Friday 31st August 2012

We had gone for a long walk shopping in Bluewater centre. I had been having the usual Braxton hicks tightenings I had been getting for weeks, nothing out of the ordinary, until it came to the end of our shop and I started to have some discomfort in the top of my left thigh – I thought it was just where I had walked a lot and been on my feet all day or maybe baby was pressing on a nerve or something, so I just ignored it.

Saturday 1st September 2012

I couldn’t sleep. No matter what I did, for some reason I was wide awake – not even my hypnobirthing CD could help me switch off and rest! So I stayed awake playing free games on my iPhone. At 05.58 with Ben, my hubby, asleep next to me I suddenly heard this ‘pop’. I froze still, recognising it as a rather unusual sound. Initially I thought it was one of my joints popping (I have hypermobile joints so pop and click all over the place!) but it didn’t quite sound right… then it dawned on me – my waters! I nudged Ben and told him I thought my waters had just gone – and as I moved, out poured what felt like litres of fluid! Thankfully, I had had the forethought to put a maternity mat under the top sheet on our bed so this soaked up most of the fluid. Once there was a break in the gush I ran to the toilet holding another mat between my legs! I thought it was hilarious – I couldn’t stop laughing! I checked the colour of the fluid – all clear J perfect! I then phoned my midwife and colleague to let her know that my waters had gone. I had a quick listen to baby’s heart beat using my Doppler and his heart beat was perfect. I was reassured all was normal and positive and headed back in to bed wearing my very attractive Tena lady knickers! They were an absolute god send with absorbing all of the fluid – there really was SO much of it!

Back in bed, I still couldn’t sleep… Ben fell straight back again as usual! I was now too excited to sleep – imagining cuddling my baby very soon! I couldn’t wait! I decided to stay in bed for the rest of the day and sleep as much as I could in preparation for possibly being awake in labour all night – I would need all of the energy I could get. When I finally dozed off, I slept until about 6pm, in between toilet trips and changing positions from side to side. I tried to stay on my left side as much as possible, in the hope this would keep baby in a good position but sometimes I just HAD to sleep on my right side as my hip was really sore.

Nothing happened all day. No contractions or stronger tightenings. I continued to leak fluid constantly and I had began to lose some bloody-mucousy show, which was encouraging. I had a shower and felt much better for it. I phoned Ben who had gone to a barbeque for his birthday, which was on the 4th September. There were lots of friends and family at the barbeque and he suggested I went for a little while. I phoned my midwife again and discussed things with her. She encouraged me to carry on as normal and go to the barbeque if I felt alright and nothing was happening.

So, I drove to the barbeque and got there at about 7.30pm. Ben and I had agreed not to tell anyone that my waters had gone – we didn’t want people hassling us about progress or developments, we just wanted everything to be calm and peaceful and take their natural course. I had a really good evening and no one suspected anything, despite my numerous toilet trips! It was a very late finish to the barbeque and whilst still there at 1am, I began to notice some stronger tightenings. I suggested to Ben that we should head home pretty soon…

Sunday 2nd September 2012

We finally arrived home at 4am! Tightenings had continued but were still fairly infrequent and very manageable – although having them whilst driving was an interesting challenge!!!

When we arrived home, I decided to refresh myself on the research and guidelines around pre-labour rupture of membranes as it had now been 22 hours since my waters had gone. I discussed the NICE guidelines with Ben and we both agreed that we would continue with expectant management – baby had been moving well all day, fluid remained clear, no signs of infection and I checked my temperature and it was 36.4 celsius – all completely normal. And as the risk of infection only increases from 0.5% to 1% after 24 hours, we were happy to accept the risk. I knew, as a first time mum, it would probably be a good few hours before I was in established labour so we decided we would re-assess at the 48 hour mark if nothing was happening by then.

Well, how wrong I was!

