For the past month I’ve been waiting for that phone call from Cheryl, making sure my phone goes everywhere with me and is on loud at all possible times! Cheryl was convinced the baby was going to come early – to the point she almost ordered the birthing pool to arrive a month early, however as it was the baby came a few days late.
At 5.30am on Thursday 2 June I got THE phone call. Cheryl had been having ripples (what we call contractions in the Fertility2Birth world) since 3am. She was however still laughing, joking and sounding incredibly normal so we arranged for me to get there at 7am. This gave me enough time to get showered and nip to Tesco to get straws (essential birth item!), pineapple – well if it brings on labour it must keep it going too right?! Energy tablets, again another essential birth item and bananas to keep that energy up. Thankfully everything got used, the pineapple was eaten when I arrived, it turned out we only needed one straw not a pack of 200 but hey better to be safe than sorry. Cheryl was stuffing the energy tablets in like I’d never seen; the labour was making her feel as though she was going to be sick so although she wanted to keep her energy levels up she found it difficult to eat anything. Finally a banana on toast sorted Cheryl out once she had birthed the baby.
I drove to Cheryl and Rob’s house feeling incredibly mature and responsible. I wanted to stop people in the street and say “guess where I’m going” or “I’m going to watch a baby be born”. I knew it was just going to be a fantastic experience because I knew how much effort Cheryl and Rob had put into their HypnoBirthing.
When I arrived Cheryl was still laughing and very much her usual bubbly self. She was breathing through all the ripples in the exact way we had discussed and Rob was being very successful at making her laugh – one of the birth partner’s duties. I had downloaded a ripple (contraction) timer app onto my ipad so we knew the ripples were coming every 3 minutes and lasting approximately 45 seconds. At 7.30am the midwife phoned to see whether she should pop in before or after a 9.30am appointment that she had elsewhere. We agreed that she should come before. I was incredibly aware that HypnoBirth Mums are a lot calmer so it would be good to know how things were progressing instead of relying on a screaming Cheryl.
Tanya one of the midwives from the brand new Royal Surrey Hospital Home Birth team arrived at 8am. She found Cheryl in the same state as I had; calm, relaxed and giggly. Tanya pretty much said “you’re doing great, call me when you need me. I won’t be far away, probably see you this afternoon” but she offered to do an internal examination if Cheryl would like one. We thought it was probably a good idea and it was lovely to find out Cheryl was already 2-3cm dilated. Tanya said the same again “I’ll go off, call when you need me... see you later!” We had a brief conversation about what we should look for, again keeping in mind how calm and in control HypnoBirthing Mums often are. Tanya told us to call when Cheryl couldn’t talk in between ripples and also told us a trade secret. There was a pink line that started at the top of the crease of Cheryl’s buttocks. This, Tanya said would go a dark purple as she dilated more. We should keep checking that and call when it was a darker purple.
At 9am we were left as three again. Within 10 minutes things suddenly changed. The ripples became more intense and then Cheryl’s waters broke. Cheryl felt that she needed to wee so off she went to the toilet. Here we could clearly see the transition from the first stage to the second stage of labour. Knowing that a birthing woman is best left alone we did our best to leave her in the bathroom popping in every now and then to check she was ok. At this point Rob started to fill the birthing pool.
At 9.40am after a very intense 30 minutes the pool was ready and we helped Cheryl to get in. I reminded her to relax, talking her through all of her muscles and she became very calm again. At 10am Cheryl told me she needed to push, at this point poor Rob was rummaging through a cupboard trying to find a fan as Cheryl was so hot. I shouted to him that he needed to call the midwife, “ok I’m just trying to find the fan”... “No Rob I think you need to call now”... “Ok won’t be a minute”... “No Rob NOW”! He finally understood and called but Tanya’s phone went straight to answer phone! This wasn’t a problem as he just called Jane, head of the homebirth team, instead. Jane said she would leave the hospital immediately. It’s only ten minutes drive away so we knew she would be there very soon – especially if she put her foot down! – However at 10.30am she still hadn’t arrived and Cheryl was still pushing! At 10.40am we thought it best to call Jane again, thankfully she was just pulling into the road.
When Jane arrived Cheryl calmly told her what she was feeling, including the pushing. Jane said this was fantastic but she’d just do a quick internal examination to check everything was ok to push. Jane did this and in a surprised but happy way said “OK I can feel the head, push all you like”. This was fantastic news especially as Cheryl was still so calm. Tanya arrived at about 11am and we all spent the next hour really encouraging Cheryl. At approximately 11.50am after a huge sniff of Clary Sage (which is amazing during labour) everything intensified and at 12.07pm little Zara Walker was born into water as clear as it was when Cheryl got into the pool. Rob and I were a complete mess crying our eyes out. I think even the midwives had a little tear but Cheryl was just beaming at her brand new daughter. It really was a truly magical experience.
For those that don’t follow on facebook or twitter, or those that missed it I put together this lovely slideshow of pictures from the morning (click here). It’s very short but well worth a watch. If you are pregnant and not considering a HypnoBirth maybe this will change your mind – it really can make for an amazing birth experience. As babies born using HypnoBirth are more often than not gently and calmly breathed into the world at their own pace they tend to be calmer, feed better, sleep better and experience less trauma. Scientific research has also shown that the babies usually have higher Apgar scores as well.
One thing I would like to add is a big thanks to Cheryl and Rob for being so dedicated to the HypnoBirth. They did all of their homework religiously. We say to listen to one CD every day but Cheryl was listening to both of her CDs every day. Throughout the birth I kept hearing Rob saying little things that he had picked up from the HypnoBirthing and so well done Rob for listening and obviously doing your reading after the sessions. When I arrived all of their HypnoBirth pack was out on the table so they had obviously been looking through it in the days or weeks leading up to Thursday. Thank you, congratulations and well done Cheryl and Rob.