This post is a bit different to the other positive birth stories here at Earthside. Going from being the documentor to the documented is a strange and wonderful thing!
It often seems to be the case that mums rely, emotionally, on the magical estimated delivery date, or EDD, given to us by a GP or sonographer, as the date that we will eventually meet our precious cargo. Babies often have other ideas!
For me, with this pregnancy, I tried very hard, but ultimately unsuccessfully, to forget about the due date. I’d been wary of telling anyone the exact date. It was on a need to know. So the health professionals knew it, my birth photographer, Karah from The Glass Narrator knew it and Mr. Earthside and I knew it.
This may seem odd, and maybe it was a bit but it had been a hard year and I wanted to feel as little pressure as possible.
I was very aware of the fact the babies rarely complied anyway!
Earthside the Younger was no exception! Born 8 days past due.
I hadn’t found this extension very easy and was feeling more and more frustrated with every passing day.
The Last Month of Pregnancy.
There’s a disturbingly accurate meme about how many days the final month of pregnancy has…
For me this feeling was exacerbated by two miscarriages followed by this pregnancy all in quick succession. This had the effect of not only making me increasingly anxious but also effectively tacking an extra 6 months onto this pregnancy.
To say I was ready to meet my rainbow baby was a huge understatement. I cried almost every day and was seeing imminent birth signs everywhere. I spent many sleepless nights wondering if these Braxton Hicks were the ones that would develop into the real thing. Needless to say, mostly they weren’t but eventually, they were!
So eight days after my due date I woke up after another restless night of Braxton Hicks and went for a wee to find that I’d had a show. My Braxton Hicks were still coming and becoming stronger.
So after telling Mr. Earthside and his mum (she lives with us so it only seemed fair, lol), I got Earthside the Elder ready for nursery, dropped him off and went to do the food shopping for the week!
By the time I got to Sainsbury’s I was fairly confident this was the real deal. However, I was in the early stages of labour for around 3 days with Earthside the Elder so, although I knew that second labours tended to be quicker, I knew that it would probably be while before we saw any real action!
I must have looked quite the sight, heavily pregnant, pushing a trolley around the supermarket having to stop every few minutes to sway through a contraction! I was hopeful that I wouldn’t get another chance to fill the fridge in a while though!
The lady at the checkout asked my mother-in-law how far along I was and was quite impressed when the reply was something about hopefully being right at the very end and how she thought I was in labour!
Contractions carried on fairly regularly throughout the day, gradually getting closer together and more regularly through picking up Earthside the Elder from nursery and making supper!
I’d been keeping Karah up to date on developments via WhatsApp. So around 7.30pm I told her that she should maybe start thinking about heading over but no rush.
Setting up the Pool.
At around the same time, I got Mr. Earthside to begin setting up the pool. I knew I wasn’t in active labour yet but we had only done a dry run of setting up the pool and I knew of too many people who had waited too long to set it up so wanted to get going!
Around 9pm after some encouraging from Karah and my mother-in-law, I called the midwives expecting there to be a long wait. They knew I was planning a homebirth so had been on standby. Well, as it turned out, I called at the perfect time because within the hour, about 10 minutes after I’d gotten in the pool, 2 wonderful midwives and a lovely student midwife turned up!
Getting in the pool.
I cannot describe the joy and relief getting in the lovely warm water was! Honestly, I had totally underestimated how hard the contractions had been getting and how much relief the water would provide. I instantly felt more comfortable and secure. More in control somehow.
I had been and still was totally able to talk between contractions so knew that I was still a ways from active labour but the noises I was making were definitely getting deeper and more insistent.
My midwives were wonderfully hands off and really trusted me to know my own experience which was so empowering.
At this point time did funny things to me! So I’m going to avoid giving any timings if I can.
After a few hours of labour and quiet observation from the midwives, one of them mentioned that I had a fairly distinct purple line, a visual, unintrusive way to gauge whether a woman’s labour is progressing and asked very gently whether I would mind having a vaginal examination (VE). At this stage, I was quite keen to know what my cervix was doing and how close to meeting my baby we might be.
