This labour was so different from my last two. I was fully expecting the same pattern of nothing and then straight into active labour of about three hours long. But after 12+ hours of very irregular, intense but short surges and a lot of it in my back, I figured this time round I was going to be in it for the long haul!
I had a light lunch and decided to try and have an afternoon sleep. The surges stopped while I slept but eventually I was woken up by an intense one. I pottered around for a while (my husband had taken the kids up the road to his parents to give me some quiet time) getting some things prepared and while the surges got a little closer together and more intense (I had to stop, lean and concentrate), they were still all over the place. When I started to feel the need to vocalise I got my daughter to run up the road and get my husband. But I still figured it was a long way off because they were still irregular (and still a lot in my back!). I wanted to get in the pool though for a little relief from the back labour and started filling it.
My husband arrived shortly after and I decided that maybe he should call my ‘birth companions’ together just in case. I told him to apologise to everyone that I might be calling them too early and things might take a while yet. But better to be on the safe side I thought.
Things suddenly ramped up. It felt like going from late warm up labour to being 8-10cm dilated in the space of three surges. But they were still irregular!
My midwife arrived 5 minutes later, just after I had ‘assumed my position’ (kneeling forward) in my birth nest and my next companion (CBE/Doula in training) arrived after her.
The birth pool was abandoned – there was no way I was moving from my spot now!
I tried at first leaning over my Swiss ball but it wasn’t real comfy. Next surge was hanging onto my husband. Also uncomfortable. When the next one started, I literally shoved him onto all fours and leaned over his back. When that one receded I told him that I needed something else at that height for me to lean on. In a moment of inspiration he grabbed an abused plastic school chair that the kids had brought home one day from the side of the road and stuck a pillow on the seat. I buried my face in that pillow and gripped the back as another powerful surge came. Perfect!
They were still irregular with some being short, others long and some almost back to back. But they were incredibly INTENSE. So much more so than anything I’d ever felt in my previous four labours. It was just a sheer raw power coursing through me. My whole body was shaking with the effort.
It was a surreal experience being that I was so lucid in between surges, able to talk, think, have a drink. Even when the surges took me back into labour land and I was roaring with that power, there was a small voice in my head narrating and giving me tips (relax your face and hands, open your mouth, staring to feel pressure now….). Almost like a part of me was being my own doula/midwife to myself.
With pressure came even more intensity. My whole being was those powerful surges. They never overwhelmed me, sometimes it was like a knife’s edge though. Instead I became them. Surrendered to the raw, powerful energy until I was a universe of sheer force.
The pressure was building through each surge and oh, how a part of me wanted the waters to release to bring that sweet relief.
I reached inside and felt the sac, something I had always wanted to do but never done before. It was right there, close, and felt just as I had read it described – gorgeously silky and soft.
I felt again after the next surge and it was lower down again. So close to my vulva!
The next surge took me again and so did the ‘ring of fire’. Then, finally the waters came in a huge climactic release. What a feeling! I expected to have a few surges and then to feel her head coming as I had with the last two) but her head popped out just after the waters released!
I reached down and felt her beautiful, soft, dewy head and said to my husband, “That’s our baby’s head”. I heard her let out a little sound.
The intense surges were no more and I just felt a gentle but strong need to bear down. One push, then a second and I felt her shoulders rotate. On the third push, her body came sliding out and I caught her in my hands. In the next moment I was kneeling with her held on my chest. I can’t even begin to describe the sheer ecstasy, joy and love I felt in that moment. I did it! I caught her in my hands and brought her to my heart and I was SO in love with her.
I sat back against the cushions, my birth companions putting warm blankets around us both, and just basked in in her warm, wet softness and the greatest feeling of my life!
My final birth companion arrived to take photos. Everyone had the most amazing, gentle, joyous and loving energy – I will never forget being able to share this experience with these four amazing people.
Eventually placenta friend arrived in its own time with a gentle push. Big, gorgeous and healthy. Thank you placenta and umbilical for the miracles you are.
Willow had arrived just half an hour after my husband called my birth companions! She was a glorious, fast, intense, monumentally powerful ride that I will always, always remember!