Words by Christy
One of my favourite, favourite things about what I do is being part of the journey that mums and dads to be go on over the course of our sessions together. Christy and Jon's journey was such a pleasure to watch unfold. To watch them unpacking what had happened last time, and to really grasp what they were capable of with this upcoming birth. It was really a beautiful thing to see. As they left my house after that last session I had no doubt at all that whatever twist or turn their birth took, what would unfold would be a beautiful thing. They're confidence was infectious. Now, over to Christy.... (Ray)
George – born 2012
I was 39 weeks when labour started and it lasted 18 hours. I woke in the morning, I’d only begun my maternity leave a day or two before and had no warning labour was imminent. I wasn’t even convinced it was contractions starting as I wasn’t sure what they were meant to feel like, although after a few hours I was pacing the house and when it got to the point I couldn’t sit down, I decided to wake my husband and perhaps get to the birth centre in Maidstone. On arrival I was examined and told I was 4 cms and in established labour, however after feeling my bump the midwife could not tell which way the baby was lying. To be on the safe side, I was to be taken to Pembury Hospital, in the ambulance, with lights and sirens. This experience on its own adds significant drama to the whole process! However, on arrival I was relieved to find there was a room with a birth pool available, as I’d wanted a water birth. The only thing that came out of my free antenatal classes was that I wanted a water birth and I was too frightened to accept any drugs!
At some point, my step daughter arrived, she was desperate to meet her new baby sibling. It was the three of us in that room for what seemed like an age. I remember looking at the clock at 4pm and thinking it must surely end soon. My step daughter brought me water, I crushed my husband’s hand when I was gripped in a contraction and as the evening wore on I was getting tired. Late in the evening I had another vaginal examination that determined I was 10 cms dilated. We waited and waited but the contractions slowed and then stopped altogether. My memories are very fuzzy from the afternoon onwards, I recall telling my husband to get the midwife as I’d had enough and wanted a caesarean, and shouting at him when he didn’t know how to respond. Then later being told I was going to be taken to theatre, I may need an emergency Caesarean but they would try with the forceps first. I was given an epidural, the most magical moment of the birth as I was all consumed with the negative physical experience, I’d almost forgotten there would be my longed-for baby at the end of it! I was then taken to theatre, I felt absolutely nothing, I was told when to push and felt quite removed from the whole process. I delivered my son who was placed briefly on my stomach and taken away to be attended to. It took a ventous, forceps, an episiotomy and a team of people under white lights to deliver my baby. He was wrapped in a towel and placed by my thigh as we were wheeled back to the delivery room, where I got to cuddle him for the first time. He head was bruised from the delivery, as was I, but it was finally over.
Kit – born 2016
It was when I was pregnant for the second time and about five months in that I realised the birth bit was inevitable (I really couldn’t back out now!) I was going to have to deal with my fears and approach it differently if I wanted a better birth. My husband and I took Hypnobirthing classes as soon as possible. The classes gave us both the opportunity to examine and come to terms with what happened the first time, taught us more than we thought possible about how your body works to birth your baby and showed us how we can prepare for the best birth for us. In a very short time, I had gone from quite frankly dreading the birth to actually looking forward to it! It gave my husband the tools to be an active birth partner who was needed and valued beyond measure in that birth room.
The labour started at 41 weeks and lasted 7 hours. This time I had planned for a home birth, something my husband had not wanted for because he was concerned they weren't safe. But our hypnobirthing classes proved to us why it was a perfectly valid option. I woke about 2am and realised my waters had broken but I was comfortable so went back to sleep. I woke again around 8 am and after an hour or two of strengthening contractions I phoned the midwife. As soon as we determined my waters had broken but the amniotic fluid was not clear, she told me I needed to come to the hospital (Medway this time). This was not what I had wanted or planned for – I’d only roughly packed a hospital bag because I didn’t believe I would need to go in! Yet I was not as disappointed as I’d expected, as I felt confident in what was happening and why. We went into the hospital and after a stint labouring in the waiting room, I was taken to a room and examined. I was told I was ‘only 3 cms’ but was allowed to stay anyway, no birth pool this time. I didn’t have any of the ‘classic hypnobirthing’ things during labour that I wanted – time in peace at home, a quiet space, dimmed lights with my birth pool and relaxation music (I took my relaxation CD to hospital but the wrong disc was in the box!) yet I had prepared for this birth in such a positive way, that all these factors just didn’t matter. I was supported by my husband and I cocooned myself with my arms against him. I laboured in a relaxed way, and I swayed against him with each surge and I knew the baby wasn’t far away. I got onto the bed as my legs were tired and whilst on my back began to push. I didn’t need any coaching, my body knew what to do - in a way I don’t recall from George’s birth. It wasn’t a quiet birth, (not screaming or shouting, it was more of a loud groan), but it was calm. Soon after baby Kit was brought into the world and was straight in my arms. I had no ‘pain’ relief as I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t need it. The experience was amazing, intense and so charged - the memory still brings tears. Our midwife said that at one point during the labour she had to wipe a tear, seeing us so connected.
The difference in my mindset between the two birth was like night and day. Despite my antenatal classes with George’s birth, I didn’t fully understand the reasons decisions were made and I didn’t realise that I had any say in the matter! I was shocked at the labour and felt it was something happening to me that I needed to endure – that I was supposed to LABOUR to deserve my baby. By the time I was in labour with Kit, I knew my options, I knew what I wanted to happen and I knew how to cope if it didn’t go to plan. Most of all, I knew I had wanted a beautiful birth, that was calm and loving and a memory to be cherished. Hypnobirthing and dedication gave me just that.