Birth Story Of The Week – Jo and Alfred

FullSizeRender

I was 23 when I found out I was pregnant, 24 when I had him, and though my boyfriend (now husband) and I had talked about it and both wanted a baby I always felt that I was viewed as too young, one midwife even called me a baby, and so I avoided ante-natal classes until quite late on. At 8 months pregnant having not thought about a birth plan I went to a couple of yoga and hypnobirth classes.

I loved them but once it came to B-Day everything I had learnt went out the window. I was terrified, totally unsure what actual labour was and found it all overwhelming.

At 3am on 26th March after an evening of mild but regular cramping I went to the loo and found I was bleeding. In hind sight it wasn’t much at all but I panicked and made my boyfriend call the hospital and tell them we were coming. I was unsurprisingly sent home. Then at 9am whilst in the shower I felt my waters go. It wasn’t very much at all and my contractions were still nothing to write home about but again we went in. By the time we got there I was in more pain but was only 2cm dilated and sent to walk around a bit. At this point I growled (husband says it was more of a moo) to take me home as I didn’t want anyone to see me. I now think that this is the point that my maternal instinct had kicked in and I knew I needed to be alone with my contractions. We stayed at home, in the bath until my contractions were almost on top of each other. At home was the calmest and most in control I felt in my whole labour. We left for the hospital and I barely remember the drive there. When we arrived at 2pm I was only 4 cm and gutted. It turned out baby was back to back and when I heard this, having never heard it before I was totally freaked out and immediately doubted my ability. I had gas and air for a bit whilst begging for an epidural between breaths. My husband gently reminded me that I desperately didn’t want an epidural but I ignored him and past me. To this day it is still a regret.

Despite the fact that the epidural allowed me to rest and calm down I spent the rest of the labour feeling nothing. Nothing at all. I pushed numb and painlessly, feeling totally useless and just listening to the midwives’ (who were all lovely) instructions. When they told me he was crowning I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t ready for him. It wasn’t the experience I had wanted and it felt like a total blur.

When he arrived at 11.36pm on 26th March I felt a bizarre mixture of sheer joy and total confusion. Who did this? Where did he come from?!

We stayed at hospital for another 12 hours which I hated. All I wanted to do was go home and be with my family. I hated my husband having to leave, nobody checked to see if he latched on properly once I was on the ward (lucky he was a star but I didn’t know that till my home visit!) I even got up to go to the loo and blood and waters went everywhere, something I had no idea would happen. Again it all felt totally alien and scary and I just wanted to go home and be with my husband.

I know so many labours can be a lot worse than mine physically and I feel so lucky we were both well and healthy but I felt and still feel so emotionally disconnected from it. Sometimes I wonder (despite the back to back thing) if I had just stayed at home would I have felt more empowered? More in control in my body?

Despite my husbands concerns I am looking very seriously into a hypnobirth home birth as an option this time. I want more than anything to be in control and comfortable with my surroundings. I also don’t want to be scared like last time.

p.s

I just read my email back and wanted to add that despite sounding positively NOT positive, for me it was positive in the sense that it made me realise how important it is to understand how your body works and to really trust your instincts. I think if I had done that it would have been very different for me and I wouldn’t have been so scared and disconnected.

Also, look at the little 9lb 6oz star I got to take home with me! Worth all the pain and more!

image (21)

Follow Jo on Instagram @joannakays and over at her blog mamajolene.wordpress.com

Birth Story Of The Week – Nikki and Emmy

Todays birth story comes from Nikki who blogs all about life with her daughter over at quietcontentment.wordpress.com. Here she shares how her induction and medical intervention led to her dream water birth going out of the window.

nikki

”So where should I start? Perhaps at my 34 week appointment, where the Birth Centre agreed to take me as long as I kept trying to increase my iron levels. Iron levels had been a problem since the start of my pregnancy. I’d already resumed eating meat after a few years as a vegetarian, and at this point I started taking liquid supplements too. I hadn’t really enjoyed being pregnant, and arranging to give birth at a Midwife-Led Unit seemed like it would be a lovely end to it. We had a tour and we fell in love with it – especially the fact my husband could stay overnight with us in a comfy double bed. I hoped to have a water birth with as little intervention as possible – gas and air, with lots of moving around. This was encouraged by the midwives who ran the centre. Assuming the pregnancy was straightforward, the only definite thing that see you transferred from the MLU to the labour ward was induction. 

By the time I got to 41 weeks, I realised I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go for. My hips were causing me a lot of pain, I was barely sleeping and couldn’t move far. At my appointment on the Tuesday at 41+1, they attempted a stretch and sweep, but swiftly abandoned it because it to was too painful and my cervix was still completely closed. With a sinking feeling we discussed induction before the weekend. We asked for Friday, but they only had Thursday or Monday available, so rather than face several more days of discomfort and uncertainty, we chose the former. I left the hospital determined to bounce on my ball and move around as much as possible to get the baby moving. On Wednesday night I finally nested, cleaning the house and tackling the huge pile go ironing that needed doing. I kept hoping to feel something but nothing was happening. We went to bed early, apprehensive and excited about the next day.

The beginning of the induction was pretty straight forward. We went in for 8am, dragging all our bags with us. We’d been told to come in as if I was in labour, and led to believe we wouldn’t be leaving until we had a baby to go home with. I was put on the monitor for half an hour to get a base line, then after a quick internal, I had the pessary inserted (why do those things have so many sharp edges?!) and was left on the monitor for another half hour. The midwife came over and admonished me for not eating enough for breakfast and came back with biscuits for me to eat, before running over potential side effects with us. Then, to our surprise, they told us to go home and wait things out, returning when I got to the mythical 3 in 10 or at 6pm that evening, whichever came first. I was told we could hang about the hospital if we wanted, but that going home to bed would probably make more sense, so that’s what we did. We left with more biscuits and the elastic straps used for monitoring (they told us to hang on to them!).

I was knackered and decided to have a nap when we got home. I could already feel things twinging a bit, but there didn’t seem to be any real beginning or end to the contractions and they weren’t even hurting enough for me to class as contractions. I had something to eat, and then tried to nap some more, before realising that these were starting to feel more like the waves of contractions I was expecting, but that there was very little let down. I could still speak through them and they were painful, but nothing as bad as I had expected. At about 4pm I rang the hospital for advice and was told to come straight back in as it sounded like I had reacted badly to the Propess and was hyper-stimulating. They had warned us this might happen – it’s when you experience continual contractions that aren’t anywhere near the intensity needed to push the baby out.

When we got there, I was whisked off to an exam room, where I produced the elastic straps for the monitor, and was hooked up again. I was then given an internal which led to furrowed brows and a more senior midwife repeating it. I didn’t hear what was said, but my husband did – my cervix was now opening, but they thought they could feel the baby’s nose through it. I was sent up to the labour ward, where I was put back on the monitor. After a while the door opened and the consultant obstetrician and several other doctors came in with a portable monitor. I was told they suspected face presentation, in which case I would need an immediate c-section, but not to worry as face presentations were ‘as rare as hen’s teeth’. The scan showed it was not a nose, and indeed they couldn’t see anything. They guessed it might have been an ear, and all bustled out again leaving me on the monitor. I spent the rest of the evening hooked up, with the contractions getting more and more defined, and more painful. At about 11pm I was transferred down to the ward and my husband was sent home.

