Category: The Great British Birth Off

Lottie Keble-Wyatt Birth Story

Birth StoriesEventsThe Great British Birth Off

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.

Do It Like a Mother – Welcoming Rory

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

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…

www.doitlikeamother.co.uk

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.

Find out more about Keri on Instagram  or Facebook.

 

Father of Daughters – Birth Story

Birth StoriesDadsThe Great British Birth Off

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.

 

Teddy’s Birth Story: A Dads edit

Birth StoriesDadsNew mumNewbornPregnancyThe Great British Birth Off

I returned home from work and the flat was in chaos. After spending the previous night in hospital following a false start to labour, my wife Rosie’s nesting instincts had well and truly kicked in.

 

Stressing about how underprepared we were for our impending arrival, she’d left piles of personal items in every room that needed washing, ironing or putting away. Despite being told by the midwife that it would almost certainly be another 10 days or so before our contractions would start in earnest, Rosie wasn’t convinced.

 

To allay her fears (and leaving the boring jobs for later), we lay on our bed researching TENS machines online and downloaded a free contraction tracker App on my phone. It was 8pm.

 

While testing the App out for the first time, Rosie suddenly clutched her bump and let out a quiet moan. The pain intensified for around 30 seconds before subsiding.

 

Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s just Braxton Hicks” I said confidently, given the midwife’s recent prediction.

 

But six minutes later, she had another cramping pain in her belly. Like clockwork, the pain grew progressively stronger for another 30 seconds before easing off.

 

It can’t be real labour,” I said hopefully. “It’s way too early!

 

But sure enough, six minutes later, it happened again. Nine minutes. Seven minutes. 10 minutes. Six minutes. Six minutes. Six minutes. Each separated by a consistent contraction of sixty seconds.

 

Still think it’s Braxton Hicks?” Rosie asked…

 

At this point we called the Birth Centre, who confirmed that the baby was definitely on its way.

 

But then they gave us the bad news. Since we were only 36 weeks pregnant, we wouldn’t be allowed to have our baby in the midwife run Birth Centre as we’d planned. The baby was officially premature so we would have to give birth on the labour ward instead. Rosie was visibly upset but she didn’t have time to wallow as another, more intense contraction took hold.

 

Once the contractions are three minutes apart and have been like that for an hour, then you should come in,” the midwife said calmly before signing off.

 

For the next two hours Rosie ensconced herself in our bedroom, with the windows open and the lights off, as the sun slowly retreated behind the horizon.

 

In complete darkness, she breathed her way through every contraction while (out loud) I counted down from 100 (a distraction technique our antenatal instructor had recommended) and massaged her lower back.

 

In between contractions I sprinted back and forth from the kitchen, preparing some fish cakes and boiled courgettes for supper. If we really were in labour, she would need some sustenance to keep her energy levels up.

 

I even managed to slowly but surely finish all the jobs she’d left for me to do, while dutifully rushing back to the bedroom at the start of every contraction to start the timer App, count down from 100 and massage her aching back.

 

At midnight, we called the midwife again. The contractions were more powerful than ever and had been consistently three minutes apart for about forty minutes. Kneeling on the bed with her head buried in a stack of eight pillows, Rosie could hardly speak when the midwife asked to talk to her.

 

It’s time to come in…right away,” we were told.

 

This was it. Action stations…

 

I ran to the nursery to pick up our hospital bags and car seat, before hurriedly loading them into the car. As I rushed back in, I found Rosie at the kitchen sink washing up the dishes from our supper. I couldn’t help but laugh…even in the midst of labour, she refused to let her domestic standards slip. She grabbed the kitchen worktop and breathed her way through another intense contraction.

 

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally made it to the labour ward. Between contractions, the midwife did a quick examination and confirmed that Rosie was already 5cm dilated, before adding that the baby would be with us by the morning. This baby wasn’t hanging around…

 

So Rosie was quickly wheeled off to a surprisingly large and dimly lit room, with a new midwife ready and waiting to take us over the finishing line. It was 1am at this point and we were told that the next cervix examination would be scheduled for 5am…a lifetime away.

 

 

Because we were around five days short of the pivotal 37-week mark, two monitors were strapped onto Rosie’s bump, and the room immediately filled with the sound of our baby’s heartbeat. The atmosphere was intense and the room was baking.

 

With every contraction I continued our ritual of counting down out loud, while massaging her back. I could see on the monitor an erratic graph, which tracked the progress of every contraction. So I used this to let her know when each surge had reached its peak. All the while, she breathed heavily on the gas and air (her new best friend) as I rushed back and forth to the water fountain to keep her fluids topped up.

 

Given how little sleep she’d had over the past two days, I soon started to stress about her energy levels. So, I encouraged her to try and eat some of the snack bars and sweets that we’d brought in our hospital bag. But all she could manage were two Jelly Babies…

 

Luckily we’d also bought some energy gel sachets (popular with long distance runners), which she did manage to suck on between contractions. I just hoped for her sake that this birth wasn’t going to turn into a marathon itself.

