I actually said out loud ‘oh my god I’m soooo proud of myself’
This week’s birth story comes from the lovely couple Emma and Chris, who attended a TCBS with Shona Baxter Empowered- Hypnobirthing for Warrior Mamas in Northumberland. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us.
My 5 month old baby lays peacefully by my side enjoying her afternoon nap, I’m looking at her in absolute contentment, still amazed that she’s mine. Moments like this make me look back to when she arrived, reliving every detail and remembering the overwhelming feeling of love I instantly developed when she was placed into my arms.
I have decided today is the day I put pen to paper and write my birth story, because one day I believe some memories and the finer detail will slowly begin to fade, and as mad as it may sound for some, I want to remember everything single second.
Firstly, I’ll explain a little bit about my pregnancy. Overall, I had quite a smooth ride, apart from the sickly stage at the beginning and the odd bought of heartburn near the end, I actually felt pretty normal and healthy. However, this little tinker seemed to play games at every single midwife appointment. Long story short, I was sent to hospital following every midwife appointment, this was for growth scans due to measuring too small, monitoring of movement and even an unexpected trip to see a specialist due to unexplainable dips in baby’s heart rate. My pregnancy at one point was classed as high risk, however, over time this was signed off and back to low risk we went. As you can imagine it was a worrying time, however, I just had to keep reminding myself that if I got in a pickle it wouldn’t help the situation, the baby or myself, so the use of MP3’s & breathing techniques I’d learnt from our hypnobirthing course came in very handy and I was able to keep myself, and my partner really calm.
Now for the juicy bit….
Saturday 9th March 2019, day 3 of Maternity leave and extremely excited to spend the day with my godson and enjoy the time just the two of us before another little one arrived and joined the sleepover crew. Knowing everything for the baby was organised and ready for its arrival, house had been cleaned a hundred times, a cosy day on the sofa playing games and watching disney movies was absolutely on the cards and that is exactly what we did. The day was full of giggles. We waved my partner, Chris, off on nightshift and after a quick game of eye spy we were ready for some sleep…
11pm arrived and I was hit with this almighty urge to pee, after a quick waddle to the loo I noticed the very very early signs, ‘the show’ that I’d read so much about and wasn’t overly keen on experiencing. This continued to come away as the night went on, and the detailed text updates were sent to Chris on a regular basis.
Sunday 10th March 2019, the morning arrived, and I felt totally fine, like as if nothing had happened at all. My godson and I continued as normal, had some breakfast, another game of eye spy and a few more giggles. At 10:30am I was doing the dishes and all of a sudden got what I thought was a ‘poo pain’, leaned on the kitchen bench, gave myself a second and continued with the dishes. Was I in denial? I still don’t know! A little while later my friend arrived to pick up my godson, then it hit me again, this almighty urge to pee. So off I waddled again, crikey what is this I thought, more of ‘the show’, like loads of it this time. I shouted for my friend (Chris fast asleep following night shift) and her reaction I think was ‘ooooffff I think something is happening’. She stayed with me a little while and again at 12:30pm the ‘poo pain’ returned. This time I really had to stop and compose myself. My friend thought it’d be best to get my godson away before I started mooing the house down, so off they went, and I quickly woke Chris.
Although the sensations I was experiencing weren’t too regular I almost felt like I didn’t know where to put myself, so I decided to run a bath, play my relaxing MP3’s and just chill. Something was telling me I had to find my happy place and get in the zone. Another pain returned at 2:30pm, another 2 hours had passed but it was much stronger this time. Still in the bath I was able to breathe through the sensation quietly. This is when they started coming a little more regularly, still very much bearable, still very much in denial. At this point I’d said to Chris ‘if this baby is coming in the next couple of days I best get on and make them flapjacks’. The flapjacks I so very much wanted with me to enjoy in hospital, and I wasn’t letting this go. I insisted on a drive to B&M to get all the ingredients before the shops closed at 4pm, it was now 3:45pm. What was going on in my head at this point I do not know! I was very chilled, very very chilled 🙂 After the quickest shop ever, and now safe to say, three CONTRACTIONS later we were back in the car, flapjack mixture in hand, hating every single bump in the road on the way back home. It was now very obvious that something was happening.
