One thing I do quite regularly to check in on myself is think in years to come … what will I look back on this time and think of. On the more morbid days I think on my death bed, what will flash before my eyes. (Heavy for a Friday morning I know!) More often than not for me it’s to do with how much time I spend on TBTBC vs. my family time. A never ending battle for most working mothers I’m sure.
One specific time though, when this deathbed tactic massively helped me was when I was considering getting a birth photographer for my fourth baby. I nearly didn’t do it as I was nervous that some of the other midwives wouldn’t get it. I felt extremely diva ish 💁🏼♀️ rocking up to my birth (the place where I will be going back to work!) with a photographer. An imagined fear of being judged. I nearly didn’t do it as Rob openly didn’t get it, he thought I was weird 😆. Anyway, I obviously checked in on myself and thought of myself in my elderly years and knew that the captures of one (of four) of the greatest moments of my life would be far greater than any judgement I would get from anyone else. So I did it, and now thanks to Chui King Li I have one of my greatest achievements in life to look on (which I do on the regs) and cherish for ever. The only regret I have is not doing it with all of them!!
Anyway, my point of this story is that birth matters. The reason why I like looking back on my photos so much was because that day mattered. I brought my baby girl into this world on that day. It was an incredible day. Birth is not just a means to an end. It’s the mark of the end of a pregnancy and the start of being a mother. It’s just as, if not more important as your wedding day that you spend thousands of pounds on and months sometimes years of prepping. In years to come it will be a day that you will remember, you will want to share what happened with your children just as your own mother tells you. Why do you think mothers tell their birth stories so much when they’re together… because it’s important to them. How they felt on that day is important to them. When you’re elderly you will remember your birth and how it made you feel more so than the colour fabric of your baby’s pram or the colour of the walls in the nursery or their first outfit.
Birth is so much more than one day. Birth matters.
I suppose my birth story starts about 3 weeks before when I attended The Bump To Baby Chapter Hypnobirthing class. I remember saying to Beth, “I’ve only got 3 weeks left and I haven’t practiced at all yet!” but she was confident I would be ok. So after a lovely day, practicing breathing techniques, visualisations and having some yummy lunch I was sent off with the Hypnobirthing book, YesMum cards and MP3’s of the visualisation tracks to practice.
I would say I would probably manage to practice visualisations once a day and tried to do breathing beforehand and also with my husband before bed. This was so that he knew what rate I was counting at so he could be there to get me back on track when I lost focus. Turns out it was more help to him just to manage his stress levels when seeing me ‘in pain’!
Although I use that word loosely as I specifically said that I didn’t want the word pain used at all whilst in labour.
Contractions started just before I went to bed, however being a 1st timer I wasn’t quite sure if they were contractions or not so I just went to sleep as normal, waking about twice in the night with the same feelings… Again, not quite sure if it was anything other then Braxton Hicks/stomach ache, at 5.30am my husband got up for work, I told him about the tightenings and he quite helpfully told me I should maybe call the triage number….to which I replied, “I think you should just stay home from work instead!” 🙂
We spent the day burning Clary Sage, listening to ‘spa’ music and watching a comedy to keep the oxytocin flowing. I’m not going to lie when I think back it was quite a long day waiting but I didn’t mind. When the contractions started to get stronger and last longer, whilst breathing I started reciting the affirmations in my head, ‘Each surge brings you closer to holding your baby in your arms’, ‘The surges can’t be stronger then you because they are you.’
We finally got on our way to the maternity unit at around 7 in the evening. I was aware that sometimes things can slow down once you change your environment so we got settled into the room, put the ‘spa’ music back on and made a brew in true Yorkshire style. The contractions came thick and fast so I got in the pool at around 9pm. I wish I could say I had a water birth as that was the plan but, it wasn’t to be as after quite a few hours, I was made to get out to go to the toilet. Not what you want to hear when your contractions are barely a minute apart… how was I going to make it down the little steps and onto the toilet without having a contraction! The fear started to kick in at this point because I had to deal with something that wasn’t going to be at all comfortable, but thankfully, I managed to stay focused with the breathing and made it to the dreaded toilet. Needless to say, I couldn’t go for a wee (the midwife had thought my bladder was too full, therefore hindering baby coming out) but the toilet was my new favourite place! So much so that at one point the midwife had to pad it out just incase I gave birth on the toilet!! What a joyous way to enter the world that would’ve been! 🙂
After much coaxing I got off the toilet and tried the birthing stool. I would say to anyone when you go on the tour around the birthing units or wards, try out the apparatus just so you know what it feels like. The birthing stool was another unknown to me that throws you off your flow. I moved to the bed/kidney shaped foam thing, with my husband behind me to hold me as I perched on the edge…I was giving all I’d got by this point but my contractions weren’t lasting long enough so the midwife brought in some Jasmine as it’s supposed to help prolong contractions. I would say about 10minutes later my lovely little girl was born. I felt immense relief, joy, love and exhaustion. Amabell weighed 6lb 12oz and I managed the birth with no pain killers or gas and air, all down to the focus Hypnobirthing had provided me with, the mind is one powerful tool!