 

At 3am, during a particularly powerful surge, I felt a gush of liquid against my leg as Rosie’s waters finally broke. We convinced the midwife to examine her again and helped Rosie onto the bed, at which point she whispered…

 

I think I’m gonna be sick.

 

We managed to grab a cardboard sick bowl just in time as she projectile vomited twice, filling the entire container. Unfortunately, we weren’t quick enough at finding a second bowl though, as she threw up again, this time on the edge of the bed, the floor and my shoes. By this point of labour, and already covered in various fluids, I was beyond caring. I covered the wet patch on the bed with a hospital incontinence sheet and wiped her chin with my handkerchief.

 

The midwife donned her surgical gloves to investigate the state of Rosie’s cervix. 6cm dilated.

 

I could see the disappointment on Rosie’s face but we reassured her that an extra centimetre of dilation and the breaking of her waters were two massive positive developments in the space of just two hours. So, she stood back up, leaned against the bed and resumed the cycle of contractions.

 

Before long, I started to notice a subtle change in her behaviour. She began hopping from one foot to the other to manage the pain. Meanwhile, she began making long guttural mooing sounds during each surge; a sign (I’d read) that we were nearing the pivotal transition period of labour.

 

It was at this stage that she started doubting herself. Repeatedly she asked for an epidural. We thought this might happen. So, as we’d agreed before the birth, it was my job to remind her of all the reasons why she didn’t want one.

 

You see, an epidural can massively slow down labour. Plus, it increases the chances that you will need either forceps, a ventouse or even a Caesarian to get the baby out – all things I knew for certain she wanted to avoid.

 

I reassured her that she was doing an incredible job. That she was being so brave. That she had already progressed so far. And that, with her waters broken and her contractions getting closer together, everything seemed to be speeding up.

 

I knew should could do it naturally. And she knew it too.

 

Sure enough, at 4am, within an hour of her last cervical examination she began to feel the overwhelming need to push. The midwife couldn’t believe it and questioned whether the baby might have rotated into the wrong position.

 

Again, we convinced her to check how dilated Rosie was. So the midwife donned a clean pair of gloves and disappeared down below.

 

When she re-emerged, the look on her face was a picture. “10 centimetres,” she said. “This baby’s ready to be born.

 

She couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t believe it. It was all happening so fast. Rosie had gone into labour only eight hours earlier and now we were about to come face to face with our new son or daughter. Incredible, and with just two paracetamol and gas & air to get her through.

 

With each contraction, our midwife coached her through the process and gradually the baby edged closer and closer towards its escape hatch.

 

I’d sworn to myself that I would stay up at Rosie’s shoulder throughout the birth and never look down at ‘the business end’ of proceedings. But like a moth to a flame, I couldn’t help myself. I was transfixed as I saw a mat of black hair start to emerge as the baby crowned. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.

 

You’re amazing! Keep going! You can do it! You are incredible!” I repeated, in a state of total awe for my wife and the wonder of childbirth.

 

After the head was born, the midwife instructed Rosie to pant, with short, sharp breaths. She followed her advice to the letter and in no time at all, our little one shot out and we were presented with our new baby boy.

 

Covered in a waxy white substance, his head slightly cone shaped after squeezing so quickly through the birth canal, we couldn’t believe it. He was utterly perfect; a healthy, happy seven pounds.

 

“Do you have a name?” the midwife asked.

 

“Teddy,” she said…

 

I couldn’t take my eyes off him…I still can’t.

 

Giles is a first time dad and creator of London dad blog YOU THE DADDY , giving the guy’s perspective on pregnancy, babies and parenthood. You can also check him out on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

Maisie’s Birth Story

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

Antonia is a mother of 3, an antenatal educator and baby massage instructor. You can find more about her on her website Nurturing New Families and on Instagram.

The Birth of Oatcake

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I wrote my birth story down for my own blog ‘Oatcake Adventures’ a few weeks after our little Oatcake arrived, with my ‘mama hat’ on. When Beth asked me to put together a little something for The Bump to Baby Chapter, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit some of my pregnancy and birth with the ‘midwife hat’ on! Though to be honest, only 2 months after giving birth to the little man, it’s likely to be impossible to separate myself from something so innately personal, but I’ll give it a go..

Despite having helped many women to birth their babies, hypnobirthing remained somewhat of a mystery to me until I fell pregnant myself. I had supported just one mother who had used it, and if I’m honest, her MP3s filling the room about her vagina opening like a rose bud in bloom, made me chuckle a little inside.. but hey, a first time mama- birthed her baby like an ABSOLUTE boss, with no drugs, so there’s got to be something right about it! So, when a friend of mine, who teaches hypnobirthing, approached me about teaching us when I fell pregnant, I was initially pretty skeptical. I definitely knew I wanted as few interventions as possible, and was pretty set on having a home birth and I knew that a lot of research pointed towards hypnobirthing as a way to help achieve this. So we decided we would give it a go!

