Apparently all first babies are long labours and will be 'late' – not in my world!
Here is the story of the birth of my first born.
The first one was a surprise! Not that I was pregnant, that was pretty obvious, or that I was going to give birth. I knew that too, and I had been to hypnobirthing classes preparing for a nice 8-hour labour at home, languishing in my birthing pool with candles and relaxing music. The surprise was that a couple of days after I had finished work, and just when I thought I was going to have weeks to get myself ready for birth (because I was wrongly told that I’d definitely go over – all first babies are ‘late’), I went for a wee in the middle of the night. Nothing surprising there, as anyone who knows what late pregnancy is like will tell you, weeing in the middle of the night, at least once, is par for the course. The surprise came when I got back into bed, snuggled down to go back to sleep, and felt a little pop. My immediate thought was ‘odd, I can’t still need a wee’.
I walked back to the loo – I had a great pelvic floor in those days - sat on the loo and realised that a) it didn’t feel like I was weeing, even though I was making a tinkling sound, and b) it wasn’t stopping. Then it dawned on me (I was clearly still half asleep), it was my waters!
When it finally stopped trickling, I tentatively made my way back to the bedroom and told Rob that I thought my waters had gone. Then I called the midwives, who told me to call back after 6 and let them know how I was doing. The next person to make a call to was my mum, who, living in Kenya, needed to get her flights changed – she too thought that it would be weeks before the birth. So, after all initial excitement panic (this wasn’t meant to be happening yet), I decided to try to listen to my relaxation – I settled down in bed, relaxation on and bam! first big surge – wow, it was strong, OK so I needed to listen to that relaxation – I started again and bam! – 2nd big surge. That’s when the panic really set in. I started to time them – they were about 5 minutes apart and really strong – no way I was going to get into deep relaxation listening to the voice of an old lady for 25 minutes. And all I could think about was how it wasn’t going the way I had been told it would (minimum 8 hours, plenty of time to get into deep relaxation) and that my homebirth was out of the window – I needed to go in as we were not yet at 37 weeks. I knew then that I needed to get to the hospital and fast! So Rob called 999 – the thought of sitting in a car was terrifying (I hadn’t thought about getting on the back seats). Soon after the call the paramedics came in, gave me a quick visual examination, some gas and air and I walked down to the ambulance – where I lay for a while, in a haze, combined with strong surges, with the ambulance crew trying to get Rob to hurry up (poor man had to pack my bag, find the camera, lock the house). On arrival at the hospital the midwives were surprised that I was there – as they thought it would be hours before I made my appearance. I was wheeled into a labour room where I was asked to sit on a bed – I followed their instructions of course as I was at this point in total shock and still unable to get my head around using the techniques I had been learning.
So here I was, lying on a hospital bed, with my bum going numb, trying to straighten myself out and being told not to because I would fall off the bed (hindsight is a wonderful thing – why did the midwife not suggest I moved into a positon that stopped me sitting on my bum I will never know), feeling disappointed that my hypnobirthing wasn’t working. Then I had a vaginal examination – bloody hell that was the most painful bit of labour! Anyhow I was at 6 cms – so was really pleased that things were progressing and that the intensity I was feeling was doing something.
Shortly after everything changed, I started to calm and I could feel my baby moving down the birth canal, I was feeling the urge to bear down so I went with what my body was telling me. I was focussed inwards and I breathed my baby down further, feeling all of a sudden totally in control and that I knew exactly what I should be doing. Cue bossy midwife who screamed (to goodness knows who) ‘she’s starting to push! She needs to stop! She was only 6 cm dilated a few minutes ago!’ Thankfully I ignored her and then I got ‘hold your breath and push!’ if looks could kill – I knew that I had thrown a few daggers her way - when I heard Rob saying ‘have you read our birth plan? We are hypnobirthing?’ That really helped me, knowing that he was there to support me and had seemed to get a handle on his panic too, and I continued to breathe out when I got the urge to bear down. Just a few breaths later, and 2 hours 45 minutes after my waters broke, out popped my gorgeous Reuben. Wow! The most indescribable feeling came over me, I had done it! And there was this dinky (6lb12 – to me tiny as I am 6ft1) baby that had come out of my foof looking all white with vernix. Immediately it felt surreal that he had been in my tummy. But wow, I felt total elation and amazement.
I turned to Rob pretty soon after and said, (I can do that again). And I really felt that way, even though I had been in a panic to begin with, when I had started to calm down and relax into it, and trust that my body was doing exactly what is should do, it was the most fantastic experience I had ever had.
For some people, they would think they had failed at hypnobirthing if they had had the birth I had, but I know that there is no failure here for me. Ok, so it didn’t quite go according to plan and I definitly could have done with being calmer and less panicked in the beginin, but I still raved about the experience to anyone who would listen, and I knew that it was the hypnobirthing that helped me to trust my body and experience my son's birth in such a positive way.
Baby number two was a faster and much calmer experience. Read my next blog here to find out just how that went.