“There were no fairy lights and I didn’t use my lavender room spray – but I still had a magical hypnobirth (in a hurry!)”
Huge congratulations to our lovely TCBS Instructor Rosie from Mind Body & Baby, who gave birth to her beautiful baby boy recently. Rosie is a second time Calm Birth Method mama (and now an instructor).
“I am finally not pregnant, hurrah! I am proud to say that on Sunday 13th May at 4.36am I became mum to two under two. They are gorgeous in my humble opinion. Confusingly Leo looks exactly like his sister did as a newborn which led to many embarrassing pronoun slips at the hospital in the middle of the night but, four weeks later, I am now clear that he is a boy. There will be much more about the chaos of our new situation over the next few weeks, we have contended with a house move and a hospital stay since Leo’s arrival , but for now I want to tell you about his birth because I think it shows that there is always time for hypnobirthing, even when there isn’t time to fill a pool or take a paracetamol. I also think it shows how crucial birth partners can be when things don’t go exactly as you expected. So here it goes, don’t worry it isn’t a long one!
As anyone who follows me on social media knows, I was in A LOT of discomfort at the end of my pregnancy. Leo was fully engaged from 35 weeks and loved to rest his perfect little head on the nerves in my groin leading me to adopt a John Wayne style swagger on such a regular basis that I fear my imitation loving toddler’s gait may be permanently affected. So when at 36 weeks I started getting period pain type cramping, stomach upsets and some light spotting I was excited and ready to rock the birth. I had noticed a few twinges during our family day out at our local farm and congratulated myself on my obviously high levels of oxytocin. During the course of the evening the cramping got more intense and regular and I started getting everything ready for a trip to the hospital in earnest. I was listening to my hypnobirthing MP3s, bouncing on my birth ball, watching oxytocin raising romcoms and bathing in lovely baths with essential oils. This birth was going perfectly! I felt fully prepared and excited to meet my baby. Then nothing… And more nothing… Until the next evening and the next evening and the next evening. This scenario replayed itself every night like an exhausting birthing ground hog day until I found myself 39 + 6 and seriously pissed off.
On Saturday 12th May I was all about distracting myself from the misery so I planned a shopping trip with my mum. It was a real effort to get myself out of the front door as I felt tired and nauseous and had a very sore back, but I was getting used to feeling awful after four weeks so I belligerently decided to go anyway, leaving my little girl with my husband Tom for some Daddy-daughter bonding time. The trip was tiring and painful but nice, much like most of pregnancy. I felt like the baby was trying to claw its way out of me whenever I walked but that was standard at this point so I thought nothing of it. That evening I was watching “Ninja Warrior”, my favourite TV show, when the usual evening cramps began. The only thing that was different was the fact that I felt overwhelmingly tired and so instead of dutifully bouncing on my birth ball, as I had done every evening for weeks, I felt the need to lie down on my side on the sofa instead. So I lay there, enjoying some relaxation breathing with my popcorn and didn’t take any notice. Then I watched “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and didn’t take any notice. Then I watched Eurovision and didn’t take any notice. Around 10pm I mentioned to Tom that the usual cramps were getting a bit stronger and the breaks between them seemed to be quite short. He asked if he should time them and I laughed and said “no, don’t get excited I’m sure its just the usual”.
At 10:15pm I decided I should have a bath as that had been making me feel a bit more comfortable on previous evenings. Twenty minutes later I stood up to get out of the bath and suddenly I had to take notice. What a few minutes earlier could have been described as “light menstrual type cramping” had become surges strong enough that they were taking my breath away. I also felt an overwhelming fear that Tom was “so far away”. He was only in the living room and the rational part of my brain remembered that extreme clinginess was the most unexpected sign of labour I experienced when birthing Robyn. All of a sudden I went from being convinced nothing was happening to being completely sure that the baby was on its way. I robustly instructed Tom not to leave my side and he set up the TENS machine for me. I also noticed I had started instinctively using my surge/wave breathing and as I tuned in this I focused on the power of the surges and repeated to myself “I enjoy the sensations and power of birth” a combination of two of my favourite affirmations. Quickly the surges went from feeling pretty uncomfortable to being almost pleasurable as my body relaxed into the productive energy they created and I started to visualise the moment of meeting my baby.
We started timing the surges and saw that they were around six minutes apart but were lasting nearly two minutes. Weirdly at this moment a strange instinct kicked in and completely overtook my rational mind. The only way I can describe this is an intense fear of wasting time. For twenty minutes I refused to allow Tom to call the hospital or my Mum and Dad (who were on standby to come and look after my daughter, Robyn). I was so worried that I would be sent home and that Mum and Dad would have an interrupted nights sleep for no reason. Tom is usually very respectful of my opinion and is, like me, literally terrified of inconveniencing professionals so I expected him to go along with me. This time however he was not in the mood to take any crap from me or the hospital. Tom was totally confident that this baby was not far away and phoned my mum immediately telling her to get to us asap. He then called the hospital and despite their protestations told them we were coming in. I spoke to the midwife in triage and was given the classic “the contractions aren’t established yet (they definitely were) and they don’t sound that strong (because you can hear the uterus surging?) so don’t come in until you are getting two in ten (what the f*** does that mean?)” I didn’t have the energy to argue so Tom just assertively told her that we were coming anyway. At this moment my labour SUPERCHARGED.