There are so many misconceptions about hypnobirthing, and I was party to pretty much all of them- which is pretty awful for a midwife I know, but I’m on a mission to spread the word so watch this birthing space! You can hypnobirth and have all the pain relief options in the world if you want! You can hypnobirth through a planned or emergency c section. Just as you can hypnobirth your way through a water birth in your living room. You can hypnobirth and be CEO of a global corporation, you can hypnobirth and be a vegan who only wears handwoven clothes. It doesn’t discriminate about who you are or how your little one makes his way into the world, but it totally alters the way you perceive it. FYI I totally hypnobirth my way through life now, so you probably don’t even need to be pregnant.. just saying.

For weeks we had old sheets on the bed, waterproof mattress protector at the ready, we had collected piles and piles of old towels from family and friends and had lavender scented candles dotted around the house, all in preparation for my dream Hypno-Homebirth.  But after three days of reduced movements, we opted for an induction, in hospital, on the consultant led ward- almost as far away from the original ‘plan’ as we could get. Now this was probably part my midwifery training and part my hypnobirthing mind- meant that we felt confident to make decisions at a time and in a way that was right for us. Baby’s movements are a really important indicator that they are safe and well, so its super important to notice if things change. Oatcake had had a few episodes of going pretty quiet in my pregnancy already, so on the Tuesday night we were offered an induction. We did some research, asked lots of questions and weighed up the benefits, risks, alternatives, listened to our instincts and decided to turn down the option of induction at this stage, i.e. Do nothing. In hypnobirthing this is called using your BRAIN. A method I now use when making every decision in my life now, from picking baby wipes in Waitrose (it’s my local supermarket, I’m not a supermarket snob I swear.. but they do sell fresh sushi so…) to putting an offer in on our new house (!!), so ultimately it’s an investment in your mind not just your birth!! Another 36 hours passed, we had a scan and some monitoring, and the induction was offered again. This time, after the same process of decision making, we opted for the induction.

We took some time, headed home for a few hours to sort out the house, and our heads (!), read as much research as we could on inductions for reduced movement and returned that evening confident we’d made the right choice to be induced. After further monitoring  that night, I was induced at 11am the following morning.. and it all kicked off.

The TENS machine was an absolute delight, I might just put it on again now for a laugh I liked it so much, I would totally recommend getting your hands on one if your preparing to pop out a small human any time soon. Probably even if your not. Gas and air, also went down a treat, though temporarily made Leon’s reading hypnobirthing scripts the most hilarious thing in the world.. I just remember thinking- ‘does he know how much of a nob he sounds?’ and crying with laughter in my head, but hey! However you get your oxytocin hits is fine by baby! Needless to say, after another hour, the scripts were much welcomed once again! Incidentally I should point out here, I studied KG hypnobirthing and there was categorically no mention of the aforementioned blooming rosebud vagina. Strictly relaxing and chat about trees and butterflies. Which was great. Because I still just find the thought of the Rose thing hilarious.

10 hours later, 40 minutes of pushing (which by the way is way easier than just contracting), baby Oatcake arrived in my arms. Circumstantially, (being induced, in hospital, strapped to a monitor and laying on a bed) the birth was absolutely nothing that I had hoped for, but as an experience, for my mind, my body and my now my memory, it was all I ever wanted and more. I felt in control, I felt supported, I made my own decisions and totally rocked it! I’m convinced the sheer determination to make it great, made it so. It’s completely changed me as a mother, a midwife and a human. And now I’m on a mission to get people talking positively about birth, and get women to look forward to birthing their babies- pregnancy and birth has shown me strength within myself that I could never even fathom existed. Birth isn’t something to be afraid of, with preparation, support and a strong will, we are capable of amazing things! However your baby comes into the world Ladies, you are all rock stars and I salute you!

Oh and ps. We didn’t actually name our poor child Oatcake. His name is Otis. The cake part is just an affectionate nickname.

Megan is a midwife in training and mother of a little Oatcake, Otis. You can visit her blog here and her journey through motherhood in pictures here.

The Birth Story of Ottilie and Delilah

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It’s difficult to know how to start this birth story. I still can’t believe I only gave birth to the twins just over 2 weeks ago. If you’ve followed my gas and air blog you’ll know this was no easy pregnancy, there were so many uncertainties; the horrendous morning sickness, the scary bleeds in the first trimester, the reality of going from 2 children to 4, both babies being breech for what seemed like ages and the fear of Obstetric Choleostatis returning. Well it did with a vengeance. In brief I had bloods taken at around 28 weeks into the pregnancy to have a look at what my bile acids and liver function tests were doing (I hadn’t started itching at this point) and they were already abnormal. After an initial wobble my amazing midwives and Consultant calmed me down and a plan was made to repeat the bloods in 2 weeks. By the time those 2 weeks came I was already itching on my hands and feet so I was started on lots of medication, creams to sooth my skin and Piriton to help the irritation. When people ask what it’s like to have OC, the only way I can describe it, is like ants biting under your hands and feet and no scratching will ever ease the itch. And the itching isn’t just on your hands and feet it’s everywhere. Legs, arms, bump, boobs. My skin was so damaged I was covered in bruises and scratch marks I looked like I’d been in a fight. It’s worse at night and some nights I wrapped cold wet flannels around my hands and feet to relive the burning sensation. The one thing that kept me sane was the amazing online support charity ICP which had a Facebook page where sufferers can post questions and receive help and advice. At 5am when I hadn’t slept this was a life saver.

