15 Weeks…..

Always match your nails to your dress

Always match your nails to your dress

And not counting. But it’s hard not to isn’t it? I’m just rejoicing in the fact that I don’t feel sick any more. I’m still completely terrified that it will come back and haunt me and I hear it can rear it’s ugly head again in the 3rd trimester but lets not speculate shall we.

The bump is well and truly out there’s no hiding it now, I’ve bought a few essential maternity clothes including black TopShop dungarees, skinny jeans, a pink shirt and a dress from ASOS for my best friends wedding tomorrow. I’m trying not to buy too much and will just see what I can use in my already expanding wardrobe through the Autumn and Winter months. I met my good friend and amazing fashion guru Zoe from Dress Like a Mum  yesterday for lunch and she gave me some great ideas for dressing the bump without breaking the bank. Do check her website out for brilliant fashion tips pre and post baby.

I’ve already been inundated with questions, usually the same 4 each time

  1. Was it IVF?
  2. Are there twins in the family?
  3. Are they identical?
  4. Will you find out the sex?

No, no, no, yes probably. I too have been guilty in the past of asking these same questions to other twin mums so I’m fully prepared for this up until the babies are 18.

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I’m still tired most of the time, I’ve been drinking Spatone in a glass of orange juice every morning but I’m also taking 3 iron tablets a week just to keep my levels up as you’re more likely to be iron deficient with twins. The round ligament pain at night seems to have eased up thank god, it was so painful I thought I was going into labour! I know the hormone relaxin will be working wonders for labour but my pelvis is not too grateful at the moment. But I’m trying not too moan about any aches and pains as I know it will only get worse.

Swotting up

Swotting up

I had a great first meeting with my consultant this week, we talked about my birth preferences and my wishes to use water for labour. She was really supportive and I left feeling positive and empowered. Right now I’m just focussing on the now as being a midwife I know a bit too much. My amazing colleagues are taking good care of me and I’m trying to get as much of my book written as possible before the twins arrive.

So that’s all from me, keep the birth stories coming you can email them to gasandairblog@gmail.com photos too please!

Twinning is Winning

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At around 5 weeks pregnant I felt sick, really sick and really tired. We were in France at a friend’s wedding and I did my best impression of someone trying to pretend to be drunk. Which by the way is very difficult. (Oh and a drunk sweaty husband when you’re stone cold sober is soooo unattractive, you’d rather he slept on the sofa)

And there was so much gooey soft smelly cheese going around and an oyster bar at the wedding and endless champagne. But nausea and a hangover have very similar characteristics so I fooled the friends we were with for 4 days.

“It’s probably twins” a colleague said to me while I gagged at the smell of the coffee she was drinking. “Ha ha very funny” I thought, but somehow I couldn’t shake off this feeling that maybe it was. Maybe.

A few weeks later I had some heavy bleeding so went to the Early Pregnancy Unit for a quick reassurance scan. I had already convinced myself that I was probably having a miscarriage so prepared myself for missing my brothers 40th birthday the next day and felt remarkably calm about the whole thing.

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“You have two in there, and both have healthy strong heartbeats”. I was beyond shocked. I was naked from the waist down with my legs in those stirrup things and a long probe with a condom on it up my foof. Not the most dignified of positions to be in. There was swear words, and utter disbelief and then the tears came. I left clutching the scan photo dreading how I was going to tell my husband.

But now 5 weeks later and a lovely normal reassuring Nuchal scan yesterday, we are in a much better place. Me, both physically and mentally and my husband, well he keeps weeping at the thought of selling the Audi and looking at 7 seater cars.

What nightmares are made of

What nightmares are made of

So now I’m almost 13 weeks pregnant and the all day constant nausea and all evening vomiting has *almost* gone. I have to say weeks 6-9 were unbearable and I began to question if I could really get through this pregnancy at all. (I was once sick 17 times in one day). I had some amazing people around me, supporting me and making me realise that everything was indeed going to be ok.