I managed fitful sleep for a few hours until about 4am when I woke needing the loo. I sat up and suddenly realised I didn’t need the loo – my waters went in a fairly big rush. I called the midwife who got me a clean gown and changed the bed then removed the Propess. Those sharp edges hurt more coming out then going in. Much more. My waters breaking led to a real ramping up of the contractions, and they became pretty unbearable, pretty fast. I asked for pain relief and was given some gas and air about half seven, but before that I was contracting alone, with no pain relief in a darkened ward, trying not to wake the other women up. This was probably the worst bit of my labour – I was scared, and alone, and desperately wanted some support.

Once I was allowed some gas and air it got a bit easier. I didn’t find it helped the pain, but the wooziness allowed me to concentrate on something else. About 9am I was moved up to the labour ward, and I started asking for an epidural. I was so tired and in so much pain, and I didn’t think I would be able to carry on for much longer. I was told that before I could have one, I needed to lie on the bed, on my back for 15 minutes for monitoring. I refused point blank to do this, knowing that that was the position my contractions were the worst in. They finally agreed to let me stand, leaning over the bed for monitoring, and called the anaesthetist. James was allowed in just as they were prepping me for the epidural, and him and the assistant anaesthetist held me still whilst it was sited. I felt awful for being so stroppy over it, but the idea of lying down for 15 minutes was utterly terrifying.

The relief was almost instantaneous. I was able to nap a bit and get some rest, which was sorely needed. Unfortunately, the epidural also slowed my contractions right down, so at midday I went on to the Syntocin drip. The afternoon passed in a haze of napping, eating Percy Pigs, topping up the epidural and a gradual ramping up of the drip. The contractions were coming regularly but weren’t increasing in intensity. A couple of internals were done, and I didn’t seem to be dilating much. Baby was doing fine but I was getting tired, and it was decided that we’d give it until 6pm, then a decision would be made as to next steps. 

The whole time this was going on we were listening to the heart monitor, which was reassuring, but if I moved around too much it slipped and we had to get someone to come back and re-site it, which was stressful – especially because the monitoring bands itched an unholy amount! Every 90 minutes to 2 hours the epidural was topped up just to keep the pain managed, but other than that there was nothing much anyone did.

At 4pm we got a new midwife. She did a quick internal showing I had dilated a bit more, but still not enough. She checked the Syntocin drip and suggested that the valve on it might have been set incorrectly, which would explain why the increasing doses weren’t causing more contractions, but no-one ever confirmed whether this had been the case. We chatted and she did some paperwork, and before long, the deadline of 6pm had arrived. The epidural was topped up in preparation for the internal, and I don’t think anyone was more surprised than her to find out I had finally got to full dilation! For reasons I don’t fully understand, she said we would give it an hour then start pushing. The epidural was tapered slightly to allow me a bit more feeling, and then we started. We kind of thought that the pushing bit would be fairly quick, so I was surprised when she said they’d review the situation after I’d been pushing for two hours. I was thinking I’d be holding my baby by 8pm at the latest!

We tried many different positions, using a stool, using the bed, squatting, lying down, on all fours…but nothing was happening. At 8pm we got another new midwife. She was pretty brusque, and seem determined to get the baby out, but it wasn’t happening. At 9pm a doctor was called in, and it was decided that I was going to need some help, but the monitoring was showing that despite her being pretty much wedged in the birth canal, she was doing fine, with the steadiest heart rate we could ask for. Because of this, they prioritised another mum whose baby was in a little distress, and promised to be back as soon as they could. The midwife decided that we were going to get this baby out in the meantime, and I tried my hardest, but by this point I was getting exhausted and was tearful, convinced I couldn’t do it. During this time, an incubator was brought in, and at half nine, the doors opened and quickly the room filled with people. It all started to get very hectic and I was put in to position on the bed, legs up in stirrups, and they explained they were going to use ventouse to get the baby out, along with an epistiostomy. The epidural was topped up, and there was a lot of pulling and prodding. I could feel the cup being attached, and then the monitors were watched, waiting for my next contraction.

I don’t remember how many pushes it took. I do remember being shocked at the violence of it. NCT classes had led me to believe it was a gentle procedure, using the suction to help the baby out. My husband described it as basically a tug of war. Suddenly I felt her come out and saw her briefly as the cord was cut. I didn’t hear her cry, and couldn’t see her, and I was so worried something was wrong. James could see her moving and knew she was okay, but in the commotion neither of us could communicate to each other, and it seemed like an age before she made a noise. Then she was brought over to me, this squinty little baby, frowning at everyone and all I could think was how perfect she looked.

The next few hours are blurry. Emmy was born at 9.45pm and I know I was stitched up, that we spoke to our parents, that I got the fabled tea and toast, that I cuddled her. Apparently I fed her, but I don’t remember this. The next thing I remember is about 2am, the midwife asking if I wanted a shower. She gave James the baby, then left so that I could go shower. I got up and went in to the bathroom, and promptly fell over. James called a midwife, who came in, hit the alarm, and once again the room filled up. I was helped in to a wheelchair, whilst my bed was remade, and I was put in a fresh gown, and out back to bed with more tea and toast, and told to get some sleep. Me passing out was out down to a combination of exhaustion, blood loss, and little food and sleep for 48 hours. James spent a couple of hours cuddling our baby girl whilst I slept. When I woke up, they said I’d soon be moved down to the ward so he was sent home. I changed her for the first time on the ward and, in the morning she was given a BCG injection (which is normal for West London). James came back in around midday and we left the hospital about 18 hours after her birth. She didn’t have much swelling from the ventouse cup, but there was a huge open sore and a big bruise from it, which looked so painful for her.

nikki and emmy 2nikki and emmy
Without being a C-section, Emmy’s birth was about as far from what I wanted as possible. I know people say that all that matters is that we are both here and both healthy, and to a point I agree, but I think it’s affected me a lot more than I realised at the time. We didn’t get to delay the cord clamping, I didn’t get to have immediate skin to skin, I didn’t get a water birth. I do have a wonderful, amazing daughter, and I am healthy, but if I think too much about her actual birth and the immediate moments after, I just remember how scared I was, which isn’t exactly the memory I wanted from my birth. Hopefully in time this will fade, and I’ll just remember how perfect she looked when she was handed to me.”

Nicola with Elizabeth and Alexandra

In celebration of Mother’s Day over here in the UK, I bring you this amazingly empowering story from Nicola. Nicola who lives in Denmark got in touch only a few days after she birthed her second baby! Impressive stuff. Nicola was so traumatised from her first birth that she was left feeling like a failure as a woman and mother. But this only made her more determined to change a negative experience into a positive, and under two years later Nicola birthed her second baby her way, the right way. Here she shares her story.

Dear Clemmie,

I started reading your blog about 10 months ago while researching ‘gas and air’: I live in Denmark where I’ve now given birth twice, and as my local hospital had stopped offering gas and air for pain relief, I was doing some research… since then, I’ve been hooked & find the stories and posts incredibly inspiring.

The reason I’d like to share my birth story is to offer encouragement to women who have had traumatic experiences but want to have children again; needing to face a fear of childbirth. I had a horrendous time giving birth to my firstborn, but have just had a truly positive second childbirth experience at home which I hope would give these mothers something positive to ponder.

