18 May A birth story. Without the gory details.
I don’t think I know what a birth story is supposed to sound/look like
but I do know that since my second born in 2011 the internet has opened up a world of birth stories available at the touch of a button. It’s kind of the way the world works these days, right? Albeit a little unnerving.
I imagine if I asked my Mum about her birth story it wouldn’t have photos and bullet point explanations of her contractions.
However, it’s still important and I do know what happened at my birth which is cool and something I like to know.
You can rest assured this won’t be the gory, bloody or even vernix covered story you may have seen in the past.
I think when you are pregnant with your first it seems other Mums want to share their story – how many hours she was in labour, the graphic details, the epidural wearing off too soon and the dreadful midwives they felt at the mercy of.
I don’t intend to do this. The reason I am putting Abraham’s birth story out there is for the positive side. Even if I thought this was something I would never share.
So it is not that I like to keep this little space of mine all flowery and fluffy with only the hippy dippy good stories.
It’s more that I had a good experience and you can too. Especially if you are thinking about a natural birth.
I am not entirely sure how this birth story should start.
I had contractions for almost two weeks before Abraham entered the world. It felt like from thirty seven weeks my body was ready to go with some of the signs you can read about here.
Two days before established labour I had contractions every three minutes for eight hours.EIGHT hours.
This made for two fun school runs (not really) and a tiring day of pain which resulted in nothing. They disappeared and my heart slumped.
The day after this there were some twinges and a few more signs. I had to constantly remind myself what the community midwife and the consultant had said when they saw me a few days previous ” these are all good signs”, ” things are going in the right direction” , “your baby is coming”.
It is safe to say, my patience was waining.
In fact I was two centimetres dilated on the Wednesday, the day before the eight hours of contractions.
He was born on the Saturday night and when I went to the hospital at 7:15pm I was gutted to learn that although my surges (contractions) were less than two minutes apart and I could no longer talk during them, I was still only two centimetres dilated- GUTTING.
This scenario had happened in both of my previous labours- I go up the scale pretty quickly!
So between my husband and I we were able to keep my vibes upbeat and my mind in the zone so that labour didn’t disappear.
Believe it or not this was my biggest fear- that the contractions would stop, not that the birth would be difficult or scary!
To be truthful I would have stayed at home as long as I could and even had a home birth had I been able to but because of strep b I had to be in the hospital four hours before delivery to have intravenous antibiotics.
Two midwives in the triage of obstetric unit commented on me smiling through contractions.
At one point I even forgot to give my wee sample when I went to the bathroom as I was more eager to tell my friend Adele (who I nicknamed my “doula” as she has been casually involved in some capacity with my three boys’ labours. I personally don’t like to share that I am in labour with many people. There is something so special about keeping it as quiet as possible and intimate, allowing you to keep the pace of contractions going rather than having people crowding your phone) that I text her and then had to rock back and forth to get more wee out!
It was SO funny! Well, to me it was hilarious… I guess it was the endorphins, I was flying high!
I had also watched the movie “awkward sexy people” at home which had me in stitches with laughter during the waves.
I had learned from Katherine Graves earlier in the week that funny movies during early labour are a good idea because they keep you relaxed.
I can vouch for that – I was so relaxed and have lovely memories of sitting on my birthing ball laughing hysterically while I ate oven cooked chips and battered cod with peas.
Another theme in my labours are the need to eat one last meal – always thinking about my stomach! Hearty chilli while in early labour with my first, bangers and mash with my second, cod and chips with Abe.
So with all of this in mind, when Michael took the boys across to my mum around 5:45 I thought it best to call the hospital. When they told me to come in I grabbed snacks and drinks galore, stuffing them in the kids avengers lunch boxes.
The thing with labour is you just don’t know how long you will be in that state for! So be prepared for the long haul and anything less is a bonus.
After my internal examination I was allowed to go to home from home (a suite of only five rooms catered for women wishing to have natural deliveries) even though I was only two centimetres dilated. Because of my history of going from 2- 10cm in a short space of time they felt it would’d be too long a wait.
I was shown my room close to 8 o clock and felt again like this was another step in my plan that had come to fruition.
A bit of background if you’re new to my blog – because of my heart murmur and the fact that Abraham was breech for so long I almost had a planned a c section. And I had come to terms with this around 36weeks. I felt that whatever would be would be. I was so petrified of losing our baby I would do anything to get him out safely.
Then around 38 weeks when he had turned and I got the all clear from the cardiologist and consultant, I put my game face on for the natural birth.
I started to really get involved with some breathing techniques and (believe it or not) improved my squat with the view to delivering our babe in this position!
I had never seen a woman give birth before until I started looking at hypnobirths and water births.
Yes, I had given birth in the water twice myself but I hadn’t seen one born every minute or any youtube videos. Which is pretty ridiculous really, but I am squeamish and felt for a long time that ignorance was bliss.
As mentioned above live births are EVERY WHERE. I stupidly watched two one night on my instagram account – fifteen seconds was enough for me- the first one I watched made me gag so much that I vomited.
But when I watched Ina May Gaskin’s ‘A birth story‘ as recommended by my Motherhoodalive amigo Mel, I saw beauty in the natural and only covered my eyes a handful of times.
It is a great documentary about going back to natural deliveries and training midwives to cope with them- basically it reminded me of everything our experience of Camp Treetops life encompassed –
stripping back our cluttered lives to natural techniques , should one’s body and external resources allow.
And that’s the thing with delivering these precious babies of ours- often medical intervention is required, and that is OK.
Every woman has her own story- and should be proud.
I am no better than anyone else because I had no pain relief, in the same way if I stop breastfeeding at five weeks, I am no less of a mother than the woman who feeds her kid for three years.
We all do what we need to do to support our incredible bodies and babes.
My friend Alice puts it nicely here that all mummas no matter what their delivery are warriors. I concur!
At around 9pm I fought back and forth in my head whether I should get into the water.
The midwife examines you every four hours so I wasn’t going to be checked again until 11pm meaning I had no idea what stage I was at down below. I knew I didn’t want to be in the water for hours;
“I’ll get wrinkly fingers!” I exclaimed!
Eventually I got into the water at 9:10pm or thereabouts ( I LOVE water) and I was all “This feels amazzzziinngggg”.
Then at 9:20pm my waters broke. At 9:25pm and by the time the midwife had come back into the room I had the urge to push.
I squatted (!!) that baby out at 9:31pm and Abraham was born screaming the house down as soon as he came up to the surface!
I lost a serious amount of blood so my euphoria at having delivered our chubby babe was met with a rush of people and a panicked chaos to get me out of the water and see what the cause was.
Yet nothing could cloud my delight, I could have been dying and I didn’t care one bit, I just kept looking at Abe and saying “he is the image of his big brother!”.
It turned out there was nothing serious ( apparently the chances of a haemorrhage third pregnancy is quite high) , just a case of the placenta detaching too early because of the very fast delivery in the end.
And that was that.
My last encounter with childbirth and an incredible one to end on.
My first birth was long, my second I delivered an almost 10lb baby in the posterior position.
So in comparison, although I felt moments of self doubt this time around, I stayed quiet and calm and can safely say that it was an amazing experience,
God is good.
Some resources I found helpful, but please know I had no specific structure other than relying on my maternal/primal instinct.
You will find your own sweet way and have to believe in yourself. But also remain open to change- if you need intervention then breathe deep and go with it. The safe arrival of babies, for me, is key.