The Birth of Grace………..

‘‘This baby is coming today’’ were the words we were met with at what I had hoped would be a quick check up. I was 36 weeks pregnant and just two days into my maternity leave. About a week prior to this I had started to feel strange. Something just not quite right. I was so swollen that one of my colleagues charmingly began referring to me as ‘moonface’. Nausea and vomiting set in and soon I was feeling pain in my abdomen. High blood pressure, protein in my wee, yep, I had Pre Eclampsia. The symptoms of this life threatening condition mirror those of late pregnancy in a lot of cases so I am so glad I followed my instinct, squidged my giant feet into flip flops (in December!) and waddled onto the labour ward.

This diagnosis meant an induction for me. My heart sank as IV lines were placed in both my hands, a urinary catheter was placed and my bump was strapped up for continuous monitoring. I could see my active birth plan disappearing before my eyes.

Once the idea had sunk in, shock dissipated and my husband and I felt a sense of calm. Our hypnobirthing practice kicked in. We both knew we needed to keep oxytocin flowing and that we were determined to have the best experience possible. Our antenatal classes taught us enough about induction to not fear it. Our tonic was laughter. We cracked on the TV, plenty of comedy and snacks. Not what I had had in mind but it worked. Oxytocin in it’s natural form was taking charge in the process. I felt relaxed and in control in very adverse conditions. My surges soon came thick and fast and little Grace would soon make an appearance. I found the sensations very powerful but not painful. My main source of discomfort came largely from having very restricted access to water. I reached for gas and air in the end stages which I thought was wonderful. It took the edge off whilst still allowing me to feel what was happening. It also kept my breathing under control. I decided to birth lying on my side. I had learned this was a good pelvic opening option if more active birthing wasn’t possible.

So she was here. A very short umbilical cord had her sat at the bottom of the bed but soon she was in our arms, tiny, safe and perfect. An amazing experience with fantastic care from the NHS in the following days as we recovered in hospital.

the birth of molly……….

Throughout my second pregnancy I was feeling very confident and excited about the birth of our second daughter. There was always a niggle of concern that I would develop pre eclampsia again but my biggest anxiety was the thought of leaving my eldest daughter behind while was I whisked to hospital to give birth. Not really ever having left her with anyone other than my husband overnight I expressed my fears to my midwife. Her swift response was to have a homebirth.

I was absolutely overjoyed at this prospect having considered that this was off the cards for me as a result of my ‘high risk’ pregnancy. My husband was in agreement and we were soon in discussion with the amazing Cygnet Home Birthing Team.

I was 40+4 the day that Molly decided she was ready to meet us. I woke in the morning having regular Braxton Hicks type sensations and didn’t think a great deal of it. I stayed in bed and suggested to my husband that he take the noisy 2 year old out for a while so I could relax. My surges became stronger but again nothing of particular note so I ran a nice warm bath, applied a face pack and listened to my hypnobirthing relaxations. As I got out I proceeded to vomit which was probably the first time I had considered I might be in labour.

I excitedly hoovered and tidied ready to welcome the midwives………and our baby! I jiggled about on the birthing ball and decided it was probably time to call both the labour ward and my husband.

My surges stepped up. I remained calm and relaxed but felt a sense of vulnerability that I hadn’t in my first labour. I really needed my husband close by.

I opted for a vaginal examination when the midwife arrived. As with everything in my life I am a control freak and was keen to know how things were going. I was 2cm dilated. The midwife went on her way and with the arrival of my Mum to take on childcare duties we nipped to the shops as we were desperately low on toilet roll! I really felt every bump in the road and with a walk in the sunshine when we returned not being terribly easy I opted to call the midwife back.

Again I requested an examination and was thrilled at being 7cm. Things had progressed quickly and continued to do so from there. As I felt the downward pushing sensations begin I reached for some gas and air. I gripped onto my husband’s hand and felt so secure in the care being provided.

I used my birthing ball as support in an all fours position. My waters felt like they exploded and with a few further surges Molly was here.

Like her sister her umbilical cord was very short so we waited for optimal cord clamping before the most wonderful hour of cuddles and feeds. Grace waited patiently with Granny before meeting her brand new little sister. I think she was more taken with the lovely midwives who entertained her with shadow puppets!

To all curl up together in bed just hours after birth was bliss.