The experience of giving birth to our first child, Jesse, has given me an overwhelming sense of empowerment, awe for mother nature as well as a new-found gratitude for the help of Western medicine. As much of a hippy and lover of Eastern practices as I am, both methods served their purpose perfectly in our birth story; I loved every moment and would go back to relive the pain, discomfort and intense emotion any day, just to relive that magic moment of looking into Jesse’s beautiful blue eyes for the first time again…
Before the beginning…
So I had an antenatal appointment with my midwife on week 41 + 3 days, Tuesday August 7th, to have a check up and potentially book in for a sweep. I was really hoping for a spontaneous labour but I agreed to booking a sweep for the following Thursday (I believed, on some level, that I wouldn’t need it) as the way my midwife was talking, it seemed like labour would begin very soon and I wanted to give Jesse one more chance to come on his own…
After the appointment, Dean and I went out to our new favourite local Chinese for a treat and to help me relax, as I was beginning to get very down with the apprehension of not knowing when I would finally get to meet our baby. It was a tropical evening and the Chinese was so light and airy inside- the atmosphere was beautiful for Dean and I’s last meal together as a couple, before we became a family. A perfect last supper, although we had no idea that it would be for sure…
“Everything about the morning sang Summer bliss and, although labour was so intense, I was forever smiling inside.”
I awoke just before 2am with contractions (or surges as we called them). I thought I’d had one in the Chinese the night before, however, now that they were coming regularly, I knew it was for real. It was more of an intense ache in my lower back so was still questioning it when I woke Dean to tell him. I let him go to sleep until we were ready to call the birth centre and went downstairs with my Mam, who was staying with us along with my Dad, as they live over 4 hours away.
We watched Gavin and Stacey for a little bit and it reminded me of times I was at home during my school days when I was unwell and my Mam would always sit with me and watch videos to distract me. I knew I would need Dean more later, so was happy to let him have his rest.
After counting the contractions with Dean on his phone app and 2 calls to the birth centre, they confirmed we could come in to be checked if we wanted to. My Dad got up and we all grabbed the bags to pack the car. Getting changed was very difficult as the surges came so frequently now. I felt so much better on all fours, as I had been leaning across my birthing ball to help me breathe through them until now. When I was on the floor beside the bird’s cage, Nugget and Pickles came down to my level to see what was going on, bless them.
The car journey was unbearable as I had to actually sit down and all I wanted to do was lean forward. I listened to a relaxation meditation track on my tablet and used deep breathing I had learned about with hypnobirthing on the journey to the hospital; this really helped distract me from the pain of sitting in an upright position. We arrived at the birth centre before 7am on the dawn of a beautiful day. Everything about the morning sang Summer bliss and, although labour was so intense, I was forever smiling inside.
The Birth Centre & Our Amazing Midwife Team
I started to loose track of the time as we waited to be checked in the triage area of Chesterfield Birth Centre. We were looked after by a lovely student midwife and a senior midwife checked me, confirming I was about 3cm and we would be transferred to a birth room with a pool as soon as one became available. It was then that we met our faithful midwife who stayed with us for the rest of her shift and was an amazing support for the birth.
“I was still taking in the space and just thinking how amazing it was that I could see trees, green grass and the fluffy clouds drifting across the most perfectly blue sky”
We were moved to our birth room at about 9am and the first thing I was astounded by was the size of the area! There was a bed, some storage cupboards, huge windows which ran the whole length of the room, a pool, a funny shaped birthing ball, a mat and an en suite bathroom with a shower (which unfortunately I didn’t get to use). While Dean was messing about with the music and setting up the affirmation cards, I was still taking in the space and just thinking how amazing it was that I could see trees, green grass and the fluffy clouds drifting across the most perfectly blue sky (and hoping nobody could see in! Turns out it was tinted and the midwife assured us it was completely private).
I wasn’t bothered when we couldn’t get the music to work. I just wanted to get in that pool and watch the clouds drift by, which turned out to be the best spontaneous tool I picked up for my hypnobirthing plan. I felt safe and relaxed in this naturally lit, spacious room and more than ready to have a baby soon…
As soon as I got in that pool with Dean, the pressure in my lower back almost completely vanished and only returned during a surge. Dean was an amazing support, joining me in the pool, reading out my affirmations, reminding me how soon it would be until we got to meet our little boy and just being there for me to hold onto when the surges were so intense. Like I hoped, I wasn’t offered pain relief by our midwife as she was following our birth plan to a tee and knew we didn’t want it. I was offered aromatherapy which worked a treat during the pushing stage and we needed my surges to be more frequent to help baby come down.
I had no idea when transition was but I know I was pushing for hours. By lunch time, the midwife started preparing towels and observing my back end- I was getting so excited now that Jesse would be here any minute!
But, things were about to get heavy…
I knew I must be in the pushing stage now as the pressure was so much more intense and I felt like I had to express my energy verbally and I sounded more like some sort of feral creature in distress the more intense it became. The head midwife came in to discuss the progress as Jesse was in an awkward position- he was heading down at an angle which made it harder for me to push him through my pelvis.
Instead of referring me to the labour ward and the consultants, the midwives stuck to my plan with sheer determination to see me have this baby naturally. At some point during all this, we met a second midwife, who was to take over from ours when her shift finished at 3.15pm. I couldn’t believe I was still pushing at this point in the early afternoon and having another midwife in the team was an extra motivation for me to keep going, even though I was exhausted and in so much pain (yes, I’ll admit it was pain). They broke my waters, which I was then told were extremely tough and weren’t going to budge on their own. A little later they also drained my bladder to help make extra space and encouraged me to sniff my essential oils. Everything they done was to ensure we had the natural birth we dreamed of. I cannot express enough, my gratitude to those amazing ladies.
