This truly is an amazing birth story and just shows how much The Wise Hippo course helps in pregnancy as well as on the day. Despite all the pressure and monitoring Colleen underwent when pregnant, she managed to stay calm and in control and went onto have an inspiring birth. Plus, I totally love that she was hosting a BBQ and went wedding dress shopping all whilst in labour!
Trying for a baby
After trying for a baby for two years, the day we found out we were pregnant was amazing! I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) which hadn’t been treated properly when I was originally diagnosed at the age of 21 and they also think I have endometriosis; however I found out I was pregnant two weeks before having keyhole surgery to investigate further.
I’d seen so many healthcare professionals and had various tests and procedures done as well as being on medication. We constantly had to discuss what we’d do if this didn’t work; I didn’t actually know what to do or who to tell when it actually worked! It was a long and frustrating two years but, like I said, after seeing 2 positive tests we were over the moon!
A stressful time
Sadly this feeling didn’t last for long as I started to bleed quite heavily; the doctor told me I was having an attempted miscarriage but could still see our baby on the scan so we should come back in a week to see if anything had changed as I wasn’t in any pain. I was expected to just go home and wait – it was the worst 3 days ever. The bleeding started to get heavy again (but still no pain) so I phoned 111 & they arranged for me to have an emergency scan at the hospital. Looking back I’m so glad that I trusted my body and knew that I needed to be checked and get a second opinion.
My doctor had been wrong, our baby was still growing perfectly, I had a haematoma right next to the amniotic sac which is where the blood was coming from. It wasn’t a major concern as it was small and they normally disappeared on their own. It would be checked at the 12 week scan and there was nothing we could do. Cue the most nerve wracking 6 weeks of our lives. I regularly cried about all the terrible things that might happen (hormones!) and was a mess deep inside whilst trying to keep it together in front of everyone else. I don’t think I even let my husband see just how anxious I was.
More appointments and anxiety
Despite all my worrying the bleeding subsided and we had our 12 week scan where we actually had to ask about the haematoma as the sonographer had no idea about it – it had completely disappeared! We were both relieved but deep inside I still couldn’t let go of my anxiety. My midwife had classified me as high risk at my booking in appointment due to family history of high blood pressure and diabetes, my PCOS diagnosis and my BMI was 0.5 over the ‘healthy’ amount (I had just come back from a 2 week all-inclusive holiday in Mexico, of course my diet had gone out the window!)
I had to have extra tests and appointments, including consultant appointments at the hospital which were always stressful! In the build up to each appointment my anxiety would get worse and every appointment would be negative; no one except my husband would say it’s going well, you’re doing a great job. It was always about what could go wrong even though everything was going fine – my blood pressure stayed good, I didn’t develop gestational diabetes and my tests were all clear.
By the halfway point it started to sink in that we were actually going to be having a baby – I had to give birth! I was extremely nervous about this due to the pain, but more because of ALL the possible things that could go wrong.
I felt like it was all we ever talked about and therefore it was all I could think about; I couldn’t even imagine having a baby at the end of it all and it was stopping me from getting excited. I knew I needed to get some help and get prepared. A friend of mine recommended Wise Hippo hypnobirthing and Deborah as she had just started the course herself. We went to a taster session and I was finally able, through the tears, to explain how I had been feeling.
Taking control and feeling relaxed
Deborah was so warm and supportive and my husband recognised straight away that we needed to do the full course. After every session I felt slightly better and despite much more frequent appointments (my cheeky little dude went breech and didn’t want to budge) I was feeling much more positive. My husband was extremely supportive and we became closer and closer as the birth approached.
I know this is meant to be a birth story but I think you need to know about the build up to appreciate how amazing our birth was. Being seen as a high risk pregnancy meant giving birth in hospital, but I was OK with this, it helped my anxiety as I felt I was in the right place if something did go wrong.
I had to go into the hospital for an ECV at 37 weeks to turn our baby into the right position but our hypnobirthing techniques helped me to stay calm and breath through the uncomfortable procedure. I knew I could refuse the procedure and try a natural breech birth but I’d come so far and was looking forward to giving birth, I really wanted to do anything I could to avoid a c-section. I wanted to know I could do it! It worked and our baby turned after the third attempt; he’d clearly been very settled! My husband was amazing as he gently stroked my hair, helped me with my breathing and reminded me of my happy place (sipping cocktails in the jacuzzi in Mexico).
Over the next couple of weeks I became increasingly uncomfortable as I wasn’t used to the new position of our baby and was trying everything to get him moving as I was finally excited about giving birth and meeting him. I even tried to go swimming: I managed 16 lengths followed by a 4 hour ‘nap’!
At 39 weeks I knew I just needed to keep myself busy as our baby would come when he was ready, so my friend came over with her 2 children. We had a lovely afternoon in the sunny garden and I truly felt relaxed.
The start of labour
We were having a great laugh at my friend’s little boy trying to work out how to use a walkie-talkie when I noticed my belly was a bit tender and my back was hurting more than usual. As the evening went on I kept getting the odd moment of intense pressure but it was very irregular and completely manageable so I assumed they were just Braxton Hicks. I should have realised that night that something was happening as I was waking up every 1-2 hours with the same intense feeling. I just put my relaxation track back on and went back to sleep.
On Friday morning I woke up with period like pains but I didn’t want to get mine or anyone else’s hopes up so I didn’t say anything, especially to my husband! I wanted to just get on with the day and see what happened. I spent the day napping and tidying up with only mild, irregular surges. I still wasn’t sure if this was it or not but I trusted my body.
Calm and in control
I was no longer afraid of every little unusual feeling because I knew what to do if this was the real thing. By the evening I couldn’t hide that something was happening from my husband but we still didn’t know if it was real or not so we just went on as usual – had a Friday night kebab and a Game of Thrones marathon. I tried to get as much sleep as possible that night. Knowing that something was happening I kept listening to my relaxation tracks but I still only managed 1-2 hours at a time as the period pain aches became stronger.
Nevertheless, as Saturday morning came I knew I had to keep busy so I persuaded Jake to go to work telling him that nothing was happening yet (bit of a fib but I had a feeling it might be his last day at work for a while).
BBQ and wedding dress shopping!
I spent the morning tidying and making a massive amount of potato salad for our barbecue later that day. At some point I decided that I was definitely having surges, not Braxton Hicks, but I kept using my breathing techniques and got ready to go wedding dress shopping for my sister!
It was a bit of a struggle getting in and out of the car as the baby had definitely dropped down; I couldn’t even sit up straight so my mum and sister had to fully recline the passenger seat in the car! As we discussed weddings and dresses I continued breathing through my irregular surges and was so calm that no one even noticed. When we got home I continued preparing food for the barbecue and reassuring Jake that I was fine, I didn’t want him making a fuss or getting his hopes up. I assumed as this was my first baby that the irregular surges would continue for at least another day or two – turns out I was very wrong!
We had a lovely barbecue with my parents, my sister & brother-in-law and my brother and sister-in-law but my surges were becoming more regular and Jake had started timing them as he noticed I was disappearing into the kitchen more often. I hadn’t realised but I was instinctively using my Wise Hippo hypnobirthing techniques to get through each surge. In the peace and quiet of the kitchen I was able to take long deep breaths and rock my hips whilst imagining myself in the lovely warm jacuzzi.
I kept rejoining my family to join in the friendly conversation and wonderful laughter which helped to take my mind off the the surges and stopped my anxiety about the birth from creeping back in.
We had planned to watch some important boxing match later in the evening but by 10.30 my surges were about every 20-30 minutes and my mind was only focused on one thing – staying calm.
We said goodbye to family and went to bed, after two nights of broken sleep I really wanted a good night’s sleep. I’d read about how some women have a fantastic nights sleep just before they give birth but our baby had other plans. Things started to move very quickly.
Getting ready to go to hospital!
Within 45 minutes of being in bed my surges were every 5 minutes and I was struggling a bit. I was worried about being at home considering how fast it was happening. Jake phoned the hospital and as I hadn’t taken any paracetamol or got into the bath yet they said I shouldn’t go in and ring back when I was having 3 surges every 10 minutes.
Jake ran me a lovely hot bath and helped me to re-focus. The water really helped with the pressure of each surge which meant I was able to relax again. I knew our baby was on the way but I wanted to make the most of being in the bath so I made Jake shave my legs. It might sound strange but it was such a normal thing to do in the bath that it stopped me from worrying about when the next surge might come or what it might feel like. I was being pampered and I liked it!
Within an hour my surges jumped from 2 every 10 minutes to 4 every 10 minutes – we needed to get to the hospital. Jake rang and they told us to come in. I had told every one that I would walk to hospital when the time came because we live so close by. I really didn’t want to get in a car but at 2am on a wet Sunday morning when I could barely get dressed without having to stop for a surge, walking was the last thing on my mind.
My mum drove us in and we were told they were very busy so we’d have to go the waiting room for a bit. This threw me a bit, I was constantly reminded of the high risk during my pregnancy yet I was left to labour in a waiting room without any questions or examinations.