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Things that really helped when I could barely lift my head off the toilet seat

  • Tropicana (smooth) don’t ask but the combination of the sweet and sour taste meant I was getting some Vitamin C into my system
  • Peanut butter (again smooth) on a buttered bagel
  • Salt and Vinegar crisps BY THE TONNE
  • Nutrimum Bars – these were great in between meal times and  I just kept a stash in my car
  • Hypnobirthing – well technically relaxation MP3s. As you know I’m a massive fan of everything Hollie does and some evenings when my mind was racing with worry and fear I’d pop on her track and within minutes I’d find myself drifting off into a calm sleep
  • Acupuncture – I popped my cherry around week 6 and MY GOD it really did make the most difference to my nausea. Maisie Hill is like some kind of magical mystical Goddess who really understood my body and what was going on. I hardly had to say anything (mainly because I felt so rough) and she just popped needles into certain points on my body. I left feeling floaty and vomit free. She’s also a Doula and an amazing one at that. Check out her website for a wealth of information on all things fertility, pregnancy and birth
  • I treated myself around week 10 to a pregnancy massage as my lower back and pelvis was really beginning to ache. And there’s only woman who I’ll happily strip down to my oldest granny pants for…. Beccy Hands (yes her real name) is also a kick ass Doula and specialises in pregnancy and labour massage. She’s so good she can tell me which shoulder I carry my heavy rucksack on and how I stand/lean when attending births
  • And finally SLEEP. Like mega naps, any time any place. During my lunch break I’d find myself having a quick doze before starting a clinic, around kids tea time (there was a lot of eating in front of the tv whilst I snoozed) and then heading off to bed as soon as my husband was home and sleeping all night. Sleep really did help with the nausea.

So there you have it, the secret is out (I even managed to fool my white witch of a mother at my brother’s 40th by pouring my wine into my sisters glass). I’m already embracing the maternity clothes (Topshop dungarees are amazing) and our house is buzzing with who can come up with the most ridiculous baby names. As if I didn’t have enough to do with writing my book, I’ll be blogging about this pregnancy at regular intervals, so please join me on this exciting journey.

xx

 

Birth Story Of The Week – Gemma and Leo

Today’s birth story comes from Gemma founder of the blog Bristol Foodie. Gemma emailed me after following my blog for a while she says – “Whilst pregnant I was bombarded with horror stories of birth – and as a result many women seem to see a traumatic birth is an inevitability. I hope that you can publish my story and share my experience to show your readers that birth doesn’t have to be horrific – in fact with a little self belief and confidence in your body, it can be an amazing experience which you can treasure!”

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“I was overjoyed to find out I was pregnant but very nervous about birth inparticular tearing and needing stitches. Just thinking about it made me shudder! I knew that fearing birth would only make the experience more traumatic so decided very early on to try hypnobirthing and pregnancy yoga with local company, Purely Pregnant.

I was amazed by how quickly my perceptions changed! I quickly learned to block out all of the horror stories about childbirth that (unhelpfully) people love to share and focussed on the birth I wanted rather than the one I feared. Hypnobirthing was really transformational, after a matter of weeks I was feeling so confident and excited about our upcoming birth that when my boyfriend suggested home birth, I decided to go for it!

I enter week 40 convinced I’m going to be late. Mum on the other hand was convinced that I would have the baby within the week and when I go to my local NCT cafe session, my NCT teacher says the same. At this point the birth pool is still in boxes and I’m due to have a new boiler delivered that week Eeek!

As luck would have it, that very night, I wake up with pelvic discomfort. I toss and turn as the discomfort comes and goes and at 3am wake my boyfriend, Sam. “It’s happening”.

3.00am I leave Sam asleep and go to watch TV, after all it will be hours before things really kick off. I put on David Attenborough’s Planet Earth, bounce on my birthing ball and do the “calm breathing” we learned in hypnobirthing.

4.00am I’m trying to not be too neurotic about timing contractions but at 4am curiosity gets the better of me. They’re closer than I thought, 5-6 minutes apart lasting a minute each. I wake Sam “I think we need to start putting the pool up”

For the next couple of hours Sam battles with the instruction manual for the birthing pool whilst I continue my relaxation techniques. The contractions are manageable at this point, a tightening sensation coming and going.

