When one of our lovely readers, Lucy, sent us her birth story we just had to share it with you. Not at all as she planned, but so perfect, and she was surrounded by the people she loves. Sometimes it’s not as you imagined but exactly as it should be.
Second babies come quicker. Everyone I ever spoke to while pregnant with my second child told me that. Ladies in the supermarket, my midwife, my friends, my mum. Brilliant, I thought. My daughter took 3 days and needed forceps to haul her into the world. Any advance on that would be good.
I did not expect a labour that lasted just under an hour.
I was 6 days overdue, and every one of those days felt like an eternity. I had tried everything- clary sage baths, bouncing on a birth ball (and a trampoline on a day out with my toddler…), spicy food. I had daily treatments from my acupuncturist mum. I put up and shut up when people I barely knew told me to get busy with my husband. I had had strong Braxton Hicks every evening for 3 weeks. Every night I got my hopes up. Every morning I woke up and nothing had happened.
Until that morning. My daughter woke me at about 5:45. She settled quickly back to sleep, but I felt strange. I had some strong twinges. I decided against going back to bed, and went to get a drink and something to eat. By the time I had pottered about for 20 minutes I realised this was the real thing, and woke up my husband and my mum, who was staying to take care of our little girl. We both had no idea she would soon be taking care of her big girl instead.
I was already having to breathe through the contractions, which made Mum nervous, although I was adamant that it would be hours yet. I dispatched my husband into the shower while she nervously pointed out I could be further on than I thought I was. To satisfy her, I phoned our local midwife-led unit where I planned to give birth. Nobody could answer the phone, so it was transferred to another unit, who promised to get someone to call me back. I got off the phone and needed the toilet.
While on the loo (sorry, this story isn’t glamorous… but then what labour is?!) the contractions became much more intense. My toddler woke and called for me. I couldn’t keep the discomfort out of my voice as I stumbled out of the bathroom. I couldn’t handle the return phone call- we would have to go the regional hub as the local unit had both rooms occupied. I began to strip off, complaining I was boiling hot. I also began to freak out a little- my hypnobirthing visualisations and borrowed TENS machine weren’t doing anything. Cue Mum’s horrified realisation that “shit, love, you’re in transition.” When your mother swears, you know things are serious.
I got onto our bed on all fours, as we hurriedly bundled the duvet out of harm’s way. The irresistible urge to bear down came over me- I felt the pressure of his head and body moving down. It was incredible- my epidural with my first had worn off at this point and I’d screamed and panicked from the pain. I felt none of that fear or pain, only intensity and excitement. I went inside myself, barely aware of my daughter’s wails from behind her bedroom door gate, or that my poor Mum and husband were playing a terrifying game of Chinese Whispers where he spoke to the 999 dispatcher and she stood ready to catch baby. Having taught NCT classes, she had enough knowledge to be very frightened by what was happening: what if baby’s shoulders got caught? What if I began to bleed?
Thankfully, neither of those things happened. Paddy steadily emerged into the world, caught by his Nannie with Daddy supporting his slippery body. I was ecstatic to see him, as his little body flushed red- he was so peaceful and relaxed, my rainbow baby. I held him close, amazed that I’d had the kind of birthing experience I had thought was bullshit. I genuinely felt no pain, only euphoria as my little boy latched onto my breast. It was just an hour since I had woken up- 6:45am.
The ambulance turned up about ten minutes later, and clamped his cord so my husband could cut it. They tried to give me gas and air to deliver the placenta- I took a couple of gasps to be polite but was high as a kite on endorphins anyway. As soon as it was delivered I demanded a shower- everyone was too nervous to stop me as I trashed the landing carpet and came back to feed Paddy again, just as a lovely midwife arrived. As it turned out, my old scar had opened and I needed stitches, but as soon as baby was checked and they were finished the ambulance was sent off and I was able to settle into newly changed bedlinen in my own bed with my precious baby beside me. Our toddler came in to see me, hold her new brother and steal my toast. Our world had changed.
I feel incredibly lucky to have had a birth like this, especially after my first experience, which left me with a dural puncture in the short term and nightmares and anxiety in the long term. Paddy is incredibly lucky to have the best Nannie in the world, the first face he saw as he entered it.
I think Mum, my husband and I would all prefer a professional midwife and planned homebirth if there’s a next time, mind.