We went to bed – Ben fell asleep immediately, as usual, but I had to move on to all fours or be upright every time I had a tightening. They remained manageable for a good couple of hours. I needed to wee with almost every single one so I spent a lot of the time on the toilet. Then between 6-6.30am (baby obviously liked that time of day!) the tightenings REALLY ramped up. I had to be standing, leaning forward over our bathroom sink and swaying or circling my hips and pelvis. I decided to start to time the tightenings using my iPhone app. They seemed to be coming about every 3 minutes and lasting 1 to 1 and a half minutes each. To be honest, I think the timing the contractions became more of a distraction than providing any useful information! I started to feel that I needed something else – another tool to manage the contractions. So I woke Ben at about 7am to help me put on the TENs machine. I think he was still in dream land as he took quite a while to get it set-up and I was becoming more and more desperate! I was well and truly in labour land by this point, although I didn’t really realise it at the time – I was actually worried I was being a total whimp and introducing the TENs too soon – I would have hours to go yet!
We finally got the TENs machine on and working – I sat on the toilet rocking and circling and pressing the boost button on the TENs with the start of each contraction. Sadly, I found it more irritating than anything. (I now know that was because I was too far along for it to be of any benefit!). It really wasn’t helping at all, so Ben suggested getting in the bath. He ran a warm bath for me and I took the TENs off and got in. It was lovely – really soothing and helped me relax in between contractions. It was really energising to completely relax in between, making the most of the breaks. I think I even dozed off a few times! The bath pillow was an excellent buy :-) I also put my hypnobirthing CD on at the same time, which also really helped me to stay grounded and in touch with my body and my baby. Everything was going really well – as it should be.

Ben was wonderful – he stayed so calm and chilled. I was feeling the intensity of the contractions in the front, just above my pubic bone and the times when I felt I couldn’t manage any longer (transition!), Ben was there with reassuring, comforting, supportive, encouraging words: “You’re alright, you can do it, stay calm.” Love him.
Whilst in the bath, I began to feel my pelvis opening – it was an achey feeling – and it made me adopt a kind of frog-like position and rock forwards and backwards on my knees. I still felt baby moving sometimes, which was really lovely. He was helping me, getting into a good position to be born – perfect!

Ben had left me in the bath to start preparing and filling up the pool in our living room. It was taking quite a while to fill as we only have a small tank of hot water, most of which was used for my bath! So Ben was filling it with cold water using a bucket and topping it up with boiling water from the kettle.

I had one almighty contraction, which made me instantly move and jump (almost literally!) out of the bath. I wrapped myself in a towel and started to head downstairs to see how the pool was getting on. I could feel baby’s head was very low but I still thought I had ages, hours left to go – I was a first time mum, it never happens this quick right!?

I had a few more contractions on the way downstairs. I saw the pool was up and being filled. I asked Ben if it was ready – it wasn’t! I didn’t care, I HAD to get in it. The water was really hot – too hot, but it felt SOOOO GOOD on the front of my belly where I was feeling the intensity of the contractions. I immediately adopted the froggy position in the pool and found the softer sides were good to push against during each contraction. I knew I had to bring the temperature down so I told Ben to just add cold water. I had only been in the pool for a couple of contractions when I noticed my body was beginning to push!!! I couldn’t believe it! Pushing already!? Surely not… I didn’t believe it. So I decided to have a feel. I checked myself and felt my baby’s head J it was very low! But I could also feel quite a thick rim of cervix still there, although it was very stretchy and soft. I had another contraction and the pushing intensified. The sensation I had been having in the front of my belly decreased and the aching of my pelvis opening increased – it was really uncomfortable, more so in between contractions. During a contraction I felt like it was useful but during the breaks I just couldn’t find a comfortable position.
As the pushing urge completely overtook me, I suggested Ben call the midwife now. I was still in disbelief that things could be happening this quickly but thought it best my midwife was on her way. Ben got my phone but with all of the contraction timing the battery had drained! He put it on charge but it was another 10 minutes before it turned on again. He phoned Sally, my midwife, and she was on her way immediately.
I continued to follow my body and push. It wasn’t an active, voluntary push – there was literally nothing else I could do. It completely took over my entire body and I HAD to push – my body was doing it and I just had to follow. It was overwhelming but felt so productive!

