I’ve been meaning to write this for a few weeks now but as I said in my last post - after having a baby your brain turns to mush. For a little while at least. Writing this sentence alone has actually taken me 30 mins as every other second I stare off into the distance. Seriously. So please excuse any grammar mistakes or typos!
I want to write about Fela’s birth story for a couple of reasons, one being because it didn’t go ‘to plan’ but the essence of the birth was exactly how I had hoped it would be (Form Vs Essence). We don’t often hear positive birthing stories so I wanted to put one out there 🌎because I’m so proud and in awe of what my body was able to do. And lastly to normalise birth. To start a conversation about it. To try and break the polite silence around what our bodies are actually designed to do. So... If this makes you uncomfortable then look away now as there’s a couple of pics below!
Tuesday 10th September I woke up for my standard 3am pee and noticed I was starting to loose a little of my mucus plug, also known as a bloody show. I had been having very gentle period like aches before I went to bed too. Back in 2013 when I was pregnant with my first son this was how my labour started, and I was in active labour 12 hours after the first twinge. So naturally I had a freak out. I wasn’t due until October 1st, Carl was actually in Spain and wasn’t due back until the 15th September 😬Looking back now I can see that my adrenalin spiked. I was scared that I would have the baby and Carl wouldn’t be there, aannnnnd in truly bad form I hadn’t actually prepared anything at all for the labour or birth. No birth wishes written down, no hose or liner for the birth pool, no hospital bag in case I needed to be transferred to hospital etc etc. The period like aches continued throughout the week on & off. On when I was relaxed at home / Off when I was looking after Duke!
Fast forward to Carl being home (PHEW!) Sunday 23rd September, I woke around 1:30am with contractions, they weren’t very long & I could talk through them which is a sign that I was in early labour not established or active labour. I tried to go back to sleep for a bit but that wasn’t happening as the contractions started to become longer and more intense. So I woke up Carl and we went upstairs to blow up the birth pool and cover the floor 💧It felt really surreal! I had been on the brink of labour for a couple of weeks at this point so I didn’t fully trust that it was actually going to happen and I wasn’t just willing things along.
My contractions were starting to last around 50-60 seconds and coming between 3-5 mins apart. For a second baby (or more) the guidelines from our midwives were to call in once I was having 60 second contractions every 5 mins for an hour. I never got to this exactly, they were up & down, but Carl called the delivery suite around 2:30AM. At this point we were told that they didn’t have any midwives (from the home birthing or community teams) available to come out to me, so we’d have to go in. THIS WAS NOT MY BIRTH PLAN 😖And I know that the hospital have a duty of care, meaning that they actually have to send someone out to a labour that is under their care. So my lovely husband smiled at me and very politely told the lady on the phone “My wife has said she is not going into hospital so please find someone to attend us at home” at which we were told they would ring us back. Even during labour I manage to be an absolute pain in the arse.
Around 3ish the hospital rang us back and told me “Your midwife has been out on call for 48 hours and isn’t able to work. The other midwife on call is at a labour now. If we send someone out it’ll be paramedics.” At this point I called on BRIAN (benefits / risks / intuition / alternative / nothing) and decided as much as I had wanted a home birth - I didn’t want it with an ambulance outside my front door. So I let it go. They luckily had a room in the Midwife led Birthing Centre available so I said I’d go in. Now it gets fun 🍷
3:30AM - We had gotten dressed, packed a few extra bits into our hospital bags and were getting ready to wake up Duke. You can’t bring children onto the labour ward or into the birthing centre, so we bundled Duke back into the car whilst he told us about the Elves he had been dreaming about & I called my mum. “Mum don’t panic, I’m in Labour and have to go into hospital as they don’t have any midwives to come out. Can you come up and look after Duke… Now?” In true Mother Whippy style - always coming to the rescue, supporting, helping us above & beyond, she rolled out of bed and sped up the M23 from East Sussex.
We got to the hospital, and waited to see someone to asses whether I was in active labour or not. The hospital will only admit you to a room once you are 5CM dilated. Whilst in the waiting room, Duke was giving me back rubs with each contraction and was amazed at all the adverts on the TV (no netflix 😱)
5AM - I was assessed in triage by my lovely midwife Laura who confirmed I was 5CM and could be admitted. She came out to reception with me to get my bags and saw we still had Duke with us so she smuggled him into the Birthing Centre and into our room! Duke was super excited and continued to rub my back with each contraction, telling me it’s alright ❤️ He wasn’t phased at all which just goes to show - the ickyness & fear we have around childbirth is conditioned in as we get older.
