Friday, 24 May 2019

The Birth Story of Henry George.

I'm so excited to share this birth story with you. I LOVED Henry's birth, and I don't think I've managed to tell anyone the full story yet, so this will probably be a long one while I try to remember every tiny detail!
I feel so lucky to have had three very positive births, and I love that I can share my experiences to show that labour and birth can be truly amazing.
[you can read Phoebe's here, and Leonard's here]

Firstly, a shout out the The Positive Birth Company who sell a very very affordable digital hypno-birthing course (they do face to face courses too, but I purchased the digital pack!). I can 100% recommend this not just to pregnant women, but to the birth partners too. It made me feel empowered, and ready to feel like a goddess giving birth! Alongside this I bought their FREYA app from the iStore to use as a timer, and an additional birth partner!

On to the story...

Saturday April 27th.

My Mum had offered to watch Phoebe and Leonard for us overnight so we could rest. (And hopefully have a baby!) We decided on a kebab shop takeaway for dinner. I had a cheese burger and chips, and ate a few of the chilli peppers from Stu’s salad.

Before I went to bed I put a poll on Instagram saying ‘Will baby come tonight?’. It was a majority vote of yes, but of course I woke up on my due date slightly disappointed that I was still pregnant!

Sunday April 28th.

We woke up early despite not having the children home. I slept well, and felt rested. We got a call at 7:19am from Stu’s parents to say that Stu’s Grandma had passed away in the early hours.

I felt a bit crampy, and decided to take an early bath around 8:30. I added one of my LUSH Sex Bomb bath bombs (with the clary sage oil in) into the bath, and read the magazine my Mum had bought me the previous day.

I spent around 45 minutes in the bath, and the cramps weren’t going anywhere, so I got dressed in my comfy clothes, and started to time them. I accepted that they were contractions, but didn’t know if it was the real deal or not after my previous false starts.

After about half an hour I knew things felt different to before, and I asked Stu to bring up my ball. I told him that I thought things were happening for real, but didn’t know how long it would be, because everything felt manageable and calm. I put on my dressing gown, which has been a comfort in all my labours, and I drew the curtains in our bedroom. I wanted to labour in there. 

I used the FREYA app to stay relaxed, and to time my surges. (I installed the app on an old iPhone I have, which meant I wasn’t ever disturbed by calls/messages, and I didn’t worry about my actual phone running out of battery! It was fab to have the app on both devices, and you only have to pay the once if your iCloud accounts are on both). 

Stu quietly moved around me, and just sort of watched me in the background trying not to disturb me, but making sure I knew he was there if I needed anything. He called my Mum around 10am to tell her that I was in early labour, and to ask if she could keep watching Phoebe and Leonard for us that day. He said he’d call back in an hour to update her.

I paced the Baby's nursery for a while, enjoying the room, and changing the number on our chalk board countdowns. We should have taken some last minute bump shots, but never got around to it. 

I said that I felt like I should eat to keep my energy levels up, but that I wasn't feeling very hungry. Stu cut me up an apple for me to nibble on. I remember it being really thinly sliced and enjoying that I didn't need to take big bites! Not something that I'd usually notice, but I really appreciated it at the time. 

I enjoyed labouring at home. I felt my muscles moving upwards, and remember stroking up my belly, welcoming each surge, knowing that each one was bringing me closer to my baby. I sat on my ball, or rocked over it on all fours. I paced the room, keeping upright, and leaned over our dresser to concentrate on breathing and using the app. I felt happy, and was smiling and chatting in between each one. I remember asking Stu if his Grandma had a middle name, because if this baby was a girl then it would have been really lovely to honour her. I also remember giving Stu a shopping list as my Sister was heading to the shops!

