Birth Story Of The Week – Kharmel and Minnie

I have total OCD…I write lists of lists and had an excel spreadsheet of everything I thought I needed for the birth of baby G (I can’t really remember where this moniker came from) I also Google everything…Pregnancy and birthing has taught me that regardless of how many colour coordinated excel docs you make, how many google searches, books you read, classes you attend etc – you are never truly prepared for what happens next. And by next I mean labour.
Our pregnancy was planned… I had tried to time it so that I would get preggo at Burning man because I naively thought it was as easy as that.  Mother nature thwarted me and I spent the whole week on my period, fat and bloated constantly freaking out about how a tampon was going to look with my outfit du jour (basically no clothes – goggle it!) So  back to London and back to business. Anyway long story short, I realised I was pregnant one night four months later whilst eating half a Spanish omelette in bed at 3am with ketchup. (I was about two days pregnant and googled pregnancy symptoms that night!  )
I had a pretty ‘okay’ pregnancy if you can call it that. I had hypermesis (I googled this, but didn’t think I had it until I was rushed to A & E and placed on an Iv drip for two days) but other than that was pretty smooth sailing – no cravings, no stretch marks : ) and no piles!
I knew pretty much from the beginning that I had wanted a home birth. I hate hospitals. I don’t really know why as I had never had any kind of surgery or had to spend a night in hospital until my Hyperemis and the food wasn’t all that bad! I went to a home birth class run by my local midwives which was really informative and not so hippy dippy as I thought it was going to be. There were lots of ‘normal’ reasons for wanting a home birth from women who had chosen to do so because they hadn’t had a great experience in hospitals with their first births, wanting more control over their births etc. I  was thinking how wonderful it would be to have a baby and then shut the door, shut the blinds and crawl into bed with our baby. Just the three of us. No hospital noise. No hospital lights. It was here that I first heard about Hypnobirthing and made a note to google it some more!!!
A few weeks later we met with an absolutely wonderful woman called Karen Mander who ran a two hour session that my and my boyf went to. He fell asleep. I thought it would be a crazy ‘alternative’ woman who had probably never had children herself, getting you to listen to whale music. Instead, we had an honest open discussion about how labour actually happens and the physical aspect of what is happening at each stage and what you can do to have a birth that is more calm by taking control of your body. This was the best money spent during my whole pregnancy (apart from a preggo massage at Space NK)
So I get to my due date and fancy sushi… I Google to see if sushi can really be that bad for you this late in pregnancy. Jury was out but I didn’t care at this point and drove to get California crab rolls and a beer. No sign of baby. I spend the next two days googling ‘how do I know if I’m in labour.’ Retrospective word of advice – when you are, you know. If you have to google it chances are you ain’t!! I google image what a mucus plug looks like (gross) google whether raspberry leaf tea/ acupuncture/ reflexology work. Google how accurate due dates are. Google how many women go into labour on their due date. Goggle is now my enemy. I’m bored.
Cut to two days later and I am definitely having contractions. They start on Sunday and hurt. But they don’t hurt hurt so I lounge about and think now is probably a good time to put on my hypnobirthing CD (damn why hadn’t I done this 4 months ago!). The midwife comes and attempts a sweep but I’m not having any of it. I go to bed and manage to get some sleep and eat a lot of shit – Nik Naks, Minstrels and some weird new Lucozade. My Dad comes over and I try to pretend that I’m not having contractions whilst trying to log them on my contraction timer app. It’s shit.
The next morning I’m definitely in labour, I’ve definitely seen my mucus plug (still gross) I text my midwife and curl up in bed, occasionally moving on to my birthing ball and then back into bed. Boyf starts filling the pool up at around 4pm and I get in without a midwife as I’ve decided I’ve had enough. The pool is amaaaaaaaaaazing. The hot water makes me feel relaxed and seems to take the pressure off. Then the gas and air arrives (with two more midwives and a student midwife) I have my diptique burning and fleetwood Mac on what seems to be repeat but maybe not. Anyway the gas and air is a dream and everything for the next three hours becomes a magical blur. I just remember floating around and generally feeling very euphoric. Oh and trying to eat a digestive biscuit at some point only to spit it back into my boyfriend’s face. Nice. I ask a few times how much longer, but not because the pain is unbearable… at this point I just want to meet my baby and see what he or she looks like.
Then I get to 9cms dilated and things change. I want to push. I tell the midwife and I think I start to try to push. Then I hear them all talking but can’t really work out what they’re saying. I didn’t know this at the time, but baby’s heartbeat keeps dropping with every contraction. They say that they are going to take me to hospital just to make sure everything’s okay. I was still high on gas and air so don’t really remember much of this part other than not wanting to get dressed to get in an ambulance. And not having a proper hospital bag packed as I was adamant I wasn’t ever going to have to go to hospital.
We get to the hospital and they quickly work out that the cord is firmly wrapped around the baby’s neck. I was going to need an emergency c section. Now, I’ve not had any surgery not even a tooth out but at this point I’m still super high on gas and air and don’t really care what they’re doing to me. I remember the radio playing and everyone being really nice and talking to me… I sign some papers and kind of remember talking about this bit in the NCT class. I’m awake but definitely too high to have any kind of freak out which I MOST DEFINITELY would have had, had I not been on gas and air.
Then she was out. Very quickly. There was a moment of silence and my boyfriend was definitely worried but I knew that all was going to be okay. And then a teeny tiny cry. We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl and I remember Adam saying it was a girl and placing her on my chest. I was super spaced out of it but remember looking at her and thinking she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and fuck me she had a lot of hair!!
I would never have opted for a c section in a million years and it definitely wasn’t the greatest experience I’ve ever had but the hospital were amazing and I think that my home birth (while it lasted) was the most beautiful and magical thing I could wish for. As I write this 7 weeks later, and reflect, I now know that I would have always had to have a c section due to the cord tie,  but I would do it all again in exactly the same way. My midwives were the most wonderful women I could have asked for. It was their quick decision and knowledge that something wasn’t quite right,, that prevented things from going horribly wrong. Yes I now have a bumpy scar, and surgery and hospitals still scare me, but I’m happy that I attempted to give birth at home and got to enjoy 5 hours of labour at home.
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Minnie Rose Gravett was born at 10.21pm on Monday 29th September and weighed 6.6lbs. She’s a dream. And I still Google everything, although I have no time for Excel docs anymore!