“After a previous early miscarriage I was overjoyed to be pregnant with a healthy baby 5 months later and when labour day arrived at 40+3 I was in excellent form (I am a marathon-runner, cross-fit fanatic & much more!). The pregnancy had been fine, although we saw 4 different midwives over our 5 appointments. Things started to go wrong when we arrived at the hospital that was too busy to admit me despite being 4cm. I was given drugs to stall the labour, reacted badly to the pills, was a day later given morphine without proper explanation and began throwing up with each contraction. This continued for 4 hours alone in a side room: I was dehydrated and still stuck at 4cm. This wasn’t the labour I’d envisaged, where I would be respected, informed and able to let my body do its job! Once a midwife was finally assigned to us she broke the waters and put in an epidural and IV. I was soon 8cm so she reduced the epidural as I laboured & vomited, waiting to push.

My husband helped me out of bed to stand for the pushing: for over 2 hours with a hormone drip before the baby finally came out. I was ill, exhausted, dehydrated, my throat burned from vomiting and I am sure I only got through naturally thanks to my high fitness level. Two days after regular contractions had started, my daughter was born.

Beyond relief that the ordeal was over, I felt like an absolute failure. It took me months before I could replay any part of the experience without breaking down, and even longer to stop blaming myself. I believed I had failed at becoming a mother; that I was weak not to question the drugs being given. However, I did receive written advice from the chief midwife that she would recommend not birthing there again… and this is where my story moves from despondency to hope!

9 months after my daughter was born I was pregnant again with a mixture of trepidation and joy! I went to get my papers and was asked by my doctor how things had been ‘last time’. The floodgates opened and she was a super-star: immediately changing me to a different hospital and signing me up for a special midwife dealing with women who’ve had difficult first births. This time, we saw the same midwife at each antenatal appointment and were given tasks to discuss between times, such as ‘for each thing that went wrong, what can you do this time to try to prevent a recurrence?’ Seeing the same midwife each time also meant that the antenatal appointments were more than just a physical health-check: we built a relationship and felt cared-for.

During the early months I realised my preferred option was a home birth. I would be in control, a midwife would be assigned to us for the whole labour, and above all – no drugs would be allowed! Not even gas and air at a home birth here. We also wouldn’t need to travel to hospital, and they couldn’t be ‘too busy’ because home births take priority. It was an all-round winner.

So, three days ago I gave birth! And wow: what a change of experience. I feel healed, whole and that I am indeed a capable mother after all. The baby was 8 days overdue and we were staring down the barrel of a medical inducement, ruining all our homebirth and drug-free plans. In a last-minute avoidance attempt we went to 3 hours of reflexology and rebozo (I have all my money on the rebozo being the golden answer!), came home and did more rebozo on the floor, went to bed, had sex and then I started nipple stimulation.

Within an hour I was having period pains, so ramped up the stimulation. Two contractions came & I tried to recall some hypno-birthing mantras, but they were lost on me. Third contraction made me roll onto all fours on the bed & my husband started timing them, even though I laughed that he thought anything could be happening given that last time took 2 days! I was convinced by my breathing that these were 20 second false alarms, but they were actually 50 seconds every 3 minutes from the word go, and hitting me deep down in the pelvis.

Half an hour later he called the labour ward to say ‘something’s happening but she thinks it’s a false alarm.’ … And one hour later he called to tell them to send someone right now. The interesting thing is that I still thought it was a false alarm, no one should do anything, and OH MY WORD how could another contraction have come so quickly?! Denial…

I was still on the bed, swaying in a pear shape for the contractions then resting forward. I was getting 6 sways in to start, but was now regularly making 10 or 12 circles to get through. Some contractions hit harder than others, sometimes I moaned like a cow into the pillow, but at no point did I think it was inescapable. I was desperate for the midwife NOT to arrive so she couldn’t tell me I was 4cm, devastate me & make me ask to go to hospital for pain relief.

Fortunately my husband was a little more aware of what was going on & had already filled the pool. The midwife arrived after 40 minutes to hear me moo-ing for over a minute. She looked like an angel dressed in white in my bedroom door & asked ‘why’ I wanted to go to hospital? I told her I didn’t feel well & if this is 4cm “what about the rest”? She smiled, told me to get straight in the pool or I wouldn’t be going anywhere because I was fully dilated and she needed to unpack her bag. Seriously!

I hopped into the pool with some kind of new energy, leaned forward & pushed a little at the top of the contractions. Twice. I called over to ask whether I was actually allowed to push and she replied ‘yes, if you want to’ in a very non-committal manner while continuing to unpack. Third push and I bit the wooden spoon like I’d break it, started screaming ‘HELP MEEEE!’ into my husband’s neck and was convinced I was about to die: I’d felt three separate things ‘pop’ between my legs during a good 2-minutes of contraction and had NO idea what they were – internal organs? Why wouldn’t anyone say what they were?! Why would neither of them help me?! And why was she still unpacking her bag on the other side of the room?!

As the wave subsided I heard them telling me to stop screaming, my husband whispering with relief that ‘we’ve got a baby! We’ve got a baby!’ and a massive, plaintive cry from the baby who was in the midwife’s calm, capable hands behind me. Those 3 things weren’t my internal organs busting out; it was the waters, the head and the body all in one fell swoop!

You can see from the photo: I could not stop smiling! I had done this amazing thing, all by myself! I had proven that our bodies, as women, are capable of labour and birth when allowed. I had proven that last time didn’t need to be like that, but that it didn’t need to overshadow what would come in the future. I had proven the stupid hospital wrong! I had shown that HOPE can be built from your worst dread.

I write this with my new baby asleep next to me, and my daughter snoozing in the other room. I feel well, I feel proud, I feel whole. I feel the absolute opposite of the failure of a mother from last time.

I want to tell women who’ve had bad experiences: next time doesn’t have to be like that. The single biggest thing you can do is identify 3 extremely specific things that went wrong, and what exactly you can do in your own control to prevent that next time. Perhaps you need more pain relief, perhaps less. Perhaps you need someone with you who will take control and ask questions; perhaps you need a note to take to the hospital with you to explain why you’re scared. But don’t let it stop you fulfilling your dream of another child: we have 9 months to positively challenge our thoughts to create a better experience. To believe it can be better and different. And whatever happens, remember that you are a full woman & a success just for giving birth, however it happened. No one can ever take that from you: you are wonderful!

Nic & Elizabeth after 2 days of labour Healing with Alexandra Happy family the morning after the birth

Birth Story Of The Week – Bethie and Peter

Today’s birth story is a pretty fresh one, as this baby was only born 9 days ago! Very impressive Bethie! Bethie is an American living in London with her husband and little girl Charlotte and new baby Peter. Her first baby was born in Washington 3 years ago.

Blog: A Tree Grows In London

Instagram: bethielethie

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

“After a few false starts in the days leading up to the big day, my contractions started for real around 3pm on Thursday 24 January (I was exactly 39 weeks). Things progressed quickly from there: by 4pm my husband was on his way home from work and I made arrangements for my three-year-old daughter to be picked up to stay at a friend’s house. By 6pm my waters had broken and we were ready to head to the hospital!

