On Tuesday morning, the 8th August I woke up feeling rather sorry for myself after another sleepless night from pain in my pelvis, heart burn-you name it, but also because I was feeling uncomfortable in my belly that was different from the tightenings that I had been having since the second trimester!
We had planned to go out to Rangiora and visit my mum and hang with her as it was Tuesday café day but I said to my daughter Lily-Rose, who is seven and is homeschooled, that lets just stay in bed today and not go anywhere! But I thought if this was early labour starting then the last thing I wanted was to be at home waiting around for something to happen, much better to keep busy, so off we went and over the course of the day I complained to my mum that my tummy was starting to get a few niggles of something and we had a laugh that I would probably go into labour that night because of all the washing I had drying inside due to the miserable Christchurch weather and not having a dryer! Or a washing machine!! (as we were still waiting for some of our things to arrive from Australia after moving back home in June to be closer to family while we have this baby).
Anyway, nothing much happened over the day but by the time we got home and having dinner I was starting to get irritated with my tightenings which were still spaced apart. I couldn’t even concentrate to watch Game of Thrones with the hubby that night because 1) I had to reply to an important email about my exemption to homeschool and they wanted further information which if I didn’t do at that time then I may not ever get it done, and 2) because the tightenings were starting to get more uncomfortable, where I had to start focusing on my breath.
I didn’t really say to the hubby and daughter that this was it because it was still early days, and also I knew that my daughter would want to stay up with me as we had been talking about labour and birth for what seemed like forever, watched all the water births on you tube and had been preparing for the birth together by making the birth mat, and getting the pool ready that week (yes I took a while to get organized because I didn’t feel ready-I definitely wasn’t like with my first when I was ready emotionally long before then!!).
Eventually I went to bed as I was so tired, and I started to listen to my Hypnobirthing Australia affirmations and Surge of the Sea track with my ear phones, but lying down trying to sleep wasn’t going to happen so I went out to the lounge where time rushed by and things started to get more intense.
I lay down on my side as much as I could and breathed through the tightenings, listening to the hypnobirthing tracks still. I ended up using the gym ball and hot water bottle to help get me through it, and eventually I felt like I wanted to get into the pool but I didn’t want to get in too early like I did with my first as was thinking this labour may be long and drawn out like hers was!
I texted my midwife sometime after 3am on the Wednesday morning asking her if I should hop into the pool as I was worried that I would get in too early. She then texted back asking me if I was in labour and how far apart the surges were- I replied that yes I am in labour and I hadn’t been keeping track of the tightenings but probably 3-4 in a ten minute period. She then replied that she was coming over.
I didn’t want her coming all this way and be in early labour so I said to check me when she got here and if not far along then to go home again. Not that I was being unwelcoming, only that I didn’t want everyone here if it was going to be long and drawn out (thinking it would be like Lily-Rose’s birth).
Molly my midwife arrived at 4am, and noted that I was in labour and that I didn’t need to be examined as I was going to have this baby at some stage, and encouraged hubby Clay to fill the pool up. I still insisted on an internal and I was 9cm!!!!!
I caught on to her feelings of panic? Maybe it was fluster? Anyway it was then that I thought "Holy moley I really am having a baby!" and texted my mum, student midwife Catherine and birth photographer Sharon that it was time to come over. Molly had already rang her back up midwife, and Sharon by the time I came back out to the lounge where the pool was filling thanks to hubby.
I decided to stay out in lounge but I only had my affirmations on in one ear, once back up midwife Tamara arrived at nearly half four I was starting to feel like I was getting out of my “zone”. I hopped into the pool but was unable to really hear my birth tracks via the laptop, as I didn’t want my phone to accidentally fall into the pool!
By the time 5am arrived, everyone was here that needed to be here. Baby’s heart rate increased to 170 while I was in the pool because it was super hot and I was super hot so it was time to hop out for a bit, I stayed in the lounge and we rang my sister via messenger video and she supported me this way for a bit but I felt like everything had stalled even though I was still getting regular and intense tightenings, there was so much pressure and I begged Molly to break my waters, (as a midwife myself I would recommend avoiding interventions but I was desperate and knew that if this happened then I might have a baby sooner!!!).
She declined to do this! I hid out in my room for a bit and it was then that I should have started getting in my zone again listening to my affirmations but for some reason I thought that would be anti-social (note to self-don’t worry about pleasing anyone when you're in labour!!) so I didn’t end up really listening to them again, which was silly as it was that which helped me get to 9cm in the first place!