6.00am Surges are every 3-4 minutes and we ring Central Delivery Suite to let them know I’m in labour. I’m feeling okay so we agree for me to take a paracetamol and to ring back when I feel that I need more support.

8.00am Two hours later the surges are starting to feel more intense. No longer sitting on my birthing ball, I’m most comfortable on all fours. At 8.30ish we call CDS again and ask for a midwife.

At some point between 8am and the midwife arriving, British Gas arrived to drop off our boiler due to be installed the next day. I was in the living room and not really aware of what was going on but Sam tells me that the delivery men moved pretty quick when he told them I was labouring in the living room and that we were having a home birth!

9.30am The midwife has arrived and contractions, at 3 minutes apart are getting stronger and stronger. By now, I’m making a low “ooooh” sound as I exhale on each surge. My mooing might have sounded odd but at the time I found it was a really useful way of keeping my breathing calm and controlled.

I take two more paracetamol, put the hypnobirthing CD on and climb into the pool. As I lie back in the warm waters of the pool my whole body relaxes. For me, the water didn’t lessen the intensity of my contractions, but allowed me to relax and recover between contractions so I could rest and preserve energy for later stages.

11.30am Contractions start to slow and the midwife recommends I get out of the pool. We don’t know if my waters have broken. The midwife says I’m still in early stages of labour and I assume the pushing sensation I’ve started feeling for some contractions is the baby resting on my bowel as he moved down.

Sam is doing an amazing job helping me to breath calmly but I know that I’m struggling to cope. “I’m going to have to go to hospital.” I think to myself. “If this is early labour how much more intense will it get?!” I feel disappointed but know that I’ve done everything I can.

12.30pm We agree its time for the midwife to give me an examination. “Well” she says, “your waters haven’t broken, but your cervix is gone!” she looks and sounds surprised as am I! “I’m fully dilated?!” I can’t believe it, just a few more hours to go! I’d heard of people going through moments of “I can’t do this any more” and struggling to cope as they go through transition (7-10cm dilation) and in hindsight my moment’s of self doubt weren’t me giving up but must have been my transition from first to second stages of labour.

Full of relief and excitement as I enter into the second stage II get back in the pool, relaxing into the water. A second midwife arrives and my contractions get even stronger. I’m calling out to Sam and “mooing” with every contraction now, clinging on to him as I feel my muscles tighten. Its getting hard to stop myself tensing up with each surge but Sam’s continual coaching “breathe… breathe… slowly Gem… slowly” helps me to slowly exhale and stay in control. As I breathe out and relax everything feels so much better. In these moments I realised just how powerful my hypnobirthing techniques were things were certainly much more painful when I was tensed up. I’m so pleased I spent all that time practising how to relax myself, these skills came in really handy when I needed them most.

I feel the baby bearing down and start doing the “J breath” I learnt in hypnobirthing to try and breath him down. I focus on staying relaxed and working with each contraction, trying to stay relaxed enough to let my body take over and push as it needed to.

2.00pm My waters still haven’t broken. I stand in the pool and lean on Sam in the hope that gravity might break them and that our baby will follow soon after. I push hard with the next contraction but my waters stay in tact. The midwives break my waters as the next contraction builds. I push hard again, and let out a bit of a scream as I feel a searing, white hot pain and am swiftly guided back into the pool by the midwives as my waters and baby come out in one contraction.

2.05pm My baby is passed up through my legs and I lie back in the water with our son on my chest, Sam’s arms around the two of us. Tears of joy stream down my cheeks, the pain from minutes earlier already a distant memory. Weighing 6lb12oz, we call him Leo.image (1) (1)

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The next task was birthing the placenta which actually felt like more effort than the baby! I happily accepted gas and air for this part feeling just too exhausted to push without some help.

Leo had come out so quickly that I had a little tear and needed stitches (luckily these could be done at home). This was the thing I had been dreading most of all but in reality it was fine. I had gas and air, local anaesthetic and I didn’t feel a thing!