Things started to get a little more intense, but still manageable. The peak of the contraction was making me frown and sway. I brought myself back to a relaxed state after each one, by making a conscious effort to relax my jaw, forehead and shoulders. Stu said he was watching out for me being tense but that I managed to relax myself each time without needing to be reminded. I remember saying to Stu that I felt sleepy. I think it’s because I listened to the MP3s so much during pregnancy to get me to sleep that I was so relaxed listening to them that morning, and I was getting mentally ready for bed!

I was on and off the toilet ALL morning. This being my third labour I knew my body was clearing itself out, but I’ve never needed to be on the toilet that much before. I don't know if it was something I ate, or just my body/ the position of baby on my bowels. I shut the window blind in that room, lit a candle, and found safety and comfort being in there when I needed to be.

Stu went around the house and closed all the curtains as he knew I wanted to be in a dark space, but I never left upstairs until we were heading into hospital. I noticed that the time was 11:11 and made a wish to meet my happy healthy baby that day.

FREYA was invaluable for the breathing countdown and relaxation MP3s, but the app never actually told me it was time to go to hospital (part of me thinks I didn’t hit ‘start’ until I was almost at the peak of my surges so they weren’t being documented as long enough?!). I trusted my gut instinct, and used my previous experience and TPBC knowledge to make a judgement call. Stu phoned the MLU for me, and the midwife said she would be expecting us in when we were ready.

This is the last screenshot I took of my timings (I took a few!) before we went in to hospital.

Stu started to gather all the last minute bits, while I had a mini wobble. I think maybe this was transition. I didn’t cry, but felt teary. I was excited, but it was all suddenly very real, and happening, and I was going to meet my baby! I had been in calm denial pretty much up until this point. So I decided to have one more trip to the toilet before heading downstairs. I put in a pad at this point, expecting my bloody show to turn up any minute.

Getting my shoes on was a struggle I had a surge on all fours on the hall way floor, but I got them on and went out to the car. I had a long one as I was getting in, and had to position myself as comfortably as I could, and I heard myself make an involuntary light ‘ooooooooh’ noise at the peak. It was the start of the mooing! The journey to the hospital took around 15 minutes. I continued to use FREYA for the breathing coaching on the journey, even though I think I knew deep down that I was already in the down stage of labour. It gave me something to focus on. I kept my eyes shut for most of the journey and tried to zone out (I remember hearing my Husband cussing a dodgy driver!).

We got to hospital around 12:15pm. We passed another couple leaving the midwifery unit with their newborn and the mother and I gave each other a slight knowing smile. The MLU is upstairs, because OF COURSE it is! So half way up I had to stop and lean on the barriers to sway and shake off the surge. Then I marched on up determined to get there before I had another! It took a little while for us to be shown to a room, we were told they were really busy that day! I asked if there was a pool, and was told there wasn’t one available at the moment. So I asked if there was a ball available and my midwife, Claire, said she would look for me. The room had the curtains drawn, and it was very warm so I stripped off my shoes, trousers, and tee, and took myself over to the armchair to rest over it on all fours. This was around 12:30.

Stu came and went a couple of times with bags, and to grab the change for the carpark (he got the last space in the maternity carpark, luckily!). I was zoned out, and trying to up breathe when really I needed to change to down breathing!

Claire asked if I could move to the bed so she could check up on me and Baby. I had a contraction while by the chair and I remember her rubbing my back. I haven’t liked being touched in my previous labours, and while I didn’t hate what she was doing, the sensation I was feeling was all in the front so the back rub didn’t counteract any of that. I moved over to the bed, but couldn’t lay down. I rested up against the back of the bed and contracted again. I asked her where she wanted me and she said on my back. I remember saying ‘I don’t want to be on my back’, but she reassured me it was just for the first initial check to see what Baby’s position was, and then I could move again, and if I wanted to be examined she would do that too.

She asked a few times if I wanted to be examined, and I remember not answering! I wasn't intending to be rude, I knew I didn’t want or need to be examined, but couldn’t find the words. Thankfully she accepted my birth preferences and wasn’t at all pushy. I think she could tell that my body was doing what it needed to do. She asked if I was getting that ‘pushy feeling’ when I was ‘OOOOOOHHH’ing’ over the bed and asked if it would be okay to take off my knickers to see if she could see baby. I consented, but don’t remember if she did see Baby or not. 