After a quick phone call with my Mum, trying not to give too much away, we had the contraction timer app at the ready, my lovely peaceful music was playing, and I was back in the bath. The sensations I was experiencing were coming often enough but not consistently on a regular basis, sometimes 15, 7, 12, 4 minutes apart. We called the hospital, explaining what was happening, also making them aware that I was hypnobirthing just so they knew I might be a little more chilled than initially expected. I was advised to continue doing what I was doing at home until the sensations came more regularly, every however many minutes. Pressing the button to hang up on that phone call was like flicking on a switch, my body must have thought ‘right that’s it, let’s do this’!! And so, they came, stronger sensations, thick and fast every 4ish minutes. I’m not going to lie, this is when I started mooing, it was my way of dealing with it, along with breathing in for 4 and out for 7, in for 4 out for 7, continuously, and I mean continuously. At this stage we made further contact with the hospital and they advised it was now the time for us to pop in so they could assess how I was getting on. So, after a few attempts to get out of the bath, get dressed and get downstairs in-between all the mooing, I was on all fours in the hallway ready to make one more jump to the car, definitely starting to experience the bearing down feelings.
We arrived at hospital at around 7:30pm. What still amazes me to this day is how I managed to get out the car, across the carpark, through reception, in the lift, along the corridor and to the birthing centre desk before I experienced another contraction. Now that is exactly how adrenaline and fight or flight mode was explained to me – my body knew it wasn’t safe to birth a child, so it simply paused the process until I was back in a safe & calming environment. I handed over my notes and by birthing plan and was greeted by two lovely ladies, a midwife and a student. I’d detailed clearly in my birth plan that I was very happy for students to be present throughout. My contractions were very regular now, we were no longer counting, however, by the time I’d recovered from one I could feel the next one brewing, I was standing and leaning on the back of a chair, breathing in for 4, out for 7, in for 4, out for 7. Chris was with me the whole time, keeping me calm and applied the tens machine to my back, after the initial shock of the sensation (I jumped out of my skin to be fair), it ended up feeling totally lush, almost a little relief from the tightenings. I was very much mooing by this point, uncontrollably. I was invited over to the bed for an examination and after a few attempts to get there from being ‘in the zone’ leaning on the back of the chair, I finally made it. I was still breathing in for 4 and out for 7. I could have cried with happiness at what I heard next, ‘That’s your waters breaking, you’re 8cm dilated, you’ve done brilliantly to get this far at home’. That made my day, I actually said out loud ‘oh my god I’m soooo proud of myself’.
In between the moo’s, the midwife, Chris and I discussed my birthing plan. She gave us such reassurance that they’d do what they could to allow our baby to arrive the way we wanted. Now I must point out, that although I had a written ‘plan’ it was not a strict bullet pointed document of how I wanted the labouring stage and birth to go. At the top it said ‘I am planning a vaginal, water birth without intervention, however, if circumstances change, I am very happy to consider other options’. So, yes this is what I had visualised but my birth plan made it clear I was happy to do whatever it took to deliver my baby safely & calmly.
My midwife advised that there was a pool free and they were currently working to get this filled and ready for me. Looking back, I would have walked to the pool room naked, I was so keen to get there the midwife had to give me a little pep talk, slow me down, remind me of my breathing techniques (she and Chris were counting with me) and wrap a sheet around my waist, I can remember Chris saying ‘I don’t want to have to arrest you for indecent exposure’ haha! When we reached the corridor, she explained that should a contraction occur whilst walking to the pool room we would use the bars on the walls to lean on and breath through them calmly. This happened a few times, my vision was either blurred or I had my eyes closed because I can’t remember being aware of my surroundings or knowing which direction I was headed. All I can remember is the sound of a door opening, a male voice apologising and the midwife saying, ‘bet you didn’t expect to see this’. How very embarrassing!!
