At 41 +2, after weeks of start-stop surges, I woke at midnight with what felt like period pain cramps. I breathed through them and tried to doze.
My eldest daughter was at my mum’s for a sleepover and my 2nd daughter woke up at around 3am. It was strange because she never wakes unless she is ill but she wanted to come into my bed and she kept telling the baby bump how much she loved it and how the baby would come soon. I whispered to her that i think finally the baby would be here today and she went back to sleep.
By 4.30am I couldn’t stay in bed through the still mild but regular surges I woke my husband and asked him to make breakfast while I have a bath. In the bath I put on some birth hypnosis and relaxed through them, they were coming every 7 mins now- I was still doubting though if it would just fizzle out and stop.
By the time I got dressed at around 6.30am, I was getting more convinced that this was the real deal and asked my husband to take our 2nd daughter to join her big sister at their grandparents’ house.
My sister came over to stay with me for that time. She rubbed by back while I kneeled on the sofa facing the wall and she encouraged me to breathe through the surges. She kept telling me what a great job I was doing and it was so comforting and special that she could be with me.
When my husband returned, I started talking about wanting to go in the pool although I couldn’t make up my mind. By now the surges were coming every 2 mins or so and were in my back so I was finding breathing through was getting harder now.
I called my Doula and good friend at around 8.30ish to say I was in labour and that I would let her know when I needed her. I continued to labour upstairs leaning over pillows and then downstairs on my knees leaning over the back of the sofa. I was unsure when to ask her to come because I was still in denial if this was real and didn’t want it to slow things down. So at around 10am, I texted her and she reassured me that she would come to see how it was going and could easily leave if it slowed down.
Our Doula arrives!
She arrived around 10.45ish, shortly after I called her back agreeing it would be a good idea for her to join us. She silently entered our living room as I was mid surge swaying and leaning over the sofa.
It was surreal and sweet moment almost like in a dream when you are watching yourself, as I witnessed her do what I, as a doula have done during births I have attended: she slowly and without disturbing me switched places with my husband and gently placed her hands on my back to provide counter pressure.
After the surge was gone, she smiled, put her hands on my shoulders and I leant into her embrace. I felt a tear rolling down my cheek and an emotional release. “I’m so happy you’re here,” I said.
I remember feeling that now I knew it was right and I was actually going to have my baby. It still gives me goosebumps remembering that moment.
The surges started coming stronger and closer now and Becki asked if I wanted the pool. I definitely did!.
She and Bryn helped me upstairs and they starting to fill the pool as I labour standing with pillows stacked up the rest my head against learning forward and also on all fours in the same way with lots of pillows. I was getting more vocal now and was finding the surges being in my back difficult to catch my breath through.
Feeling held and supported
The pool was soon ready and I eagerly climb into it… oh, that felt so good! The warm water provided much relief and it was great being able to lean my head on the side with a cool cloth placed on my neck and forehead. Becki positioned her self at the side of the pool so she could reach me to rub my back (that really did help a lot, as most of the surges were in my back and hips) and Bryn sat in from of me holding my hand – sometimes they alternated.
When I was pregnant I wasn’t sure if I would want anyone next to me, I had imagined that perhaps they’d just be in the corner of the room but when it came to it I wanted them both close by.
Having a doula meant she was anticipating my needs, things like cold cloths, making sure I drank enough and ate, being able to be there while Bryn ate. Those were the practical things that helped make it a lot easier, not only for me but for Bryn too. It enabled him to be able to support me more confidently and I know he felt able to relax into this time and enjoy witnessing the birth of our baby.
I already mentioned the massage which provided great comfort. Just being able to hold their hands and feel their presence and love meant so much to me. Hearing words of encouragement and positive birth affirmations spoken gently and quietly reassured me and made me feel held.
Getting out of my own head
I’m not sure about the timing of it all since we were not checking the time but at some point the street outside our home became busy and I remembered that it was a Bank Holiday and there was a May Day fete on in the pocket park almost opposite our house… in labour I need quiet and no distractions so this was a real challenge.. as cars parked on our street, motorbikes revved outside and people talked loudly as unbeknown to them I laboured on in my bedroom with the window open, curtain blowing with the breeze and the sun shone brightness into the room. I suddenly became immediately aware of everything around me. My neocortex was fired up, live music blared from across the road as I tried to tune it out. We turned up Enya but the mix of that with ‘Sweet Caroline’ wasn’t doing it for me!! There’s even a punch & judy show going on!!
