On the 12th of July 2017 my day started with my midwife sweeping my cervix. I’d heard so many awful stories about this process from other Mums in my life and from (the not always helpful) Mumsnet! The days leading up to this procedure were filled with anxiety, spicy food and miles and miles of walking to try and bring labour on naturally. I have two things to say about this…
I didn’t know you have the right to refuse a sweep let alone an induction.The sweep (for me) wasn’t all that bad. A little awkward, especially given that mine had the audience of one shy student midwife too but not painful or particularly uncomfortable.
I left the doctors and headed to Nichols in Abergavenny, my excited Mum in tow. The contractions began as we sat down for afternoon tea. And by the time we’d had our sandwiches the pain became strong enough that I thought it best we head home. Mum still hasn’t forgiven me for depriving her of her scone that day!
There I was on all fours rocking back and forth on my sofa working through the contractions. My poor Mother feeling helpless, she tried to comfort me, rub my back, hold my hand. The last thing I wanted was to be touched, I wanted to be left to focus on my breath and get through each wave. I roared at my Mum and told her to just time the contractions. Poor Mum! When I felt like it was time I rang the hospital and they told me to come in. I was seen by a midwife and after a quick internal examination she told me I was only 4cm and sent me packing back home. Not what I wanted to hear!
I resumed my swaying on the sofa for another hour when I finally felt like I couldn’t carry on much longer on my own. Back to the hospital, husband ready there and waiting to help me into the labour ward. My lovely Mum driving as carefully as she could, only a ten minute drive from our house but so MANY BLOODY SPEED BUMPS!!! I certainly remember those clearly enough, grabbing the door handle trying to brace myself for each one!
Jonathan helped me from the car and into the ward, we sent Mum off home telling her we’d call in a while once things got moving. (HA!) Back to the same midwife, who told me she couldn’t examine me yet as it hadn’t been long enough since my last examination so I should just go make myself comfy…
I paced the room like an animal growling through each new wave. I sent Jonathan off to beg the midwife for some gas and air. She cooly came in chatting as she finished her lunch. She took my heart-rate, a contraction hit, she smiled and encouraged me through it, back to my heart rate, another contraction, “oh,” she said looking a little intrigued, “was that another one?”
“YOU’RE THE BLOODY MIDWIFE YOU TELL ME!!???" I thought.
“Hmmm, maybe we will examine you after all.”
I jumped onto the bed, my feet instinctively peddling through another contraction. “Riiiight, you were wanting the pool yes?” She rushes over to the pool and quickly turns on the tap, “we’d better get it filled up, you’re 10cm!”
Suddenly there appeared a lovely welcome canister of entonox. Oh what a wonderful thing that is. This is when, understandably, things start to get a little hazy.
The next thing I remember is Jonathan ringing my Dad to tell them they should come straight over, Mum not even home yet from dropping me off at the hospital!
Into the pool, clinging to the gas and air. I’ve tried to explain to people how wonderful the combination of the water and the entonox were, the seconds in between each contraction felt so serene, I was weightless, completely supported by the water, utter bliss. I laughed to myself when I saw the concerned faces of my Husband and Mum stood by the pool, thinking “ha silly idiots worrying about me, I’m absolutely fine!”
I wish someone had told me beforehand how primal birth is. I realise now that is such silly thing to say, of course it’s primal, it’s the most natural thing a person can do. But I hadn’t realised how my body would just take over, it was programmed to do this, I needn’t have been so stressed about ‘messing it up’. I let out a guttural shout and the midwife asked, “was that a push?”
“I don’t know,” I thought, “I didn’t do it, my body did.”
As I say the rest is hazy, there was a pop of my waters, contraction after contraction, a few “I can’t do it’s” shouted, lots of pushing, “is the head there yet?”, words of encouragement, more shouting, “I can see the head!”
I break my heart a little as I honestly can’t remember the exact moment Jasper came into the world, I’m not sure if I was the one who pulled him from the water, I can’t remember having him on my chest that first skin to skin moment. I wish there’d been someone there to take photos! Honestly that’s one of my biggest regrets.
Jasper was given to someone, presumably my Jonathan, I was helped from the pool and onto the bed, still huffing on entonox as the midwives gave me the once over. Thankfully, the one clear vivid memory I do have from Jaspers birth is that moment, I looked over to see my husband holding our bundled up little boy, they sat in front of the window, with the shadowy outline of the Blorange behind them. I watched as Jonathan just stared at the baby in his hands, I saw the awe on his face, I saw him fall in love, I saw him become a Father. I will never forget that wonderful moment.
Now we’re two and a half years on and my memory clouds even more. It breaks my heart that I can remember so little. I wish wish wish I’d thought to hire a birth photographer, I honestly hadn’t been prepared for what an incredible experience birth was going to be and it hadn’t occurred to me to make sure it was documented properly. It’s honestly one of my biggest regrets in life! Which is why I’m so excited to announce that I will be opening up the opportunity to a select few expectant Mothers this year to have their birth documented by yours truly!
Birth photography has become an all consuming passion of mine and I cannot wait to help other Mothers celebrate the beauty and strength they hold within them! I’ll only be taking on a handful of births this year so if you want to know more get in touch quick!
I’ll be talking a lot more about this all so if you’d like to keep up to date then be sure to join my mailing list.