Marie’s positive first birth
Staying focused with hypnobirthing
I hope you have been well since we emailed last. I have been meaning to write to you for a while now but every time I get the chance to sit down, our baby boy decides it's time to cause a stir and then I'm back on my motherly duties.
So that's right! We have a lovely baby boy, called Arlo Frederick Keyworth Furlonger. He arrived on Friday 9th November at 4pm (at exactly 41 weeks, aka his French due date) and weighed in at 8lb 2oz.
I've been really looking forward to being able to write this because I've been very excited to tell you about the really wonderful birth experience we had.
In short - it was uncomplicated, Arlo knew exactly what to do, and turns out so did my body. There was drama though!
I unwittingly got to 10cm dilated at home and started pushing in the hallway of our flat. We had to call 999 for an ambulance (wasn't quite up for an unplanned home birth this time round) and paramedics came and took us all to Kings where Arlo was delivered 45 minutes after we arrived. As you will have noticed from the class, I had been feeling quite emotional and overwhelmed by the prospect of the great unknown that was ahead of me.
I never would have imagined I would be so lucky as for things to happen the way they did - getting as far as I did at home on paracetamol and a TENS machine - but I am certain that the preparation we did through hypnobirthing, and the techniques we used during my labour, really made a difference.
It all started on that Tuesday night, with period pain-like cramps that kept me awake. On Wednesday night the same occurred, although this time the sensations had moved and changed to become surges of quite severe-feeling back pain. I was awake for three or four hours, with Ryan pressing the small of my back to ease the surges when they came. But they were irregular and never progressed further. I kept falling in and out of sleep and when I woke on Thursday morning feeling nothing I was simply confused, worn out and a bit frustrated. I was experiencing quite a lot of bloody mucus, which I wasn't prepared for, and generally had no idea what was going on with my body (labour it turns out!).
Tired and emotional on Thursday morning I went to my pre-booked appointment with the reflexologist (your tip of self care, feeling like I was doing something to help). As soon as I got there I just cried on her, and we spent some time talking about my anxieties, my fears my body didn't know what to do, even though I felt very strongly that Arlo was ready to come out. I left feeling a lot better, talking it all through and having someone encourage me to have acceptance that whatever was happening would just happen. I was lucky enough after that to have a midwife visit me at home for a pre-arranged sweep - and my mood improved no end when she told me I was 2 cm dilated. So the nights awake with the surges hadn't been for nothing!
Thursday night the surges happened again. Again they didn't progress. Again we stayed up breathing through them, Ryan pressing my back and doing some counting. Again I fell in and out of sleep and awoke tired on Friday morning. This time Ryan decided to stay home from work - mainly because he was tired himself. We decided to try and get things moving along by going for a walk. We spent nearly 3 hours in the morning walking around East Dulwich back streets and the Peckham Rye Park (inspired by the walk done by the woman in the birthing video we watched in class). We stopped for hot chocolate and a muffin, me having surges in the cafe. Ryan had started timing them on an app, and they were lasting consistently between an minute and 90 seconds. Still - probably because I was used to the feeling by now, I was always expecting things to get worse. We just kept stopping along our walk as the surges came, and throughout I was focusing on my Up Breathing. I found lifting my head to look up at the sky as the surge started really helped me cope with the most intense parts. We got the odd funny look from passers by when I was waiting at crossing or stopped holding onto railings having my surges.
When we got home, I decided to walk the 6 flights of stairs up to our flat to "move things along". At the top I had a 4 minute surge and felt something shift inside me, and thought "ok, now we've started". By this point I was probably actually in established labour, but didn't realise.
In the flat at about 12:30pm I got hooked up to the TENS machine, took a couple of paracetamol. Ryan made me a ham and cheese toastie (ingredients were waiting in the fridge, as an oozy toastie was part of my "energy for labour" plan). I paced the flat, looking out of the windows gripping the windowsills, watching the sky, the birds and the trees as the surges came. We were so keen not to be sent back from the hospital for not being far enough along, that we just left calling a taxi half an hour, then another half an hour, then another half an hour. Until during one surge I lost control of my bladder and thought "Ok we should really go to hospital now".
Ryan called a taxi, got our bags by the door, and as we were getting our coats on my water broke in dramatic fashion in the hallway. Arlo's head just moved down all of a sudden and I found myself with the uncontrollable urge to push. Everything then changed - I called to Ryan that I was pushing, got down on my hands and knees on the floor and my body just took over. With each surge I was screaming - just with the intensity of it, as a release. Ryan called the labour ward and got a midwife on speaker on the floor by me. She told me to resist the urge to push, and make less noise to conserve my energy! Ryan called 999 and was on the phone prepping for if he had to deliver our baby while we waiting for the ambulance.
Ten minutes later an ambulance arrived, three paramedics came bringing gas and air - which was EXCELLENT. They said they could deliver Arlo there in the flat or we could go to hospital. I was very keen to have a midwife present so wanted to go to hospital. At this point my surges were a minute apart and lasting 20 seconds.
The paramedics were amazing, with such a great facilitating 'can do' attitude they were like "Right. let's get you to kings!"
So between the surges we made our way out of the flat, down the lift, into the ambulance, and blue-lighted it to the hospital.
When we got to the labour ward, I was checked and told what I already knew - - that I was fully dilated. So they said I could just go for it and start to push Arlo out into the world. I was on my knees resting my arms on the back of the bed. It felt like just a few moments, but it was about 40 minutes and Arlo was delivered at 4pm. He was the perfect birthing pal - in the right position and though he had his umbilical chord wrapped round his neck twice, his birth was straight forward. The midwife said I could pick up my baby, and he was passed to me through my legs and I held him to me straight away. After the blood had stopped pumping, Ryan cut the umbilical chord. Arlo started rooting for my breast right away, and the midwife helped me position him for his first feed as I delivered the placenta (with the help of a jab to the thigh as I had started to bleed).
We had I think an hour of skin to skin in that room and it was wonderful.
Throughout everything, even at home when I thought we were going to have to deliver a baby in our hallway, I never felt afraid.
I just stayed focused on everything I had learnt from the hypnobirthing sessions and our practice at home - my breathing and staying relaxed when I felt my body clench and brace for the surges.
I can't believe we got as far as we did at home. I think being relaxed, in our home environment for as long as possible really helped. Also having Ryan as the most wonderful supportive birth partner helped - although I gave him the fright of his life in that hallway. And the perennial massage we did really paid off as I didn't need stitches. Somehow, I always thought I was further behind in the labour process than I actually was. Throughout it all I was always expecting it to get 'worse' or become 'more' - until I was pushing and I realised what I was experiencing had been 'it'.
I have definitely gone on for long enough now, but I just wanted to share my story with you in all its detail. It was such a positive experience and I feel I have what I learnt from you during our sessions to thank for that. So THANK YOU.
Lots of love, and best wishes for your future classes!