It was the sunniest day of the year so far…Sunday 15th February 2015… the day before Arlo’s due date . Very much still in the heart of Winter but we’d been pleasantly surprised with loads of warm sunshine and a blue sky.
Sunday was my pregnancy yoga day, which I’d been going to religiously every week since I was 16 weeks pregnant. My pregnancy had been pretty easy-going, although from 38 weeks I had had enough and was ready for it to end! As the sun was so warm I took to our hammock on the back deck and there I laid swinging, rubbing my belly with one hand and holding a cup of tea in the other. I’d had a particularly rubbish night’s sleep – by this stage I couldn’t remember the last decent sleep I’d had – so I’d decided to give yoga a miss and enjoy the sunshine with my partner Daryl. At about 11am I experienced what felt exactly like period pain. I didn’t think much of it as I’d felt quite a few different niggles and twinges during my pregnancy. I don’t know how much later it was, but whilst still swinging, the period type pain came over me again and lasted a little longer. This got my attention as it was the first time I’d noticed any pattern in the sensations. I kept swinging there in the sun and the feeling came again. This got me out of the hammock and onto the toilet. Maybe I just need a number 2 I thought- that’ll solve it! But nothing. The sensations kept coming and were lasting longer each time. About an hour after my first twinge, these sensations were stopping me in my tracks and really making me pay attention! Daryl and I had planned to go out for lunch, but we quickly decided it might be best if we chilled at home. By about 2 o’clock I decided to go have a lay down in bed. The sensations were becoming quite strong. Off to the toilet I went again (still, thinking this was the answer!) and there was my ‘show’. I was excited and apprehensive…as was Daryl, who squealed and said “this is it, it’s happening!”. It was a surreal feeling, I couldn’t quite believe it. I lay back on the bed and the sensations were getting stronger and more regular. And then I threw up. I had heard that this was a sign the body was opening up in preparation for giving birth.
From then on it was full steam ahead. We called our doula, Yana, to explain what was happening. I still didn’t quite believe I was in labour, however when I couldn’t keep talking when the surges came …Yana said, ”OK… I’ll be right there!”
Yana arrived at around 4pm and I was still on my bed slow breathing with each surge- a technique I’d learned in my hypnobirthing classes and had practiced daily during my pregnancy. Meanwhile Yana and Daryl were downstairs getting our birth pool ready. It was about 4pm when Daryl and Yana helped me downstairs. The surges were really strong and I lay on our living room floor in the fetal position as this seemed to be the most comfortable for me. All the positions and techniques I’d discussed with Yana during pregnancy that I thought I’d love during labour were not at all what I wanted! I didn’t really want to be touched and just wanted to curl up in a ball and breathe through the surges. It was maybe around 5pm when Daryl called the midwife. He gave me the phone and said they want to talk to you. I was fine to speak until a surge came, then I nearly threw the phone through the wall! I think this was the telling sign the midwives needed to come over. The surges were coming with a frequency that felt like every couple of minutes. It all seemed to be happening so quickly. Daryl and Yana had finished filling the pool and asked me if I wanted to get in but I was too nervous to move from the fetal position on the floor! When the midwives arrived they quickly noticed that I was already pushing with each surge. They kindly but firmly urged me to get in the pool as the baby wasn’t far away. So I got up, stripped off, and in I got. Oh my goodness. It was a new lease of life. I felt like a new woman! The warm water was instantly so soothing and relaxing. I was floating around in all different positions and happily letting the water take my weight. So much nicer than the wooden floor I’d been laying on for the last hour! It was around 6pm by this point and I was able to have a drink that Yana had made – a smoothie full of all sorts of electrolytes but I wouldn’t have a clue what was in it! I tried to eat some banana too but my appetite was pretty non-existent. It was in the pool that I noticed my birth music was playing – a playlist I had set up on spotify of songs I thought I’d like to hear during the birth. I really tuned into these songs, they helped me take my mind off the exhaustion and put me in a meditative state. I also got to notice how cosy and calm the room looked. Daryl had dimmed all the lighting and had pretty fairy lights and candles everywhere. It looked so inviting and really did put me at ease. I’m sure my surges were still coming as regularly and as strongly as they had been, but the water had just allowed me to relax, compose myself and re-focus. By about 7pm the surges were extremely strong and close together and I was now breathing my baby out with each one. I made quite a lot of noise when breathing out, I found this helped me to keep the breath flowing and work with my body instead of holding my breath. The midwives were beyond incredible. Daryl had explained to them that I didn’t want to know how dilated I was throughout labour unless medically necessary – I just didn’t want my hopes to get up and then be dashed! But they kept checking the baby’s heartbeat throughout the final hour and assuring me he was doing really well and was very relaxed. I was in the squatting position at this point which felt the most comfortable in the water. Daryl was crouched down on the other side of the pool with his arms under my arms, and offering so much support and loving words, it really helped keep me focused and feeling safe and loved.
In the final hour of breathing Arlo out, my mind was absolutely flooded with affirmations that I’d been listening to on my ipod throughout my pregnancy…and three in particular which were, “This is normal. This is natural. This is healthy”. Over and over this played in my mind. It was these affirmations plus my incredibly supportive and loving partner that got me through my final hour of labour, with not a single drug or any other intervention…and I had my little boy sitting on my chest at 8.01pm, just 9 hours after my first tummy niggle in the hammock. I’m still in absolute awe of what a woman’s body can do. I have a new found respect and admiration for my body and I had faith and trust in my body throughout my labour that it knew exactly what it was doing. And it did.