From the moment I found out I was pregnant my friends had warned my husband that I would be screaming down the hospital and that he would end up battered and bruised. But I knew that it would be different, I didn’t want to be screaming and shouting and bringing negative energy into the room before our baby was born. I had told myself on countless occassions that women had been doing this for years, if they could do it I could do it. I wanted my pregnancy and labour to be as calm as possible. Four months into my pregnancy a friend of mine mentioned hypnobirthing, she gave me a cd of birthing affirmations and rainbow relaxation techniques. I thought I would give it ago, I had nothing to lose. I found the birthing affirmations pretty funy especially, ‘my tissues are pink and healthy’, but it all made sense! So I started to listen to the birthing affirmations every morning on my walk to work and on my walks around the supermarket. I also started reading the book, which simply stated that it was the fear of labour that caused the pain. In my mind it made perfect sense, fear = pain, no fear, no pain. But could it really be that simple?
As my pregnancy had been straight forward and uncomplicated, I just presumed my labour would be too. My birth plan read something along the lines of, ‘I would like a water birth, with gas and air, ideally no medical intervention if possible’. Well it turned out a little different to what I had wished for, but the doctors and midwives had to do what they have to do to ensure the safe arrival of my baby.
My due date came and went without any sign of a contraction, so I was desperate to get my baby moving along before the dreaded sweep a week later. So I did everything possible, bounced on my birthing ball, walked up and down stairs side ways, curry, rosehip tea and still nothing. The night before my contractions started I had read on the internet that eating liqorice helped induce labour. I happen to like liquorice, so I ate 4 sticks of the stuff and sure enough 2:30 Sunday morning my contractions started. Coincidence or what?
Who knows what a contraction feels like before you actually have one? For me it felt like a warm pressure around my lower back and stomach. I kept on questioning whether these were contractions or not, but I was so excited, I knew they must be. I started to think about all the hypnobirthing breathing and relaxation techniques I had studied throughout my pregnancy. I set in my mind, that all I had to do was breath through each contraction and to not be afraid, to not fear what my body knew it had to do; to put complete trust in myself and my baby.
So I woke David up to let him know that we had an Ocado shopping delivery due at 11 and that maybe we better arrange for someone to be here just incase we weren’t. Obviously this was highly amusing to my husband that, I was more worried about our shopping arriving than my contractions.
I wasn’t able to go back to sleep, so I just relaxed in bed listening to my rainbow relaxation techinques and birth affirmations. My contractions would come thick and fast and then slow down again, so I knew we wouldn’t have to be leaving for a while. From around 4 to 9 in the morning, I was on and off the toilet which worried me as we were running out of loo roll and the shopping wasn’t due to arrive for another 2 hours. I knew this was a sign that my body was getting ready and clearing everything out. I started to get fidgety so I started to walk around the house and bounce on my ball, in order to set the mood I played my pregnancy relaxation music.
I was quiet surprised that I wasn’t in any actual pain and that the sensations I was feeling were warm and comfortable. At around 10 am, my mucus plug came out and I wasn’t really sure what was happening with my contractions as they would come 3 to 4 in ten minutes and then slowing down again. So I rang St Thomas’ and they advised to come in so they could see how many centimeters I was dilated. Luckily Ocado were very prompt and arrived at 11 o’clock on the dot. So we put away our shopping, popped a crossiant in my bag and off we went. On the drive down on St Thomas’ we played my Rainbow relaxation tape and I visualised all the colours through my body and felt comppletely at ease and relaxed. When we arrived at the ADU I advised the midwife that I was having contractions and how far apart they were and she told me to sit down and take a seat. I was still pretty fidgety so sitting down was the last thing I wanted to do, so I just paced around. All of a sudden a woman and her husband came panting through reception and the midwife, ‘oh you must be having contractions please come with me’. David joked that I should have been making much more of a fuss and I would have been seen straight away.
