My birth story begins on my due date, not because I gave birth on my due date, quite the contrary. In fact I gave birth ten days later but I remember feeling that I couldn’t feel LESS like I was about to give birth on my due date. I knew I had some way to go to meet my babe.
As Natalie my doula had wisely advised me, your due date will come and go, don’t pay it much attention. But of course you can’t help but pay it ‘some’ attention.
I definitely had a lull and dip in excitement as I felt like I was slowly making my way towards the dreaded induction chats. I had informed my midwife that I would decline any sweeps offered and I did not intend to have an induction solely for the purpose of “speeding things up”. She was understanding and it certainly took the pressure off.
So the “due”day came and went and nothing. I woke up the next morning, refocused my energy and told myself to make the most of the final days before baby was ready to arrive.
For the next nine days I really couldn’t have felt less like I was anywhere near to giving birth. I had plenty of energy, I was walking everyday and sleeping well at night. It was not what I expected 40 weeks to feel like. I imagined I would be this huge waddling whale unable to sleep crippled by heart burn and cramps. But no one tells you you might feel just fine at full term, energetic even, as your body still has some time to prepare for your baby’s arrival.
The following ten days were a limbo land of knowing my baby would be coming soon but feeling like I would never give birth and be pregnant forever.
Although I couldn’t escape the subtle shifts that, when I listened closely I could feel within my body. A fluttery excitement, a tingly buzzing on my skin, moments of disconnect from my surroundings as I focused inwards, a slightly stronger desire to get the worktops nice and shiny, deeply loving moments with my husband, euphoria. When I listened, I understood that was the oxytocin starting to seep through and warming things up as I patiently waited for a ‘sign’.
But they were all tiny signs I came to realise.
Almost silent and unnoticeable but at the same time, seismic shifts.
The morning came, I woke early around 4am and was noticing my Braxton hicks, frustrated they weren’t more than that….until gently…they were.
A slight cramping in my lower groin and just like that, things had begun. I lay there observing and must have fallen asleep as when I woke and went to the toilet at around 7:30am I noticed I had lost my mucus plug. At last A sign, an actual sign that things were beginning. I crept back into bed and calmly told my husband that things were moving in the right direction.
We went about our morning in much the same way. It was a beautiful sunny spring morning and we had plans to walk up to our allotment and not pay too much attention to the early signs of labour.
I called Natalie and we had a reassuring chat. I even spoke about attending a breathing for birth meditation session that evening!!
Little did we know Coen had other plans…
I didn’t count or time my contractions but was aware that things felt pretty consistent and regular from the get go.
By ten am, when we were heading to the allotment I was already having to take some deeper breaths through each surge. The cramps were still at the front and much like a period pain, noticeable but not unmanageable.
My sister (who was acting as my doula/2nd birth partner) suggested I took a tissue with some lavender on our walk and that was my little life saver for the next few hours. I also popped a hot water bottle down my leggings on the small of my back, which was really comforting.
Everyone often talks about how you need darkness during labour for the oxytocin to flow, but the sunshine beaming down me on that day was just as valuable and energising. I sat on a chair at the allotment and watched my nephew dig the soil and soaked up the gorgeous rays of sun beaming down on me and my bump. The sky was blue and the birds were singing and it was just blissful and calm. I embraced each moment and was so grateful for everything that had led me to this point.
Once back home, things were starting to ramp up, I had a little lunch and went to have a lie down in our bedroom. The sun was shining down on me and I lay on my side with my knees propped up with a sofa cushion.
After a time things were intensifying and I felt like I needed some distraction. I tried a bit of TV whilst bouncing on a ball but my mind was quite taken up by the intensity of each contraction. Around 4pm I asked my husband to run a bath as I felt like I needed a little break from the intensifying contractions.
I had always believed that the water can help to slow things down a bit but in fact it ramped things up! By 5:30pm I was on the phone to Natalie whilst lent over my bed gurning “this is really intense!!!” She reassured and encouraged me that this was great and that it wasn’t going to be a long labour.
