With the pob I went in to labour at 40+2, so of course I expected the same…nothing happened, +3,4,5,6 and still nothing. I’d done my last minute birthing prep with birth affinity and was totally ready, looking forward to the birth even with renewed confidence. Then each day, nothing.
40+7 came and I woke with mild period pains, I thought I might be in early labour but didn’t mention it to anyone and carried on the day as normal. I rested whilst the pob went out with his nanny and grandad, had a nice snooze and generally took things easy. My plan had been to go swimming with mum in the evening to try and get things started.
By the time we’d put the pob to bed, about 6.30 I was pretty sure I was actually in early labour, I was having mild contractions, about 3-10 minutes apart but only lasting 30-45 seconds. This is how it started with the pob and I went in to hospital far too early. I guess I’m not one for regular contractions and I’m just the kind of person who has short ones too.
This is where we started to use everything we’d learnt and planned with Birth Affinity and with Natal hypnotherapy. This is where I needed to be confident, trust my body and know I could manage. That’s what I got from the sessions last weekend which turned out to be one of the most important things I’ve ever done to get me through one of the biggest events I’ll ever experience.
I knew I wanted to stay at home as long as possible and we’d agreed things to do to pass the time and manage at home. Jason massaged my feet, we had dinner, I had a lovely long hot shower. Mum dried my hair and I got in my comfy clothes. By this point my contractions were much stronger and Jason was breathing me through them. We started to use some of the relaxation techniques we’d learnt, stroking my hair, 321 relax, special phrases. We decided it was time to call the hospital at 8.35pm. Jason called and I spoke to them too, I couldn’t talk through my contractions and they said because of my history if I wanted to I could come in now or wait a bit if I liked, perhaps call back in 30 mins. We decided to listen to our Natal hypnotherapy relaxation CD and then leave. Jason pressed play, walked to the bathroom, I shut my eyes and before the CD had got past ‘and now your eyes are closed…’ My waters had popped.
I called Jason and we called back the hospital at 8.50pm. They told us to come straight in. I obviously then had to change. The next two hours were two of the hardest but most focused of my life. This is where last time I fell apart but this time I was prepared, we were both prepared.
My contractions immediately got more intense and were lasting longer once my waters had broken and I needed Jason to breathe through them with me. This is the most important thing I used during my entire labour, it kept me in control and feeling not alone, something which I massively struggle with. Jason slowed down my breathing and controlled my management of the contractions. He was a rock. The transition from before my waters had broken was huge, I did need a lot of help to get through the pain.
He stayed calm and got us in to the car, we’d agreed on music which he put on. It’s about an hour to the hospital from mums so we knew we had to manage the journey well.
On the journey my contractions intensified. I needed something else to focus on. I needed Jason to talk, about anything. He struggled at first, we hadn’t planned for this! But it was something from Birth Affinity that I guess had stuck and I’d decided I needed right then. He talked about the house and when I had a contraction he breathed me through it saying ‘relax, slow down’ really accentuated his breathing for me to match. I couldn’t talk at all by now and had to tell him I was having a contraction by waving my hand.
But we were calm and in control.
I knew I wanted an epidural so I was focused on getting to the hospital and my breathing.
I also knew that my labour was progressing quite fast, I could feel that soon I would want to push but I wanted an epidural first. So goodness knows how but I managed to call the hospital at 9.30pm and ask for the anaesthetist to be told I was on my way. This was in my birth plan, it had been agreed I’d have an epidural at any point because of my previous labour.
Jason’s speed increased as I was now saying I was sure the baby wouldn’t be long and I was sure soon I’d need to push.
We pulled up to the hospital the wrong way in a one-way system and a guy swore at us before realising and then getting us a wheelchair. Idiot! I had to wait for a contraction to pass and then quickly get into the wheelchair. By now they were coming thick and fast.
The wheelchair had a mind of its own and this was probably the only time Jason got flustered and swore before listening to me and pulling it instead of pushing.
We got to delivery suite and went straight in to room 4. This is what I needed, the epidural.
I had two midwives, Alberto, a young man from Seville and Annabelle, a third year student. Alberto explained I needed to be examined before we could confirm the epidural and was trying to talk to me when I was having a contraction. But I wanted only Jason breathing with me. No one talking or touching me. Annabelle quickly got this, I think, even though Alberto was wonderful, it’s just a woman’s instinct to know how to react to another woman in labour.
Alberto examined me, this was one of my scary points i’d highlighted from my sessions with Birth Affinity, and to get me through it, randomly out of no where I zoned myself out and hummed a random tune, taking me away from the situation.
I was 6cm. I was elated!!!!! Last time on my first exam they couldn’t even feel my cervix. I’d gone to 6cm just breathing with Jason.
I did ask for gas and air but I can honestly say just breathing with Jason and focusing was more effective. I ditched it after a couple of puffs. It was distracting me.
