June's Birth Story
This article was first published on Kent Hypnobirthing's website, but as it's something I get asked about a lot I thought on the eve of June's first birthday that I should publish it here so I can direct people to it more easily.
When I first spoke on the phone with Ray, who I have now made a permanent feature in my life, to discuss whether Hypnobirthing was for me, I explained like many, the idea of giving birth seemed like the most impossible and scary thing I could ever imagine. As soon as I was pregnant I panicked about how this baby was coming out of me, and this is where I discovered Kent Hypnobirthing and it was quite honestly life changing. I have since used the power of positive thinking, visualisation and affirmations in all areas of my life since, and I'm still very much learning, but this is where it all started.
I was 41 weeks + 1 day pregnant. My midwife had been fantastic, and I wasn't due to see her again until I was 41+ 3, which would be ten days after I last saw her. There was no pressure for a sweep or induction, however by this point I was well and truly fed up. Everything hurt, and the anticipation of becoming a mother and finally meeting this baby girl was all too much. If the baby wasn't here by that Saturday, I had discussed it with my boyfriend and I was going to have a sweep, I didn't want to be pregnant for another minute. Luckily for me it didn't come to that....
I woke up on the morning of Thursday 27th of April at about 2 AM for my tenth toilet trip of the night, luckily that night I switched the bathroom light on, and had, what I now know to be, a 'show'. After 20 minutes of googling it I decided to go back to sleep and proceeded to wake up every two hours with the typical cramp like period pains that lots of people tell you about. I decided not to wake my partner and tell him, as I thought 'maybe this is it' and if so I would need him to get as much rest as possible to help me through it all. I woke up in the morning and the cramp like period sensations were still continuing, I thought if this was the day it was happening that I had time to send Jack to the tip to clear the rest of the things on the balcony that I've been staring at me for the past three months. I also made an epic brunch of poached eggs on muffins with chorizo, avocado all topped off with hollandaise sauce, very pleased about that! I also did some cleaning, as again, if this was the big day I couldn't be bringing my baby home to a dirty house (it was anything but, after giving birth and having a baby I truly understand what a messy / unclean house means).
After this we decided to go for a walk, as we had done every day for the past three weeks. I'd been really fed up and quite emotional, each day was a mental struggle, not to mention the Snooker World Championships were on....much to my Jack's delight. During our seaside walk, I then decided I wanted a McDonald's cheeseburger (I finally gave in to the cravings), followed by some ice cream at our favourite gelato shop, all in all the day was going well. Every so often I had to stop because the cramps intensified but wasn't really sure if I was in labour or not at this point, and I really didn't want to get my hopes up.
We got home and the cramps were still happening and becoming a little more frequent, whilst messaging a friend she reminded me about the tens machine I had, so I decided to put that on and bounced up and in my birth ball whilst watching episodes of Friends remembering about all the oxytocin and I need to release. I was doing my breathing and Jack was secretly timing, what I now know to be contractions. Because he'd been on the Hypnobirthing course with me he really did play an essential role in the whole labour and birth process which I am eternally grateful for.
I carried on like this for a few hours made a few phone calls and watched a few more episodes of Friends and then all of a sudden I decided that I needed to call the hospital, the sensations were intensifying and I needed some reassurance. This is the point for me which was the lowest, as the lady on the other end of the phone essentially laughed at me and said I couldn't be in labour because I can still talk. Being typically British I tried my hardest to keep myself together whilst on the phone and actually was a lot worse when I was off the phone, however her telling me that really made me lose confidence in myself and in my body. I burst into tears and Jack had to really calm me down.
However she did say that she would put me through to someone at the MLU who I could speak too. The midwife on the phone said I could go into the MLU if I wanted to, it was really up to me. Jack knew to keep me a home for as long as possible, so he really tried to persuade me to stay at home for longer. Eventually I insisted I wanted to go in and he went downstairs to pack the car. When I went in the car there was classical music playing and everything was calm and luckily it was dark outside.
It was about 7:45pm, and on the way to the hospital, which is only two minutes drive, we nearly collided with another vehicle. He came out at us at the roundabout out of nowhere, we couldn't believe it as the breaks slammed on. Jack was brilliant managed to remain calm throughout. As soon as I went into the MLU and I met the midwife on duty who was called Emily, I burst into tears. I told her I couldn't do this, she was just what I needed, and she spoke to me in a really soft calming voice and asked me if I'd like to be examined? I thought about it for a moment and decided it was best to know where I was at, so she examined me and I found out I was 3 cm dilated. Emily told me that the MLU was empty that evening and I was more than welcome to stay, get into the pool, eat some food and just see how things progressed. This is exactly what I did, she brought me a whole tray of snacks: cheese, biscuits, crisps and ice cold apple juice. The birthing pool was filled up, and it was so much bigger and warmer than I imagined. The lights were down really low, and I continued contracting, breathing in and breathing out with Jack there to talk me through it. Music wise we hadn't put a playlist together which maybe was a bit of a mistake, but I was more than happy with the old school hits on the radio ranging from 70s disco to a bit of Take That.
