It’s funny how they say that the moment you have your newborn baby in your arms for the first time, you forget about all the tiring work you just went through.
I never used to believe them.
But when my exhausted body gave that final push and I could feel her coming out into the world – really, it all just disappeared.
So, I’ve had to rack my brain to really remember all the story and maybe I’ve even missed some out, but the important thing is that you capture the essence of it all: it was such a positive and joyful day that I would do it all again, and probably will. Seriously.
The last few weeks for me were as if I had a time bomb ticking in my head. I’d never felt so prepared yet so nervous at the same time. Except when I had exams to pass….in comparison this was not nearly as stressful.
The endless wait
My sciatique pain continued to torture me day and night, depending on the day. Sometimes I would wake up suprised that I wasn’t in pain today! Then later, Nerea would shift just a notch in my belly and the whole show would start again.
By the whole show, I’m talking about heating and re-heating two hot water bottles, lying on my back and trying to find THE POSITION for nearly half an hour where the cushion under my right leg would take the pressure off my nerve.
Restless, I would get up and go for a stroll – it was summer the most part of my pregnancy – so I’d walk around, start to feel better, come back and have it all flare up again. Back to the stretches my midwife had given me to do.
Sound like a nightmare? It was.
That’s not even mentioning the varicose vein that started to throb in my right leg also around the 7th month of pregnancy. Hello compression/dare I say rather granny knee-high skin coloured socks?!
Impatience haunted me
Let’s just say: I was done with being pregnant.
My cake felt baked.
My oven was pinging.
I gotta say, it was all partly because (lucky me, I know) I have an athletic figure, having grown up doing sports and keeping fit. So all the weight went on my belly. Just sayin’ – doesn’t mean it’ll happen to you!
Anyway. 30th October, some friends come over for an evening together gathered around the fire eating pizza. That they brought! Such good friends. People, take note. It was bliss.
I was distracted from that sciatique niggle and rolled around on my birthing ball chatting until saying goodnight to everyone and crashing out. I thought I’d mention this as my midwife had told me to chill out (to make a change from counting down the days, that is….)
Take it easy with some friends, have a good ol’ belly laugh. Oh, we laughed alright. We even laughed at the possibility of her actually making an appearance the day after! Little did we know…
The night before…
31st October. After spending my day A LOT more relaxed, by evening time as usual, I’d cancelled all Halloween plans to try (yeah, I didn’t always suceed…) and get an early night. I played through my ritual: shower, gentle stretch, calming music….
I WASN’T HAVING IT. I WANTED MORE.
I creeped downstairs to the sofa where my exhausted partner was peacefully getting some alone time on the sofa and plonked myself on top of him.
He looked at me like ‘Seriously?’
After insisting and persuading him, off we went to the bedroom to have some…cuddle time! Feeling relieved and loved, I drifted off into a blissful slumber at around half 11 at night.
Around an hour later, I awoke to what felt like a contraction. Was it a contraction? I’d never had a contraction before, was I sure this was it? I checked my watch as yet another contraction came.
Three minutes apart.
Intense from the start
All the rest fit countless descriptions I’d read, but why were they so close together? I got up to pee, then clung onto the sink while washing my hands. Every time one would come, I’d just take up a squatting position and breath it out.
Yep, I told myself, this is it. My baby is on her way!
Honest truth: I felt no fear.
I just went to quickly nudge me partner awake saying ‘Yeah I think I’ve been having contractions for the last hour. You can sleep for now, I can handle it on my own. I’ll wake you up when I really need you.’
‘Oh, but if you could light a fire so I don’t get cold? Thanks darling!’
He sluggishly got out of bed, made a fire, gave me my hot watter bottle and stumbled back into bed. Job well done. I, on the other hand started to set up my area in the upstairs living room where all the lovely heat would rise from the fire.
Making my nest
I put a comfy mat and a quilt on the floor, cushions all around me. My birth cards! Shuffled about setting them up and plugging my computer in, stopping for pauses between contractions. This was probably the only time during labour that I actually listened to some music.
I let that soft trumpet sound of Chet Baker swim in my ears as the more I breathed with the contractions, the more I was getting familiar with them, as if they were an old friend.
When I think back on it, all that sciatique nerve nonsense had actually served me a purpose: to work with and breathe through the pain rather than go against. In fact, many a night when I would be up til the early hours with this annoyance, I would pop my hypnosis in my ears and drift back to sleep.
‘This is so exciting!’ I told myself as I visualised finally being able to look into my baby’s eyes.
Time for a snack
BUT, I gotta eat now. If I don’t eat now, I won’t eat for the next however many hours. I’ve heard what it’s like. So I made the effort to force myself down some yummy bean and veggie stew I’d made the night before – even if it did take me over an hour to eat it, pausing for each contraction.
Somehow time flew by and before I knew it it was about 8am when I went in to wake Daniel up again saying ‘I need your help now, I can’t do it alone anymore.’
Still – I’d made it through the first seven hours alone! Go me!
I got him on the phone to the midwife and he described how I was feeling. I told her not to rush. It was srange: I was the one in labour yet I had this instinct to let everyone know I was doing fine and not to worry about me.
Enter the birthing pool
Dan and our other little munchkin – who was asleep until that point – blew up the pool and with our assistant’s help, filled it up. I couldn’t wait to get in. Contractions were getting a little more intense now.
That was me stepping in the gorgeous hot water and sitting down in a frog-like position. I could stay in here for hours, I thought. And so I did.
About 10 sips of water later (thank goodness for straws!), two bites of buttery toast and a good back massage, my midwife arrived. It was around 11am, she gave me a quick uterus check and said cheerfully ‘It doesn’t even look like she’s in labour!’
Yep, I was laughing and making jokes the entire time between my contractions. I had nothing to worry about, I felt. I was in great company, in the soothing warm water by the fire. Lavender oil drops on a hankerchief for me to smell and relax.
I was laughing and enjoying myself
The contractions were actually quite amusing in that sense – my midwife would ask me something about my waters breaking or how I was feeling and I’d stop mid sentence to breathe through the contraction. She was THE BEST.
It was like running round the athletic track all over again hearing her cheering me on (not half as noisy though, obviously) by just saying: ‘Go right into it, good. Go into your bubble Lucie you’re doing great. Feel it slowing going away. Good, now take a deep breath and relax your shoulders.’
Meanwhile our other little one had been dropped off at the neighbours at this point, as I could feel it was going to get more intense.
The playing and joking around kinda slowed down. I was getting cold despite my dear love pouring hot water repeatedly in the tub and wiping my sweaty brow.
It was then I needed reminding of my Birth Affirmations.
The midwife suggested getting out for a bit to speed things up, so I was wrapped in towels and carried upstairs to my soft bubble again. She left us to it as I crawled up in his lap soaking wet and now uncomfortable with the pain.
Everything progressed so quickly then…
The whole time, I should mention, I had back pain rather than pain in my uterus so Dan would apply pressure on my lower back. This must have been the ‘transition’ part as the contractions were so intense I felt the urge to be sick. I just went with it while he held a little bowl and I felt tons better afterward.
I wanted to pee but sat on the toilet to feel nothing come out and another super intense contraction. Suddenly the rest of my waters broke and I began to feel the need to poop too.
‘That’s not poop, Luce, that’ll be your baby’s head applying pressure on your rectum.’ I was told. More cuddling and panting and groaning and crying in my lover’s arms followed.
Exhaustion started to kick in
I began to cry helplessly. I began to shout out for my mum (who hasn’t been with us for the past few years, but still), my grandma and anyone else out there who could help me get through this.
Yes, this part was tough. It was grueling. I was sweating all over, eyes rolled back or closed most of the time and fully focused on my body.
I shouted out of despair as another and another contraction followed, each more intense than the next.
‘YEEEESSSSSSSS’ my team chanted back so I made that mental switch and started to go with them again.
I asked if I could go back in the pool, I needed that heat. I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. After a bit of re-heating, I climbed back in and relief washed over me as I was back where I felt comfortable.
After endlessly changing positions and moving around (the great advantage of a birthing pool) I lay on my back to take the weight off my tired body. I’m not sure, but I must have been about an hour away from seeing my baby.
My partner was amazing
My partner kneeled by the side of the pool and with one arm kept my body afloat as I placed my feet on the edge of the pool. I was asked if I wanted to find a better position, I explained this was the only way I felt comfortable.
And then I began to feel a slight burn. It caught me by suprise and I lost control of my breathing technique for a second, but I was quickly corrected into forming an ‘O’ shape with my mouth each time I felt the urge to push. From that moment on, we would all all chant together on my command, like some ancient tribe.
This was my favourite part of labour, contrary to what other women may have experienced. I only wanted to ‘push’ or breathe my baby out. My midwife explained to me that there are three stages to the birth canal.
I breathed a sigh of exasperation. Was this ever going to end?
Surely enough, my baby girl progressed faster than I thought.
I got a little snappy
My partner was looking at was going on and I told him not to look – for some reason it bothered me and I wanted him concentrated on me. I apologised afterwards and he said it was no biggy. Hey I was just minutes away from that final push!
I reached down with a shaky hand to feel what they were both gawping at. They told me that was her head. I was saying, ‘That doesn’t feel like a head! It’s all soft and gooey!’
Nerea teased me countless times by doing this thing babies apparently do: the bounce thing. She would push down hard and open me up a little more each time, without ever fully coming out and bouncing back to where she was. Now that was frustrating.
Eventually the end was in sight (literally) – each push got stronger and my midwife told me to ‘let my baby slide out’ which was really useful because we often forget that birth is a joint co-operation between mother and baby and it allowed me to tune into her instead of trying to force it.
The Gran Finale
‘Last one! You got it!’
I took a deep and noisy breath and slowly moaned and groaned as her head slid out fully, followed by her whole body.
A shocked look formed on my face as I said to myself:
‘I’VE DONE IT!!’
My slippery worm was placed on my chest and looked right up at me.
‘Hello you’ I said and burst into tears. As did my partner as he kissed my forehead. There we were, a little family at last.
The midwife looked at the time on her watch. 17.30 pm.
HEY we all know birth doesn’t stop there. Once we had our little moment, the midwife and I co-ordinated ourselves to ‘push’ out the placenta.
I say ‘push’ because I couldn’t feel the contractions anymore. I was so high on oxcytocin. So she held onto the umbilical cord and we kinda pressed it out and into a bowl I’d prepared.
Time to get out the pool
YOWZAS. That was when it hit me. There was me feeling like a million dollars but unable to even hold myself up or try to sit on the toilet for my first post partum pee.
Worn out but feeling like a champ I installed myself on the couch for Nerea’s first feed. She too, latched on like a champ.
Not long after, off we scootered off to bed – me being assisted up the stairs and Nerea in daddy’s proud arms – to settle in the warmth for more cuddles and feeding.
Mother and baby stared at each other in awe, two naked bodies snuggled up together. I felt so peaceful and proud of myself, watching my little worm wriggle and suckle at my breast.
I can proudly say, it was the best day of my life.
Thank you so much for reading my positive home birth story, I hope I have encouraged you! It’s not all easy but the strength that washes over us women when we’re giving birth it’s as if you’re ‘on another planet’.