The next thing I remember is asking for Gas & Air. I think maybe I was in a triage room, rather than a birthing room?! I wasn’t really focused on where I was! But Claire told me that a room with a pool had become available (HURRAAHHH!!!) and she was going to walk me over there. I didn’t want to get dressed again, so they wrapped a sheet around me and took me to the birthing room. 

I asked Stu to get my Lucozade sport out my bag for me. I felt like I wanted to keep my energy up and I suddenly felt thirsty. Apart from my maternity notes and camera, the Lucozade was the only thing I used from my labour bag! I didn't have any of the snacks I'd packed, I didn't need to use my lip balm. I had my MP3s on loudspeaker so didn't need my earphones (and I abandoned FREYA as soon as I got into the pool anyway, I knew it wouldn't be long!).

I could hear the pool running, which was a comforting sound. This room was bright so I asked Stu if he would close the curtains for me. It made the room a calming blue colour. I took myself and FREYA over to the bed to lean on while we waited to get in the pool. I had my sheet wrapped around me. Claire handed me the gas and air, and put a towel down to catch any blood. I loved the gas and air. It doesn’t take away from the sensation, but allowed me to accept that it was happening, and most importantly to RELAX! I bent my knees and gently bared down a little at the end of each contraction now, as I felt the muscles pushing down. [I think with labour and delivery I struggle the most with mentally allowing my body to relax at the pushing stage - I don't like the thought of anyone seeing me poo, and that's pretty much what it feels like you're going to do! For me it's not the pain that I needed that gas and air for, it's to not care about what I might push out!]

I said I needed to go to the toilet, and although I knew my body was pushing because of the baby I wanted to try and go anyway because I still felt like my body was clearing itself out. Claire put in a cardboard bowl thing in the loo, just in case! When I wiped I saw my bloody show had arrived, as predicted!

My Mum was on her way! My sister had taken over watching Phoebe and Leonard so my Mum could be with me. At around 12:40, Stu went to meet her in the carpark to bring her to our room. During the time he was gone, Claire told me that the pool was just about full enough for me to get in, but I had to sit on my bottom. She asked if I wanted to take my bra off but I took my socks off instead!

I sat in the warm water, and used the gas and air. Between the contractions I felt normal, but actually I was a bit high on gas and air! I apologised to my midwife for pooing a tiny bit in the pool (so much pressure in my bum this time around!). She reassured me it was normal, and that I wasn't the first or last lady to do it, and then around 12:50 Stu and my Mum came into the room where I gushed about how happy I was to see my Mum! I asked Stu to grab the camera at this point. You can watch the birth vlog here!

My Mum noticed I was pushing and asked the midwife if I was allowed to be haha! I remember them talking around me and finding it irritating. I like quiet, dark spaces to birth in! I held up my hand to silence them, and snapped at my Mum to stop at one point (sorry, Mum!). They folded up a towel and put it behind my head as I was leaning into the edge of the tub with the force of the down surges.

The gas and air makes your voice go a bit funny, doesn't it?! I wanted to speak but needed to catch my normal breathing pattern and to find my voice after using it each time. My waters went with a pop - I'm not sure anyone heard it, but I felt it, and I had a bit of bloody show come out with the waters into the pool too.

Being on my bottom was uncomfortable. It felt unnatural. I wanted to be in the water, but I also wanted to be on all fours. But there wasn’t enough water in the pool because things were happening quite quickly. Despite the speed and intensity, I never once panicked, or felt out of control. I hoisted up one knee, so I was almost squatting, and asked the midwife if that was okay, or if it was cheeky! She said it was okay, and I instantly felt better for the repositioning. 