Oh and then my little bundle of joy wee’d on us…lovely end to the story! 🙂
You can now do the same course that Shani did to learn about birth and the techniques that helped her get the birth she wanted in The Bump to Baby Chapters new ONLINE course. Find out about it here.
Like most Mums to be, the thought of giving birth made me feel anxious. However, in equal parts, I felt strongly that my body would know what to do. I felt it was important to focus on the positive feelings I had and so, I decided to enrol on a Hypnobirthing course. The Bump to Baby Chapter caught my eye because they offered a midwife-run women only Saturday course in a beautiful venue – what’s not to love?
Beth and Kate were wonderful, welcoming and instantly made me feel at home. The other ladies were absolutely lovely too and we spent the day giggling, relaxing and working through our hopes for the day our babies would enter the world.
The most important thing I learnt on the course was how to breathe. It sounds simple right? We do it all day, every day. However, I am 100% sure that the breathing techniques I learnt on the course enabled me to have the positive birth experience I enjoyed.
When I was pregnant I had a feeling that I would deliver early rather than going overdue. I knew to trust my instincts.
The day I went into labour I had slept in, listened to my KG Hypnobirthing MP3 tracks, had a pregnancy massage and bounced on my birthing ball. I was 39 weeks pregnant and I had a light show in the evening followed by my waters breaking an hour later. By 11:30pm we were in triage where I was checked for the presence of meconium and then transferred to delivery suite. I was unable to have the water birth I had dreamt of but I didn’t mind!
Most importantly, during the hypnobirthing course, Beth and Kate had prepared us to feel empowered if the unexpected were to happen. This proved priceless. We had spoken at length about how to remain calm and in control despite obstacles and to remember your BRA – what are the benefits? What are the risks? What are the alternatives?
As my contractions were not yet regular, we made the informed decision to introduce a Syntocin drip to encourage my labour to continue and minimise the possibility of baby becoming distressed.
I knew that this could mean that my labour would be faster and more intense than usual but I felt happy with the decision.
Unfortunately, gas and air made me sick during my first examination. I’ve always hated being sick so I did have a panicky moment at that point before a saline drip was given and I began to feel much calmer. Even though I didn’t want to listen to my hypnobirthing tracks whilst in labour, everything they had taught me whilst pregnant was replayed in my mind during those precious moments between pregnancy and motherhood.
From here on in I was able to breathe through each contraction, hugging the head of the bed, on my knees to allow gravity to assist. While I had packed a myriad of items in my hospital bag, I found the cheapest item – a 29p flannel – the most useful in the May heat. My husband massaged my back as hard as he could with the heel of his hand and I managed to reach 10cm dilation with just co-codamol. In fact, when it came to the midwives changing shifts, they thought I had been given an epidural because I looked so relaxed (I didn’t feel it!).
Bizarrely, I had envisaged the pain getting worse up until the point of pushing but, for me, I found the initial stages of dilation the most uncomfortable. Once I was pushing, the pain felt productive and I still felt in control using just my breathing and the encouragement of my fantastic midwife.
After two hours of pushing it became clear that baby wasn’t moving any further forward and that intervention might be needed.
When you’re pregnant, you write your birth preferences even though you have no idea what might happen in labour. I had thought that I wouldn’t like my legs in stirrups (did it!), that I wouldn’t want to lie on a bed (tried it!) and, finally, that I wouldn’t want to go to theatre (tick!).
In actual fact, going to theatre wasn’t the scary situation I had seen on one born every minute or holby city – it was calm, quiet and the staff couldn’t have been nicer to me! I remember laughing with the doctors and the radio was even on! Although, my husband and I are still wracking our brains to remember which song played as our baby was born with the first try of forceps…
Nothing can prepare you for the first time you see your newborn baby and the magical moment in which you become parents. It is the most wonderful, natural thing in the world. Simply indescribable.
