The Birth of Betsy
Betsy is our fourth baby. We didn’t know her gender and loved having a surprise. At 41 weeks and 5 days, it was my longest pregnancy. I do wonder if I almost held onto my pregnancy a little bit. As much as the pregnancy had been hard with lots of nausea, on the whole I love being pregnant. Also with this being likely to be our last I’m not sure I ever felt ready to part with my bump even though I was excited about the next bit.
For weeks I’d had strong Braxton hicks most evenings but apart from that there was no sign she was coming soon. On the 1st of May I met with my friend and her newborn baby for an all you can eat breakfast. We laughed that surely the next time we met I’d have my baby too. To be honest though I began really doubting when she might be born. It’s like when you get to the point when you actually start believing you’ll be pregnant forever, that’s when it happens.
Later that day, shortly after the kids were back from school and preschool I noticed that I was having some pretty powerful sensations. They were different to the Braxton hicks that I was so used to. They were very much in my back, they were strong and already they felt in a regular pattern. I continued to make tea for the kids but these sensations were talking a lot of my focus so now that Adam was back from work I went upstairs to our bedroom for some quiet.
I put on my favourite Hypnobirthing track that I was so used to relaxing to. I felt really excited that perhaps baby was on its way so I dropped my midwife Sarah Flower a quick message as a bit of a heads up. I knew things might be sometime yet but I wanted to fill her in.
After breathing through some pretty strong surges, I but on a bit of Gavin and Stacey. This is my early labour favourite but I noticed things were slowing down and by 6pm there was nothing. The surges had gone. Now I know labour can be stop start, I talk about this all the time but it’s different when it’s you. I went downstairs and told Adam how sick I was of the not knowing. I’m a planner! And I couldn’t help but think that I’d never know when things were happening after what I’d just experienced.
We got the kids to bed and I actually said to Adam that I hoped it wasn’t tonight. Perhaps on some weird level this was me trying to grab some control. “Not tonight baby, you’ve missed your chance”.
Later that evening I was still a bit peed off, Adam wisely suggested I give Sarah a call, so I did. Now Sarah is an incredibly intuitive midwife. She oozes love and compassion, yet she does know when you need a bit of a nudge and when she does that, she does it so well.
Sarah suggested that perhaps I was holding on and the attitude of ‘not tonight baby’ might not be useful and basically I need to stop it. She was right. She suggested I try a few of my Spinning Babies techniques that I’d learnt on the course myself and Adam had done with the lovely Amanda Wardle. She also suggested that I took myself for a little walk. It was 9 at night, I was massive and very much in my PJs so we compromised on a walk around the garden instead. So there I was in the garden, very pregnant walking around like a crab!
I came back in the house, Adam and I watched some TV and then off we went to bed, falling asleep to my favourite Hypnobirthing track as usual.
At about 1am I woke up and felt very uncomfortable in bed so I decided to go downstairs leaving Adam asleep. I popped on the TV and sat in the dimly lit living room. There’s some odd things on TV at that time but I remember that I watched a bit of Googlebox.
It was now clear that the discomfort that I’d been experiencing was actually pretty regular surges. This time lower in my abdomen. I gave Sarah my midwife a quick call to let her know we might need her at some point. She suggested that I woke Adam up so that we were together so I went back upstairs to let him know what was happening. We stayed in the bedroom. I decided to get some rest so again listened to my Hypnobirthing tracks. The surges were very inconsistent, sometimes a good ten minutes apart other times a couple of minutes. Adam suggested we go downstairs, I think he was conscious that he would like to make a start setting up the pool.
I was very much enjoying him rubbing my back during surges however we felt filling the pool should be considered.
Adam helped me stick on my Tens machine pads and he got on with making the living room all birth gorgeous. I pottered in and out of the kitchen unsure whether I was a massive fan of the Tens this time but I stuck with it.
Still the surges were spread out and I was coping well but something told me to ring Sarah around 4am. I told her that things might be way off and maybe it would be silly her coming so soon. She said it was no problem either way, so she would pop over to see us.
