One year ago today…
On the morning of 7th May 2011, I woke up at about 2am. I was 4 days past my due date and I was having mild contractions. Half of me wanted to squeal with excitement, but the other half remembered that this had happened many times in the 2 weeks prior. It felt like my body had been teasing me. I looked at the mirror on my wall. In the dark, I could just make out the words I had written onto it ‘Surrender & Trust’. I had wanted these two words to be the focus for how I approached the birth of my second baby. Surrender to the magic of childbirth and trust that my body was perfectly designed to do what it needed to bring my daughter into the world.
Two years earlier, Oliver’s birth was full of interventions and I was left a little traumatised and grieved the loss of the natural birth I had wanted. Second time around I was determined to have a positive experience. I also wanted to feel like I could do it. Women had been giving birth naturally for thousands of years, why couldn’t I?
Firstly, I arranged a doula. (For more info head here) I then immersed myself into the world of natural and positive birth. I bought ‘Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth‘ that changed my whole attitude. I read story after story of women having wonderful births. I was filled with confidence; my body had been perfectly designed to grow and birth a baby. Have you ever heard a Dr tell you that at an ante natal appointment? Your body has been perfectly designed to grow and birth a baby!
Of course things don’t always go as planned, but I was sick of hearing all the awful horror stories. I myself was guilty of it, telling a pregnant woman how the epidural only worked on half of my body. That the tube somehow came loose from the catheter in my spine, so the epidural wore off, but the nurses didn’t believe me. That I pushed for 2 hours and ended up needing the vacuum to yank my baby from me. Did I want a medal for going through that? Why fill an expectant mother with fear that she might have to endure the same torture?
I now knew that our frame of mind has an incredible impact on our birth experience.
So, as I lay in bed mild cramps ebbed away only to return a few minutes later. A few days earlier I had a check up, and discovered I was already 3 centimetres dilated. My body was getting ready. It was comforting, but as an impatient person, I found all the waiting very hard. I was ready.
A little after 4am I gave up trying to sleep, and instead sat at my computer on my exercise ball. I played solitaire while listening to a playlist my dad had made me. I bounced away to the beat of the music, occasionally noting the time and the duration of the contractions, which were still very mild. I remember thinking how different labour is in reality compared to the movies. If I were in a movie, I would’ve sat upright in bed, clutching my swollen belly and woken Dan right away. I would’ve anxiously told him the baby was coming and we had to go to the hospital. Instead, I was bopping to very loud music in my headphones and playing on the computer while my hubby and son slept, peacefully unaware of what was happening.
A few hours later I sent my dad & doula a message to say I was in early labour. They both arrived at my home later that morning, at which point my contractions completely stopped! I couldn’t believe it! Another false alarm? I decided to go to bed and get some rest, but 30 minutes after lying down labour started again, and it kicked up a notch. I instantly realised that labour had stopped because I had stopped relaxing. I was excited to talk to my dad & doula, I wasn’t focusing my energy inwards.
I rang the hospital to let them know I was in labour, but was coping fine at home. Due to the frequency of my contractions, they wanted me to go in to be checked out. In the car, labour stopped again. In the waiting room I made an effort to calm myself. I closed my eyes, took deep breaths and visualised my body stretching as the cramps returned.
It was decided I was in established labour, so was given a room. I spent a couple of hours with my husband and doula mothering me. I was coping really well, and was surprised to hear the progress I was making after an examination. I got into the bath, which was heavenly. The lights were off, except for a dim salt crystal lamp by the bath. My favourite album by Florence + The Machine was playing and Dan poured water over my belly. I closed my eyes and zoned out. I breathed through the regular contractions… in 1, 2, 3, 4, out 1, 2, 3, 4…
My waters broke at 5.30pm and that is when things got intense. The rushes took all my concentration to breathe through, and I asked Dan to get into the bath to hold me up and count quietly in my ear to help me focus. I used the gas which helped me stay relaxed.
I didn’t want to move, but unfortunately my midwife wasn’t trained in water birth, so I made a quick dash back to my room. I was totally unaware of anything except my own body at this stage. I kneeled on the bed, elbows propped up on the bed head. It had been 1 hour since my waters broke and I began pushing. I pushed for over 2 hours with Oliver, so after only 4 pushes, I was surprised when the midwife placed my baby between my knees and told me to pick her up. She was here! I’d done it! Our sweet Lucy was in my arms… all 4.49 kilos of her! I was exhausted, but filled with joy. My husband had been so wonderful, giving me the support I needed, with the help of my doula. The midwives has respected our wishes, and kept monitoring to a minimum.
Lucy slept in my arms, and we quickly got the hang of breastfeeding. I was so blessed.
One year on, and I still feel so proud. Lucy’s birth was so empowering.
I encourage any pregnant women to seek out positive information to fill them with confidence in their own ability to birth and nurture their baby. Below are some links to books and videos I found really helpful.
ps. I’d love to hear about your birth stories, so please leave a comment below xx