When birth takes you by surprise…

After birthing my first born (almost two years ago now) I listened to the midwives tell me, ‘be careful, next time, sneeze and the baby will be out!’ I thought that was an interesting way of thinking about it. I also thought; I couldn’t be that lucky twice, could I?

I mean, I had made the hospital the first time round by just 12 minutes and had an estimated established labour time of 3 hours, which was pretty good for a first baby by all accounts.

For my second birth, I had hired an independent midwife and had a few different plans. I was either going to birth at home or at a lovely birth house near the hospital (we were a 35 minute drive away). If necessary, I also had a fantastic obstetrician lined up too. I had all bases covered.

In my house, I had set up a lovely corner full of pictures, affirmations, crystals, candles, a lovely big birth pool, twinkle lights, the lot (not that I’d ever come to use it)…I had disinfected the house and I was ready to go at 38 weeks!

Pre-labour

It all started on Mothers Day (what a fabulous first gift). Around 4pm, I had some cramping and Braxton Hicks were increasing. I remember thinking, ‘game on!’ I went to rest and prepare myself for a birth marathon, wondering if I could actually have my baby tonight. I thought she may be ‘early’ as my son had been. I was excited!

In reality, there wasn’t much action and by 10pm there was nothing at all. I fell asleep and woke in the morning to….nothing! I wasn’t deflated as I thought, ‘not long now.’

But then…

This process repeated itself for the next 10 nights! It became very deflating and quite frustrating, cramps starting and stopping each night.

With my last baby, there had been a lead up (as my waters broke early) but the wait was only 72 hours (and even that seemed like an eternity at the time).

This time I started to wonder, ‘is she coming at all?!’ I was trying to have faith in the process but it was tough.

Dragging on

I tried everything during this period to get things moving. I went for; acupuncture, reflexology, massages galore. My husband, Bart, was on the case and gave me lots of; acupressure, massage and reassurance. I also tried; extra meditation, spicy foods, bouncing on the gym ball like a demon and burning clary sage 24/7 (of course).

But no, nothing worked, this one wasn’t budging!

So I gave up trying to ‘induce’ and focused on trying to relax and trust the process. It would happen, This baby will be born at some point soon, somehow! In her own perfect time, of course.

The midwife told me of potential advantages as to my drawn out predicament…the longer my pre labour went on, the shorter my established labour would probably be. I still couldn’t have anticipated exactly what this would come to mean (and nor could she).

Movement finally?

On Wednesday 24th May, we went through the same nightly ritual but this time the cramps were slightly stronger, more often (around 20 minutes apart still), feeling more like proper contractions. This went on until 4am, when they slowed right down again. Arghhh! Though I was used to this now!!!

They did continue throughout the day though, on Thursday 25th May, every 30 minutes or so. My midwife came out that morning and said she thought the birth was close, possibly by the weekend.

At this point it felt never ending but at the same time I also felt the end was in sight. I was pleased we had progress and I knew baby was ok as her heartbeat told us so.

Nothing really changed throughout the day and I was starting to gear up for another tricky night of sleep with the mild contractions still coming, albeit irregularly. I certainly didn’t think the baby would arrive today as they were still 20-30 minutes apart and had been all day.

It was such a far cry from our first birth which ramped up over hours! This felt alien to me and I had no idea what to expect next.

At 4pm our neighbour came round and we drank tea and had a great game of chess, with no real changes in contractions strength or timing.

I remember looking at my watch as our neighbour left and it being around 5.20pm. Little did I know my baby would be born just an hour later.

Literally, as he walked out of our front door, I felt my waters starting to gently break (not like the gush last time from my son)…On going to the toilet, I had a bloody show too.

I started to wonder if tonight could actually be the night? Although I didn’t want to get too excited after the rollercoaster we had ridden over the past 12 days!

Ramped up

And then it started….boom!

I remember having an intense contraction out of the blue, to the point of being doubled over. I experienced a strong pain in my hips and I had Bart apply counter pressure. I remembered this pain from last time but felt it was yet to get a lot stronger.

