my birth story for iris


Dearest Iris,

How different your birth was to your brother's. I put this down to the hypnobirthing practice I did in the lead up to your birth, to luck, to nature, to your dad, the midwives and of course to you.
You did everything right. You got yourself in a good position, so low I thought you might fall out when I went to the loo! You gave my body lots of practice Braxton Hicks to help it warm up to labour and you stayed in your amniotic sac until your head was out, making your passage out more comfortable for you and me. This is also a sign of good luck. If you were to become a sailor, you’d carry a bit of your sac in a charm around your neck and it would stop you from drowning. Our water baby.
The fact that you were so low in the weeks leading up to your birth was a good sign but no guarantee that I would go into labour any time soon. After all, Joseph was 2 weeks late and ended up being induced.

This time though, armed with my hypnobirthing training (knowledge is power!) I did everything differently in the lead up to your birth. None of the endless pineapples and curries, sweeps, reflexology, acupuncture that I did when late with Joseph. I thought I was helping him come out, but in fact I think I was scaring him into staying inside where it was so warm and cosy. For you, I stayed totally relaxed (as much as Joe would let me!), focused on you coming when you were ready and believed that nature would do its work.
Although the consultants tried their hardest to convince me of the risks of uterine rupture following my cesarean with Joe and to have you in hospital, I decided to continue with my plan for a home birth. I knew I would be most relaxed at home and that I could be quickly transferred to Kings if I felt anxious or there was anything amiss. We made our home cosy, filled it with flowers and energy snacks and I stuck up positive affirmations and pictures.
On Saturday morning, exactly a week on from your estimated ‘due date,’ my Braxton hicks got stronger and more frequent. I thought it might still be practice labour but I asked your auntie Lauren to come and pick you up and take you to your granny’s so that James could stay with me. My instinct told me it was worth us bedding down at home. I lay in bed watching a funny film and eating breakfast in bed. 

After Lauren had picked up Joseph I felt these waves of pressure increase in intensity and frequency until I was having to breathe through them. It dawned on me that I might be in labour, even though I’d had no show and my waters hadn’t broken. I asked James to ring the midwife and let her know that she needed to be at the ready but not to come just yet. Half an hour later, he called her back to tell her I was having a surge every 5 minutes at least, lasting around a minute. 

The midwife arrived 20 minutes later to find me lying on the bed still relaxing. She listened to your heart beat which was totally normal. My birth plan said that I didn’t want any unnecessary internal examinations and the midwife didn’t see the need. However, I felt it would actually be really good to know how dilated I was, because if I was only 1cm then that would be fine and just mean more relaxing without the midwife there.
In fact the midwife was surprised to find me 5cm dilated and swiftly said she would stay with me. Apparently I seemed to be too relaxed to be so far along! As you were so low down, she asked me to tell her as soon as I could feel any urge to push as I could progress quickly and she would need to get another midwife along.

The time between being 5cm dilated and feeling the need to push seemed to go in an instant. As I moved myself around on my birth ball and listened to the hypnobirthing CD I felt calm and in control. Then this instinct to bear down took over and I found myself making some pretty primal mooing sounds as each surge came! At that point the midwife called her backup and luckily the birth pool was finally ready.
Just on this, I must tell you that your dad, in a moment of madness, had put the sterilized birth pool liner that we spent £40 on in the garden in the rain, thinking it was a disused shower curtain (why?). After ringing round to see if anyone had a spare one, he finally hosed it down with very hot water and  started to fill it, but the water kept coming out of the hose in the bath meaning it took 2 hours to fill to only half way. Brilliantly farcical in hindsight but totally stressful for him at the time!

Anyway, birth pool was sorted, I got in and felt an immediate sense of relief. It felt so good to be able to move around in the water. After around 45 mins though, I started to feel too hot and your heart rate was going up a little. The midwives thought it would be a good idea for me to go to the loo and see if that would help move things along.

It did! The surges became much more intense, leading me to get your dad into a neck breaking headlock at one point. He kept telling me how well I was doing which really helped. I could only stand this intensity on the loo for a little while before deciding to go back to our bedroom. It was here that I found myself kneeling by the bed and an uncontrollable urge to push, after which your head emerged. 

I felt a miracle had just happened. The midwives told me that on my next surge the rest of you would probably be born. Low and behold, on the next surge your body came out and I brought you up to my chest from beneath me.

Holding your warm little body against my skin was dreamlike. I felt so out of it (that'll be all the hormones!) and at the same time completely present. You cried and nuzzled and soon began to feed while I sat holding you in disbelief and awe. What a precious jewel you looked, a little exotic beauty, so perfectly formed. 

There’s no two ways about it, childbirth is amazing and epic. I suddenly felt tired, shaky and nauseas and it took me just over an hour to birth your placenta. In the end, a walk to the loo and back to the bed where you and your dad were lying was enough to help it along. I was a bit cold and I think I should have had some more warm blankets wrapped around me to help birth the placenta.
It was fine in the end though and I’m glad I didn’t have the synthetic oxytocin injection to get it moving, there was really no need.

The midwives left us alone with you at around 8pm having written up our notes, given you an APGAR score of 10 (full marks!) and taken us through a thorough tour of your placenta (amazing clever thing!).
And so, we found ourselves lying in bed with you, unable to quite take in what had happened; that you were inside me and now here you were, and that it had all gone so smoothly.
Our water baby. Strong, alert and here. It felt like a miracle and it still does.