 3am and he was very tired. Still, he got up and went into the living room with me, where we turned on the TV and started watching Saved By the Bell. Saved by the Bell is a TV show from the early 90s about teenagers who wear horrible neon clothes and get into G-rated high school capers. It was the perfect show to watch while in labour because it required absolutely no thinking whatsoever.

“Why don’t you make some flapjacks?” said Daddy. At our antenatal class, the instructor had suggested making flapjacks during the early stages of labour to distract ourselves as well as give us something that we could eat later to give us energy. Daddy liked this idea because it meant that he would get to eat flapjacks too.

“I’m not making flapjacks,” I said, because the last thing you want to do when you you feel like someone is squeezing your uterus is bake.

“You need to eat something,” he said, so I grudgingly ate a protein bar and went back to watching Zack and the crew. I felt kind of okay, actually. The contractions felt like mild period cramps, and I figured if this was what labour was like, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about.

I texted Grandma and she came over. By that point, the cramps were getting worse. I phoned the hospital. They encouraged me to labour at home for as long as possible, reminding me that if I went in and wasn’t dilated enough, they would send me home.

I got off the phone and tried to relax, but felt like someone was punching my inside lady parts repeatedly. Twenty minutes later, I phoned them back and told them I was coming in.

I’d had visions of walking to the hospital to have this baby. It was only a 10 minute walk away, so there was no reason not to, right? I’d told my midwife this and she’d made a face.

Now I knew why.

Daddy, Grandma and I took a taxi to the hospital and I was sent to the assessment room, where a nurse hooked me up to a heartbeat monitor and left the room. By now I was in A LOT of pain. I called her back in and begged for pain relief.

“I can give you some paracetamol,” she said.

I stared at her blankly. Really? There’s a person inside of me who’s trying to squeeze their way out, and you want to give me f***ing PARACETAMOL?

“Are you going to take it? Because if you’re not, I need to take it away,” she said.

I took the paracetamol.

She brought in an exercise ball for me to sit on and my waters broke all over it. The water was brownish, which I knew meant you had done a poo inside me – your first act of defiance.

The nurse wheeled me up to the labour ward, where I began several hours of intense labouring. I wish I could say that I handled it like a boss, that labour was a spiritual experience that helped me fully embrace my womanhood, but I can’t. I was really bad at it. I lay there on the hospital bed, desperately sucking on gas and air and moaning with my bits on display for all to see.

“You’re doing great,” the midwife kept telling me, but that was a lie. I could not get you out, despite my best efforts to push like I was taking the biggest poo of my life. I announced that I was giving up many times.

She brought in a second midwife to play bad cop. “You can do better than that. Come on! Push harder!” she barked.

It didn’t work. I had no energy. I should have made those flapjacks.

I wondered if they would just cut you out of me eventually, which sounded heavenly compared to this whole labour business. I didn’t care that a c-section is serious surgery, or that it leaves a scar, or that it takes weeks to recover from. I just wanted you out, and I really didn’t think I could do it by myself.

And, as it turns out, I couldn’t.

When your heart rate started to drop, the midwife brought in a doctor who said they were going to “give me some help” and asked if that was okay.

“YES,” I said. Finally. I didn’t ask to many questions about what that help might entail, because I would have let them do anything to me at that point, but it meant having a ventouse delivery. They put a suction cup on your head and kind of sucked you out of me.

And all of a sudden, there you were. Plonked on my chest, all goopy and sucking your thumb. It was pretty amazing, not only because I was really excited to finally meet you, but because I was NO LONGER IN LABOUR.

Seriously, labour is the worst.

You were worth it, though.



71 Replies to “Saved by the Bell and a suction cup: a birth story”

  1. This is such a good idea and I wish I’d written this down for my children when they were younger because quite frankly as nearly 17, 15 and 13 it really is a distant blur! Gorgeous post – love the way you write – so engaging! And isn’t the pain just so worth it? Oh, and I agree, who on earth bakes when they are in labour?!!