‘We have a while to go yet,’ I thought but I knew we were heading towards established labour. I asked Bart to call the midwife and get her to come over. It was an instinctive call, not based on any real evidence…

I felt a bit foolish really because I felt I still had hours to go and was making the call too early. I couldn’t see the baby coming before tomorrow. The midwife asked Bart to time the contractions and call her back.

As he hung up I had around 5 back to back intense contractions, in around 10 minutes. I was in excruciating pain in my hips, it had ramped up in the space of minutes! Part of me, remembering the pain last time, thought I was being soft and it was going to get worse yet!

Bart called the midwife back and told her what had just happened and asked her to head straight over. She had an hours drive ahead of her. We weren’t phased by this as I still didn’t feel I was having this baby just yet.

But, looking back I was showing signs of transition as I kept saying to Bart, ‘I can’t do this’ and started to doubt my ability to ‘get through,’ as is typical in this stage. Bart was great, offering me plenty of reassurance, kisses and cuddles.

I started to find it hard to even move without pain, at this point. I remember thinking it was because I hadn’t spent enough time getting fit this time and my body was packing in already! But I still had a marathon to go…

Anyway, I managed to make it over to the fire and get on my hands and knees, thinking I’ll do some yoga to help get me more comfortable.

I was constantly screaming Bart at this point to ‘get on my hips’ as the pain was intense (but still not as bad as last time) and coming thick and fast.

Bart was trying to get the fire going and also fill the bath, as well as support me.

My Mother was looking after my toddler, who kept popping over to me with gestures, such as cars. It was actually really helpful having my toddler around. It helped me to stay calm, trying to reassure him, which took me by surprise!

We called our neighbour back who came and helped with the bath and the fire, as at this point I needed Bart with me the whole time.

Bart helped me into bed onto my side and everything stopped for a good few minutes. Oh no, not again, surely not?!! We even debated on whether we should call the midwife back and tell her, ‘false alarm!’

And then…

I had a very big contraction. I threw myself off the bed and was stood leaning over onto the bed.

It was at this moment I could feel the baby coming. I said to Bart, ‘the baby is coming.’ He said to me ‘you what?!!’ I think he could tell from my voice I was serious. I said ‘the head is nearly here.’

I remember, at this point, feeling really nervous as we had no medical support but at the same time I was powerless to stop the process too.

Then, suddenly I felt a real sense of calm wash over me. This was happening and it would be ok. I simply let go and put all my trust into the universe.

I dropped onto the floor onto hands and knees in a bid to ‘slow it down.’ I started to pant; again to try and slow things down but it was fruitless. My body had taken over and was convulsing, as I’d experienced last time.

Here she is…

I thought ‘shit, she’s here’ and instinctively reached down to catch my baby. Next news the head is in my hands. I shouted to Bart, who was behind me, ‘the head’s out.’

Bart quickly took over and held the head in his hands. I focused on breathing through the next contraction and out she came, right into Bart’s arms. He passed her straight to me, through my legs.

I sat on the bedroom floor where she’d been born. She didn’t breathe immediately. In fact, it probably took just 10 seconds or so. This was the longest 10 seconds of our life.

I screamed for Bart to ring 000 (and also in the same breathe check the time of birth). I held her and blew on her (like my doula taught me last time) to help her ‘awaken’ to the world. And she breathed, thank God!!!

Bart helped me onto the bed and we put lots of blankets over her, whilst she was on my stomach having skin on skin.

We then had to wait another 40 minutes until paramedics and the midwife arrived (pretty much together). I was so relieved! And so surprised my baby was here already!!

The midwife couldn’t believe it! She worked out I had an established labour of just 45 minutes. I was in shock at the speed and the way it suddenly ramped up. This time I had no taring, nothing. It was just incredible!

Bart and I would never have chosen an unassisted birth but we are very pleased it happened that way. It was such a special way for our beautiful daughter, Saya, to enter this world. We wouldn’t change a thing. Alls well that ends well. The Gods were shining down on us!

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Oh one last thing… Bart is currently considering a career change into midwifery! Clearly, he’s a natural!

Much love,

Cat x

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