I am honoured to have been asked by midwife Beth from @thebumptobabychapter to share my birth story.
Worried that I might only remember the terrific and terrifying bits, I put on my birthing playlist to try to bring back the little details. And WHOOOSH, just like a cinematic splash of exaggerated waters breaking, they all came flooding back.
May 1st 2015 (40weeks +8days).
- Nothing is working. I’ve hardly left the house for days, and Googled every possible way to make this baby come. I’m COOKED. Let’s crack on with life as normal. Heck, let’s go view a property in Axbridge!
- “Do you have any paperwork on recent essential works?” I ask the estate agent through gritted teeth, wondering whether he has noticed the TENS machine strapped to my trousers.
- Enjoying a pub roast dinner but wishing the carpet wasn’t so sticky for wanting to lie on the floor. Turning the TENS machine up.
- Stopping by a friend’s house for a nightcap and grumbling about how standing and sitting are both intolerable- she kindly goes hunting for a yoga ball for me to sit on.
- Laughing over the absurd comment “Who knows, maybe you are in labor!”.. ha ha ha. HA. HA.
- On the journey home I am noticing for the first time just how annoying the sound of my husband’s breathing is. Please, just, STOP all that inhaling. Hovering above the passenger’s seat instead of actually sitting on it, because for some reason that feels better.
- We are climbing into bed and I am trying not to mention the pain, only because I have feigned labor about 140 times in the last three weeks. The hospital bag has been packed for the best part of four months and I’ve been sleeping on a crunchy absorbent hospital mat since the day I was told the sad story of a brand new Tempur-pedic mattress being ruined by amniotic fluid.
- I’ve been a little bit excited for this.
- Let’s not cry wolf again, but just to be sure… I roll over to my side and set a timer.
- Contractions are three minutes apart. Lasting over a minute.
- CRYING WOLF NOW. CRYING WOLF!!!!
- The drive into Bristol from our peaceful seaside town has never felt more oppressive. The lights hurt my brain; other cars feel like enemies, I am starting to feel out of control.
- We arrive at the hospital and everyone around me is so normal, asking questions like “How is your evening going?” and “Why don’t you just pop on down the corridor” (the corridor, by the way, is SO LONG. I drag myself along the walls like an agonized snail, TENS cables trailing behind me).
- I am truly in pain now… do they believe me?
- Such luck, a birthing suite is available. And it is lovely. Low lighting, a pool, yoga balls, mats, and lots of space for active labor. I absorb this sight with gratitude, for a flickering moment, before the feeling of overwhelm pushes aside my awareness once again. I am sick all over the floor.
- Rachael the midwife informs me that I am only 2cm dilated. “It could be a long while yet”, she says. “Would you like to go home and maybe come back a bit later?”. I check in with my body, the answer is a resounding NO. DO. NOT. LEAVE.
(Dear expectant mothers, I’m going to be honest here about my pain, I’m truly sorry.)
- As time creeps on, the pain starts to engulf me. My prenatal yoga and mindfulness practices are being hurled out the window like apple cores and banana peels on a bushy country lane. I am clutching on to the side of the bed with blanched knuckles and a genuine fear that something is terribly wrong.
(My birth plan was for a natural water birth with gas and air if needed. At this point, however, I would have probably accepted anything.)
- I plead for gas and air. “You are very early on, my dear” says the midwife (who despite being lovely and highly proficient at her job was making me want to scream at this precise moment). “If you have it now” she says, “you might have little to fall back on when things gets worse”.
- …THINGS GET WORSE!?!?!?!?!?!
- “You could easily have another 10-12 hours before giving birth, perhaps you could consider Pethidine?”
(Cue magic husband moment- I will never stop thanking him for this splendid suggestion)
- “Do you mind checking her dilation again?” he asks, trying to remain calm but visibly shaking.
- The midwife is understandably reluctant, explaining that it has only been an hour since I have last been checked, and that sometimes it can be disheartening to check too often and find very little progress.
- Husband insists. I nod fervently.
- I am over 8 cm dilated. For a very brief moment, I see the white around the midwives eyes. This is unexpectedly quick, for a first birth especially. Within seconds I am clutching a mouthpiece and vaguely aware of bathwater gushing on full blast in the background.
(The gas and air helped an incredible amount, by the way. The feeling of stabbing knives subsided into spoons, giving me an immediate understanding of the phrase “to take the edge off”. It also helped draw awareness to my breath.)
- I can do this. Breathe.
- And then my birthing story takes a turn for the glorious. I descend my surging belly into the bath and the warmth surrounds me like my own mothers embrace. I instantly feel my muscles ease and my breath slow. I want to cry with relief.
- “Thank you” I mouth to my husband and to the midwife, the first nice words I have said since arriving. Alabama Shakes “Hold on” whirrs from my birthing playlist and my head finds a soft place on the edge of the bath.
- I finally feel in tune with my body. I am aware of my contractions, and am pushing gently alongside them. Between the surges I am listening: to my favorite songs, my own heartbeat, and the breaths of my husband alongside my neck (admittedly much less irritating than they had been in the car journey 5 hours earlier.).
- An entire three minutes passes between the birth of my little boys head and the rest of his body; a calm haitus of time spent stroking his hair underwater, my eyes locked with those of my husband.
Those three little minutes, our first of parenthood, now make for an astonishingly beautiful memory for me. A marital moment of silence and gratitude, burst by the shrill cries of our very own newborn.
I will always be grateful to the water for giving me back my breath, the midwife for allowing us these moments, and to my husband for speaking up for me when I had lost the ability to do so. I will however, never forgive him for secretly filming the entire thing, MUCH to my surprise.
Baby Finley Charles (a.k.a Weasly Bear) was born at 3:52am on May 2nd. Life has been bursting since.
The estate agent called in the morning to see what our thoughts had been overnight with regards to the property in Axbridge.
Never have we cared less about anything in the entire world. ♥
Pearl is the founder of Miraculous Mums. Miraculous Mums is a new project to celebrate everyday mothers: the neglected-to-wear-sunscreen-but-smothered-the-kids-with-it-ten-time mums; the mums who give their all to their children yet still, at times, doubt their own motherly aptitude.
Pearl (writer/failing toddler tamer) has started the project to promote honest motherhood and spread kudos and kindness.