The cab ride to the hospital had been the source of much anxiety for me during my pregnancy. I kept imagining being stuck in traffic whilst in the throes of labour and permanently soiling our nice cab driver’s new car . . . Luckily the cab ride was fairly uneventful (aside from my moaning and groaning of course). Well, that’s not entirely true. It was uneventful until we were about two minutes from the hospital and my contractions got way more intense and felt like they were coming one after the other. The cab driver got worried and pulled straight into the emergency entrance where a wheelchair was immediately brought over to the car. My contractions were two minutes apart and already more painful than I ever remember them being with my daughter (I laboured naturally for 15 hours with her before eventually getting an epidural. You can read her birth story here). I was wheeled into Labour and Delivery and was promptly parked in the waiting room next to another woman in the throes of labour. That was the moment I started losing my visions of finally having the peaceful, midwife led water birth that I wasn’t allowed when I had my daughter (the area hospitals didn’t allow midwives). I started panicking: “I don’t want to be in the waiting room! I want to be in a birthing pool! I want to get out of this wheelchair! I want a midwife to come help me! Please! Somebody send a midwife to come help me!” Despite my pleas for help (and yet another labouring mother added to the mix) I was still in the waiting room. The pain was so intense and unbearable that I couldn’t fathom the horror of living through another contraction and yet they kept coming one after another after another.

I decided the only way I was going to make it through this delivery without being kicked out of the country for assault was to get an epidural. I told my husband that I wanted an epidural and knowing how adamant I had been about not wanting one, he responded, “we’ll see”. Not what I wanted to hear. By the time I was finally wheeled into a room I had made it my mission to request an epidural from very person I encountered. I continued to get more and more agitated about it and began to demand that someone, anyone, needed to get me an anaesthetist right away. The midwife explained that it was too late. My contractions were on top of each other and the baby was coming. I continued to panic. This wasn’t how I imagined things. There was no birthing pool or low lights or peaceful music. There was just me on a bed, the sound of my voice crying out in pain and yelling for everyone to be quiet and bright lights and lots of people hustling around the room. (Though my husband informed me after reading this part of my story that no one was “hustling “around the room and, in fact, I was the only one making any noise . . . )

Now, I’m not sure what changed, but at some point in the midst of the chaos, the anaesthetist arrived and gave me an epidural. Within ten minutes I was feeling human again. I was finally able to open my eyes and properly meet and apologise to my midwife. It was as if the storm clouds had opened up and the sun appeared. We were able to talk about the birth process and she went over my birth plan (uh . . . just ignore that bit about no epidural . . .) and then she brought Jason and me nice hot cups of tea. Jason and I chatted, snoozed and enjoyed the quiet, peaceful atmosphere until around midnight when the midwife said it was time to get ready to push.

When I gave birth to my daughter, it was a typical American scenario where the nurse gets everything ready and the doctor rushes in at the last minute to catch the baby as it comes out. As you can see our doctor even came equipped with a “splash mask” visor:image (15)

My experience with the midwife led birth was completely different to my experience in America. No additional people came into our room. It was just the midwife and my husband and me. There was nothing frantic about it. No commotion. No splash guards. Just the midwife calmly encouraging me through my pushes and my husband watching in amazement as our son came into the world — not to a screaming and swearing and a delirious mother — but to a rested, calm, peaceful, mother. Peter Thomas Hungerford was born at 00:45 on 25 Jan, 2014 and weighed exactly eight pounds.

Side note:
Now don’t get me wrong. Despite my son’s perfect entry into the world, I still regret that I was unable to have a medication-free birth. And if I am ever blessed with a third baby I will again plan a natural water birth. But given how things played out, I was overall thrilled with how amazing and beautiful my son’s birth was.

As soon as he arrived he was placed on my chest and remained there for at least an hour per my request. (The weighing, poking and prodding happened later). The baby and I were both in good shape so the midwife left the room leaving Jason and me to bond with our beautiful son. It was magical. He took beautifully to the breast and got skin-to-skin time with both Jason and me. The midwife eventually returned and brought us more tea (God save the queen!) and after another hour or so we were moved to the labour ward.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Now here I could write about how annoying it was to have to share a recovery room with three strangers and their babies when all I wanted was to go home. I had heard so many stories of women giving birth in the hospital and arriving home within a few hours and had been hopeful I could follow suite. However, I was required to stay longer than normal because I tested positive for group b strep so the labour ward was unavoidable. And despite the labour ward horror stories I had heard (including being one bed over from a woman attempting to nurse a baby who was born with teeth!) it really wasn’t so bad and we were back home within 24 hours of arriving at the hospital.

In America we were required to spend three days at the hospital after the birth of our daughter (despite having had a completely normal birth) and were extremely anxious to bring her home. Jason and I were both thrilled to be home so soon this time around and we’ve been so impressed that a midwife comes to our house to check up on baby and me.

We are happily adjusting to being a family of four and big sister Charlotte couldn’t be more pleased with new new brother!”

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Birth Story Of The Week – Helen and Alba

This weeks birth story comes from Helen founder of Lionheart magazine and new Mama to Alba born in September.

image (6)

“It started with a gentle jolt at 5am. It was the tightening combined with twinges that I had been waiting 13 days for. 13 days is a long time when you know something life changing is going to happen, maybe-possibly-imminently. Of course like many expectant mothers, I didn’t know exactly how the process would go, but I was ready. I’d done the classes, eaten the cake, said goodbye to the colleagues and stretched like a pregnant yoga cat. Gosh, you and everyone you know are so darn excited for you when you hit that golden due date. So ready, ready, ready to meet this little baby. A day is fine, so is a week, but the golden due days start to shine less when 13 of them pass and nothing happens. That ‘imminence’ you felt at your fingertips you realise, wasn’t there at all. It’s actually over yonder up that mountain, laughing on a cloud.

Needles stuck in me. ‘Acupuncture has triggered labour that evening for some ladies’. Raspberry leaf tea with pineapple chasers, fire curry for starters and sad movies for dessert. Chocolate baths and marathon walks. The entire first season of Orange is the New Black. Surrounding myself with newborns due after my own. Baby being monitored. Stretch and sweep times three. ‘They do tend to come when they’re ready,’ on repeat. Our induction was booked for day 14 and the poppet; oh treasure my love, made her first gentle movements to leave her haven on this, day 13.

I wasn’t scared of birth, just intrigued and thrilled at the prospect of meeting our baby. I’d also heard and read some amazing, positive birth stories. That’s why I had opted for a home birth. We had everything ready for our glorious birth at home; the pool, lots of white towels, snickers bars, tea and biscuits for the midwives, candles ready for the light and flowers on the mantelpiece. All the taps were also shiny clean thanks to my incessant cleaning – a necessity – and the cats groomed. However time continued to pass on day 13. During the slow but exciting passing of the hours, we went for coffee, ate good food and wandered around. All the while, my contractions were every nine to 10 minutes apart.

By the evening, I felt they had really intensified and were every five minutes apart, so I rang the hospital to see if a community midwife might be able to pop in. Maybe we would meet our baby tonight? Nope. Not strong enough or regular enough. ‘Go and get some rest,’ said the voice at the end of the phone. I sort of knew this would be the case, but didn’t want to settle down for a kip. I wanted to be moving forward. It was tricky. I was convinced every minute of shuteye pulled the contractions further apart. So I had a bath and draped myself over surfaces as each contraction hit. Put on an old film and hummed a little as I paced the lounge. I told Charlie to go to bed for a bit. He slept like a giant panda until the morning sun rose and he found me walking the stairs and chatting to the cats, like they were my whiskered little birthing partners. It was Charlie’s birthday, so today had added oomph. ‘Wahhh, happy birthday, my love,’ I softly wailed.