Birth Story Of The Week – Emma and Orla

This beautifully written birth story comes from Emma. Emma and I met when we were at Sixth Form studying for our A-Levels. Emma was always a dreamer, travelled, did amazing things in amazing parts of the world. She was one of those friends on Facebook who had the most incredible photos, you just ached to be doing what she was doing instead of being stuck in the cold British Winters. Then one Christmas eve I had a call from Emma asking if she could take Paracetamol for a cold…… because she was pregnant! I was so thrilled, my first friend in our school group to become a Mama! Emma shares her story with you all, it makes me cry every time I read it. Enjoy.

Emma and Orla

Emma and Orla

‘I’ve just been into your room to check on you sleeping before I go to bed myself. It’s 10:30pm and you’re sideways in your cot, tangled in your blankets. I still catch my breath every night when I do this; and then I hear your shallow breathing and I can feel your chest rising and falling. When you were first born I was in a state of perpetual anxiety, scared that at any point you would just decide to stop breathing.

I still feel like I’ve just had a baby, but I’m starting to think about your 1st birthday party and what to do. I try and remember your birth and some parts are still so present in my memory yet some have faded or were never there due to being exhausted or drugged up.

I remember tiptoeing into the spare bedroom, my Tens machine wired up to my lower back and onto my upper buttocks. The vibrations humming away, reassuringly helpful. My Mum was staying and I woke her up. The contractions were only every 7 minutes or so but I wanted her to know and I thought, I can do this. I went back to bed. This went on the next night too, each night starting around 2am and easing off around 7am. I had a midwife appointment pre-booked the next day and so we went. I had a membrane sweep, “to get things going”. Then there were the crescendo of contractions, one after the other, as if a marching band were on its way through my entire body.

I walked down my road to Sainsburys, I bent over in the customer toilets, outside against lamp posts and in the Indian takeaway restaurant where the man said, “Shouldn’t you be in a hospital?” My boyfriend Tom came home and I thought, “Ok, this is it”. The drive to hospital was uncomfortable, least of all because I was giving the directions. We arrived, and I was admitted. I was 4cm dilated but they needed to get my room ready so we walked around the hospital. I held Toms hand. My mum rang the family. My Tens machine buzzed away.

Inside the hospital again my birthing pool was ready and my pregnancy yoga music was playing. I got into the water and wallowed like a hippo. I relaxed. Too much. I started quoting lines from the Life Of Brian. Tom and mum exchanged concerned looks. My contractions stopped.

A new midwife started her shift, along with a trainee midwife who had an annoyingly deep voice. I lost my concentration. The midwife examined me and gave me another membrane sweep. This time it was agony. The gas and air I sucked on only made me tired. My knees were now knocking together. I could barely stand. I cried. Tom held my hand and my mother pressed and lifted my lower back during each and every contraction helping to relieve the weight, the pain.

Now my memory is hazy and I see parts of the process which aren’t necessarily in order and it spans hours, where every contraction, every few minutes was exhausting. I remember trying to go to the loo and being unable to sit and needing help from Tom. Bending over a ball and saying, “I’m too tired, I don’t have the energy any more . Tom then asking for some drugs and me telling the midwife “I want everything”. Then I remember waiting.

