My Birth Story: The (Supermarket) Sweep

When your pregnancy runs overdue, a few things go by the wayside. That mani/pedi you paid for and thought would get you through to the labour and beyond chips away. The ‘last clean’ of the house before you’re gone into hospital for a few days becomes a distant memory as everything gets grubby again. The grandparents that have been on high alert for a month to help with your toddler start getting bored and threaten to start booking holidays. All of the precision planning and bouncing around on that fucking fit ball all becomes a bit… pointless.

So at 8 days overdue, I decided to take matters into my own…em…vagina. I was already scheduled in for an appointment with my consultant that I thought I would never be attending in a million years. But as that date drew closer, there I was, still preggo and still waddling up to the maternity hospital to see him yet again. My consultant was one of those older male doctors, somebody’s da, possibly somebody’s granda, so I planned to ask him for a Sweep to get things moving along, and I had no problem with that.

A Sweep, in case you are wondering, requires your participating ‘sweeper’ to stick a couple of fingers up your hoo ha, to give the neck of the cervix a good ole stretch so that it might help the process of labour along. My maternity hospital didn’t exactly offer that as an option, so you have to request it. So yes, essentially…you’re begging someone to finger you.

When I arrived at the hospital, armed with this plan, I discovered to my horror that my old fogey consultant was on holidays, and was replaced by a 30-something handsome doc from Limerick. OF COURSE HE WAS. I was fucking mortified and nearly didn’t ask him for the Sweep for fear of actually enjoying it. (In the end, it’s actually more like getting fingered for the first time by some 17 year old who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Say, behind a tree in the woods… but perhaps I’ve said too much).

Anyway, my awkward first date had a positive outcome. I started feeling a few pains as early as going home in the car that afternoon.  At 1am I woke up with one big intense pain, and we called granny around to stay over with Jacob so that we could go to the hospital. One of the cautions the doctor had given me with the Sweep was to watch out for bleeding that was continuing 12-15 hours after the fact, and I was. I also hadn’t felt the baby move for a little while so called the hospital who advised we come straight in. Needless to say, I was crying and worried that I shouldn’t have had the Sweep at all, and that something was wrong.

But as Ass Monkey sped onto the north quays after the O2, and I remarked how beautiful & calm the city is at night, I felt the baby move for the first time since I’d woken up at 1am. There were a few more tears of relief then that everything was going to be ok. (On enquiry at the hospital, I am told that the ‘show’ I had been waiting for can sometimes separate, so you can pass either blood or mucus separately, and not just together. Great to know after the fact… ahem)

Got to the hospital for around 2.30am and was admitted straight away. We were brought to a labour room and met Sheeba, the coolest Indian woman and midwife in the world. Ass Monkey gently let her know that his life wouldn’t be worth living if I didn’t get the epidural, so she booked it in straight away (he’s clearly too handsome to lose so young ;o) ). We were all in good spirits and had a little stroll up and down the corridors to keep things moving before The Drug Man would be allowed to see me (I was only just beginning to dilate – and you can’t get the epidural until you’re at least 1cm dilated) . The dude in question actually passed us by on the corridors as I was strolling around, and Sheeba pointed him out.

‘Where is he going?!’ I asked, alarmed. ‘Don’t let him leave the hospital!’

Sheeba laughed. ‘The deal is – if you can catch him, you can have the epidural’.

Brilliant. Can you imagine twenty or so heavily pregnant women in a race around a maternity hospital to score their painkillers? I SO CAN.

Once I was properly dilated, things started to move pretty quickly. I’m not entirely sure of the time frame but we could be talking 4am-4.30. My contractions were now coming every 2-3 mins and were getting really intense. As I am a complete wuss when it comes to pain, I started having a meltdown. I wanted Ass Monkey to hold my hand, then I wanted him to leave me alone, then I started crying, then I started wailing ‘Help me… Please help me….’ (Yes, seriously).

The Drugs DO Work

The Drugs DO Work

The Drug Man arrived – thank fuck – and Ass Monkey literally had to hold me steady while I sat on the side of the bed and endured the contractions. I don’t know how he did it because I was totally freaking out. And obviously, you really don’t want to move an inch when someone is trying to get a needle into your back.  It’s SO worth it though. My contraction pains got less and less difficult to deal with over the next half an hour until I stopped feeling them at all.

And then I had a snooze. Yes, seriously ;o)

We all kept chatting and Sheeba monitored me over the next couple of hours until the baby was ready to make an appearance. This waiting time can be a little bit frustrating as you feel like you’re ready and you’re so dying to meet the little person. I kept asking ‘When are we doing this? Now? Half an hour? When?’ And Sheeba just smiled & told me she’d examine me in another while….

7am was Go Time. Ass Monkey was instructed to grab one leg, Sheeba had the other and she gave me my instructions.

‘One big deep breath, then push, push, push, down into your bum. You ready?’

I was. I was so ready.

‘Ok Sharyn – take a deep breath (I did), and…’

The door to our room opened and a voice called out over the screen between it and my bed.

‘Sheeba do you have a spare set of keys?!’

Our Sheeba looked amused. ‘Em no I don’t!’ she replied.

‘I don’t either!’, I chipped in.

‘Yeah, me either’, Ass Monkey threw in his two cents. ‘We’re a little busy here!’

The three of us went into meltdown and couldn’t stop laughing. The timing couldn’t have been any better because we relaxed entirely.

‘Ok, no laughing’ Sheeba tried to get us all back in the game. (It took another minute or two). ‘Take a deep breath, and…push’

The little baby’s head was visible (to them anyway) after two pushes, completely out at 3 (‘I can see black hair! – Ass Monkey. ‘I keep calling her a she, I don’t know why’ – Sheeba), and the body was out on 4 pushes plus a few of those little short breaths they tell you about in antenatal class.

Each of us looked down immediately to see what little present we had been given – a girl! A GIRL!! Wait, a girl? How do we have a girl? We only picked out a boy name and Jacob thinks he’s getting a little brother and – OH MY GOD WE HAVE A GIRL!!!

When I say we cried, we really cried. I’m still crying a little bit every day. The joy, the euphoria. A gorgeous little baby girl xxx

A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born

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