On the morning of 25th January while so many were cracking on with the morning school run, little did they know of the magic that was happening behind my front door as I welcomed my third child into the world at home.
After a false alarm on the Monday night with lots of braxton hicks and then my show over the next couple of days, I knew that the warm up was happening. At 41 weeks, I told the midwife I had no interest in induction, who fully supported my decision and the plan… was to wait. Wait for the miracle. Just wait for my body & my baby to kick into action and do exactly what it was made to do.
After about 7 trips to the loo over Wednesday night, I knew the pressure had intensified and everything felt crazy low, but there was no sign of any surges. So once more, I waited. And that was still the case until 7am when out of nowhere I had an immensely intense surge that literally floored me. I was straight to all fours, having to breathe through the feeling of pressure & tightening for seven long minutes. I hollered to my husband Andy for the pool to be run, I knew this was it and boy was I excited!
The next hour I had a mere 3 surges which were intense, but only 40 seconds each and around 20 minutes apart… I got the kids ready to be picked up by my mum, as I was wondering how speedily the rest of the day was going to unfold. I knew the timings weren’t textbook to say I was in labour, but I knew this was it. I knew my body. I instantly remembered the sensations – it was time to use the power of my breath.
At 8am, they were 3 minutes apart as I prepped the kids for school and brought my focus to a single candle at my bedside to breathe through each surge. All I could think of was my special birth space waiting for me downstairs – I just needed my mum to pickup the kids and take them out of the equation. Listening to the breakfast goings on & putting on of coats/shoes felt like an eternity.
As the house emptied I came straight downstairs and into the birth pool. The relief was instantaneous. The combination of the peace & quiet and the warm water was heavenly.
My surges were coming thick and fast and without consciously doing it, my eyes had closed, my mind was focused and I felt myself completely internalise. It felt like it was in the far distance I heard my doula arrive. I trust Zara implicitly and my whole body took a deep breath knowing that she was with us.
Then too arrived the midwives who had been battling rush hour traffic to get to me – one of which was my named midwife who had done all my antenatal appointments – another familiar voice of support had entered my birth space. It was around 9am by now and almost like a switch I felt my surges ramp up another gear. I felt safe. I felt so supported… it was show time.
The sensation of pressure was greater than I had ever experienced in my other two births and something I can only put down to the fact my waters hadn’t broken. I tried gas and air, almost like an experiment as it had been useless to me in my other two births, but for this one it was just the ticket. With Andy’s hand & encouragement it kept me focused, helped me find my rhythm and allowed me to breathe through each surge.
The Wise Hippo teaching & doula training has taught me so much about the physiology of birth and I had complete faith that my body and my baby would do exactly what was needed when the time came. And I had such faith in that too… in those days 40+ weeks, I was able to find the joy in the suspense and the sacred last days as a family of four.
My midwife suggested I try and go for a wee to help relieve some pressure, so off I waddled with Andy in tow. We closed the door and it was just us. It was quiet as I breathed through another surge. I’ve seen this happen in so many of the births I’ve attended as a doula… but there is that moment where something shifts and this was my moment. This was my new energy. As I tried to go to the loo I had the overwhelming desire to push which just filled me with joy.
As I got back into the birth pool I felt the most connected to my body than I have ever been before. My body knew just what it was doing & I had learnt the relaxation tools to allow it to do just that. This was team work in its rawest form as my body and my baby worked together… this was birth undisturbed.
After two second degree tears in my previous births, much of the prep work I had done in the lead up to this birth was to practice the pause and really control the birthing phase in the hope to avoid the need for stitches. So once again I waited. I didn’t forcibly push, I waited for my body’s innate ejection reflex to take over. And my goodness that it did, in the most extraordinarily amazing way as my baby’s head was born. And then I waited some more for the next contraction as my baby was born into the water and up into my arms, under three hours since my first twinge.
That feeling of warmth, elation & overwhelming unconditional love. I was completely lost in the euphoric moment – so proud, so relieved, so happy. It took the midwife to prompt me as she asked ‘and do we know what we’ve got’? It just didn’t matter to me – my baby was earthside & safely in my arms. I held my baby boy to me – I was complete.
The couple of hours following Arlo’s birth were so different than in a hospital setting. It was like the world paused and allowed me to breathe in the magic. There was no one dictating timelines or hospital buzzers or business. There was no trauma needing stitches and there was laughter & love filling the room from my three wonderful midwives, Zara & Andy. I lay on the sofa drinking tea & eating hobnobs feeling held and supported.
After suffering with PTSD last year, this was the ‘happy ending’ I yearned for and worked towards. My bump gave me faith in finding joy again and this birth gave me restored faith that love really does win.
My birth story ends with us tucked up in bed just staring at Arlo. Our life had changed so quickly & for me it had been everything I had wanted & everything I had believed in.
* A massive thank you to Zara for our wonderful photos – a blog post ‘An Open Letter to my Doula’ to follow *