  2. Oh my goodness this is definitely one of the best birth stories I’ve read, so well written..I was really giggling! Seriously make flapjacks!? Our births sound incredibly similar except I watched the film Confetti instead of Saved by the Bell (good shout with that one!) xxx

  3. I love birth stories!! And flapjack and Saved By the Bell! You sound like you did brilliantly lovely and coped well 🙂 I remember eating quite a bit in labour and I was so hungry the next day!! Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst xx

  4. I’m starting to love birth stories! I’ll have to do mine! I can’t believe you didn’t make the flap jacks! I used to love saved by the bell! Well done for bringing popple into the world! 😀

  5. Saved by the Bell – brilliant. I watched video (yep videos) after video ona video/tv combi unit the bedroom until show came out. The decided it was time, I’d been up for hours too (with my first). The other two just had to fit in the world around us. I had a long bath with the second and had to pull brother in law and girlfriend out of cirque d solie so they could look after the eldest! Not quite the show they had signed up.

  6. Oh I love this post! Especially the end – labour really is the worst but totally worth it! I have to say that I cant believe it was suggested that in the early hours of labour you bake, I mean really, there is no way on earth I could have baked!! #stayclassy

  7. Such a great story, and really interesting for first time parents to be like me! Love the Saved by the Bell reference – where did you find it on TV?! I had no idea about that the waters could be brown, or that Paracetamol was the only pain relief you get at the start. Well done for getting through it though – seriously I wouldn’t be able to do it myself! #FamilyFun

    1. There was some channel on Sky that was playing all of the old Saved by the Bell episodes, so me and my husband had been recording them. I think we watched almost the entire series during my pregnancy!

  8. I love birth stories, yours made me laugh (most of them don’t!) and it’s similar to mine except mine was forceps not ventouse. He’d pooed too, gremlin. He still loves pooing at inappropriate times. I have forgotten what I was watching though…at the start it was Capital, a bbc mini series. But after that I’m not sure, I think the pain has blocked my memory! #FamilyFun

  9. Seriously who was your birth teacher? Please go back to her and tell her never ever recommend that to a pregnant mother!!
    At least you were offered paracetamol! I was offered zilch! Not that I’d have wanted paracetamol… bloody insult!
    I hope the Popple never has children! This letter will terrify her for ever… in fact give it to all her friends to read as sex ed and there will be no teenage pregnancy in your town 😉

  10. I love reading birth stories and everyone’s in unique. I totally agree that labour is the worse, isn’t it strange how our brain then somehow tricks us into having more/sort of forgetting?! The midwife looked at me during my second labour and said, ahhh you’ve just remembered what it is like!!! She was right it was my first proper contraction – holy cow! TY for linking up to #FamilyFun 🎉

  11. Ha ha can’t believe your husband really suggested making some flapjacks at 3am – I can’t imagine what I would have said to that. And yes the paracetamol during labour is a total joke! Still you got there in the end and look at the beautiful little person you made 🙂 #stayclassy

  12. ooh saved by the bell! Years since I’ve seen that, and now I think of it it probably would have been a better choice than deciding to read the Game of Thrones series in the labour ward…

  13. I really love the way you write! Such a lovely post. I think I would have killed my husband if he suggested baking when I was in labour. The amazing thing is that the pain you go through during labour is easily forgotten and you are right they are just so worth it! (apart from when they are being complete monkeys)


  14. Oh I love this post! Actually I love all of your posts haha. The way you describe Saved By the Bell is hilarious. : ) Good work on not taking anything more than Gas and Air, I finally opted in for an epidural (the labour was 3 days long BLEH). Anyway, I like how this is positive and funny, a lot of the birth stories I read are quite serious! Thanks for sharing with #StayClassy!

    1. Thanks! In retrospect, I probably should have had an epidural, but I had this whole idea about wanting to have a ‘natural’ birth. Plus I was ‘only’ in labour for 14 hours – if it had been three days I would have been begging for drugs!

  15. Sounds like you were better at it than me. I only managed to about 4cm and then Piglet was in distress and had to be cut out of me. I have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with other people’s birth stories, which is because I still haven’t got over mine, not because it was traumatic (it wasn’t), but because I was so utterly disappointed, having been so desperate to a) give birth naturally, and avoid a C-section at all costs (FAIL), b) do it without pain relief, or at least without an epidural (FAIL AGAIN) and c) not be induced (TRIPLE FAIL). Piglet was fine and dandy though, so I can’t complain! Thanks for linking up to #StayClassy

  16. I love reading other peoples birth stories – I can quite understand why you didn’t fancy making flapjacks at 3am!! x #bestandworst

  17. I loved your birth story, especially that it was written as a letter to your baby. As a labour and delivery nurse in Canada, I can safely say that beside a few probably non-human moms who barely whimper during contractions and push the baby out in one milisecond, most moms do not labour like a boss. Unless you have an epidural of course, then it’s like night and day. But don’t ever feel bad for what happened in that room! Labour and delivery is freaking awful to go through, and you got through it, suction cup and all! That alone means you are one badass mother!
    Thanks for linking up with #KCACOLS. Hope you will come back again next Sunday!

