Updated: Feb 20, 2019
Guest Blog Post
With my second baby I had a very challenging pregnancy.
All day sickness throughout the pregnancy except 6 weeks in the middle, severe bouts of depression and from week 17 on I had very little control over my legs, caused through an hormonal imbalance making my hip joints loose long before they were meant to be, called SPD.
Pregnancy yoga with the wonderful Claire Osbourne (if you are in Co. Cork have a look here) was amazing and I kept going until by week 24 I wasn't able to drive by myself anymore. I really wanted to birth in water this time, I love water, it relaxes me and makes me feel safe. The only way to do that in Ireland is to birth at home, so after speaking with my husband we decided to go for it.
I remembered two of my friends, who recommended the same midwife, Elke, and she was the most wonderful support I could have wished for throughout the pregnancy and afterwards as well.
Another thing that helped getting through this pregnancy was my body painting, done by my wonderful friend Mary and photographed by the talented Kait Husmann (click here for her website!) at 34weeks. It was the first day in forever I felt good and fit and having the pictures helped me to believe I could have another good day.
It's hard to say when labour started. I know when active labour started, on the late afternoon of the 16th of June. But the first time I had contractions, regular and quite strong, was on the 31st of May. And they never went away again. Apparently, as I found out afterwards, it's called "prodromal labour", contractions which make minimal changes to your cervix. Some days (and nights) I had them once every hour, then they would move together, coming every 6 minutes, every 5, every 4 and then went back to 25 minutes in between. Every day I was tense, expecting this baby to arrive every second.
On Sunday, the 14th of June, we had an amazing day, went for a 1,5 hour walk in the bamboo garden in Glengarrif, a lovely community lunch in Bantry afterwards and then we drove the hour up to the next city, because we had tickets to a show I boldly booked a couple of weeks before. It was wonderful to have that evening, dinner with my
husband Dennis (and without our two year old, nothing that happens too often without family around) and then loads of belly laughs, which brought on regular contractions on the way home. I was convinced that night was the night and around 1am in the morning our wonderful midwife Elke and her student Tanja arrived. But nothing had changed; my cervix was still at 2cm. And after a sleepless night - at least for me, everyone else went to bed - Elke and Tanja left at 7am. Later that day I spoke to Elke on the phone and as much as I wanted to meet our baby boy and this very challenging pregnancy to be over I didn't want to end up in an induction room, so I managed through meditations and the wonderful affirmations “I trust my baby to come in the exactly right moment.” and “I let my baby chose when it's his time to come.”
to let go. That was all that baby needed.
On the 16th of June, at 39weeks, I lost big parts of my mucus plug in the morning and at lunch time. Also the contractions changed, they went deeper inside than before. I had a regular appointment with Elke at 2.30pm and I mentioned the change to her, but after the false start we said I can call her if this gets more intense. Then we talked about the set up of the pool, the way to fill it etc. and that we need to do a trial run when my husband Dennis is home from work.
After they left I sat down in front of the telly, but the contractions went up in frequency and intensity. First I asked our au pair Juliette to get me two paracetamol, to see if they would go away again, that was around 4.15pm and when nothing changed by 4.30pm I asked her if she saw me this much struggling with the contractions before (keep in mind she saw me for the last couple of weeks breathing through contractions! ).
She said "No, not really!" and I decided to leave our toddler with her and go take a shower to ease everything up until Dennis would arrive. He should have been there any minute.
I went into the shower, but the contractions didn't ease up, they got more intense. Lucan wanted to come in with me and I eventually had to send him out, bribed by "Curious George", because Juliette was too shy to come and get him and I couldn't deal with him in that moment.
At 5.20pm Dennis walked into the door, was sent up by Juliette and found me in full blown labour in the shower, giving him three things at a time to do between contractions. He was amazing, focused, listened and did hold me when I got out of the shower, so I could hang from his neck when a contraction came.
When I called Elke I had to put the phone down to breath through one surge and after hearing that she decided to better hurry up. She and her student Tanja arrived at 6.30pm, she had a quick look and I was 4cm dilated. She got very excited and announced: "Today is a birthday!" I loved her for the joy I saw in her eyes.
Shortly after my pool was filled, everything was ready and I got into the warm water. It was beautiful. Elke asked if I wanted music, but I didn't feel like. Throughout my pregnancy I prepared myself for exactly this moment, my body with my pelvic floor exercises and my mind with meditations, affirmations and self hypnosis and loads of positive birth stories. I had my affirmation sheets up and small tokens to give me energy on a small altar. It all paid off.
I was able to stay calm and focused through the entire transition and the second phase, I was all times in control and knew exactly what to do. Dennis was putting pressure on my hips through every contraction, it was exactly what I needed. I told Elke: "If I wouldn't know that I'm in transition right now I would tell you that I can't do this any longer!" She stroked my hair, smiled at me and said: "Tell me when you feel the pressure and the urge to push!"
Then the pushes started. So much pressure, but not really pain, just
pressure. I trusted my body and got into the position it wanted to be, on one knee, the other one up. After every surge Dennis would remind me to go to my happy place, the place I trained myself to go to in my mind to relax and come back focused and refreshed.
Also inbetween surges I touched my fairy wand and a little toy gorilla mama with her baby on the back, given to me by my friend Petra, filled with positive energy. That and looking at my affirmations, reading them, whispering them helped me to have the strenght for the next surge.
In the last weeks before labour I had a dream that he would be born in his amniotic sack, with the waters still intact, but at the beginning of the third push my waters broke with a big “plop” and went into the pool in a gush, at the end of it Aidan was crowning. I reached down, touched his head, his soft hair. I wanted to tell Dennis to feel, but the next push started and needed all my attention. I felt like I was very loud, screaming when the push started, then getting into deeper sounds, humming, singing. The head was born. And it knocked at the door. I remember thinking: "No, there is something with Lucan, I can't deal with this right now..." before the last and final push started. But it was only the second midwife, Mary, entering the room while I pushed Aidan's body out and reached down to lift him up and out of the water.
WELCOMING OUR BABY BOY
At 7.32pm, just an hour after Elke and Tanja arrived, our little wonder Aidan took his first breath. I couldn't have said how long it took, if someone had told me that it was 11pm I would have believed it too.
After long cuddles the chord was pale and I think Tanja cut it (Dennis didn’t want to) and then Aidan went over to his Daddy for skin to skin as I got out of the pool to deliver the placenta.
It took almost 45 minutes until the urge to push came back and did the trick. We tried letting Aidan feed, but he wasn't hungry and was already about an hour old when he first latched on. He met his big brother one hour after he was born. I was quite nervous about it, but in that moment everything was fine. The delight on Lucan's face, him telling Elke that there is a baby, the kisses and the gentle strokes, he absolutely adored his little brother and still does.
TEA AND TOAST AND A SHOWER
Then Dennis went upstairs to put Luke to bed, Elke and Tanja shared holding Aidan while I took a shower and then I was tucked up into bed with tea and toast and announced our baby boy's arrival to his grandparents just two hours after he was born.
I couldn't have wished for a better birthing experience and I'm so happy and grateful that I went for the home birth with this second pregnancy. It was the right choice for us in our circumstances, I don't think we would have made it to the hospital in time and having Aidan in the relaxed atmosphere of our living room with Lucan next door, surrounded by warm water and supporting, loving people was pure magic.
The strong woman in me honours the strong woman in you.
This blog post originally appeared on the Light Mothers site here.