Sometimes birth is difficult and complicated and long. Sometimes it’s completely different to how you imagined it would be.

Rachel and Ricky had a birth like this. And, you know what? Their hospital birth story is completely amazing and inspiring.

Although it didn’t go the way they’d hoped – the techniques they’d learnt made all the difference. As Rachel says – ‘I’m just so thankful and pleased that we signed up to your classes, particularly after the birth we ended up having. By using everything we learnt we both saw the positives and didn’t once feel like things were out of our control.’

Rachel and Ricky’s birth story

Immediately after the birth of our gorgeous baby boy I worried that my birth story wouldn’t be appropriate to share with others. I felt that I didn’t want to scare anybody or give them a bad impression of how differently births can go, to how they were imagined.

 

However, as the hours went by I felt more and more empowered by what we’d been through. Although things didn’t go to plan ,I still felt amazing about the whole experience! And although there were aspects I felt uncomfortable thinking about at first, I realised that the good that came out of the whole thing far outweighed the bad.

 

I wanted to share my story to show that even if you end up having the opposite birth to what you imagined, by using the Wise Hippo techniques, the experience can still shape you in an extremely positive way!

 

I went to bed on the Wednesday night knowing that something was happening, as I’d spent all day feeling uncomfortable- whatever position I sat/stood/lay in, I couldn’t settle.

 

At 2:45am I woke up to the feeling of my waters breaking. I woke my husband to let him know and we considered going back to sleep, however, after a trip to the loo my surges were fairly consistent and we decided to get up, to start blowing up our birthing pool. We’d heard about quick labours and didn’t want to get caught out before having time to blow up and fill the pool.

We went downstairs and whilst my husband set to work, I bounced on my birthing ball and rang the homebirth midwives to let them know that my waters had broken and I was getting regular surges. They took around an hour to get to us and showed up just before 5am.

After checking my waters they said they were unsure but that they thought that they could see light meconium staining and said that unfortunately that meant I would have to go into hospital on the delivery ward. At first I was really upset, as I’d been so certain about wanting a home birth and the thought of having a hospital birth upset me. I went upstairs and took some time to myself.

 

I spoke to my husband and asked him to speak to the midwife about what would happen if I just stayed at home; he spoke to her and she told him that I didn’t really have the option to stay at home and that the safest place for me and the baby would be in hospital. I took some relaxing breaths and soon felt fine about the situation. Whatever was meant to be, would be, and if it meant having a hospital birth then that wasn’t the end of the world and instead of being upset I got excited to being closer to meeting my baby.

 

The midwives examined me before they left and were surprised that I was 2 1/2 -3cm dilated. Her enthusiasm made us feel hopeful that things would progress quickly and we were thinking we’d be in hospital for a short while and be back that evening, our baby being born a day before his/her due date.

 

We made our way into hospital, arriving just after 7am, with our pre-packed birth bag and settled into our room. I wanted to stay active during my labour, so I walked around and used the birthing ball a lot to try and get things moving. My husband was great throughout, massaging me when I needed it and being generally supportive.

 

I was checked after 4 hours and was surprised to hear I hadn’t dilated much at all, I was just 3cm. But I remained calm and used my breathing techniques to breath through the surges. They gave me another 4 hours before checking me again. The whole time I had monitors on me to monitor my surges and the baby’s heart rate. Thankfully they were wireless, which enabled me to remain mobile.

 

I continued walking around and using the birthing ball and one of the midwives told me that if I’d dilated at the next check then they would try their best to get me into the birthing pool as they’d read my birth plan and were sad that what I was going through was very different to what I had wanted. I was optimistic that I would have dilated by this stage, as I only needed to have dilated 1cm to have been considered for a water birth.

 

Unfortunately by the next examination I was still 3cm dilated. At this stage they were slightly concerned due to the light meconium and wanted things to process quicker than they were. My waters were broken, as it was just the hind waters that had broken hours before, and I was put on an oxytocin drip to speed things up; by this stage the surges were getting more intense and I decided to use my TENS machine to help manage the discomfort.

 

The oxytocin kept doubling in dose and eventually the surges were too much to bear so I told the midwife not to increase it any more. Because I was so calm and quiet I felt that she didn’t quite understand what I was going through and therefore didn’t see an issue with increasing the dose.