Similarly, you gain a newfound respect for your body and what it is capable of despite the hang ups you may have had before. You have given life and that is the greatest gift there is.
I was a first time Mum who gave birth a week before my due date, had a quick labour and left hospital the next day. I am in no doubt that the hypnobirthing techniques I learnt with The Bump to Baby Chapter empowered me to have such a positive birth experience despite the obstacles faced. As everyone will tell you, every birth and each person’s experience is different but the important thing is to trust your instinct and know your body.
I was so over pregnancy. So over being a waddling, water hog unable to lie on my tummy and restricted by my own body. Ungrateful mummy to be, just desperate to meet my little girl and hold her in my arms. The longing to see her was a constant gnawing ache and when that wait went over the finish line, well frankly I was like an ants nest on the attack. For my personal sanity I taught my final spin class at 40 weeks and hoped to ride her out… but no cigar… no little baby.
The greatest achievement of my ridiculous life so far came into the world three days late, doing even better than her mother when it comes to poor time keeping, and that, you gorgeous people, is my focus in this blog… my daughter’s helter skelter journey head first into life.
Before I go into full gory details I want you to hold this thought in your mind, especially if you are a preggo and bossing it but worried about labour… I would genuinely a squillion, million times go through my labour again over being pregnant, genuinely.
It started off as a hope, I hoped my waters had broken but it turns out they hadn’t. However, the midwives were concerned about the lack of fluid surrounding baby girl so it was agreed induction by pessary would be tried. My body was so desperate to meet my girl though that it got too excited, hit overdrive, and intense contractions started after about ten minutes. Buglet wasn’t happy and had a “braddy”, queue panic and me being prepped for an emergency c-section with hubby and I staring at each other super worried about this little life that we had created. Initially I had thought the midwife had said she was having a “paddy”, assuming she was just kicking off, and having a tantrum, thinking like mother like daughter, but, turns out her heart rate had dropped and things needed to pick up quickly. The little tease did pick up and the pessary was whipped out and c-section aborted.
Personally, I wanted to do everything to avoid a c-section so I sobbed with relief. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a c-section, just a lot wrong with me and an incapability to stay still and not be an idiot when it comes to any healing process. I just knew if I had one I would be a nightmare and would put my family through constant worry that I would get an infected wound, whereas for some unknown reason, natural labour I felt would put m more in tune with my body and its capabilities. I really can’t explain the logic, as there is none, but that’s just how my thought processing works.
I was then induced very slowly by a drip and it was really at this point that I fell in love with every midwife and member of team there, especially the incredible Nina Kellow, who held my hand while my husband stroked my head during my terror at having my waters manually broken. It’s amazing how fear is simply a manifestation of the unknown, the mind always imagines a monster when given the chance to brood and worry, and that is where education from antenatal classes combined with lovely, caring midwives are essential, with their ability to swoop down and knock those demons away.
For four hours I laboured, breathing my way through contractions and using gas and air… even hubby had a cheeky sneak of it! Then after about two, I asked for an epidural and it was dreamy! I couldn’t feel the pain and the sickness of the gas and air was a distant memory. I was checked after four hours and had barely dilated any more… there was a history of a stubborn cervix, too scarred to budge so the lovely midwife and registrar gave it a helping hand as they knew how much I wanted to push her out myself and I was allowed another four hours. I’ve got to say all through his my man was a super hero… he did not leave my side, we lost all concept of night and day, we were just a team, I felt so supported, so safe and so loved. He cocooned our little family and together we watched our chrysalis reveal a butterfly. My parents, the amazing, Houdinis that they are, also dropped by, and seeing their faces, especially my mother’s, as my father was so close to the furthest wall from the bed that you’d be forgiven for mistaking him for the latest wallpaper design, made my tenacity harden and my mind strengthen. Still, Dad asking if I had watched “warship” mid contraction was answered with an eye rolling “bit busy now dad”.
So another four hours had passed and blessedly my cervix was fully dilated and I was given two hours to rest before the final push. Hubby took a towel and laid in the bathroom and I chatted to the latest amazing fairy godmother of a midwife in a surreal limbo knowing my daughter was just a couple of hours away from meeting her mummy and daddy.