After listening to the mum to be, ooohhhing and ahhhhing, the midwife called me into a cubicle. I explained that my contractions were roughly 3 to 4 in ten minutes. The midwife looked at me and said she would check. Sure enough I was dilating, but only 3 cms. The midwife said she didn’t think I was dilating at all because I was so calm and collected. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to admit me as there rule is to only admit at 4. So we had a choice to either go back home or to walk around St Thomas’ until I was 4. I didn’t really want to stay at hospital, so off home we went. But just before we left, I noticed spots of blood on my knickers, the midwife said that this was normal and not to worry. Once at home, we made a few phone calls to let our parents know what was happening. Even at this point I still felt completely relaxed and at ease with the ongoing contractions, breathing through each and welcoming the thought that soon we would be meeting our baby. I was however slightly concerned as the bleeding hadn’t stopped and was getting heavier and heavier as the time ticked by. So with my contractions following the same pattern of thick and fast, then slow and slow, with more blood coming, David began to worry, so he decided that the best place for us was back at St Thomas.
At around 6 we were back at St Thomas, explaining that we were there previously, saw a midwife and that I had started to bleed. So they wanted to have a look. They took a swab to find out why, but we never got any results. The first midwife was concerned because she wasn’t sure which way the baby was facing, so two more midwives came in to confirm that the baby was facing the correct way. But because of the bleeding I was going to have to be monitored, so out the window went the plans for a water birth. I found being monitored quiet difficult as I wanted to bounce on my ball, but it kept on making the monitor slip off, so I decided I would keep active and upright as possible, by walking as far around my bed as my monitor would let me.
After about an hour a monitor on to check the babies heartbeat with my lovely midwife Gemma, a doctor came into see how I was doing. He decided that the best option would be to break my waters to see if we could get my labour moving forward. At this point the doctor noted how calm I was, he looked confused as I was just sitting there bouncing on my ball chatting to him. After my waters broke, my contractions were coming thicker and faster, which made me feel really excited. With each contraction I would take a deep breath and breathe it out, after each contraction had finished David and I would have a little hug to centre myself and away we would go with the next contraction. In order to kill time, I bounced on my ball and ate little bits of food. I found that having teaspoons of honey gave me little bursts of energy to see me through to the next contraction. Through all this I wondered when I would be given some gas or air. So I decided to ask my midwife Gemma, she looked at me puzzled, she said ‘Jen you are 8cm dilated and the drugs have been in the wall behind you all along’. I asked her if I should have any and she said that she was amazed that I had gone this long without even seeming to be in any discomfort and that I needn’t bother!!
But as time ticked by, my contractions started to slow down again and so did my babies heart beat, which started to worry my midwife. In the journey down our baby was getting tired and managed to go ‘star gazing’, which meant she was facing straight up so was possibly putting pressure on her neck. So all of a sudden my room was filled with 3 doctors, my midwife and an anesthetist, informing me that they wanted to get the baby out as soon as possible as her heartbeat was slowing down and they didn’t want to delay her birth any further. The anesthetist was trying to explain to me the possible side effects of the epidural, it sounded like blah, blah, blah. Whilst he put was putting the a drip thing (sorry I don’t remember what its called) in my hand, he was surprised at my reaction, as I just looked at him. He said he had never seen a person not flinch at the needle going into their hand. So the doctors said ideally they would like to avoid a c-section, but I was ready to have one if needed. As they dressed David in blues I suddenly felt a huge wave of disappointment come over me as I didn’t want to go into theatre, but I felt like there was nothing I could really do.
Just as they were wheeling me down the corridor I could feel the need to push, so I gave it my last shot at trying to push our baby out. However it didn’t work, but with that last push, our baby had managed to turn, yay!! Once in theatre the doctor said because your baby has turned, so you don’t need to have a caesarian. Instead I just I had a local anesthetic and forceps were the order of the day and sure enough within a couple of minutes my baby was on my chest. As i looked down and annouced to david that we had a son, they took him away. Only for us to be informed by my midwife that we had a daughter!!!
At 4:58 on Bank Holiday Monday the 31st of May our daughter Florence Wren was welcomed into the world!!
Sorry Nadia it’s taken me so long to get round to writing it up and if it doesn’t make sense in parts, its been ages since I have had to write anything longer than a text!!
Thank you for all the prep you and Lee taught me in your classes. I do feel that my body and mind were completely ready for the majority of my labour!!