Dawn's story - Florence's birth

My daughter is four weeks tomorrow and I’ve finally gotten round to writing my birth story. I really couldn’t have done it without the Positive Birth Company Digital pack. It was the best thing I bought during my pregnancy! The videos and book were great for me and my partner to learn together and he really loved it, and the affirmations and relaxations were wonderful for me and my anxiety during pregnancy and as my due date got closer. 
I had lots of scans at the end of my pregnancy, due to concerns about babies size/her fluid although things thankfully were normal. However I felt very anxious about it all, and focusing on my affirmations and birth prep really helped. At 39/40 I had an episode of reduced movements, and after getting checked out we saw an obstetrician who offered us an induction. My partner and I used BRAIN and spoke to our midwife, and I decided it wasn’t a good enough reason for us, and we carried on as normal. 
I reached my due date and tried hard to embrace the message from the digital pack about it being my ‘due from’ date rather than a deadline which did help! I had a midwife appointment and was offered a sweep which I accepted, and it showed there was some softening and changing, and we were excited things may start soon! Forty eight hours later, and still pregnant, my midwife came to see me at home and offered another sweep. We talked it over and agreed, but I felt if this didn’t work I wouldn’t have another. I then had the very bizarre situation of the midwife doing the sweep as our dishwasher was delivered and fitted! So I laughed my way through my sweep! I immediately lost lots of bloody mucus, and this continued all day. My partner and I went for a walk, napped, and had a very spicy dinner with a friend. I had some mild surges and so we practised with the TENS, and I found it really annoying and not at all a nice sensation. It all died off, and I went to bed very annoyed I was still pregnant! 
The next morning I woke up at about 5am and having period pains. I ignored them for an hour or so, then woke my partner after about an hour as they were becoming uncomfortable and I had to focus on them. We pottered about our flat for a few hours, lit some candles, put my diffuser on, watched FRIENDS and I had some porridge. At about 8ish it all died off a bit I thought and I got really cross and went to bed and cried as I was feeling frustrated.

Luckily, the surges ignored me and ramped up again and I had to get out of bed. We tried the TENS again and this time I really loved it! It was such a welcome distraction. I had been sat on the ball most of the time but soon needed to move and swat, and by about 1040 they were incredibly strong and I was kneeling or swaying on the sofa/my partner. 
I took some paracetamol (which did nothing!) and carried on, using my up breathing and the TENS to remain calm. We used FREYA but I found I preferred my partner to count my breathing for me, and I struggled if he wasn’t around for a surge. I didn’t enjoy being touched so none of the massage was used but I instead focused on my positive affirmations, especially ‘I am one surge closer to holding my baby’. 
At about 1130 I got in the bath with some essential oils I loved, which was nice but also not nice as I wanted to be submerged and couldn’t get comfy. I had lots of surges in the bath and started to panic sometimes as they felt very strong, and I wondered if I would be able to do this. The up-breathing and FREYA’s music really kept me calm as I had practised lots in the bath during pregnancy. 
Around 1230ish, my partner rang through to the birth centre as  I was wondering if I was going mad or if it was going somewhere and things felt very strong. They said to come in. It took us almost an hour to get me dressed, and down to the car, and I was needing to squat or swing from the sink during a surge, which made going down to the basement to get into the car fun..

I had to stop and squat on the stairs a few times, much to the amusement of people we passed on the way down. The car ride was only 16 minutes but was AWFUL, and was probably the hardest part. I couldn’t relax, and I couldn’t focus on my breathing or anything other than vocalising and writhing as I found being sat upright horrendous. 
We got to the birth centre for 1315ish and was seen by a lovely midwife who commented how calm I was. I had written in my birth plan that I was undecided about vaginal examinations; I was offered one and accepted. I was 3cm, and felt very deflated as I was finding every surge really hard work to remain calm and focused. The midwife felt things would get going soon so at around 1335 we went into a birthing room to mobilise. I started to struggle at times from here I really lost my focus at times and my partner was amazing at bringing me back and keeping me calm. The surges were one on top of each other, and felt so intense from beginning to end.  I kept saying I JUST WANT ONE MINUTE OF NOTHING! All I could do was try to breathe, and kept squatting and moving around the room. At about 1440ish I said to my partner I need to get in the pool or I need pain relief and I wondered how the heck I could do 10-15 hours of labour feeling like this.
The midwife examined me at about 1500 and I was 5cm and I jumped in the pool. I had hoped the pool would feel amazing, it was nice relief but didn’t remove the strength or intensity and I really missed my TENS. Soon I started to panic and I, in hindsight, hit transition rapidly. I genuinely thought I was dying and kept shouting at my partner and the student midwife that I couldn’t do it and to stop telling me I could do it! I couldn’t focus on my breathing I was in agony and really doubted my ability to cope. 
About 1530 I tried gas and air and this helped me slow my breathing down and bring me back to green. My labour playlist was on, and I could focus on my breathing again. I was feeling so much pressure and intensity, and could feel my body starting to push, which I was surprised by as I was 5cm half an hour before.

I had to let go and follow the pushing feeling. I couldn’t help it and it felt so nice to not fight the feeling. At about 1600 I told the midwife I could feel my body pushing and she just encouraged me to follow my instincts. She said she could see some vaginal gaping and I said I’m either having a baby or I want an epidural!!!! 
I couldn’t NOT push if I'd tried. It was so strong and overwhelming my body did it all. All I could do was try not to fight it. I didn’t consciously change to down breathing, but I felt the shift in what my body was doing. I had a strong urge to push with the surges and went with it, I imagined being calm and serene, but  instead I was very vocal and felt very primal. The midwives were amazing at telling me what they could see with each push, as my waters hadn’t gone they could see them advancing and I kept asking if they could see the head in there too. They could see her hair swishing in the waters apparently! 
At 1630 my best friend came as I wanted and was incredible, taking lots of photos and encouraging me as the intensity built and built. ‘One surge closer’ was all I could focus on now. 
At 1651, after being in the birth centre 3.5 hours my beautiful baby girl was born into my awaiting hands and I brought her up to my chest. I couldn’t, and can’t, believe I did it. I felt like a warrior, and cried and cried and cried! 
I 100% wouldn’t have had the birth experience I did without doing the digital pack. I credit it totally with helping me manage my anxiety in the lead up to the birth, and keeping me calm and focused in labour. Thank you thank you thank you! Our early days and weeks have been challenging - jaundice, being readmitted with an infection, tongue tie, breastfeeding challenges, but we are so grateful for our wonderful birth experience!