I focussed on my breathing and took looong steady exhalations.
One thing she said really stuck in my mind and my husband recalled it to me for the rest of the labour.
“Take your time”
A few contractions later I felt the urge to go to the toilet and then at the end of that surge my body started pushing!
Instinctively I dropped onto my hands and knees, there was a little blood and a very different intensity as my body shifted up a gear.
My sister arrived at this point, to find me on my hands and knees halfway between my bathroom and my bedroom, towels laid on the floor and my husband (slightly frantically) calling the midwife.
She was calm and asked me if I was comfortable and if that’s where I wanted to be…I crawled my way into the bedroom and got comfy on my forearms and knees with my bum in the air. Each contraction I felt an urge to push, well more like it was MY BODY pushing. I wasn’t able to stop such a thing. The midwife spoke to me on the phone and told me not to push…which I thought was absurd, it definitely wasn’t something I could have stopped.
Nonetheless I remained calm and breathed through each contraction, my sister was at my side rubbing my lower back and my husband at my head as I was clutching his hands through each surge. I think we all silently thought the midwife might not make it but I knew things were going to be ok, this baby was coming no matter what. I felt in control, instinctual and protected.
The midwife arrived at 7pm, she checked for baby’s position and heartbeat and stayed behind me silently observing and giving quiet encouragement. It was reassuring to hear his heartbeat which remained steady throughout. I remember thinking how amazing it is that I was there heaving and garrring away, using every once of energy and baby was calmly making his way out!
The contractions felt different now and the rest between each surge was bliss. I felt like I had more room to breathe and the cramping sensations of the earlier contractions had gone. It was an all encompassing power and force within me but not something I would describe as painful. I have since described birth like riding a roller coaster…clutching onto the bars on the exhilarating loops and then bathing in the calm of the slower turns.
I chose not to have any VE and instead I listened to my body and rode each wave of contraction and actively pushing only when his head was coming out, without the distraction of any measurement. His head was crowning and he was still in his sac…I was hoping he would be born in it but my waters broke as his head came out. A couple of calm contractions later, his face peering out and then his shoulders were ready and he flew out…relief! I actually whopped and exclaimed “wow that was great!”
The midwives thought I was mad!
I felt incredible! I took some deep replenishing breathes and Baby was placed on the floor between my legs, I reached down to lift him to my chest and my husband, sister and I were all just smiling and crying in amazement.
I had done it. We had done it! So many people had told me I was so brave to give birth at home, but for me I had always felt that was the safest place to be.
The preparation I had done to learn all about physiological birth and empower myself to feel fully supported had paid off.
We had a bright beautiful son weighing 7lbs7 and we were instantly in love.
It’s worth mentioning here that throughout the second half of my pregnancy, I began doing weekly online meditation sessions held by my Doula with a small group of expectant Mums. We met every Monday evening for around an hour, we talked about our weeks and Natalie shared her wisdom on all things birth and beyond and the session ended with a 20 minute silent meditation. I lay propped up on pillows with a candle burning and the lights turned down and often sunk into a deep meditative state. Natalie's soft voice would bring us round at the end of the session and on more than one occasion I even fell asleep without realising. It was always something I looked forward too and the energy between the mums was often positive and encouraging.
The Monday morning I went into labour I had joked with Natalie that if I was still in labour by that evening I would join the session, but actually, something far more remarkable happened… I gave birth during that session.
Coen was born at 8:14pm, one minute after Natalie had ended her class and to close that evenings session she had asked the mums to send a thought up to me, in labour. I gave birth to Coen in the same place and at the same time I had spent every Monday evening, on my bedroom floor, a soft warm light glowing from my salt lamp and with the subconscious support of a circle of women behind me.
Big thanks to my Doula Natalie, my sister Brooke and my Husband Marco for being there and never doubting me…the ultimate birth team. But not forgetting our son Coen, who was the most important birth partner of them all xx