The midwife popped in at 11am. ‘You’re 3cm’. Disastrous. How could this be? She continued: ‘I think something is stopping your progress. You should all go to the hospital, just to check everything’s OK, as baby’s now 14 days late. Then you can come home again if you’d like.’ The bag packed for this scenario, it was flung into the car and we drove down the road to the hospital. I knew I wouldn’t be leaving this destination as soon as the community midwife had said she wanted us to pop in. This was going to be where I met my baby. I think it was because of the 14 days, the 30 hours of little progress and just because something felt right and I wanted to trust my unbroken waters housing the cherub. I don’t know. I just couldn’t leave.

Rather than the monitoring, we were able to go to the midwife led unit, a luxurious hotel of birthing, complete with enormous pools, beds, floor pillows, birth balls, private bathrooms and fairy lights. An industrious blonde permed midwife met us at the reception and we waited in the lounge with Kirstie and Phil on the TV circa 1999, so they could clean the room we were aiming for. As I stared out the window complete with those cosy window spikes, to the city and hills beyond, I heard a baby cry as a lady walked past with her newborn in a car seat. Done and dusted, she was on her way home. Well done her! I thought. Now, what on earth was before me? An hour or two passed in the lounge, with Kirstie and Phil on a back-to-back extravaganza.

I needed to hear the pool filling! I needed the pool, please!

Eventually, after a true eternity of house searches, we were beckoned into our room. Calm, tranquil music and low lights greeted us. I was told that the pool is a source of pain relief, as was the gas and air, so it was best to hold out as long as possible to utilise both of them. After an initial gasp of horror, I stripped off and bounced on the birth ball while clinging on to Charlie’s belt, very quickly an imprint of the buckle soon formed on my forehead – nice. I became very attached to that buckle. Time melted and the world became deep and wide (interesting in retrospect!), focus hit me and carried me on its meditative chariot.

God, I didn’t have a care. Just this baby, just this intense, empowering experience. My entire body was being taken over with its own innate superpowers. Women are amazing. The human body is a wonder. I have a vague recollection of a junior doctor coming in with the midwife ‘to see what a normal, happy labour was like,’ as she put it. I remember agreeing for him to see our baby born, when the time came. I really was off and away, smiling from under a canopy of hormones and focus. The midwife could have told me that Wispa Golds were raining down outside and Ryan Gosling was in my birth pool and I would have simply smiled, nodded, closed my eyes and furrowed my brow. She said she thought we had completed a hypnobirth class, as I was so in the zone. I remember drinking in all the praise along with the awful Lucozade. I think it was the pregnancy yoga that zoned me. Who knows – maybe some fairy godmother made a trip to see me. Anyway, I was finally allowed in the pool – hurrah! – at 5cm.

Dear Pool, I think I forgot to tell you that I thought you were just marvelous that day. You’re so clever, comforting and…well… fluid. Such a shame it ended the way it did. However, I still talk about you with great fondness and have recommended your services to many others.

The pool. Heavenly, floating, gorgeous, brilliant pool. I loved the pool. Can you tell? However, after an hour or so, my baby did not like it in there and the squirrel’s heart rate zoomed up. So much so that I had to get out of the watery haven and lie on the bed to have my waters broken. The breaking signified change. A door opening to a hard, fierce place, it was raw and cold, Post break my hands tingled, I felt dehydrated, exhausted and actual pain really hit me for the first time. What’s more, the worst bit, I hadn’t dilated any further – the midwife said in actual fact, I’d gone down to 4cm. Added to this, the baby was stargazing, hence why everything was taking so long… and it might hurt more.

I went heavy on the gas and air. My smug little Zen space had officially exploded and I was standing in the chilly, industrial middle ground. No more fairy godmother whizzing around. The belt buckle sadly, was also now redundant. I wondered how and when I would meet this baby of ours, right at the same time I said hello to the anxiety that had quietly tip toed in. I told the new midwife how I felt, after the talked of one – the lovely one who had previously given me at A+ – went home, her shift complete. ‘You’ll have this baby tonight, don’t worry!’ she said brightly before she left to return to her warm home, roast potatoes and Sunday night telly. I smiled… but I was weak. The Drama Queen was awaking in me and with a baby labelled ‘Diva’ by all the sonographers and midwives since week five; I was worried about our combined drama potential.

The new midwife was very nice indeed. She understood my concerns. It felt like nothing phased her. After our introductions for some reason, I went on to tell her I wanted to push. She said, go on then. I pushed. It was clearly pointless, I knew it was, but I wanted movement, no idea what I expected to happen. She left, popping back every now and then. Time floated before me, like I was in the Labyrinth film’s limbo, which incidentally is a movie I find equally terrifying and excellent. It was all just… melty. I demanded Van Morrison on repeat, as I thought it would bring back my old mate Zen, but the scallywag was gone. Charlie demanded I eat. I couldn’t think of anything worse. The only thing that appealed to me was gas.

After four hours or so of new midwife time, new midwife told me that I had not progressed at all. I have no words to express how this felt. It had been 40 plus hours since that first contraction. And yes, I know I wasn’t in established labour and that only started 10 hours before or something, but… I just wanted to meet our baby. Ya know! The midwife suggested that we move things forward and go downstairs to The Drip. Or we could continue to wait, but she was concerned I was shattered, which I was. So the decision was made to pop along downstairs to the delivery suite, all jolly and bright. Previously I had in my mind that downstairs symbolised all that I didn’t desire for my baby’s birth, but instead at this point I guess it became exactly what I needed. So, as we wheeled down to the suite, knowing we had to now make this new, clinical space our sanctuary I was aware I needed to relax. I could do this before, but now I just felt so tired. So the words tumbled out of my mouth: ‘Please can I have an epidural?’’ Bleugh. Out. Better. The midwife replied that with the drip speeding up contractions, it would be wise and I would need my energy for pushing. Gosh.

The lights dimmed, just an angle poised lamp on the midwife’s notes. Bill Callahan playing softly, a view of the city’s lights. Charlie snoozing on the floor and the sweet, regular sound of our baby’s heartbeat. This was a different place, one of calm and a gathering of thoughts. This was the epidural I thought I would never have. And frankly, in some (many) ways it saved my experience of the birth of our baby, as it pulled me back to where I needed to be. It gave me rest, peace and that wonderful focus back again. I guess, a drug induced path to Zen. I told the midwife I was so sad it had come to this, I had wanted everything to be natural and she said that in no way should I feel bad about my circumstances or decisions – there were many factors involved and soon we would meet our baby and that’s what mattered. Emotion.

After a few hours of dozing and chatting (her husband works in magazines, she met him in London as a student in the 90s, they have two kids – I was interviewing) I was 10cm and ready to push. I made sure to stop the epidural switch earlier than this to hopefully feel as much as I could. I was soon instructed to puuuush with all my might, taking short breaks to take in more air. Again and again, I pushed and imagined holding my baby in my arms. I could feel the baby coming. I absolutely loved this very active part.

