This week I am sharing with you a story very close to my heart. As this gorgeous little boy celebrates his second birthday this week, his Mum (who happens to be my best mate) kindly shares her birth story with us. This still stands as one the most special moments in my career. There are some births, which I will remember for a life time – and this was one of them. As a midwife, it’s an honor and a privilege to welcome new life in to this world, but when you get to stand hand in hand with your oldest friend as she enters motherhood…there are no words (only tears, Lol).
VICKY | THE FREEDOM OF LETTING GO
I never wrote down a strict birth plan as I always thought it could change quite drastically and I didn’t want to lose my mind if it did! Turns out I was right and I only slightly lost it! I was planning on a water birth in Cosham birth centre, a lovely facility. The rooms were centred around the birth pool, slings and balls to have an active labour, essential oil diffusers, bluetooth music speakers – all of this was right up my street and I was so excited about having a really present, active, natural labour and birth experience. I had been practising hypnobirthing and meditations and was ready to come into my strength as a woman, I was quite excited about labour! I didn’t read any books or ask anyone about their detailed birth stories apart from Sarah, my best friend / midwife / owner of The Birth Circle! She sent me her birth video, which I watched really near to the end of my pregnancy, what a warrior!!!
I was 12 days over my due date, when I was walking up a massive hill at a national trust place near my home when I thought, this isn’t going to happen! I’m not going to make it to Cosham (you had to go into labour naturally and not be more than 14 days overdue). Skip forward a day and I was in my sister’s paddling pool. It was about 30 degrees heat and I was trying to stay cool in the hottest summer England had seen for over 50 years! Scheduled to go into Southmead hospital that evening at 8pm to be induced, something I really didn’t want (I’d been bouncing every night on my exercise ball along with everything else that is meant to bring on the arrival of baby!) I had my hospital bag packed and everything ready to go! We got to the hospital, I took my hospital bag in but expected to be given a pessary and sent home to let everything get going. Cosham was no longer an option but they told me if I was induced I could still go into their water birth delivery suites, which seemed a great option.
They put me and baby Heddon on the monitor as a normal procedure and found that his heartbeat was really erratic, it was going really fast and then slowing down again. The midwife checked me over and all was fine with me, but obviously something was wrong, she looked a bit worried. I was worried. All throughout my pregnancy I’d been low risk, no problems and in the space of about 5 minutes, I was now classed as high risk, I couldn’t go home, I couldn’t have a water birth, and I would have to give birth on my back in a cold, harsh hospital bed. At least that’s what I told myself when I lost it a little bit. I cried to my other half, Matt, and then with some rationality and compassion from him I realised what was important was that Heddon was safe and came out when and how he needed to, to make sure he was well.
I was given the pessary at 10pm on Saturday night and felt a few twinges after about an hour, then nothing all night! Matt went home at about midnight, but they kept me and Heddon on the monitor all night, so I barely slept, but was happy to start bouncing on my ball from about 9am Sunday morning! All the staff were so supportive and it felt like having a village of really supportive mums around you!
By 11am contractions had started and came on pretty strong and fast. I knew the ball would do it in the end!! Matt and I did numerous laps of the hospital garden, stopping to prop myself up on him when a contraction came! They put me back on the monitor and Heddon’s heart rate kept speeding up and slowing. It would speed up and then stay fast, so they decided to break my waters to move things along. It was quite a nice warm rushing feeling – a release, mentally and physically. I was waiting to move up to central delivery suite, and my lunch had just arrived (I’d only had half a piece of toast since the previous evening – take snacks ladies!!). Heddon’s heart rate sped up again and wasn’t coming down and I was quickly moved into a wheelchair and up to central delivery suite. It was very scary for Matt and I, and far, far away from my idea of essential oils and a birthing pool! We got into the central delivery suite at about 2.30pm, and I went straight on gas and air as the contractions felt so strong. Matt suggested just having little puffs on it, so when the pain worsened I could have more and it would have more of an effect. There were a couple of lovely midwives there and a doctor came in and out to discuss things with the midwives. They were monitoring us closely and mentioned the possibility of a caesarean early on, which, at that point, I was OK with, whatever was best for Heddon was what had to be done.
I was quite static, mainly lying on the bed, but standing and leaning and swaying now and then, also laughing and happy and nervous. I didn’t know what to do, but I was going through it, knowing that I could do it. You find the strength, it comes to you in that moment, and even though you may have moments of weakness, that goes towards the whole experience as a woman. My breathing had gone out of the window unfortunately. Matt was a great birthing partner though – calm, compassionate, funny, understanding, and strong hand holding technique! Then Sarah arrived and completed my birth triangle! Sarah and Matt complemented each other as birth partners in every way and I could not have asked for a better team to support my labour! She immediately told me to breathe deeper on the gas and air, I think she saw me struggling slightly! Still, I didn’t notice much difference with the pain, but it helped me control my breathing! I don’t remember the details of how dilated I was or how close my contractions were but I remember the feeling in the room. It was alive with life and energy and positivity even though I was in so much pain, and things were a little uncertain with what little Heddon was up to inside. I still felt that energy overcome me! Every time I said I couldn’t do it Matt told me I could and every time the midwives spoke about something, Sar listened in and gave me the translation! It was so comforting to have my best friend there who also happens to be amazing at her job.
The contractions were coming fast and very strong and I felt extremely weak, I didn’t have anything left to harness, so after some discussion with the midwives and our little birth triangle, I decided I’d have an injection of pethidine. Apparently I was snoozing between contractions after, I don’t remember that! A caesarean was still on the cards, as I was quite weak and Heddon’s heart rate was still erratic. They put me on a drip as it was so hot and I was quite dehydrated. About an hour later I suddenly had the urge to push. Sar knew that face! “You want to push, don’t you. Can she push?” she asked the midwives, she was so respectful to them and the job they were doing. So I pushed, I’m not sure for how long but I remember Matt and Sar’s hands and encouraging words, and with a little help from the suction cup, Heddon was here. 10.18pm Sunday 1st July!
Giving birth was the most empowering, challenging, personal and shared journey that I have ever experienced. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but it was better and it happened perfectly for Heddon. He was exactly where he needed to be. Giving birth in a hospital was such a positive experience as well – the midwives and nurses surround you pre and post pregnancy like a little family and any doubts or fears fade away with their reassurance and support. To anyone that is pregnant – things that helped me were trying to stay adaptable and positive. Remember your strength, know that we are built for this and you will bring your baby into this world in the best and safest way possible, the decisions will come naturally and surround yourself with people who love and respect you, they will give you even more strength!
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