The tube came off the mask for my gas and air but was quickly put back on! I don’t remember doing any down breathing, the gas and air allowed me to breathe through the pushing phase comfortably. I didn’t actively push, I just tried to stay relaxed and let my body do it’s thing. I wasn’t coached to push until Claire saw the head coming and advised me to pant, and to stop doing deep breaths. I did hear, and I did listen, but I trusted that my body was doing it’s job and just did what felt right. She said the head was 80% out, and that Baby had a lot of hair. I reached down to touch the head which instantly made me smile and say 'Hi Baby!!!'. Then with my next contraction both head and body was delivered. I caught my baby with Claire’s help, untangled the cord and bought the baby to my chest. 

At 12:57, around 10 minutes after my Mum arrived, Baby was born! 

I didn’t check for the sex of the baby straight away. We just looked at Baby who was completely calm and not making a fuss! We were encouraged to move Baby around a little, and after a while when we had a towel swap, I took a look and found out we had a Boy!!! I was so shocked after being convinced that this baby was a girl most of my pregnancy. It was the most wonderful surprise! I instantly fell head over heels in love. He came out with some vernix still on his head and ears, with the most perfect little pouty face, and lots of hair. He was instantly familiar to me, but brand new. So perfect.

We were passed a little hat to keep Bubba's head warm, which just happened to be blue! I thanked Claire - she was great. I was told that another midwife was in the room to assist her, but I don't remember seeing anyone else! So thank you to that lovely lady too! Aren't midwives amazing?!

I was asked if I wanted the injection for the placenta, or if I wanted to stay in the pool and deliver it naturally. I opted for the pool, and after only 10 minutes or so the placenta came out with a small push and we were given a pot to put it in as a kind of lotus bath so we could wait for the cord to stop pulsing. Claire encouraged me to feel the blood pulsing through the cord which was amazing!

Lotus bath!
Abandoned socks and my lucozade sport!

Stu and I went through our shortlist of boys names, and quickly decided that Henry George was our favourite.

At one point, when Henry was in my arms in the pool, I moved my legs and slipped down to my shoulders in the water! Unfortunately Stu didn't catch that on camera because I think it would've been quite funny to watch back! I quickly caught myself, and my Mum and Claire were quick to my side too! Obviously Henry was okay too, he didn't get his head or face wet!

My Mum cut the cord, and Henry was passed to Stu for skin to skin while I was helped out the pool, and on to the bed ready to be examined. My midwife passed me back the gas and air, and after a quick examination said that my perineum was intact, but I had a small tear up the front to one side, and it was very likely that it would sting to wee, but I didn’t need any stitches! WHOOP!

Henry was then weighed (7lb 5oz) which I guessed correctly, and given to me for that precious skin to skin golden time. He smelt amazing, felt so soft, fed almost instantly, and just enveloped me in that wonderful newborn bubble. I feel so lucky, and so content.

I experienced my first lot of after pains with Henry's first feed, which Claire brought me paracetamol for, and we were brought a tray of tea and toast. I think I was still in too much shock to eat, I only had a small bite of toast. Phoebe and Leonard came to hospital to meet their new brother, and we opened up all the snacks that were untouched from my labour bag!

With the help of my Mum I went for my first post-delivery wee, and was pleasantly surprised with how little it stung. I'm so grateful! I got myself cleaned up, and put on my giant adult nappy, along with a giant maternity pad, AND some giant black knickers on top... you can never be too careful! Lenny enjoyed my 'jelly belly'!

My Mum told me after Henry was born that I gave birth in the 'Ocean Suite', which I find so crazy because I'd picked out an underwater theme for this baby months ago. It just felt like everything had fallen into place and I was the luckiest person in the world.

We took pictures, told family of the new arrival, cleaned up a meconium poop, and had lots of precious baby cuddles. I made the decision to come back the next day for Henry's paediatric checks, so we were able to leave the same day, as a new family of five, at around 5:30pm. We stopped off at KFC on the way home for some dinner. Looking at my three babies in the back of the car felt so surreal. Chaos... happy chaos is my new normal!