At this point I had been having contractions for quite a while, and they asked me again if I'd like to stay or go home. There was no way I was going home, so they admitted me as a patient which I was over the moon about. After some hours, another midwife came and asked it I was I aware of my pain relief options, and soon as she said this I wanted the gas and air. In hindsight I would definitely avoid people saying the word pain relief or using that language whilst in labour for as long as possible, as soon as she said this I thought I needed it where as before she said this, I hadn't really thought about it too much.
I continued with the gas and air and my contractions were now going through my whole body. Before they had been quite manageable on all fours, where as now they had me standing up and walking around in the pool. Emily asked me if I would like to be examined again, I decided yes, I would and I got out the pool and onto the bed. She examined me, and as soon as she'd finished the examination I went to the toilet, as i'd be drinking so many fluids.....ice cold apple juice was my new favourite thing at this point. This is again where hypnobirthing helped my boyfriend, as I now know that I was still 3 cm still at this point but Jack said that I could not hear this news. He ensured that Emily only told me positive news, I went back into the pool and Emily told me that everything is progressing nicely she didn't mention anything about measurements and I didn't ask.
I felt really comfortable in the MLU, the atmosphere, the lighting, and Emily all made me feel really comfortable, however by this point it was probably three or four in the morning and the contractions were getting more intense and happening more frequently. They monitored the babies heartbeat throughout, and her position, which I was more than happy with, they then asked me if I would like to to be examined again, and I declined. However the surges were becoming really intense and I decided that I would really like the next level of pain relief. I requested pethidine, which took quite some time for it to arrive, as they needed to find a doctor. When it arrived I had to get out the pool, and I would have to stay out the pool for at least three hours. The idea of the pethidine was for both Jack and me to get some rest, the room we were in was huge, and they'd made a bed for us both to relax in. I decided against getting examined before the injection, and then the rollercoaster really began. Over the next two hours I could not sit still, I couldn't do anything but pace. I wanted to go to the toilet but I couldn't sit down to go, I couldn't even relieve myself stood up. I also couldn't sit down on the bed, all I wanted to do was walk walk walk around that room. Although Jack was trying to be really positive, I knew he really wanted me to get rest and kept saying I should sit down. However I just couldn't explain to him what was happening and I physically couldn't sit still or sit down even if I wanted too, after two hours of this and breathing all the way through, the midwives offered me another examination which I decided was a good idea. During this time I was sick four times and also I'm not sure if was my mucus plug but had something very big and something very red slap down on the floor. I remember Jack asking me what the noise was, and although I was in discomfort, I remember being really excited to see something that big come out of my body as I knew it was another step closer to the end.
It took at least half an hour for me to be able to get on the bed for them to examine me. This is where it gets really good, when they examined me they said I was 7-8 cm dilated. I jumped for joy (I actually didn't, but mentally I did), I knew this meant I wasn't far away, I was near the magic TEN CENTIMETRES! It was approaching 8 AM at this point and Emily who had seen me all the way through the evening was due to finish her shift, I couldn't believe it. But then they brought in just what I needed my new midwife Cara. Emily was what I would describe as kind, softly spoken and exactly what I needed to get me through to that point. Cara was, as my boyfriend describes, the kind of coach that you need in football when you have five minutes to score to win the FA Cup. Now that I was this far, the contractions didn't really let up, I kept breathing, using gas and air however Cara told me I couldn't get back in the pool till at least 8:30am because then that would be three hours since I had the pethidine injection. I begged to go back in the pool as I knew that the contractions were much more manageable when I was in the water, however rules are rules. Just before I got back in the pool my waters broke in spectacular fashion, I would call it true Hollywood style, again I was elated I knew that this was another sign that meant I was closer to the end results. Without Hypnobirthing I wouldn't know any of what was happening to my body, what all these different signals were, so for this and was truly grateful. I finally got back in the pool which was now full of fresh water, and it was finally 8:30am.
And this bit is a bit of a blur, I remember breathing breathing breathing and using the gas and air to the point Cara maybe suggested I could use the gas and air a little less.....Jack told me he was trying to hold my hands and I just didn't want him to touch me. I knew from what Ray had said, that I needed to try and to not clench my hands, and I needed to relax as much as possible. I was really in the zone, even one of my favourite songs came on from Rocky which is Eye of the Tiger, and I didn't even acknowledge it. The noises that are coming out of me at this point really primal, again Ray told me that this might happen. I just remember breathing really intensely and really heavily - I knew I was so so close.