By 34 weeks I was at breaking point, I was hardly sleeping and nothing was helping with the itching. I took myself off to see my Consultant full of tears and worry and begged her for an elective section. I could see no way of carrying on until 37 weeks feeling so tired, so I figured it was best to deliver the babies early to put me out of my misery, plus they were still breech and transverse so a vaginal birth was not recommended. Again my amazing Consultant calmed me down, talked me through the options but did a quick scan just to check their presentation. And guess what, they were both head down and twin 1 was engaged! I was shocked, I hadn’t even felt them turn. So it was decided to induce me at 36 weeks, have some steroid injections to help mature the babies lungs and she prescribed me some amazing sleeping tablets (which are safe in pregnancy) to ease the nights. I went away feeling calm, confident and for the first time excited to birth my babies.

We had a date for the induction so over the next 2 weeks I listened to my Hypnobirth relaxation MP3 every night, stuck my YESMUM to be cards all over the house and had weekly massages from my wonderful doula. I could do this and everything was going to be fine. A few days before my induction date I had lots of early labour symptoms, a bloody show, loads of period pains, cramps and back ache but no babies. I felt confident that my body was getting ready for Friday and carried on practising my breathing techniques with my husband.

The day came to meet our little squirrels and we headed to the hospital at 7:30 am to meet my midwife and consultant. I was sneaked into a birthing room (I didn’t want all my colleagues to know or see I was on labour ward) and the plan was to have my waters broken and hopefully get things going. By 8:30 my waters were broken (I was already 4cm dilated) and I went off with my husband and doula to walk up and down 4 flights of stairs. My doula had my squatting, walking sideways you name it we did it. I felt like I’d done a Zumba class. My doula brought a wet flannel with her which had lavender and clary sage oil on it and I sniffed it like mad woman, I actually felt quite high. After 2 hours nothing was happening and we went back to the birthing room to talk through my options. My midwife head came into play and I knew the next stage was having the hormone drip. I wasn’t scared or worried about what this would mean but I knew time was ticking on and I wanted to get on with the labour, I even said ‘I want to feel these contractions now’. I was aware I was clock watching so my husband suggested taking the clock down from the wall.

 

 

 

 

So we started the drip on a low dose which meant I had to be continuously monitored on the CTG machine. This wasn’t a problem as I sat on the ball leaning over the bed (still with my Hypnobirthing MP3 in my headphones) so I didn’t feel restricted or confined to the bed and could still be upright. I managed to totally switch off from everything around me, it felt like it was just me and my husband in the room and the calm voice in my ears from Hollie de Cruz. After about half an hour the contractions were very mild and didn’t seem to be building into much so my midwife slowly increased the dose and I carried on rocking on the ball. I breathed through every contraction imagining a wave breaking gently on the shore ‘inhale peace, exhale tension’. *Just to say at this point, this was the first time I’d practised hypnobirthing techniques during my own labour so by no means was I an expert but I just kept the breathing techniques as simple as possible.*

After another half an hour the contractions had picked up and felt I needed to work harder to focus on my breath and not tense my shoulders or jaw, this is when the breathing really helped to keep everything soft. I took my husbands hand during every one of these contractions and held the wet flannel to my nose to inhale the lavender and clary sage, still keeping my eyes closed throughout. After a pretty intense contraction I walked to the bathroom to try and have a wee (my doula had been giving me sips of coconut water after every contraction which was just brilliant). I couldn’t manage a wee and stood up and had a really strong contraction which was horribly fierce and took me by surprise, I leaned onto my husband trying to get back into my breathing and said ‘I can’t do another contraction standing up ‘. We walked back to the ball and it was clear the drip was definitely working as the contractions were really regular at this point, maybe every 2 minutes. I picked up the gas and air and rested the mouth piece in my mouth, not inhaling it just having it there as a comfort. The next contraction came and I instinctively knew I wanted to get on the bed (I’ve never birthed on the bed in my other labours) I turned onto my right side and felt a change in my body, a sensation I knew yet still couldn’t believe I was at that stage. Pressure. It was in my lower back right on my sacrum and there was no ignoring the different sounds I began to make.

