I’m not sure how to start my last birth story. It’s the last time that I will give birth. My births have without doubt been the most incredible experiences of my life. Not just becoming a mother and welcoming my three children, all in very different ways. But actually genuinely changing my life, my work, what I do, how I think, I suppose my purpose.
My children have given me a new path in life as a mother, a doula and a hypnobirthing coach and for that I am eternally grateful. They’ve taught me how to turn challenges in to positives, how women supporting women can be the most powerful thing you can experience. I love them even more for that.
And the third arrival is part of that story and the journey of my life. It’s not just the start of one life, it’s the impact of the beginning of that life on others, so many others, not just me. And how wonderful that moment is.
Marni Jessica was born on 30th March at 4.38am weighing 7lbs13oz. This I can recall off the top of my head and have been able to do so since she was born. Mainly because I was completely conscious of everything that was happening, where I was and was not clouded by any kind of drug or anaesthetic. Really quite something that I’m proud of considering I still have memory of Rafe being born, no idea what time, I’d have to look it up.
Marni was born at 41+4. Although I’m not convinced she wasn’t 40+4 but that’s another discussion. After seeing the midwife I came home and sort about creating the most relaxing situation so my body could do it’s job and she could come. So Jason sorted dinner, I had a bath, listened to a relaxation, he gave me a massage and I spoke to the baby about being time to come out. I put everything in to being relaxed and just chilling out.
I’d had braxton hicks on and off for a couple of weeks but every time I voiced them they stopped. So when after my bath I had some again I didn’t say anything, I didn’t want it to stop. I just focused on meeting my baby and willing her to come.
We went to bed as normal and about 10ish turned off the light, I went in to a light sleep but woke at 11 having stronger surges. At 11.15pm I decided to go downstairs as I was getting restless and thought it was better for Jason to get as much rest as possible as it could be a long journey yet.
Mum was away in Suffolk so I called her to say she might want to think about getting ready to come, I didn’t want her to miss it. Then I listened to a script mum had recorded for me called The River. It’s a lovely story about childbirth and one I read in my hypnobirthing sessions and had listened to through the last few weeks of pregnancy. By the time the recording was finished my surges were strong enough to need to breathe through and I found myself opening my arms as I lay on the sofa, thinking about how my body was expanding and opening.
I didn’t feel like I could walk upstairs so I called Jason twice but he didn’t answer. I just concentrated on my breathing and relaxing and half an hour later he appeared blurry eyed in his pjs. He asked if I was ok and I said I was but this was it to which he asked ‘shall I go back to bed for a bit then?’…this cracked me up which probably gave me a nice burst of oxytocin! We set about getting ready, getting the bag, collecting my affirmations that were stuck up around the house and writing the boys a note.
I guess it was maybe 12.30 when mum arrived, by then I was standing and swaying through my surges which were maybe 5 minutes apart and lasting 40 seconds or so. I wasn’t recording them I can remember mum saying afterwards. Then Jason’s parents arrived to sit with the boys and we got our stuff in to the car. I can remember my mother in law saying they were quite close now and thinking that they must be if she said that. By now I needed total quiet to concentrate when I had a surge. I was fine and quiet and totally relaxed and calm.
When it was time to get in the car I got in, sat down and jumped back out again. There was no way I could sit down especially not for 30 minutes! So jason laid the seat back and I knelt over the seat with the belt around my back. And we were off. The baby must’ve already been down in my pelvis for me to not be able to sit. We couldn’t get the Bluetooth working in the car so I popped my headphones in and turned on my birth playlist. I’d listened to it in the car and around the house my whole pregnancy, imagining how easy birth would be every time I listened and how great this birth was going to be. Getting excited to experience my baby being born. This is probably the best bit of prep I did. Once those earphones went in I went to another place and they only came out when her head was born.
The journey to the hospital for me was calm and quiet. I was in my own place, relaxed and welcoming my surges. Looking at the stars through the roof window. I was happy. I was breathing through my surges and where last time, with Sammy, I needed jason to breathe with me, this time I was fine. I didn’t feel alone, I felt totally connected to my baby and my body. All the prep had paid off. The total belief in my body and mind and working with my baby.
Even though I didn’t need help wth my breathing, and I didn’t know this at the time, jason was breathing with me when he heard me have a surge. Willing our baby down together. That feels really special. I didn’t speak the whole journey, apart from to tell Jason I love him. It’s one of the happiest and calmest times of my life.
When we arrived at The Rosie at about 2.30am we parked and I got out, I had no shoes on and no desire to put any on. I had to stand in the car park leaning on the car through a surge before we walked in (bare foot). I didn’t take out my earphones. By now I really was in another place. We stood at the reception desk and I think jason booked us in although I was unaware of anything other than myself, my surges and my baby.
We walked to room 6 (I only know this as I checked before we left!). I felt relieved we’d made it through the journey and so happy to be in the place I’d planned and hoped to give birth. It was beautifully calm, dim lights and the birth pool was already full and ready. Jason handed our midwife a letter I had written explaining my wishes and my notes and my birth plan(s).
I had a plan for different scenarios from birth centre to section so that no matter what my wishes would be known. The midwife was wonderful and nodded in agreement to my plan (which said I didn’t want to be spoken to!). The only interaction I had was her asking to feel my tummy which I agreed to and so laying on the bed she felt and she asked me if I could feel pressure in my bottom. Looking back I must’ve been quite far along already for her to ask this. But at the time I didn’t really register it. I was concentrating on relaxing and my baby.