Then finally, being wheeled down the hall to the other ward and given Pethidine which allowed instant pain relief. Respite from the contractions was amazing. I was laid on my side and asked to tell the Anaesthetist when I was having a contraction for the epidural. Then, beautiful numbness. I saw my contractions on a screen. We waited. Tom laid out a place to nap and I slept. I must have slowly come round. I listened to my mum and Tom talk to the midwife, to the new playlist of “Relaxtion” music which I still listen to during sleep.

Then I said “I think I need to poo, or push”. And so I did. Even though I still wasn’t fully dilated. This went on for 20 minutes, with my legs nearly up by my ears. My body a contortion. I should have been in the water of course, squatting. This wasn’t my birth plan. I was lying on my back, trying to push, exactly the way I hadn’t wanted it. Yet I pushed, not knowing how hard or if it was good enough, just numbly pushing until my face went purple. Finally, a head could be seen, I was told to bear down, to push harder, to take another big breath, I was doing well, a snip by the midwife and out she finally came.

After 14 hours, my beautiful girl was born, at 03:37 on the 28th August 2012. She came straight into my arms and Tom cut the umbilical cord. I cried, never having known how such a feeling could be brought into your life in one second. She was perfect, healthy, weighing 7lbs 9.5oz.

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Suddenly I was a mummy, and I’m still getting used to it. She slept soundly the first night beside me in hospital in her glass box. I checked on her every 10 minutes despite the tiredness, to see if she was ok. I sat in my hospital bed, next to her, practising saying her name. Having only been decided when Tom had first held her and the midwife had asked “So, what’s she called?” And I looked at him, hoping he’d come round to the one I’d wanted. After what he’d seen me go through I must have convinced him as he then said “I think she looks like Orla”. Me too, I said. And that was that.’

 

Birth Story of The Week – Katie and Chubs

How is it Monday already? And where has the sun gone? Well here is another lovely birth story from a very special friend to brighten up your day. Katie and I met on the first day at uni when we were training to be midwives 10 years ago. Wow that seems really weird. Little old me from London venturing out on this new life in Bristol to become a midwife. I remember seeing Katie and admiring her tan (she had just been travelling in Australia) and we became friends from that day on, living together in our final year. Katie has recently become a Mummy to little Chubs and here is her story.

Blog: Chubs and Love

Twitter: midwifebrown

I think it’s been long enough now that my memory has faded enough to give me the rose-tinted glasses when I look back on it all. In fact, I’m thinking about the next one – it wasn’t that bad, I’ll have a home birth next time!!I was convinced I was going to be early with Chubs, all my friends who had had babies recently had delivered at 38/39 weeks so I definitely would too, of course! But, 38 weeks then 39 weeks passed me by and I reached my due date with no signs. Nothing at all.

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Due date bump

I spent the day making curtains for the nursery with my mum to occupy myself and prepared myself for my ‘new’ due date of T+12 when I’d be induced.Nine days later, on a Sunday evening, the day before my boyfriend was supposed to start his new job, I started feeling a bit uncomfortable. I warned him he might not be going and concentrated on cooking a roast dinner. (I had already polyfiller’d holes in the dining room and done a big supermarket shop that day!) About 9pm I took some paracetamol and sent Boyfriend to bed to get some rest as I had a feeling it was going to be a long night. I had a bath and started using my Natal Hypnotherapy breathing techniques but it was too much.

At 1am we went on in to the hospital. I was slightly disappointed to find I was 3cm, I should be more, surely?! Although bearing in mind I had been unable to have a sweep 3 days before, it wasn’t so bad.I was left in the quiet, dark room for a couple of hours before getting in the pool. Ohhh the lovely, lovely pool. It was so warm and quiet and just wonderful. I relaxed a little too much though and my contractions died off. By this time it was 6am and I was so tired. My hypnotherapy breathing just wasn’t cutting it any more and the gas and air just made me feel weird. I decided to have an epidural to allow me to get some sleep.

As the contractions had sodded off and I’d only managed to get myself to 5cm I was also put on the hormone drip syntocinon to give my body a bit of a kick up the arse. I spent the day dozing, eating toast and chatting with Boyfriend and various colleagues who popped in to say hello. My epidural was awesome, I couldn’t feel any of the pain, but could move my legs about easily.

By the afternoon I was feeling really strong pressure and felt I needed to push. I might have been a bit crap at labour, but pushing I loved! I was determined to give it some welly. I remember saying to my midwife ‘they lie to you at uni, babies come out of your bum, I know they do, I can feel it!’ It was hard work, but felt good to be productive and doing something finally.38 minutes later, at 16.08 my beautiful, perfect, squashed little Chubs arrived and my life began.

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