What an emotional day! Especially for Stu. He was amazing.

Henry was born around 45 minutes after we arrived at hospital. My pushing stage has been recorded as 28 minutes. I got the water birth I’d dreamt of, and had an amazing midwife that respected my birth preferences completely. I felt safe, and relaxed, and happy, and if my Husband would let me, I’d do it all over again!

Friday, 17 May 2019

My Birth Preferences.

I thought I'd share my birth preferences in case it's useful to anyone!
I did a hypnoborthing course, and I've had two previous labours so I know what I do and don't like. I know that no birth goes to plan, so this was a very relaxed preference list. I'm very lucky that my midwife read through and respected my preferences with no bother, and that I had no complications to interfere with my preferences.

Labour at home as long as possible
Midwife led birthing unit over labour ward
Water birth (me to catch the baby and bring to my chest?)
If no pool available, birthing ball on all fours.
G&A if needed 
Freedom to move around

Only internal examination if medically advised
Happy for students to be present

LOW lighting
Minimal ‘talking’ noise
No touching during a contraction

Remind me to relax my shoulders after each contraction to get back to relaxed state
When I say ‘I can’t do this’ remind me it’s the transition phase and means baby will be here soon
Remind me of ‘down breathing’ if I ‘moo’

Happy to have placenta injection if advised
Stu to announce sex of baby
Delayed cord clamping
Skin to skin ASAP

Sunday, 28 April 2019

40 weeks pregnant...?

I started to write about my 40th week of pregnancy here, and I made brief notes on my phone too, but guess what... Baby was born on their due date!!! So I'm back dating this post with my thoughts for the week, and I'll write up the birth story very soon.

I didn't take one last bump shot during week 40!


I'm currently 39+2. Today was the first day back to school after the Easter break and although I KNEW I was going to get a lot of comments in the playground today it didn't make it any easier when it happened. This morning it was only two people, and they both said I looked so well, and so happy. This afternoon, however, five or six different people made comments like "We were hoping you'd have a baby", or "Still holding on in there?". And I know they're just being kind, really. I think. But having to reply with things like "Nope, no baby yet." or "I've not even reached my due date yet!". Is going to be tedious from today onwards until this little one makes their appearance!

The cramping is pretty much constant at the moment, and I had more tightenings last night, but (obviously!) it didn't turn into the real deal. I text my Mum to say I was on baby watch, but I feel bad because it feels a bit like all I'm doing is keeping other people on edge, as well as myself! I just don't want it to happen too quick, and me doubt myself, and baby come at home!


Kids back to school.

No raspberry leaf tea.
No pineapple.
No long walks.
No spicy food.
No sex/nipple tweaking.
No pumping.
No obvious loss of plug.
No back ache.
Sleeping well.
Just bouncing on the ball, and walking the school runs, and feel good films/tv/food.

Thinking about names.

Tightenings every day.
Boy who cried wolf.
Bowels clearing out.
Emotional crying at Queer Eye.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

39 weeks pregnant.

WOW, what a week! Sorry it's not all pregnancy related, but I did think I might end the week with a baby!

Monday - 38+1
Stu and I deliberately wake up early to watch the new episode of Game of Thrones! I'm too excited to worry about being tired, and it's so nice to be up and have had a cup of tea before the children wake up!

I decide to take Lenny back to the GP because his eye infection looks worse, even after antibiotics.
After a half hour delay in being seen, the GP takes one look and sends us to A&E.

Get to A&E and the paediatrician advices that we see an eye doctor, so we head to the eye clinic.

Who knows how long we were waiting there, but we were eventually seen by a triage nurse who said she had a 19:45 appointment that day but she wanted to reserve it for emergencies, or we could go to a different hospital at 9:15 the following day. I didn't have much choice there!

Tuesday - 38+2
We get to the hospital appointment, and the eye specialist says that Lenny has multiple cysts on BOTH eyes, and to carry on with the amoxicillin, but to also do warm compresses and apply the topical ointment for another week.

[We saw 2 pharmacists, 1 nurse practitioner, 2 GP doctors, 1 A&E nurse, 1 eye clinic nurse, and not one of them told me to do warm compresses on his eyes. Which, for the record, has worked wonders and I think may have prevented the infection if we were given this advice the first time I seeked a professional opinion!]

Wednesday - 38+3
I go to my routine midwife appointment feeling relaxed about the baby, but a little flustered and stressed with the kids, who by now are SICK of medical environments, and just want to play!

I get measured and my bump has shrunk. Yes, SHRUNK. Two weeks ago I was 39cm. Today I'm 38cm.
So I'm booked in for a growth scan on Friday...

Thursday - 38+4
I think brilliant, a day off from hospitals, and doctors surgeries. Me and the kids go to softplay, go for a walk/bike ride to the park, and I feel good. I wash and curl my hair.

Around 4pm I think hmmm haven't felt baby move much, but after laying down for a while and Stu talking to my belly we feel baby and all is great.

From around 5pm, I started to feel 'crampy', then around 8pm after the kids were in bed they felt more like contractions. I could feel my muscles moving up my stomach, and they're more intense than the cramping I had been feeling previously. I think I'm in early labour! I'm using my hypnobirthing techniques to try and stay calm, and to get into the zone.

I felt the need to go to the bathroom about 6 times throughout the night, and they were not easing up AT ALL. They were not becoming more intense, or more frequent, but they were giving me an adrenaline rush no matter how much calm breathing I did, and they were stopping me from sleeping. I give up trying to sleep at around 5am, and went downstairs to try and get some relief. There was a definite 'peak' to the contraction, so they felt like the real deal...

Friday - 38+5
I am SO tired, and feel nauseous. I have no appetite, and don't even fancy drinking anything either.
But the contractions have slowed down, and it's clear I'm not in labour.
We have my scan booked for 11:20, but get a call to say we can go in earlier if we want, so we get to hospital around 10:30.

The scan was all fine. Baby is growing perfectly. This baby is actually charting in between Phoebe and Leonard (and following the line of the scans, rather than the line of the tape measure), and is currently estimated to weigh 6lb 14oz. My estimated gestation was 37wks 4days. The sonographer said that at this stage of pregnancy the scans can be inaccurate by a margin of three weeks.... so I'm not taking the weight as a definite, but it sounds healthy enough to me! Stu and I both think this little one is a girl!!

The contractions and nausea last throughout the day, but my Mum has kindly offered to have Phoebe and Leonard for us overnight so I got to take a nap in the afternoon. I watched Queer eye, and a happy film, but by around 9pm the contractions had pretty much stopped and I got a full nights sleep...

Saturday - 38+6
... Buuuuut I hadn't eaten or had much at all to drink on Friday, so I woke around 7am with a pounding head from dehydration. I tried to eat some weetabix but only managed half. I made a cup of tea and left it. But I did have some apple juice, and I made a conscious effort to drink a lot of water throughout the day.

I've had a headache most of the day. Stu thinks I was/am Ill. Not in early labour.
I've had some minor contractions today, which I'm now going to assume are pretty strong Braxton Hicks. DAMN YOU BRAXTONS. I really, really thought I was going to have a baby yesterday! That's mental. I have to admit I was feeling nervous about giving birth again.

I spent some time cleaning and tidying the kitchen and some other parts of the house this morning, and then I decided to get out and do a food shop while I was child free! I've eaten lunch, and drunk a lot more than I did yesterday. I've had a few Braxton Hicks today, but nothing like the past 24 hours.

Now the kids are home and we're back to complete normality. I guess I could have another three weeks of false starts. 39 weeks tomorrow, and it's Easter Sunday, so I'm going to post this week's update early so I can enjoy being with my family.