On Wednesday 18th June 2014 we welcomed our second son into the world … he unexpectedly arrived in our bedroom! As I look back on our son’s Birth Day I never want to forget the overwhelming love and gratitude I felt towards my husband as he not only supported me during labour (as he had done with our first son) but how he remained completely calm as he was nearly the one to deliver our baby! I really am in complete awe of my husband’s courage to be there for me as completely as he was, and I feel so lucky that he is my partner in life.
Here is our story … On Wednesday morning I woke up at 2.30am with period type cramps, but I told myself to just go back to bed and see if they would go away. I woke up at 3.30am and the cramps were still there but it felt uncomfortable to be lying in bed. So I decided to get my special relaxation CDs and got nice and comfortable over the birth ball trying to fall back to sleep in this position. Leading up to our labour, whenever I practised the relaxation techniques I would be using for labour, I would lie over the birth ball, so the connection with feeling relaxed in this position was already made. I couldn’t fall asleep but I did feel comfortable.
At about 5am I woke my husband and told him I was having these cramps and maybe he shouldn’t go into work. We thought we would wait another hour and see what was happening. We called the hospital and they said if it was only period style cramping, without any other signs of labour, labour could still be far away. However, I just had this strong feeling that Craig should stay home, especially since his work is not close to our home. At about 6am I told Craig I was starving and he made me some breakfast. If today was the day, I wanted to have some food in me as I know the energy required for labour.
Our toddler woke up at around 7am and for the next hour we got him ready to go to his Nana. When my Mum arrived to pick up our son she heard me saying hi to her from the kitchen, but when she came in she could not find me. Even though I was still experiencing period style cramping, the cramps instinctively brought me down to my hands and knees. Whatever I was doing, when I felt the cramping coming on, I dropped into this position. My toddler thought it was great and I told him we could pretend to be doggies together! For the next hour or so my husband had to do a few things for work and it was at about 9am I told him that I wanted him to be with me now.
We lit my oil burner in the bathroom (We had joked going into labour that this labour was going to be a ‘one candle labour’ – the tea light candle lasted 10 hours. At 9ish I had my birth show (bloody show in medical terminology) and got super excited as I just knew that our baby would be born that day! (With our first son I did get a show a couple of days beforehand but this time I just had a feeling that our second child would be born that day).
The cramping started spreading to my lower back and becoming quite intense and now when I dropped to my hands and knees I needed Craig to do all the things we had done in our practise together preparing for labour. This was definitely labour and I was definitely experiencing surges (HypnoBirthing terminology used instead of contractions). They were very intense and again I just dropped to my hands and knees whenever I experienced one. Craig was doing the ‘double hip squeeze’ (one of the HB techniques) and it provided the most amazing counter pressure during the surges. My husband’s hands were getting very tired after a few hours of doing this technique, especially his thumbs. I asked Craig to get our pregnancy massage oil and start massaging my lower back between surges, it was a special pregnancy blend containing clary sage (an essential oil that is very powerful during labour). I was so looking forward to this part of labour. My feet at one point got really cold and I asked Craig to massage my feet which felt amazing, we had a good laugh and joke that I was really as Craig put it, ‘milking it!!’. It felt wonderful! The surges felt much more powerful then our first labour. I kept telling myself this was a really good thing as the more powerful they got the more of my own natural endorphins would release and help me cope with them.
My husband was continually offering me water to drink and reminding me to go to the toilet and empty my bladder. Each time I went to the toilet I would look on our bathroom mirror where I had printed my favourite birth affirmations and positive birth images. He was also offering me my pre-frozen mejool dates that I had prepared the day before as I knew I wanted high energy snacks on hand and dates were my snack of choice – pip removed and sprinkled with sea salt in the middle. Yum!
After reading another birth story recently about the relief brought on by having a shower during labour I decided to jump in the shower. The hot water felt incredible on my back! I think I was in the shower for five or six surges – on my hands and knees with Craig supporting me from outside the shower by reading my favourite affirmations and birth prompts. I started to get really hot and wanted to come out the shower. The surges were coming even closer together and becoming more powerful and VERY intense. I could actually feel as my cervix was drawing up and open. I have never been more aware of what was going on in my body as I was during labour. I am even amazed now that at the time I was able to marvel at my body and what it was doing. I knew I needed to work with my body with my breathing and accept how powerful the surges were feeling – they took every bit of my focus and energy to work through them.
The main affirmation that I kept repeating in my head was ‘My surges cannot be stronger than me, because they are me.. if they are me, I am so powerful.’ This was such a great comfort and helped me embrace each surge. Between surges I would focus on my calm breathing (another HB technique) to conserve energy and remain calm. The other thing that helped during surges was my husband counting my surges out loud and then I had a focus point to know that they wouldn’t last forever. Craig alternated between saying my affirmations or counting my surges – whatever I asked him to and what I needed at that point.
Towards the end of labour I started to feel at the peak of each surge a nauseous feeling. I should have verbalised this out loud to my husband, as he knew that feeling nauseous or throwing up is a possible sign that birth is very close. I did not experience this in our first labour. Craig had been saying for the last little while that he thought we should go to the hospital. He said that he said it a few times but I only heard it once. Our surges went from being 5-6 minutes apart to 2-3 minutes apart in a short space of time. Prior to this I actually forgot that we would at some point need to leave to go to hospital. I was just focusing on working with my body through each surge. I agreed we should go to the hospital but I first wanted to have the chicken soup my Mum had made for me – it provided such great nourishment and strength during our first labour. When Craig got back from putting on the soup we rang the hospital to tell them where we were at, we started explaining and the Midwife wanted to talk to me, she said I ‘sounded’ like I would be able to stay at home for possibly another 30mins to an hour .. then within the next minute, I had what felt like three to five surges on top of each other – it was the most intense feeling I have ever had in my life and I heard my body make these loud moans and I said when I had enough breath, ‘Craig the baby is coming now!’ to which the Midwife, who was still on loudspeaker on the phone, told Craig to quickly hang up the phone and call 000 – we were going to be having the baby at home. The thought passed through my head that I couldn’t do this anymore, it was just too hard (again this is a sign that the birth of a baby is imminent).
Craig called 000 and the operator said an ambulance was being dispatched but it was unclear how far away they were.. and he needed to get ready to deliver our baby. He was being given instructions and answering questions over the phone – ‘get towels’ ‘support her perineum’ ‘how much of the baby’s head can you see’ to which Craig did everything in his usual calm manner – not a trace of panic was evident in his voice – which as you could imagine was a complete comfort to me.
When I felt an intense bearing down I worked with my body and between these sensations did as much calm breathing as I could. Then as Craig was telling the operator that he could see more and more of the head they said for him to get me up on the bed on my back to which I replied ‘I’m not moving anywhere.’ Then the doorbell rang and Craig ran to open the door – he was gone for two minutes but it felt like forever, I was just doing calm breathing the whole time Craig wasn’t with me. Then shortly after the Paramedics arriving, our beautiful boy was born!
He let out a huge cry when he came out, was given a once over check and placed in my arms. A perfectly healthy baby boy born in our bedroom on the floor at the foot of our bed at 1.21pm. The Paramedics couldn’t believe how calm we both were and commented that they were surprised they never heard me scream. I was placed on the stretcher with our baby in my arms and we were taken to hospital and greeted by a group of stunned midwives!
***Positive birth story by Natalie Jones, proud new mother and practitioner at Hypnobirthing Confidence