It was 2am on Tuesday morning, 5th March, and I woke up to cramps. They were very manageable, really just felt like period cramps. After timing them for about 40 minutes, it seemed they were 10 minutes apart. Shortly after that my 4 year-old little monkey woke up and wasn’t feeling the best, so I took him down to his Daddy to mind and got back to bed to rest and keep an eye on the cramps. I wasn’t due until the 8th March, so I still thought that it might have been just Braxton Hicks. Anyways at 6am, they were still going and so I knew I was on my way. I pottered downstairs and turned on the immersion so the water would be ready when it was time to fill the pool. I didn’t want to disturb anyone at this stage as I felt it was too early yet. But by 6.30, they had moved to 4/5 minutes apart so I gave my midwife a buzz and she was on her way. Next phone call was to my sister who we had asked to look after the kids.
At 7am my hubbie was up with my other two monkeys (4 yo and 2 yo) and I filled him in on what was going on. He went off to get brekkie sorted for the kids and start filling the pool. Funnily enough the previous day I had just said to him that I felt I was holding off until I knew for sure that he was finished up at work as I didn’t want to start when he was away and possibly not make it back in time. Sure enough he had just finished his last day of work the day before, Monday, so I think that my body then relaxed and knew it was ok to get going. I also had this strong feeling that my labour was going to be quick. I had this vision in my head that I would be ‘done’ by the kids snack time – 10/10.30 am.
So I stayed put in bed with the dulcet tones of Tracy from Gentlebirth doing the affirmations and the birth rehearsal. I didn’t know which would feel best on the day, but for whatever reason the birth rehearsal seemed to be most effective for me, so I kept listening to that on repeat.
As soon as I got into the pool and the warm water I was immediately transported to my beach in Tasmania where I had practiced my birth rehearsal. Every muscle in my body just melted into the water and I was so happy.
The surges were getting more intense but it still felt manageable. Just a couple of weeks before I had watched Marguerite Hannan’s water birth and was so blown away by how calm and tranquil she was. This vision was firmly planted in my head and I knew this was what I wanted too, so this vision kept me focused on the gentle birth I envisioned for my baby.
By 8am my sister and the midwife were here. The midwife asked me if I wanted to be examined and I said yes. She did a very quick examination between surges and said I hadn’t yet started to dilate. My heart sank which was also written on my face as I was full sure I was zooming along. Almost in sync together she read my mind as I began to explain that I was disappointed I wasn’t further along. She rocked into full supportive mode and assured me that it was very clear I was zooming along as the cervix was paper thin and that given my history I was highly likely to dilate quickly. These words resonated totally with what I intuitively felt and so there I left my feelings of disappointment and got back to focusing on my gentle birth.
About 8.30am I decided I wanted to get into the pool and so between surges got downstairs and hopped in. As soon as I got into the pool and the warm water I was immediately transported to my beach in Tasmania where I had practiced my birth rehearsal. Every muscle in my body just melted into the water and I was so happy.
In the next hour I said very little, just single words to my hubbie as he kept me topped up on water and massaged Mary Tighe’s beautiful labour blend of oils into my neck and shoulders. Position-wise I was on all fours rocking and just sitting down. About 9.15/9.20 I was feeling really wobbly and I remember saying I’m not sure how much longer I can take at this intensity, as the surges felt almost constant. No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I got the sensation that my baby was about to arrive. Almost simultaneously the midwife said, very soon you are going to feel a little pop and gush and that will be your waters. No sooner had she said it and it happened. I was very conscious that I didn’t want to push at this stage so I focused all my concentration on relaxing as best as I could and feeling myself with every cell in my body on that beach in Tasmania blissed out.
Then I instantly knelt up hanging over the end of the pool and grabbed my husband’s arms and buried my head in his shoulder. He wonderfully said all the right things, assuring me I was doing great and that I was almost done. Then as if by magic I felt my baby’s head just slither out. What felt like 2 seconds later the rest of the body slithered out and I sat back, picked up my baby in my arms and kissed him and snuggled him into me. I had a quick check as to the sex and told my hubbie and midwife. It was 9.25am. It had all happened so fast.
Almost immediately after that I asked my hubbie to get the kids, who had moved upstairs and were busy working through the bag of surprises my sister had brought them. They were down instantly and giving their new little brother kisses and chatting away. Initially I wanted the kids to be pottering around during the birth, but when the day came I felt that with the pace of my progression I actually wasn’t able to manage conversation with them and my surges and so opted for them to be there but upstairs with my sister. They checked in with me a few times, but because it all went so fast we weren’t apart for too long.
I knew this was to be my last pregnancy and so wanted to make it a wonderful one and consciously remember all the details of the delivery.
For the next hour I stayed in the pool happily snuggling my munchkin and ‘pinking’ him up. We chatted away and agreed on a name – as we had a girls name agreed, but not a boys name. I hopped out of the pool then and into the shower while the midwife weighed A and did all her checks whilst I delivered the placenta easily when the midwife put A on for a feed. She checked me over then and I was soooo relieved when there was no tear and so no stitches required. A rotten memory from my childhood of stitches made the stitching on the last birth traumatic, so I was so happy when the news was good on this front too.
All round I had almost detail by detail my exact envisioned and planned birth. I knew this was to be my last pregnancy and so wanted to make it a wonderful one and consciously remember all the details of the delivery. I am so happy that I was fully conscious and present throughout the entire delivery and happily remember it all. …I was so delighted to finish my birthing experiences with this wonderful birth as my first was a planned home birth which ended in an emergency Caesarean section, my second was a great VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean) at home but had to hop out for delivery as the heartbeat was hard to find and then my last wonderful water VBAC supported by a wonderful midwife who fully supported our VBAC despite many red-tape challenges along the way.
Every woman should have the chance to access all the tools/advice/support she needs to have a wonderful birth experience – lets hope maternity services in Ireland continue to improve and move towards every woman having the birth they desire.
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