The power of positive thinking
If I had a pound for every time someone asked me if I was scared about giving birth, I'd have paid for my birthing pool twice over! My response was always the same: "He's coming out one way or another so there's no point being afraid. I'm going to embrace labour, think of it as a positive experience and look forward to finally meeting my baby." And boy was it worth the wait!
I'd wanted a holistic birthing experience all the way through my pregnancy and was keen to stay as active as possible, including during the birth. I started YogaBirth classes at our local village hall. I'd always been a bit of a yoga-bunny so this was a great way to carry on practising, while meeting other mums-to-be and learning new skills that would help me and my baby in the long but exciting road ahead. Not content with gentle stretches, deep breathing and relaxation, I then discovered Aquanatal classes at the local pool – feeling weightless was worth every penny I paid each week to go to class! (We won't mention the fact that I'm still paying for my gym membership, which I haven't used for almost a year!)
Look into my eyes, not around my eyes...
The final experiment came in the form of HypnoBirthing. The general idea is that you learn the skills to go into a deep state of relaxation so your mind and body work together, doing what nature intended to eliminate the 'pain' of labour – I was very surprised to watch videos of HypnoBirthing mums give birth in silence, smiling through their 'surges' (contractions) and breathing their baby out. So with nothing to lose, I thought it was definitely worth giving it a go, although I wasn't sure I was going to pass up the opportunity to yell and scream if I wanted to!
Bumpy ride? Not at all
So the wheels were set in motion on the afternoon of 16 September, five days before my due date. It took me a while to realise that the Braxton Hicks were coming with some regularity – in fact I was on the A1 on the way to collect my hubby for HypnoBirthing class! By the time we left the session, my contractions were coming every six minutes and lasting about 30-45 seconds. We were so excited that we were finally going to meet our son. A quick call to the midwife on the way home and a nice warm bath were next on the agenda. The warmth of the water was so lovely and helped to soothe the pulling up and pushing down feeling you get with each contraction, I was smiling through them all knowing that each one was bringing us closer to the arrival.
After a restless night, the fabulous community midwife called in first thing and we estimated the new arrival would be with us by teatime, so hubby got busy inflating the birthing pool and filling it with warm water. Ever since I found out I was pregnant, I was determined to try giving birth at home in an inflatable pool, so I was pleased that everything seemed to be going to plan. Mind you, I was under strict instructions not to get in the pool until labour was well established, and unfortunately when I finally did, my contractions all but stopped. By this point I was getting tired and frustrated, so in an attempt to get some sleep I had a bath, focused my mind and managed to stop everything and fell into bed!
Day 3 and counting...
I awoke about 1am with a quick dash to the loo for a projectile vomiting incident, which triggered the contractions to start again with some ferocity. I looked at hubby snoring in bed and decided to leave him there; he would be more use to me in the long run if he'd had some sleep! So I positioned myself on the sofa with a raft of reality TV recordings and lay contracting every three minutes all through the night. It was like I'd climbed to the summit of the mountain but couldn't quite get over the top and I was starting to get desperate for a shove! It arrived when the midwife came round again, took one look at me and suggested that an MOT at hospital would be sensible; we just couldn't carry on like this indefinitely. So after a shower and last check of the 'hospital' bag we departed for the Lister Maternity Unit.
Having arrived at hospital, I was feeling a little downbeat and just wanted to finally meet this bundle of joy who seemed to be causing me many problems already. The midwives checked me over and put a monitor round my belly to check baby's heartbeat. All seemed well and they decided to break my waters and then I could go home to have the water birth I wanted – a call was made to my community midwife to meet me at home. Excitement set in again. Then before I knew it, there was an about-turn as the monitor reading showed a couple of big dips in George's heartbeat and the registrar said he wouldn't be happy to let me go home for the birth, but I would be leaving with my baby – this filled me with a renewed sense of positivity as I knew we were finally going to reach the ultimate goal.
So they tried to break my waters a couple of times, but George's head was so engaged there was no gush as he was acting as a plug! I was told that I had two hours to bring on labour or I would have to have the Syntocinon drip, which I really wanted to avoid. I have never bounced on a ball quite like it, head down, in the zone, listening to my HypnoBirthing affirmations and focusing on getting things moving as soon as possible. As things became more intense I opted for some gas and air, but being used to yoga breathing I couldn't get the hang of the mouthpiece – with hindsight I should have asked for a mask so I could breathe through my nose. Next time...
So six hours on (it honestly felt like half an hour, I've never known time fly quite like it) and I was desperate to start pushing but the midwife wanted me to hold off in case I wasn't fully dilated. With each surge I kept saying I needed to poo, and the midwife reassured me repeatedly that it was baby, not poo. In the end I think she got so fed up with me going on that she stopped answering me!
When I could finally start to push I swung round onto all fours on the bed and pushed with all my might! A mere 55 minutes later our little trooper joined our world to the sound of Daddy's cries of relief and Mummy's tears of joy – the most wonderful, magical and surreal moment of my life, one I will treasure and carry with me for the rest of my days.
When one becomes two... or three... or even four!
George has been a happy and alert baby from the very moment he was born. Both hubby and I have taken to parenthood like ducks to water and the midwives are sure that George is such a chilled baby as we are so relaxed as parents. Best piece of advice – let your instincts take over and it's child's play!
So here I am, loving life as a new family with the two wonderful men in my life – the sun is shining and life is great, what more could I ask for? If he's as perfect as this one, number two perhaps...?
"I was smiling through my contractions knowing that each one was bringing us closer to the arrival"