Sam confided in my afterwards that Leo came out so quickly that he was expecting me to have a much more serious tear and the midwives agreed. Perineal massage had seemed like a pretty arduous daily task during the last couple of months of pregnancy but I’m pretty sure that this was what made the difference between a second and fourth degree tear.

In the weeks that have passed I’ve loved seeing the look of disbelief on people’s faces when I describe my birth as “amazing” but it really was! Yes it was hard work, and the contractions got incredibly intense but I managed to stay in control throughout. I’m so pleased that I was able to give our beautiful baby Leo such a wonderful welcome into the world.

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I was terrified of birth at the start of my pregnancy but managed to really turn things around. I hope that sharing my experiences will help other women who may feel anxious about birth to have confidence that our bodies are designed to do this and that whilst complications can and do occur, childbirth isn’t always a traumatic experience it can be an amazing one!

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 – Julia and James

“Easter 2013 – 4 very excited children anticipating chocolate! In reality they had a stressed Mummy looking after 3 poorly ones and deep cleaning the house for about a week. Baby Pip`s `official EDD` was March 30th, Easter Saturday, while the girls were aware of this I also made it clear that Pip will choose when he is born and it may well be after the Easter break.My daughter`s 5th Birthday was April 10th, the days leading up to it were busy, the night before my parents stayed and I had a bath with Epsom salts and Clary Sage Oil (alone!!) and felt very relaxed, I had a few Braxton Hicks and niggles that evening but nothing significant and I slept quite well. Next day, April 10th, we had a small party for our daughter, I made sandwiches and a bit of party food and we had both sets of parents to celebrate. After, I had another bath, then started to nest – I should have known…the bathroom was thoroughly scrubbed, house hoovered throughout – washing and ironing done and away! I went to bed around 9, I couldn`t get comfortable and commented to my husband that I felt a lot of pressure, like I was being torn. I eventually slept and woke up at 23:49 … 2 minutes before one of my daughter`s was born, I lay in bed thinking `aww how fab I am awake as she turns 5…then 23:51 – the exact time she was born I had a contraction! I thought 

`Ohhh, what was that?!`

Shortly after my husband came to bed and I had another…every 10 minutes for a while and then 7, different to any contractions with the girls, these were spreading to my back too. I text Catherine, my midwife at 12:58am: 

`Putting you on alert. Contractions every 7ish mins I think. Will keep u updated.X` 

I lay in bed for a while longer, wondering whether to tempt fate or not and set up the room I planned to give birth in. Part of me didn`t believe `this is it, this is labour`. I went downstairs about 1.30am, only to be back up and down the loo, trickles of urine, Pips head was so low. 

Once downstairs the contractions were coming every 5 minutes and unbeknown to me my husband text Catherine again and she came out, while she was on her way about 2:15am, my husband went out for snacks and I paced the floor with each contraction watching Friends on Comedy Central `The One Where Chandler Doesn’t Like Dogs` and `The One with All the Candy`. I was trying to distract myself! 

 
Catherine arrived and took my blood pressure, measured my bump and listened in to Pip`s heartbeat – all was well. Pips back was turned to my right side and he needed to rotate round, this would explain the intense back pain! Contractions by then were every 3 minutes but not lasting longer than 30 seconds…around 4am this changed again and they were back to every 5 minutes, much more intense and lasting about 60 seconds. I had a hot water bottle on my tummy at this point, with each contraction the intensity and pressure low down was growing worse, I found the pressure far more intense than the actual contractions and required all my attention. 
 