I felt like the pushing stage was very close but was very disappointed and quite disheartened to find that I was only 5cm dilated.
At some point recently we’d woken Earthside the Elder to see if he wanted to come down and watch his sister being born. That’s how certain I was that meeting Earthside the Younger was imminent.
I can’t lie. I cried with disappointment. I repeatedly told everyone I couldn’t do it anymore. I cried and told my husband I was getting p*$$£d off with nobody listening to me when I told them I was too tired and couldn’t do it anymore. I just didn’t have anymore energy left and the baby must be stuck and was never coming out.
I feel like I kept this up for hours and hours.
According to reliable sources, it wasn’t that long.
Looking back this was definitely the stage they call transition. The point where the cocktail of hormones your body provides to physically and emotionally get you through labour changes. A lot of women have a similar reaction. If you’d have told me this then though, you may have received some stern words!
At some point Earthside the Eldest went off to watch T. V. and eat biscuits.
Ready to meet Earthside the Youngest.
The next stage felt like it took years. I felt like I pushed and pushed and pushed for actual years.
According to my notes, I pushed for around 15 minutes.
I told you, time was doing funny things to me.
Apparently I said some pretty funny and rude sounding things about my bum splitting.
Apparently, Earthside the Elder came back in to see what was happening. At no point did he get more involved than ‘mildly interested’.
And then somewhere along the line Earthside the Younger came, well, EARTHSIDE!
My memory of this is somewhat hazy. I have distinct memories of stinging. But otherwise it’s pretty blurry. This is why I’m so pleased tat Karah was there capturing every moment!
My wonderful midwives, let my husband, me and the kids (!) chill in the pool for a good long while, hugging, bonding, crying and generally being a bit flabbergasted.
This wonderful little being was finally here!
Seeing the photo’s of these moments is so incredible. Seeing pictures of Earthside the Elder falling in love with his baby sister. Seeing me cling on to Mr. Earthsides arm in exhaustion while supports me and the baby, beaming with happiness. Seeing my mother-in-law, who I love dearly and who is like a second mum to me, bonding with her moments old granddaughter is magic beyond expression.
The Third Stage.
The next bit was a little bit scary from my perspective but we all got through, right here on the sofa from which I write this.
As the water cooled not long after I delivered the placenta, the midwives asked if I would get out of the water. I willingly obliged even though I felt pretty shaky.
Turns out, they were a little worried about my blood loss.
They helped me get to my sofa, where they got me to lean back with my bum right at the edge of the seat with my feet up to. It transpires that I had retained a small amount of placenta and had a second degree tear. I had torn right down my previous episiotomy scar.
I’m very, irrationally scared of needles.
But now they needed to remove the retained placenta to avoid infection and stitch me up to try and get the bleeding to stop. I was fairly close to needing to go into hospital but my lead midwife was extremely experienced and confident in her ability to stitch me up and stem the bleeding. I trusted her implicitly.
However, my fear of needles is, as I mentioned, is strong and IRRATIONAL.
I was very close to having a full blown panic attack at the suggestion of any needles in my vagina.
Thankfully I had a wonderful team around me and Mr. Earthside and the second midwife were amazing at getting me to use the gas and air (which I had been avoiding as it had made me feel very nauseous during labour) to regulate my breathing and get me concentrating on something other than the needle in my sensitive bits!
I’m so grateful to my mother-in-law, Karah and Earthside the Elder for holding and snuggling and bonding with Earthside the Younger when I was too tired to hold her.
A Wonderful End to an Incredible Day.
I maintain to this day that having the midwives tuck me and my newly expanded family into our own bed while they emptied my birth pool and tidied up the mess (with plenty of help from my wonderful mother-in-law) is one the most comforting feelings I’ve ever experienced. There really is no overstating it. I hope everyone gets to experience such contentment.
Four months down the line and still thinking about it makes me smile contentedly. Makes me feel warm. Happy. Secure.
I can’t thank them enough for a truly positive birth full of empowerment and love.