My midwife head popped back on as I heard the paper of delivery packs being unwrapped and opened my eyes to see my midwife had changed out of her own clothes into scrubs and my consultant standing there smiling and looking pleased. ‘I’m not at that stage yet it’s way too soon’ I declared and they all reassured me that twin 1 was on her way. I suddenly felt scared and told my husband who calmed me down and told me l was going to be fine and brought me back in the zone ‘inhale peace exhale tension’. I still insisted on keeping one of the ear pieces from my headphones in one ear as I couldn’t bear not to have those sounds keeping me calm.

My body then took over and I began to feel twin 1 moving down in my pelvis at quite some speed because before I could even think ‘I can’t do this’ her head was crowning and my midwife asked me to slowly breathe. I don’t recall waiting for another contraction because a few seconds later she was on my chest skin to skin and screaming. I couldn’t really believe how quick it had been but was well aware there was another baby to birth.

 

My midwives kept the hormone drip running so that my uterus continued to contract and within 5 minutes I felt the next wave of contractions building and asked for her cord to be cut and clamped and my doula took her for a cuddle so I could concentrate on the next bit. Another moment of me being a midwife crept in as I recall looking at my midwife as my consultant quickly scanned the second twin to make sure she was still head down. ‘I’m not having a forceps!’ I declared as I heard the sound of the metal instruments being tided away from a delivery pack. ‘No you’re not having a forceps you’re having a baby’ my consultant said to me. The contractions were strong very quickly again and my midwife broke the sac of water of twin 2 and I felt her begin to follow the same journey her sister had only made a few moments before. I was still on the bed but had rolled onto my back, one midwife encouraged me to rest my leg onto her to ‘make more room for baby’ a phrase us midwives say a lot! ‘God I hate it when midwives say that’ I announced to my midwives, they all laughed. And before I even had time to think about the ‘what ifs’ I felt that same sensation of her head emerging, followed by her body. I had done it.

The placentas came out fused together one significantly bigger than the other but both looked healthy. My blood loss was minimal and I didn’t have any tears or grazes! (good old perineal massage). We spent the next hour munching on delicious goodies from the snack bag (thanks Jo) drinking tea and trying to master the skill of tandem feeding. After a quick shower (best feeling ever) and freshen up we were transferred to the postnatal ward where I was lucky enough to have a private room. My husband and I stared at our new baby daughters, both completely elated and exhausted at the same time.

We named them Ottilie Pearl and Delilah Iris just in time for their big sisters to meet them the following day.

 

 

 

Clemmie Hooper a.k.a. Instagrams @mother_of_daughters is the genetics behind these 4 beautiful faces . This mamas game is strong, not only is she part time midwife and full time mother of 4 daughters, this super mum has also just released a book ‘How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out.’ A guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife’s mouth. It is available for pre-order, a number one read for all pregnant mamas.

Too posh to push… you decide

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

Mind the Gap is a blog post I have in my mind but have yet to write. The story of starting all over again after a 12 year gap. My eldest was born in 2002. A traumatic birth that I always decline to share with people as I feel for pregnant women and just can’t see the point of adding to their anxieties. I was young, my recovery was difficult and I was advised that one hundred years ago neither my son or I would have survived.

So fast forward two years to my next son, 2004, and though I was up for giving a natural labour another go, at the last minute when I went past my due date and they started to talk about inducing me. I lost my nerve and opted for a caesarean section.

Now I didn’t mind the gap and (very happily) found myself with bun in oven again last year so my 2016 birth experience is the topic of this post. This time round my birth story was overwhelmingly positive and I’m so pleased to have been invited by The Bump to Baby Chapter to tell a story of a great caesarean.

One of my great Instamum friends was recently very heavily criticised for being ‘too posh to push.’ I find it interesting that any woman would take the time out of their day to criticise another but find this debate particularly strange. I’ve worked in the NHS for over ten years and the only argument I find myself agreeing with is the cost factor. C-sections are more expensive. You can’t argue with that.

But in this day and age when the main thing wrong with our world is a lack of tolerance of one another’s choices (be it religion, parenting choices, sexuality) I’m here to wave the flag for a woman’s right to choose the birth that works best for her and her family.

And this choice I had. My pregnancy had been pretty straightforward all the way through with a couple of minor concerns about growth towards the end that meant I needed a few extra scans. Interestingly I was enormous with my two boys and put on about two and a half stone with my first. This time round my bump was fairly petite and I put on a stone throughout the whole pregnancy. Gender disappointment is yet another topic for another blog but with two boys already in my brood everyone that cooed over my little bumpy told me it ‘must be a girl.’ Secretly I was crossing everything that they were right though to anyone that asked ‘a healthy baby is all that matters!’

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The consultant who was looking after me had recommended a section and I was relieved not to have to ask for it. All being well I would be scheduled in for delivery at 39 weeks. This time delivering at Gloucester – my previous births had been in Cheltenham which is no longer an option for high risk pregnancies or sections.

The morning came and it was surreal. The 20th January this year was the coldest day of the year. But it was a beautiful, misty morning in the Cotswolds and the eeriness of the darkness at 6am matched the strange feeling you have on the day you hope, all being well, you will meet your baby.