When arriving to the pool room I stripped off and climbed straight in, oh my god the relief, it felt unreal. However, due to the complications with baby’s heart rate during pregnancy I had to keep bringing my bump right out of the water every 10 minutes (felt like 10 seconds) so a dopler could be used to check the heart rate. This was really distracting me from the little bubble I was in, although I was still using my breathing techniques there was definitely something less calming about being in the pool than I’d initially expected. Chris asked me if I wanted my music playing to which I responded yes, however, I instantly told him to turn it off. I’m not really sure exactly what happened but after one last check of the heart rate with the dopler the midwife advised me, in a calm manner, we need to get you on to the bed to monitor baby’s heart rate for a few minutes, if everything is fine you can get back in the pool. This is where I feel the real benefits of hypnobirthing came in … I have to admit I did start to panic a little bit, I really didn’t want to be on the bed, I’d heard it’s more painful lying on the bed and certainly didn’t want a big light shining in my face being able to see exactly what was going on – I knew this would make me panic and that was the last thing I wanted to happen. Chris and I really worked together at this point, baby was the biggest priority and although my hands were tied slightly in terms of possible interventions etc. I knew that if I got back in the zone, remained calm and relaxed that was the best thing I could do for our baby and myself.
Surprisingly enough, once I was on the bed I didn’t want to get off, I was in a comfortable position and I felt safe. However, the light was shining in my face. Not pleasant at all. I knew there was more I could do to help me stay calm. I asked Chris to put my headphones in and get the eye mask I’d thrown in to my hospital bag last minute, and there I was, back in the zone 🙂 I asked the midwife to simply tap me on the knee three times should she need to examine me, I was giving her the consent to do so in advance, and should anything need to be discussed to speak with Chris who would then remove my headphones and tell me himself. I know his voice, he keeps me calm, that’s what I needed and that’s exactly how it worked.
A lot of loud mooing, bearing down and what felt like loads of pushes later, Chris removed my headphones to tell me that a few more people were to come in the room as the baby needed a little help to come out, I simply nodded and asked if it was too late for gas and air. I was so glad I could use it because although I had my music playing, I could still hear the commotion, being able to use the gas and air not only helped me with my breathing it also totally drowned out any background noise. Some people laugh when I tell them this, but I couldn’t see or hear anything. I was in my zone, listening to my body and breathing in for 4, out for 7. Chris spoke to me after a little while and told me I’d need to be cut as they needed to use forceps and that I’d soon feel a sharp scratch, again I simply nodded and in went the headphones again. After a few minutes Chris told that the midwife needed to speak to me, a whole shift change had occurred while I had been in my bubble so a new lovely voice introduced herself, advising she’d read my birthing plan and explained I needed some coached pushing so we quickly came up with a plan which would allow me to continue listening to my music & wearing my eye mask as it was quite apparent that these techniques were keeping me calm. She was to hold her hand on my shoulder when I could breath normally, and tap continuously on my shoulder for the time I needed to push. This worked perfectly and a few minutes later Chris removed my eye mask so I could see our baby being lifted out and up on to my chest. As per our birthing plan Chris told me the sex and there she was, Jessica Lilly Nelson born at 10:26pm, Sunday 10th March 2019, weighing a lush little 6lb 5oz.
Jessica latched straightaway, skin on skin and continued to feed during the delayed cord clamping, when Chris cut the cord and until the placenta had been removed. I used gas and air while I was stitched and ended the whole process with a big hug off the midwife & doctor.
So, although the procedure of an episiotomy had to be completed, I used all techniques I’d learnt and calmly hypnobirthed throughout. If I’d been able to see all the people in the room and hear the whole commotion it would have been a totally different story. The midwives said they’d never been in a situation where they’d met the baby before the mother before, we had a good old giggle introducing ourselves to each other. They were amazed at how much control I’d had throughout and how calm I had remained.
The birth of Jessica was everything I could have hoped for and I truly believe this is due to the techniques we’d learnt at our hypnobirthing course with Shona. Such a positive experience which filled me with such empowerment. Truly amazing!!
If you want to create your own positive birth you can start today!