It took just 10 minutes for this beautiful, crying, wriggling, eyes wide-awake baby to emerge. The midwife unwrapped the cord around the baby’s neck and handed our baby to me, whereupon my body absolutely flooded me with hormones and love. I didn’t know if it would come straight away, but I was utterly devoted and loved poured from me immediately. It was incredible, like nothing I have ever experienced before. I also quickly noted that this ‘boy’ (I was sure the baby was a boy, as was pretty much 99% of people we knew), looked very pretty. ‘She’s pink!’ said the midwife. Oh my goodness.

IMG_0459IMG_0451

 This was our little, gorgeous Alba Elise. A bundle of pure love, joy and inspiration from the very moment her heart started beating. She smelt amazing, her skin felt so soft and her cheeks were so plump. We had skin on skin and cuddled as a family, chatting to her, telling her how brilliant she is and that we love her ‘soooo much’. Slightly annoyingly, I had quite a lot of blood loss and a couple of other complications post-birth, but the medical staff were fantastic, as was Charlie, who after voicing how much he despised the birth partner chair, lay on the floor and napped with Alba. Then had a few rounds of tea and biscuits, Alba had some more colostrum, I had a blood transfusion, Charlie gave us an inflatable tiger balloon and everything felt rosy. We were floating on a cloud.

We love our little Alba so much, she has taught us an endless amount about loving and our capacity for love. Everyday, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Our baby girl is a joy to know and has the sweetest, kindest eyes and the most glorious, wholehearted smile I’ve ever seen. We are truly blessed to have this little addition to our family. Our love, love, LOVE – grows with each precious day that passes.  My sweet, wonderful, determined, happy, beautiful tiger”.

IMG_0949 (1)

Hels is the founding editor of Lionheart Magazine – a lifestyle magazine full of interviews, fashion, illustration, stories, photography, craft, recipes and way more – an independent publication that’ll make you feel peachy good! Buy issues one to four, right here: http://www.lionheart-mag.com/shop

Birth Story Of The Week – Judith and Clementine

photoA little vintage birth story for you hungry readers this morning. Following on from my Mother in-law sharing my husbands birth back in September, my Mother wanted to do the same. And what better time than to share her story than on my birthday (well 2 days late). So happy birthday to me and happy birth story to my wonderful Mama! She has climbed some enormous mountains in the last few years especially after my Father died but yet still remains amazing in every single way possible. Thank you Mama for being so ace and sorry I was 15 days late, ironic really as I hate being late now xx

Well how did that happen? My ” baby” Clemmie was 29 on Saturday, mother of two and of course a midwife.
So my mind goes hurtling backwards to her birth. A much wanted and planned third child for Rog and myself but 6 years since her sister had been born and 9 years since her brother. Due date was 25th October and after a perfect pregnancy – literally no problems, we all were excited awaiting the baby’s arrival. No idea what sex it would be. So the food shop was done, suppers in the freezer and ironing completed. But on went the days which turned into weeks and nothing. I became embarrassed on the school run with mothers saying “Oh you are still here” . In fact I began to be feel a bit of a freak of nature. Maybe it was a phantom pregnancy  After all I hadn’t had any morning sickness, no indigestion and still felt full of energy. Not bad for what was then in 1984, quite an old mum to be at the grand age of 34! 

Halloween and bonfire night all came and went. And so eventually at Queen Charlottes they offered me 2 options. Either drive daily for a heart trace or be induced on November 9th. As we lived a good hour away by car I regretfully opted for an induction. We didn’t tell Sam and Prue the plan who went off to school happily on the Friday morning and then Rog drove me to the hospital and went on to the office, all of ten minutes away from the hospital. 

I was put in an antenatal ward I was given a pessary. Nothing. Four hours later a second one. Again nothing! So at 4.00pm I walked upstairs to the labour ward, magazines under my arm feeling somewhat surreal and where they broke my waters. Contractions then began. I must add that my previous 2 deliveries particularly the first ,had been fairly tough and post deliveries I had had postpartum haemorrhaging. The first time at home when Sam was 10 weeks old. Scary stuff. Blue light emergency in the middle of the night. So a classic birth with no epidural was my aim but could I cope with the pain? Well the simple answer was – yes. I cannot really explain it even to myself, but it was something I so wanted to experience with no dulling of the senses. I went into bossy “This is my labour” mode. Me bossy? Mmm. Ask my family.

I walked around the delivery room and stopped to rest my upper body over the bed with each contraction. I gazed at the West London skyline through the windows as darkness fell and had no pain relief at all. My midwife was fantastic. She allowed me to be in control but as for the Dr who “popped” in from time to time, it was a different story. On his first visit he suggested that I might want my loose gown tied up tighter at the back to save my modesty. What!? I was about to give birth so a glimpse of my backside was the least of my worries. With a clip on the baby’s head to monitor the heart beat I did agree after 2 hours to get back on the bed and as the second stage of labour arrived, this Dr returned. “Don’t waste a contraction” I heard him say. The arrogance of the man! So I confess as the pain hit its peak I recall I bit his hand. Still rather proud of that I am not really ashamed to say. I think he backed off after that and I delivered this baby with my wonderful Irish midwife whose hand I squeezed ever tighter. Only after the birth did she tell that she had burnt that hand on an iron earlier and unbeknown to me I was really hurting her. 

And so Clementine Amelia arrived at 7.39 pm weighing in at 8lbs.10 1/2 oz.. Her father, a professional photographer, took amazing photos of her only seconds old and although resembling a prize boxer who had fought 8 bouts in the ring she very quickly became a beautiful baby, toddler, child and dare I say it adult. And did she scream – in fact she was so overdue she was born hungry and she continued to scream for 5 days until my milk came in . There goes baby Howard again the midwives continuously said.

And now of course 29 years on, Clemmie is herself a midwife delivering other women’s babies and I am one extremely proud Mother.

 

Birth Story Of The Week – Judith and Simon

This birth story is really something special. I first met Judith during a meal back in 2005. She had prepared a Sunday roast dinner for her husband and 3 children and I was guest of honour. There was some element of pressure during this meal. I was on my best behaviour. Ensuring I used my cutlery correctly I tried to maintain my up most to impress her with my knowledge of the war in the Middle East whilst coming across as the sort of 20 year old young woman she may want to one day welcome into her family. The meal was a success, her cooking was delicious and I must have made an OK impression as I can now call her my Mother-in-law. She is an avid reader of my blog and very sweetly asked me if she could share her birth story when she had my husband 31 years ago this Friday! In honour of his birthday here is the story of how he made his entrance into the world. I like to think of this as a vintage birth story.

DSC_0952

Always the protective Mother

 

And the doting Granny

And the doting Granny

“I’d had a straightforward pregnancy – if you didn’t count the 16 weeks of non stop vomiting that is. You can really get fed up with mashed potato and fizzy water as sustenance, but otherwise, all was good. I’d been to a few NHS antenatal classes, after which all I could recall was the advice not to cross my ankles as they’d swell….

Right, bag’s packed, husband’s sandwiches are in the freezer – it’s September 18th 1982 – D day – so where’s the baby?

Being blissfully ignorant, we took as gospel the date we’d been given for our baby’s arrival. The day passed and I’d virtually given up hope of the baby arriving, and was sitting on the stairs watching my husband putting a new letterbox in our front door, when I became aware that I was sitting in a puddle – waters had broken!