By now I had to focus through my contractions, I tried walking up steps in my mind, that worked for a while. My strength was Jason controlling my breathing, making sure I wasn’t alone and controlling my surroundings, no talking or touching me when I was contracting.
We had to wait about 35 minutes for the anaesthetist and during that time my contractions were getting much much stronger and I knew I was dilating quicker. I was worried I wouldn’t make the epidural.
Annabelle was now holding one hand whilst I clung on to Jason.
At this point I guess I had my self doubt. For about 30 seconds. I bit Jason’s hair!! But he knew what it was and how to turn me round and he simply remained calm, told me I was in control, it was me controlling everything and that was it I was back in control. Amazing. It just worked, everything we’d learnt. I also absolutely couldn’t speak at this stage and randomly whistled to make my wishes known. Jason knew straight away what to do he was incredible.
The anaesthetist came in shortly after that, maybe 5 or 10 minutes. In went the epidural. Before my labour I didn’t know they took 30 minutes to work. I didn’t say anything at the time but I was worried I’d have the baby before it had kicked in. You know your own body and I knew I’d soon be pushing.
Luckily in went the epidural and it took maybe 15 minutes to work.
It was amazing the difference it made. I still breathed through my contractions with Jason but I was no longer in the violent pain they cause with no pain relief at all . I rested between contractions.
It wasn’t long before I had a lot of pressure. I’m sure if I hadn’t had the epidural I would’ve been pushing but for me it was more important to manage my pain this way and made my labour more calm and manageable to have an epidural, even though I think it probably lasted four hours longer than it would have without.
I was completely calm and relaxed, so was Jason. We worked together breathing through the contractions. I still had sensation and felt pressure. It’s hard to explain, I could still feel the contractions but they weren’t side splitting like with no pain relief.
Now it was just a case of waiting for my body to do all the hard work. I was examined at 10pm and Alberto wanted to wait four hours til the next exam, even though I felt bearing down at about 11.30pm. But I was calm and happy and I didn’t have any issues waiting. I trusted my body to do its job.
So by 1am I was feeling a lot of pressure. I was now needing a lot of help and focus to get through the contractions again. To get through them Jason would hold my gaze, breathing hard with me, telling me to slow down, I was in control and to trust myself. I followed his breathing and was spelling out the features on his face ‘e-y-e-s, n-o-s-e…’ ears, hair, eyebrows, lips, mouth, beard…I knew I could get to all his features.
I was examined at 1.35am and was fully dilated, I knew I was. Alberto wanted me to wait to push for half an hour or so if I could so that the baby came down itself a bit more. I knew I could control my body so agreed.
I had to focus and we got through 15 minutes calmly. by now i really wanted to push and Alberto was happy to go for it too…
I changed, I didn’t need Jason to breathe through with me anymore, I was calm and focused on the contraction and pushing for it. Jason held my hand.
My contractions were quite irregular throughout my labour and now I found it frustrating- I wanted them to come so I could meet my baby. I was nervous of pushing and the indignity and I had to use one of the techniques I’d learnt in natal hypnotherapy to forget about that and concentrate on pushing, I just put my worries and issues away and let them float off.
I was pushing for a long time but throughout the baby’s heartbeat remained stable and only dropped very slightly twice. I fully put this down to how relaxed I was and that was because of the prep we’d done.
Nevertheless the baby wasn’t out and was getting a bit squished. The senior midwife came in and was happy for me to keep at it for a whole longer as the baby was happy.
It’s funny, I thought I would be uncomfortable with all the monitors and sounds but I was so focused I didn’t even noticed them.
So, legs had to go in stirrups, and it was time to seriously push. Alberto and Annabelle were fantastic, they led me through it, counted my pushes to help them last longer and encouraged me.
Then, the head was crowning, I did touch it, it was bizarre like a water balloon, it freaked me out a bit but it also gave me the drive to get the rest of the head out, I didn’t want to squish the baby. So next push the head was out and the one after the body. Just like that. 4.50am on 13th May 2013.
Lifted out and straight on to my tummy. A boy. My boy. I said he was a boy. I got to hold him first, the first moments of his life were on his mummy. Exactly how we wanted. Jason of course was right beside me, mum too. I have no idea how they reacted as all I could do was smile and be with my new son.
Jason even cut the cord.
It couldn’t have been more perfect.
I fed him and we snuggled.
Luckily, because I had the epidural in and my war wounds were only(!) second degree Alberto and Annabelle were able fix me up in situ.
Mum toddled off and we spent some time the three of us. With our new edition. He was beautiful. We marvelled at how different he looked to his brother, we fell in love with our new boy.
I wouldn’t have had such a great experience without the help of Lorraine Berry at Birth Affinity and would highly recommend seeing her whether you have previously suffered birth trauma or not, first labour or fourth labour, c section, VBAC or natural. Also big thank you to Susanne Remic for making me realise I could have a good birthing experience, read her blog here.