I don’t really know where to start with the labour. I could potentially say I was in early labour for a few days, contracting on and off throughout the days and evenings prior to the birth with it not amounting to anything. For the sake of time, I’m writing this whilst the baby is sleeping, and to save your boredom I’m going to fast forward to when it finally and thankfully stepped up a gear. This was Friday evening. The evening started like all the other evenings before, me bouncing on my ball in front of the TV. Rob had gone to football and I was contracting as I usually did in the evenings. It got to 11pm and the contractions were coming regularly. I said to Rob tonight is the night, he rolled is eyes and carried on watching 8 out of 10 cats does countdown, as I’d cried wolf every day already this week. From how ‘stop and start’ my contractions had been this week I had lost all faith in my ability in judging whether it was happening or not. I went upstairs to take a shower and to have a word with myself. I was probably not going into labour at all.
Half an hour in the shower I rang my friend to come over. The contractions were becoming stronger and staying regular, I was still not totally convinced though and prepped her that it may all stop. I rang the birth unit too and said the same to them, “I don’t think I’m in active labour, but I think I may be getting there.” Being a fourth baby, I knew that being in active labour (from 4cms and regular contractions) to having a baby wasn’t going to be long and I wanted to be in the hospital as I bled last time. They invited me in.
This is probably a good time to give you a bit of background. My 3rd baby was born prem at 34 weeks and I lost more blood than deemed normal. So the advice for me was to have my baby on a consultant led unit as I was “high-risk” of bleeding again. I looked at all my options though and chose to go against this advice after having a conversation with the lead midwife on the birth unit. My last birth, I had polyhydramnios, prematurity, a suspected infection and the cord snapped on the placenta all things that mean you’re more likely to lose more blood. This pregnancy, I had normal waters, a normal size baby and was full term so I didn’t have the same risk factors. With this in mind I chose to give birth on the midwifery led unit and I was supported in this choice.
So back to that Friday evening… I was in the shower. I had my birth ball in the shower too. It was on the bath so that I could lean onto it to have the water on the bottom of my back. I used my breathing here that I’d learnt from hypnobirthing. Counting my in breath and my out breath gave me something to concentrate on and kept me relaxed. Things were going great guns, I was calm, comfortable and getting into the swing of the contractions. My friend arrived and so I got out of the shower and myself and Rob made our way to the birth unit.
It was about 00.30 when we arrived to the birth unit. My midwife was Brenda, she showed us into our room Poppy. It was dimly lit and the pool was half full. I again said to a Brenda that I didn’t think I was quite in labour but knew my contractions were getting there. They were coming every few minutes at this point but they felt manageable. She brought me in some essential oils – Bergamot and Frankincense- on a taper and I got back into the shower leaning over onto the birthing ball. Chui my birth photographer arrived at this point. My only concern here I remember was what happens if this all stops, what happens if I’m just in early labour and I’ve got my friend at my house and Chui’s here. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time! Silly really looking back as it was obvious I was in labour!
I spent a good hour at least like this in the shower. The next thing that happened was at 02.30 when I had my first vaginal examination. I know it was 02.30 because Rob text Emily at this time who was home with the kids. I still wasn’t sure at this point that it was it… I remember saying to Brenda, what happens if I’m just 2cms. If this was going to be the case I didn’t want to know! Brenda thought that would be unlikely and she was right. It’s funny how much you lose your ability to rationalise in labour! As a midwife, I should’ve been able to recognise the signs but I still had in the back of my mind that I may not be dilating at all! I was 8cms. Happy days! I got gas and air at this point which is when all of the fun started.
Brenda filled the pool and I got in. The water was instantly comforting. It was here that I remember really wanting to take it all in. As pregnant mothers, we are so desperate for this moment, desperate to feel the contractions and to know that after 9 months we are finally going to meet our baby. The labour and the birth we prep for, go to classes, pack 3 suitcases for which is more than what we’d take on holiday, we play it out how we want it to be in our minds but the reality is that it’s all done and dusted in a day. That moment in the pool was a nice one, I really appreciated what was going on, that what I’d been waiting for was actually happening that very night. These thoughts were helped from the fact that I was high as a kite too! I actually told Brenda all of this between contractions. She probs thought I was cuckoo!
It wasn’t long after I’d got into the pool that I’d started to transition. I remember saying “I can’t do this anymore!” Whilst thinking that’s a textbook ‘You’re just about to have a baby comment’ whilst uncontrollably pushing. I can’t remember “mooing” here but Rob assures me it happened! This feeling was overwhelming, I had this full feeling, which would have been her head coming through my pelvis. The only thing that helped this feeling go away was to push. All the signs were telling me I was just about to meet my baby and a few pushes later she was born under the water at 03.31. I got to bring her up out of the water myself. Holding her in front of my face, seeing her scrunched up face, feeling her skin, hearing her little cry and knowing that she was here safe in my arms was the most incredible feeling ever.
All went well after – no bleeding!🙌🏼 and we were back home by 7.30 am for when the other 3 children woke up.
There’s a couple of things that I’m so glad that I did.
1. Getting a birth photographer– I felt like a bit of a diva doing this but now I wish that I did it for all of my births. For me, remembering the birth is so much more important than say a wedding day, yet a wedding photographer is something we see at every wedding! The photos that i have are priceless and Delphi is lucky that she gets to see her first moments in the world. Thank you Chui 🙂
2.Hypnobirthing– Through teaching hypnobirthing I have inadvertently been practising the techniques for a lot longer than my 9 month pregnancy and boy did it pay off. Reinforcing that everything in your birth is a choice, learning the importance of keeping your mind calm and how to control pesky negative thoughts like fear and doubt that always seem to enter our minds meant that this birth was by far my most empowering, calm and magical experience. I could live it with such clarity and for me that was I really wanted, I wanted to be able to remember every minute of it and enjoy it! I’ll write another blog on what techniques I used that were most helpful.
3. Writing it down- this little story completes it for me, it’s something else that means I’ll remember what happened that night.
For me sharing birth stories is important. I want pregnant mothers to know that birth isn’t always the fear-filled, ear- piercing shrieks and painful experiences that you see on TV. It can be empowering, calm and beautiful. My births are by far my biggest accomplishments in life. I look back on this birth especially, and it was everything I wanted it to be and I would happily do it all again in a heartbeat.