I went into labour two days past my "due date". It started with what I thought were some rather intense Braxton Hicks just after midnight. I didn't think much of them, I'd been getting them for months, and drifted back to sleep.
An hour or two later I woke up to the tightening feelings again. Only this time they were a bit too intense to go back to sleep and starting to come in waves. I was getting a bit excited by now - maybe this was the start of labour! Having being induced at 40 weeks + 10 days with my first baby, Edie, I was unsure what it was like to go into labourspontaneously.
I started timing and the waves were about 10 - 15 mins apart. In the back of my mind were the repeated warnings from my recent midwife appointments to leave for the hospital as soon as my surges were 10 mins apart - we live an hour away from the hospital and it's a bit of a goat track to get there. But the surges were so mild that I really wasn't too concerned (or even convinced they were surges!) so I settled down in front of the TV with some snacks and continued timing. I practised my calm breathing during and between each wave and stayed as relaxed as possible.
By 6am-6.30am the surges were 10 minutes apart but still far from intense. I woke my partner Josh and we decided to call the midwifery ward to ask their advice. The advice was clear - "leave now!". It was almost as if that triggered my labour to really kick into gear! Within minutes my surges had more than doubled in intensity and I had to lean on the kitchen bench for support. Luckily my toddler was still fast asleep in bed oblivious to the commotion and my parents were staying with us at the time so we were able to get out the door pretty quickly. Let's just say it was a fairly tense drive to hospital (especially when I tried to switch on my TENS Machine only to discover it had flat batteries -doh!) but I managed to stay calm throughout my surges, which were now coming every couple of minutes. I put into practice my surge breathing - long, slow deep breaths in and out - visualising my breath filling up a balloon in my tummy at the beginning of every wave, and letting it deflate as the surge passed (as well as squeezing the hell out of the overhead door handle!!!) In the back of my mind I wondered if we should call an ambulance to meet us but we drove on and Josh called the hospital to ask for someone to make sure there was a wheelchair available at the entrance. Walking was completely out of the question by this stage.
The midwife who greeted us when we arrived obviously didn't think my labour was very established, I suppose I probably didn't look like I was in active labour - I was quiet and 100% focused on breathing through the surges. She moved us into the birthing suite and helped me out of the wheelchair to the toilet. Within minutes I felt the urge to bear down. By now the senior midwife had arrived and realised this baby was only moments away. She had to literally sound an alarm (not ideal!) for backup as the first midwife had left to teach the monthly birthing class! With all the commotion at this stage it was getting very hard to stay focused and I had that classic "I don't think I can do this" moment. The surges were almost back-to-back now and I suddenly let out this humongous involuntary groan as baby's head moved down and my waters released. By now I was standing in the doorway of the birthing suite and the bathroom, using the door arches for support. Two more midwives had arrived and I think it was only half a dozen more surges and the baby was crowning! I hadn't even had time to strip down to my underwear. I remember the senior midwife encouraging me, telling me how wonderfully I was doing, and not to push. I felt no need to - my body was doing this completely on its own. One more surge and our beautiful baby boy Jem arrived earthside, less than 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital. I simply couldn't believe it!
Because of his quick descent down the birth canal, it took a good minute or so for Jem to draw his first breath (it felt like eternity) and unfortunately the midwives had to cut the cord almost immediately to work on him. But he was soon in my arms, perfectly healthy, all 8 pounds, 8 ounces of him. I'm not sure what Josh and I were moresurprised about, the fact our baby had made such a speedy entrance or that it was a boy! We were totally convinced it was another little girl. For hours afterwards we just kept looking at eachother and bursting into laughter and tears. Pure joy.
The recovery from this birth compared to my first was quite a contrast. First time around I was in active labour for 12 hours and utterly exhausted by the end, physically and emotionally. Because I was induced, my surges came on hard and fast right from the start and I was being constantly monitored and checked due to being GBS positive. It felt like I'd lost sight of the many Hypnobirthing techniques I'd spent months and months practising. In the end it was perfectly fine as my 9 pound daughter was born happy and healthy. In hindsight I now know that in fact I did use a lot of the tools I learned and actually did an AMAZING job. It was just hard to see at the time, and Corinne helped me unpack some of these feelings during a refresher course before the birth of Jem.
This time, however, I felt physically and mentally fantastic - no grazes or tearing and none of those horrid "baby blues" I'd experienced the first time - I was literally on a high for days! Even the midwives there commented at the ease at which I had birthed and how happy they were to be a part of it. It truly was - and still is - the most empowering experience I've ever had.
I'm a strong supporter of the positive birthing movement and knew from the very beginning of my first pregnancy that I wanted to be informed and empowered to give birth as nature intended. I am so, so, SO glad we sought out Corinne and invested in her Hypnobirthing course. Corinne opened our eyes to gentle birthing, helped remove the fear of childbirth and played a major role in preparing us for two positive births. I'm so grateful to her for sharing her knowledge and wisdom and providing ongoing support in the lead up to each labour and after each birth. Highly recommended to anyone preparing to welcome a child into the world.