No sign of contractions but after about half an hour, gentle waves started to break across my stomach and I became fascinated by looking like a beach ball being pumped up as each contraction hit. As per instructions from the hospital, we went in when the contractions were 5 minutes apart. As we drove into Cambridge, we were both nervous but excited. Blissful ignorance had kicked in again, but our rosy picture of peace and serenity was ruptured by a) the football sized crowd of other ‘parents in labour’, and b) the business-like ‘seen it all before’ attitude of the staff. Did they not know that we were having a baby??!!

We went into what looked and felt like a holding pen, where having been examined (3cm dilated), I refused to be shaved, but was badgered into having an enema – emerged feeling like c**p. Eventually, we were taken to the delivery room – to this day my husband and I think it was a stationery cupboard, not a delivery room (see photo), but hey ho…

The contractions were getting much stronger, and I was struggling to work with them. 2 cylinders of gas and air later, I was given pethidine and nodded off for an hour or so. Stuck on the bed with a monitor strapped round me, I felt like a beached whale, and very little was happening – except the baby was getting distressed – as was I as he had a foetal scalp monitor screwed into his head (or that’s what I imagined).

We’d arrived at the hospital at about 10pm, and it was now about 7am the following morning. Clive had been sitting with me, but we hadn’t brought any music (did anyone do that in those days?), no massage oils, no cushions, no anything really. A midwife had popped in from time to time to check on me – I didn’t have an assigned midwife, so it was whoever was passing, it seemed to me.

Another hour or so, and no further progress. I was in significant pain and started asking for an epidural (our birth plan had gone out of the window at the point I had pethidine). After a discussion between the midwives and the doctor who had turned up, it was agreed I should have an epidural and the anaesthetist arrived a few minutes later.

Blessed relief as the pain disappeared, but then the calm was broken by the doctor saying that the baby was passing meconium and needed to be born soon. Up to this point, we had been accompanied by a midwife, a trainee, and a doctor who called in from time to time. Suddenly the room filled up – and I do mean filled up. I counted 9 people in the room, some of whom looked as though they were on their way home from a party – a string of coloured beads round her neck in one case. I think they were hoping for something interesting (emergency C section?) to happen.

Clive moved to the head of the bed and gave me lots of encouragement, as at this point I felt I couldn’t go on any more. The anaesthetic was stopped (reduced? – can’t remember), and I was told to push after the next contraction. The baby wasn’t keen on emerging and I had an episiotomy – mention of forceps being made at this point! Eventually, after 14 hours of labour, and just about every chemical and medical intervention we could have had, Simon James arrived in the world at 10.10am on 19th September weighing 6lbs 13oz. The crowds melted away, and we were left to come to terms with our new world.

As I was stitched up, Clive and I sat with our new son, feeling shell shocked – the happiness would kick in later. All either of us wanted at that point was a cup of tea and a good sleep. When I was eventually wheeled to the ward, I was given Simon to hold, but for all the emotional attachment I felt at that moment, he could have been a bag of potatoes! Because of the epidural (?), he was very sleepy and didn’t really come round until much later in the day – when he did, he more than made up for it!

Final thoughts:  

Simon was the first baby I had had any involvement with – I’d looked after babies as a babysitter, but the youngest had been 4 months, so a newborn was really scary.

The antenatal classes I went to were pretty well useless in terms of giving me real practical advice – we went to NCT classes for number 2.

At this point, we were still in the era of mothers (patients) being told what to do, and ‘active’ birth was considered faddy.

I was in considerable discomfort after the birth and finding it difficult to breastfeed, but had no help from the ward staff, who just told me to keep trying. Two weeks later, I gave up breastfeeding and Simon went onto a bottle.

Would I consider my first experience of childbirth a ‘good’ experience – no. But on the positive side, by the time number 2 came along, I was more confident about what I wanted, and didn’t want, and it was altogether a better experience.

 photo (26)

Birth Story of The Week – Charlotte and Lil

This is major, I’m on annual leave. The pager and work phone are both turned off and we’re going camping in a few days to Dorset. I’m not particularly into sleeping under canvas (excluding a good old festie) but there’s hot showers, electric sockets for hair dryers and iphone chargers and the weather forecast is looking good! I’ve just spent a great 4 days at my Mum’s who lives by the sea in Whitstable. The sun shone, Marnie loved the beach and I finally got to hang out with the amazing Charlotte and Lil. Charlotte writes the brilliant blog I’m Only Saying What You’re Thinking  and she is even better in real life. Especially after we devoured a bottle of red in the local tapas restaurant and almost wet ourselves laughing and forgetting that we are responsible Mamas over G&T’s. Ahem. Charlotte agreed (sober) that she would finally share her birth story and true to her word she did despite coming down with a cold. That girl is card core and she’s only 5ft 2. Respect!

Blog: onlysayingwhatyourethinking

Twitter: yesimcharlotte

image

‘It’s been almost two and a half years now since I gave birth, although technically I’m probably not allowed to use that term, seeing as she didn’t actually come out of my vagina.

In my head, I thought she’d be early. Not dangerously early, just a week or two. My pregnancy wasn’t much fun so I wished the majority of it away. I was devastated to reach day seven past my due date. And then on day ten, they took my whinging arse in to induce me. But that kid would not shift.

After a few attempts at getting her out using drugs, my contractions finally started two days after I’d been admitted. The pain was bearable at first, like a wave of ouch every now and then. But soon after it all got a bit mental so I asked for the Pethidine. I waited patiently for it to kick in but nothing. So they whisked me round to the delivery suite to break my waters. I was all baby, which was a bit terrifying. I wondered how the hell I was supposed to push her out. The contractions were coming thick and fast and I was so tired that I just wanted the pain to go away. Not at all bothered about the thought of an epidural (I have a needle phobia), I asked the midwife to hit me up. Twenty minutes later, after keeping scarily still during a painful contraction while the anaesthetist inserted the needle in to my spine, I was swimming around the room (although not literally, you understand – I was paralysed from the waist down). I only knew I was having contractions by looking at the monitor. I cannot begin to explain how heavenly it felt, pushing that button to top up the pain relief. I was hooked.

After a while, the contractions started to get worryingly closer together and my baby’s heart rate was very fast so they gave me more drugs to slow them down. Seven hours after it all began, I was told that they were concerned as the baby’s heart rate showed no signs of slowing. I was six centimetres dilated and she’d got stuck. My hips might be wide but this kid wasn’t going anywhere. Time for a C-section, they said. From the moment they admitted me to hospital four days prior, I knew this was how the story was going to end. Call it Mother’s intuition. I was ready for sleep by the time they’d gowned up. I remember my husband telling me to stay awake and promising me a Mulberry bag (of course, I never got my ‘push’ present…). I just wanted to curl and snooze but before I knew it I heard a shrill scream.

At 4:12am on 7th April, they pulled her out of the cosy little nook she’d spent almost nine months in. She was not happy.  7lb 8oz of perfect, pink flesh. I don’t remember much after this, other than I was moved into a recovery room, given a shot of morphine (it tasted of vodka and blackcurrant), and nibbled on toast, which I violently threw back up. The midwife cleaned me up and passed me the little monster who had made my pregnancy hell. My first thought? ‘Oh fucking hell, now what?’.

baby

At the time, I was so high on drugs that I felt a bit like a robot. I didn’t feel or think much at all. My birth experience still feels so surreal but it’s only now I can see just how delicious it really was. As I write this, my two and a half year old naps beside me. And I wish, I wish so hard that I could be transported back to those mental few days, just so I could soak it all up again. Because although I didn’t think so then, those were the most amazing few days of my life.’

