Everyone told me that she was going to come early. I was incredibly doubtful… mainly because I went 2 weeks overdue with George and didn’t want to get the expectation into my head that she would be with us earlier than expected. Things were all ready for her arrival at home though. We had the birth pool set up plus all the added extras. A week before I was due my wonderful midwife Ruth visited George and I at home. Baby was really engaged now and I couldn’t quite believe it. I had been having lots of Braxton hicks but because George was never fully engaged until just before delivery once again it was all new to me. The following night I started having contractions… they built up over a few hours and then disappeared after reaching a peak of 6 mins apart lasting 30secs.
Over the 6 days every second night I would have more contractions and pressure down low. I kept thinking this could be it but they would always fade away. On my due date, Ruth visited again and offered me a stretch and sweep which I was keen to try. I thought that surely with all this action I would be getting somewhere, and at least if she checked me and it wasn’t happening I could just forget about expecting a baby just yet. Ruth checked me and I was already 4 cms dilated, stretching to 5cm! I was so excited. I took some herbal tinctures to help, plus some castor oil and thought tonight is the night! But no, once again lots of contractions, not painful but strong but it all faded away.
The following day, Thursday I had abit of a show and more pains… but come Friday morning I had a big show and more tightenings but by this time I was reluctant to think anything of it. I went off to playgroup with George and Mum, there was no way I was going to wait around all day. While I was there I had more of a show and more contractions but not overly strong and not painful at all, something in me told me to go home and so we did. I put George down for a nap and they started getting stronger. I went outside, brought in the washing from the line, made up our bed with fresh sheets, cleaned the toilets and tided the house… talk about nesting! I rang Sean and told him that I think he ought to come home… the contractions were every 4 mins lasting 45secs then and something told me that tonight was the night. George had always said that baby was going to come on Friday… and it seemed like he was going to be right!
Ruth then phoned and after talking to me decided to come around, she advised to get the pool ready. I suddenly felt abit panicky thinking that this was just another false alarm and I was going to disappoint everyone. Sean got home and was really excited…he started lighting candles and oils and got the pool ready. Ruth arrived and after abit of observing she checked me and I was 5cms stretching to 6 and looking like it was still going to be awhile. I felt disappointed as I really didn’t want to have everyone there waiting on me… I started thinking about asking Ruth to break my waters but I would wait a while longer to see what happens.
My Mum came to take George away for a couple of hours to play and we were able to focus on the labour and getting these contractions going. I had lots more show over the coming hours and the contractions were regular and lasting a long time but not painful at all for me and I really was getting frustrated… I wanted some action! At 5pm we decided that we’d break my waters, after Ruth did this contractions slowed for abit. I hopped into the pool to wait for them to get stronger. Evelina the support midwife arrived and I knew then this was all definitely going to happen. I started thinking back to the books that Ruth had lent me on natural labours. I really focussed on each contraction and kept my mouth relaxed and open and knelt wide legs in the water until the contraction started peaking and then went on all fours squatting backwards during the peak and easing of each contraction. This was my little routine the whole time.
At around 6pm I needed to go to the toilet. Wow, that was an experience I don’t want to repeat anytime soon. I had a bowel movement and contractions at the same time, I had to have Sean in the toilet with me as I was shaking so much and then he proceeded to put on the bathroom sucker thingee (that takes the steam out) which really annoyed me. I rushed back to the pool and vowed that there was no way I was leaving the pool now.
George and Mum came back at 6.45pm and George wanted to come into the pool with me which I didn’t mind. Contractions were coming every 3 mins lasting 60 secs but I thought I could cope with George. He was so excited but then he started splashing about and this frustrated Sean and so the plan was to get George ready for bed asap so he was out of the way for now. Contractions were heating up now and I kept doing my visualisation and really went with each one. Ruth kept checking baby’s heartrate after every third or fourth contraction and she was doing really well. Heartrate was strong. Around 8pm I really started to feel a lot of pressure and pain and was having to grunt through each contraction on my hands and knees in the water. I remember thinking that if this kept up for too long I didn’t think I could do it. Between contractions I’d look up and see Ruth, Sean and Mum all watching me and silently willing me on. I really took strength from their gazes and Ruth would often say to me that I was doing so well and that I was getting closer.
Suddenly at around 8.30pm I felt this shift inside of me and I could feel baby’s head move down and push against my perineum. I called out ‘Oh my god, Ruth’ and she came around behind me (I was on all fours still in the pool). I knew then that this was it and I was going to start to push very soon. It was like I was on a different plain and I could hear everything going on around me but I was only in tune with my body and its rhythm of pushing this little being out. I started pushing at 8.39pm according to my notes. I remember pushing the first time and I felt the head crown and then it slipped inside at the end of the contraction. I could hear Sean and Mum both saying ‘Oh my god’, and Mum said, ‘Look at all that hair’. I breathed quickly through the break in the contraction and urged another one on. It was so painful but it felt really good to be doing something constructive and getting so close to seeing our little girl. With the next contraction I pushed long and steadily and felt the head come right out. I could hear Mum crying and Ruth was being so encouraging, Sean was saying ‘Oh wow’. I assume he would have had his hands on her at this point as he was going to catch her. The fact that I was on all fours meant that she was facing them all… oh I wish I could have seen her face. It felt like I was pushing for around 20 mins and that the break between contractions was an eternity. With the next contraction I pushed so hard and knew that this was it. Out she came and with that feeling it was like I woke up suddenly. Sean and Ruth passed her through my legs to me and I sat back…and there she was. It was amazing. He had a head of black hair and was an unexpected colour. Not blue or purple as I expected but more grey with vernix but I could see she was pinking up. She took a good minute to breathe… slowly moving her little face and twitching her nose. It wasn’t scary at all as I could see she was alive and just gently entering the world.
She was born at 8.45pm. 6 mins of pushing…amazing. Our darling little girl… after a few minutes of watching her cry and then settle and then cry again we realised that we actually hadn’t checked to make sure she was a girl! But there they were, all the right bits in tact. I thought her crying would wake George up and was hoping it would a little but he slept until the morning and met her then.
After a while Sean cut the cord which seemed quite short and then I had to birth the placenta which was quite painful… that took a good 30-40 mins. A tricky thing to do when you have a baby in your arms, your legs are numb and its bloody sore. But it was a great achievement to do the entire labour drug free including the third stage.
I got out of the pool after the placenta was birthed and lay on the couch with our darling Rosa Maria Grace. She was squirming away and tried to latch on the breast but would then not be interested. She was weighed about 20 mins later after a 10 min feed and she was 8lbs 13oz, 53.5 cms long with a head circumference of 37cm. Perfect little girl but a lot heavier than I thought she’d be. I felt so empowered that I had birthed this reasonably big baby naturally with just a small graze. It was such a different experience to my hospital induction with George. She was born into the world to the Indian Sitar beats of Ravi Shankar in our home, which is now full of even more love than before.
Welcome to the world Rosa Maria Grace… we love you so much.