On Saturday 24thMarch I felt heavy and sick and couldn’t get out of bed. I had a feeling this was my body’s way of getting me prepared for birth - it had to shut down and rest in order for me to have the energy I needed for labour.
That night at 2am, the contractions started, it felt like period pains, which I remember thinking was strange as I’d not had those kind of twinges in nearly a year. I didn’t do anything as they werent powerful enough for me to be fully awake. Plus I had told myself these could go on for days so it was best to chill and ride them out.
On Sunday 25th, in the morning, I told my husband Alex that the contractions had started. They felt like steady, achy waves crashing in at regular intervals but I didn’t time them. I just kept thinking this will go on for a while.
Alex and I decided it may be best for Lily, my step-daughter to go to her mum's that night but that didn’t go down well understandbly. As we couldn’t bear the idea of sending her off and cementing all those fears she had around the baby’s arrival, we decided to have her stay with us. I was pretty sure I could hold out another evening until she was at school!
Alex took Lily out for the day to give me some downtime and my sister Hannah came over and helped me cook. It was a good distraction. She'd had two positive births herself, so it was wonderful to have her alongside, knowing she knew what to expect. She later told me that she was pretty sure I was going to go into labour that night as she could see how regular the contractions were. I also alerted Jane my doula about the contractions but again was very blasé about it.
That night after Alex put Lily down to sleep he came into the bedroom and I reassured him all was fine and I would have another night of contractions. He went back into Lily’s room and ten minutes later I messaged him asking him to get the tens machine. It had suddenly kicked off!
I remember the sudden increase in intensity. The tens machine helped, mostly because I was so distracted by it. I kept turning it off by mistake or pressing the button at the wrong time. ( I remember feeling I was on a game show with one of those buzzers you press when you know the answer! )
The next rush came when I went to the loo, my waters broke and I started trembling. I felt cold but had the hot sweats, and at that point I knew my body was taking over. I felt like an animal at that point, it was so physical. I didn’t stop trembling until after the birth.
I was on and off the loo as it offered some passing relief. I also sat with my front towards the cistern which helped a little. There was no position that gave total relief. I just kept moving from loo to room and back again until I felt the baby drop in my lower back.
Alex was being incredible at this point ( he was assertive but gentle, attentive but left me alone when I needed it and he was steady all the way). He wanted to call the doula ( I think he was pancking a little!) but I kept putting him off saying I was fine, I knew that for as long as I could speak I didn’t want anyone else there. It was an intimate and private process. I only wanted Alex there at that point (having said that, at the start I didn’t want him there when I was on the loo but then I was like ‘ fuck it, im too in this to care anymore!’ )
It was when I started making noises like a woman posessed that I said to Alex it was time for Jane to come. I started pushing shortly after that, I was on the bathroom floor, and heaving. I threw up too. I knew the baby was on her way ( in fact I felt she had wanted to come for about a week as she had been so low but I hadn’t been ready – needed some netflix and chill time (!) but now I was ready, I felt I’d given her and myself, permssion to come ).
I remember saying to Alex in between contractions that if I didn’t go downstairs there and then I would be having the baby in the bathroom.Jane had arrived at this point and because I had my eye mask on they both lead me down the stairs blind.
I was desperate to get into the birth pool but it turns out our tank only holds so much hot water, so Alex was going back forth putting the kettle on and boiling water on the stove.
We had planned for there to be candles and relaxing music but the former was totally forgotten and when Alex came into the room with my phone which was still playing meditation music from hours before I screamed at him saying ‘NOT NOW’
I did however remember the lavender on a cloth to breathe and that helped. I totally forgot the frankincense or rather I didn’t have it in me to try and ask for it. I didn’t want a conversation!
I was quite lucid in that I knew what was happening around me but that I was also totally in the zone,. I remember lots of noises and colours. It was like a David Lynch film.
I only got into the pool 15 minutes before the baby came ( and it was such a nice feeling when I finally got in!) and just before Frances the midwife came. I was pushng so hard and there was a moment where I thought ‘how is this physically possible?’ I just wanted to end the horrible intense waves of dull pain and get her out. I used everything I had. I pushed so hard.
Then I felt the ‘ ring of fire’ and that was like no feeling I'd ever had. It was a strong , hard, forceful burning stinging sensation BUT I knew that meant she was moments away!!!
I breathed through it and I felt her head and then pop, the rest of her. I heard voices say ‘ pick her up pick her up’ and I thought ‘ oh fuck this is it, ive just given birth!!!!’
I picked her up, put her on my chest and took off my eye mask and saw my baby Clementine for the first time ( and the midwife and doula ! ) I think the next line that came out of my mouth was ‘ im having a C section nect time!’ but biology is an incredible thing and with months between then and now. I look back at birth and think what an utterly exhilerating, incredibly special, POWERFUL act of nature it is.