This birth story is a very positive one – which I know some people may find annoying to read. I’m not writing this to be smug, but to prove that a positive birth experience is possible after having a traumatic one. This is my story…
Friday 2nd August
I had a feeling something was going to happen over the weekend. I listened to my body and lay in bed when my husband Jesse came back from work. I told him to order a Chinese take away and that I wanted something high in carbohydrates and protein – so if I was to go into labour I had the fuel to keep me going.
I was texting my best mate Laura whilst laying in bed. I asked her to send over some photos of herself as I was setting her up on a blind date. The photos came through and my waters broke in bed. Yes she is that hot.
Given that our previous birth was a traumatic one, the hospital had advised me to come into hospital as soon as I had the first signs of labour. This was it! My eldest son Basil was still awake and saw me in a slight panic. You see, my previous labour I had plactenta abrubton and once my waters broke my contractions came on thick, fast and strong so I was aware that any moment I could have full on contractions. My mum friend Anna who lives nearby dashed over and waited for my father in law to take the kids back to Croydon for the night.
I realised I was high on adrenaline when we arrived at St Thomas’ hospital – my hands were shaking, my heart was jumping around in my chest and I felt like my blood sugar levels were low even though I had just eaten a Chinese meal.
I pulled out my Yes Mum Birthing Project positive affirmation cards that were packed in my hospital bag and started to read through them whislt practising some slow breathing excercises. Shorly afterwards, we were given a hospital room with the most incredible view of the House of Parliament and the night sky of London.
Juliet the midwife made me feel comfortable and asked if she could examine me – once there, my waters broke even more. Again – braced for full on contractions to commence I was slightly disgruntled that nothing was happening. At all. A cannula was inserted into my left wrist and my blood type was there on back up supply just in case I was to haemorrhage again. Everything felt so organised and under control that I knew I was in safe hands and the right place.
Lights out. There was nothing to do but wait… and as it was late, we went to bed. Jesse had a make shift bed that consisted of a thin mattress and sheets which worked wonders as he passed out immediately – snoring too I may add. FFS. I couldn’t sleep. I plugged in my headphones and listened to my hypnobirthing MP3 to relax me and to mask the fog horn coming from the floor below me.
Very mild contractions started happening. I was excited this could be the start of it all but decided not to wake up Jesse as I was managing fine and to be honest, there wasn’t much he could do at this point. It felt beautifully surreal sitting in a pitch black room over looking the London night skies – watching taxi drivers pick up drunk lovers and following red buses drive over Westminster bridge. Nobody in the world knew I was here in this room about to bring life into the world. I felt an enormous sense of peace. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
I woke Jesse up. He packed away his camp bed, got dressed and alerted the midwife I was in active labour. The contractions were 4 minutes apart and by now I had left the bed and straddled a birthing ball – still with my headphones in listening to the positive affirmation MP3. Inbetween contractions Jesse and I were talking normally, even jokning around but everytime a contraction came I had to raise my index finger to say ‘ hang on’ and breathe through them… then once over we were back to conversation again.
I had the gas and air next to me poised ready to take it when the surges got too intense. It was around this time I asked Jesse to put on the birth playlist I had made on Spotify which included songs that relax me and empower me. Jesse then started talking about a new album that I should really listen to ‘it’s amazing’ he said. I had to point out that this wasn’t a dinner party and I didn’t really have the head space to have an opinion on a new album I’d never heard before and if I know Jesse’s taste in musc it would have been some kind of hard rock…not the ideal music you want to give birth to. So my playlist took preference.
I decided it was time to have some gas and air. Man ALIVE I love this stuff! I forgot how good it was and forgot what comes out of my mouth when I’m on it. Also love how it can change the sound of your voice. I thought I sounded like a character from one of my son’s Lego cartoons which made me giggle.
I caught Jesse looking at his phone and snapped at him ‘this is no time to be on your phone!!!’ He replied laughing saying he was writing down what I was saying whilst ‘high’ on the gas and air –which looking back now I’m so pleased he did… I also demanded he removed his cap – that I hated him wearing them and I didn’t want to look at a cap whilst in labour. He obliged and good job he did. Never mess with a woman in labour on gas n air!
It was around this time I went from being a woman and turned into an animal. I removed my hospital gown, turned off my music playlist, and found muself on all fours on the bed. I didn’t want Jesse rubbing my back anymore – I didn’t want to talk inbetween contractions anymore. I just wanted to listen to my MP3, zone myself out from everything, focus and listen to what my body was doing. Juliet the midwife came in to check on me – I asked her for a vagial examination to see how far dilated I was. She was reluctant as my waters had broken and she was worried of infection, but I insisted. I needed to know how dilated I was. If I had only been 4cm I would have asked for more pain relief. I was offered a morphine injection before I was checked, but I declined until after I knew how far along I was.
As I thought – I was 7cm dilated which meant I was almost there. Hurrah!
‘Your baby will be here in about an hour’ said Juliet. I knew my body and knew it would be sooner than this and I was right.
As soon as Juliet left the room I shouted out ‘I NEED TO PUSH!’. Jesse rushed out to grab Juliet and hurried her back into the room.
I started to moo like a cow. I couldn’t help it – it was a noise that just just happens and a noise I had heard echo around the maternity ward all night from other women.
I was still listening to the positive affirmation MP3 at the highest volume just so I could be fixated and hear it over my loud mooing. I had to stay focused. I knew as soon as my attention was averted I would find the contractions even harder.
At this point when labour is at it’s peak, I reminded myself that I had to stay as relaxed as possible. It’s our instinct to want to bite down and grip tightly onto anything. Through the last few contractions when I knew the baby was about to crown, I relaxed my mouth and my hands. My tight grip on the hospital pillow loosened as did my clenched jaw around the gas and air mouth piece. A tight jaw means a tight cervix.
After 1 push the head came out and I shouted out ‘DON’T TOUCH ME!’. Juliet wasn’t touching me – it was the baby rotating, which happens naturally ready for the body to be pushed out.
I knew it was one more push then I would meet my baby. I looked to my left and saw the sun rising above the houses of parliament. Whilst on all fours with my baby’s head out in between my legs and waiting for my final contraction I smiled to myself. This was the moment I had waited for.
August 3rd 5.19am
Inca Mary Vanessa was born weighing 7lb 1. No stitches. No blood. No drama.
I cannot tell you how powerful it was to listen to positive birthing affirmations whilst I was in labour. I’m not sure the birth of Inca would have been as positive and relaxed if it wasn’t for hypnobirthing.
We slept, had breakfast, had a shower, had lunch, had a visit from my mum, Inca got checked then at 4.30pm we were allowed to take Inca home…shame the car parking was so expensive on the way out!
I know reading about a positive birth isn’t as exciting as reading a traumatic one – and I know I may sound like a smug twat, but at the end of the day – what I did I’m proud of and I know there are women out there who are interested in stories like this when perhaps they too have had a traumatic birth and want to experience a good one.
If you’re interested in trying out hypnobirthing, I recommend starting to practise it as early as possible in your pregnancy. Just like with any exam or marathon, you have to train and revise for it. Knowledge is power.
Thank you for reading – see you next time.