I tried my wireless headphones, which would have worked well but I needed to lean over the pool and they kept slipping off! I was getting really in my head now and thinking too much. ‘How long?” I asked Becki (I laugh now because I get asked this at births all the time!) Of course she couldn’t tell me but she reassured me that I was doing great and everything was as it should be.
I started wanting to somehow quantify this experience to insert some control and certainty over this labour- ‘I just want to know that I’m making progress and how dilated I am’ I said feeling frustrated.
I had already worked hard in my pregnancy to decondition myself away from this way of measuring what can’t or shouldn’t be measured ie trying to surrender to what is yet here I was deep into my labour reaching out for these patriarchal systems...
I even thought in that moment that I might call the midwife to check yet the thought left as quickly as it entered my mind. I didn’t want that. In fact, Becki asked me if i wanted her to call them when I spoke aloud about wanting to know about dilation. I told her a confident ‘No’.
She reminded me that it didn’t matter how dilated I was and to keep on going and concentrate on my breath.
I was in this strange state of denial or maybe it was just surreal, I can’t tell.
It was like when you are just waking up or falling asleep and you can’t tell if you are dreaming or awake.
I knew my baby was coming and what I was experiencing was real yet I was still too much in my ‘monkey mind’; thinking way too much trying to analyse and make sense of it.
I was stuck on the fact that i hadn’t yet had any physical signs of cervical change such as spotting or mucous plug/show.
This is where my knowledge and experience so far of births came back to bite me! In my other births and in all of the spontaneous labours I has been to the women all had shows/mucous plugs at some point before active labour and certainly once in active labour.
I had a feeling this baby labour night throw me a curve ball so I had asked on forums of mums and midwives and doulas if anyone didn’t have a show as their first sign or shortly into their labour and there were several woman replying that they hadn’t yet many more that had. So logically when I didn’t see those signs I should have been able to say ‘ah well this one is just different’ but I became focussed on needing to see a psychical sign that my baby was on the way. It seems so funny to me now.
Becki and Bryn again reassures me that I was definitely closer to meeting my baby.
My other births I laboured over night and knowing how I like the dark and quiet and how our oxytocin and melatonin work together it took me by complete surprise that I laboured in the day.
I had 4 strong beliefs that outweighed my thoughts & knowledge: 1) psychical signs of labour 2) that I would labour at night 3) that birth is inherently safe 4) that my baby &I were in communication with each other Fortunately for me believes 3 &4 carried me through and I knew it was time to dig deep now.
The relaxing music went on once again and I calmed my body down. Becki & Bryn helped me find my breath and I breathed down to my baby as Becki quietly spoke affirmations. It was hard, I was so tired and I wanted to meet this baby now.I was ready. I closed my eyes and hummed to the music finding my rhythm, rocking and circling my hips deep squat in the warm pool. This was a moment of calm & I travelled briefly in my mind.
Bryn spent time in the pool with me and there were some intimate moments when I leaned on him and we locked eyes.So much love in this room.
All of a sudden I had this strong instinct that I needed to get out of the pool. I just felt like I couldn’t get grounded.. (I remember the same thing happened in my labour with Milly when I was close to birthing her)… I honoured the instinct and got out and went onto all fours on my bed.
I felt a little sick and then I felt my body change, FER had started to kick in. Where the body takes over. No need to do anything, my body had taken over and was starting to push by itself.
All through my labour I could feel my baby moving, communicating to me that all was well. I spoke to my baby, told her how much I loved her, how excited I was to meet her and that I was ready now.
As I surrendered & gave my birth over to my body, i felt some trickling of amniotic fluid, only the smallest amount but I knew my baby was close.I got off the bed, I wanted to birth this baby in the water.
Off the bed, surges were now on top of each other, my body was bearing down – everytime i tried to move to get into the pool another surge would stop me in my track. I dropped to my knees, I could feel the pressure of my babies head, so close now- finally a blood tinged mucous plug released. I left out a loud sigh and laughed with bryn & becki- more amniotic fluid now, nice and clear. ‘
I’m really having this baby’ I say, smiling, so full of emotion & joy now.
