Anne-Marie and Nick welcome Baby Maia
So I can’t say that I had a “traditional” hypno birth as seen in all the videos … but I certainly managed to use some of the tools … but alot went out the door as I surrendered my body to the overwhelmingly physical experience.
It was intensely quick – just over 6 hours from start to finish! I woke up at 430 with some “hmm these are new” aches and cramps and started observing and timing them on my iphone app to see if they were indeed contractions rather than just some normal mid-night aches. Sure enough they were pretty clockwork at 6 mins apart and 2 mins long. I lay there for a while wondering at what point I should wake up my slumbering husband … I listened to about half the daily affirmations, had 3 more contractions in that time and so I nudged Nick to give him the heads up. “Erm, not wanting to make a big thing of it, because of course it’s early doors yet but I’m pretty sure I’ve started early labour” – the sleepy response was “that’s not funny” – hehe, bear in mind that we were only at 36+6 so not expecting it yet at all! A funny moment to be sure, and a story I’m sure I’ll tell many times over. After about 1/2 hour I couldn’t stay in bed any longer nor listen to my affirmations so got up and went into the living room, lit some candles, sat on my birthing ball and watched a bit of telly.
I phoned the labour ward at about 530 to make sure I was right about the 3 contractions in 10 mins before making moves to the hospital (sadly my assessment to the birth centre wasn’t until Tuesday so I didn’t think I’d be allowed in there, although I had been referred by then) – of course I remembered perfectly well what the deal was, but it was somehow reassuring to speak to someone about it all starting. She assured me that it was still early, and since my waters hadn’t broken not to worry, wait for the 3 in 10 and for things to intensify alot and then call back.
After that phone call I settled myself on the birthing ball to sit in for a couple of hours, and let Nick sleep while he could whilst I did my stage 1 breathing of 4/8 counting. Around 6am I stood up and instantly my waters released, so I daintily quickstep tip-toed with closed legs to the kitchen to try and contain any drippings (lol) and called out to Nick … he leapt out of bed and I said “Either I’ve wee’d myself or my waters have broken” – it very much felt like a gentle voiding sensation rather than a gush or a trickle. And so we reckoned it was time to get all those last minuted things sorted, the things we hadn’t yet packed in the hospital bag, … we jumped in the shower and I showed Nick how to use the app counter whilst I had a speedy shower - but by the time I was out the surges were now regularly 45secs long and 2-3 mins apart (!) and I had became an Ooo-Monster hehe. Much “Ooo-Hoo-Hoo-ing” and pacing, not so much with the surge breathing of rapid 20 counts, though I did manage the 4/8 breaths quite well. I didn’t want to go anywhere though, and Nick had started to fret at my condition so I didn’t want him trying to drive me in our combined states. I told him to call 999. The only thing I could think of was how one of the women I knew told me how when her baby engaged the only position that was comfortable was on the toilet – so I sat on it – and it did help! Nick was on the phone with the dispatcher, clearly being asked if he could see anything – he managed to convince me I had to get on the bed just in case – the last position I felt like being in – but up I got (with the lucidity to demand he get the bin bags in case it got messy as I didn’t want to have to buy a new mattress) and all I could think “so, about that home birth you weren’t going to have!”. The ambulance came, and it was like a comedy sketch with me on the bed, legs akimbo, Oooing away – and the two paramedics standing there just chatting normally until one piped up and said ” well that’s 2 contractions in 5 minutes let’s get moving”, so off we went to Lewisham. Bumpiest ride ever!! All semblance of controlled breathing was out the window and all I could do was try not to bounce around like a jack-in-a-box and minimize the discomfort.
When we got to the hospital Nick saw the sign for the Birth Centre and told them to go there – a very nice lady who worked there said not to worry about not being assessed yet as we had already been referred, and that they’d do the assessment then. Hurrah! It took about 10 minutes for the assessment and was told I was already 6cms!! Yikes! No wonder I was on such a rollercoaster! Nick kept trying to get me to do my surge breathing, even going so far as to breathe for me … to which I responded with the oh so cliche “stop breathing on me!” hahaha. Oh dear! On the one hand I knew I should rein it in and refocus – but on the other I was just overwhelmed by all the new sensations.