 

We had a discussion and she ended up increasing it, to which I had a never ending surge which only calmed down once I’d asked for the drip to be turned down again. It was at this point that the midwives had a serious discussion with me about my options. My waters had broken 16 hours earlier, I’d had nothing to eat since the evening before I went to bed and had only used the TENS machine as pain relief.

 

The midwives left the room so that I could chat to my mum and husband in private to come to a decision about how to progress. We all quite quickly came to the agreement that an epidural was the way forward as it meant I wouldn’t be able to feel the intensity of the surges and they could quickly increase the amount of oxytocin I was receiving in order to speed up the labour and ensure the healthy delivery of our baby.

 

Shortly after the anaesthetist arrived and gave me the epidural. It was a long uncomfortable half hour as they put it in, but once it was in, and taking effect, the whole mood changed. It went from being deadly silent to us laughing and chatting, just as the original midwives shift had come to an end. The next two midwives had arrived just at the right time as we were much more chirpy.

 

I was then examined again and despite the epidural and cranking up the oxytocin I was still 3cm dilated. The doctor then came in and said that I had 4 hours and if still nothing had changed then I needed to prepare for an emergency C-section. By this stage I really didn’t mind how my baby was born as I was tired of being examined and just wanted my baby in my arms.

 

I had the epidural topped up, would sleep for an hour and wake up with it needing to be topped up again before going back to sleep. The 4 hours passed and the doctor came in to examine me. My heart rate had suddenly started to increase and my temperature had risen by 1.5 degrees in an hour, they also noticed at this point that our baby’s heart rate had also started to increase which concerned them.

 

Up until that point the baby had a perfect heart rate and all the doctors and midwives who came in made a point of saying how beautifully behaved the baby was. Even after being told the news I remained calm and didn’t let it affect how I was feeling, I knew that me getting stressed or worried wouldn’t have changed the situation at all. So at this point me, my husband and my mum were all prepared for going in for a C-section as we knew that unless something amazing had happened in the past 4 hours, it would be unlikely that the doctors would let me progress at the rate I was going.

 

The doctor examined me and all eyes were on her to see what the result would be. It didn’t look promising from the look on her face, however, she then proceeded to tell us that I was 9cm! She was very serious though and said that due to my increased heart rate and temperature I would need antibiotics which were given to me through a cannula immediately. She said she would be back in half an hour and that if I was 10cm we would try to push, however, even if I was 10cm there was no guarantee that I would have my baby vaginally. All my jewellery was taken off or taped up and half an hour later she returned.

 

It was now the Friday, the baby’s due date and I began to feel excited about meeting our baby because I knew however he/She would be delivered, it really wasn’t long until I would be holding him/her in my arms.

 

Half an hour later she returned and I was 10cm! Our baby was ready! She said I had 15 minutes to try and push or she would be in with forceps. The thought of forceps had always been my worst nightmare, however I didn’t panic and tried my hardest to get the baby out before she returned.

 

Unfortunately, due to the epidural I couldn’t feel my surges and therefore the midwives had to feel my tummy to let me know when to push. The 15 minutes passed and the doctor returned and suddenly the room seemed to turn into an operating theatre with what felt like loads of doctors and midwives all filling the room. My legs were up in stirrups and I couldn’t help but think how different things were to the water birth at home I had imagined.

 

The next thing I knew I was pushing and soon felt my baby’s body making it’s way into the world. It was 2:21am, almost 24hrs since my initial waters had broken. My husband announced that we had a beautiful baby boy! I was shocked as I was convinced we were having a girl, but I was absolutely over the moon.

 

He was taken off to be sucked out and the cord was cut immediately, before my husband then cut it shorter. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that these little details that also hadn’t gone the way we planned were no longer the be all and end all and I just felt lucky to have my baby boy arrive safely.

 

Once he’d been sucked out which felt like forever I finally got to cuddle him. He was just perfect and I couldn’t get over how scrummy he smelt! Soon after they told us he had to be taken to get antibiotics as a precautionary measure due to the fact I was showing signs of infection just before he was born.

 

They then took him off for about 45minutes which was awful and not what I ever would have wanted in the first few hours of my baby’s life. However the doctors were busy stitching me up so I just lay there with my husband’s support and every time someone opened the doors I was checking if it was my baby coming back.

 

Finally they brought him back and he had some skin on skin with both me and my husband, it was just amazing.
Roughly an hour after they’d stitched me up they looked at the pad underneath me and realised I was still bleeding a lot more than I should have been. During this time there were talks of theatre and ICU and I was worried I would then be taken away from my baby again, however the doctor said she would try to do the procedure in the room before heading to theatre.

 

I remained positive and had full trust in the doctor. I lay there whilst my Mum held our beautiful baby boy and my husband held my hand and watched what the doctors were doing. I was so lucky to have him there and couldn’t have done any of it without him. In the moments when I didn’t know what was going on, I felt assured that he was asking the right questions, had a full understanding of what was happening and wasn’t going to let anyone do anything to me without my consent.

 

The epidural had worn off and so I had gas and air to take the edge off whilst the doctors had my legs back up in stirrups, found where I was bleeding from and did some further stitching. Without the gas and air I’m not sure I could have gone through that part of the whole thing. They eventually finished up and I was assured that the bleeding had stopped and that my uterus was contracting as it should have been. I then had more cuddles with my baby boy and husband and it made everything better instantly.

 

I was then closely monitored as I had lost 1.8L of blood, my pulse rate was still high and my blood pressure was very low. I had blood tests periodically and the doctor told me that despite having an iron transfusion, my haemoglobin was half the amount it should have been and that they would strongly advise that I had a blood transfusion. I was upset as I’d been a blood donor for 3 years and knew that once receiving a transfusion it would mean I could no longer donate, however I knew that in order to heal and get better for both me and my baby I needed to take their advice.

 

I ended up having 3 units of blood and my haemoglobin rose by less than 10. I was slowly getting better in myself though and no longer felt light headed when I got up to go to the loo.

 

It was a very surreal experience as we were in one room from arriving at just after 7am on the Thursday and didn’t leave until we were taken to Iffley Ward at 11am on the Saturday. However we were all pleased to be moving as it meant things were looking up and we no longer required one-to-one care.

 

We requested a private room as my husband wanted to stay with us each night and my Grandma had kindly offered to pay for it. We were hoping to be out within a day or two, little did we know we wouldn’t be leaving until a week after the birth of our baby boy!

 

Overall I felt that we were all very lucky and that although it wasn’t the birth we ever would have imagined, we had so many positives come out of it. We were looked after round the clock by an amazing team at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. I was served 3 meals a day, tea and coffee was offered every couple of hours, our sheets were changed each day, bins were emptied twice a day, bathroom was cleaned daily, my drugs were brought round every 6hours so I didn’t have to remember to take anything myself, we had moral support and kind words from all the staff which kept our spirits high.

 

There were visiting hours between 2 and 9pm and therefore we had time as a family without people showing up uninvited. When people did come they brought us food and drink and our parents took our dirty washing and brought us back clean clothes daily. We also had midwives at our side at the press of a button and so baby Frank is now really well established with his feeding, as whenever I had any issues the midwives would come and talk me through exactly how to help him latch on.

 

I feel very blessed to have been able to experience first hand how truly amazing the staff of the NHS are, I had full confidence in them throughout and have great admiration for how they make such a difference to people’s lives on a daily basis.

 

My husband also went above and beyond what I ever could have wished for. For a week he slept on a chair by my side and only left during the later stages to get food for himself. For the first 5 days of Frank’s life I didn’t change a single nappy, my husband dressed him and burped him and it was such a beautiful thing to see as our boy knew exactly who his Daddy was and would settle in his arms so peacefully.

 

When we eventually returned home it was a bit of a shock to the system at first and we didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves after being in one room for a week, however it was good to be home and we soon started venturing out of the house and feeling a bit more ‘normal’.

 

Frank is a very calm and relaxed baby despite having doctors prodding and poking him and having a cannula in his arm for the first week of his life and we feel that the hypnobirthing course contributed to his calmness, as we are both calm and relaxed ourselves.

 

We never could have imagined how different our real birth story could have been to the one we wrote during the hypnobirthing course, however, we are both so thankful to Deborah for everything she taught us over the 4 weeks as it helped hugely during the birth of our baby boy.
We remained calm, felt in control and most importantly remained positive through it all.

 

I’m just so thankful and pleased that we signed up to Deborah’s group classes, particularly after the birth we ended up having as I feel without the lessons we both could have been left feeling a bit traumatised. By using everything we learnt we both saw the positives and didn’t once feel like things were out of our control.

 

The midwives also kept saying how lucky I was to have such great birth partners and the course really helped Ricky to feel like he had a role to play throughout the whole thing. He really was amazing.
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