I stood by the edge of the pool for about four surges swaying and breathing. Between surges I just relaxed and opened my eyes, smiled at Jason, him silently willing me on. I knew he was proud of me.
I didn’t really know when to get in the pool, having never had the opportunity to before. But it got to the point I felt I needed it. I hadn’t wanted to get in too soon but I knew my baby was moving down, my breathing changed and I could hear and feel the catch in the back of my throat when I breathed through the surges. Which I knew was a sign I was really getting there. So I asked if I could get in- I don’t know why, I just felt like I needed permission. And the tankini top went out the window, I wasn’t interested in any type of clothing which I totally hadn’t expected. I didn’t even think about being naked in front of a stranger. I was too in my bubble and just owning the space I was in.
I got in the pool, laid my head on the side and knelt. I had my headphones in still. I glanced up and noticed a clock right in front of me and I asked for it to be taken down. I didn’t take my earphones out to speak I just asked, I knew I’d be listened to. The next time I opened my eyes it was gone. This was really important to me, I didn’t want to be disturbed by the passing of time.
It was 3am when I got in the pool and looked at the clock. It was 4.38am when she was born. During that time I just sat, quietly at first, just breathing. I asked for water in a cup with a straw which mum sorted and jason held for me. And I ate three polos which I also asked for. I remember asking for a polo then closing my eyes, only to open them and see Jason eating the first one. This made me smile. I just said ‘I saw that’, I knew mum and jason would be laughing to each other that I’d said that. Which was a nice thought and a break in my concentration which was pretty intense.
In the water time feels like a blur. It could’ve been a blink of an eye. Or a day. I really wasn’t there. I’d gone off to collect my baby from the stars. I know that sounds hippy. And I’m not hippy. But that’s where I was. In my mind, finding my baby and bringing her earthside.
I could feel her moving down and I felt like I needed to widen my knees. When I was breathing her down I could feel her head getting lower and lower and then when a surge passed rising back up a bit again. By now I was baaing (not mooing! It really sounded like a sheep!). And at the peak of my surge my throat would catch. I was holding Jason’s hands and unbeknownst to me he was still breathing with me.
The midwife listened to the baby’s heart rate maybe four times. And each time she had to reach further down. This encouraged me, I knew I was getting close. I was still totally calm, silent between surges and relaxed. It felt amazing to know I was doing exactly what I was made to do.
I did get to a point where I thought I might be asked to get out the pool if the baby didn’t come soon. Which was totally random as there was no pressure. I guess it came from when Sammy was born and being told if I didn’t get him out I would need help. I did not want to get out the pool and I, just for a few minutes, thought I might have to. Then a Bloc Party song came on and I thought to myself ‘right this is it I’m pushing now, this baby is coming out now’. Kele was our boys name and I thought it was a boy and I’d push it out to a song by its namesake (it took a bit longer than one song though!).
I know it’s a total cliche but I had Coldplay on my playlist and Stars came on. I just felt like it was about me and my baby and I was being willed on and reminded how special this all was. It’ll always be our song now.
It was frustrating me that the baby’s head was right there and then popping up. So I pushed with all my might. And there was the head. I think my waters broke then too. There was a lot of excitement at this point. And I took out one earphone and just said ‘the heads out’. Then ‘I can’t do it’ what a ridiculous thing to say with a baby half born! Of course I could do it! Jason and mum encouraged me and told me I could do it.
The midwife said I could feel her head and there was just so much soft hair, swaying in the water. It was totally bizarre. I could feel her head but feel her legs still moving inside me. It is one of the most bizarre feelings I’ve ever had. But amazing. Then with the next surge she came into the world, it didn’t hurt.
I reached down and lifted her up and out of the water. I caught her. My own baby. Just how I dreamed.
I said I just wanted to sit for a minute. I needed to catch myself. I was so proud of what I’d done.
She was very vocal when she came out the water, and she’d pooed. I think she may have been a little stressed from the burst of adrenaline I had from when I doubted myself.
We decided to see what sex she was. I looked and Jason helped lift her leg. And said ‘it’s a girl’. Without a doubt this was the biggest shock of my life. I just thought she was a boy. I’d been so certain.
I had a massive surge of adrenaline from finding out. I was shaking. It was just insane. I was so pleased but so surprised. I’d just assumed I’d have three boys. It was very weird. It was the biggest surprise of my life. I am really happy to have a girl, I think we both never imagined we’d have a daughter, that’s not why we had a third. We would’ve been just as ecstatic with a boy, if a little less shocked!
I think the adrenaline from this had a bit of an impact on my placenta coming as it then took a while and I opted for the injection in the end and had to work a bit to get it out.
My midwife, Lucy, was so pleased to have been at Marni’s birth. It was her last shift at the Rosie before going to Australia and she said it couldn’t have ended with a more perfect birth. She was wonderful.
It was so special to have my mum at the birth of my daughter. She’s an incredible woman and such a calming presence. I only hope to be to Marni what she is to me.
Jason was a tower of strength, never letting his own anxiety about my safety and his experience of birth trauma affect my confidence or his belief in me. And holding my space for me. Being my rock.
I know this is my complete family. I’ve never before had such a feeling of peace and satisfaction, gratitude and completeness. I’m happy. The happiest I’ve ever been. I just know this is how we are meant to be. Our family of five. Our party. 💙💙💗.