Contractions were ticking along nicely and it was decided Catherine would leave us to it for a while. Catherine left around 4:30am I think, my husband went to bed to get some sleep and I decided to stay on the sofa to sleep…that didn`t happen, as soon as everyone left and I was alone massive contractions every 5 minutes, I didn`t know where to put the hot water bottle, my back or my tummy!! I breathed through them, closing my eyes to focus while using the heat from the hot water bottle to reduce the intensity. My parents arrived at 5am. At 6:03am I text Catherine again: 

`Contractions every 3ish mins. I am coping okay. Will keep u updated. Hubby gone to bed.X`

I sat talking to Mum in between contractions, my husband has said earlier that he needed to pop into work to sort something out and I wasn`t sure whether to let him or not. He has lost his phone, so I was worried that if Pip decided to come when he was on his way to or from work he would miss the birth. By this point it was around 7am, labour had been 7 hours so far. In the end we decided he would go, he said he`d be an hour maximum. My parents sorted the girls around 7.30am and I decided to have a bath. My husband ran it and went off to work. I went to the loo and had a massive show, it wasn`t showing any signs of slowing so I text Catherine again: 

`Had Massive show. Having warm bath will update after x`

I got into the bath but couldn`t lie down, I found sitting forward eased the pressure, the pressure of Pips head was much more intense than any of the contractions. I planned to stay in the bath until my husband got home, however the warm water didn`t take the edge off the contractions, if anything it made them more intense and closer, I couldn`t concentrate to time them, eyes closed, breathing through them, telling myself Pip was on his way and that my desire to scream wouldn`t help anyone. My Dad (and Sasha, the dog) kept coming up to check I was okay, calling through the door. Sasha was desperate to get to me, sniffing round the door – my intuitive baby. After about 20 minutes in the bath I decided to get out, I thought the contractions may ease so I let the water out first. A contraction hit as the water ebbed away, perhaps the water was helping more than I had initially thought, there was no way I could get out of the bath, I started to panic a little, thinking I may end up giving birth alone in the bath, the contractions were on top of each other at this point. I tried to think calmly, determined to get out. I text Catherine again:

`Trying to get out of bath. Very intense now. Don`t know how often hard to time.X`

Catherine replied she was on her way so I thought I have to get out of the bath! More show, made it from the bathroom to my room, then downstairs. Dad had said my husband was on his way back so I sat waiting for him, growing more and more impatient as each minute passed. Just as Catherine arrived I said to Mum: 

`Where the hell is he?`

worried he would miss the baby being born…he arrived as I was cursing. It wasn`t long between him calling and arriving home, but to me it felt like hours. I wasn`t comfortable on the sofa, but couldn`t move to get comfortable.

 
 I had text our birth photographer about 8am and she was now on her way, this was around 9am…she arrived soon after. By this point I`d made if off the sofa, I was squatting on the floor leaning as far forward as possible to reduce the immense pressure, Entonox was offered but I refused until 9:37am, my waters broke, I felt a pop and looked down thinking
`ooh aren’t they clear!`At this point the contractions changed, I grabbed the Entonox and started to bear down, feeling woozy and spaced out thinking `he is coming`, I ended up half sat/half lay, feeling his head as it came…then nothing, I opened my eyes and expected him to be here..his head had been delivered but his body wasn`t coming, my contractions had stopped, one weak one later he slowly started to come, I had to literally push him out myself without contractions. He was like a parcel, the cord wrapped around his body several times. He was shocked, we tried skin-to-skin and rubbing him, but he needed some help. Longest. Two. Minutes. Ever. Hearing him cry was such a relief, holding his little warm body next to my skin while the cord stopped pulsating was the best long awaited feeling!! My waters broke at 9:37am and James Raymond Peter was born at 9:50am, weighing 8lbs 10oz at 41 weeks and 5 days.

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Hes been born with a tongue tie, but this isn`t affecting his feeding at all, he has a good strong latch and shows signs of hunger (chewing fingers etc). I am forever indebted to Catherine, she was amazing and just the Midwife I needed to give me the courage to have a homebirth, nothing is better than sharing such an intimate time with someone you know.”

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

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“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.

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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!”

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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.

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“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.

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 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”.

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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

What I Learnt From Giving Birth

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You would think being a midwife gives you a sort of special pass or ‘access all areas’ into what your own birth is going to be like. Well in some ways yes it did, but in many ways it really didn’t prepare me at all. After all I was just a woman giving birth. Here’s some things I learnt from giving birth and how it changed my practice as a midwife and what I tell women.

