“this is why people get epidurals”!

This week’s birth story comes from a lovely couple Blandine and Gerard who read the Calm Birth Method book at home and ‘in her words’ “Had the most wonderful home birth experience”. 

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with is! 

21st of September 2020  

40 + 5. Despite knowing that she would come when ready, the wait for our baby’s arrival was making us impatient. I spent a lot of time every day listening to positive affirmations and TCBS meditations trying to get as mentally ready as possible. The weekend was spent eating spicy curries and having relaxing massages. By Monday, we were starting to be a bit discouraged. We had a laugh about it in and Gerard said that the 9 months of pregnancy had flown by, but those last days waiting for her appearance were dragging on!  

For about a week I’d been feeling Braxton Hicks and our midwife had told us the baby’s head was engaged, which was all positive. On Monday afternoon I had started feeling light surges but at this point was scared to get our hopes up for nothing.  

At around 10pm I was sitting in bed reading Harry Potter, unable to sleep, still feeling very mild tightening, so I decided to have a chat with our baby. I told her if she was ready to come we would love to meet her. I told her about her brothers. I said that Daddy would be the best dad and all the ways we would take care of her. Almost immediately I started to feel more intense period-like surges. After 30mins or so, I told Gerard, but said to get some rest and I would try to do the same. We were both very excited!  

Despite the surges being mild and irregular, they were still coming every 5-7mins for about a minute, and I found it impossible to rest. I called our midwife Ann and we decided that if they kept like this for the next hour, she would make her way over. (As she lived 1h30 away, she was scared things might progress quickly as this was my 3rd baby). At around midnight I woke Gerard up. I remember him hugging me and saying “It’s going to be wonderful” and those words gave me strength throughout the labour. Yes, it was going to be wonderful! 

I decided to have a bath while still timing the surges. Meanwhile Gerard went downstairs to set up the pool and birth room. After about half an hour in the bath with surges still coming every 5 minutes, I got Gerard to call Ann. She said she’d make her way slowly. As this early labour stage had lasted all night with the boys, I was worried she was coming too early. She said she couldn’t sleep anyway so I trusted her judgement. 

Gerard set up the pool in no time at all and had the rest of the birth room prepped. It was beautiful, with positive affirmations, low lighting, plenty of cushions, towels and blankets, photos of the kids and lots of snacks. We also set up the kitchen and living room with candles, incense and calm music mixed with some TCBS relaxation tracks. For the next couple of hours I walked from kitchen to living room and back again, only stopping every time I felt a surge. Gerard was wonderful at applying counter pressure against my lower back which really helped me breathe through them.  

22nd of September 2020  

Ann arrived at around 2.30am. By 4.30am the surges were still the same intensity so she decided to have a nap. I was trying everything I could to get things moving by changing positions, swaying my hips, using my birth ball, yoga, walking, and even going up and down the stairs. Gerard made us some croissants around 5am and was great at keeping me fuelled and motivated. However, as time passed I started to get more anxious. I was scared this would go on for a while and I had made Ann come for nothing. I was also worried as the boys usually woke up around 6.30/7am and I didn’t know how they would handle the environment. The birth room was set up perfectly but it was also a big hazard for 2 toddlers with all the candles, incense, pool, not to mention my essential oils, etc. I voiced my fears to Gerard but we couldn’t come up with a decision and in the end I told him to get out of the birth room as he was “ruining my vibe” (!!) 

It was hard to take my mind off the ticking clock. By 7am Gerard told me he would take Joshua with him when taking Cian to preschool. I had just been to the toilet and had felt something between my legs. When I looked, to my amazement it was my mucus plug. I had assumed that I had lost it before but just hadn’t noticed. Seeing it filled me with dread. It meant that I couldn’t be very dilated and the 9 hours of mild surges had been for “very little”. I told Gerard this and told him I was fine with his decision. 

Ann walked into the birth room at that point, having woken up from the noise of the boys getting up, and asked how I was doing. During the 15 minutes we spoke I had about 3 surges. I felt them getting more intense, but as she told me she might go home until things picked up, I figured it was probably fear kicking in. I started to get very anxious with everyone leaving, but Ann assured me she wouldn’t go anywhere until Gerard got back.  

Gerard left with the kids around 7.30am. I waited until they had gone to leave the birth room. I really wanted to get into the birth pool as I felt this would help me deal with the increasing intensity, but Ann said it might stall labour until I was in “established labour” (about 3 surges every 10 minutes). I asked if I could take a bath instead, although internally I worried if I could even deal with the surges while reclining in a bath, and she said that would be fine.  

