The Birth of Maddox

I’ve been dying to share my birth story with you, my birth literally did not go to plan whatsoever but I think me and Drew did such a good job considering, we managed to be confident with medical staff, make the best out of our situation, make informed choices, trust in my body and our baby and ultimately have the best possible experience considering the circumstances. Sorry it’s quite a lengthy read!!!

As you know, I’d been having some difficulties with staff at the hospital due to them believing that Maddox was a ‘big baby’. First we saw a consultant who wanted to induce at 37 weeks due to the risk of shoulder dystocia, however we did not feel there was enough evidence to support this or that induction was right for us at this point and declined. We then saw another consultant at 39 weeks who felt that we shouldn’t have been offered induction so early, but instead offered a sweep and a follow up appointment at 40+3 to discuss my options. This consultant advised that the risk of shoulder dystocia was no higher for larger babies than for smaller babies. When we attended the appointment at 40+3 we saw yet another consultant, this time we were told that I should have been induced by now due to the high risk of shoulder dystocia and, that if I chose to birth my baby in the birth centre, I would be putting him at risk of disability. Obviously receiving so much conflicting information was upsetting and triggering, especially for a heavily pregnant person, but me and Drew had done our own research and felt confident to ask questions, give our own opinions and discuss what we had learnt statistically about the risks of shoulder dystocia. The brains technique was so beneficial for us during these conversations!!

I then met with the head of Calderdale/Huddersfield birth centres at 40+4 who advised that she was more than happy for me to birth at the birth centre. I explained that I was a hypnobirther, staff at the centre agreed that the environment and active birthing techniques encouraged in the birth centre were well suited to hypnobirthers but would also likely help to alleviate any anxieties caused by the consultants I had met with. I was encouraged to trust in myself, my body and my ability to birth my baby so started to feel positive again!

Maddox had slightly different ideas about how my birth would be.

That night, on a Wednesday, surges started, but they weren’t regular. By Thursday morning they had gone, but started up again around 9am and continued until 2pm before disappearing again. I managed them by listening to my affirmations, having warm baths and relaxing in preparation for labour. I felt so excited to meet my baby! When Drew came home from work on Thursday we went to Asda and bought lots of lovely snacks for a relaxing night in, I walked around the shop a good few times to try and get things moving (this was about all I could manage at this point, I had really bad pelvic pain and pressure, but was determined to stay as active as possible). I came home and bounced on my birth ball in amongst cuddles, massage and our favourite tv programmes. We kept lighting low and lit candles and fairy lights, we did everything we could to keep oxytocin high. Surges continued to stop and start, Drew decided to take the next day off work to be with me so that we could get any final bits ready in the house, practice breathing, get out on a walk and prepare for labour – we had a feeling our baby would be here soon!

Friday came, Drew had some family friends over from Ireland and we decided to go out and see them for an hour. As we went to get in the car, I felt a small leak. I wasn’t sure if it was my waters or whether I had wet myself as it was such a small amount. I wasn’t having any surges at this point, I decided to put on a pad and monitor any further leaking. We went out as planned, had a nice time, though I continued to leak lightly so we called the birth centre who asked us to come in for an examination. When we arrived they confirmed my waters had broken, though they did not tell me how dilated I was as, depending on what they found, this would mean that I only had 6 hours for surges to start before induction was suggested. They told me that, if I did not find out how dilated I was, they would recommend going home and that I would have 24 hours for surges to start and become regular before induction was discussed. The midwife advised that the best thing for me to do was to relax, she didn’t speak any further about induction etc as she felt it might increase my anxiety, instead she encouraged us to go home and have as nice and chilled time as possible. I left with Drew feeling happy and excited, determined not to focus on time limits and restraints, instead visualising my baby and my birth. We went to Sainsbury’s and bought an Indian feast and lots of snacks. We went home and watched Ru Paul’s Drag Race with candles and fairy lights, I practiced active positions on the ball and surges started up again. Unfortunately, this is where things started to go ‘off plan’, though I’m reluctant to say that as I don’t want to be negative about the experience because I feel that me and Drew dealt well with all curveballs thrown our way.

Around 2am on Friday night/Saturday morning, I passed a significant blood clot (much larger than anything ‘plug’ like that I had lost previously), followed by a significant and heavy bleed. My anxiety rose and surges stopped in their tracks – I felt full of fear and adrenaline. Due to my waters having broken, I wasn’t sure where this blood was coming from and whether or not it was in my amniotic fluid. Me and Drew decided to go straight to maternity assessment to be checked over and take it from there.

At maternity assessment I was monitored straight away on the CTG machine. Baby was absolutely fine which was a huge relief, though I was continuing to bleed and the exact cause was unknown. Me and Drew discussed our options and decided to stay in overnight to continue monitoring and discuss birthing options in the morning. I also agreed that I would now birth on labour ward. I felt so determined to meet my baby and see his safe arrival that I felt this was the best option for us now. I was then offered an immediate induction which I still felt confident to decline, I advised that as long as baby was safe I still wanted the opportunity to wait a full 24 hours to see if labour started spontaneously before considering an induction.