I wish I had stayed at home longer…..This is such a classic mistake all first time mums do in early labour. My husband was making the house all cosy with candles and music but for some reason I just wanted to get to the birthing centre. It’s like I felt I needed to be there surrounded by the midwives I love and trusted and to be given the permission to know I was in actual labour. Even though I knew an examination might not always tell me how long my labour was, I had to know. In fact I was 5 cm which in theory is established labour but my contractions were crap, 2 in 10 and never got closer together all day. The examination isn’t always representative of how long your labour will be.

I wish I’d known that having your waters broken isn’t such a bad thing…….I held off having my water’s broken because I wanted as little intervention as possible, but after 8 hours of still only being 5cm I was tired and frustrated so I asked them to be broken and what a change that was! The contractions very quickly became 4 in 10 bang bang bang! Like a huge hammer was being smashed against my back, I thought ‘oh no the baby is in the back to back position and I’m going to need an epidural’. The contractions were so full on like nothing I had expected and then all of a sudden one felt different, more expulsive and I felt the pain in my back move further down into my sacrum and pelvis like my pelvis was widening. All the time my midwife head was thinking ‘the baby is OP and I’m going to want to push way before it’s time’…… Time was so apparent throughout this labour, at one point my midwife took the clock off the wall as I was becoming obsessed with the time which was preventing me from ‘letting go’.

Listening to my body and having a sleep at 10cm……..Waiting and letting my body rest when the contractions went off a bit in transition was brilliant, my body was tired and was preparing me for the next big part of labour, pushing! I laid on my side on a bean bag and mat I slept for a 15 minutes. There was no rush to get me mobilising, I now really listen to what women say to me at this point of their labour. Always trust the woman; she will know her body better than anyone else.

Howling and screaming is not a sign that I wasn’t coping……..Hearing women make noises was something I was use to as a midwife but hearing the animal sounds coming from my own lungs was quite empowering, like a lioness I roared as the urge to push became overwhelming. It wasn’t a case of ‘oh she’s not coping that’s why she’s so vocal’ it was a case of this baby is coming no matter what! My midwives said to me ‘your body will push your baby out you don’t even need to think about it’. They were so right, I had no control over my body and each contraction pushed her further and further down. The sensation didn’t feel like I needed a poo at all (which is something I use to say a lot to women) but like a brick was being pushed against my pelvic floor.

Pushing a melon out of an opening the size of an orange is totally fine…….The pushing bit is definitely easier than the contractions, your body takes over at this point and even when you can feel the head rocking back and forth just before it crowns and you think ‘oh my god if I have to do one more push I’m going to die’ and suddenly the head is out! And the burning and stretching wasn’t so bad. I was so impatient I couldn’t wait for another contraction so I pushed and her shoulders rotated then the rest of her wet slippery  body followed! It was amazing, totally unreal and so empowering. ‘I did it’ I kept saying over and over as I looked down at this dark haired pink squidgy baby.

