I can’t quite believe how different two births can be. Theo’s was exciting, but full of fear and pretty scary toward the end (although, of course, it still delivered the best possible result – a healthy baby. And, in retrospect, it wasn’t as bad as many other stories heard about later). Beatrice’s, on the other hand, was as peaceful as birth could be, given all the pain and mooing.
I’d been having painless, but annoying, contractions through the night, and when Peter came to bed, I remembered saying how surprised I was that I hadn’t gone into labour – I was sure that it was going to kick in any minute. But it didn’t, and in the morning, he took Theo downstairs, as he usually does, at around 6am. I kind of decided it must have just been Braxton Hicks, cheered up at the thought of my day ahead, having lunch and then seeing La La Land, and then headed into the shower.
My first painful surge happened in the shower. I more or less ignored them while I got dressed, but they quickly got stronger and closer together, and I remember calling down to him that maybe he should get the later train, just in case this turned into something. About 10 minutes later, we called my parents and asked them to come and collect Theo a bit earlier than usual.
The day then progressed as normal, apart from these intense waves of pain. Theo and I ate breakfast together at 7:30, and I had to eat standing up, as the contractions were already every 3 minutes, and sitting down was very uncomfortable.
Mum and dad arrived, I called the delivery suite, and they told us to come straight in.
A few weeks beforehand, a midwife told me that I would most likely not be able to give birth in the beautiful, peaceful, water-birth-tastic birthing suite because of my previous history. I was so upset and disappointed, but I’d had a few weeks to make peace with the idea of giving birth in the medical ward. So when the midwife on duty that day came to speak to us, and said that after reviewing my notes she didn’t see any reason why we couldn’t at least start in the birthing suite, and see how it went, I was absolutely overjoyed.
We headed up to the 4th floor, and after another assessment, I was shown into a lovely room, with candles, bean bags, and that big birthing pool in the middle. My contractions were every 2 1/2 minutes by now, but with Peter’s hand on my tummy, and the breathing work I was doing, it actually felt very manageable.
When they had assessed me, I was already 4.5cm dilated, and things seemed to be moving along pretty quickly, so the midwife started filling up the pool. Getting in helped a lot with the pain, but let’s be honest, it still hurt like hell! Peter was a bit useless at helping with my hypnotherapy cues, so instead, we put the audio track on that I’d been listening to every bedtime for a couple of months. I wasn’t really focusing on it at all, but the familiarity really did help me focus on my breathing, which rapidly became a deep mooing noise!
After what felt like only ten or fifteen minutes, there was a crazy POP inside of me (my waters breaking), and I started to feel something coming out – I could feel her! One of the midwives said it should just take one more push to get her out, but sadly that was a bit optimistic. I think it was another 5 or 6, as I got scared of pushing too hard because between the contractions and the pushing, I felt a bit like I was splitting in two down below! But I could feel her silky head of hair in the water, and that gave me the motivation to keep going.
Then suddenly, I could feel the head break free and the body came quickly after that. I reached down and pulled her toward my chest, and after a quick unroll by the midwife (the cord was around her neck, as it seems it often is), suddenly she was there!
I literally could not believe I had done it – in the pool, no pain relief, and she was there and healthy. I think I must have said “I did it!” about ten times just in pure shock. Again, the contrast with Theo’s birth was huge – he was whisked away after a few minutes on my chest while they worked to get my bleeding under control. This time we stayed in the pool for a while, then Peter held her while they gently helped me get out and get dry, and then the three of us sat cozied up on the bed for ages, relaxing and cuddling and recovering.
She fed not too long after being born, and when the cord had stopped pulsing, they clamped it and Peter cut it. One of the midwives helped deliver the placenta, and I got to take a good look at it. And that was it!
We stayed in bed together for most of the afternoon before they checked her over, checked me over, and checked us out. I had a graze to my perineum and a small tear, which I opted not to have stitched (last time, it was the stitches that did me in – after tearing one getting into a very low car shortly after birth, one ripped, and I was not signed off from the hospital for eight months as I recovered from that!).
We were home and eating supper together by 7pm. What a day!
I felt so fortunate for so many things by the end of it. That I was able to use the birthing suite. That the two midwives were so lovely – calm, patient and kind. That Peter was there from the word go. That I had decided to look into hypnobirthing this time around. That there were no complications. That there was a cup of tea after the birth. I’m really not sure I could have asked for a better birth.
Has her introduction to the world made a difference? I don’t know. She has certainly been a calmer baby than Theo was, especially in those early days. But is that because of the birth, or just because of her nature, or because she’s a second child? It’s impossible to tell. I never felt like I’d ‘failed’ or done ‘badly’ with my first birth – things didn’t go according to plan, but that almost WAS the plan, as I’d heard so many stories of things going wrong during a first birth. But I still feel so happy to have had my magical pixie-dust unicorn birth.
I could never understand people who talked about ‘positive’ birth – I mean, the end result was great, but birth itself was just a nightmare, full stop, right? I kind of thought those people were lying – either to me or to themselves. Even when I was reading hypnobirthing books and listening to audio tracks every night, I still didn’t think that I would have that kind of birth. I’ve never been happier to be wrong.
If you’re interested, this is the hypnobirthing book I read and this is the audio CD* I listened to over and over again. I have no idea if it helped in terms of the pain, but it definitely helped me feel calmer and more in control – I would absolutely recommend it for new or second time mums.
*Affiliate links, but I’ve only included them because I really thought they helped!