Granny arrived as planned and took over childcare with the elder boys being packed off to school as if it was any other day. The drive to the hospital quiet, both my husband and I trying to keep one another calm. We’d done this before. It would all be fine.

Our arrival and welcome was wonderful. Our own dedicated midwife that talked us through the procedure and would assist in theatre and oversee my care in recovery. She introduced us to the surgeon and anaesthetist who asked me a series of questions. The surgeon herself was fairly heavily pregnant and was getting over a recent delivery when she had accidentally cut the baby with her scalpel (there is an extremely low risk of this with every c-section), the baby had been absolutely fine but you could see she was devastated. As she read through my previous hospital births she winced. ‘Ouch’ she said.

I was gowned up and this time remembered to remove my pants (I didn’t in 2004 much to the hilarity of the surgeon) and James donned his ER gear and squeezed his size 13 feet into size 7 crocs.

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45 minutes after arriving at the hospital I was in theatre at 8.42am. Sitting very still hunched over while the spinal block was administered. This is so much worse in your imagination than in reality. I think I have a pretty high pain threshold but seriously – it’s ok. I was helped to lie down and as has always been the case in each of my sections (the anaesthetist was ready for it) had a very sudden and very significant dip in blood pressure. Seconds before the room span almost entirely away from me the drugs they gave me to counteract this very strange feeling kicked in and I was back in the room. Screen went up. Surgeon had the thumbs up from the anaesthetist and off we go.

When I had my first section I was very confused by the member of the clinical team who sat at my shoulder chatting to me about the most mundane issues throughout the whole procedure. Was she a gate crasher? Did the midwives not realise they’d let some nosy weirdo in a hospital gown in to nosey on my birth and ask me questions about where I was going on holiday this summer? Obviously now I understand that as the anaesthetist’s assistant her job is the crucial one of monitoring how I am doing, how I am feeling, keeping me calm and distracting me from the seriousness of what the hell is going on just centimetres from my nose. This time round I engaged in soothing chit chat about my boys and how proud I am of them.

Probably less than ten minutes after the screen went up it happened. Lots of excitement, smiles and looks of reassurance followed by a little howl and a gunked and squished up little baby face popped up from the screen. ‘He’s beautiful’ my husband said and even though I was expecting it I wasn’t forlorn by the news it was a boy – it was just my darling baby – here and safe and crying.

But our new friend at my shoulder challenged him…. are you sure it’s a boy (turned out he wasn’t and hadn’t even checked – just assuming that it would be a boy.) The midwife lifted little one higher and sure enough she was a girl. Cue floodgates opening on both mother and father’s side and as she was placed on my chest I may just have snotted directly into her eye. I’m not sure how you feel when you win the lottery but my guess is that this feeling was ten thousand times better.

As well as being a girl she was in tip top physical condition for which I count my lucky stars each and every day.

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I was able to stroke her tiny nose for the forty five minutes or so it took to piece me back together and off we went to recovery. Safely snuggled in for some skin to skin and a good old feed (she fed for 40 minutes!) the midwife brought the nectar that is tea and toast and our little life as a family of 5 began.

My experience was first class and I was able to start my life as a busy mum of three feeling positive and physically pretty well. A caesarean section is not a failure. It is no less hard than a natural birth when it comes to recovery. Obviously the seriousness of major surgery is not to be undermined but for me it was the right option.

Our birth stories are all different. Just like as people we’re all different. Be proud of who you are and be proud of your story because regardless of the outcome or your journey your birth story becomes part of your life story and I’m sure you wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

Too posh to push is the birth story of our local girl Kate aka Cheltenhammaman. She holds the torch for flexible working for mums in Gloucestershire with lots of mum friendly jobs on her website and she also hosts many mum boss workshops. It’s not all work work work work work, she organises events specifically for strong, like-minded mums who want to have a bit of me time and fill their cup. Head over to her website for more information.

Amy Walker of Lennie & Co Birth Story 

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

Hi I’m Amy, I am the most impatient person on earth. So waiting 9 whole months until I could meet my baby was a big ask.

I found out I was pregnant after an extremely boozey New Year in Madrid with my, then husband. I was 26 and drank far too much tequila whilst welcoming in 2012. We weren’t ‘trying’ but I had come off the pill in the October and with my husband in the forces he had only come home for Christmas 2 weeks before as was based in Germany.

 

On the 5th of January I asked him to get a pregnancy test, ‘you know one of the ones that tell you early’ was my description as my boobs were sore. So when I arrived home from work there was a First Response test on the side ( still have it tucked at the back of my wardrobe, weird maybe but hey) So I pottered to the bathroom and waited for the lines and sure enough, tad da, my magic boobs were correct!