 

Birth Story Of The Week – Emi and Silver

Apologies for the lack of posts this week. Once the Royal Baby George Alexander Louis had been born and Twitter had calmed down with ‘What Kate wore’ and ‘Didn’t William do well fitting the baby seat’ tweets, I too collapsed in a hormonal heap. What a week it had been for us all. And in case for those of you who entered the competition are freaking out that the winner hasn’t been announced…… fear not! I will be drawing the winner randomly as a few of you clever clogs guessed George!

Now I’m on my holidays in Somerset with the girls and Daddy Pig. The weather broke the day after we arrived and obviously I only packed summer dresses and zero waterproofs for the entire family (she says as torrential rain pours down the window). But never one to let you lot down, I have another birth story for you all to sink your Monday teeth into. Not the typical water birth/home birth/hypno birth but one to certainly get you thinking . If everything in your birth plan goes to pot and you’re faced with having to be put to sleep knowing when you wake up your baby will be already be born, how would you recover not just physically but emotionally? Emi shares her story.

Twitter: Emi Ozmen

1016755_10151475033566370_1726432565_n(1) 

‘So after 9 months of a pretty disastrous pregnancy (2 bleeds, 1 hospitalisation for stomach bug, 1 hospitalisation for blood clot, 7 months of morning sickness, scans in case cervix was thinning too early, suspected diabetes, pregnancy induced hyperthyroidism ) I was DESPERATE to go into labour. I couldn’t get my head around what other pregnant women were scared of; that’s the day you get your baby and don’t have to be pregnant any more. I kept thinking I’ve run the London marathon, labour is going to be fiiiiine.

photo (16)

Turns out it wasn’t that fine.

I was booked in for induction on Friday 13th. I was induced twice, the first time  it had to be stopped as my contractions came too fast. The second time the same thing happened and so was rushed into a room on the labour ward. Until my waters broke I remember enjoying my contractions. Someone once told me it feels like period pain. It doesn’t. To me it is a wave like feeling. Strangely like an orgasm but not enjoyable. But not painful. That’s the wrong word. Once my waters broke I lose track of what happened. I definitely got loud (after always cringing at the screamers on One Born Every Minute). I was that one. The really loud out of control one that was whaling and crying. The anaesthetist was called to give me an epidural. He couldn’t get it in my back. Another anaesthetist was called. He couldn’t either. Everyone gave up assuring me it wouldn’t be long until the baby would be born, so hang in there.

6 hours later I had the unstoppable urge to push. The baffled midwives couldn’t understand why I was only 2 cm dilated. I don’t remember much at all from this point on except Adam and one midwife out of the 4 or 5 people all looking at my notes and at me in total confusion. The three of us were a little team. She held lavender under my nose, got me in the bath, both had one of my hands each and the 3 of us somehow got through another 2 hours. The baby’s heart rate monitor started bleeping and the decision was made for an emergency c section. I remember more needles in my back which failed again and finally the relief of being told ‘Emi we’re going to put you to sleep when you wake up your baby will be here’….

It was the most surreal amazing dream that when I came round Adam passed me my baby. I can’t remember much about those first hours, she fed as I slept, we all slept on and off for hours. As the sun came up we realised we hadn’t even called our parents, we were already the 3 of us in our bubble.

photo (18) photo (17)

I still don’t feel like I’ve woken up some days. I’ve spent everyday for this last year by her side. we have always coslept with her and I still breastfeed on demand. I haven’t taken anyone’s advice on how to parent silver. We follow our instincts and follow her lead.

So Did Kate Do It Her Way?

kate and will

Unless you’ve been living under a large rock for the last 24 hours or have no access to the media, Twitter, Facebook or any human contact, then you will know that Kate delivered a baby boy yesterday afternoon. My (invisible) midwife hat has been firmly on my head since the news broke that she was in early labour. I could not help speculating what has going on inside The Lindo wing and neither could my colleagues either. Heading over to Twitter this evening proved I wasn’t the only one with my spies out and here’s why.

The wonderful Rebecca Schiller aka The Hackney Doula has written a fantastic piece on her thoughts (and mine) on what we hope and believe Kate achieved to birth her baby boy.

rebecca

‘I’ll admit this is entirely speculation. I have no idea what has been going on inside the Lindo Wing for the last 36 hours and it’s good that I don’t know. Very few people, with the exception of Romola Garai , want the world’s media to have knowledge of the state of their post-partum perineum.

However on careful viewing of the footage of Kate emerging 27 odd hours after birth, I’m putting myself on the record saying that I think she had a spontaneous vaginal birth without instruments and without an epidural. Why? Well, as @midwifeyhooper, @beverleyturner and I have been saying on twitter she is walking and carrying her baby with ease. There’s no hesitation or grimacing when going down steps or into the car; all of which would be pretty impossible so quickly after a caesarean.

The baby has no tell-tale lumps from a ventouse cup or forceps marks on his face. Kate herself has no bruises on the back of her hands or wrists suggesting no epidural or synthetic hormones.

head and hand

Of course, anything is possible, but her apparent lack of discomfort, her energy and her short stay in hospital and seemingly quite speedy timeline all point to a straightforward birth.

In many ways I feel guilty for speculating, for grubbily pouring over the photos searching for evidence. She’s just a woman adjusting to one of the most momentous changes in her life and I’m sure she doesn’t need us all wondering about ‘mode of delivery’ (hateful phrase). It’s her business and as long as she feels happy, well-supported and that it was a good and safe experience who cares if she had an elective caesarean or a water birth?

Yet, I can’t help feeling it does matter. If Kate was really keen to have a natural, vaginal birth and had really spent time practising antenatal yoga, Natal Hypnotherapy and the like I feel delighted for her that she had the birth she wanted and prepared for. In many ways the odds were stacked against her. Like over 90% of UK women she gave birth in a consultant-led unit (in her case with two dedicated consultants) when the evidence clearly shows that midwife-led care is the most appropriate, safest and cost-effective for low-risk women. She also gave birth at a private hospital with, reportedly, a 100% epidural rate, a high caesarean rate and no birth pool. (Though I wonder if an inflatable pool is being deflated as I type).

Sadly many UK women aren’t so lucky. Shunted in to consultant-led care through lack of available options they have a 45% chance of having an operative birth. Shocking when you think that the birth centre down the road would have dropped that chance by nearly 30%, while costing the NHS less and giving identical outcomes for the baby.

While medical intervention is life-saving, much-needed and also for some a positive choice there are too many women wanting to have Kate’s birth who end up feeling that the decisions have been snatched out of their hands.

So, perhaps I’m justifying my tabloid curiosity as I guiltily examine the backs of Kate’s hands, but the fact that the most high-profile birth of our time seems to have been a natural one, in a sea of rising interventions and rising dissatisfaction amongst women, seems important.

The headline “Woman has birth experience that she wanted and planned for” wouldn’t probably go down too well at The Sun’s news desk, but sadly it is becoming almost deserving of the front page.’

Follow Rebecca here @HackneyDoula