When the big push came I had the cheerleading squad on hand. All the team were encouraging me to push, my husband was telling me how proud he was of me, I felt such a lioness as I pushed with all my might till I felt my eyes might pop out of my head. Little one teased again with a ‘Braddy’ so it ended up being forceps and an episiotomy, but I will never forget that final push. The overwhelming urge to get it done, to see my girl, to hold my husband’s hand, to end the labour, it’s like a cacophony of emotions coupled with a raw, primal instinct. That last push, oh that last push, I roared like a tiger and the registrar pulled with the forceps like an alligators death roll and my girl, my girl, my baby girl, was there, she was there; the IVF, the arguments, the heartaches, the failures, the issues of pregnancy, the months of going into the nursery fingering tiny baby grows wondering if I would ever get to meet her, the nights of tears, the nights of anger, the fears and the nerves, everything collided together and exploded in the moment I got to hold her in my arms, this perfect little creation, I looked into my husband’s eyes as if to say “look what I’ve done, we did it, we made it.”
That night at 00:50 on the 13th April 2017, Scarlett Evelyn Keble-Wyatt came into our lives, and she totally and utterly completes me, I have a love for her that overwhelms me. She has made my husband a Father and I am so unbelievably proud to say she has made my dreams come true for I’m a Mother now, and from now on it’s me and my girl.
Lottie Keble- Wyatt a.k.a Just The Girl Fitness is bringing a new exercise class called BABIES AT THE BARRE to Cheltenham. She will be hosting a Barre exercise class for all mamas who have young babies. Cheltenham and Gloucester Sling library will also be there to provide you and support you with choosing a sling that suits you and your baby. The launch of these new classes is on 25th June at the Wholefood Market Cheltenham. For more info or to get your tickets visit here.
I often tell my clients that no two pregnancies or labours are the same. So I shouldn’t have been surprised by my recent experience, but somehow I was caught off guard. I imagined when the birth came round there would be an element of predictability in how it would unfold. Not so. You can read about the arrival of my first born here.
This little tinker had plans of his own, looking to start as he means to go on I imagine, make his mark, step out of his brother’s shadow.
On the surface, it seems like it started at 1.30 am on Wednesday. This is when my waters went. (An unexpected start). But no. NO. This labour began at least 2 weeks before, in my mind at least, and let’s face it I’m the only one with a reliable view on this. Prodromal labour. I knew about it, of course. When it began, I wrote about the importance of framing it positively as warming up, rather than a slowing down of our expected experience. That was all well and good, but as the days ticked by, it became harder and harder to stay positive and grateful.
A week into this, the Thursday that was our EDD, I was quite convinced that the gentle surges I had been experiencing had stepped up a notch, and that baby was on his way. Begged hubs to stay home as I was “sure”. And then at some point, everything died off. AGAIN. And so it went on over the following 5 days.
There was a gradual building in intensity to what I was feeling- surging, period type back aches, nausea, the other thing, emotional outbursts, etc. I could actually feel my cervix softening.
Tuesday evening, the saga continued and off we went to bed. Around 1.30, Louis woke up to come in our bed (semi- regular occurrence). As I settled myself back into bed after the obligatory bladder empty, I experienced a couple of these now familiar surges, and thought about what could be holding me and baby back. I reflected on a wonderful EFT session I had a couple of months before with my fantastic friend Gemma Bennett, where we worked through some of my negative emotions and musings surrounding the pregnancy. So I started to speak to myself- the positive, affirming statements I could hear her making in my memory, filling my mind. I smiled to myself, relieved by the release, and in moments, felt that first trickle of waters. Hurrah! The mind really is a fricking powerful thing.
I alerted Nick, as I felt that with such a long build up, things might happen quite quickly. When I got to the bathroom I was relieved to see the waters totally clear, and headed downstairs to get set up.
For my part, this meant getting the snack zone ready, and gathering my comforts. My essential oils, hot water bottle and candles. I also emptied the dishwasher so that there were clean bits for us and midwives and anyone else who might turn up. Through this time the surges continued to appear sporadically, but I could move comfortably through them.
Around 2.30 we settled down to watch some comedy (Peter Kay’s tour that didn’t tour, if you’re interested). I sat on my ball through this time, a blanket wrapped around me and hot water bottle on hand as we waited for the house to warm up a little.
There was no pattern whatsoever emerging. 2 surges might come along within 30 seconds of each other, often very intense and shortish (20-40 seconds). Then I might go 15 minutes with none. Then maybe a few long but gentler ones (60-90 seconds) with 5 minutes in between. Totally random.
