By Thursday 7th May I was nearly a week overdue and was starting to panic about not being able to have the homebirth I desperately wanted and thoughts of induction and hospital had started to enter my head. I felt really upset that I had done everything right, keeping active, walking with the dog every day and still nothing was happening.
Mike was supposed to have been going on a stag weekend on the Friday morning (planned before I was pregnant) and I was so convinced all throughout my pregnancy that my baby was going to come early that we had talked about him going for just a night if I was coping ok with a newborn. I was so determined I could cope with labour and sure that it would be a really long process that we talked a lot that week and decided that we would see how I was on Friday afternoon and then think about him going just for a night since if labour did start he could be back within a couple of hours and I would probably be in labour for a couple of days with my first baby.
I woke at 7.30am on Friday morning with regular but not painful contractions and knew that something was starting. I told Mike about the contractions but said I wasn’t sure if it was just another false alarm. The problem was everyone had always told me you will feel it in your back and I didn’t my contractions were all at the front in my pelvis. We took the dog a long walk and then at 10am Mike went to the pub to meet the lads before they left for the stag party. He would then make a decision late afternoon whether to join them or not.
By the time Mike left I knew this was it but thought I had a long way to go and I would probably have my baby by Sunday. So I set about some tasks, cleaning the house from top to bottom, taking the Tesco delivery and stocking the cupboards, having a bath and the most ridiculous task – doing my hair and putting on make up! All the time the contractions were getting stronger and I was starting to have to stop what I was doing and focus to get through them. By 1pm I had to stop all tasks and focus on the contractions which seemed to be so close together there was no break.
Mike was still working on his laptop downstairs and I had kept saying I needed him to finish now but by 1.30pm when he still wasn’t done I went downstairs and virtually screamed at him that I needed him to stop and help me now. I think that was probably the first time Mike thought it was really happening because I had been so focused and my usual self.
This phase was the only bit I really lost some of the control because I felt the contractions were so intense and I allowed some doubt to enter my head as to whether I could do this. I think this was worsened by the fact that I always thought I would be able to find a comfy position to labour in and stick with it but nothing was comfortable because my pain was so focused on my front. I had to be upright all the time and ended up moving around loads trying different positions which I feel affected my ability to concentrate and focus.
Mike took control and put some chill out music on and helped me to visualise the Ibiza sunset I has used on the course to calm me through each contraction. He then called the hospital and the midwife and her trainee arrived at home just before 3.00pm. I had always said throughout my pregnancy that I didn’t want to be examined in labour but I asked the midwife to examine me as I needed to know where I was. That was the turning point for me getting the control back over my labour as I had feared that given how intense this was so quickly I was not even 1cm and was unsure I could cope. But she said I was over 5cm and instantly I thought I can bloody do this then! It was like a whole wave of determination came over me. I got in the bath which eased things for me and the midwives called for the gas and air which in the end arrived too late to be of use. The hour or so in the bath seemed to pass so quickly but I was in control all of the time. It must have been funny to look at thought because I was bolt upright like on a high backed chair even though there was nothing behind me because it was so uncomfortable to lie backwards. When I said that I wanted to push at about 5.30pm the midwife was uncertain and wanted to check but confirmed that I was ready and I was pushing by the time they called for a second midwife needed to deliver the baby. I remember thinking of the course at that moment and being told to trust your body I had gone 5cm in just over 2 hours which the textbook says couldn’t happen! I always thought that I would want to push by being upright kneeling forward but that just didn’t work for me. I kept asking the midwives what to do and for advice but all the time felt totally in control like I was in charge and not them. My second midwife suggested I tried to push on the toilet which helped just because I felt how to push and let myself do it properly realising that I wasn’t going to poo! I wasn’t comfortable on the toilet though so after a couple of pushes I tried lying down and pulling my own knees which worked for me. Once I started pushing I felt so in control because I could feel what was happening with every contraction. I was really determined that I wasn’t going to waste effort or a contraction and found the physical feeling of having something to push against much easier than just sitting through a contraction. Again the whole thing went so quickly and in no time they said they could see her head. I was always really scared of this point given what I had read about this being the most painful bit but it wasn’t. I focused on what the midwives were telling me and gave small pushes and took breaths as they were telling me so as to not tear. When her head came out they told me to rest but I said no I need to keep pushing and ended up pushing her out in one contraction. My beautiful baby girl was placed on my stomach at 6.38pm on Friday 8th May. I was just in total awe of her and speechless. I always thought I would be in floods of tears and had cried at every birth I had seen but I just lay looking at her while she grasped my hand. Mike said later that he thought I had rejected her because I was so unemotional but I think I was just so focused on controlling the situation that it took me a while to come around. In my head it wasn’t over until the midwives had gone and we were alone with our baby. It must have looked so odd but I sent Mike to call people and give the dog a quick walk while the midwife gave me a couple of stitches. By the time he returned I was tucked up in bed breastfeeding and they were getting ready to leave. By 8pm we were alone at home in our own bed just staring at our beautiful baby girl and that’s when the emotion came for me. I didn’t have to be in control any more, it was all done, the birth had been even better than I had ever imagined and we had made the most beautiful baby in the world.
Having the birth I wanted is the thing I am most proud of in my life and thinking about it now makes me feel stronger and more confident as a person. I wish I could bottle the feeling!
Whilst I know I achieved the birth I wanted all with did it myself, I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Mindful Mamma course. I used to think it was because of what the course had given me but it was actually what the course had brought out that was already inside me. The course enabled me to release the huge fear I had of childbirth and take control of my own birth experience knowing that I had the inner strength to do it and the confidence to trust in my own body. I didn’t remember the preparation I had done, the music playing or the sunset visualisation being such a huge help to me at the time but some weeks later I played the CD again and remembered so much more about the birth again. I hadn’t consciously remembered the song Livvi was born to but as soon as it came on burst into tears.
Mike unfortunately never got to go on his stag do but he does have the T-shirt and a beautiful baby girl instead!
Four months after she was born we took Livvi to see her very first Ibiza sunset for herself and I hope that one day it will become her special place too.