I staggered downstairs, stopping every couple of steps as a new surge threatened to knock me off balance. I realised at this point (but didn’t tell Tom) that the surges had started coming every three minutes and were lasting so long I felt like I only had a couple of seconds in between them. I also felt overwhelmingly nauseous, to the point that I had to beg poor Tom not to make a coffee as I didn’t think I could stand the smell. Despite a small voice in my head telling me that I needed to get to the hospital very very quickly I felt confident that this birth was going to be magical and I calmly decided to plug in my headphones and start listening to my Calm Birth School birth rehearsal MP3 while Tom packed up the car. We had made a list of instructions for him to make sure Robyn, the cats and the house admin were all sorted without me having to engage with it and thank goodness we had as within a minute of listening to Suzy Ashworth’s dulcet tones the surges had become completely all consuming and I closed my eyes to focus on my visualisation and breathing. When my parents arrived I gave them a thumbs up and managed to say “we’ve got to go now” without opening my eyes. Tom bundled me into the car (with thoughtful sick bags in the glove box and a towel on the seat) and we set off on the hour long drive to hospital. I listened to my Calm Birth School affirmations and continued to remind myself to relax into and enjoy the sensations of the surges. This was challenging when going over speedbumps etc and the position in the car wasn’t ideal but I found my breathing and affirmations were enough to keep me relaxed. I never opened my eyes at all during the journey and only knew we had arrived because of the clicking of the car indicator. We arrived at the hospital at around 2am (I’m not entirely sure, time seems to go haywire during labour). Much to my surprise I felt the urge to push as I got out of the car and began the torturous walk to triage. Having had a 60 hour labour with Robyn I could not believe things could move that fast so I crossed my legs and carried on.
Then I met the one midwife who was on duty in triage… and she didn’t believe I was in labour. So she made me lie on my back hooked up to a monitor while she ignored me for FORTY MINUTES. I used my final scrap of ability to talk to use my BRAIN, asking her why exactly I needed to go through this and begging for alternatives but she was not forthcoming and I didn’t have the energy to argue. Tom focused on making this more bearable for me by holding my headphones close to my ear and playing my birth playlist (which is a cheesy mix of feel good classics). I was still very tired so took the opportunity to try and encourage my body to relax the most it possibly could using some progressive muscle relaxation techniques as well as my surge/wave breathing. The midwife came back and her eyes widened slightly when she looked at the trace the machine had generated. She then examined me and proclaimed “Oh you are nine centimetres, we’d better get you upstairs”. I was delighted that I was so close to meeting my baby but part of me was also slightly shocked that things were moving so quickly. I think part of me was still convinced that it could be a false alarm, I really need to get better at listening to my body! The midwife then asked me to put my jeans back on and walk upstairs to the delivery suite. I am such a natural people pleaser that I was trying my level best to do this but by this point my surges weren’t letting up at all. I was fully in the birthing zone and I felt an intense urge to bear down as I tried to dress. Progress was slow and I actually can’t remember if I managed it in the end. Tom thankfully recognised that we did not have long and told the midwife we would need a wheelchair and to move quickly if we were going to make it up to delivery.
We did make it upstairs and I was greeted by two lovely midwives who I could not see, as for some reason it felt right to keep my eyes closed, but I could sense that they were kind and I felt supported and safe. My body was telling me that standing and moving my hips slightly with each surge was what it needed to do so I kept doing that while the midwives tried to get a cannula into my hand to deliver the antibiotics I needed to protect my baby from group B strep (you can read all about group B strep and how it impacted on my birth plan here). Before I knew it I was using my birth breathing and the end was in sight. One of the midwives encouraged me to kneel on the bed on all fours and I asked for some gas and air. In both my births I have found gas and air helpful for forcing me to focus on my birth breathing. It seems to help me feel that I am pushing the breath down to my baby when I breathe out. After a few minutes of breathing my baby down my body told me to help it out with a bit of pushing. It actually felt good to go with my instincts and as I did my waters finally released and I could feel the baby’s head.
I must admit that at this point I had a slight mental wobble. Although I knew I was very close to meeting my baby there was also an anxious voice in my head that thought I might be too tired to get the job done. I’d started this labour already feeling exhausted and I just wasn’t sure I was strong enough to keep going. Thankfully my body didn’t really give me an option, it kept giving me the strong urge to bear down and I alternated pushing and birth breathing, going with what felt right with each surge. Within twenty minutes my beautiful baby boy was looking up at me. Having had my eyes closed since arriving at the hospital I opened them just as he was guided onto the bed by the midwives and our eyes connected immediately. I felt elation, shock and awe as I told Tom we had a son and I lifted him to my chest. Leo Michael was 7lb 13oz of perfection. We enjoyed skin to skin and the midwives waited to until the cord had turned white and stopped pulsing to give Tom the opportunity to cut it. I birthed the placenta naturally and within a few minutes Leo had initiated his first breast feed. It was 04:36am on 13th May, less than five hours had passed since I’d started to believe I was in labour and I continued to feel both shock and elation for the next couple of days. Overall, although there wasn’t time for a birth pool or a paracetamol , there were no fairy lights and I didn’t use my lavender room spray I still had a magical hypnobirth. Not perfect but totally wonderful in the literal sense of the word.”