After a good laugh and oxytocin hike with the comedy, we put my Calm Birth School mp3s on as I knelt on the floor leaning forward onto my ball, rocking and rolling with the surges. I picked this up at our HAPPy Bumps workshops, it’s one of Jade’s faves and I know why. It was nice to take some weight off of my back, and I felt my pelvis widening and loosening.
I think this was when Nick started filling the pool. I had no intention of getting in any time soon, but our boiler can be wimpy and we hadn’t done a wet run so didn’t want to chance it. He covered it over to keep the heat in and we carried on.
I was drinking lots, (and munching fruit and oat cookies) and frequently needed to empty my bladder. Each trip up to the toilet brought a good few intensive surges.
I felt tired, wanted to lay down and rest, but as soon as I attempted to lay, even sideways on the sofa, I was very uncomfortable and sprung back up. Needed a new plan for rest, so sat on the ball and got my light touch massage from Nick. The surges continued irregularly, and I embraced some clary sage action (inhaling) in an attempt to gain some momentum. I also found it really helpful to breathe in lavender oil from a tissue during the most intense ones. I’ve used lavender a lot through the pregnancy to aid relaxation, and have conditioned myself to calm with it.
I had called my mum as she had a 3 hour drive to get to us and be on hand for Louis, (who had thankfully remained asleep) and around 5.45am, she and my dad arrived.
I wonder if this allowed me to relax a little more, knowing that if he woke up we had help, as although still very erratic, the stronger surges got stronger still after they arrived. I realised that walking around seemed to be the best way to gain regular progress, so wandered around the living room in tiny laps and my body responded.
Each surge was now fairly significant, requiring me to stand and sway, swivelling my hips, bending my knees instinctively, listening to my body and seeking the most comfortable posture, and for the first time begin to vocalise through them alongside the breathing. During these, Nick would stand by me so I could lean into him while he stroked my back and neck and offered me encouragement.
Around 6.15, I told Nick I thought it was time to call for a midwife. I honestly had no idea how long things might go on for, but was reaching a level of intensity that spelt progress. Each surge now had more and more power, although they continued to vary in length and frequency.
Within about half an hour, 2 midwives, Maria (who had already welcomed a baby earlier in her shift) and Denise arrived, but explained there would be shift changeovers soon, so we would likely see 2 more faces.
Maria suggested she do some checks, and we did my bp sitting on the ball, choosing a moment immediately after a surge to lay back on the sofa for baby to be checked. I had to jump up pretty quickly as another came along, but all was well.
I was clear that I didn’t want any vaginal examinations all being well, and this was no issue.
I think around 7, Denise left and Jill arrived, although I didn’t see her at first. I’d gone back to leaning over my ball on the floor, as Nick reminded me I had seemed to make good progress in this position. I was keen to get things going as I could feel myself tiring- let’s face it, even if we just got up at 1.30am to sit round chilling we would be sleepy again by 7.
I could hear Louis up and about with my mum and dad upstairs, playing happily, it was great to know he was settled.
Leaning over that ball, being stroked through the surges, breathing and ahhhh-ing along, I remember saying, when asked, that I couldn’t tell if it would be another 6 hours or if I would birth within 10 minutes. But I suspected I was in transition. I could feel the adrenaline seeping in, a slight sense of vulnerability.
Around 7.30 I think, another surge came, the very beginnings of the urge to bear down appeared, and the remainder of my waters gushed out. I instinctively called out for the midwives who were catching up on the playroom to come in. I had been really happy to have privacy and space up until this point, but now wanted them close.
They came and checked the colour of the waters, everything still looked good. I looked to them for guidance- part of me wanted to get in the pool, something was holding me back. Looking back I think it was hearing my mum and dad getting Louis ready to go out for an 8 o’clock brekkie. I think I knew once I got in it would be all go, and would have liked him out the house. But my body was taking over, and around 7.45 I stripped off, (pausing with a surge that soaked Nick’s feet…) before being helped in.
I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the water, it felt so good. As I looked to settle myself into a comfortable posture, Nick suggested he would get in to raise the water level and support me. I was really happy with this, and as he dripped the water up and down my back through the next surge, I settled onto my knees spread far apart, leaning forwards with my hands on the base of the pool and my face resting on the side.
This was definitely it- not too soon to be in the pool…
These were now some serious surges. Louis popped his head round the door, and Nick told him I was having a wash… He was just about to leave the house, when the next one came. I breathed through the rising of it, then the primal urge to roar kicked in as I felt the baby’s head descend. Mouth wide open, sphincter law in mind, it felt great to let go of that energy.