They help me into the pool that they have added more warm water to, it feels so good. As I squat leaning over the side of pool I reach down and can feel my baby’s head and bulging waters- Oh wow, so close to meeting her.
Stinging turns to burning and fear grips hold of me as my body continues to bear down “You don’t understand, I’m going to tear’ I tell Becki, she takes my hands and calms me, breathe down into it, breathe down to your baby. folllow your body’. I listen, yes i say as each surge rushes over me uncontrolably.
Wild intensity and I can feel everything, I feel so alive in this moment- birthing in my power- the moment is finally here, finally going to see my baby- I let go- the head is emerging.
Bryn is behind me in the water, hands poised as i’m kneeling on all fours – I have this protective instinct to tell him not to touch her. He listens and reassures me, “It’s okay, I won’t”.
Wow they keep saying, oh my god, baby” Bryn says. I can hear the amazement in his voice as our baby’s head is born!
Oxytocin so palpable I can taste it.. I can feel my baby’s hands and shoulder moving- time seems to slow down- all of sudden I know I need to turn around, somehow I manage it easily in one swift move, while baby’s head is out and as I do, I feel baby’s shoulder rotate and is born.
I look down and under the water I can see our baby halfway between this world and the last. This is truly incredible!
My mind is in a deeper state, my logical mind tries to understand why I can still feel my baby inside me but see my baby, I reach down to my vagina and gently release the other arm that was just there. “Ah, thats what that was!” I push a little and the baby is free into the water. I lift our baby up out of the water onto my chest. ‘I have a baby!’.
The love, the overwhelming joy- i’m sobbing!
Baby is slow to take a breath but i know it’s okay- I ask Becki for a towel I rub her with my hands and blow on her face, eyebrows start to wiggle, so much vernix, wow!
I gently suck her nose to get any mucous out- the instinct is powerful, I talk to her “was that hard work my love’ you can do it, you’re ok’ she cries! I sob- Bryn holds me and kisses me.
What time is it i ask, 5.09pm, so baby born around 5.07, we agree.
I check just to make sure that she is a girl,
More tears, we are shocked and over joyed! “We’ve got a son” Bryn says. I look at Bryn “Is this a dream?”
I’ve done it! I’ve had my freebirth- I feel amazing, this is like nothing else!
Suddenly I start to feeling a little shaky now, adreneline has kicked in and I feel like i want out of the pool- Becki and Bryn help me and our baby boy out of the pool and onto the bed. Becki has got the bowl for the placenta ready, baby is nursing at the breast, thankful for a long white cord and within 20 mins or so I bear down with a surge- I can see my uterus rise up and contract strongly and placenta is born into the bowl.
I relax back onto the bed with Bryn and our baby. Becki goes down to make me a cup of tea and buttered crumpets and we enjoy a few sweet moments alone- wow we have 3 kids!
We call my mum and talk to our daughters – they are squealing with excitement.
Becki empties clears the birth pool and I call the labour ward and tell them i’ve had my baby and ask if they could send someone over to check on us but that all went well and we are both well and feeling good.
An hour or so and the midwives arrive and are very nice and happy, congratulating us. They ask what i’d like and I ask if they can just have a little look to see if i tore, no nothing, not even a graze. I decline any other observations as i’m feeling well, I decline clexane that is offered to me. They briefly and respectfully check our baby over, all good wow thats a a big healthy looking placenta one of the midwives comments. They ask us about the lotus birth we are planning He is weighed and is 7lbs 12oz. They go downstairs to complete the paperwork,
Becki says goodbye to us and the girls arrive shortly after to visit their brother.We are now a family of 5.
Once some time has passed my parent come up to have a little peek at their grandson and say congrats. His cord remains attached to the wonderful placenta that has nurtured him throughout the pregnancy – they leave, the girls are going to come home tomorrow so we can sleep.
Then it’s just us and we are on top of the world, so very in love!
We snuggle into bed & fall asleep with our beautiful boy, Jack Everest.
Thank you for reading if you made it all the way to the end! I will write up our experience of Lotus birth (waiting for the cord to sever naturally) shortly and also all about our peaceful postpartum/babymoon with some unexpected nursing challenges.