From Home to Hypno to Hospital - My Birth Story
This story is somehow the easiest I'll ever write and yet the most difficult to put into words at the same time; It was months before I sat down and wrote about my birth story with Archie—a straightforward, mostly uncomplicated, labour. This time round I'm desperate to tell our story whilst it's still fresh in my mind and let others know how I now feel about hypnobirthing, homebirthing and labouring in general. It's a story that took so many different turns; it was empowering, dramatic, scary and incredible all at once and even after a close shave, the end result was so much better than we could've ever imagined, so here it is, the birth story of a beautiful boy named Jesse Blue.
At 3 days overdue, I was asked to come into the hospital for a check-up as my own midwife was away for the week; at our appointment, they did all the usual check-ups on baby's heartbeat, my blood pressure etc. all of which were fine and then talked me through what to do when labour started and when to call the on-call midwives (as I was booked in for a home birth) and offered me a stretch & sweep. I wasn't planning on accepting but as my midwife was away, the next time I would be offered one would be the following week and as the consultant wasn't happy with me going more than 10 days overdue (due to baby measuring smaller than average, but healthy, on scans), I felt it would be stressful to wait, so decided to go for it.
This was where my hypnobirthing breathing started to come into effect; we were told I was 2cm dilated and nearly fully effaced, but baby's head had dropped so low so fast that my cervix had been pushed to the back, so she pulled my cervix round to the front (not the nicest thought for the faint-hearted) so it was in the optimum position and did the stretch & sweep. Everything looked favourable and she said she'd be amazed if it didn't work within 48 hours so off we went, excited for things to begin!
I felt uncomfortable for the rest of the day and started to experience a few mild cramp-like pains in the evening that we really thought could be the start of labour, but I fell asleep and woke up in the morning feeling absolutely fine (except a little teary and frustrated as I really thought I'd have a baby by that point).
Mr J was at work, so my Mum and I decided to go for a huge walk with Archie around the local park and see if things would start up again. We had a really gorgeous morning in the sun, pushing A around on his smart trike, and letting him play on the park. I felt pretty uncomfortable but no pains, so I really pushed myself and we probably ended up walking a good couple of miles by the end of it.
On the drive home, I experienced a couple of contraction-like cramps but didn't think much of it as I thought it may be false labour again. Archie fell asleep so I carried him up to bed and decided to make the most of my toddler-free time by watching TOWIE and eating cold pizza.
Over the next hour, the pains started to come thick & fast. I was pretty annoyed that I couldn't concentrate on who was calling who a slag on TOWIE and I couldn't even enjoy my cold Domino's through the strength of the pain. I was WhatsApping the girls throughout the hour as I wasn't really convinced about what was going on and they eventually convinced me to let someone know what was happening, here's a bit of that convo:
I wanted to be sure I was experiencing real labour and as I felt pretty calm & excited, I wasn't sure at first and thought the pains might ebb away, but when they started to come every 4-5 minutes, I called Mr J to let him know he probably needed to come home and decided to give up on TOWIE/pizza to sit downstairs and see how things might progress. They started to get stronger and more intense so I called my Mum & Dad to pop round and wait with me until Mr J got back; all I remember is that, bless them, they were running around clearing up the house ready for the midwives to come and I just wanted them to sit down and allow me to relax; all I wanted was my hypnobirthing relaxations and for quiet and calm to allow me to breathe through each contraction.
The midwife arrived and once Mr J finally returned from work, my parents decided to go home for a while and come back to pick Archie up when he decided to wake from his monster nap (I think he'd been asleep for around 2 hours by this point and slept for nearly 3 in the end - almost as if he somehow knew everything was happening downstairs). Mr J started to get the pool out but I told him to stop as I honestly didn't feel as if I wanted to get into water at all (anyone want to buy a birth pool?) and I felt as if things were going to progress too quickly for that, considering the intensity of the contractions already. The midwife arrived and examined me at around 2pm and I was 5cm dilated. Archie woke shortly after and my parents came round to pick him up; I thought he'd struggle to see me in pain but at this point I was feeling ok inbetween contractions so I suppose he just thought Mummy was being a bit weird and off he went.
For the whole time I was home, I sat on our sofa with the recliner out and I listened to my hypnobirthing relaxations through our Apple TV. I remember visualising a wave coming in with each one and I imagined it was the pain that I was pushing back out each time and that seemed to get me through them. I was able to talk calmly between contractions to the midwives/Mr J at this point; I let them know I didn't want to be offered pain relief and I honestly wasn't bothered about the language they used, but I just wanted to be left to my own devices as much as possible which they greatly respected.
By this point, my contractions were becoming really quite strong and I was on all fours with my head buried in the cushions moaning through them, but I was still managing well. I'd been to the toilet for a wee a few times and noticed I had a small amount of fresh bleeding each time which I mentioned but the midwife said it was probably a show. I felt at this point as if the contractions should be closer together as they felt seriously intense and something was telling me things weren't progressing quite as they should.
She decided to examine me again, and I was 7cm dilated; the midwives took my temperature and it was starting to rise and after the examination, my waters felt as if they had broken (which they had) but it was only dribbling (with Archie, I had a huge gush) and apparently more blood than normal was shedding.
The abnormal bleeding and the fact my temperature was rising rang alarm bells for the midwives and at this point they decided an ambulance needed to be called and I needed to head in to be monitored; thankfully at no point did the baby appear distressed, but they were more concerned about me (and potentially pre-eclampsia, which I didn't realise until after delivery). My poor Mum decided to pop round at this exact moment and she must've only experienced the frantic packing-up of apparatus, me in horrendous pain and Mr J rushing around to get our bags together. I couldn't speak as the pain was now extremely intense and the thought of a bumpy ambulance ride was horrific to me, but I wanted whatever was best for the both of us.
