Birth story of Louis
There were two main reasons why I decided to do a gentlebirth course, the first being the birth experience I had with my daughter four years ago which involved an induction due to high bp, my partner being sent home and arriving back just an hour before she was delivered so I laboured alone, coached pushing on my back, pethadine, gas and air, an episiotomy and vacuum delivery, a room full of people as she was in distress which resulted in the experience staying with me for a long time after. I wouldn't say it was traumatic but it certainly didn't feel empowering or beautiful, it was panicky and scary. We also had some difficulty in maintaining a second pregnancy and had quite a lot of medical intervention early on in this pregnancy so I had a strong urge to have as little intervention as possible during the later stages of pregnancy and the birth. I was in the high risk clinic due to the previous history so I was not too hopeful of having a natural delivery but after completing the course I felt that I would be prepared for whatever path the birth would take. At various hospital visits induction was mentioned as they didn't want me to go too far over, the baby was consistently measured and monitored but as I came to the end of the pregnancy there had been no complications and I'd made my birth preferences very clear so by my 38 week visit the clinic were very happy to leave me to my own devices.
I had a check up with my gp at 39+4 and my bp had crept up a little which caused a bit of concern as I had be induced on my daughter for the same reason. She asked me to come back two days later to monitor again and we'd take it from there. So I went home and relaxed as best I could for the next 48 hours, my mother took my daughter for a sleepover, I had a bath, got early nights and prepared mentally for the possibility of induction again which included listening to the gb affirmations. I went back to my gp two days later and as my bp hadn't gone up hugely from the previous day she was happy not to send me to the hospital as I had an appointment a few days later anyway but we discussed the possibility that an induction might be likely at that point. My due date was the following day and as I knew that my bp wasn't too high I felt instantly more relaxed. Interestingly enough I had had one quite strong pain while I was waiting for the gp but didn't think anything of it at the time.
That afternoon I had my final session of reflexology that I had started in week 32 and felt so relaxed that I fell asleep on the chair, I went home and one of my best friends visited with her two kids and my mum dropped my daughter back. I spent that afternoon laughing and joking with them, the biggest laugh coming from the fact that my mother had a feeling that I would go into labour that night and have the baby the next day on my due date. Later that evening I ended up watching some comedy shows, so basically I had a lovely day feeling very relaxed. By the time I went to bed at midnight I'd had a few more little pains about half an hour apart but didn't think much of it. I tried to sleep but couldn't get comfortable and at about 2am I started getting stomach cramps and had to run to the toilet a couple of times, again I didn't think much of it as this had happened a week prior however after a short time both the cramps and pains started getting stronger and closer together maybe around 12-15 minutes apart. At roughly 2:30am I felt a pop very low down in my tummy and got a bit of fright, I think I was in disbelief that I might actually be in labour! My waters didn't release straight away but about 10 minutes after that pop I felt a trickle when I stood up. The pains were now 9-10 minutes apart so I decided to wake my partner, I had a feeling that things would move quickly so I told him to call my mum straight away and call the hospital to tell them we were coming in. My partner was so funny at this point, he had just come off back to back shifts and had gotten such a fright when I woke him that he was running around the house panicking, I had to stop him in between surges and tell him to relax and calm down. My mum arrived 15 minutes later by this time the surges were 5-6 minutes apart and very intense so we headed immediately to the hospital feeling really excited!
On arrival I was examined and told that the baby's head was still quite high and they never mentioned a figure on how much I was dilated, I'm actually quite glad they didn't talk numbers as I may have been disappointed if I was only a couple of centimetres, I knew myself that regardless of this things were moving fast and the baby wouldn't long coming, I actually didn't care about figures or timing, I just knew. My partner having calmed down by the time we got to the hospital also made sure at this point and in fact at every other point where we met another midwife to make sure they read our birth preferences. I was brought to the antenatal ward to continue labouring, I was only there for perhaps and hour and a half and things really started moving, my partner had to call the midwife eventually and when she checked me she said ok baby's head is right down and you're 7cm, all I remember is her talking to someone saying we need to bring her down she's bombing along! This whole time I was really focused on the surges, I breathed through them and tried to move as much as possible, I was upright the entire time which really helped. My partner totally took over on every other front, he spoke to the midwives, kept offering water and had a damp cloth ready for my forehead and neck.
We were then rushed off to delivery where I was greeted by two amazing midwives, they had the bed already raised up so I could lean on it and had ice water at the ready, the room was calm, quiet and they spoke in whispers, they offered gas and air but I didn't take it as I felt it would distract me. The surges were so intense at this stage that I was making quite a lot of noise, but it was helpful and felt productive. As the intensity ramped up again they encouraged me to kneel on the bed and raised up the back of it so I could lean over it and deliver upright. After about 30 minutes I started to feel the urge to push, for the first few urges I just let them come but then the midwife reminded me to push into them as well which instantly made a difference, I can be scary to push with them but when you do it makes it feel like the baby is actually moving. I can't say that I didn't feel pain or that the whole room was like an oasis of calm but it was happening gently if that makes sense. I felt like I was pushing for a long time, even though my partner says it wasn't that long, and at one point I did get quite upset as I felt like the baby was never going to come. At this, one of the midwives came to me squeezed my hand and just said 'you are doing amazing, really, your baby is nearly here, just another couple of pushes', the other midwife kept saying 'he's making his way gently and beautifully, don't worry', it was all I needed to hear and sure enough a few more pushes the head was born another push and the rest of my little boy Louis landed softly on the bed at 7:50am weighing 6lbs 10oz. I was so shocked and elated that I started screaming with excitement, the midwives had to almost shake me back to reality to actually pick up the baby, I was just so shocked that I had done it and he was here, we had waited three years to have a second healthy baby, I'll never forget that feeling!
We had delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin, my partner then cut the cord and the baby then breastfed for over an hour! I had a second degree tear which was stitched up quickly by another amazing midwife, compared to the episiotomy it really was a walk in the park and has healed so well. In fact he's now two and a half weeks old and other than that wicked tiredness I feel great! I do believe it's probably a mix of that high from having a wonderful intervention free and fear free birth and the fact that I have a very busy four year old!
I know this was a very long birth story and well done if you're still reading but I really wanted to include my experience leading up to going into labour, I was so anxious about being induced that when I finally gave in to the possibility of it I actually relaxed a lot more, the affirmation 'I accept whatever path my birthing takes' kept playing in my mind. Ironically not long after I felt really relaxed I went into labour naturally anyway! As the labour was quite fast, I didn't have time of the tracks or the tens machine I had ready, or any other little tricks I had planned for labour and in fact during my surges I just wanted quiet and stillness so I could focus. The course I did with Mary worked especially well for us in terms of writing birth preferences and feeling really confident about asserting these, my partner would especially endorse this and we would both really recommend the course to any prospective parents. Mary was a wonderful support after the course also and it was lovely to go to the meet up just a few days before Louis arrived. Throughout the pregnancy I also did yoga with a fantastic and very experienced instructor which I feel helped with positions and breathing. Lastly I think it's worth mentioning that as someone who's only birth option is a hospital birth due to medical history the staff in CUMH from before conception, pregnancy, birth and on the post natal ward were all incredible, I think they often don't get enough credit, it was so different from the experience we had four years ago. I felt supported and listened to every step of the way.
I'm still a bit in shock at how well and how text book everything went, after a really difficult few years I didn't think I would get a gentle birth but I did, it was tough but it was amazing and it has definitely healed the hurt and fear I felt after the birth of my daughter.