First-time parents Zoe and Eddy put all their techniques to use before labour even started, due to the fact Zoe was told her bump was measuring ‘bigger’ than normal. Despite extra monitoring Zoe remained in control, and with Eddy’s support had an amazing and empowered birth.
Our birth story really started during week 36 when I found out my bump was measuring on the big side: I was told it was measuring the equivalent of 39 weeks.
As a result, I was scheduled in for a blood glucose check to test for Gestational Diabetes. The test involved fasting from midnight, drinking lucozade first thing in the morning and then having a blood test 2 hours later to see how my body dealt with the sugar.
My results came back higher than expected and before I knew it I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and having to do blood sugar tests 6 times a day. I was booked in for growth scans, seeing consultants and being advised to have an early induction because, I was told, baby is going to be “really big”…not ideal.
Having had a very straight forward pregnancy this was all very overwhelming, particularly as I really didn’t want to be induced.
My husband Eddy and I used our Wise Hippo Hypnobirth techniques lots during these weeks to stay positive. The BRAINS questioning technique was particularly useful to make sure we asked the consultants all the right questions. In the evenings we relaxed listening to the mp3’s, particularly the Cove of Confidence!
After a couple of weeks all of my sugar tests were showing fine and I knew baby was ok, which was quite frustrating as once diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes (GD), apparently they aren’t able to un-diagnose you!
To try and avoid induction we decided to book in for extra stretch and sweeps and the induction was scheduled in 5 days over my estimated due date, for Friday 19th May.
On Wednesday 17th May I had my third and final membrane sweep with my midwife. Each sweep had showed progress.
At the first I was told I was 1cm dilated with a firm long cervix (which was promising for my first baby), the second 2cm dilated where the cervix had softened a little and shortened slightly.
This time my cervix had softened even more and my midwife said she could feel my waters – apparently they were ‘bulging’! She said if this final sweep didn’t work then she’d ‘give up midwifery’…
Getting things moving!
So I was on a mission to get things moving! I didn’t sit down all day. I took a walk with my mum in the pouring rain, bounced on my gym ball and even took a stroll around the shops!
At 10pm I went up to bed and as my back was aching decided to do some yoga stretches. I had an urge to lay down some towels on our new bedroom carpet and as I stood up I panicked as my body was doing an uncontrollably massive wee on the towels.
Eddy walked in at that exact moment and said ‘I think your waters have broken..’.then it dawned on me – this is it!!
I’ll always remember that priceless feeling of excitement, realisation and anxiety, which was very similar to the moment we saw the little blue line on our pregnancy test and found out we were going to be parents – unforgettable.
Having called the triage line we were asked to go into hospital within the next couple of hours as they wanted to monitor the baby for a while because of the diabetes. I would have preferred to have slept but I knew it was precautionary to check everything was ok.
We left home at 11pm and didn’t get back until 3am by which point my surges had started. I sent Eddy up to bed as we were both tired and I tried my best to relax and doze between surges.
I managed on my own until 7am: going between my bed, the sofa and the bath, including a call to my Mum for a chat and to let her know things were happening.
Creating an ideal birth environment
At 7am I felt like I needed to wake Eddy as the surges had started to build. We created a lovely safe environment with candles and different options for different positions.
Eddy used the soothing strokes to get me through some of the stronger surges but I actually found a heat pad pushed on my lower back more useful at times.
At 9am I took two paracetamol and carried on really focussing on breathing during surges and drifting off to my relaxing place in between them.
One thing that sticks in my mind was during the surge breaths I kept telling myself to breathe all the way into my tummy so I could feel it fill up. I felt like I was helping the baby. It might sound odd but it really worked for me.
Meanwhile poor Eddy was having a stressful time trying to stay calm as his phone would keep freezing while he was trying to time surges!
At 10am the surges were coming more regularly so Eddy called our friend, who’s a midwife, and she encouraged us to stay home for as long as we could.
I was oblivious to any of this going on but by 11am Eddy made the decision to call triage as I was getting 3 surges within 10 minutes and they were lasting around a minute each.
I remember feeling ready to go to hospital so put my headphones in for the car journey shut my eyes and continued to focus on breathing.
Heading to hospital
On arrival at the hospital we were taken to an assessment room and after being examined I was 5cm dilated and in established labour! The midwife said how amazing I’d done to get that far at home and I said “it’s because I’ve been in my happy place…Bora Bora!”
