Its February 2019 and I’m 38 weeks pregnant with baby number two. And i thought you might like to hear the birth story of number one?
I have never been this pregnant before because I had baby number one at 37 weeks!
So before the impending labour of this baby starts (I literally feel like he might fall out) these are my memories of my first labour.
I went into my birth with low expectations. By that I mean I didn’t have a fixed plan. I knew I wanted to keep all drugs to a minimum, I knew I wanted to birth my baby as much as I could on my own, but beyond that I also knew that anything could happen at any point and all plans could go out the window.
We had a few signs in the days leading up to the birth. I had mild (very mild) contractions that came every 10 minutes 3 days before he was born.
2am on his birth day, I went for one of my many nightly wees.
I was still peeing when I got back into bed, so either my pelvic floor had completely given up. Or – my waters had broken.
When waters break in the movies, then everyone rushes to the hospital. But in real life, waters don’t mean the baby is about to fall out. After a quick chat with the labour ward, I was told to take two paracetamol and go back to bed, and wait for the real stuff to happen.
Go back to bed!
My husband took this instruction quite literally and took himself off to bed to continue his good nights sleep. But by this point I was too excited and was so scared that if I went to sleep it would stop the contractions that had started.
I made a nest on the sofa and ate muesli, I lit a scented candle, and I watched TV, all the while concentrating hard on not losing those contractions.
6:30am seemed a reasonable time to wake my husband – being that I was in labour – but I remember him being slightly grumpy that hadn’t let him sleep in!
Washing my hair was the next thing I had a compulsion to do. I didn’t want a shower or bath as I was petrified this would ease off the contractions. So I made my husband wash my hair over the bath in between contractions.
Having swishy hair all day was one of the best decisions I have ever made, I felt like a million dollars.
I was asked by the labour ward to pop to my local birthing centre to make sure it was my waters and not just some bath water (its a thing apparently).
10:00am we popped out to the birthing centre. Contractions still coming every ten minutes, still mild, but still there.
The midwife confirmed that I was in fact leaking amniotic fluid and I was sent on my merry way. More waiting…
The long bit
Mid morning moved into late afternoon, and the contractions had remained, constant but ‘ok’ (when I say ‘ok’, I don’t mean I could hold a conversation, but I could carry on watching tele). My husband had managed to go out and buy food, hoover the house, and take two naps.
I don’t have much memory of this bit, it was a day of feeling like they were getting stronger and unbearable, followed by them slowing down.
But at around 4pm, while watching toy story 3 and making sure I was staying very active on my birthing ball there was a shift.
Pain was reaching new levels, these were (as my friend had described them) ‘the good ones’ – they were powerful, strong, and unmistakably not going anywhere.
4:30pm (14 hours since my waters broke) I ran a bath thinking that would sooth me, but it had the opposite effect. The contractions went from very strong to (as my mum had described) ‘climbing the walls’ type contractions.
So my husband finished packing the bags, and we made a way to the hospital.
5:30pm isn’t the best time to drive through a city centre, and the car journey was without doubt one of the worst bits of the entire birthing experience, like a caged animal, strapped down by the seat belt, I couldn’t focus on the pain, I could not focus on anything, it was a long long drive!
Once we were settled in the delivery suite the midwifes calm confidence helped me get back into the zone and I went to a knew place altogether – these were the ‘another planet’ contractions
The key part of any birth story is pain management – So for me the following is key…
Everything else was irrelevant during this stage. I envisioned my pelvis moving apart, like planets moving around the universe. I imagined all the generations of women before me who’s bodies had birthed women, so that I could be here doing this too.
The pain at this stage is something that is impossible to describe. It becomes you, you do not exist, only the pain exists. I let go. I let the pain be me.
Hypnobirthing techniques saved me. I didn’t do a course, I instead had listened to a hypnobirthing app, and I had attended a ‘Yoga bumps’ class that included meditation. Without these techniques I cannot imagine how I would have birthed with no pain relief up to this point.
I urge everyone to invest a little (or a lot) of time in researching these techniques. Because they helped take me to the edges of the universe and back again.
The need to push
Some people feel the need to push, some people don’t. I did! I was in the pool and the midwife asked to examine me, which meant getting out of my nice warm pool.
On getting out, I did not want to get back in. So I stayed on my bed, I was actually very happy there.
Gas and air was offered to me, and I tried it. And I liked it, maybe a little too much!
Pushing seemed a much more aware phase for me, instead of being on another planet, I felt very present. I could chat very well in between these contractions, I could ask for sweets and a drink.
20 minutes is the average time to push, I took 1 hour 45 minutes!
Then he was there – between my legs.
And I laughed – a lot. I just giggled and laughed, What a crazy thing to see between your legs. A baby. My baby. Our baby.
No real rush of love, no out pouring of tears. Just this little dude, the coolest thing I had ever seen. Calm, chilled, and knowing. He knew me, and he told me it was all going to be ok. Perfectly tiny, at 5lb 8oz, but entirely in control from that moment…
‘Hello baby boy’