I was 40+4, ready and waiting for my baby to be born. I had lost my mucus plug at 40+2 and kept it in the fridge in a container because I was so excited. It had been a very hot week with temperatures in the high 30’s and low 40’s and I was feeling it! I had not had a good night’s sleep for a couple of weeks as my hip was achy from lying on my left side all the time. I had tried all of the old wives tales to bring on my labour and had been to an acupuncture session a couple of days ago to prepare my cervix. At my last birth centre appointment the midwife had offered ‘membrane sweeping’ and broached the topic of medical induction which I desperately wanted to avoid. She had also told me that my baby was posterior, so despite my best efforts to stay relaxed and positive, some doubt was creeping in.
Even though it was a Saturday, hubby (‘L’) was busy working and I did not want to be alone all day, so I went to my parent’s place. They later told me that they had planned the day for me to try and get my labour started! We had a nice coffee and muffin at the Book Cafe in the morning, then went to Swanbourne beach. It was a stinking hot day, around 41 degrees and I had barely slept the night before and here we were, trekking along the beach! We walked for quite a while then had a lovely refreshing swim. I was very drawn to water and the ocean all through my pregnancy. We stayed at the beach for a few hours then headed back to my parent’s place to relax.
When I got home, I could not stop thinking about what the midwife had said about my baby being posterior so I rang my doula (‘H’) for reassurance. Her relaxing voice and words put my mind at ease. H said gently “your baby is not posterior! You will go into labour soon; my babies always come on the weekend!”. She told me to look up the Spinning Babies website and to map my belly, which I did. The belly mapping confirmed what I knew instinctively – my baby was in the perfect position! My confidence grew.
Exhausted but much happier, I flopped into bed just before 10pm. L was asleep immediately. Five minutes after getting into bed, I felt a strange internal popping sensation around my cervix. I thought “that could not have been my waters breaking, could it??” I went to the toilet to check and could not feel anything. I had a wee and after I had finished, the fluid kept coming! When I went to wipe myself I noticed it was clear and thick and gooey and draining very slowly. I realised that it was my waters and that this meant that labour would not be too far off! I would get to meet my baby soon. Excited but calm, I put a pad on, sent H a text to let her know and then went back to bed. She told me to Iet her know as soon as I wanted her to come over. I said that I would be fine for now. I did not wake L yet as I thought it may be a long night ahead! I started listening to my rainbow relaxation though my headphones and tried to rest.
An hour and a half later at 11.30pm, I had my first surge. I had been having painless practice surges regularly but randomly for the past three weeks so it wasn’t an unusual sensation, just slightly stronger tightening and more rhythmic and wave-like somehow. I did my surge breathing and it felt really good, like it finally made sense! Five minutes later, another surge and then another. I was surging every 5 minutes for 45 seconds. I was so excited! I took some time to put on my special labour nighty, set up the lounge room with the oil burner, some candles and the fit ball. I put on my yoga CD and gave my belly a rub with clary sage oil. I lay on the couch and breathed through the surges, going deeper and deeper. By 1am the surges were stronger, still 5 mins apart for 60 seconds. Time was going fast and I was feeling really good. At 2am, I rang H and woke up L for some company. H arrived at 2.30am and led me through an amazing relaxation script which really deepened the surges and got things going. I was really relaxed and completely lost track of time. H suggested using the fit ball and also the all-fours position so that I was more upright and L did the light touch massage and applied the hot pack to my lower back. The only time I felt uneasy at home was when I stopped feeling my baby move for a while. H told me to lie down and drink some cold water and soon she was moving again!
I had no idea but H tells me that my surges were 2 mins apart and 90 secs long at about 5am. It was at this time that I stopped talking between surges and was making some noises during the surges. H thought I was probably about 6cm and said that we should start getting ready to go to hospital soon. I stayed put on all fours, focusing on my surges while hubby rang the birth centre and got things organised. Before I knew it, H and L had me in my dressing gown and ugg boots and helped me climb the step ladder into the back of the car. They had put a mattress in the back of the car for me to kneel on and I started the journey on all fours, but it was too bumpy and the surges had become very uncomfortable. I had to lie down, which made the surges very painful. The trip to the hospital was a shock to my system and although very painful, my surges slowed right down. I only had three or four on the 20 minute drive to the hospital! We got to the birth centre just before sunrise (about 6.30am) and were greeted by the midwife. I stopped for a strong surge at the reception desk and then she showed us to our room. She asked if she could check my dilation and I agreed but I told her not to tell me if it was less than 5cm, (they recommend that you do not get in the birthing pool if you are under 6cm as it can slow your labour down). I lay on the bed and she checked my cervix. She started to say very gently “your cervix is very thin and your body has done a lot of work” and I knew straight away that I was not very dilated! I said “tell me how many centimetres”. She said “under five”, and I said “I don’t care, I just want to know”. So she told me I was two centimetres but that my cervix was paper thin.