Sarah arrived about half an hour later, she gave me a hug and we laughed with her about her sweet emoji faced lunch box she’d brought with her.
Now labour can sometimes slow down when changes happen within your birth environment and new people arrive. The opposite was true for me when Sarah arrived and I think this really shows the impact of having a midwife that you know really well already. My surges suddenly became lots closer together. Sarah said that she thought I was having around three every ten minutes.
I was quite happy in the kitchen, the sun was coming up and Adam was in and out during his birth pool-filing role. During powerful surges it felt like he came running and standing up we held onto each other. He got me some lavender oil on a tissue and that provided lots of comfort too.
All three children were upstairs asleep, however we suspected that our eldest had woken up and was pottering around his bedroom. We were ok about this, our children had been prepared as to what birth noises might sound like and we knew he’d be ok about suspecting mummy might be having the baby.
At about 5.30am I felt like I needed Adam right there with me. I felt like the power was so intense and I was unsure what I needed to get comfortable. This in hindsight was probably transition. I suddenly knew things weren’t far away and we went in the living room.
Adam had created a beautiful environment. The curtains were closed, my candles were on, the music was on, the pool was filling. I was kneeling on the floor over a birth stool Sarah had lent to us.
I definitely started to feel more pressure with each surge. Things were more expulsive, baby was coming soon. Sarah asked if I wanted to get into the pool, it was after 6am now. Even though the pool wasn’t full yet, I would be able to enjoy the water whilst it continued to fill. So I got in, the water felt great and I loved that Adam and Sarah were there just beside me on the other side of the pool wall.
I became aware that the children would soon be wake up (Harris was most certainly awake now upstairs) but Sarah was very reassuring and said that it wasn’t a problem and we would be able to deal with it.
These downward surges were powerful! I used my voice, it helped. But actually in those moments of calm in between, I think I was actually sleeping.
It felt like the baby should be here by now. My previous two had come quicker at this stage. Adam reminded me to focus on my breathing. I enjoyed the breaks, the rests my body was giving me.
Soon enough I remember having one incredibly powerful surge in the pool, my body opened and I said “the head”. Bizarrely the alarm on my phone went off meaning it was 6.40am, the usual time we get up to get everyone ready for school and preschool. We couldn’t believe the timing. We switch it off.
I’ve never been one for reaching down to feel the head but this time I did. I felt flowing hair and soft skin, it felt so empowering. I knew baby was so near.
With one final surge at 6.43am she was born. Her body floated up, I reached down and brought her to the surface myself. I held baby in my arms, she cried right away and we called Harris who ran down the stairs immediately!
His face! Oh, I will never forget it, pure joy. He sat with Adam beside the birth pool and we asked him if he wanted to see whether his new sibling was a girl or boy. “Girl” he shouted!
We suggested that he went to get Imogen and Lochlan to share the excitement. Adam went up with him and down they all came. Again their faces! It was so magical. They met their sister minutes after her birth.
Not long after I decided that I’d be more comfortable outside the pool so I was helped out of the birth pool with Betsy in my arms. We snuggled on the sofa for skin to skin and her first feed.
About 20 minutes later Adam took the kids round the corner to where his mum lived at the time. It was just the placenta to be born now. After Lochlan’s birth the placenta took some time so it was something I was a little nervous of. Sarah was aware of this. She suggested that I walk to the downstairs toilet and try to have a wee, Betsy still enjoying skin to skin. My little loo had never looked so good! Sarah had switched off the lights and placed 2 of the beautiful scented candles I’d used in my birth environment. It was just what my body needed and my placenta came away easily.
I returned to the sofa, had some tea and toast whilst Betsy was weighed by Sarah. She weighed 7 lb 14 oz.
Not long after that I had a shower and Betsy and I were snuggled up in bed. Later that day the children returned from school and preschool to meet her again.
Crikey, writing that really has made me want to do it again!!