I'll admit I have been hesitant to share my birth story of my second son with anyone who did not ask me directly. Why? You might ask. Well because in my husband’s words 'she makes it look easy!' There is this engrained notion in society that birth is not supposed to be beautiful, amazing, perfect, or easy. In fear of being ridiculed I have not shared, until a dear friend told me I needed to share because that is how she needs to hope and believe birth can be – beautiful, perfect, and easy. So here we go!
The birth of Joshua Alec more or less started at week 38 with some pre-labour. My lovely obstetricians response to my divulging I was having some period like pain was, “well that's labour and it can last for weeks or baby could be soon.” Well, nothing we didn't already know and it was home to my pool, swimming took the weight off my pelvis and kept me from swelling like a balloon in the heat.
Grandparents were due to arrive at week 39 - both of my boys have indulged me and waited for the extra helping, loving hands. I was still having pre-labour pain off and on, nothing tractable on any contraction counter, but definitely there.
Week 40 - ah the blessed due date, the day that crushed me with my first son. ‘What do you mean this day is not the day that I have my baby? This is the day that I have counted against for 40 odd weeks, why am I not in labour?’ The second time around, I'm a little more seasoned so this day washed over me a little better. I had braced myself to go well into week 41 as I had with my first. But they are all different right down to when they decide to make their entrance into the world.
40 plus 2 days was a Friday, a beautiful day, a warm day. I had some surges and I could time them in the morning, so hubby stayed home from work and of course everything stopped. I chose to spend a lot of time in the pool, bobbing in the deep end on a noodle, watching my eldest have a good time with his father and grandparents. I put my son to bed and that is when my normal evening changed; while I was nursing him to sleep, surges started again and this would be my only mark of time for when labour began, 8:00 pm. By 9:00 pm I called Cheryl as she had texted to see how I was doing. We chatted and came up with a plan; I would go to bed and rest. If I could sleep through surges then it was more than likely more pre-labour, if I couldn't we would be having a baby. I did get some sleep, but not much. I can tell you I was grateful for my hypnobirth training when a strong surge would hit. I wouldn't expect them and they'd rip my breath way. Hubby came when called to assist me. I was getting some back pain and sacral pressure helped. Around 11, I had a nice hot shower with a couple more surges. I was just listening to my body and taking an educated guess at the time between them. By now, I know this is going to take hold and we are going to meet our second son at some point in the night. I start to pack the final things into the hospital bags. I call Cheryl and let her know we are going to make a move to the hospital. She encourages me not to let the staff talk me out of coming. I could I talk through surges and I didn't have any of the classic markers they say you should have before you leave for the hospital. I trusted my body!
We leave the house at 1:00am. We are at the hospital in approximately 30 minutes and the entire drive into the city I'm working on my visualization. One of my goals for this birth was not to go to the early labour ward. As nice of a service as that is, I did not enjoy the very rushed transfer to birth suite with my first and I really wanted to have a bath with this birth.
Cheryl met us as the door and we went to the assessment area where I had a couple of surges as she spoke to the midwives and I was given a birth suite without assessment. Yes, you read that right, without assessment! In the room we met our lovely midwife Jackie and Cheryl started to run the bath. Jackie asked me if I would like to be assessed just to see where things were at. I don't know if it was the way she phrased the question or my experience but I felt like I could decline, so I did; remember I said my only marker was putting my son down at 8:00 pm, well I meant it.
I got into the bath and I remember Jackie asking me to cue her when I was having a surge so she didn't distract me, did I mention she was amazing! Cheryl got the affirmations on, and my hubby joined me in the tub for that extra pressure on my back when it was required. Very comfortably in that time warp, I have the urge to use the toilet again. This has to be the only thing that bugs me about how I personally labour, I'm always finding the toilet. I would have taken three steps from the bath to the toilet and everything changed. Cheryl was assisting me so I didn't slip and fall and I said, “I think he is here, I need to push!” She gently encouraged me to place my hand down and feel; I have my son's head in my hand, behind the membrane wall, but definitely his head. So it was not back into the tub, it was onto the bed.
I took a familiar position over the back of the bed, as this was how I laboured with my first. But my OBs voice was in my head saying, “I like to position ladies either on their sides or back for the final pushes, everything can be controlled better!” I should mention that neither of my boys were born when my OB was on weekend duty. I listen to his advice as if he was in the room and moved to my side and just like that, my fear of tearing again eased because I gained control over the speed in which my little man was entering the world. I'm not a woman that has to push, I have to breathe through, my kids are on rockets and they are coming whether I like it or not. Membranes breaks somewhere in there and the pressure is relieved as soon as his head is out. Unfortunately, Joshua had released some meconium and the OB on duty explained to me what this means and what he felt should happen. I understood the risk to my son if I declined and stuck to the plan of delayed cord clamping, so Hubby cut the cord and my son was taken over to the assessment table with his father right behind him. Within a couple of minutes he was returned to me for a blissful hour of skin to skin and our first breastfeed. The start of a new relationship; one I just love!
Joshua Alec was born at 2:48 am on the 21st of March 2015. We chose to spend less than 12 hours in hospital and we were home to settle our eldest son that night.
There you have it, my 'easy' birth. The one I trained for the best I could while chasing a toddler. The one I planned for by calling Cheryl very early and asking her to save me a spot in March and making my goals known to her. The birth I swam for every day to help baby get in the right position for birth and of course for my comfort. The birth I believed could be perfect and it was.
One amazing thing happened that night; I had a hospital birth without any internal assessments. No attempt to mark active labour, I'm not even sure anyone noted the time I hit transition. I trusted my body and my baby and together they got it so right!
Thank you again Cheryl for everything you have done for our little family, you are forever in our hearts!