So our third baby girl(internet name Squirrel) was born almost 6 weeks ago in a genuinely heavenly water birth. I wanted to write this story earlier but annoyingly we go admitted to hospital with her jaundice day 5-9 and then having the usual feeding issues so only just getting chance to write this now. Sorry the post is very long, I just wanted to capture as much of the experience as I can!
The scan dates had me as due 9th October but my dates by charting had my dates at the 14th. I don’t think it is physically possible to conceive on day ten of my cycle when I didn’t ovulate until day 15 so I think my dates were more accurate! I was very very uncomfortable in the final days “overdue”, the baby was stretching the skin by my ribs so taut I could no longer feel anything there – it was numb! I was offered a sweep at 6 days overdue (or 1 day by my dates!) and my cervix was already 2-3cm dilated and the midwife thought labour was imminent! The sweep didn’t hurt at all, very gentle but it certainly did the trick as about 5am the next morning some of my waters went with a pop and gentle contractions started. I had enough time to grab a bowl of cereal while phoning the labour ward and my father in law to give us a lift while my husband had a shower and a cup of coffee! Very civilised. We even had time to grab a lemon and a peeler for reasons I shall explain shortly. I decided to bounce on my birth ball while waiting for the lift which was a mistake as made my waters go even further and I had to go and get changed fully! My sister in law came along to look after my older two girls (Internet names- Munchkin and Womble).
We got into the car with my bags and the ridiculous birth ball (it was a VW beetle- can you imagine the comedy of two grown men fighting to get a giant birth ball into a tiny boot- my husband hated that birth ball with a passion but was under strict instructions to not get cross about it while I was in labour as it would stress me out!). We got to the hospital just before 6am and unloaded, and I was carrying the ridiculous birth ball down the corridoor when a man stopped us to comment on the ridiculous birth ball and tell us about his daughter who was overdue but would be having it any day now. Was very funny but seriously a labouring woman is not in the mood for small talk!
We got to the delivery suite and were swiftly put in the 4bay triage room with a lovely midwife assessing how far along I was. At this point I had a bit of an unexpected panic attack when another labouring woman came into the cubicle diagonally opposite. Just being able to hear her sent adrenaline through me and I burst into tears and had to put my hands over my ears and I was trying very hard not to hyperventilate. Luckily my awesome and very supportive husband was on hand and grabbed my music and earphones and I got my labour playlist going and I calmed down when I could no longer hear her. The midwife came back and as soon as she saw how upset I was offered to move me somewhere else but I was calming down so we got my assessment done so we could get to the delivery room. At the time she said something like the baby’s head wasn’t effacing properly to my cervix so she thought it might be a little while and maybe if I tried to stay out of the pool as long as possible. At the time I remember a fleeting thought of “oh no my body isn’t doing it properly again” but instantly followed by “nope, my body is doing it exactly right and this midwife is going to be proved wrong as I think it will be faster than she thinks!”
We were given a choice of birth pool rooms and opted for the smaller pool but with the pool in the room as it felt like a posh hotel room, the other pool might have been bigger and maybe more comfy was in a windowless room and it just wasn’t as nice. My husband got the room set up with my relaxing birdie fairy lights and my music and I put the birth ball on the bed and a baby blanket over it and kind of flopped my head and arms over the ball so I could rock and sway. At this point we bought out the lemon and peeler again. Basically I find the scent of fresh lemon and the texture of the rind very soothing and grounding. I tried to find lemon oil that smelt right but none were as good as a genuine fresh lemon so we thought sod it and bought one in. Just rubbing the peel between my fingers and sniffing it was a really nice distraction focus in early stages. I also had my squeezy stress balls for my hands and was banging them on the big birth ball as a distraction (thanks Juju Sundin – Birth skills!) Later on my husband bought out my wooden pebble. This wooden pebble he bought me for our wood wedding anniversary and it says “I love you” on it. It had actually been down the back of the radiator for a couple of years from when the toddler dropped it down there, but I had decided in my counselling sessions that would be another good grounding object plus it is the perfect size to grip hard in your hand. I had infused it with a lemon and mandarin oil so it smelt pretty good along with my lemon peel and this was working nicely along with my husband doing a sterling job of massaging my back through each contraction.
The midwife offered me gas and air which I decided to start as things were starting to get painful and although I was planning on managing the whole thing on gas and air only (so had a vague idea to hold off on it until I really needed it) I decided to say sod it and not be a martyr! At this point the midwife commented I was progressing faster than she thought I would (internally I did a little smugtastic “I KNEW IT!” dance!) and we had better start filling the pool up! So we had a little while of me on gas and air swaying leaning against my birth ball with my husband massaging my back.
When the pool was only half full the midwife said I could get in if I wanted while we waited for it it fill. I had a riculous tankini with me (hideous bright pink thing bought in a £5 sale for this moment) but I went fuck it I need to be naked for this so got into the pool starkers and it was bloody bliss as soon as I was in I was able to wiggle my hips through each contraction, hold my husband’s hand, breath the gas and air.
