First time mum Cate was amazing during her labour and sums her story up perfectly: The process was the polar opposite from what we had wanted but neither of us would change anything about the way our daughter arrived. We felt in control of our decisions and were supported at all times. I felt so empowered during the whole birth and feel so proud of how Luke and I worked together as a team to bring Everly into the world.
When I found out I was pregnant I was certain of at least one thing – I was going to have a positive birth experience.
I had heard of hypnobirthing and was keen to look into a course straight away as I was determined to be in control and enjoy my labour. I had been waiting for this for a long time!
I more or less told Luke that that was what we were going to do, without giving him much choice, but once I’d explained the rough idea, luckily for me he was up for it. So we booked onto a group course with Deborah.
Our birth story actually begins 5 days before our little bundle arrived.
Right from the start I said to Luke that I wanted a home birth if possible, as I get anxious in hospitals and knew that I would feel much more relaxed in my own environment.
We got referred to the Reading home birth team and from 34 weeks my appointments were at home.
On the evening of Tuesday 4th July I got up from the sofa intending to go to bed and felt a small trickle of liquid – only a very small amount though. I grabbed onto Luke and jokingly said I was leaking! He looked panicked but I said it was nothing – maybe I was just getting incontinent at the end of my pregnancy?
Over the next few days I kept getting little trickles but they were of no real quantity and I was getting no other signs of labour at all.
By Saturday evening though I’d had enough of feeling like I was wetting myself and called the midwife (much to Luke’s relief). She said she would like to come over and swab the fluid and she would be able to test whether it was amniotic fluid. I remember specifically telling Luke not to get excited.
When the midwife arrived she did the usual checks and then took a swab of the fluid. It was like waiting for the pregnancy test result all over again – an apprehensive 3 minute wait.
As the midwife was writing in my notes while we waited I saw two lines appear on the test and managed to make out on the back of the packaging that that was a positive result. Still in denial, I kept quiet and waited for the midwife to read the results. She confirmed a minute or so later that it was amniotic fluid (cue ‘I told you so’ looks from Luke).
All I could think was ‘I’m not getting the home birth I want’ but rather than get worked up I stayed calm and we asked the midwife what would happen next.
She explained that as the fluid had been leaking for more than 48hours I would have to go into hospital to be induced and give birth there due to the risk of infection. Obviously our baby was priority number one and despite my anxiety around hospitals I was totally fine with the decision and was just looking forward to finally meeting our baby!
She rang the hospital and confirmed they wanted me to go in but said not to rush and have dinner before we went as if they put me on the drip I wouldn’t be able to eat.
We packed up the car and decided we’d have a final dinner out together and had a quick Bolognese at Jamie’s Italian!
We got to the hospital about 9.30pm – both of us giddy with excitement that we were finally going to meet our baby and that when we left we would be a party of three! It was very quiet on the assessment unit and we just relaxed while the CTG machine checked baby’s heartbeat.
The midwife explained they would also do an ultrasound to see how much fluid was still present. She asked what number baby it was and was surprised when we said it was our first – she said I was so calm and prepared to go with the flow it was as if I had babies all the time!
In my mind I just thought that whatever the process was it was going to be right for us and our baby so I just didn’t feel at all worried. She told us that due to the prolonged rupture of my waters I was going to be put straight on the oxytocin drip to induce my labour.
We were taken to our room on the delivery suite and I was prepped with cannulas, had bloods taken etc. All the way through we were kept informed, given options and allowed time to discuss which we were grateful for.
The midwife examined me and told me my cervix was completely closed and far back…despite my waters, my body had not made any head start on dilation! By the time this was all done it was 2am when the drip was started.
We had discussed with the midwife that I would be using hypnobirthing techniques and that I did not want any painkillers unless I asked for them. She was completely supportive of our choices.
Due to the drip I needed constant monitoring so she was going to be in the room all the time but said she wouldn’t get involved unless we asked or she needed to.
The lights were dimmed and soon enough I felt my first surge. I put my earphones in and listened to my MP3s but before long I wanted to get up and move around through my surges.
Luke was counting me down ‘5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Relax’ which really focused me on my breathing. I felt all my surges in my lower back and Luke did a great job using soothing strokes during them.
The only position I wanted to be in was knelt on the floor with my head on the bed – luckily there was a mat for me to kneel on! Due to the drip, the surges were intense and I was getting 4 to 5 surges in a 10 minute period each lasting 45-60 seconds so there wasn’t much time to gather my thoughts in between. But I really took myself out of the room to my relaxing place.
The midwife said my breathing was fantastic but by 6am I was starting to tire. I decided I’d have a couple of paracetamol to take the edge off as by now I was up to the maximum dose of the drip.
When the midwives changed shift at 7.30am we were blessed with a lovely midwife called Isabel who was just amazing throughout. I was examined and had made it to 2cm – Isabel told me I’d done an amazing job considering my cervix hadn’t even started to open when I arrived and this reassured me but I felt I had a long way to go.
I said the surges in my back was intense and Isabel suggested water injections which act as pain blockers but aren’t medication as such. I had these 4 injections in my back and out of everything I felt during labour these were the only thing I would describe as painful! Luckily the pain was momentary and the relief I felt was incredible. It gave me a few hours where I felt much more in control.
By 12pm, I was examined again and had reached 4cm; the doctor noted this was now ‘officially labour’ but after 10 hours of intense surges I wanted to argue that point! However, I closed my eyes, counted down and breathed my way out of that one!
I chose a second bout of water injections but this time only got about half an hour of relief before I began to struggle. After much deliberation and aware I may still have a way to go I decided to try some gas and air. More than anything this helped me focus on my breathing so I was glad I made that decision.
I only had about 20 minutes on the gas and air before one of the doctors came in and said they weren’t happy with the baby’s heartbeat which was now decelerating when I had a surge. All things considered, she said she would like to do an emergency caesarean section but gave us some time to discuss.
We asked Isabel to discuss it with us, but by this point I was exhausted and in my heart knew I wouldn’t be delivering our baby naturally so we made the decision to have the C-section rather than wait any longer. I just wanted my baby delivered safely.
Within the hour of making the decision we were in theatre. I didn’t even feel the spinal – I was just so excited to meet our baby. Isabel was there with us too which really meant a lot and she made sure the doctors new we wanted Luke to announce the sex.
At 2.49pm on Sunday 9th July our little bundle was born and Luke proudly told the room it was a little girl. I burst into tears at this – it was a really incredible moment
I had a brief cuddle but Luke held our daughter whilst I was stitched up. Once back in the room, we both had time for skin to skin and I fed her for the first time.
Everly Niamh Madeleine Anson weighed 8lb 2oz and is absolutely perfect.
We want to thank Deborah for preparing us mentally for our birth experience.
The process was the polar opposite from what we had wanted but neither of us would change anything about the way our daughter arrived. We felt in control of our decisions and were supported at all times. I felt so empowered during the whole birth and feel so proud of how Luke and I worked together as a team to bring Everly into the world. Thank you Deborah!