The Final Push
After hours of pushing, breaking my waters, draining my bladder and trying pretty much every birthing position known in history, I was still not holding Jesse in my arms. I was completely exhausted, my body felt weak, I was mentally and emotionally drained and it was getting increasingly difficult for Dean to experience me in this much pain. We were both at the point of thinking this was going to end in the hospital and I remember whimpering, “I need help” in my desperation.
It upset me more that Jesse was still not here than how much pain and discomfort I was in. I just wanted him here safe more than anything in the world, now.
Just when I thought we were going to be referred, as I felt nothing happening no matter how hard I pushed, the head midwife came in and gave us a final push. Our first midwife had now left and the new midwife, who had been just as incredibly supportive, was still not giving up on this natural birth.
“That final push brought our son into this world and his cry was like music to my ears.”
They helped me up into a standing position and during a surge I done the deepest, most intense squat I’d ever done and suddenly I heard Dean yell “NO!” as he thought I was going to sit on his head. This stopped my flow, but hearing them talk about “the head” triggered my last ounce of spirit I had left in me and I was determined now, to do this. In the next surge, my spirit kicked out the last amount of energy I had left in my mind and body, then I felt that burning sensation my midwife had previously spoken of as I squatted once more- I knew this must be his head coming.
Hearing the encouraging, energetic coaching from Dean and our midwife, I was taken back to my karate training in the dojo for a moment and I used their energy to initiate that final push, just as I used to carry on stamina punches even when my arms were dead. That final push brought our son into this world and his cry was like music to my ears.
The midwife passed him through to me immediately and the feeling was incredible. Dean broke down and repeated “he’s here!” as neither of us could believe that after all this time, the long labour and hard work, here he is, finally in our arms… Then I saw his beautiful blue eyes- the ones I had been dreaming of for so long.
It wasn’t over…
We had the most amazing golden hour with skin to skin and breastfeeding right away. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I will never forget the moment, when I was still holding him at the foot of the bed, he opened his beautiful big blue eyes and looked straight into mine- my heart melted. Dean updated our family. including my parents, who had been back to our house and were now awaiting in suspense to meet their first grandchild.
While I was lying there holding Jesse and covered in all kinds, I was reminded that I still had a placenta to deliver which meant yet more pushing. I felt like I had nothing left in me and the pain in my back end was still so intense when I tried pushing, kneeling up on the bed, I went dizzy. The midwife and Dean helped me to the bathroom so I could use the toilet seat to help me deliver it. It must have been rather an amusing site seeing the 3 of us struggle to the bathroom, Dean holding Jesse close to me, the midwife holding a sheet between my legs and me just finding it almost impossible to walk.
“It was a bit of a kick in the teeth, and normally I would be devastated but I had a beautiful baby boy there in my husband’s arms and nothing was going to bring me down from this high.”
After passing the placenta and I was back on the bed, I asked the midwife “Dare I ask if I have any tears?” When she examined me (which I was offered gas & air for, I still didn’t take any for fear of feeling nauseous) she told me it looked very deep so would need to get a doctor in to have a look and depending how bad it was, I may need transferred to theatre. The doctor arrived a few minutes later and confirmed that, yes I would need to go to theatre and undergo a spinal anaesthetic.
So, after the surgeon and anaesthetist had been through all their paperwork with me, I was wheeled off to the theatre to repair my 3rd degree tear under a spinal- after 13 and a half hours of labour and intense pushing with no drugs or pain relief. It was a bit of a kick in the teeth, and normally I would be devastated but I had a beautiful baby boy there in my husband’s arms and nothing was going to bring me down from this high. Jesse arrived naturally, the way it should be, and that’s all that mattered to me.
Theatre & the Recovery
Having never undergone an operation in my life or had to go to hospital for anything other than consultations, I would normally have been an absolute nervous wreck knowing I was about to have surgery, but the adrenaline and friendly surgeons kept my anxiety to an absolute minimum. The staff were so swift and professional, I had no idea they were doing anything- the anaesthetic was that powerful in my lower body and it was over so quickly!
There were two lovely ladies keeping me company in recovery, asking me about the birth and my baby. Soon after, Dean appeared with Jesse and our midwife to accompany me to the postnatal ward. I held Jesse on the way- I had missed him already, even though it had only been about an hour. He was dressed in his onesie and little hat and it felt so good to cuddle him again.
We were well cared for in Trinity Ward and there were two other lovely chatty Mums there with their babies in the ward with us. Unfortunately, there were set visiting times so my parents had to wait until the next day to finally meet Jesse. That night, I celebrated every little movement I got back in my legs and was finally able to walk at about 2am- 24 hours after my labour began. The next day we had many visitors- midwives and various doctors and nurses carrying out checks on Jesse and throwing tons of information at Dean and I. This also included a visit from the Bounty ladies who done a little photo shoot of Jesse and gave us our goody bag.
Bringing Jesse Home
We were discharged from hospital the next afternoon, and while we were waiting for confirmation, my parents came to meet Jesse. I still can’t believe it took them that long to get to meet him. My Dad drove us all home to a fresh, clean house as my parents had been so helpful keeping on top of things while we were in hospital.
I guess I will never get over how amazing the experience of naturally birthing a child is and it is definitely my biggest success in life so far. However our babies get to us, it truly is a miracle and as long as they are safe and happy, it’s the best experience in the world.
To me, this…
… is success!
Thank you so much for you interest in our birth story.
Please feel free to comment & share aspects of your own birth stories.