We were put into the Rose room but sadly as I was 1 day off being 37 weeks I was not allowed to use the birthing pool – gutted! But I went straight to the bed and into the all-fours position … and already at the end of each contraction I was starting to push, whether I wanted to or not. In my head I kept racing to the control room and working that pain dial … not so much fully working but it certainly helped a little, if nothing else than to focus the mind. They’d brought in the beanbag for me to lean on which was lovely, and my midwife kept telling me not to push as the baby wasn’t in the right position and it was probably just that that was making me feel like I wanted to push. Not push?? Yah right, as if I could stop … it was my body just doing what it needed. I asked what position she was in so I could get a visual and get her turned … she said a little back to back – interestingly the next 2 contractions I didn’t feel like pushing so much but used them to mentally turn her and then bam (!) needed to push again … I got told off a little (in the nicest way lol) about pushing when she wasn’t in position – to which my response was “Are.You.Suuuuurre??” – I think more to humour me she said she’d inspect me and her response was “oh, actually, no, you’re fully dilated – you go ahead!” … hehehe now doesn’t that just beat all! So onto the birthing stool we went and started stage 2 … Nick sat behind me allowing me to crush his hands, passing the gas & air as I needed – he reminded me to “breath her down” rather than just push … and immediately my pushing sensations changed to what I can only describe as indeed breathing down! And the midwives response? “Now you’re doing it!” and 25 minutes later out rushed our little Maia – and I do mean “rushed” … it was head and then no pause for the shoulders she just slipped and slithered her way VERY quickly. I have the image in my head of seeing a flash of blue and white, as well as the midwife who was sat near my feet throwing my book down that she had been writing in and reaching out to catch my 5lb 12oz daughter as she popped out like a champagne cork (according to Nick). She was taken off for some resuscitation and then brought back within 10 minutes for some lovely skin/skin and there ensured the endorphin glow which you can see in the photo hehe. I did end up with a second-degree tear but i’m not surprised given how quickly it all went! And add in that I’d only done 3 days of the perineal massage (expecting there was still time). I had made the gas & air my new best friend for a while – though there were quite a few
times that I pulled off the plastic mouth piece bit to keep in my mouth but not wanting the gas … more to control my breathing I bet than anything else.
Nick was great at keeping me focussed even with me telling him all the classics like “stop touching me” / “why aren’t you touching me” / “stop breathing on me” / “you’re not helping” hehehe poor chap. We hadn’t yet gotten around to re-asserting the nlp anchors for deep relaxation, and indeed in the whole rush of the early stage even forgot about the light touch! But that observational part of my brain was active and just SO fascinated with what my body was doing, and how it wanted to do it. One thing that I particularly enjoyed was noticing how if I said “Ican’tIcan’tIcan’tIcan’tIcan’t” … my physiological response was akin to “oh yes I can!” and so I did lol. The disassocation between the purely physical experience and the mental … I could hear what I was being told but it was like through a fog that i either chose to clear and respond or I could stay in my sphere of physical experience. Fascinating stuff.
So in the end, I can say, hand on heart, that I believe for our next birthing experience that the hypnobirthing will be even more useful as now I have some rough idea about what sensations to expect I don’t think I’ll be quite so overwhelmed, and will be able to focus the mind away from the physical rollercoaster – as well we know to start practicing much earlier than we did! Don’t assume that you’ll go full term hehe. I can say that at no point, once we were settled in the room (!), did I feel panicked or out of control – I was just letting my body get on and do what it needed to do. Prior to that I do remember feeling out of control and a bit panicky -so I think the sooner you can be in the environment that you’re going to give birth in, the better – because then you can just settle the mind, and let your body do what it knows how to do. Oh, and enjoy the time vortex! I swear it was only about 10 mins that we were in the room before I was fully dilated … but apparently it was about an hour So even though it wasn’t the “ideal” hypnobirth, I can say that it would’ve been a far different experience without having taken those classes. I went into it focussed, confident, without fear, totally empowered and trusting that my body knows what to do and ultimately giving over the birth to my body and my baby – my eternal thanks to Sophie and Marie!