It wasn’t until about week twenty of my pregnancy that I let myself think about the birth and how it was going to happen. Quite frankly my last birth wasn’t the most pleasant experience. I never wrote about it for that simple reason, and if I am completely honest I wanted to forget it. Forget how I was scared after Maisie was born because I was bleeding so heavily, forget how the doctor was telling me to grab her and I couldn’t move my body beyond shaking, forget how sick the drugs had left me feeling and how I felt like I was going to drop Maisie when I finally held her. I left the hospital with a beautiful baby who I loved with all my heart, but I also left the memory of her birth there as well. Maisie’s birth, although in comparison to many others was quite straight forward, was not something that I was wanting to relive or wanted to experience again this time around.
I spent a lot of time reading positive birth stories, and in my head I had imagined a birth where I was able to get through with no intervention or pain relief, this was to be my last pregnancy and birth, and for me, I wanted to know that I had tried to have as natural labour as possible. I didn’t tell anyone that this was my plan. I don’t even think I said it out loud, for fear of jinxing myself or setting up a birth plan that I couldn’t stick to, so I had my hopes but having known what had happened the last two times I was unsure of what would happen on the day.
Then we got to the end of the pregnancy and the word induction started getting thrown around. Having being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and having had two previous large babies there was concern about this baby’s size so letting me go “too far over” was not in the doctor’s plans. Reluctantly we booked an induction date but as it was at 40 + 4 I was doubtful that I would even reach it and truly thought that induction was not something that I would ever have to know about.
40 weeks came and went, no baby.
40 + 3 serious contractions, no baby.
40 + 4 doctor’s appointment at 9.20am and was sent straight up to the maternity ward to be induced and “start the process”.
So, it was happening, induction.
Not the way that I had imagined that this baby would come into the world but the way it was happening all the same. To say I was emotional about the whole situation was an understatement. I was teary from the get go, and just kept thinking that this isn’t how I wanted this to happen, but as Duncan kept telling me it was just a different way of going about it. The baby was finally on their way and we were about to start our new life.
Having not had any experience with being induced, I did not know how my body would react or what was going to happen, I was anxious because I had read induction can be intense and quick or it can fail and result in caesarian, so I really didn’t know how the next few days were going to pan out.
After the gel was put in the contractions started quickly but they were mild. Nothing more than period pains, this went on all day, slowly progressing in intensity but nothing that made me think that it was baby day. That night we went out for dinner, Duncan enjoying his Thai while I enjoyed my contractions. We went back to hospital and spent the night, knowing that tomorrow was going to be our baby’s birthday. That was a strange feeling, we have never known the day before the actual day came, and going to sleep knowing that our baby’s birthday was going to be the 22nd of August was (even though the contractions were happening) a hard concept to grasp.
Surprisingly, I was able to sleep.
At 5am I woke to stronger contractions but knowing it was going to be a big day I tried to get some more rest and was woken by the midwife at about 6.30 to get ready for the Doctor to come around and break my waters. I got up, washed my face, did my hair and had my cannulas put in. All quite civilized really. Not like the births I had known or you see on TV.
The doctor came around and broke my waters, I had had this done for both my previous births so this was not an unknown thing for me, small hook, trickle of water, done. We went back to our room to get all the things we wanted to take to the delivery suite and there it was, the Hollywood moment, a huge burst of pressure and splash! My waters poured out just like you see in the movies, I just stood there frozen, told Duncan to get towels and we mopped me up and the puddle I had created. We gathered up our things, went back around to the suite and waited, the contractions were increasing in intensity and I had hoped this would mean that I wouldn’t have to be hooked up to the Syntocin drip but I wasn’t so lucky. Breaking my waters had not initiated the labour as quickly as they would have liked so the drip was attached.
At this stage it was about 8am, I was now hooked up to a drip and a foetal monitor which tracked both the baby’s heartrate and my uterine activity. Luckily the foetal monitor could be used wirelessly so I didn’t initially feel too trapped by all my wires. I was able to hop in the shower and ease the contractions, I was managing the pain well, Duncan and I were still laughing, we were chatting between contractions and we were getting excited that things were finally moving along.
By 9am the contractions, although I thought they had, hadn’t increased enough so another dose of Syntocin was administered and by 9.30 I was technically in labour.
Regular, painful contractions.
