At 1.30am on the 17th December I awoke with what felt like continuous cramping/griping. I sat up cross legged in bed and rocked back and forth for a couple of hours sure that it was just a strange practice surge. However, during the next hour it developed a pattern, which I then realised were surges so I put my affirmations on and began to quietly hope that the baby was coming.
At 4.30am they were coming for an average of 45 seconds, every few minutes. I woke Damian, my husband, and said, “There’s a chance I’m in labour”.
I listened to my calming music of choice - Tubular Bells - and tried to relax and breathe with the surges, still sitting upright in bed, for the next half an hour.
As they intensified I decided a distraction would be helpful and at 5am I woke my mum who was due to be with me for the birth also. We went into the living room and I tried a few positions to find the most comfortable one (hands and knees, over the ball, sitting on the ball) but finally settled simply sitting upright on the edge of the sofa. It was at this stage that I remember most feeling the motion and sensation of the surge.
The surge started low, tightening, moving upwards becoming increasingly intense as it reached the top of the uterus then slowly tailing back off.
We had the dim, cosy Christmas lights on and Home Alone quietly on the TV. I concentrated on surge breathing, leaving a cup of tea un-drunk. It became more important that I not communicate too much in between surges, as I needed to maintain focus. I stayed like this for around an hour before deciding to take a bath.
Damian ran the bath for me and lit candles. In the bath I listened again to the affirmations. The bath was definitely soothing but I realised fairly quickly that it would be difficult for me to move out of the bath.
It was becoming more imperative that I concentrate and not be disturbed.
We timed the surges, which were coming on average every 1 minute 40 seconds for around 50 seconds. I decided it was time to get ready to go to the hospital.
Getting ready and to the car was tricky. Not being able to focus and having to lean against the wall and the post in the car park was not ideal! I sat upright in the back seat. The light of day, speed bumps and motion of the car made it difficult but I was carefully dealing with each surge.
We got to the Hospital at around 8am. I sat myself straight down in a chair in the reception whilst Damian handed the forms in. They offered me a wheelchair, which I declined. When we got to the labour ward the midwife, Emma asked “In labour?”
This seemed to me like a very stupid question but upon refection perhaps because
I wasn't making any noise and seemed so relaxed.
it wasn’t obvious to her. We went into the room and were left to get comfortable. Damian checked that Emma had read my Birth Preferences and she told us that she had lots of experience with Hypnobirthing. We asked if the pool could be filled.
Again I sat myself in a chair and concentrated knowing I would soon have to be examined. Emma came to me to first check the baby’s heartbeat and was patient not to move me to the bed until I was ‘ready’. The way she quietly observed me before doing or saying anything and asked Damian questions rather than me where possible was really helpful in allowing me to concentrate.
I told her I didn’t want to know how dilated I was - a decision I would recommend to anyone. (But I was 5cm)
Her examination spurred on a particularly powerful surge but she made it quick and I got myself settled back in the chair.
Damian put on the rainbow relaxation and whilst it took all of my energy to breathe with each surge I found making a deep humming noise with my out-breath helped. All the practice listening and relaxing to the music worked so subtly on the day.
For me it wasn't an 'obvious' relaxation but I must have been relaxing on a much deeper level.
I found myself nodding my head in between and I now know that I dilated very quickly during that next hour or so in the chair.
Once the pool was filled I got in (reluctantly as really I did not want to move!). Shortly after getting in my membranes released with a pop that startled me but it was a good moment as it meant I was moving along. The surges started to feel different – I could no longer feel the upward pull and the wave, rather the sensation slowly took hold of my entire body.
I hoped that my feeling this way meant that I was in the final stages.
I asked Emma if I was in transition but she said I was only in transition if I start to feel the pressure of the baby’s head. I wasn’t sure what I could feel so I worked hard to stay strong through the next couple of surges but then was sure I could feel some pressure. Emma wanted me out of the pool quickly but I was starting another surge so I lifted my finger (A symbol she had quickly understood to mean I was having a surge and so not to talk to or move me!) and we waited until it had passed before quickly getting me out. I had only been in for 15 or 20 minutes max.
I moved onto the bed and tried to lean over the back of the bed but it didn’t feel right so I found myself sitting in a semi-reclining position but lifted my bum off the bed with my arms, almost in a supported leapfrog. This just felt right for me. Emma called Dr Yemani.
The rest of my membranes released and shortly afterwards I started to feel that wonderful Natural Expulsive Reflex with which I breathed with force.
I look back at this part with so much excitement as I knew my baby was on its way to me. When someone said, “I can see hair” I got goose bumps. I wasn’t sure how quickly things were moving as I was just concentrating on breathing down but Emma told me to just breathe and relax for a little while as baby was coming too quickly and I might tear. It was hard not to but I tried to just gently breathe through the next surge. Crowning was not particularly poignant for me. I did feel stinging but it was not as intense as I had anticipated and again I was excited that this meant baby was so close to being in my arms. In what seemed like no time at all her head was out.
I was so surprised and thrilled that we were there already and that the next surge would bring my baby into the world.
Emma and Dr Yemini wanted me to push a little, as it was a while in between but as I started to ‘push’ the next surge came and Primrose arrived, 9 and a half hours after waking up that morning.
The most meaningful, wonderful and miraculous moment of my life was seeing her being lifted up. I was not even thinking about whether she was a boy or a girl, just the fact that she was breathing. Mum said in a half question “It’s a girl?” Damian said “It’s a girl??!” the surprise and complete and utter joy hit me as I said, “Is it? Is it a girl?”
Then the three of us cried and laughed like idiots as she was handed to me.
She was not crying, just breathing but Dr Yemini wanted her to clear her airways so we rubbed her a little to stimulate her to cry. It was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. No words can explain how I felt in that moment. Having my little girl in my arms, perfectly formed, awake, alert, pink and beautiful. She looked so healthy so quickly. Within half an hour she was breastfeeding. My daughter was perfect through pregnancy, labour, birth and visibly so from the moment she was born. I have Jasmine and Hypnobirthing to thank for so much of that.
The Dr said it was the ‘quietest’ birth she had ever seen and she has been in OB/Gyn for more than 25 years.
To her I was the first proof of Hyponbirthing working (beforehand she was a doubter) and since then lots of the nurses and midwives have been asking me about it, amazed that I gave birth with no pain relief and in such un-dramatic fashion. One of the midwives has signed up for the classes with Jasmine herself.
To me now I see that any woman can give birth this way with the right practice, understanding and tools.
To sum up my birthing experience: At no point did I feel fear; at no point was it even remotely traumatic. Being empowered with the knowledge of exactly what was happening; knowing how to breathe, when, and being able to stay calm and relaxed between surges are what enabled me to bring my daughter into the world the way nature intended.
I am so thankful to be able to look back at that day with enormous pride and joy.