I write with exciting news of the safe arrival on 13 March of our baby girl, Jemima. Coincidentally, when we got home from the hospital your postcards were waiting for us. It may sound corny but the one I chose was ‘believe in the process’ and it felt so apt because the whole way through my labour I had a mantra in my head saying exactly that, and that has so much to do with your fabulous course.
I wanted to share my birth story with you, and before that, I want to thank you for being so inspiring. I took so much out of your course, but the biggest thing was the empowerment, knowing that I had choices and that every woman is entitled to birth how they want to birth.
You couldn’t make it up but my waters broke before I had any contractions, the same as with Seth. This time I felt armed with much more information so rather than go into the hospital so they could tell me what I already knew (and perform the obligatory VE), John and I decided to hold off calling and wait it out for 24 hours.
The next day there was no movement so we went in. I took evidence of my waters breaking so the midwife agreed that no examination was necessary, but of course then what felt like emotional blackmail started and the doctor made it clear she wasn’t happy for us to wait another 24 hours to see if surges started naturally. We negotiated on 36 and went back again later that night to be induced.
6 hours after having the gel applied contractions had started and I was in the zone with my breathing, but then 6am arrived, all the glaring lights were turned on in the ward, midwives loudly changed over, and things slowed down. I tried to stay focused, moving on the yoga ball, eyes closed, headphones in while John working his magic with light touch massage, but the midwife wasn’t happy with the length of the surges and we were told that we would be moved to the delivery suite to be put on the drip.
You know how I felt about the drip after going through such a trying time with Seth but this time I had such a different mindset. I accepted that this was what needed to happen for us to meet our baby, and I was just eager to get things underway. I didn’t let it dishearten me; I didn’t want to feel like anyone was taking control away from me like I did with Seth, instead I stayed positive and just took it in my stride.
And so, after scoffing my face (with some of your amazing protein balls) in the knowledge that this could be a long process and that I needed the energy to get through (something I hadn’t truly appreciated last time round), the drip was administered, and wow did things kick off!
The consultant, an amazing woman called Katrina Erskine, should you know of/come across her, asked if I’d considered pain relief. John came into his own and was answering all the questions at this point so I could stay focused, and told her that we’d got to 7cm last time before an epidural and would really like to go without this time if possible. She advised that because it was our second baby things would be much more intense much more quickly so we should keep an open mind. Me being me, I brushed that off, adamant that hypnobirthing and the TENS machine would get me through, but she was not wrong!
No sooner had the drip started surges were coming every 5 minutes and soon ramped up to every 3. We were firm in our wish to move around the room and the midwife was happy to assist, even sitting hunched over on her knees to keep the heart monitor in place as I leaned over the bed and yoga ball.
Within the hour the surges were way much more intense than I remembered them being last time round and I started debating whether to ask for an epidural. Whereas last time I felt like a failure for ‘giving in’, this time I was asking myself why I was trying to be a hero unnecessarily and who I was trying to prove things to, especially as the midwife had mentioned that I could have a low dose and still move around the room as I wanted.
However before plans went any further, because they kept losing track of the heartbeat, we agreed for a FHM to be fitted. In the meantime I mentioned to John that the pain seemed to be all in my bum so the midwife did a VE before going any further, and confirmed that I was fully dilated.
I want to say I’m one of those women that used hypnobirthing to have a calm, quiet delivery but in fact for me, once I moved into the second stage of labour, it was all about animal instincts; I absolutely believed in my body. Although I was using the breathing I’d practised, I groaned with each surge and at that final stage, as she crowned and then slid out, I almost roared! And the elation at feeling our baby arrive, compared to lying on my back with no feeling from the waist down last time, is indescribable. I honestly believe giving birth is the most empowering thing I have ever done.
And the hypnobirthing didn’t stop there. As the midwife was checking for tears she advised that this would probably be just as painful as the labour and offered gas and air. But I really didn’t feel like I needed it. Perhaps it was the endorphins from the birth, but I lay there with our beautiful baby girl on my chest and zoned out with my breathing, and I honestly didn’t feel anything other than slightly uncomfortable.