This is a long post. Forgive me.
I wasn’t going to write about the birth, once this baby eventually made an appearance. I’ve always thought birth is an intensely personal experience and I hated the idea of being self-indulgent with a birth story plastered all over the internet. Throughout this pregnancy, though, I’ve gradually changed my mind. Reading about other women’s labours has helped me stay positive and balance out all the screamy birth scenarios you see on films and TV. I still wasn’t sure if I’d write about my own labour, but my mind is now made up. So, here it is. The day I had a baby…
Last Sunday started with the most delicious lie-in ever. With Frog at my parents’ the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine and I both slept in until around 9am. I woke up, had an indulgent morning bath with my book and we ate bacon sarnies and drank our tea while it was still hot. I deliberately kept my phone off.
Sunday morning marked 41 weeks pregnant for me. Eight days past my due date I was trying hard to stay calm, remembering that my baby would arrive when he or she was ready. With Frog appearing twelve days past her due date I’d been here before, but the regular “Any baby yet?” questions from well meaning people were starting to stress me out a bit. So I turned my phone off and deliberately avoided all social media. I felt like I was on the edge of losing my calm – like when I was pregnant with Frog, the last week was proving the hardest.
I faffed about a bit doing some dusting, reading my book, doing a bit of yoga – all the exciting stuff. Then we went for a walk in the countryside near our house. It was a crisp, sunny autumn day. I’d had mild period like pains for a few days but nothing dramatic, so I was trying to forget the fact I was pregnant and relax. Easier said than done when you’ve got half a stone of baby inside you.
Later that afternoon my mum brought Frog back home and took over bath and bedtime duties with the NLM while I put my feet up. Mum had already told me she was at my disposal and would stay with us to keep me company until I wanted her to clear off. When I went into labour with Frog my mum had unexpectedly turned up, so maybe it was a sign…
Around 8pm on Sunday evening I went to the toilet and felt a gush. Sorry for TMI here – but if you will read a birth story… Anyway, because I’m clearly such a pro at childbirth I didn’t think much of it, blaming the gush on an unexpected wee that I hadn’t realised I still needed. Yeah, I know. I didn’t mention it to my mum or the NLM but noticed around ten minutes later that I felt damp. Mortified that I might be wetting myself without realising it I ‘fessed up to my mum that either my pelvic floor was even worse than I thought or perhaps my waters had gone.
I rang the delivery suite just in case. “Err, this is probably going to make me sound a bit stupid, but I think my waters have gone,” I said. “Either that or I’ve done a big wee – I’m not really sure.” Luckily the midwife didn’t laugh at me. She asked a few questions and said she reckoned it was my waters and advised me to stay at home and ring if anything exciting happened. She was calm and I felt instantly OK. Perhaps something was happening at last.
Within half an hour I was getting contractions. I made a decision at the beginning of this pregnancy to prepare as well as I could for the birth. Frog’s delivery was pretty text book, with a five hour labour. But I lost my nerve at the beginning, feeling scared and unsure if I could get through it. I really didn’t want to feel that fear again this time and that’s the reason I chose early on to go to a weekly pregnancy yoga class and to listen to regular meditation and hypnobirthing CD’s. As a natural stress head I knew I needed some tools to avoid blind panic once things kicked off. And, luckily for me, it worked.
With each contraction at home I breathed through the sensation imagining a wave that I had to get to the top of. I moved my hips and got on all fours and went through every yoga position that I knew would help. I felt like I needed to keep moving, so I lit some candles, put on some music and my mum massaged my back while the NLM emailed last minute lesson plans through to work.
Two hours later I rang the delivery suite who patched me through to the birth centre where I was booked to have my baby. My contractions weren’t in any particular pattern, but they were getting more and more intense and were coming pretty close together. They told me to come in – but I was convinced I’d probably get there and be sent home again, after finding out I wasn’t in “active labour”.
The NLM and I arrived at the birth centre at 11pm. I was immediately greeted by a smiling and calm midwife. “You’re probably going to send me home because I’m not in proper labour,” I told her. She just laughed and said, “Let’s get you in your room and have a chat shall we?”.
We were shown into a lovely birthing room, with a bed, an en-suite bathroom and a huge water birth pool. Immediately the midwife dimmed the lights, drew the curtains against the door and started chatting to us. While we were chatting I had a few contractions, moaning my way up the wave of pain and breathing down the other side. I still had no idea how far dilated I was. After twenty minutes or so the midwife gave me two options – either she could examine me and see how my labour was progressing or I could just get straight in the water birth pool. “I’m in no doubt you’re in labour,” she told me. “I’m happy to just let you go with it and we can see what happens. You never know, we might even meet your baby within the next couple of hours.”
Getting in the pool just after 11.30pm I still had no idea if I was dilating or what was going on down there (I mean, obviously I knew I was having a baby imminently – but you know what I mean). For me, not knowing was better. If I’d been told I was only 3cm dilated then I risked losing my sense of calm – a bit like if I was running a marathon and found out I’d still got 25 miles to go.
The water felt amazing. It was like a huge bath and I could completely submerge myself in it – even when I wanted to kneel up. I moved around in the water, going on all fours, kneeling up, leaning over the edge, breathing, breathing, breathing. The NLM put on some meditation music – it was all very Glastonbury meditation field zen. But, for once, the NLM didn’t make a joke about it.
He was amazing actually – he didn’t laugh at my choice of tunes (trust me – this is a big deal) and he massaged my back with every contraction. He was there with me through each one and I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever felt closer to him. It was like he was in tune with me – we’re not a hugely demonstrative couple; we exist on banter, jokes and the rule that people aren’t allowed to take themselves too seriously. But he was quiet and thoughtful and completely calm.
Within 45 minutes after getting in the pool I felt the urge to push. There wasn’t even time to have a paracetamol – this baby was nearly here. I moaned and made animal like noises, while I let my body take over. The midwife was amazing, reminding me to breathe and encouraging me. Five minutes later I felt my baby slip into the water. I reached down and brought her up onto my chest, sobbing.
“It’s a girl!” the NLM and I both cried out at the same time. “I’m properly outnumbered now!” joked the NLM. “And she looks just like her sister!”. (The above is a photo of our new baby girl, the picture below is a picture of her big sister at just minutes old.)
It’s surreal, because I can so clearly recall every part of the experience. Afterwards I felt shaky and cold – a bit in shock I suppose – but completely “with it”. I lay naked on the bed, covered in nothing but a towel and some blankets, with my baby snuggled against me. After an hour or so I got up and had an incredible shower and got dressed into some comfy clothes. I was given the option to stay the rest of the night in the hospital or go home. By 4am we walked through our door with our new baby girl.
My mum greeted us with a grin – the whole thing felt like a dream because it had happened so quickly. The NLM made us all a cup of tea and I went to check on Frog. She woke up, so I told her she had a new baby sister waiting to meet her downstairs. Immediately she picked up her “blankie” and came downstairs with a look of disbelief plastered over her face.
Frog met her new baby sister at 4.30am on Monday morning, before we all went to bed to get a couple of hours sleep before Monday started properly.
If you’ve made it to the end of this mammoth post (the longest post in the history of posts!) then thank you for reading.
Welcome to the world new baby…
(She does have a name by the way, but as with her big sister we’ve chosen not to use it on the blog. Needless to say it’s a special name that we love and Frog thoroughly approves.)
P.S. Apologies to anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram. I’m trying very hard not to be a baby spammer but it’s proving difficult!
If you’re looking for more birth stories, pregnancy advice and general baby chat then you might find the site Belly Belly particularly useful.