I spent the next half hr or so breathing, ahhhhing, roaring, horse-lips-ing, swaying through the surges. Maria was excellent at gently reminding me to check if the sounds were helping me, sometimes they were, sometimes it was better to return to the calm breathing. “Ride the wave, listen to your body”, she told me quietly and gently.
Her kind encouragement by my face, Nick behind me stroking my back and trickling water on me, telling me how well it was going and reminding me to relax. I was reassured knowing Jill was keeping an eye on what was happening, and gave me guidance when I asked for it. I felt encircled in support, calmness and confidence.
Maria intermittently checked baby’s heartbeat and reassured me he was consistently calm.
As my body worked hard to bring baby down, there were moments of fear, for sure. Pain, definitely. A sense that I wanted it to be over. Adrenaline was doing its work to bring that vital surge of energy. These moments of extreme intensity, came and went throughout this period, in between I was calmed by visualising my calming colour, by Nick’s reminder of my favourite affirmation- “My surges cannot be stronger then me, because they are me”, by various calming breathing techniques, whatever felt right in the moment.
I never felt I was pushing, only ever that I was allowing my body’s natural reflex to kick in.
When Nick said afterwards that I’d not even asked about gas and air that I considered this- it had genuinely never crossed my mind. Although the pain was significant in those final 20 minutes, I never had a sense that I needed anything extra to manage it. I knew I had the strength to absorb the sensations, I can even say I enjoyed the pain of those moments- I know it sounds odd. It was a productive sensation, it told me I was soon to meet my baby.
It told me I had achieved so much, that the calmness and confidence of the past 6+ hours were a real experience of a complete labour. Up until this period, I must admit to wondering whether I could really be coping so well, whether the trickery of the weeks of prodromal labour was drawing on, and I might only be establishing.
I felt his head emerging, then retreating as I waited for the next surge, my body gradually accommodating him. I had doubts and called out “I don’t feel like there’s enough room!” And was reassured by Jill, “there always is, your body will find a way”.
As the next surge came, I felt the head crown, and cleared my mind to let my body entirely take control. The water really eased the sensation, and I was reminded to pause if I needed to. I just waited, let go, and let my body do its thing.
Eventually, I heard Jill say that the head was out, but this was confusing- I’d been waiting for the relief of closing a little around the neck, but it never came. I later learnt this was because he had emerged compound- superman style with his hand on his head. This also explains why I also shouted out “someone is pushing him back in!” As I felt fingers on my perineum his of course, and my body just holding off the final surges to allow him to rotate a little.
I’m glad no one told me this in that moment- no good could’ve come of knowing this! I felt it was another mark of excellent midwifery care.
In a few moments, the surging returned, the baby’s body started to slip down, and I felt Jill and Nick support him on his way out.
I didn’t turn round immediately, I felt I needed a moment to absorb what had happened. When I then looked over my shoulder, it was so strange and wonderful to see Nick holding our baby. Watching him falling in love with this perfect vernixy bundle. Realising his own part in this experience- it would be wrong to say he supported me, it felt more like an absolute team effort- totally in it together.
“Give me the baby!!”. As I climbed over the cord and Nick handed him to me, the rush was incredible. We sat huddled together, in awe and in love. These moments are a bit of a blur, the thinking mind obscured by the haze of the hormones. I just remember sitting there cuddling, with the midwives watching on quietly, feeling so grateful.
After some time, Jill showed us that the cord had stopped pulsating, and suggested we clamp and cut. Nick went to grab some dry clothes so that he could cut the cord then take the baby whilst I got out. I ordered in the paracetamol- people weren’t kidding when they warned me that the after pains with number 2 could be strong.
I was happy to get out of the pool to deliver the placenta, I wanted to move towards warm cuddles with my baby, and a more normal situation for Louis to come home to. I was helped out of the pool into the sofa, laid back ready to drop the placenta off the edge (seriously, this is the detail we are doing). Nick sat next to me cradling Rory so that we were all close. But the reclining was uncomfortable- once again, I just knew I needed to get up.
So I stood, leant forwards slightly with my hands on my thighs. Jill checked the tautness of the cord, and suggested I might try a little push. I did and it was more than enough…
Placenta and surrounding products launched to the floor like a rocket (into awaiting bag to be checked and put aside for encapsulation). Spattered Nick’s legs- they really went through it…
I was delighted to achieve a natural 3rd stage, and desperate to get back to holding my baby.