By this stage I had gotten out of the shower and was hooked back up to the machine to monitor the baby. I sat on the fit ball and decided that I needed a distraction. We put on an episode of Game of Thrones. Strange choice? Yes, possibly but it provided the distraction that I needed. One episode was enough and by this stage I was really feeling the labour progress. By this stage I was kneeling over the fit ball and the change in position really helped. Duncan sat beside me and we just waited, me breathing through my contractions and telling myself that I could do this, Duncan massaging my back and doing what he could. We chatted and watched the monitor show my contractions increase as time passed and I told Duncan repeatedly that I was emotional about this being the last time I got to do this.
I wasn’t scared of labour anymore. It was happening, I was coping, I felt strong, excited and ready to meet the baby.
By about 11.30 I started to get a bit restless, I felt pressure and started to feel as if I could push. I asked our midwife, Celine, who I haven’t mentioned yet but who was absolutely amazing, when I would be examined, what was going to happen. My last two labours were really monitored, I was constantly checked, I was told constantly how many cms I was every few hours and this one I hadn’t been checked once. By this stage I knew I was close to fully dilated, I had had thoughts of wanting to go home, wanting to just get up leave and go check on Leo and Maisie at home, I knew those thoughts run through your head close to the end and that was my rationale, I had to be close to this baby because those thoughts were filling my head. Celine informed me that most likely at 12.30 she would check me and if I needed it she may have to administer more of the drip but she didn’t think that was likely and we would have a baby by then. She wasn’t wrong. Pretty soon after that conversation I felt like I needed to push, or as I put it so delicately on the day, like I need to poo, and for fear of Duncan seeing me do exactly that I went to the toilet (for some reason I still thought we had some mystery in our marriage). He came to the bathroom with me anyway just in case the baby decided to come in there so the mystery is well and truly dead.
This is where we got to the fun part- skip this paragraph if you aren’t into finer details.
After sitting on the loo to no avail, standing up for each contraction and resting on the toilet seat in between I started to think that the last thing I wanted this baby to do was to be born into a toilet bowl I walked out and climbed up on to the bed. I asked Celine to examine me because I was pushing and nothing was happening, I needed to know what was going on, sure enough I was the tiniest bit away from being ready to go, she told me to try not to push if I could, and ride out the contractions. I lay on my side, Duncan next to me and I wrapped my arm around his tummy. I had an almighty contraction and I knew this was it. It was time to push. I was doing this and I was ready to meet our baby.
I had no idea what time it was, I have no idea how many pushes it took all I know is with each push I squeezed Duncan and he made me feel safe and as calm as I could be. I was so hot, the cold towel that a nurse handed me was, in that moment, the best thing that had ever been handed to me, and Celine kept reminding me to breathe.
“I can do this, I am doing this, I can do this” I told myself.
Some deep breaths and a few big pushes and the head was out. Still on my side I felt the urge to push again and there was shoulders and then the baby. There was the tiniest moment of silence and then the cry. The most beautiful sound in the world. I rolled myself on to my back and the baby was placed on my chest. She was here and she was perfect.
Posy Tess was born at 1.11pm, 3.89kg – our littlest baby yet – and absolutely (I’ll say it again) perfect.She attached and fed almost instantly, it was beautiful and so effortless for her, the rest of the birth to me was a blur. All I could think was she was here, she was safe and healthy and I had done it. I was so proud of myself, I looked up at Duncan and he was staring at Posy the biggest smile on his face and his eyes filled with tears, little did he know how much having him to hold helped me and got me through the hard parts.
We stayed in our little bubble, skin on skin for about an hour, staring at our new perfect daughter, all the questions we had over the last nine months about who she would be had started to be answered and our life would never be the same again.
I loved my birth of Posy. I have never been one to think my births as beautiful because mine had left me feeling exhausted, drained and shaken, but this truly was. It was everything I had imagined birth to be, it was amazing, it was empowering and it was the best experience of my life.
I am so grateful for my husband, Duncan, and the support he gave me, although at times he may have felt helpless, he was everything that I needed and I am so thankful that he was wherever I needed him to be. And to the midwife that I will never forget, Celine, words cannot describe how incredibly happy I was that she was paired with us that day. She was the most wonderful guide when I needed guidance, and the reassurance when I needed reassurance, not to mention I think I would’ve forgotten to breathe had she not reminded me to do so.
Before Posy, I looked at birth as a daunting experience and when the clouds of anxiety crept into my head I was surrounded by good people who made me feel strong, safe and capable. I was able to tell myself that I was strong, safe and capable and I truly think that belief gave me the birth that I had so quietly hoped for.
I may still be in the post birth euphoria stage, or maybe it is because it is my last baby and I am being overly sentimental, but I know that I will always look back on Posy’s birth in a positive light. I will be proud and remember the beauty and the magical feeling that filled the room the moment she entered the world.