We woke up early on Friday morning and waved Sean off to work. It was grey and miserable outside and despite having had more sleep the night before than I’d had in weeks I was in a terrible terrible mood. You know one of those you just can’t seem to shake? I’d had mild and regular contractions all evening on Thursday which had in the end accounted for nothing (again!) and I think I was just a bit deflated – I was so ready to meet our little boy and was beginning to question my own body.
Florence & I spent the morning in our pjs, watching Waffle the Wonder Dog on repeat and eating biscuits for breakfast before heading upstairs for a mammoth nap! After lunch I spent the afternoon clearing up and trying to be as active as I could.
Evening fell, everyone was home from school & work and I was ready to get settled in for the night and crack on with our evening routine. Baby was not making his appearance today. Until, at around 5.20, I knelt down on the floor to retrieve Florence’s ball that had rolled under the sofa and POP! – I felt my waters break accompanied by a ‘surge’ of discomfort across my abdomen. I sat for a moment to check I wasn’t imagining things and as the minutes passed I could feel my waters trickling.
It felt as though everyone around me went into panic as I declared that my waters had gone and surges began but I just felt so calm in myself. My mum called Sean down from upstairs and I went to the toilet to check the colour of the fluids and get changed. By the time I was back in the living room, the hospital bag was already waiting by the door. I called the maternity unit to check they’d had my scan results from earlier in the week and that they were still happy for me to come there. Thankfully, they were and they asked me to come in to get checked over.
Surges were coming every ten minutes and as we made our way to the maternity unit they upped their pace to between 5 – 6 minutes. As each one built I used the upbreathing technique I’d learned from the hypnobirthing course from the Positive birth company. We were chatting and laughing in between each surge which was such a contrast to my labour with Florence. It was as though we were just popping out for dinner, it was so surreal.
As soon as I got out of the car another surge hit, this time more intense and only 4 minutes after the last one. It was like gravity had taken over. We were checked in to the birthing centre and by the time we were taken into the birthing suite by our labour midwife, Donna, another surge came.
She checked my pad for water but couldn’t be 100% sure so offered me a speculum examination. I’ve had them before in this pregnancy and I’m used to them now so she went off to get the stuff while I got undressed and into position on the couch. By the time she came back though, I’d lost more water with each contraction and so instead she examined me to check the dilation. I was only 3cm however because of how quickly the surges had increased in time she was happy for me to stay and let labour progress there. She left the room and said she’d be back in a couple of minutes to see how things were progressing and start running the pool.
I was determined to stay as active as possible throughout this labour and so set about walking my way around the room and using the different apparatus they have there. By the time she returned, the surges had picked up pace again and were coming every 3 minutes, getting more and more intense. She quickly started to run the birthing pool and left again.
It was as though every time she left the room things progressed even more as the next surge increased in intensity even more and I could no longer concentrate on counting my breathing myself so Sean began to count for me, holding my hand and timing each surge as they came.
‘My birth partner is by my side and on my side.’
I was doubled over, leaning on the changing table (of all things) when the pain just became too much and my legs could no longer support my body through each surge. Donna reentered the room to find me on all fours trying to breathe through it. I think this is when we all began to realise things were happening way quicker than any of us expected and despite it not being entirely full, she asked if I wanted to get into the pool to try and help ease the pain.
Three more surges came before I made it to the steps to get in, now coming around every minute and a half. Getting into the water I felt myself relax just for a second and the relief of the water taking some of my weight was almost euphoric.
The next surge came quickly and Sean was on hand with cold flannels and cold drinks for in between each one, still counting me up and down through the next two contractions. It didn’t take long before I was asking for the gas and air (maybe about 30 seconds!) and I now completely understand why everyone says about packing straws in their labour bag! I don’t remember it from Florence’s labour but the gas and air really dried out my mouth and I couldn’t get the water quick enough in between.
I remember thinking to myself that I felt ready to push, but SURELY it wasn’t time already? I would have ages to go yet, I needed to get my head in the game and own these surges.
‘My surges cannot be stronger than me, because they are me.’
The midwife could tell I was struggling and asked me if I felt the need to push. I nodded and she encouraged me to try to push with my next contraction to see what would happen. I honestly couldn’t believe it when she told me she could see his hair! Baby was already ready to come!
‘I listen to my body and I do what it needs me to do.’
Now there were barely 30 seconds between each surge – just enough time to catch my breath. I remember looking so deeply into Sean’s eyes and letting them be the only thing I focussed on. In that moment he was my centre. The next surge hit and I gave another big push. And then another. There was the head! Sean quickly jumped up to see it before it was time for the next surge.
Donna was talking to me and encouraging me the whole way through, telling me to listen to my body and do what felt right. For this last contraction I knew I wanted to breathe him out, rather than push and as though she could read my mind she suggested I do exactly that.
A short breath in and a big breath down, I felt his body leave mine and be passed through my legs into my arms.
William James Smith was born at 19.04, just under 35 minutes since that first examination.
The moments that followed his birth were nothing less than wonderful. As I laid back with my baby on my chest I felt such a mix of emotions and I was in awe of everything that my body had just done. Not once had I panicked or feel that I was not in control. I had trusted my instincts, listened to my body and birthed a beautiful baby boy.
I delivered my placenta and moved out of the pool onto the couch where William and I lay having precious skin to skin time before he was weighed and dressed and passed to Daddy for early cuddles.
I was examined and despite the speed of labour & birth and the fact I was bleeding quite a lot only suffered a graze.
My whole birth experience was just amazing – from the support of my birth partner and midwife to my ability to remain calm and in control throughout.
I have truly, never felt so empowered in my entire life.
JUST SO YOU KNOW
I was gifted a digital hypnobirthing course by the Positive Birth Company. While I’ve linked to them and mentioned some of the methods I learned through taking the course here, I’ve not been asked to. I will be sharing a full review of the entire course here on the blog in the coming weeks.