But I had a feeling I had torn during the birth, which Jill confirmed. Not surprising given that superman presentation entrance by baby. I prayed for second degree that would keep me at home to get sorted.
Wahhhhhh- 3a tear was diagnosed, and an ambulance was called to transfer us in. Obviously it was a huge disappointment to leave the comfort of our home and abandon those early family moments I had dreamt about. I will write another time about the difficulties I experienced given how overstretched the postnatal unit seemed to be, and how this has affected our journey, as I think it’s important to recognise. This early postnatal period is often overlooked, and my experience has given me food for thought about how I can support my mamas more comprehensively going forward. But I’ll save this for later.
Because this is about the most empowering experience of my life. The contrast between this, and the arrival of my first little love, was incredible. This time, I had much more good luck- no bleeding, wonderful midwives and timings that worked out just perfectly. Both were hypnobirths. In some ways, I leant on the techniques more in Louis’s birth because things were more difficult. Everything that was good about his birth was because of hypnobirthing.
This time felt like how birth should be when all is well with mother and baby. Felt like I was so deep in the philosophy of what I teach that I didn’t think of it as hypnobirthing, just birthing, naturally dipping into the supportive tools when I needed them. No examinations, no timescales, no rules, no suggestion of drugs, or intervention. It felt like how our ancestors might have done it.
So this post is loooooooonnnnnnnggggg. And when I review it again I’m sure I’ll find more I want to say and add a little in.
As I finish this, I’m on the sofa (right at the site of the placenta deluge) with Rory sleeping on my chest. Breathing in his head, it’s magical and a bit surreal to be just a couple of feet from the spot where he was born.
I am already giddy to bring these refreshed feelings of empowerment to a new set of super parents…
Keri Jarvis is a Mother (of a 3 year old tyrant, and a big fat baby), Wife, Birth Addict (not that she wants to keep doing it forever- thinking 2 littles will be quite enough. But addicted to, obsessed by, totally dedicated to enabling parents to give their babies births that they all feel great about). She has been SO LUCKY to have supported around 150 families in welcoming their babies so far, and she continues to be amazed at the power of a couple who are well prepared and in it together- always in awe of her amazing gang.
I’ve never been asked about my birth story. Not surprising really seeing as I’m not the one that did the pushing, but like most things in life, there are 2 sides to every story – granted, mine isn’t the one that people immediately gravitate to – I don’t think anyone has ever come up to me, ignored Clemmie, and asked me how the birth was – it would just be weird.
All that said, I’ve been present at the births of all 4 of my girls. I’ve been there at the classes, at the antenatal checks, at the scans and have witnessed first-hand the emotional roller coaster that Clemmie went through.
My approach and understanding of birth has, unsurprisingly, evolved over the years – I’d be shocked if it hadn’t to be honest – I’m married to a midwife and I have 4 children, if I’d not learned anything from one to the next then it’s not a good reflection upon my grey matter.
Birth No. 1 – I was 24 and bricking myself. Clemmie and I had been together for a total of just over 2 years when she was about to go into labour. You’d think that with Clemmie being a midwife, I’d be clued up and completely at ease with what was about to happen. Well, it’s true what they say – ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’ I knew the basics of what to do not to get in the way and actually help, but I’d also educated myself on what can go wrong and was nervous that everything that could go wrong, would go wrong. Our midwife, who was also Clemmies Mentor at work, travelled back from Glastonbury to deliver Clemmie – she still had mud in her hair and smelt like bonfires. We’d done all the preparation you could, including making a birthing CD (how mid 2000’s) . Clemmie had also developed a craving for ice which I hear is not uncommon, so I spent a lot of my time running to and from the ice machine to ensure she was fully stocked up.
Knowing Clemmie was surrounded by her colleagues, I knew she was in safe hands and it helped relieve my stress levels immensely (that said, I rarely get stressed about anything) and focus on just giving Clemmie reassurance that we were ok and that she was doing brilliantly. She did get in the pool several times throughout Anya’s Birth (we don’t tend to call it labour as it makes it sound like a hideous chore, when in actual fact it can be a lovely experience). I made the mistake of pouring warm water over Clemmie’s back while she was on all fours and commented that it was ‘like pouring gravy over a big fat turkey’. If looks could have killed, I’d be 6 feet under right now, that’s for sure.
