My Birth Story
Sunday 9th October: Went to my Aunt and Uncle's for the day. Whilst there we took the dog for a (approx) 2hr walk which involved climbing over stiles! I woke up in the night and was awake for 3hrs with period pains that lasted approx 30-45 seconds every 13 minutes. I fell back to sleep and woke up in the morning to nothing.
Monday 10th October: When I woke up I had what seemed like a trickling of water but realised it was probably some of the mucus plug. I decided to continue with my normal routine so went swimming and swam just over one kilometre. I then had to go to court as we had taken our plumber to court and the date was today, the hearing lasted just two minutes. I then went and bought the plastic sheeting we needed and – most unlike me – a large bag of malteasers! I think I knew something was going to happen as when I arrived home all I wanted to do was sit on my pregnancy ball and sniff clary sage! I also wanted to walk so when Matt arrived home we went for short walk to the post office (I was conscious of not going too far!)
At 8pm we were sat watching Eastenders & I started to get period pains similar to what I had had the previous night. I had three period pains that lasted about 30 seconds within 45 minutes, at 9pm we decided to go to bed and watch TV. I did however take a look around the lounge and realise there was just one thing I didn't think I would be able to do if I was in labour and that was move the trunk we have as a coffee table, so I asked Matt if we could move it then. Again I think I knew something was going to happen. The crampings continued when I got to bed. At 10pm I decided to go to sleep but the crampings intensified. At 11pm I became quite uncomfortable with back pain so was in and out of the bathroom. I listened to my hypnobirth CD and used some techniques that helped me to deal with and alleviate the back pain allowing me to fall back to sleep for about an hour. When I awoke the back pain had returned so I was again in and out of the bathroom – for some reason sitting on the toilet helped me to feel more comfortable. At 3am I felt as though I wasn't coping very well, being a Hypnobirthing practitioner I had it in my head that I shouldn't be able to feel anything (thinking with a more realistic head I know that with the fertility2birth programme we are very aware of managing expectations and not telling our clients that they will not feel any discomfort throughout birth. Our programme helps women to manage any discomfort of birth and this is something I did really well). I woke Matt and asked him to start getting the room ready downstairs, filling the pool etc and to call my friend Helen who is a midwife and was to be our birth partner.
Helen arrived at approx 3.45am and immediately I felt calmer. Helen asked me some questions and helped me to remember some of my breathing techniques. At 4am Helen suggested I take a couple of paracetamol which I did. Helen then called Tanya, the midwife on call & explained exactly how I was feeling, she arrived at 4.29am. Tanya examined me internally and said that I was 100% effaced but not yet dilated, this was a huge blow for me as I felt I was quite far on due to the feelings I was experiencing. However when Helen asked who we should contact when I need someone to come back (Tanya was only on call until 8am) Tanya replied that she would be back before 8am, she said that I had done the first part very quickly for a first time mum and that the baby's head was very low. Tanya also felt the position of the baby, throughout pregnancy the baby had been in exactly the correct position – until about two weeks before I went into labour when she switched to lay on the right side of me. When Tanya felt this she told me that the baby was going to turn around to my left side throughout labour and although we want her to turn via my front she is going to turn via my back. I believe this is what caused me to have the back pain throughout and unfortunately no relief from any discomfort in between contractions. Tanya then went home and said she would see me later.
I continued as before with Helen and Matt there helping. At approx 7.30am things had intensified so Helen called Tanya back. When Tanya arrived she did another internal examination and told me that I was 3cm dilated. This didn't make me feel great as I was so desperate to get into the pool but I was pleased to be progressing. I was however refusing to sit or lay down. Tanya and Helen told me that I needed to get some rest to make sure I had enough energy for the later stages of labour. I was so worried things would slow down but I also knew that I needed to conserve energy. I curled up on the bed and got into a zone. Helen & Tanya stayed with me but I was very much in my own place, it was extremely calm, they were both very quiet whispering only words of encouragement to me every time I had a contraction which really helped. At one point Tanya gave me a lovely foot massage which really helped things get going. Suddenly, after two hours rest I felt the need to push. I told Helen & Tayna this and Tanya offered me another international examination. I was 7cm dilated. Hearing this was like music to my ears, I could get in the pool. The baby's head was so low it was pushing on the Ferguson reflex point, which was making me push. Tanya said I should try to breathe through the pushing to avoid swelling of the cervix but that my body knew what it was doing so to just go with it.
At 10.30am I rushed downstairs and 'jumped' into the pool. The relief was immense, I had a little cry as it was so beautiful, Matt had lit candles all around the room and put the motivational signs that I had made myself up on the walls. There was also music playing, LeAnn Rimes followed by Lionel Richie. I remember at one point he put on Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love, all the girls questioned him on this one! Matt put some Clary Sage into the oil burner and also a flannel covered in Clary Sage by my head this really helped things move along. At approx 11am the second midwife, Deena arrived. My time in the pool was just beautiful. The atmosphere in the room was lovely; I think that the midwives, Helen, Kate (our birth photographer) and Matt were all having a nice time and a bit of a laugh. At certain times I was able to join in the conversation but for the majority I was focusing on what my body was doing. I do remember that I was shaking quite a lot and was concerned that it was because I hadn't eaten so I asked for some pineapple. I do feel that the shaking subsided after that. I enjoyed reading the signs I had made myself while I was in the pool and just really appreciating the experience I was getting – after all everything was going exactly to plan, I couldn't have wished for anything different. I was pushing from 10.30am (from just before I got into the pool) but my second stage of labour (from when I was 10cm dilated) was only 17mins. I pushed Ezra out in a very controlled, calm way.
At 12.55ish I felt myself push her out, seconds later the midwives were shouting at me to 'catch my baby' it felt like minutes before I registered what they were saying but then I reached down and brought her to the surface. We stayed in the pool until I had delivered the placenta. It was such an amazing beautiful experience and one I can safely say I experienced every little bit of. Fully managing to deliver naturally with only 2 paracetamol at the beginning to mask any feelings is something I had said I wanted to do, even refusing to hire a tens machine. As someone who works with pregnant woman, educating them in a very successful hypnobirth programme I wanted to be able to talk from experience in the future and didn't feel I could do this if I had masked my feelings in any way. Despite the fact there were times when I looked at my bed and thought I wish I could turn a switch, stop everything and just collapse on the bed and fall asleep I feel that the techniques learnt and the information given in the hypnobirth programme meant that I could manage the feelings. I remember reciting certain parts of the programme to myself in my head when I was particularly uncomfortable and the techniques were invaluable especially in the early stages. One thing I will always recommend to people in future is that they have a second birth partner. Helen was amazing, both Matt and I say we couldn't have done it without her. Having her there meant that Matt could get everything set up without needing to worry about me, she was also able to support Matt & keep him calm during a time that is often a bit scary for men. I was very lucky to have had a home birth, after Ezra was born I stayed in the pool for about half an hour while we waited for the placenta to come, this meant we had some great skin to skin contact. Once the placenta had been delivered I passed Ezra to Matt whilst I got cleaned up and checked over by the midwives. I then got comfy on the sofa and Ezra was laid on me for some more skin to skin and to start feeding. Matt made everyone pizza and tea and we had a really nice time chatting and eating while the midwives wrote up their notes. After about an hour the midwives checked Ezra over and then left shortly after (they returned in the evening to check we were ok and every day for ten days after the birth). I was able to have a shower in my own shower, get changed into whatever I chose out of my wardrobe and then snuggle on the sofa in front of the TV with Matt and Ezra... bliss!
I must say a huge thanks to the Royal Surrey Homebirth team - especially Jane, Tanya and Deana. They are all incredible women who put their job first and really make the people they are working with feel safe, secure and number one. I admire their dedication and think they should get far more recognition than they do.
If you missed the link at the beginning please take a look at Ezra's birth story in photographs here.