I tried not to be discouraged and H reinforced that my cervix was paper thin and that I would not have long to go. However, after labouring all night and thinking I was more than 2cm; I have to say that I lost my groove for a while. I did not realise this but at this point (probably 7.00am) H had to spend a while convincing the midwife that I should be allowed to stay at the birth centre as they really wanted to send me home. H encouraged me to squat deeply while holding onto the end of the bed through the surges, which were now not regular at all and were very painful.
After a while, I think we were all exhausted and started to think that perhaps this labour would take a lot longer than expected. H said I should lie down and try to get some rest. She went to lie down herself and it was at this point that I started to feel a bit out of control. Lying down was WAY too uncomfortable, my head was in the wrong space and things had slowed down to one surge every 15 mins. I was pacing the room and saying to L “I just don’t know what to do next!” A lady came in with my breakfast and L made me try and eat something. I grabbed a boiled egg and nearly threw up trying to force it down. Needless to say, he ate the rest of my breakfast! Then he lay on the bed and fell asleep.
I was alone. This allowed me to search deep within, to look for my strength and resilience again. I stripped off all of my clothes and got in the double headed shower. I knelt down on my knees and turned the hot tap full bore and let the water pound my back and my belly. I began to remember all of my HypnoBirthing training and started to relax, focusing on my surge breathing, visualising the rose bud opening, chanting ‘cervix open, baby down, cervix open, baby down’. I started using my energy to connect with the millions of women who have birthed before me, thinking of my grandmothers for inspiration. Surge by surge, the labour quickly started to build again as I went deeper and deeper. The pressure of the hot water was amazing and I was feeling good again. I vaguely remember the midwife checking on me what seemed like every five minutes but apparently it was every half hour. Each time, I wished she would not talk to me! I had no ability to think of words, the labour was all consuming. At some point, L came into my shower sanctuary to ask me what I wanted to order for lunch and dinner. This was so impossible to conceive that it wasn’t funny and I snapped at him “I don’t care, just order something” thinking that I would never want to eat again!
The surges were coming regularly and very strong now and it was a completely visceral experience. Each surge took every ounce of my focus. The sensation was so intense it was very nearly completely overwhelming but I took each for what it was and never thought of the next one. I praised myself each time the waved peaked and then started to subside.
After a while I felt like I may lose control again when the midwife came to check on me I think I said “can you get my doula?” that’s all I could manage at that point. So H came to help me in the shower. She asked “what can I do for you” and I said “my affirmations” so she put on my HypnoBirthing affirmation CD and took my shoulders and gently swayed me from side to side through the surges. This helped immensely and it was wonderful just having the presence of her in my birthing space.
Soon after, I felt pressure sensation and I managed to mutter to H “pressure, I feel pressure”. I did not trust this feeling as it was similar to what I had felt just before we left for home the birth centre and I was only 2cm dilated when we arrived at the hospital! H asked if she should start running the bath and I nodded. She left to get the bath running and I before I knew what was happening, I instinctively dropped to my knees from the chair I had been sitting on. I could feel something was about to happen. Was my baby coming? Before I could think about it, my body started to push with all its might and I let out the most primal, guttural scream that I had ever heard! It was incredible. H and two midwives came running and hubby woke up with a start. H said to L, “don’t go anywhere, your baby is coming!”
I had no control over my body at all, I fully surrendered and I felt like I was merely watching on, amazed. I could feel my baby moving down as my body pushed through the first surge and it felt good. I felt very mammalian and very powerful – this is how we are supposed to birth – it felt like my right of passage as a woman!
There was a break between surges but I have no idea how long it was. Then the second push came and the scream. I don’t think scream describes the sound properly, I don’t think there is a word to describe this sound! It was an unbelievable sound, so intense, so powerful. It was strange though because the sound was not related to the sensation I felt – the pushing was actually not very painful – but my body had to make the sound anyway.
I forget whether it was two or three pushes but I started to feel that familiar burning sensation of the baby’s head crowning (I had practiced a lot with my Epi-no and regularly pushed out the 10cm balloon). My baby was coming, fast! The midwife said “your baby is crowning” so I reached up to touch her head and I will never forget that feeling! I am reminded of it now every time I wash her hair. At this point, the midwife told me to pant and relax while my baby’s head gently stretched my perineum. With the next surge, my baby’s head was born. We had planned for L to catch her, but it all happened so quickly and as her body was born, I reached down and caught her myself and pulled her up onto my chest! It was an absolutely unbelievable moment. She was so little and perfect, our Lucy Isobel. It was so surreal and wonderful to finally meet our daughter. I pulled her close and did not ever want to let go.