I was using the birth ball for a while which helped, circling my hips with each contraction and breathing steadily & deeply. Around 5:30ish I remember my contractions were starting to ramp up quite a bit, I sadly had to ask Duke to stop “helping me” now as I didn’t want to be touched. Carl had put on some music and I was kneeling on the floor, leaning on the bed with my forearms with each contraction. Without the role of helper Duke started to get a bit bored and was throwing himself onto the birth ball to bounce off. Kinda funny but I was needing to zone in so Carl gave Duke the iphone to watch something. Super Grandma arrived outside the hospital just before 6am, Carl scooped Duke up and went down to drop him off. When he left the music stopped as the speaker was attached to his phone and this threw me into panic a little.
When women are labouring, we create little rituals or routines. It could be a certain position that you need to be in for each contraction, it could be the noises you make, or a place in the room, house, hospital that you go to with every contraction. And if anything within your ritual changes it can pull you out of your body. Almost startle you awake. This is what happened to me when the music stopped so I scrambled to find my phone and pressed play on whatever was there.
Whilst Carl was sorting out Duke I had asked Laura to fill up the pool, I knew things were going to ramp up pretty quickly now I could relax fully, and by the time Carl was back I was stripping off to get in. the water was a huge relief during the contractions, it really helped me stay calm. My body felt light even though there were these huge sensations. I spent a little time almost on all fours but this quickly didn’t feel right for me, so I turned over, my bum floating off the floor of the bath, my feet either side and knees slightly bent. this is how I stayed until Fela was born. Carl on my left, me squeezing the bones out of his hand with every contraction, and on my right, gas & air 🚀 I hadn’t planned to use any pain relief but had told myself to do what felt right at the time. A part of me felt like I was failing by asking for the g&a, that I should be able to birth without any help. But in that moment it’s what I wanted so that was that. It took me out of the room a little bit, but it made me feel so connected and IN my body. I wasn’t aware of much around me, only what was happening inside.
At some point, my adrenalin spiked, I was in transition, and I told Carl “ I need to push go get Laura”, I was expecting her to want to examine me to see if I was 10cm, this is what happened in my last birth and all births I’ve attended since, but being the incredible midwife she is, she had read my birth plan and knew I didn’t want any examinations and said “go with your bodies urges”. Her saying that to me gave me the power, it gave me the trust in my body and what I was able to do, rather then having someone else tell me “Yes you’re fully dilated” It just goes to show how the language used in maternity wards is SO powerful. It can completely change a woman’s experience of birth. Laura didn’t examine me, interfere or get involved in the labour at all, other than to offer me some aromatherapy, some soft lighting and to tell me to go with my body. She was exactly who I needed to be at the birth.
Anyway, I ROARED with each push, trying to send my energy down and keep my voice low. I remember feeling Fela moving down the birth canal, and feeling like he was there, ready to be born. I asked Laura and Carl, “is he there is he there?” and again Laura said “why don’t you see if you can feel him”. I could feel with my fingers the top of his head and the bulging amniotic sac, but he wasn’t crowning. A few more contractions and I could feel him crowning, his head came with two contractions. Once his head was born, I could feel him rotate to allow his shoulders an easier passage, then one last contraction & his body was born. Fela was scooped up to my chest, with the now broken amniotic sac hanging off his tiny head 😂. Laura passed me some towels and we covered him and kept him in the water as I held him to my chest. I was completely bewildered at what I had just done. I couldn’t quite believe that he was here, that I had birthed him, that I had felt him move and rotate and arrive. I felt fully conscious to every moment, something I didn’t experience with my first labour, I think because I was just so shell shocked by the hole process, but this time I was there every step of the way. It felt like magic.
Fela was born at 7:16am on Sep 23rd weighing 6.14lbs.
We had a few minutes in the pool cuddling, then I offered to get out to birth the placenta. It can be hard if you stay in water to monitor blood loss and I wanted to dry off and get warm. So Carl cut the cord once it had fully stopped pulsing and all blood had been drained, then he had some skin to skin time with Fela whilst I stumbled out of the pool and onto the bed. After the placenta was born and we declined eating it, Laura left us to it. I had a couple of stitches which were performed by the next midwife Katie who had just started her shift, this was around 8:15am. I asked for a jam sandwich and a cuppa tea. With a painkiller up my bum I layed in bed with my boy for a few hours until we were discharged to take Fela home to meet his big bro and Grandma!
That afternoon Fela slept, Duke didn’t stop talking and moving, he was SO excited by the whole experience. Carl like the champion husband he is, made a roast and my mum was there helping, cuddling, playing with an excitable Duke. It all felt perfect. Exactly how it was meant to be. Thank you Universe 🌏