So I haven't written for a while, and more importantly I haven't written my birth story down, not here, not on paper, not anywhere. I am not even sure why I haven't, maybe it doesn't feel so mind blowing as my other two births, maybe I just haven't been able to find the time, or maybe I am just two damn tired! I am not sure which it is, but I am starting to feel that the story needs telling, I am already forgetting the details, I am not sure I can even recall the pain any more (and there was a lot of that let me tell you). So here goes.
The day he was born was a Thursday, the day after his due date, and I was feeling very very grumpy indeed. Both my other babies had come before their due date and I had been ready since about 36 weeks. Hospital bad packed, affirmations stuck up on the wall, absorbent pads at the ready. So yes, I was a grumpy mama. I waddled up to toddler group on the morning he was born. Everyone was surprised to see me and I got the full range of the usual questions and comments, "not here yet then" ("no he's not humph"), "when are you due" ("yesterday, humph"), "any day now then" ("here's hoping, humph"), "Any sign he might be coming?", ("no nothing, humph"). Little did I know that just a few hours later I would be in the hospital pushing him out! When we got home from toddler group I took this photo of the beautiful roses growing outside my house and shared it on facebook, it seems so strange that just 6 hours later I was holding a new baby in my arms:
I can't say for sure what made me think I was in labour. I was getting some stomach ache, went to the toilet a few times, felt very restless. I did lunch for the boys and at about 1.00 I mentioned to my husband I thought I might be in labour (he had been working from home for the past 2 weeks in the expectation that the baby would arrive early). I decided to have some lunch myself though I didn't really feel like it, but thought I might need the energy later.
I rang the hospital. We were booked in for a home birth so informed them of this and waited for them to get back to me. A few moments later I had the call to let me know that there were no home birth midwives available and that I would have to go into hospital. So this was pretty much my worst case scenario (save giving birth on the way). I got off the phone and thought for a moment about crying. Then I decided "Fuck it" and got to work. I got on the phone to one of my friends from a group who had agreed to be on call for me when the time came (aka, my dream team) and I rang my mum to tell her what was happening and for her to get over here ASAP ("yes mum, please leave now, no mum I don't think you will have time for your chiropodist appointment"). I finalised the packing of my hospital bad, and packed bags for the boys. My friend arrived sometime before 5 and she took the boys to her house and we set off for the hospital. My husband driving like the clappers with plenty of horn honking and getting angry at other drivers! We arrived at the hospital at 5 and went straight up to the midwife led unit.
We hung around waiting for a midwife. They wanted me to go into an assessment room but I said I was declining an internal examination and I just couldn't bring myself to go into the examination room which had no windows and one of those horrid hospital beds so I walked around the entrance trying to find a comfortable position when I was having contractions. Eventually the midwife realised we had been booked in for a home birth and took us straight through. And then more waiting for someone to come and assess me and book me in. The midwife led unit at the Royal Berks is really lovely. The rooms are much more like a home from home and not like hospital rooms at all, all the medical equipment is shut away behind white cupboards, there was a big bath in the room and a sort of big bed which was made of a big foam block with a bean bad and pillows, more like a treatment room at a spa than a hospital room.
I wandered around the room trying to find a comfy way to be, I laid out my birth affirmations that my friends wrote for me at my mother blessing and read through them trying to focus on my visualisation (the waves of the sea going in and out). I was feeling the contractions very strongly now and felt like I was beginning to transition. The midwife said that they would monitor me every 4 hours, then every half an hour and then every 15 minutes etc. I laughed to myself thinking "no bloody way am I going to be in labour for another 4 hours!" She palpated my belly and asked if I was feeling a lot of pressure in my back, (this led me later to wonder if the baby was back to back.) My husband was rubbing my back during contractions and I settled on the floor by the bed on soft mats. The midwife had filled the big bath (I thought why not make full use of the facilities, even though I knew I wanted to give birth on dry ground) So I got in, it was lovely and did help with the pain, and the contractions were painful this time. I felt my body starting to push and my waters went with a pop and a gush. The midwife advised that as I didn't want to birth in the water I should get out now as the baby was probably on it's way, so I did. I settled back on the floor but struggled to bring my visualisations to the front of my mind. It was bright daylight and although there were blinds at the windows a gentle breeze blew them releasing flashes of sun into the room, distracting me from the image I was trying to focus on. The pains were strong, and got stronger as the baby moved down. I could feel his head coming very very slowly with each contraction, but he felt very far back and the pushing was hard work. I was screaming now with he contractions and the pushing, I couldn't help it, it hurt!
The midwife kept telling me to "breathe, breathe" and I was but I needed to scream too, that head! It finally came out, eventually followed by the body which flopped onto the floor and I breathed, really breathed, a huge sigh of relief. "Thank God that's over" was my first thought and I had to be reminded to pick up my baby (as specified in my birth plan) out of the pool off poo he immediately created!. He was kind of blue and needed a bit of encouragement from a good rubbing down with a hospital grade towel to get him breathing, but there he was. All 8lbs 15oz of him, phew!
Was it more painful because he was back to back and had to turn at the last minute? Or was it the flashing sun distracting me from my visualisation? Maybe the fact he was my biggest baby? Or could it have been the mere fact of being in hospital rather than at home as I had wanted? I guess I will never really know. But what I can tell you in all honestly, 5 weeks on, I feel like none of that even matters. I have had the most wonderful time riding the waves of post natal hormones, fully tripping out on Oxytocin and loving big time on my baby. (Having a newborn baby is the most wonderful thing, did anyone tell you?). I didn't get that feeling of elation when he was born as I did with Biscuit but the joy that has been bursting from my heart ever since fully makes up for it.
He is more than likely my last baby (never say never) so I am trying to fully soak up every moment, fully savor his smell, the feel of his rose petal skin, the little tufts of hair on his ears, the way he does the most incredible beautiful heartbreaking smiles in his sleep, the snuffly noise me makes when he feeds and enjoying every moment with him. I feel very blessed to have another healthy baby, and have learnt a lot through this delivery. Namely that every birth is different, and every mother experiences childbirth differently. Experiencing a painful birth doesn't mean you are less in tune with your body, or that you aren't as much of an earth mother as the next lady, maybe it just means your baby was big, or he was back to back or he came before he was ready or any number of other reasons. Every birth is different and every mother and baby symbiosis is different, maybe you had an orgasmic birth, good for you, maybe you needed an epidural to get through the pain, I hear you, each journey is unique, each story our own, there is no one on earth who can fully know or understand your experience. It is totally unique to you. I have also learnt that how you feel after giving birth is also unique. After I had Boris, I didn't feel right, I couldn't understand how my friends who had had really traumatic births felt normal and I was feeling totally messed up. It wasn't till I had the healing experience of my home birth that I realised how the way I felt the first time really wasn't right. This time, in spite of not getting all my wishes for the birth I feel amazing. No rhyme or reason to it at all!
I recently had an imagined conversation with God about it, it went something like this:
Me: "Hey God, I prayed for a midwife for a home birth and you didn't give me one, what's up with that?"
God: "Yeah, sorry about that, here, have some Oxycontin to make up for it."
I am told God gives us what we need not what we want. I am not sure why God decided I needed a painful hospital birth this time, but I am bloody grateful for the wonderful gift of a joyful heart, He has given me since. I really hope it lasts a long long time because it is becoming clear that life with three children under the age of five is going to be interesting to say the least!
I love how the post card in the back ground says "We can do it"