The second baby

My first, Olivia was bang on time after following a sweep due to slightly high blood pressure and during this, my second pregnancy I was sure that this little one would be early or at least very close to our due date.  The fifteen days I was waiting for the arrival of the gorgeous bundle that is Alexander were extremely trying on my patience and my ability to relax and maintain belief that baby will come when baby is ready!

I tried to rest and make the most of the waiting time.  Yoga a few times a week, massage, lots of napping and listening to my hypnobirthing birth preparation cd.

At my 40 week appointment, the baby was 3/5 engaged and ready to go, the midwife suggested a sweep there and then but I was very keen to let things progress as naturally as possible with the aim of a water birth in the Birth Centre at Chelsea & Westminster.  I kindly declined the sweep, but booked one for 41+3 and the midwife also advised that I book the induction too. If I wanted to go into the birth centre, the latest I could begin the induction process was 41+5.  With both the sweep and induction booked in, I embarked upon all the old wives tales to hurry things along…..walking, walking, walking, raspberry leaf tea, comedy late pregnancy sex, up and down stairs and some potent curries.

On Monday 28th September the sweep was booked, Cristian and I went along full of anticipation.  With our daughter’s birth the sweep bought my labour on within 6 hours, so we were both very excited and pretty confident that today would be the day!

The midwife got me onto the bed and examined me.  She said the cervix felt very soft and but there was a little bleed and wanted a senior midwife to come and check.  A small bleed had happened with Olivia so they weren’t too concerned, just told me to keep an eye on things.  Along came the Senior Midwife who said that the waters were bulging and I was 3-4cm dilated.  WHAT!!???!!  3-4cm! With Olivia I was experiencing proper contractions at that point!  She also said that she was having to be very careful not to break the waters herself….Exciting stuff – the Midwife thought that things would kick off quickly and it was unlikely I’d need the induction on Wednesday.  Woo hoo, we trotted (waddled) out the antenatal clinic heeding her advice of a good meal, to keep busy at home and they’d probably see me very soon.  Over to Carluccios we went, Olivia in tow…three to become four, the excitement palpable. And over lunch I began to get back ache, cramping in my lower stomach……eeekkkk…..this is it.  Homeward bound, we let Olivia’s Auntie know that she should expect a call this evening for baby sitting duties.  I double checked my hospital bag, tens machine check.  Water spray check. (neither got out the bag!)

But….nope, nowt, nothing.  Monday and Tuesday went by, a few little cramps, but it all wound down.  I was beginning to feel a bit anxious as I really didn’t want an induction – especially not the Synotocin drip as I knew that would mean being monitored and I would not have the ability to be in the birthing centre.  But, I tried to remain positive, trust my body and baby.  On the morning of Wednesday 30th September we went in for the induction and remembered that whether the birth was in the labour ward or birth centre we would be going home with a scrumptious gorgeous baby very, very soon!

We met the midwife in the antenatal ward and hearing the lovely cries of all the little people, it was so exciting.  A beautiful autumn day, the sun was shining and we had a window bed.  The midwife talked us through the process.  She would examine me now, perform a sweep and then monitor the baby for twenty minutes, I’d then go onto the labour ward to have my waters broken and I would have four hours from that point to go into labour (I hate the way they can sometimes make it feel like a test).  If I wasn’t having full on contractions after four hours they would have to put me on the drip.  I had to be really clear that I wanted my birth to be as natural as possible, the midwife made the assumption I wanted to give birth in the labour ward.  I said very clearly that we wanted to be in the Birth Centre.

The midwife examined me and said the cervix was looking good – and – POP – whoosh…..she had accidently broken my waters!  Hey ho, she said that was all good – no need to go to the labour ward and after keeping an eye on the baby’s heartbeat for twenty minutes we could go for a wander down Fulham road and get something to eat an encourage those contractions.

Monitor on, I knew the twenty minutes would feel like an age – so I put my headphones and listened to my birth preparation cd, within ten minutes I felt a cramp, I didn’t mention it to Cristian, but another few minutes later, another one.  I tapped him on the knee and said that I was getting them!  After the twenty minutes I had a few more, not intense, but most definitely there. The midwife came back in and said that all was looking good and she just wanted to see a little bit more action from the baby’s heart rate – it was fine – but she wanted to see a bit more.  So another ten minutes on the monitor.  I was beginning to feel a bit trapped on the monitor and bed –  I wanted to get up and move about. The cramps were ticking along, I was listening to my cd and using all my yoga breathing…..long calm breaths and feeling in control and excited.

However, after those next ten minutes it was all cylinders go!

I had to get up, I was desperate to move around, get off the bed, wriggle my hips, squat…..anything…..GET ME OFF THE BED!! I asked Cristian to go and get the midwife – I wanted out of the hot ward and into the Birth centre or at the very least I needed to go to the loo.  The midwife came and took me off the monitor saying that the baby’s heart was fine – I jumped off the bed and the contractions were more intense now.  I had to tune in and remember my breathing, leaning on the windowsill and swaying my hips.  In my head it almost felt unreal that it was happening, almost like a movie and I could tell part of me wanted to resist against it, almost as if blocking it would block the pain, but I clicked back in to what I knew, that this was the body getting ready to release my baby, it was designed to do this, I could do it and I’m going to meet my baby soon!