I was stretchered into the ambulance and Mr J rode in the front whilst I was in the back with another paramedic and our midwife. All I recall was this seriously intense discomfort right in my lower back/bum (I later found out this was due to baby being in a super awkward position) and my hands were constantly underneath my back as I was trying to tilt myself up. The paramedics were fantastic but the guy kept constantly offering me gas & air, which I had to keep refusing! Honestly, I would happily have accepted some relief by that point, but gas & air did almost nothing for me with Archie except make me feel ill and woozy and that was the last thing I wanted with what was already going on. He also tried to put a cannula into my hand on the way until we hit a bump in the road and it flew out (nice, huh?).
Once we arrived at the hospital (after a seriously quick, sirens-and-all ride), I was rushed to delivery suite and things started to become a bit of a blur. On arrival, we were only being looked after by one midwife who hooked us up to the monitor to check baby and said she was going to examine me to see if I'd progressed and whether I was ready to push. I suddenly started to feel really nauseous and faint and I was so sure I was going to pass out. Forget the pain, it was at this point I became seriously frightened. My blood pressure started to drop, my hearing was becoming quieter and quieter and I was so floppy, I couldn't keep my eyes open. Thankfully, they hooked me up to a cannula quickly and got a bag of fluids into my body, and I started to come around just before I passed out.
The midwife left the room briefly whilst I started having another contraction and the baby's heartbeat dropped quite low; probably the worst sound I'll ever hear in my life. I was in the most severe pain I'd ever felt, I could barely think straight, yet as soon as she entered the room, I blurted out that the baby's heartbeat was dropping. Bless Mr J, he kept trying to keep me calm and say everything was ok but I knew it wasn't. The midwife checked and said all was normal but I'm guessing she was trying to keep us calm as before I knew it, alot of people had rushed into the room and we met a lovely doctor who told us she was going to check me and listen to baby and let us know what needed to happen.
She told us that she was worried about baby, and that they needed to arrive pretty fast; she said they were going to prep theatre for a ventouse delivery or an emergency c-section but she really would love me to have this baby naturally before that happened. She examined me and I was 9.5cm (seriously!!) but with a wriggle she thought she could get me to 10cm.
As I was being pushed down to theatre, the urge to push hit me intensely; I was taken in and at this point I had no clue what was going on as there were so many people around. A lovely midwife grabbed my hand and told me everything would be ok and the doctor was talking me through everything that was about to happen. They put my legs in stirrups and Mr J was finally brought in wearing his scrubs; He later told me there were loads of people running around, getting all sorts of instruments ready, but the doctor was adamant I could push the baby out by myself, and so I did!
4 minutes after becoming fully dilated and 4 pushes later, baby #2 was born kicking and screaming (and I mean screaming); he was placed on me immediately yet I remember being sad that I didn't have instant skin-to-skin due to being in theatre and wearing a hospital gown. He was born with the cord around his neck (which we originally thought was causing his distress, but turns out it wasn't an issue and is fairly common) and Mr J told me that we had a boy! I've never heard such raw emotion, excitement and relief in his words; it was literally one of the most ecstatic moments of my life. He later told me he was just so happy we were both ok and it just all came rushing out in that moment of instant relief.
After that, he cut the cord and baby was checked and had a perfect apgar score and showed no signs of being distressed; I was cleaned up and the majority of the staff congratulated us and left. The doctor stayed behind to ensure I had no blood clots left after the placenta was born and told me they were sending it off to be tested due to the abnormal bleeding I experienced throughout labour.
After that, we were taken back through to the room we were in before and left to enjoy our new baby! I honestly couldn't express the happiness we felt that everything had turned out so well in the end and Jesse Blue was finally with us and perfectly healthy when things could've been so much worse. We called our families and my Mum and Dad were so choked up; we were all blubbing, they must've been so worried about me but thankfully from leaving home to having little J, it was actually less than an hour, whereas to me it felt like forever.
Every single NHS staff member we encountered were absolutely fantastic and I have no doubt in my mind, they are all the reason we are both here and are safe today. There were so many questions about the labour and why things had gone the way they did considering I was low-risk and should've had a straightforward birth. We were amazed to have been given the answers to all of our questions within hours of Jesse's arrival and here's what had happened:
When you birth the placenta after having a baby, your body introduces a blood clot behind it, which pushes it off the uterine wall and out of your body. The placenta is obviously a baby's source of oxygen when they're in your uterus. My placenta, for some reason, had started to come away whilst baby was still inside, causing the bleeding. Thankfully, by the time little J arrived, only 30% had come away from the uterine wall, meaning he was still receiving 70% oxygen, enough to sustain him at the time. He was checked after birth and though his levels were slightly low, they were of no serious concern, otherwise there's no way they would've let him stay with us and he would've been rushed to SCBU.
What we later found out, was that another 30 minutes inside, and the placenta would've come away completely leaving Jesse with no oxygen and no way to breathe. This, obviously, would've been extremely serious and it doesn't bear thinking about how things could have ended if another half hour had passed.
It may not have been the birth story I hoped for, but when I forget the drama and realise I had no pain relief, used hypnobirthing successfully throughout to remain calm and in control, no tearing and a seriously short second stage with a natural delivery, I can be proud of myself and what I managed to achieve.
I spent that night in the hospital with little J, and we were home by the following afternoon. I am just so grateful to each and every member of staff who looked after us, from pre to post birth and the negatives are already becoming hazy. My second baby boy is here, he's wonderful and we've been enjoying every single second with him, knowing things could've been so much worse.
I just want to say thankyou for all the wonderful message and comments I've received since Jesse Blue was born; I've been so overwhelmed and have loved reading them all. There's also a short video (bypassing the drama) of my birth story on YouTube that you can watch below: