I wanted to share my birth story because I found hearing other people's experiences so helpful, even the less enjoyable ones. It all builds to one shared female experience which in itself for me is powerful. And yes, I felt an amazing sense of achievement afterwards!
I began pregnancy looking forward to birth. A couple of friends had really enjoyed theirs and I felt that in spite of the intensity of it, as a once or twice in a lifetime experience, only done by half of the human race and something so positive and literally productive it made sense to me I should enjoy it. However as the event grew closer, I began to think about the 'what ifs'.
You hear about the damning stats around induction: induction all too often leads to a cascade of interventions. I had been doing pilates during pregnancy, felt strong and was otherwise slim and yet there was something that was making me, I guess you could say - lack trust in my body. I suppose it's because you remember bad stuff and the media is so full of scary birth stories; it's easy to expect the worst when it comes to birth.
I read 'How to have a baby' and made my birth plan. I looked to hire a hypnobirthing specialist but because my partner and I aren't good meditators we asked around for someone who's not focused on the meditation. Natalie from Tell Me A Good Birth Story is also a doula and she said she could provide us with some practical preparation that was not focused on the meditation.
I was thrilled to realise the book I'd loved was written by the woman I was hiring and we spent a day all together. Through this session we got to thinking of birth as something so natural for the body to do, visualised how it does it and imagined the days, hours and minutes leading up to delivery.
Natalie recommended lots of nice things we could lean on to enjoy and cope with the various experiences you go through and one of the things I remember loving was throwing away the thought we'd need a timer app for contractions... we'd just know and recognise when the moment was there to go into hospital.
Anyway of course, as life goes, I was persuaded into an induction because our pup was no longer growing in my belly. But it was a very hard horrible decision and realisation. I spoke to Natalie again, read her chapter on induction and tried to focus on the fact you can manage things so that the cascade of interventions is less likely.
On the day, I actually felt positive going in for my induction. We felt organised. It was nice to go for dinner the night before. It was a welcome feeling not to have to deal with pain in a cab and arrive calm at hospital.
Then I had the pessary inserted... oh my gosh it was excruciating. It's not painful for everyone, but for me, within an hour I could hardly sit down. A walk in the park and lunch were good distractions and went back to hospital in reasonable spirits. I was SO convinced that I'd be one of the stats - few first pessaries bring on labour - that even when I started having to breathe through mild contractions I actually didn't have any idea labour had started. The story ends quite quickly: I delivered my little boy 9 hours after the pessary was inserted and only around 2 hours after the pains I was having became stressful. At 5pm I was eating hospital fish and chips and having to pause to breathe, but still felt ok. It was my swollen bits from the pessary I was trying to cope with more! The midwife looked at my contractions and said 'impressive' - again, I was still convinced I wasn't in labour!
I'd had no vaginal checks at this point. The delivery is a funny blur - suddenly I felt I couldn't cope and demanded serious pain relief which I was denied because I wouldn't let them check me... but then quickly my waters popped and I felt the urge to push. I shouted 'I'm having a baby'!
It was only then I realised! I let them check me, then there was a bit of panic as they said they needed to get me my own room (I'd been on the ward until this point!).
Within about 8 pushes in total I gave birth - and the delivery/push contractions felt so productive they were pure relief from the previous ones. I finally got the hang of the entonox (gas and air) in my room and I had no pain pushing his little body out (he was 6.4 pounds). I was knackered, a bit high on the gas and a bit shell shocked at the way things had gone, but felt very relieved it was done. I felt less romantic about everything at that moment than I thought I would but that was okay.
One thing I'd like to share - I'd loved the idea of giving birth in the spa-like birthing suite, but as I was being induced that wasn't an option. But - having gone through the experience I can honestly say birth was so intense and internalised I didn't have any concern for where I was or any sense it was impacting on my mood and I ended up giving birth in a weird overspill room with all the lights on! So, if you are facing the same situation, don't panic, your body, you, can absolutely do it!!