I walked up the stairs and started running the water. As I peered into the boys’ bedrooms, I saw that things weren’t as I usually liked them so started tidying up (yes, I’m OCD even in labour). I had a surge in Josh’s bedroom which seemed really strong to me and made me anxious to get in the bath. I still managed to walk to Cian’s bedroom, opened the window and started putting away some toys. Suddenly a surge came and literally knocked the wind out of me. I remember being on my hands and knees and for some reason concentrating on the golden varnish on my nails as I found the colour really soothing. The surge seemed to build up in intensity with a forceful pressure on my cervix. I remember thinking “this is why people get epidurals”! By the time the surge stopped my whole body was shaking and I felt weak.   

I managed to walk to the bathroom, but almost immediately I felt another surge coming. I was thinking “this has to be established labour” as it had almost certainly been less than 10 minutes between those three surges. By instinct I sat on the toilet bowl. I wanted to call for Ann but the sensations carried on for what felt like forever. As soon as a surge ended another one came and I didn’t have time to relax or shout for help. After about 4 minutes I got a break and cried very faintly down the stairs for Ann luckily, she heard me and came straight away.  

As soon as she saw me, she knew I was in established labour. Another surge came and as I started tensing up, she immediately came over and started stroking my arms, telling me to relax my jaw and shoulders, and speaking positive words. Just to have her there as support made me feel better even though I was still finding it hard to breathe. I remember kind of whimpering through each surge and wanting to cry. I said something like “I want to get up but I don’t want to poo” (as the pressure on my cervix made me feel like I could just empty myself on the bathroom floor) and feeling really scared that I wouldn’t be able to handle this for very long. In hindsight I was clearly in the transition stage.  

Ann seemed OK with me sitting on the toilet but I really just wanted to get inside the pool. The problem was every time I tried to get up the sensations were so intense I’d only take a step or two. The surges felt like they were pressing down on my pelvis. I asked Ann if this was normal and she said to see if I could feel the head. I couldn’t feel anything so she said the head was trying to rotate to get lower down, and that was the intense sensation I was feeling.   

During a small break we managed to go down the stairs and I almost ran into the birth pool as I felt another surge coming. The water instantly made me feel so much lighter. As the intensity of the next surge built up, the water around me was soothing. All of a sudden I felt a rush of “I can do this” and started to relax and breathe deeper. What was really odd though was that with each surge came an intense sensation to push. I asked Ann what I should do and she told me again to see if I could feel anything. This time I could definitely feel the head (and hair!) with the tip of my fingers. As another surge came the most overwhelming feeling to push took over and I just breathed with it, and within seconds the head I was touching was in my palm!   

I told Ann “the head is out!” and as I was already on all fours, she got a mirror and had a look. She told me it was only half the head so as I felt another surge, I kept my palm on it and breathed like Ann had told me (kind of like panting). Within seconds the whole head came out and with it an immediate sense of relief. After less than a minute Ann said “the shoulders are coming out” then “turn around to meet your baby” (I don’t remember pushing at all at this stage). At her last words I paused for a second, feeling the disappointed that Gerard wouldn’t be there to meet our baby at the same time as me. 

As I lifted her from the waters I could see her whole amniotic sac was still around her. Ann told me to take it off her head, but I was in such shock to have given birth already that all I could do was hold her and stare. It was like I knew her already. Ann eventually got the membranes off her face, explaining it only happened in 1 in 80 000 births, and was considered very lucky. I wasn’t really listening as I was just staring at the vision of perfection in my arms. She had a slightly blue/purple tinge but the longer I held her, the more pink she got. She didn’t cry at all and I asked Ann if this was normal. As soon as the words left my mouth, she gave the tiniest of moans and a bit of a cry, then seemed satisfied and settled back into my arms. It was completely magical. (Ann then told me the whole active labour had lasted only 16 minutes). Our beautiful girl Shani had arrived at 8h01 weighing 8lbs 6.  

I still had to wait another 20 minutes for Gerard to come home. Ann didn’t let on at all what had gone on during his absence and his face of disbelief when he walked into the birth room was one I cherish forever! Josh was in his arms and seemed absolutely delighted to see his Mummy and the new family addition.  

The moments that followed were perfect. Being at home, having a shower (after birthing the placenta), lazing on the sofa all morning, it was great. The feeling of empowerment from having birthed Shani without any pain relief is something I am unlikely to ever forget.  


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