I walked to the loo on the ward – my waters still coming out on the way – a flash of embarrassment and then I didn’t care!  In the loo I was leaning on the sink, sitting on the loo, moaning on my out breaths, trying to create the deep sound I heard helps. All at the same time wishing the senior midwife would come back and take me to the birth centre (Cristian had gone to get her).  It felt like about 30 mins but was about 10 and she came back.  The midwife was positive, but telling me not to lock the toilet door – I think I just wanted some privacy!  She asked if I wanted a shower which I definitely did – I was really keen for the water any which way!…..but just as she was about to switch the shower on another intense contraction came and she changed her mind and said, ‘I think we will skip the shower and head straight for the birth centre!’.  Clutching my arm, we waddled out the ward, Cristian following with our bags. The midwife told me that we could stop anytime a contraction comes and the centre was ready for me.  We had to walk round the atrium, my waters still breaking as we past the lift and a new family!  It felt like a movie! A contraction came as we got to the door of the birthing centre – although intense, I was so releaved that we were out the ward and in the centre.  Once we were through the doors and into the dim lights, calm surroundings I was so pleased.  Another intense one at the desk.  The midwife checking which room whilst my head is on the desk and waters on the floor!

Into Lavender we went, Cristian put the bags down and the midwife got the bath running and I begged to get in the shower as I just needed to feel some other sensation on my body.  The shower felt amazing and this is where it went from zero to 100.  From the moment I stepped into the room, it felt like one huge contraction. I kept breathing, focusing on in and out, deeply and with noise, staying on my feet – After a couple of minutes in the shower I really wanted some pain relief, I had flashes of, ‘oh shit I think I want an epidural, this is so f***ing hard’ but I knew it was just gas and air in the centre, I summoned up the vocab to ask for it – Cristian said it was just outside the bathroom I staggered out – asked the midwife if it was – she thought I meant the water bath – My vocab was pretty limited!! I then remember shouting at Cristian saying…you said it was ready, its not ready argghh!  Then the midwife was behind me, said the gas and air is here and I needed to get out the shower as I couldn’t have my baby in there.

The midwife and Cristian guided me over to the window where they had set up a beanbag for me to kneel in front of and lean over, the gas and air at the ready.  I got my hands on the gas and breathed in as much as I could muster, the intensity was constant at this point and I remember doubting myself and feeling over whelmed with a little squeak of ‘help’ and then the midwife saying, ‘you can do it’ and me managing, ‘I can do this’ and after a couple of minutes of gas and air I finally had a moment free of contraction.  I said to the midwife, this is the first moment since I’ve come in here; I’m not in pain.  Within in a blink of an eye, another one was back……the midwife kept saying breathe in deeply and exhale deeply on gas and air.  I could feel Cristian’s supportive presence next to me.

Everything is a bit of a blur now, the midwives were talking, I couldn’t really understand what they were saying as I was so in the moment and I remember shouting, ‘what are you saying, what do you want me to do.’ The midwife calmly said that all the noise that was coming out my mouth I needed to re-focus and push out my baby.  What!  This whole labour thing has only just started. Push out my baby, already?  It all felt so surreal and intense.  So, I did what they said and pushed as hard as I could, clutching and pretty much breaking the midwife’s and Cristian’s hand.  The midwife then got me to slow down and pant, slow breaths.  And then the most incredible feeling, a small burn sensation and then….the head!  I felt myself immediately come round in a way, I recalled reading that once the head comes out the contractions soften – and they did – it felt such a relief and I felt an immediate euphoria.  Then the shoulders, another sting but fine and then the body and there he was my beautiful, amazing baby up on my tummy.  Wow.

I could feel the cord still attaching the two of us together; we had a look….girl or boy?  A beautiful baby boy.  The feeling was immense, such joy, love and incredible sense of achievement.   We had the most magical snuggle and little Alex began to feed within a few minutes and the midwife left the cord for quite a while to be fully sure it had stopped pulsating and Cristian cut the cord.  As the birth had been rapid, I lost a fair bit of blood, so the midwife suggested the injection to facilitate the placenta.

I had to have a couple of stiches which the midwife said she would have really tried to avoid, but as I learnt once I had birthed, Alex’s heart rate had been getting a bit low at the end due to the intensity of the birth so they’d had to get me to push a bit quickly to avoid having to have vontose or intervention to get the baby out.

Once my stiches had been done, during which time Cristian enjoyed some precious skin to skin and the double bed got set up, the midwife left us to enjoying our perfect little bundle, but not before taking our order for the best tea and toast ever!

The labour was 1hr 28mins from when my water broke.  An intense surreal and magical experience.  The birth centre was incredible and made such a difference and we also got to spend the night in our room before heading home the following morning.  To all the new mums to be, keep up the yoga!  The yoga and hypnobirthing was such a key part in my labour, keeping me strong, have faith in myself and my body and the techniques to get me through those surges 😉