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 – Ali and Effie

Today’s birth story is very special because I was the midwife. Not that I have favourite births that I’ve attended but this is certainly up there. I’ll never forget watching my friend birth her baby girl. Thank you Ali for sharing.
Twiiter: @ alienoretcorwin
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This is the story of my second birth. I wanted to write this for Clemmie’s blog as Clemmie was our midwife, and those of you who have had babies will know how much a midwife touches your life, how you will never forget them. I met Clemmie virtually on Twitter and then we met in real life before Clemmie joined the team of midwives I was with and got assigned to me, so we were becoming friends as my pregnancy was progressing which was really quite special.
I feel very lucky to be writing this story, what I think is a beautiful birth story. I had a very straight forward pregnancy and my first baby was born at home and so I had planned another home birth for my second.
I knew Effie was going to be born on the spring equinox, it’s my grandma’s birthday and was a week after my due date, and I was right! My birth started in that classic move style way of my waters breaking. It was about 6am, I was lying in bed when all of a sudden there was water gushing out, I did that classic pregnant woman thing of worrying I was pissing myself so quickly jumped out of bed but it was pretty obvious it was my waters going. All I could remember was the midwives telling me to put a pad in if my waters broke to check the colour so I was pointing my husband in the right direction to find a pad, but when he finally presented me with it, I quickly realised I needed a bath towel rather than a panty liner!
Pretty soon after that the contractions started to come and my husband started to get things ready. I woke my mum up who was staying with us to take care of my son then I went and knelt by my bed whilst the contractions built. Shortly after that my husband came to check on me and I was already asking to call Clemmie. Within 15 mins or so Clemmie was with us and as soon as she walked in the door I threw up. During my first labour I had vomited for 8 hours straight and so had some anti-nausea drugs ready, Clemmie’s first job was to jab me in the bum!
I remember my husband putting the Tens machine on me but walking out of the room before telling me how to use it but I didn’t want to turn it on anyway, all I wanted was to get in the pool so as soon as was possible I got in and ran the warm water coming out of the hose down my back.
I was in the sitting room at this point and I could hear my son and my mum having breakfast in the kitchen but I couldn’t focus and asked my husband to chuck them out, I needed the peace that a two year old can’t give! I can’t really re-call every detail and I’m sure you don’t want me to but it felt like things were progressing pretty quickly, I continued to vomit a bit but nothing on the scale of my first labour so I was fine with it. The second midwife arrived (who was my first midwife at my son’s birth!) and I started feeling like I needed to push. I pushed with each contraction for a little while but nothing seemed to be happening so at that point I was examined but was I wasn’t fully dilated so Clemmie and Erika (the second midwife) told me to stop and relax a little in the pool.
I remember the next hour or so in a slightly bizarre way, I could see the midwives sitting on my sofa chatting, writing notes, eating. I don’t think I spoke at all, the pain had lessened but my contractions were still strong and regular. I clutched a sick bowl for comfort and told my husband to change the music (although I can’t tell you what we were listening to). Then after a while I felt the baby move, it felt like a huge movement and pretty suddenly the baby was definitely bearing down and I needed to push, Clemmie checked me again and I was fully dilated so I started to push. I think during my first labour I was pretty out of it by the time my son arrived, I’d been so sick and was on a drip and was pretty tired that I didn’t feel him come down or crown at all. This time it was different though, each contraction I could feel my baby move down, I knew when she was close and could feel the sting as she crowned. I could see her head when it was delivered and when she came out it was a pretty magical seeing her be born. There was a split second when she was out in the water before Clemmie reminded me to catch her and then she was up, straight onto my chest.
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We didn’t know what sex we were having, and we had a boy already, but although I craved a girl, I know we would have been happy either way, once they are born and in your arms crying and pink you can’t care, you are just so happy they are healthy. After gazing into my babies beautiful eyes for a while Clemmie asked what we had, no one had seen yet, so I lifted her up and I have to admit my heart leapt when I saw she was a girl, it had all been too perfect.
I think I read in my notes that it was five minutes before I delivered the placenta, it was certainly quick, I was still in the pool holding the baby when I felt a contraction, so with the next I pushed and the placenta was delivered. Clemmie caught the placenta which was still attached to the baby!
After that, I remember the midwives had made me a path of those bed mat things to the sofa and they walked me over to it, and wrapped me up with my baby in a big bundle of towels and blankets. And that is where Effie first fed and we lay there together for hours, chatting to the midwives, eating toast and drinking gallons of water. It felt so natural and normal chatting to my new friend and my husband in our sitting room with our little addition, who was very tranquil and happy, just to be wrapped up against my chest. A few hours later my mum came home with our son and life continued as normal, Effie arrived in our home in such a natural way, it was as if she was always part of our family.
So five hours and with no pain relief, it really was such a lovely and calm birth. I am very very lucky to have had such great midwives, such a wonderful service to allow women to have babies at home, it made a massive difference to me being that relaxed and comfortable and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been the case for me if I’d have been in a hospital setting.