I had been listening to my hypnobirthing cd fairly regularly (and memorised much of it from Omble’s birth) and although not sure how much of it stuck I do remember visualising a pain dial and turning down the pain (which may also have coincided with an extra deep breath of gas and air!) which kind of worked. I couldn’t use the beach visualisation the cd used as sadly around the time I was developing my seascape safe space visualisation a little refugee boy Alan Kurdi was found washed up on a beach and the image was so haunting I could no longer make a beach scene a safe space for a labour visualisation.
The pool was filled up and all cosy. The contractions got more and more intense and I remember thinking these are painful but at no point was the pain too much to bear (words from my CD again!), it felt like a really positive powerful pain that somehow I was in control of even though I was completely off my tits on gas and air. I was breathing a little bit much gas and air in at this point so the midwifes were trying to encourage me to have some breaths of fresh air as well. I do remember complaining “but I want to stay in fairyland, I like fairy land!”. I was just at the point of saying “I’m not sure I can do this any more” but while I was saying it actually I knew full well it was far too late for a change of plan and to go with an epidural! Anyhow I didn’t really want to as I knew I could do it because I had done it before, and of course I was in transition. It really helped the midwives reminding me of the fact that when you say that it means the baby is nearly here because of course she was!
Then came the incredible bearing down feeling seconds after the midwife had asked if I felt the urge to push. I remember going back to my hypobirthing cd words about bearing down and breathing in golden light and the feeling of pressure (not pain) and with one big push/contraction (that my body just did more than I tried too) her head was out. I know the midwife had a mirror at this point but I was too out of it to look and just had my eyes closed focused on the next bit to get her body out. I was bracing myself against the back of the pool at this point (to the extent I had a bit of a bruised and sore neck and shoulders for a few days after the birth- mental note next time bring a bath pillow!) and with one last massive push she was out and bought up to me for a cuddle.
The next bit was euphoric and peaceful. The hardest bit was over. I had my wonderful perfect baby cuddled peacefully on my chest- she didn’t cry at all for ages (not until the vitamin K injection at least an hour after birth!), she was covered in vernix (which suggests she wasn’t overdue and my dates were more accurate!), we just got to snuggle her for ages while waiting for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing to maximise her blood volume etc.
Squirrel did not cry at all during this period, she was just way too chilled. The midwives were really happy with her colour and I just got to snuggle and hold her for ages which was incredible. We were nice and warm in the
blood bath. At this point the midwife who had helped deliver her had to leave as actually she was over her shift by a little bit while but had decided to stay as I started to bear down while she was doing handover! Midwives I salute you for staying over your shift to support women (and not miss the best bit of a birth!).
So eventually the cord stops pulsing and I get to chop it (something I didn’t get to do with other two) which was awesome. As think this is my last baby, it felt right that I sever that final link of pregnancy between me and my baby. Squirrel then went to daddy for a skin to skin cuddle while I focused on getting the placenta out. This took a little while but it was all very chilled. Funny story- I felt the placenta come out and reported to the midwife, who looked and said it hadn’t, which was odd as it was defo down and out of my uterus as I felt it. Turns out when I shifted a bit it was sort of tucked up inside me. Cue husband sighing about how “anything that is lost is always under mummy’s arse” as in our house 9/10 times I am sat on the lost tv remote! Still makes me giggle!
Got to have a good look at the placenta, then the baby got weighed and checked. She was 4.23kg (to the gram the exact weight of munchkin) so another big baby but this time one who was so happy and healthy and one I delivered myself magically! She was very chilled I think the first time she cried when she had her vitamin K injection which was ages after she had been born!
She was born at 7.56am and by about 10am we were all clean and dressed (and stiched up!) and chilling out in the labour room listening to my chillout playlist, drinking loads of tea and eating toast and enjoying brilliant cuddles. It was such a lovely time of bonding for us all.
At 12ish husband left to get carseat and get father in law to collect us. Squirrel latched on properly for the first time and OMIGOD THE AFTERPAINS!!! I was in a chair in agony knowing I was about to be sick and no-one around to help me, luckily I somehow managed to scoot my chair backwards to reach the call buzzer and my midwife got a sick bowl to me in time. I was feeding a vomiting and in pain as bad as early mid labour but with no pain relief (how I wanted more gas and air at that point!). I was allowed paracetamol but not co-codamol (on top of the diclofenac I had previously) and at this point I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go home until I had pain relief under control. We decided to wait another hour as the pains faded and then felt able to go home. The afterpains were probably the worst bit of the whole labour but by then I had Squirrel so who cares! (also ended up vomiting with the pain with a feed later that evening but thankfully the severe afterpains had stopped within 24hours or so.
We went home and enjoyed newborn snuggles until it was time to get the big sisters home from school and preschool. They fell in love with her straight away just like we did.
Such a fabulous experience and definitely the kind of birth “I could do it again tomorrow!”, such a healing experience to have finally had a “tickled out by fairies” birth.
First birth: BAD
Second birth: Good
Third birth: MAGIC
Awesomes! And Huge thanks to my fabulous midwives (both antenally and during and after labour) as well as the incredible supervisor of midwifes who all contributed massively to helping me get to this point and made it such a fantastic experience.