There is nothing more unpredictable in this life than childbirth but with baby number two I finally got the waterbirth I’d longed for. Here’s my story.
Despite our best intentions, there are so many things beyond our control; baby’s size, shape, position, our pain threshold and how our body labours being among them. When I was pregnant with Dylan, the sonographers discovered I had a lot of waters and that combined with a big baby, I would have to be monitored throughout labour.
This doesn’t always have to mean an end to your plans but for me, my active labour was off the cards. It soon became clear that everytime I moved, the tracer on baby’s heartbeat slipped so I was confined to labouring on my back on a bed – the most difficult way. It took several hours and a LOT of gas and air before my beautiful boy entered the world but it was worth every second of pain and completely forgotten about the moment he opened those big blue eyes and stared into mine.
During my pregnancy with Archie I had a very set idea of the birth I wanted, in fact it was still the same ideas I had the first time. An active labour with little pain relief and hopefully a waterbirth. I worried all the way through the 40 weeks about how big my bump was growing but decided that positive thinking was the best option and took a tour of the local midwife led unit. It was perfect – everything the hospital wasn’t; calm, quiet, relaxed and spacious. I was given the all clear at 38 weeks to ring the midwife unit when it was time and was hoping that things would go to plan.
I worked my last shift at work on a Saturday and decided to make the most of the pleasant evening by strolling the 3 miles home. I put my son to bed and said goodbye to my partner as he headed out with friends (under strict instructions that three beers was his limit as my due date was the following week).
At 11pm I started feeling funny tightenings in my tummy, much like I had on a Friday night only 18 months ago and I hoped that this was the start of something. Dylan was born on a Tuesday so these contractions had lasted 4 days last time although only becoming painful on the day he arrived so I took no notice and went to bed.
At half one, I decided that these may be actual contractions. They were getting closer together and more painful and I was struggling to sleep through them. The bloke arrived home and I encouraged anything to go by I thought I had at least 12 hours if not longer before I should expect to meet my new baby, however by 3.30pm I was pretty convinced that this was it.
I rang the midwife unit and after they listened to me breathing through a contraction mid call, they told me to come in and be checked out, just in case. Rather than packing up all our bags and heading in together as we had done last time, I decided to leave the boys sleeping and go to the MLU alone. My worst fear was being told I was only 1cm and I didn’t want to wake up my mum to look after Dylan in the middle of the night only to be sent home again.
I calmly finished my packing and rang a taxi, arriving at the hospital at half four. An initial examination and I was told I was 5cm dilated. Baby Squish was on his way and I was so proud to have gotten this far already. A couple of phone calls and an hour of bouncing on the ball and walking round the dimly lit room and the bloke arrived.
The MLU was so relaxed and the opposite to a hospital room. Last time I had laboured under bright lights with hourly examinations, a monitor and constant midwife care. This time they told me that my next examination would be in 4 hours and to avoid the bed if I could, instead walking, bouncing and leaning. At half five I decided I did need a little help and the wonderful, wonderful gas and air was brought out.
At 7am I decided I was really struggling and that maybe I should evaluate my options. I called in a midwife and as I spoke she looked at me with a knowing smile before turning on the taps to fill the pool. It turns out that commonly when women hit that barrier it means the end is in sight and she knew I wanted a waterbirth. It was ready in a few short minutes and she took away the gas and air and asked if the water was enough for the pain.
Within seconds of being in the water, I felt a pop and a strong urge to push. My waters had gone at 10cm last time as well, but I had to push on demand and they wouldn’t let me start until it was confirmed I was fully dilated. With the memories still fresh, I found myself closing my legs to laughs from everyone in the room. This baby was coming and the midwives told me to trust and listen to my body. No examinations, no pain relief, no help, just baby and I working together on this final burst.
Two pushes and a beautiful baby boy floated up between my legs. So much faster, easier, more natural. At 7:34am I became a mummy to two.
Rather than having the injection as before, I was allowed to deliver the placenta naturally and rather than needing a spinal for stitches, I got off scot free and was left to have a shower and a cuddle with my newborn.
Rather than being kept in for 24 hours, I was out within 4. My two labours were so completely different yet both gave me a precious, perfect person. I am still amazed at what my body managed, how it coped and how different both births were. I have so much respect for the female form, how we grow an entire person inside as and use the force of our own body to bring them into this world. No birth is a bad one as they all create life but I am over the moon to have finally had the birth I wanted all along.
Don’t miss Bex’s post Packing my hospital bag and check out her very lovely blog The Mummy Adventure. For all your pregnancy must-haves including the essential nursing pillow and home-from-hospital infant carrier, visit kiddicare.com.