 

So that is how I knew, boobs. They’re great aren’t they. Lucky for my husband he returned back to Germany in the New Year as I was a tired mess. I would go to work and on return, open the front door and undress whilst walking up two flights of stairs to get into bed. Yep 5:45pm was my bedtime; well I’d arise for a feeding and go back up. This happens pretty much until 17 weeks.

 

I then got some energy back until 22 weeks when I was diagnosed with Symphysis Pubis, which didn’t need any of my new found energy as I struggled to walk very far at all. It was so uncomfortable. I went to physio in Gloucester to help, it was unfortunately a short-lived aid as the general weight of the baby and misalignment of my pelvis left me in pain. Anyway I’ve literally forgotten about that part of pregnancy!

 

I was a giant when I was pregnant. Everyone said ‘Blimey you can’t tell from the back’ Liars. I was huge but it was nice of them to pretend. I ate a Crunchie religiously everyday and enjoyed everything I wanted everyday on the food chart. I had such a sweet tooth when pregnant, probably why Lennie looked like a sumo wrestler when he arrived.

 

So impatient Amy tried everything to get this baby out from about 37 weeks. Raspberry tea.. Check. Clove Oil in bath… Check (man that stuff stinks) I rubbed it in my feet too. I even drank Castor Oil, I did, so bad I know and once you taste it you’ll never do it again. But ‘peanut’ I called the baby was so comfy.

 

I had 3 stretch and sweeps before ‘peanut’ came. The first one wasn’t painful at all and my cervix was tucked away very tightly, the second one made me wince and the third I just didn’t care. When at home I bounced on my ball at every chance I could.

 

I went for reflexology on day 7 of being over due and it seemed the button in my feet relating to my nipples were causing ‘Peanut’ to wriggle. So I was sent home and told to massage my nipples. A little odd but as above I’d try anything, I probably did it whilst inhaling Clove Oil.

 

8 days overdue whilst bouncing on my ball and watching the British Bake Off that evening I felt something I’d never felt before and they were happening every 7 minutes. BOOM! Then of course I was impatient for them to speed up…. Obviously.

 

4 baths later and at 5:30am the next morning we headed to the Cheltenham Birth Unit. We got a room with a bath, something I would have liked but didn’t get my hopes up about as I understood you only got one if there was one free. I managed to scoff some toast, I had eaten all of my ‘hospital snacks’ at home before we left for the hospital. I decided early on that I wouldn’t have any pain relief other than Gas & Air. My nan had said to me ‘if a woman can give birth in a field in Africa with no pain relief you can in hospital’ She was right! I was doing this.

 

I felt warm water helped lots, I had had 4 baths at home and carried on in the normal bath in my room in hospital. To my amazement my body was also taking me to the loo to empty, I know this doesn’t happen in a lot of cases. I had a friend that poo’d everywhere. In all honestly YOU WILL NOT CARE. I promise, dignity leaves you when you begin to push. You just want this thing out ASAP.

 

Then it seemed all of a sudden I was ready, the midwife got me into the birthing bath as I wanted to start pushing. The gas and air had been really helping too. I found it great for my breathing and it was great to bite on the nozzle. If you’ve ever been scuba diving you know how calm you have to be with your breathing. Kind of the same idea but you are attempting to push a watermelon out of your vagina and be calm at the same time. In between contractions is your resting time. They help, they are an amazing break between the chaos. I don’t remember making much noise but my senses were heightened. I wouldn’t let the midwife’s run the taps to warm the water up in the bath as the noise bothered me, so they bought water in buckets to fill the bath. My most Diva-ish moment to date but I didn’t care.

 

The head came out and I thought ‘Peanut’ was here but no no I still had the body to come. Then another few pushes and out he came. We didn’t know whether he was a boy or a girl. He was passed up through my legs and he looked squashed and round. He looked like a baby to me, I had no idea how big they were meant to look, feel or be but the midwifes were saying ‘wow he’s a big boy’

 

They took him from me to weigh him and that is when I remember feeling the pain. It stung, it stung like mad. Lenn was 9lb 13oz, I was pretty proud of myself and I had torn, naturally.

 

I had also opted for the injection to make you placenta come along but after seeing the size of Lenn the midwife opted not to give it too me, as due to his size it should’ve ‘fallen out’. 45 minutes later I was still on Gas & Air trying to get the damn thing out. They almost pulled it out, it just didn’t want to come. Should’ve given me the injection hey! Then the stitches, I won’t bore you with that but I was still enjoying the Gas & Air with my legs in stirrups.

 

At that point my midwife came in, the one I had seen for all my appointments. She was so excited to see me, as I was to see her and then she said ‘I knew you were going to have a big baby’

 

Christ I wish she had told me. After that my parents arrived later in the afternoon with my request of a Double Pepperoni Stuffed Crust pizza, our first family meal as 3 on a hospital sofa bed.

 

They say you forget the pain, but I’ll be honest it took me till Lennie was 3!

 

Turns out, Lennox was totally worth waiting 9 months for and was the best surprise on earth.