  18. First of all love that picture of you guys at the top… so cute! Secondly… saved by the bell is awesome. Thirdly i think id tell him where he could stick flapjacks if that had been me. Sounds like you did so well hun. I had no choice as she was breech and 5 weeks early and so was an emergency csection but hats off to you sweet!!

  19. What a nice article for your baby to read when they’re older about their arrival. My Mother often goes on about how it took 36 hours for me to arrive – I think she exaggerates. She watched a whole box set whilst waiting for me to make my grand entrance (I was in no hurry). But, she says that she’d do it again and again and again as she got to get me 😉 #KCACOLS

  20. I can totally relate because I wasn’t all “I am woman hear me roar” when in labor either. I was a mess and just wanted the torture to stop. It took me several hours to figure out how to push properly. Not spiritual or magical heh.

    1. I really don’t understand women who say that they found birth to be a spiritual or beautiful experience. Don’t get me wrong – if it was really like that, then good for them – but I can’t imagine it being anything other than horrible.

  21. I love this – well written and very funny. I’m so glad the suction cup was the ‘only’ thing they had to do to help you (I can imagine it’s not pleasant but the end result is so worth it). Great analogies about biggest poo and punching your lady parts. It feels exactly like that. (I’m impressed you managed to stomach Zack and the crew too!!) #KCACOLS

  22. I love birth stories, I tell my boys about their birth frequently and they are 7 and 10! Seriously gonna affect their emotional state growing up I expect, but birth stories are amazing!!!:) Glad yours worked out well:)

    mainy – myrealfairy


    1. It’s great that you share your birth stories with your sons – I’m definitely going to share this with the Popple when she’s old enough to understand so she appreciates how hard I worked to bring her into this world!

  23. A lovely labour story Katie Popple, this is the first I’ve read that has made me laugh. I like how it is quite light hearted avoiding the details and the emotion, but tells the story for your little one. I bet you wish you had those flapjacks. Claire x #KCACOLS

    1. Thanks! A lot of birth stories are really serious (and rightly so – it’s pretty much one of the biggest events in your life), but I like to look at things from the lighter side. 🙂

  24. A lovely post to read and have for the future. Nothing prepared you for how physically demanding labour is but another commenter is right, you start to forget how bad it was almost straight away….that must be how people are tricked into having another one….I don’t fancy that anytime soon! #KCACOLS

    1. After giving birth, I said to my mum, “Hey, you didn’t tell me it was going to be that bad.” She said, “Well, what good would that have done?” She was right, of course – nothing could have prepared me for it!

  25. Ahahahah this made me laugh so hard! Flapjacks?? WALKING TO THE HOSPITAL??

    I’ve never even been in labour (two babies, no contracting) and even I know they were impossibly naive.

    Thanks for sharing with #chucklemums!

  26. Haaa haaaa i love all the first time mum things that you think you can do. Mine was that i’d walk around a lot and have no drugs! Ha f-ing that! I screamed for everything under the sun and swore that if they didn’t get no1 out now i was leaving! Great post love the end about labour being the worst! #chucklemums

  27. Oh this post just made me remember the birth of my second one! Luckily not the pain though! So happy everything went alright at the end though 🙂 btw, paracetamol??! Hahaha that was hilarious X

  28. Haha! I like the idea of watching Saved by the Bell during labour, but what kind of a maniac suggests that women bake flapjack whilst in labour?! It’s irresponsible apart from anything else. My labours progressed very suddenly & rapidly – what if I’d started baking flapjacks & they’d been forgotten about in the subsequent rush & burnt the house down while I was at hospital?! What then? This crazy antenatal woman needs to be stopped! BUY some flapjack. BUY it. That is the appropriate advice! #chucklemums

  29. I love that picture of you guys! We don’t have one of all three of us after the boy was born – too tired and trauma’d I reckon! Thanks for linking up again 😀 #chucklemums

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