We had our little girl Charlie on the 1st of October and I wanted to thank you for equipping Ben and I with the knowledge to have had such a positive, magical first birth experience. Yes, it was bloody hard but we reflect back and think of it in a very positive light which we feel extremely grateful for, and I feel really proud of how it all went.
I went into labour at 40+6, with what we thought were my waters breaking. As I was GBS positive, we called the hospital and they asked us to come in to check. I could sense things were happening and started to have some ‘light’ contractions whilst at home so we took our time - had brekkie, finished packing the hospital bags, and got a coffee on the way! I wanted to give my body as much time as possible to go into spontaneous labour without needing to be induced (which I knew was a likely next step with a GBS positive test). We got to the hospital a couple of hours later and they did the speculum test and advised it wasn’t my waters. We were disappointed, as we were positive the dripping and mark we’d seen was that!
We were booked in to see the doctors the next day at 41 weeks to discuss next steps, so they asked if we wanted to see them while we were there. Whilst waiting, I went to the bathroom and before even sitting on the toilet, I had a huge gush of liquid - I knew that had to be my waters otherwise I was concerned!! Haha. They conducted another speculum test and confirmed it was! I was then admitted to the hospital at around midday - I wasn’t going home, which took me a moment to get my head around as I’d spent my pregnancy envisioning a huge part of my labour being at home. The midwife and student midwife supporting us were incredible and encouraged us to set up our space and begin to play our music. Luckily my body relaxed, I felt safe and supported by them and my husband and I was able to do my own thing.
The antibiotics were quickly started and I asked if it was possible to delay inducing me. I was so grateful that the doctor came up to discuss this with me and ask why and really listened. She gave me two hours and would then come back to check what my body was doing. Amazingly, things kicked off pretty quickly on their own (I could sense they would!) and when she came back I was already 5cm dilated so no need for an induction!
For hours I laboured using the TENS machine (it was incredibly helpful, I didn’t want to take it off to get into the water like I had originally planned), and I focused on my breathing, used vocalisation and my husbands incredible support. Ben felt so equipped to be a part of the experience and we were so connected - it was beautiful. I was comfortable on an exercise ball, and he sat on the edge of the bed and I leant on him. He pressed the TENS buttons with each contraction, gave me lots of water and held me. The student midwife with us knew acupressure points and could help relieve pressure in my back. I tried the gas but I found it took me out of my ‘zone’ too much trying to listen for the whistle and changing my breathing, so I quickly stopped after a couple of attempts! I was very nauseated and vomited quite a bit during the labour too. The contractions were heavy and fast but I just took them one at a time, kept my eyes closed and stayed in my labour land state you had discussed with us!
I knew they were going to check me again at 9pm, and from about 8pm I felt like I was watching the clock drag. My back was on fire and I was already bearing down and wanting to push. When they did the check, I was 7cm and we found out my baby was posterior (she’d been anterior whilst pregnant!). This explained the back pain and the early pushing from what I understand!
At this stage I asked for an epidural. I went into my labour not opposed to having one but wanting to reach this decision on my own and it not being suggested. At that stage it was 100% what I wanted and it couldn’t have come soon enough, the wait for the anaesthetist and trying to not push was excruciating! But I still reflect back and wonder if I made the right call and whether I should have just kept going. Ben reminds me everything in our labour happened for a reason so I try and remember that! After the epidural everything came back into focus and I could talk again. I loved that I could still feel my contractions too. The epidural was at about 10pm, and they checked me again at 1am. At that check I was 10cm dilated and baby had turned to face the right way! We were so excited. We were told we’d start pushing in an hour (I’m still not sure why we waited another hour but that’s ok!). We were talking excitedly/tried to rest for that next hour. Then when the pushing phase began we pumped the music and I thought Charlie would be here soon. But this is where it got a little bit scarier. She kept bungy-ing out then back in as I pushed and her heart rate wasn’t as stable. The doctor advised their policy was a max of 2 hours pushing time, and I worked so hard for that 2 hours (visualisations really helped me here - I kept picturing her moving down through the birth canal with each push), really wanting to avoid going down to theatre. When I was admitted a COVID swab was taken, and we learnt that the results for this hadn’t come back yet so I had to be treated as asymptomatic, which we were told meant Ben couldn’t come into the theatre. This also spurred me on to push and push with each contraction.
Sadly we did end up down in theatre and I was told it would be either a forceps or emergency caesarean delivery. Once again the doctor was amazing at listening to my worries with forceps and she explained her approach so that I felt comfortable. Because I’d worked so hard pushing for two hours, Charlie was able to be delivered via forceps with two pushes/pulls and only had a small graze on her face which quickly healed. Ben had to watch via FaceTime whilst sitting upstairs in the birth suite as she was delivered which was heart-breaking and was the thing that upset me the most when processing/reflecting back on the birth. However the anaesthetist was amazing and knew something/someone that enabled Ben to come into the theatre not long after she was born (we’re not sure how but we were extremely thankful!). Charlie was in a bit of shock when she came into the world and took a moment to breath/cry and Ben arrived into the room just in time to cut the umbilical cord thank goodness (the cord was around her neck). She was born at 4:59am, at 41 weeks, and was a big healthy 4.14kg!
We really feel so lucky we did the Calmbirth course with you and so early on in our pregnancy, as we had so much time to talk about things, learn more, watch things like Birth Time, ask questions (like when I asked you about GBS!) and all of these things contributed to us go into the labour and birth feeling informed and empowered. The first part of the labour when it was just the TENS machine, Ben and I, truly felt so special and I don’t know if we could have experienced a labour like that without all of the knowledge that we had so thank you. I was determined for my baby to have a calm entry into the world and even when we learnt Ben couldn’t be in the theatre room he was amazed at how calm I managed to stay - and my breathing helped massively with this!
We were also so impressed with how supportive the midwives and doctors were. We felt they really supported the Calmbirth approach and really listened to us, and included Ben in every step which we were so pleased with. A doctor came to debrief with us the next day too which was great.
So, a big essay, but truly thank you so so much. I still think about my labour and birth often and whilst I questioned things and had to process a few aspects, to be able to look back on it and think that was amazing and so special and it all worked out how it was meant to work out is more than we could hope for. We now think that Ben not being in theatre meant I worked so hard in the pushing phase which meant the forceps delivery went smoothly - thinking this way has helped me come to terms with him not being in there! We felt informed and that's how we wanted to approach the experience.
Charlie is amazing, the smiles are magical and like everyone says, it makes it all worth it. She’s now 9 weeks!
Thank you Martyna for playing such a positive role in this experience for us!!