“After having Braxton Hicks and other pre-labour symptoms over the past month, I had a feeling my baby was going to arrive early – and in the middle of the night. However three days before I was due to start maternity leave was much sooner than I ever anticipated.
As the Braxton Hicks kicked in on the evening of Tuesday January 28th, I packed myself off to bed with my iPod to listen to the hypnobirthing scripts not thinking they were anything than more of the same.
When my husband came to bed a short while later I couldn’t get comfortable. I bounced on my birthing ball and paced around the flat. Almost certain I’d lost my plug I decided to call the hospital for advice. When they didn’t answer after a couple of tries my gut instinct kicked in again and I told my husband Pete we should go to Whipps Cross and be checked out.
Leaving home I told Pete to take the two bags I’d finished preparing over the weekend for both my baby and me. As he was jamming my birthing ball into the back of the car I could tell he was thinking it was a false alarm. With hindsight, I’m relieved to be a real forward planner.
Arriving at triage I was given a room and examined by a student midwife. She decided to call a doctor. He checked me and confirmed I was in active labour and 3cm dilated. Despite my suggestions to have his man bag packed Pete announced he needed to go back home as he’d left totally unprepared for that result.
The doctor said he wanted to admit me and advised against me leaving with Pete. There was no way I wanted to return to the car anyway. I was told I couldn’t go to my first choice of the Lilac birthing centre as the baby was 36 weeks and six days so would be classed as premature, albeit by a day.
Instead I was shown to the Mulberry labour ward. Offered a bed across from a woman playing loud music (who refused to turn it down) I was concerned I wouldn’t able to focus on my hypnobirthing scripts. Thankfully they found me a private room instead.
Pete set up the iPod dock and the hypnobirthing playlist was switched on. I was told they would return to examine me in three hours, so Pete decided he could drive home and get what he needed. He did suggest coming back in three hours and was firmly told by me to return ASAP. Thankfully he was back within an hour. He only admitted to me on our second day at home he’d nipped for a drive-thru McDonalds as he expected labour to drag out.
During the time I was left alone I tried bouncing on my ball but found the most relief walking around the room or sitting on the hard chair provided and raising myself up to push the pressure into my arms as the surges kicked in.
By the time Pete had returned I was lying on my side on the bed and curling into the fetal position during the most intense surges. Pete began timing them and as the surges started coming faster and more powerfully my waters broke, swiftly followed by the membranes popping. I urged Pete to advise the staff, and they told him it would still be some time before I needed examined again. How wrong they were.
As the surges quickly went from every 10 minutes to two minutes apart, I began to have my wobble (transition or self doubt phase). Screaming for gas and air, at that point I told Pete if I hadn’t dilated further and there was more to come then I wanted an epidural. Truthfully it came out more as a barrage of swear words and a yell for drugs.
Realising what it was Pete told me, this might be my wobble and to wait and see if I still felt the same in 10 minutes. We didn’t even get that far. Minutes later I felt the urge to push and shouted at him to get someone to examine me.
He said the staff looked at him as if they’d seen it all before – a dad panicking for no reason. But once they started to examine me and I continued to repeat that I was now actually pushing they confirmed I was 9cm dilated and we were going to the delivery room.
I rolled on to a stretcher completely lucid enough to think to myself I hoped the baby wouldn’t pop out while we were going down in the lift. As I crawled on to a bed in the delivery suite I asked if I could finally have some gas and air. I sucked in the first puff and began pushing in earnest.
With good intentions to practice my birth breathing on the two and a half weeks of my maternity leave I thought I had before my due date at this point I realised it was the one area of the hypnobirthing I really should have dedicated more time to.
The midwives were exceptional in advising me what to do, and Pete supplemented them with his positive words of encouragement. He didn’t even flinch when I crushed his hand the entire time.
But as I lost my focus and started to scream instead of breathing down, I was told to concentrate as I was almost there. And if I didn’t, the baby would be distressed.
I could hear Jo in my head repeating a line in one of the scripts I connected with the most. “You can do this, it’s what you want.” And immediately I felt angry with myself for getting so far and losing concentration. It gave me a boost of energy to push with all my might and out popped my son Henry Alfred Carr at 5.58am on Wednesday January 29th.
My labour took me 5 hours. The midwives couldn’t believe how fast it all went – and neither could Pete.
My placenta was less quick to move and after waiting for it to be delivered naturally for around 20 minutes, I was more interested in holding my son and said I was happy to have the injection, which worked within minutes.
I also agreed to Henry having the vitamin K injection, although in my birth plan I stated I wanted it orally. They advised as he was early this was the safest option for his immune system. At the end of the day I was simply elated that my baby had arrived safe and well – and so fast.
I have no doubt that without hypnobirthing – and the wonderful guidance of Jo – my birth story would be very different. I raved about the technique to every member of staff I met in hospital. We stayed in for two nights as Henry’s blood sugar was low so needed monitoring.
Even the most experienced midwives were shocked that a first time baby could arrive so fast. And as I type this and look down on my calm, happy hypno baby I know that he too has benefited from the experience.
We are both in the most elated zone. I feel absolutely on top of the world, having only needed two small stitches. Hypnobirthing changed my life – and made the start of my son’s life the most serene I could ever imagine.
Jo, I know you’re a modest lady but you truly work magic. There are not enough compliments under the sun I can pay you – or ever thank you enough.
Fellow hypnomums, thanks for reading my very long story. I hope that you have as equally wonderful birthing experiences.
Anyone going to Whipps Cross also be reassured that the staff there are first rate. Throughout the entire experience I could not fault them. Who knows where my birthing ball is though…”