In the morning, after only one hours sleep, I was greeted by a new midwife called Maggie. Maggie advised that she had read my notes and felt that I had been made out at times as though I was ‘difficult’ purely because I was confident in asking questions and wanting to pursue what I felt was best for me and my baby. Maggie said she felt I just wanted to be listened to, and agreed with our plan to wait 24 hours for labour to begin spontaneously. She suggested that me and Drew went out for a couple of hours, had a nice lunch and tried to get things moving, though that she would recommend induction if things hadn’t got moving by 2pm.

Me and Drew went to Tesco and bought some lunch which we took to the park and ate in the sunshine. We then got in the car and listened to some of our favourite songs. We discussed how things were maybe not going as we had hoped, but that we were going to take everything one step at a time and focus on our baby, staying as positive as possible. We discussed how that, no matter what happened next, one thing was certain – we would be meeting our beautiful baby so soon! The visualisation of meeting him, holding him and taking him home with us helped me to stay positive and calm.

Then at 1pm, by some sort of miracle, surges started coming thick and fast – about 3 in 10 minutes. Drew drove us straight back to the hospital and explained my surges to the midwife who confirmed that, out of nowhere, I was 5cm dilated!!! She couldn’t believe it. I honestly believe I managed to get up to 5cm on positive thoughts and oxytocin alone.

I went from 5 to 7cm in a couple of hours, managing the surges by breathing, laughing with and talking to Drew and a little gas and air. 7-9cm took a bit longer and I had some more pain relief, though I felt positive and excited the whole way through. Drew decorated our labour room with candles and fairy lights, he sprayed our lavender spray and played some of our favourite songs on our speaker. He encouraged me to stay active where possible, to control my breathing and to continue my visualisations, he was fab throughout. I had two new midwives on shifts by this point who were fantastic, encouraged me to keep active where possible and keep as positive as I could.

Once I got to 10cm and tried loads of active birthing positions around the room but nothing seemed to be working. Baby was visible, but did not seem to be moving any further down. It was then confirmed that baby’s head was at a difficult angle and that he was struggling to get out. I continued to try different positions but nothing was working, at this point it was confirmed that baby’s heart rate had started to drop somewhat and that he was becoming a bit distressed by the difficult labour. At 6am Sunday morning, after hours of trying, I was advised that theatre may be the best option. Though I had really wanted to avoid interventions, I knew that by this point it was best for my baby that we had a bit of extra help. I felt exhausted, though I didn’t feel scared and still felt positive and clung on to the happy visualisation of finally meeting my baby.

Theatre was a strange experience. I was given a spinal injection and baby was delivered via forceps and episiotomy. This was something that I had previously been SO terrified of happening, but I didn’t feel scared at all. I chatted to the anaesthetist and the consultants, Drew sat beside me and held my hand and kept me feeling positive. Before I knew it, Maddox had entered the world. I felt a little shocked when he came out and wasn’t crying, but as soon as he started to cry I started to cry too, tears of pure happiness and relief, I felt like I could burst. I managed to breastfeed Maddox immediately after theatre, I just felt so happy and grateful to have him with me.

I remember thinking whilst laid on the bed in theatre ‘I hope this doesn’t traumatise me later’ or ‘I hope I don’t feel scared when I remember this tomorrow’ but I can honestly say that I only feel happy thoughts when I think about my birth experience. People have been surprised to hear me speak so positively of the experience and how me and Drew managed to take everything in our stride. The midwives commented on how we managed to stay positive and focused throughout, and how we weren’t fazed by anything that happened, managing to stay and feel in control despite difficult circumstances.

The operation was followed by a reasonably heavy bleed and we had to stay in hospital until Monday evening, but even that didn’t scare or upset me. Considering I used to have the worst hospital anxiety imaginable, that’s a massive achievement!

Since I’ve been home I’ve been active and out and about most days. I feel so happy and grateful for my birthing experience and for the opportunity to birth Maddox. It’s insane because it was literally the polar opposite of the birth I hoped for, fought for and expected. But I honestly believe hypnobirthing changed my mindset and helped me managed my expectations by trusting in myself and my body, taking everything one step at a time and visualising the end goal.

I’m amazed at how well I dealt with the situation, I honestly feel like a warrior. I know I wouldn’t have been able to deal with any of these curveballs if it wasn’t for you and for the hypnobirthing knowledge you gave me (and Drew, as he was honestly the best birthing partner I could have asked for) ️

Thank you soooooo much for everything ! I’m welling up every two minutes as I write this because I feel so bloody happy and grateful and emotional. Thank you for being such a good teacher and friend, you are the best!! Keep doing what you do forever because you are fab.

Romany and Drew, Halifax