I am so incredibly grateful to Tell Me A Good Birth Story and the three wonderful ladies who shared their experiences with me in the build up to my second daughter's birth.
I think it's safe to say my first daughter's birth was quite a difficult experience. I'd had to be induced because I had gestational diabetes; a lot of things went wrong and we ended up requiring pretty much every intervention in the book. Thankfully, my daughter and I were both okay in the end but when it came to facing giving birth again, I was gripped by real fear. I knew it wasn't rational but I simply couldn’t imagine the second labour playing out differently to the first - and yet I also knew that this fear was potentially the biggest block to achieving the more positive birth I longed for.
In order to overcome this mindset, we started a hypnobirthing class, which was a massive gamechanger, and as I read and learnt more I started to discover that birth didn't have to be the terrifying, pain-filled experience that I'd always understood it to be.
But there was still a hitch: I'd been diagnosed with gestational diabetes again (meaning there was a good chance I'd need to be induced) and because I'd had a major bleed first time round, I had to accept that it was safest to give birth on the labour ward. I desperately wanted this time to involve as few interventions as possible - but neither my own personal experience of induction, nor anything anyone else had to say, gave me much reassurance that these conditions were going to give nature its best chance of doing its magic.
And this is where Tell Me A Good Birth Story made such a valuable difference. With about three weeks to go, I got in contact, explaining a little of my circumstances and three women who had experienced different aspects of what I was facing very generously offered to share their experiences with me. With every single exchange, I learnt something different and my perspective was subtly reframed. I learnt valuable, practical insights which made me feel more in control and started to look on the induction process very differently after one woman talked so positively about how the fast-moving nature of her induction was actually of benefit to her.
It was so different to the conversations I'd had before my first daughter's birth, when people who had no experience whatsoever had actually winced when I said that I would need to be induced.
In the end, all the knowledge we had gained served us so well and things ended up going so much better than I’d even dared to hope. The midwives and doctors were hugely positive and supportive of the kind of birth we were trying to achieve (i.e. one that was as minimally invasive as safely possible, despite the heavily medical context) and I started to have surges within half an hour of induction, which I was able to manage on gas and air and hypnobirthing techniques alone. I never needed to have my waters broken or the drip (two things I'd really wanted to avoid) because I was only in established labour for two minutes after the pessary was removed before I needed to push!Three minutes and five pushes later and our beautiful little girl was born, Superman style, with one arm out and half her sack still covering her head.
I’m not going to pretend I was the most zen person during that final five minutes when everything suddenly accelerated and my plans for a water birth fell away because there wasn't enough time. But even as I was still insisting that I needed to get in the pool, there did come a strange realisation that this was happening, and I would do it, just like so many women before me. And I did do it - and I’m beyond happy.
For me, it was a hugely positive birth and it has also taken away a lot of the pain of my first daughter’s delivery. And I really want to thank Tell Me A Good Birth Story and those wonderful ladies for their part in making this possible.
When you're going into something as transformative - and potentially daunting - as your child's birth, it makes a world of difference to know that other women have successfully navigated the challenges that you're facing. The ladies that I spoke to helped to make me feel ready in a way that I never felt ready for my first daughter's birth, and for this I can't thank them - or Tell Me A Good Birth Story - enough.