At this point I had to laugh (in hindsight) I remember that my bowels were now emptying, this was being cleaned up instantly, with what can only be described as a sieve from the poundshop. Apparently I came out of my zone and concentrating on breathing to tell Jack off he was trying to help them with the clean up operation. I think I told him needed to stop doing that, if the roles were reversed I wouldn't be caught doing the same that is for sure.
This next bit wasn't quite as calm as I'd imagined it, but my body definitely took over. I'd reached the part I'd learnt about called transition, which I was not expecting to be so strong. I thought it would be a bit like when you are hungover and can't be bothered to get off the settee to go and get a Domino's Pizza but eventually you got up and did it. I remember shouting quite vividly at Cara, Jack and the other midwife that was in the room that I couldn't do this and quite frankly they could just get the baby out with me or otherwise forget it. This is where everyone was amazing, telling me the right things I needed to hear. They told me I WAS doing this and I COULD get the baby out. I had already come this far and there was just a little bit further to go, eventually I could feel the baby right near the exit I wanted to push but Cara said don't push yet and again from Hypnobirthing I remembered that there was two different times or feelings of when I should push, so somewhere in my subconscious this was embedded within me and I held off pushing for as long as I could.
Eventually I told Cara I couldn't hold off any more and she said I should push, she was behind me with a mirror telling me she could see the head and to wait until the next contraction before I pushed for the shoulders. I managed to do this, and then June powered on out through a pool of blood. Jack said it was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen, they brought June up onto my chest and I just couldn't believe that it was all done and that she was finally here. I remember just holding her bum and staring at this little squishy face, which is now so recognisable. Her umbilical cord was abnormally short so I had to really bend over to make sure that I wasn't tugging on my placenta but also that she was above water enough so that she wasn't swallowing it.
The other midwife that was in the room, usually works on labour ward and she had a face that was a little concerned because June had come out the pool and she was blue. We knew that this was common with water births, however we were still quite alarmed as we'd totally forgotten this information. I remember asking Cara if everything was okay repeatedly and she kept telling me it was all totally normal. Jack then cut the umbilical cord and straight away the colour started coming to June, she started to turn a lovely pink. After what seemed like forever, she started to cry. They then took her off my chest so that I can get out the pool and then Jack held her.
Before they took me out the pool they mentioned in my notes that I had said I would like to birth the placenta naturally, and this is also their recommendation on the MLU in Margate. By this point I couldn't imagine birthing another thing, so I said I wanted the injection....Jack tried to talk me round as he knew I wasn't thinking straight. They got me out the pool and onto a stool, rather than the injection my midwife said why not push once more and see what happens. At this point my placenta slapped down into a box that was placed underneath the squatting stool and that was that. Even though I've seen pictures of it, I couldn't help but stare at it, it was so much bigger than i'd imagined. And after the placenta came out I was over the moon.
They supported me over to the bed, my legs were shaky, and then came at me with the trolley, I was sure they were going to tell me I would need five stitches or more.....but actually I only had two grazes. It was explained I could have one stitch if I wanted, but that would cause me as much aggravation as the graze itself. If I just looked after it over the next few days - I'd be fine. So that was that, no stitches for me, I was elated and mostly in disbelief.
As I managed to drink so many fluids during labour to keep myself hydrated, this was the point I just couldn't keep any more liquid inside of me. I'd been relieving myself in the pool, but now it was time for me to go on the bed. Apparently you're supposed to have your first wee measured, I'd already put a stop to that. And forgive me if this isn't what you want to read, but I'm sharing all the graphic details because I think it's so important to know that when you're in labour you just do not care about these things, I felt really free. It's really instinctive, for those people that think very worried about pooing during labour quite frankly you just don't give a shit (even though you've just given about 10 in the pool). Next up was a shower, which was just the best feeling ever, and food has never tasted so good.
We went into the MLU at 8 PM on Thursday night, and June was born at 9 AM Friday morning. In total I was in there for 13 hours before she arrived, and I was in the pool for the majority of that apart from the three hours where I had the pethidine injection. We then stayed in for one night and then it was off home.
The midwifes at the Margate MLU were beyond fantastic, and I recommend Hypnobirthing to everybody I see that is pregnant (sorry about that), it's really changed the way I think about myself and my body. I think it's really important for women to be empowered to be able to make choices about themselves during this unique experience.
Lots of people ask me how the birth was with a pained face, and I always respond with the fact that I had a really positive experience. I tell my birth story to as many people as I can (who ask to hear it mind), not because I want to boast, but because I want to change the stigma about birth being negative horrible process. Yes, it's not a walk in the park but my goodness with all the tools I had in my kit from Hypnobirthing, it helped me get through it. I honestly believe it gave me the best start to motherhood I could of wished for.
P.S. There's lot of photos of Peonies, because I was on a Peony hunt before June was born. I got a baby and a house full of Peonies all at the same time, I felt like a pretty lucky lady!
P.P.S. I'll also be publishing another post about my first year of motherhood, keep your eyes peeled next week.