I noticed Ben had the Match of the Day repeat on the TV in the background – cheeky wotsit!!! But I really didn’t care. I was totally focussed on my body and my baby. I did another quick check and baby’s head had moved down and I could no longer feel any cervix! WOW! Now I believed it was happening – I really was going to meet my baby very soon! J I remember telling Ben that baby would be here soon.
As I continued pushing and could feel baby’s head crowning, I kept one hand down there feeling my tissues stretch and baby move closer to being Earthside. I was roaring with each contraction and each push, deep in my throat and putting all of my might and strength into it. The pushes were really productive and baby’s head continued to move ever closer. It was really frustrating to feel baby’s head slip back in between but it would always move further forward with each contraction.
Keeping my hand down there helped me gently guide baby’s head out with a combination of strong and gentle pushes. The stinging and burning came – and baby’s head was out enough that it wasn’t slipping back any longer. I desperately wanted the stinging to stop but baby wasn’t going back – the only way to stop it was to carry on pushing! With each contraction, I tried to breathe and allow my uterus to push the rest of baby’s head out but there was absolutely no way I could resist the urge to push, so I just went with it. I made sure all my muscles and tissues were completely relaxed and visualised everything stretching to allow baby through.

I told Ben to get behind me and to guide baby under my legs when his shoulders were coming out. Another couple of pushes and I felt his head born – one last push and his body quickly followed. Ben guided baby under my legs and I sat back and picked him up from the water.
OH MY GOODNESS!

What a feeling! Such relief, such joy, such LOVE!   Chub

Baby gave a little murmur, hardly made a sound so I held him upright on my leg and rubbed his back to help clear his lungs. I was talking to him “hello my baby! Are you OK? Are you breathing?” He immediately started to pink up from his purple colour. He was breathing perfectly – he was just so calm and relaxed that he didn’t need to cry J Ben took a photo – the only one we have of the birthing time, which I am rather sad about but I wouldn’t change the experience for the world. We checked the time and it was 10.15am. At 10.18, there was a knock at the door – Sally had arrived! Our midwife had missed baby’s birth by 3 minutes!! She was pleased to see all was well and got on with writing her notes whilst we enjoyed our first moments as a family of 3.
About 10 minutes after birth I began to get contractions again for the placenta. They were much stronger than I had expected and they took me back into labour land. I was actually really rather frustrated with them and the placenta because all I wanted to do was enjoy my baby boy! It was taking my attention and concentration away from him. I took some Arnica and waited for signs that the placenta had separated. We waited for about 45 minutes and I decided I would like to cut baby’s cord so I could focus on birthing the placenta. The cord had stopped pulsating so I knew baby had received his full complement of blood. Sally clamped and Ben cut baby’s cord. A momentous time for me as it signified the end of the pregnancy and the end of my physical attachment with my baby.

Ben had his first cuddles with his son as I birthed the placenta. The placenta arrived about an hour after baby, naturally and physiologically, in the pool. I placed it in a Tupperware container as I was keeping it to make a smoothie and capsules.

It was wonderful looking at my 2 precious boys together for the first time. Such a perfect moment.

After a few minutes, I decided to get out of the pool and go upstairs to bed to feed my baby. I was a little wobbly but made it with Sally’s assistance.

Once tucked up in bed and feeding my little boy (who was born a breastfeeding pro!) I reflected on my labour and birth. I still can’t believe how quick it was – active labour was 3 hours 45 minutes in total. I was pushing for 45 minutes. AMAZING! I feel incredibly privileged and lucky to have had the labour and birth experience I did – it was absolutely perfect. I am also thankful for the knowledge and experience I have gained over the past 5 years, which no doubt contributed massively to such a successful birthing. Good planning and preparation really does go a long way.

Once baby had finished feeding, Sally checked and weighed him – 8lbs 3oz – lovely!

With everything done and dusted, Sally left for home. Baby settled and snuggled in on my chest and all 3 of us drifted off to sleep.
The following day, I had a shallow bath and showered down and had a check down below to see if I had any tears or grazes. With the help of a compact mirror, I could see all I sustained was a very shallow tear on the left side of my vaginal opening. I am SUPER impressed!

I truly couldn’t have asked for a better labour and birthing experience. It was incredibly intense and painful at times but I had full and complete confidence in the methods of management I had available to me. I ultimately gave birth using just water alone. Had I needed them, I had a variety of other coping mechanisms and tools I could have used. I totally trusted my body, my baby and the birthing process. I had wonderful support available to me. I was in my own, familiar environment at home. My hormones flowed. I followed my instincts.

I DID IT!

and so can you :-)