I was then offered Gas & Air but I felt like I could go a little longer on my own. We were swiftly moved to a delivery suite and mentally I knew I was in the room where we would meet our baby!
Eddy gave the midwife our birth preferences and they really respected them, more than I thought they might, being on delivery suite and knowing I had GD, which meant we had continuous monitoring.
Within a few minutes the blinds were down to dim the light, I had a gym ball, floor mat, wireless monitoring set up and the bed moved to look more like a chair!
I moved on to the gas and air to get me through the surges as they continued to grow. The whole time I remained standing and swayed side to side, it helped me to focus on breathing.
The monitor was playing up meaning they couldn’t get baby’s heartbeat so they asked to attach a clip to baby’s head which would then have a better connection for monitoring. I remember agreeing because it was annoying that they had to keep pulling at the straps all the time. At the same time I was examined and told I was still 5cm…slightly gutting and resulted in my first period of self doubt.
Calm and in control
In that moment, my original community midwife (who’d seen I was in) came and saw us with a bundle of energy telling me how amazing I was doing, “you’re doing it Zo and you’re doing amazing” and I can remember thinking I am actually doing this!
As I continued to progress there were a couple of times that baby’s heartbeat dropped lower and for longer than they would like during a surge. This along with the clip losing signal, due to me being so active standing and swaying, meant I had to lay on the bed so they could get a good 10 minutes to see what baby was doing.
At one point we had about 6 people including consultants and doctors enter the room to explain that they were monitoring me closely and there was a chance we might need to get baby out quickly.
They thought she could have either been in an awkward position or had the cord caught around her which would cause her heart rate to drop. I was aware of this happening but remained totally calm and focussed on breathing.
Prepping for theatre
I knew that Eddy was watching closely and would make the best and right decision for us all. It happened for a second time and this time they discussed the situation with me and prepped me for theatre.
I was spoken to by the most lovely anaesthetist who reassured me that if I ended up going into theatre what to expect. Again I still focussed on breathing and telling myself that my baby and body know what to do.
I can remember the overwhelming desire to start pushing. It was like my body took control and just started doing it. I asked to be examined and was told I was at 10cm and could start pushing during the surges.
I moved to all fours over the bed and used each surge to push down, encouraged by the midwives. My body then had a surge that lasted at its peak for over 5 minutes, meanwhile our baby’s heart rate dropped and took a while to get back to normal.
This resulted in the consultants and doctors returning to the room as it was a long time for baby to be distressed. Before I know it Eddy was scrubbed up we were off to theatre – but I knew it was the right thing to do and that we were prepared for it.
The right birth on the day
Once in theatre I was prepped to have a spinal block. We had to wait for a surge to pass and then before I knew it I had instant relief as the only thing I could feel was warmth running throughout my body. I didn’t feel the injection at all and felt relaxed and excited as I knew we were so close to meeting our baby.
A midwife had to closely monitor my surges (as I was unable to feel them) and announce to the room when it was time for me to push. On her cue I had to try and push in the same way I had half an hour earlier, without being able to actually feel anything. As I pushed, everyone in the theatre cheered me on! I look back and remember it as a fun and exciting experience, not scary or daunting, with the anaesthetist and doctors reassuring me every step of the way.
I was told to pant as the head was getting closer then with a few more pushes our baby was here! A nurse quickly checked baby over and then waved Eddy over to see and announce the gender.
He walked back over to me with a tear in his eye and told me that we have a beautiful baby girl. Before I knew it I was holding our daughter as Eddy and I cried with pure relief, excitement and love.
Mali Jay Edwards was born by forceps on 18th May at 8.15pm, weighing 8lb 14oz.
Considering the theatre lights and forceps Mali was relatively calm. Probably calmer than Eddy and I.
We were taken back to delivery suite where we both had skin on skin with Mali and in those moments of bonding we all relaxed – we were now a family. A love no one can ever truly explain.
I have always been a worrier and so labour to me was always a scary thought, however I really believe the hypnobirthing techniques that Deborah taught us allowed both Eddy and I to stay calm on the lead up and throughout my labour.
I’m also sure baby Mali recognises the mp3’s as she is so chilled when we put them on now and generally calm and relaxed! Now we are settling into family life as a three and there is nothing more special.