I suppose it began on 4th January really, where I spent all day getting surges that included cramping. I got excited, but after I realized that they weren’t consistent or getting stronger I was very disappointed. I was 7 days over-due at this point so I was starting to think that I was going to be pregnant forever. I knew at least SOMETHING was happening though, I hadn’t had these sensations before and they weren’t going away.
Matthew and I stayed up late as my brother James and his girlfriend Bea were over from Spain but were leaving the following day and we wanted to spend a bit of time with them. Living in America and having James live in Spain, we never really know when we’re going to see each other so it’s important that we make the most of the time we get to spend together. We eventually called it a night at maybe around 2:30am or something.
On the following day, I woke up at about 8:45am needing to pee as I did every morning. I sat up to get out of bed but something wasn’t right. As I sat up, I thought I’d peed myself for a second but then realized that my bladder was not being emptied and it wasn’t stopping! I went to the bathroom to pee and my waters continued to break. They were breaking in bursts though, so I just wore a sanitary towel and went downstairs. I began getting the same surges I felt the day before and this time they were nice and consistent and were beginning to feel a little less comfortable each time. I put the kettle on and made a coffee, and went to the bathroom again to let my waters come out a bit more. While I was in the bathroom, I heard my cousin Tom had come round to pick up James and Bea and take them to the airport. I decided to concentrate on getting through the next hour or so as normal as possible and so I went and greeted him and his girlfriend Ane. They asked how I was feeling, if I was having any signs and I told them that my waters had broken but it wasn’t really a big deal and I was just monitoring surges and relaxing on my exercise ball. Eventually, James and Bea came downstairs ready to leave and we all said our goodbyes and then as soon as they left I went into Labour mode!
I got ahold of my mum and told her that I was having good strong surges and I had lost my plug and my waters had broken and to not panic, everything was fine, but get back to the house when she can. Matthew and I went into the front room of the house which we had turned into a little birthing room. We put on the Rainbow Relaxation cd by Marie Mongan to get me into my hypnobirthing state. I got there with not much trouble and I really tried to focus on her words but I was switching between that and my surge-breathing due to the speed of my labour so frequently that it was very challenging. At this point, I was very much in a trance. Also, to note, I went through my labour with an illness where my nose was blocked so I had to mimic nose-breathing through my mouth to keep that relaxation working. It worked out for me but was an extra interesting challenge!
I look back on my birth and I remember bits of what was happening outside my head but it’s difficult because my hypnobirthing techniques had me so far into deep focus that I really had no idea, nor did I care, about what was happening outside of the bubble I was in. I remember I lost control at one point where I briefly gave up on my concentration, and that was the worst bit. I freaked out and I really felt the intensity of the surge, but I had enough control still that by the time that surge eased I caught my breath and got right back into focus ready for the next surge. At some point after that, the midwife and student midwife arrived and I remember her trying to communicate with me but I could not talk back because I knew that the most important thing was focusing 100% on my breath and the midwife also understood that so she allowed me to stay in my trance without question.
Soon after, I had another surge but this time my body was guiding me a different way and, completely surrendering to it’s directions, I pushed. The push, to my surprise, made me ‘roar’, as I like to call it. I was sure that I’d be quiet but oh how I was wrong! It felt SO good to release that energy through noise and really breath a loud roar out. It wasn’t a scream, it wasn’t due to pain or being unbearable, or anything like that. It was just me following my body’s lead and it was exactly what I needed. The midwife and Matthew saw that I had pushed so they helped to stand me and carry me over to the birthing pool. I got into the pool and I remember distinctively how amazing the water felt and how warm it was in there. I was able to get into a squat position and rest my head on my arms that were propped up on the side of the pool. After this, I had a couple more surges and I felt her head come down the birth canal. Another surge and instructions from my body to push and her head was out! Another 2 and there she came. She easily slid out, the midwife caught her and I turned around to sit down and she was passed to me. She was born at 12:18pm, after a 3 hour 40 minute active labour and she weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces.
When Penelope was passed to me, when I held her for the first time, I really can’t explain how it felt. I just wanted to stay there forever and kiss her and hold her close.
Normally this is where people say “it was all worth it” but everything about my transition into Motherhood, from finding out i was pregnant to holding her in my arms, was beautiful. Labour in itself is an experience that I will forever treasure and be grateful that I got to experience it. It was everything I imagined. It was powerful, surreal, and I have come out of it with a whole new type of respect for myself, the female form and the power that Mother Nature has and will always have, despite humans trying to hard to overpower her.
The people who were surrounding me during my labour and birth made it so much more special and beautiful and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have had them there.
My mum was just so helpful, she kept everything afloat and created the atmosphere with the candles, she cleaned and provided everything everyone needed, she called everyone including the midwife, she cleaned up everything afterwards with my dad and just made everything very very easy for me and Matthew to be able to purely focus on Penelope.
The midwives were so sweet and completely respectful of my birth choices and my need for minimal intervention and quietness. They were so kind and loving to both me and Penelope, telling me how well I did and how amazing the birth was to watch which meant the world to me.
Matthew was so loving, he always is, but he was the best birth companion. He let me put all of my body weight on him in all different types of crazy angles and he spoke to me, reminding me to breath calmly and slowly and focus on Marie Mongan’s Birthing Affirmations and Rainbow Relaxation cd. He let me know how proud he was of me and how amazing I was doing throughout and he was just exactly how you’d want the perfect birthing companion to be.
I have learnt a lot through my experience. The main thing is that with positivity, calmness, control and love, you can get through anything and have the best time. There is no need for medical intervention unless nature needs assistance. But I refuse to believe that if a healthy woman is having a healthy baby and there are no complications, which is how it is for most pregnant women, that there is any need for any sort of pain relief.
Birth is natural. It is normal, it has been that way since the beginning of time and women are designed perfectly to give birth. It’s time that we started respecting our bodies and believe in ourselves and the power that we hold.