Thursday, 8 April 2010

Two VERY different water births

I read that Amy Sheridan (@and1moremeans4) was organising a birth story carnival on April 12th and I knew the date rang a bell. I thought it might've been my husband's dentist appointment so checked the date and realised very shamefacedly that it wasn't that, but my son's first birthday! Obviously I knew it was his birthday but in that moment the date had escaped me. His birth was far more than a date. So here, in honour of my son's first birthday is my contribution to the birth story carnival!
I know that every parent will recall the births of their children as special and memorable experiences. Both of my birth experiences were just that. I was very lucky, I had relatively quick labours both times.

As a new mum-to-be I think I was pretty chilled out to those who met me, but in secret I was reading the pregnancy books with what was bordering on an unhealthy obsession. Secretly I was very anxious when I was pregnant, as I'm sure most people are. But for some reason, I was genuinely completely chilled out and nonplussed by the whole giving birth thing, and I'm sure this was something that helped me when it came to the labour itself.
I'd read the books, and knew that giving birth was going to be the most painful experience of my life, but I'd accepted that. When my invitation to antenatal classes came through, I never went because they were on a Monday and that would've meant missing my PPA slot at work! I didn't feel I needed someone else to tell me what I'd already read in a book, besides, the human race had survived for thousands of years without them. I'm sure that's pretty naive but I don't regret my decision. The midwife looked shocked when I had no birth plan, and just wanted to decide when I was in labour. In my opinion, any plan goes out the window when you're in that much pain and might want something different to what's written down!
So anyway, my first child was due May 4th 2007. At first they thought it was breech, and having to have a C section really was my biggest fear, but a scan at 38 weeks revealed baby had turned and was ready to go, so it was just a waiting game. I went to bed on May 1st, feeling very fat. I fell asleep for about half an hour before my husband got in from playing football. I had a go at him about spilling black rubber crumb everywhere, (possibly a slight overreaction, though if you know what I'm talking about, you'll know how bloody irritating it can be!) then tried to go back to sleep.

For some reason something didn't feel right. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew I wasn't going to get back to sleep any time soon either. I'd been getting a few cramps so I thought I'd while away the time by counting the time between each cramp to practice for when I was in labour (this is probably the point where you're thinking those antenatal classes may've come in handy!). They were coming about every 7 minutes, then five minutes, then 4 minutes. How funny, I thought, that's just like what labour contractions do! It was about 3am by this point, I'd been counting for an hour! All of a sudden I felt this little bubble burst inside me. It was so slight I honestly thought it was an air bubble, until I got out of bed. At this point I thought perhaps I'd better let my husband know what was going on so I woke him up to tell him. He asked what he should do, so I phoned the maternity unit and they told me they'd send a midwife round at 8:30am, the first call of the day to assess me. I was fine with that but felt a bit yucky from my waters breaking so decided to have a shower, which they'd told me was fine to do. Just as I was about to get in, the maternity unit called me back to say they were very quiet, so did I want to go in, given that I probably wasn't going to sleep any more. I had my shower, did my make up and straightened my hair (hey if I was in labour, I didn't want those first photos of me to be looking like a minger!) which as you'll see from the photos was pretty pointless!
By now the contractions were getting a lot stronger and closer together. I got to the hospital at 5am and got seen by the midwife about half an hour later. The first time she checked me out I was fully dilated. I asked if there was a birthing pool free. After establishing that I quite fancied a waterbirth, my husband distinctly remembers the midwife turning to the assistant with quite a frenzied look saying "Get that pool running NOW!" After that, it was all pretty straightforward. I got in the water at about 6:30am, and at 7:24am we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Evie Mae into the world!

Harry's birth was still a waterbirth of sorts...

Due on April 10th 2009, I was soooo much more chilled out this time. A C section again wasn't out of the question, this time they thought the placenta might've been in the way, but I was given the all clear at 37 weeks, so once again it was the waiting game we were playing. Evie was slightly early, so everyone was telling me to be prepared, second babies come earlier, second babies come quick etc. and given that Evie's labour was only 5 hours from 1st tiny contraction to birth, I was told that was quick for a first. So I was prepared this time, but due date arrived, baby hadn't.

Then on Easter Saturday we were sat watching Britain's Got Talent and I started to wonder if that was a twinge I just felt. I decided it wasn't, but was feeling tired so decided to go to bed. I slept for a good five hours, then woke up about 5am and thought I was getting twinges so I phoned the hospital. My waters hadn't broken, so they told me to phone back when the contractions were bearable but only just, or if my waters broke. I think they thought I was having Braxton Hicks. I got up, and Evie woke up about 6:30 so I got her up and dressed, checked to see if the Easter Bunny had been (he had!) etc. I phoned the hospital back at about 9am to say the contractions had got stronger, so they told me to get my mother-in-law round to look after Evie and to phone when I was on my way in. At 9:40am I phoned the hospital which was only 5 minutes up the road. 9:45am I walked into the foyer of the hospital where my waters broke (great timing). The poor kid who worked in the WHSmith there who thought he'd have a quiet time on double time because it was Easter Sunday sure got a surprise when I got down on all fours and told him I was going to give birth there! The waters breaking plus gravity bascially meant I could feel the baby's head coming out instantly. My husband phoned up to maternity and within seconds, this (amazing) lady came running down the stairs with a blanket and a pair of scissors! Turns out she's the head midwife who normally works in an office (Pippa Knight if you ever read this I will never forget you!). She realised pretty quickly that I wasn't going to make it up the stairs so she and my husband between them managed to get me into the toilets. I didn't realise it at the time just how quick it was but my notes which were written retrospectively say it all: 9:48am: Michelle's husband calls to say birth is imminent. 9:54am: Birth of live male infant! Hello Harry Joe!

I'm sure you can imagine the comments we've had when people hear how our gorgeous little man arrived into the world, but we ignored all suggestions to call him Louis or even Armitage!

So there we are, sorry it went on so long, feel free to edit, ignore, skim read or whatever. Two babies, two water births (sort of!), no pain relief, not even gas and air. Two beautiful babies, who've grown into beautiful toddlers and two VERY proud parents! That is all!


  1. I can't believe how easy your first labour was! Its very reassuring as I'm currently pregnant with my first. It's nice to know that it doesn't have to be a terrible expericence!

  2. Good luck - I hope you have an easy labour too! I will follow your blogs to find out! x

  3. It is nice to see others had great birth experiences too. My first was prem, but was therefore on the smaller side and came out nice and quickly. Just found out I'm expecting number two and beginning to worry that it won't be quite so easy this time. Your post has reassured me a little.

  4. I aim to please! Good luck, when's number 2 due? x