Amy is mother to Lennie. She works as a Graphics designer but also has another baby Lennie & co. selling award winning happy unisex kidswear. If you’re like us and all about supporting mum bosses and small businesses then go and take a peek at the gorgeous, happy collection.

It’s never as bad as they say it is!

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

I’m a positive thinker, I always have been. I haven’t read any self help books to teach me to do so, I’ve just always preferred to think things will go right rather than what will go wrong.  Going into pregnancy I was really positive, I’d never watched one born every minute or thought much about pregnancy or birth before, I knew that if I did my picture perfect vision of what it would be like would be ruined. However, as soon as I was pregnant it’s almost as if it gave every woman who had ever had a baby a license to tell me every possible thing that could go wrong, why do people do that?

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I wouldn’t say I loved being pregnant, but I definitely didn’t hate it either. Yes, I felt sick occasionally and not fitting into clothes and getting swollen ankles is annoying but did I want to moan about at every occasion? Definitely not.  

Every pregnancy appointment I was about to attend, other Mum’s would warn me how terrible it was going to be and each time I came out think ‘it wasn’t as bad as they said!’

During my pregnancy I did everything I wanted to do. I went on a couple of holidays and on nights out with friends as long as I felt okay in myself I would still do it.

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As my pregnancy went on, I was constantly told ‘you must be so fed up, you poor thing!’ Fed up? Why would I be fed up? I was anything but. I was just a few days/weeks away from meeting a tiny human that my husband and I had created, what did I have to be fed up about? Yes, I was a couple of stone heavier and noticing that I was getting tired a little bit quicker, but nothing that an early night in some snuggly pyjamas couldn’t solve.

 

My birth story is more of the same. I had to be induced; you can imagine what scaremongering that provoked. Looks of panic on every woman’s face I told. ‘It’s five times more painful than natural labour’, but I had nothing to compare it to I thought.  I went into hospital with freshly blow-dried hair, new nails and a new outfit ready to take on the challenge. Fourty five minutes after the pessary was given, my contractions were coming in thick and fast but my waters hadn’t broken. An hour or so later the pain was pretty bad so I asked for an epidural only to be told I needed to be at 4cm. The next time the midwife came round I was 9cm, I hadn’t screamed, cried or sworn at all? But they told me I would have wanted to kill my husband and shouted several expletives at the midwife by this stage. After convincing the midwife to still give me an epidural, the Sister in charge came in to see how my labour was going. Fuming that I’d be given the magic injection she told me I’d done the hard part and my labour was finished (I couldn’t see a baby, I thought!) and warned that my contractions would slow down and I probably wouldn’t be able to push. I began to push (with her help!) and my waters broke without having to be broken like ‘they’d said’ and within half an hour baby Axel was with us, I turned to my husband and said, ‘That definitely wasn’t as bad as they said it would be.’image2-5

Maybe I struck lucky? Or maybe I just don’t want to think of all the things that could have been luckier. I think of my pregnancy and birth as ‘not as bad as they said it would be’.

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Georgia is a new mum to her baby boy Axel. She is a newby to Gloucestershire as she has recently moved from London to Cheltenham. She writes her experiences of pregnancy and parenthood on her blog Georgia Not Just A Mum from ‘What they don’t tell you during pregnancy’ and her ‘If you buy only one thing…’ selection. Go have a browse you won’t regret it.

 

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Winner of 🌟The Best Pregnancy Support Service in Gloucestershire 2017🌟, The Bump to Baby Chapter has something for everyone. 🌟For expectant couple wanting to know all you need to know about labour, baby and those early days we have midwife led antenatal courses. 🌟For a second or third time mother wanting to birth without fear after a negative birth experience. There’s hypnobirthing one day classes for the busy Mum. 🌟Free blogs with tips on birth and baby for all 🌟Buggy walks in Cheltenham for new mothers to bring the sisterhood in motherhood. So whatever stage of pregnancy and whatever number baby have a look at the page, website and get involved 🌟
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Hospital Bag Items.

Here is a few of my faves ....

💡Lip balm- Gas and air can make your lips really dry. So can hospitals with their dry air.
💡 Earplugs/Eye mask- This one is useful if you need to spend any time on the antenatal maternity ward eg. induction of labour. Ear plugs are definitely not for after you’ve had the baby!!
💡Flannel/water spray/mini fan - You can get HOT in labour. Also hospitals 🥵
💡Socks- if you have an epidural or spinal. When it wears off your feet can feel cold!

💡 Always pack an extra bag to keep at home for a relative to bring in if you unexpectedly need to stay in for longer

💡 Dads/Partners- Pack yourself a bag too. Think change of clothes, food, toothbrush, food, drinks, food. Paracetamol is also a good one for you to have, hospitals can’t dish out the drugs to Dads and lack of sleep and hospital air can mean headaches.

What were your most used items in labour/birth? Midwife buddy’s - what’s your tips?? Or any pregnant mothers have any hospital bag Qs...

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