Alex & Sylvie
My third child, Sylvie, was born on Saturday 11th June at 5.41am. We had arrived at the hospital just 15 minutes earlier, having had the very first sign of labour just 2 hours before that. Needless to say, it was a whirlwind labour and birth, with no time for any pain relief and actually a moment when I thought my baby might arrive at the entrance of the hospital!
Although I feel hugely positive about the way my labour went, it was far from pain-free, so if you’d prefer not to read about that or you think it may make you nervous for your own birth, then it’s best to stop here!
I never thought I’d be one of those people who arrive at hospital with just minutes to spare, but the contractions were so mild and brief at first, it took me a while to be sure they were actually happening. They felt more like a gentle pressure or the beginnings of a possible tummy ache (with my previous labours, early contractions had felt similar to period pain). By the time I was certain they were contractions, they were intense and close together and it became a race to get to the hospital in time.
We ordered an Uber and woke up my two children – we would be dropping them off at my parents’ house which is on the way to the hospital. But it was the middle of the night and no easy task getting them out of bed and into the car. My 4-year-old was distraught at having been woken up and wanted me, and only me, to get him ready and calm him down.
The arrival of the baby was going to be a massive change to my children’s lives and I was determined that it should feel like a fun, happy adventure from the very beginning. I didn’t want them to see me in pain or being anything other than ‘normal mummy’, so I put my game face on and rode out the contractions whilst consoling my hysterical son, putting on shoes and jumpers, and communicating with everyone as normally as I could.
This unfortunately got in the way of my plans for a Hypnobirth – I found it impossible to focus on the breathing/relaxation techniques with everything going on. Even once the children had been dropped off, I wasn’t able to get myself into the right frame of mind for it, probably because by that time I was just minutes away from giving birth.
In the car the contractions were becoming more and more intense and being strapped into a seat seemed like the worst possible position to be in. When we arrived at my parents’ house I was desperate to get out, so I took the kids to the front door myself and once it was firmly closed behind them, I did what my body was crying out for me to do: lie down on the pavement!
So there I was with my husband standing over me, wondering how to get me back into the car, and the driver, also out of his seat, probably hoping I wouldn’t get back into the car! At this point there seemed to be no breaks between the contractions, I could barely walk or talk and I knew the baby would be coming soon.
After a few minutes I managed to get back into the car and continued the journey on all fours on the floor in the back. I told my husband to call the hospital and let them know we were coming. I imagined they’d be a team waiting for me as we arrived, ideally with a stretcher(!), but unfortunately I was way off the mark – there was no one to meet us. I later found out that the phone conversation went something like this…
My husband: My wife is in labour and we’re coming to the hospital. She’s in a lot of pain, we’ll be there in 5 minutes.
Midwife: thanks for letting us know, just come on up to the second floor and we’ll take a look at her.
My husband: No, She’s really in a lot of pain, she really needs to be seen quickly
Midwife: That’s fine, bring her up and we’ll see you in a bit
My husband: Ummm, ok.
Unfortunately my husband didn’t know the crucial thing to say in a situation like ours (and I was too ‘out of it’ to notice and advise). If you feel like the baby’s arrival is imminent, your partner should tell the midwife that you feel like pushing. Even if you don’t feel like pushing, he should tell them you do and they will send someone to meet you.
So it was up to my husband to search for help while I lay on the floor of the hospital lobby (which was as far as I could get), convinced that I couldn’t move again until the baby had come out.
Eventually two midwives, or ‘angels’ as we now call them, appeared. Cool as cucumbers they helped me onto a wheelchair (which I rode all-fours style as my waters broke – oh the glamour!), wheeled me into the lift and up into one of the birthing rooms, helped me onto a bed and asked me to start pushing.
For me the pushing was actually the easy bit. Each push was a relief from the pain and within 5 minutes from entering the room, I was holding my baby in my arms and feeling extremely grateful.
I think it’s worth mentioning that throughout the experience I never once felt scared for myself or my baby. I am sure this has a lot to do with the education I’ve had – I knew what to do if the baby arrived before we made it to the hospital. In fact I had specifically asked one of the Bump and Baby Club antenatal instructors to go over it with me a few weeks beforehand, just in case.
I also asked her what to do if the baby got stuck on its way out or there was another problem. She told me that if your pregnancy is at full-term and your baby is making a super speedy entrance into the world, it’s highly likely to be doing great and in the ideal head-down position. You need to trust that your body knows what to do. This message was also drummed into me through my Hypnobirthing practice – it was playing over in my head throughout my labour and I was confident we’d be ok.
Looking back at all 3 of my births, this one was actually the easiest as it was over so quickly. It involved no sleep deprivation (that was to come afterwards!), no intervention, no stitches and I was lucky enough to feel great straight afterwards - I was actually buzzing for several days!
Giving birth is by far the most physically extreme, intense and mind blowing thing I have ever done, but the truth is, each of my births were quickly overshadowed by everything that came afterwards. Parenting, in all its chaotic, messy, rollercoaster, love-filled glory, is what’s changed me as a person.
So if you’re apprehensive about giving birth, along with all the ways you can prepare yourself to help make it easier, it may be a good idea to stay focused on the bigger picture and the incredible times to come.