“I am prepared to meet whatever turn my birthing may take” (Marie Mongan)
The above affirmation was one that I never wanted to use, but I ended up repeating it many times during my labour with Jack.
It took us a while to conceive, and in the end we needed IVF assistance. Because of this, I already had negative thoughts that I needed to overcome before labour – mainly that my body had failed me when trying to conceive, so I’m sure my body will fail me during labour.
I had such an amazing and ‘easy’ birth experience with our eldest son, Max, that I didn’t prepare as diligently for Jack’s labour. However I did listen to my affirmations most days and practised my breathing techniques.
I wrote my birth preferences and discussed them with my Obstetrician, so that I knew she was on the same page as me. I chose this doctor as I trusted her and was confident that she would listen to me, and not pressure me into doing anything I didn’t want to.
On Saturday July 22nd (39+5 weeks) I woke up at 6am and went to tell Max to play quietly as we were trying to sleep. Whilst standing in his room I felt a trickle of water running down my leg, and knew that my waters had broken. Such a weird feeling! After getting myself sorted I went back to bed and told my husband what was happening. I was not having any surges at this time.
I then started to cry. As a midwife, I knew that my ideal birth was potentially out of reach. I cried for ages, letting it all out of my system. I called mum at 8am and asked her to come and look after Max whilst we went to the hospital for a check-up.
All was good at the hospital, so I decided to come home and wait for labour to begin. We booked an ‘induction’ date for 4 days’ time – as at my hospital this is considered the maximum safe time to wait for labour when the waters are broken, and I was happy with this.
After picking Max up we went to the shops. I wanted to have a reflexology foot massage to hopefully encourage labour to begin. After the massage we walked around for ages, did the grocery shopping and then went home. I had started having irregular, mild surges but nothing to get excited about.
Throughout the afternoon I locked myself away in the bedroom – no lights, blinds closed, oil diffusor with clary sage, sitting on the fit ball, listening to birthing affirmations, dozing on and off. At times the surges took my breath away, other times I couldn’t really feel them.
We had already arranged for my sister in law to babysit so we could go out for dinner to celebrate my birthday. We decided to keep these plans as not much was happening. We enjoyed our last child free dinner for what I’m guessing will be a long time. Every time I had a surge my husband wanted to rush home, but they were still mild so we stayed to finish our dinner (and wine)!
I had difficulty sleeping that night, and just when I started ‘timing’ the surges they eased off completely. I tried to lie in bed and rest as much as possible, but also wanted to be upright on the fit ball to try and encourage them to get stronger.
The next morning we headed back to the hospital for a check-up. Everything was fine with me and baby, however I was starting to feel that something was wrong and that’s why I hadn’t gotten into labour yet. After emailing my obstetrician, chatting to the midwife, and a long discussion with my husband, I decided to stay at the hospital and have my labour augmented.
This decision led me to having another big cry. Once again I knew that my ideal birth was slipping out of my fingers; but I also felt deep down that this was the right decision for me. If we went home to continuing waiting for labour, I knew that I’d be anxious and worry and that wouldn’t help anything! I was a bit embarrassed about crying, given that I was in my workplace, but everyone was very respectful and gave me time alone to ‘grieve’.
My husband left to take Max to my parent’s house, so whilst he was gone I called my friend Emma who was coming to be support us, and Kate my birth photographer.
Credit for the photos goes to Kate Tyzack from Bump to Birth Photography (www.katetyzack.com)