I requested Molly to do another internal at about 6am because come on yes I was getting impatient, it had been two hours since I was 9cm and where was this baby?! I still had a bit of cervix in the way and that it would go, Molly reassured me that all was ok and to carry on! Carry on!
By this stage I said to my mum, I am going to hospital if something doesn’t happen soon! I guess you could say I had had enough!! By 7am I had convinced Molly to break my waters, which she did thank goodness as I was ready for that epidural! She pushed the bit of cervix out of the way with the next contraction and I felt baby move down which is when I started to feel like I was losing control, and started freaking out! And making a lot of noise, which worried my daughter! Molly convinced me to hop back into the pool but I was feeling like I didn’t want to move really at all! But thankfully she convinced me and it was amazing enveloped by such warmth, but pity I was having shooting sciatica-type pains down my thighs each tightening which was not ideal!
I was on my knees using the side of the pool and hubby’s hand to get me through each tightening. My sister Agatha in Australia was called again at this time and the phone set up next to the pool, her voice helped ground me and she talked me through it as I started to bear baby down (she’s done this eight times so I knew she completely understood the feelings of panic that I was having!).
With my first I didn’t get to experience what pushing a baby out felt like due to a spinal and an assisted birth, so what a shock it was when I felt baby’s head moving down, I was trying to breathe through and be nice and quiet but I didn’t care anymore and why was this baby taking so long to come out!!!
Once I focused on moving baby down with my breath and bearing down (as taught in the Hypnobubs Online Hypnobirthing Australia course), then it wasn’t long until crowning and oh my goodness now I know what that feels like I will never forget it!!!
Once baby’s head had been out for a few minutes Molly said it was time to push the body out but I couldn’t and I told her it was stuck! Once she got right inside and unhooked his shoulder from under my pubic bone, I had a surge of adrenaline shoot through me as I realised that this was shoulder dystocia and was potentially life threatening situation for my baby.
My calm and experienced midwife got baby out and I rolled over to sit in the water and there I saw my baby, mum had voiced out that it was a boy! A boy! But at that point I was super relieved that he was out, that he was crying and it was all over!!!
Born at 8.03 am, four hours after being 9cm!!! Molly knew about my previous postpartum hemorrhage so I didn’t stay in the pool for too long, and I was helped out, pushed the placenta out but with lots of clots and walked over to the couch (the joys of being at home!), where my bleeding was monitored, but ended up agreeing that I needed to have oxytocin needle into my thigh to control my moderate bleeding.
Cord was cut by his daddy, and me and my baby boy Alexander (named after my dad) had skin to skin, then the first breastfeed where he latched like a gem 30 minutes after birth. I ended up having a 2nd degree tear that Molly sutured, yes I didn’t have to go anywhere but just stay in my lounge! Had a cup of my Artemis Pregnancy tea which is good for postnatal as well, and munched on an apple, I was happy it was all over and that I got to stay in my house with everyone around me.
Thankful for my mum and sister that were there, my hubby of course, my wonderful birth photographer Sharon from Bloom Photography NZ, my midwife Molly for being so chilled, and Tamara and Catherine. And especially to my darling daughter who kept me hydrated with water, and who said to anyone and everyone afterwards about how much noise I made and that I owed her $2.50 for the swearing I used (20cents per swear word apparently!).
I am so grateful that I got the home birth I wanted, it’s only now that I look back and realise how amazing I am and how the whole experience was amazing, even though immediately after I wished I’d had the nice quiet quick serene birth that I was anticipating! I felt as though I had failed somewhat, but I didn’t and I have these amazing photos (recommend to have a birth photographer, especially one as amazing and caring as Sharon!) that I just look at and think wow, this was the most challenging and intense thing I have ever done in my life but I did it!
When I look back and wonder why labour stalled for so long I believe it was because I allowed myself to get out of my zone and I freaked out, and if I would change anything it would be to keep my ear phones on, stay calm and grounded, and continue my hypnobirthing affirmations.
Looking at the past 9 weeks it’s what comes after the birth that’s just as challenging, but that is another story in itself! I am coming out the other end now of newborn life and I am just in love with my boy. My daughter and I often stare at him and ask ourselves how did I manage to push this beautiful baby out? Now that’s she has recovered from it all is asking me if we will have another so she can properly watch the birth this time as she knows what to expect!
Melanie (New Zealand)
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