Finally in the end, Clemmie delivered Anya while squatting and hanging off my waist. She’d been active throughout the whole birth so I was glad not to see her on her back– being married to a midwife, I would often hear while watching a birth in a film, “oh she should be up and about and getting active, not lying on her back, she’ll find it harder to push and contractions might drop off” (I have picked up a lot since osmosis!)
Clemmie held her straight away, I then cut the cord which I liken to cutting the rind off of bacon. With that done, whipped off my shirt and had skin to skin with my first born – It really was amazing. The one thing that I know Clemmie is still annoyed with me about is that I didn’t shed a single tear throughout the whole birthing experience. Apparently I’m an emotionless robot father, but I know that I was feeling choked up on the inside.
Birth 2 – birth number 2 was supposed to be straight forward. We wanted a home birth but due to some complications, that option was taken away from us (which I was quietly happy about – I didn’t fancy a big paddling pool in my house to be honest, I had visions of it bursting and me clearing up after birth from under the sofa!)
We now had a different plan as Clemmie had developed obstetric choleostasis, so we were going in 2 weeks before our due date to be induced. Going to the hospital on the bus with a bag and a pillow tucked under my arms while not contracting was an odd experience. I’d never given any thought to the fact that some people don’t naturally go into labour but have to be encouraged so that one was a new one on me.
Things were progressing well and I remember a doctor coming in to perform an ARM to get the birth moving along, she then scurried away leaving us to get on with things. Things ramped up quickly and it was at that point I looked around and realised all the midwifes had left the room. Clemmie had gone into transition, seeing the speed at which she changed really had me worried, I felt out of my depth and without anyone to call over and not wanting to leave her, I pulled the emergency cord to get people back in to the room. I helped Clemmie over the pool and after slipping on iced water (she still had the ice craving) and wearing a vomit bowl on her head for about 15 minutes, she gave birth to Marnie in the pool. Clemmie was so loud, but after her head was out, we peered into the water to see a screwed up red little face. The rest of the body was born in relative slience and she slowly drifted up to the top of the water to be held by Clemmie. I was on hand to capture the whole thing on camera as I’d been told that I didn’t take enough photos at Anya’s birth (in all honesty, Anya’s birth was my first birth and I was a bit grossed out by the whole thing, Clemmie wanted photos from all angles and I wasn’t quite prepared to do that! It’s not like we would have sat down and gone through them again together over tea and cake or sent them to my family!)
Birth 3&4 – by the time I’d gotten over the shock that we were having twins, the due date was already in sight. Being twins, and with the added complication of Clemmie’s obstetric choleostasis coming back to haunt us, we were looking at a 36 week induction. This time we’d been studying hypnobirthing – I was incredibly sceptical of the whole thing, until I realised that the work Hypno is misleading. It’s actually about relaxation and breathing, rather than Derren Brown making you believe you were a chicken in a past life, back in 1843.
Once again I was on ice duty, but with no ice machine in sight and the birth taking a bit of time to get going, I walked about a mile into Camberwell to get my lunch and fill several large cups with free ice from the local Subway. All that time, in the back of my head I was thinking, “she better not give birth while I’m away or I’ll never ever hear the end of it!”. I got back and Clemmie was stood up, rocking over the bed with her headphones in. I walked over and rocked with her from behind her, holding her neck and counting her breaths. The smell of lavender was thick in the air.
After about 4 or 5 hours, Clemmie finally started to get regular contractions and she got into the bed. Held her hands and looked into her eyes. I told her that it was only her and I there (when in fact there were a good 5 or 6 other people there!) and that she just had to concentrate on my voice. Within 10 minutes, twin No.1 had arrived. I cut the cord and was holding her for what felt like seconds before a midwife tapped me on the shoulder and said the other one is coming – I’d genuinely forgotten that we we’re having 2 babies – while staring at my newest daughter, I’d somehow allowed that rather important piece of information to be forgotten. Within 5 minutes, twin no.2 was out into the world and before I knew it I was topless, holding not 1, but 2 new members of the human race. Looking at both of them, and then at Clemmie, I almost squeezed out a tear, but I was too happy and nothing would come. I truly am a robot.
Dad bloggers are taking the internet by storm with Simon aka. Father of Daughters leading the pack. If you have not yet seen his hilarious and real squares of dad life then you need to visit his Instagram and Facebook. It is a MUST. For the other side of this story you can read Mother of Daughters, Clemmie’s account of birth 3 &4, Ottilie and Delilah, here.