The background to this story is that I suffered from post-traumatic stress after the long and stressful birth of my first son two years earlier. Not wishing to repeat this experience, I took a hypnobirthing course with my doula Holly who we chose to help give myself and my husband support through the pregnancy and birth.
On Thursday the 18th October at 6am I was having trouble sleeping. I felt uncomfortable laying down and felt like I needed to keep going to the bathroom. Earlier that week we had all had a sickness and vomiting bug and I was hoping this would not come back. At 7am I decided to get up and told my husband that lying down was uncomfortable. We all got up and had breakfast. I started getting what I would describe as tightenings or pressure sensations every so often. These weren’t too regular at first. I kept going to the loo to check if I’d had a show but was disappointed to find I hadn’t. As the surges continued myself and my husband started to think this could possibly be ‘it’. They felt very mild at this point but I wanted to start relaxing to my rainbow relaxation script and listen to my birthing affirmations (both are used in hypnobirthing) so we decided to ask my husband’s parents to come and collect our toddler (he’s 22 months old) so that I could focus on relaxing. I still wasn’t sure if it was really happening today but thought it was best to relax anyway. They picked him up at about 11.30 am and I waved goodbye happy and relaxed.
I let Holly know that something may be starting today and she encouraged me to stay relaxed and positive.
I had a midwife appointment already arranged at 2pm that day so we went along hoping she would be able to tell us if this was it. I had a surge whilst I was there and she felt my tummy but decided not to do an internal examination and she said ‘you’ll probably be having a baby in the next 3 days’. I felt disappointed and concerned about how long this would continue for. The surges were around 10mins apart and totally fine but I didn’t want no sleep for 3 days!
We decided to go for a walk – it was lovely and peaceful. I felt excited. I stopped walking and focussed on my breathing whenever I felt a surge.
Back home (at around 4.30pm) and I sat on my birthing ball whilst Andrew used the ‘light massage’ on my back and we listened to the rainbow relaxation. I found it really helped, but I needed to stand up by the table whenever I felt a surge.
All continued along with the surges gradually getting closer together and lasting longer. We had dinner. At around 6pm the surges were 3 mins apart lasting about 30 seconds each. We chose a film to watch! We went upstairs where our bedroom was comfortable with dim lighting, relaxation music and my birthing ball.
We didn’t end up watching the film as the surges became closer together but I could still relax and Andrew persuaded me we should call Holly to come over at around 8.30pm. I was reluctant to call Holly yet because I thought this could go on for hours and hours well into Friday. But I was finding the surges stronger and starting to find it harder to relax through them. I was then very sick and had a strong surge at the same time which was horrible but I thought at least I know I am in labour now.
When Holly arrived I was listening to the rainbow relaxation (on loop!) whilst lying on the bed. I could relax (and even sleep sometimes) between surges but I now found the surges themselves painful and I rocked on all fours during them.
This continued between 9pm and 12am with the surges getting more intense until I tried a bath and frankly became overwhelmed by them. I would throw my body about when they came. Andrew asked me again if I wanted to go to hospital and I said I did but I was worried they would send me home as I thought I might just not be coping well in early labour. It was great having Holly there as she said they definitely wouldn’t send me home and this gave me the encouragement to go to hospital which was where I wanted to be at this point. In my head I was thinking I want to have an epidural but I thought I wouldn’t mention that to Holly and Andrew yet. Also, it was hard trying to have a conversation.
We set off to the hospital (about a 20 minute drive away) in Holly’s car just after midnight. The car journey was intense and overwhelming. I couldn’t relax anymore and was throwing myself around with the pain. I kept opening my eyes and realising how far we were from the hospital and I just wanted it all to stop.
When we arrived at the hospital we somehow ended up going through the wrong entrance and having to walk quite far. I told Andrew I wanted an epidural. I was walking along moaning and a member of staff asked if we were alright and she told us to wait on some seats whilst she got a midwife and a wheelchair. The midwife came and I don’t think she was impressed that we hadn’t phoned ahead to say we were coming. We went to a big room which was quite cold but well kitted out and the midwives kept asking questions but I was just asking for gas and air. I was also asking for an epidural. It took about 15 minutes for them to sort the gas and air which felt like ages at the time and I was moaning and worrying that I wasn’t that advanced. One of the midwives asked me if I just felt pain or it felt pushy. To be honest it did start to feel a bit pushy but I told her no just pain because I wanted an epidural and so didn’t want them to say no it was too late. Eventually a senior midwife examined me and as she did my waters broke everywhere – they came gushing out warm and went everywhere. The midwife said ‘you’re 10 cm’, Holly said ‘that’s brilliant’. The midwife then said to me you are going to have a baby soon, sorry you can’t have an epidural there wouldn’t be time.
Looking back, I think it’s amazing that I was 10cm at this stage and I had managed using the hypnobirthing despite the intensity in what I now know was the transition period. However, at the time I felt very disappointed I couldn’t have an epidural. My husband really encouraged me at this point by telling me that the midwife had said the baby’s head was right there and they will be born soon. Holly helped me to get into a good position facing backwards and upright on the bed.
The surges soon changed type and became an overwhelming urge to push downwards which I began doing with all of my strength. It was hard work but I felt like I was getting somewhere. I was going to meet my baby boy. I could do it. I waited for each surge and then put all I had into pushing down and bringing my baby out. The midwife asked me to turn over so she could check the progress and as I turned I pushed again, hard, and I felt the baby crowning. It felt like an eternity until the next surge and I felt like I was stinging and stretching so much and the baby felt so big, eventually the surge I was waiting for came and I pushed my hardest with it and screamed as our baby came out into this world. I felt the rest of his body being pulled gently out and then relief. Joy. Pride.
What I hadn’t known at the time is that there had been thick meconium in my waters so our baby had to be quickly cut from the cord and then passed to the paediatrician to be checked on the resus trolley. He soon made little noises and everyone was happy that he hadn’t inhaled the meconium. My little boy was passed back to me. I felt such delight. Such love. My little Josh was here. I couldn’t believe I was finally holding him.
He was 6lb 9oz, born (10 days earlier than the due date) at 1.30 am on 19th October 2012. He is amazing. I know the end of the birth was overwhelming and incredibly hard work but I am so pleased with how the birth went. It was an empowering and positive experience for me.
So that’s the end of Josh’s birth story – this is longer than I’d planned but I don’t want to leave any of it out. It was an experience I will never forget and one I will treasure. As for Josh – he is perfect just as he is and always will be! He makes us a very happy family of four!