After what felt like forever they took me to an assessment room and a midwife fumbled around checking my blood pressure and pulse but not looking at my notes or asking anything about my pregnancy or how often my surges were. I ignored it all and stayed in my calm, happy jacuzzi. After an hour the surges were every 2-3 minutes and much more intense. I wanted a nice comfortable bed to lay on and to get changed and ready for the arrival of our baby. I buzzed for the midwife to ask for some gas and air to which she replied, “I’m just reading your notes and I’ll come back and examine you when I’ve finished.”
I couldn’t hold my anxiety back anymore and Jake really had to step up and calm me down. I knew my baby was coming up but no one seemed to believe me. Finally the midwife examined me (an hour and a half after we’d arrived) and exclaimed, “Oh, you’re 5cm dilated, you’re actually in labour!” As frustrated as I was at this point I also felt a huge sense of relief and a massive boost in confidence. They were finally taking me into the delivery suite so I could have our baby and I was reassured that my body and I knew what we’re doing. I could do this!
An amazing birth story
We were quickly moved to our own room and I was given gas and air. The change of clothes, location and atmosphere (as well as the gas and air) helped massively and I was able to chat and laugh with my new midwives and get back to focusing on our baby. I kept chatting to my midwives whilst leaning on Jake, breathing and swaying my way through each surge.
I felt totally in control other than an overwhelming need to pee (my waters hadn’t broken yet). Just as the surges were becoming a bit too overwhelming, I was told I could get in the pool – I almost ran to it! My midwife said she’d never seen a pregnant woman move so fast. I knew the pool would be the best thing for me and would help me achieve my goal of giving birth with just gas and air.
As each surge happened in the pool I breathed through it, swaying my whole body to ensure my labour didn’t slow down whilst Jake used soothing strokes on my hair (something I’ve always found relaxing). I may have been tired but I wasn’t going to give up, I wanted to meet our baby and see if I was right about it being a boy or not.
By about 6.30 I felt like I needed to push as the pressure I felt was so intense and I told my husband I wasn’t sure I could do it any more as my legs were aching from the pressure. He calmed me down and helped me take several really long, deep breaths just as my waters popped and the pressure subsided. Every time it had started to feel too much, Jake had calmed me down, kept my anxiety at bay and something had changed to make me feel in control again.
Despite my waters breaking I still felt like I needed to push but my midwives kept me talking to help distract me and prevent me from pushing too soon and getting too tired; they were so lovely I enjoyed hearing them talk to each other & Jake and occasionally joining in the conversation.
Soon after, I had to get out of the pool to be monitored briefly (one of the hospital’s rules), which I didn’t mind as I actually wanted to be examined because I knew I had to be close to pushing. My midwife started to ask me if I would like to be examined and I said yes before she could even finish asking! I really started to believe the time was here. At this point the midwives had to swap over and I had to ignore everything in the room to keep myself calm. Jake took over, answering any questions we were asked & introducing us both to the new midwife.
She finally examined me after I asked if I could get back in the pool and she gave me the best and worst news – I was already 10cm dilated, baby was on the way but it was happening too quick to get back in the pool.
Well worth the wait
I was heartbroken & panic set in that I couldn’t handle it without the warmth of the water but then it dawned on me that this was it – our baby was finally here after 2 years of dreaming about it.
I could and would do anything to make this moment happen. I thought back to Deborah’s words about finding my happy place and just doing what is natural. I zoned everyone out and focused on my breathing. I don’t remember much about the pushing stage as I just put my blinkers on and breathed through each surge knowing we were one step closer to meeting our baby. The next thing I do remember is a rushing sensation coming over my body as our baby was born & Jake saying “Colleen it’s a boy!” I remember thinking I knew I was right as he was placed on my chest and I set eyes on the newest member of our family – I felt nothing but pure love. I didn’t even realise that I had a second degree tear, I couldn’t feel any pain.
The midwife simply turned to us and said, “do you know what you’ve had Colleen?” It was all so surreal that our dreams had finally come true that I actually replied in a questioning tone, “Jake said it’s a boy?” The midwife replied, “yes it is, congratulations!” We had skin to skin and Jake cut the cord.
It was the most magical experience of my life and the only thing I struggled a bit with was the tiredness (I gave birth on the hottest day of the year so far in May & hadn’t slept properly for three nights!) I would (& will) do it again but for now I am enjoying our time with my gorgeous, content baby (who loves to sleep!) I’m so glad we had a calm birth as it’s given me a calm baby which, as first time parents, has really helped. We love him with all our hearts.