I want to spread the word of strong and positive birth stories because whilst I was pregnant (and googling everything) I really struggled to come across positive and easy tales of birth. Every time I googled something about birth I would inevitably be faced with a horrendous ordeal which lasted 20 hours and ended in 50 stitches and an emergency Cesarean!
Not only that but pretty much everyone who shared their birthing story had some huge horrific event involved and seemed to relish telling these details before saying “I’m sure you will be fine though.” (Reassuring) and then usually “Just remember, don’t panic.” (I really wasn’t.)
The majority of my baby books, magazines and email updates even contained depressing statements such as ‘as you walk…I mean shuffle/waddle/crawl out of the hospital,’ and other negative insights into the world of birth and its messy but wonderful aftermath.
I am not sure why the people who had nice positive births stay relatively hidden in the woodwork or why there is not a more mainstream emphasis on positivity and mindful thinking during pregnancy. The only reason I can think of is that it has something to do with our society and its need to always prepare for the worst or perhaps it is us women who feel
bad about ‘boasting’ about our positive experiences so as not to make others feel bad or ill prepared about their own labour when really we should be celebrating our achievements and feel allowed to revel in our good feelings.
Going into a situation fearing the worst might work for some people, however I am a firm believer in trying to look at a situation positively and going in thinking the best and most positive things. I am not naïve I was fully aware that labour does not always go to plan, there was a fleeting moment when ours nearly didn’t! I know that birthing plans are more
suggestions and that sometimes that outcome can be really quite traumatic and life changing for everyone involved but to me it was enough to merely be aware of these things somewhere in my mind, I didn’t need it to be in the forefront increasing anxiety levels and the flight response.
Women should feel encouraged and empowered by positive birthing stories that still include the messy bits! And they should be readily available instead of bombarding women with negativity. So this is why I want to share a little story with you.
Thursday. It is early September and the unrelenting heat of the Indian summer has reached an unbelievably sticky peak. I stand precarious and barely clothed in the spotless living room, the product of furious nesting, my feet are plunged into a large bowl full of icy water and I sway absently from side to side as graceful as a beached whale.
It’s d-day, the hopeful day of appearance for the new life I have carried for 9 months and despite the midwives insistence that I am nowhere near labour I can feel things changing within me and know that we are close.
It is early morning, 3am to be precise and the heat is shocking, it is something akin to breathing in soup and my nose yearns to inhale a cool breeze. The life inside me is violently pounding and squirming, my belly heaves and rolls like stormy waves on the sea as he tries to break free. Sleep has well and truly eluded me and with an aching body I waddle to the fridge, ungraceful and heavy, the freezer provides welcome ice to suck and a joyful lungful of icy air.
I stroke my bump in the pre dawn greyness, marvelling at the wonder of it all, not knowing that when he is here with us in the big wide world that I will miss these secret, sacred moments of joy and love. I will miss him being all mine, tucked up safe inside, filling me with power and possibility.
Friday. At the midwives instructions I ordered a birthing ball, they said you were in the wrong position. I feel heavier and slower than I ever have but have a feeling of focus and purpose creeping into my mind I switch between yoga and breathing exercises and gingerly rocking on my birthing ball (sitting is starting to become painful as a feeling of pressure builds in my hips, unsure weather this is labour or just another fun symptom of end of pregnancy I grin and bear.) I try to work out if I feel afraid.
It is midnight and the house is still and dark, my husband is asleep and I should be too, in fact I long to be, but he is wide awake inside me, I cannot sit for long enough and lying down is too uncomfortable. My wants are no longer relevant as my body is in control and I am listening and obeying it. I spend the night dipping in and out of cool baths, where the pressure is relieved and rest can happen and swaying and breathing in the living room. I listen to music and have a strange desire to watch emotional films and I wonder if this is labour.
At about 4am I feel a shift in the world. A breeze drifts in through the open windows and I feel suddenly powerful, strong and intensely female, the heaviness and ungraceful feeling lifts. I have a job do. A purpose, a thing, that needs all my attention and energy.
Saturday. With my new feelings of power I am granted a slight reprieve, the pressure (which I now know was baby’s head) has intensified but the pains I assumed to be warm up pains have lessened and I am able to catch a few hours sleep.
By the afternoon, the soupy air has lifted and a warm but fresh breeze dances through our flat, I am filled with energy and plugging myself into the tens machine, on the lowest setting, I busy myself with last minute tasks that I feel must be done.
6pm. My husbands face is showing concern as the pains seem to intensify but I am convinced this is not it so instead I demand he make me some flapjacks under my instruction, the tens machine goes up several notches and I sway an rub my belly as he cooks.
9pm. I am filled with an urge to be on my own, to find my cave, I stand swaying in a dark corner of the bedroom, pain rolling over me in intense waves, the tens machine helps me keep my sense of focus and purpose and I feel as though I am a runner about to embark on a marathon race for the very first time. I realise finally that I am not actually afraid I am excited and powerful. For the first time in so many years there is no feeling of anxiety or dread about the unknown. I feel strangely confident and sure of myself.
My husband rings the birthing centre and tells them we are coming in, they say they will probably send us home and I tell him there’s no need for us to go yet. I look at his face, he is worried and unsure. He knows it will be soon. He packs the car.
10pm. I am offered another short reprieve from the waves of pain, now growing in intensity and frequency as they roll across my body. I laugh off the midwives suggestions of paracetamol and sleep, I am too wired and my body is too awake for anything more than a brief nibble of flapjacks and crackers and a few sips of water.
11pm. Almost before I have time to register the pains leaving me they return, full force in their fierce unrelenting mission. They are different now, I feel them everywhere, right down to my soul and I feel them working hard. Doing their job. I visualise each one as a great crashing wave on a stormy sea, furious with power and energy. I am the powerful, golden Viking ship, I ride each wave tougher and more vicious than the previous one but each one drives us closer to the shore, closer to my son.
11.10. About 10mins after saying I’m sure I don’t need to go in yet to my husband my waters break, a surprising explosion of unstoppable wetness.
This is it. I take one last look around our flat, shiny and clean and waiting with anticipation for its new occupant. Outside, the air is fresh and almost like it knew I needed it to, the heat has subsided. I stroke my bump and know that when I return nothing will ever be the same, I will be a different woman. I will be a mother. I feel so powerful and full of a buzzing kind of exhausted energy as hand in hand we make the journey down to the car.
11.30. We arrive at the birthing centre and the midwife begins her checks, more than prepared to send us away again she refuses to even ready the pool. I feel feral and goddess like as I throw open the window, the need to be with nature overwhelming any other thoughts at this point, I howl, wolf like, through each ferocious contraction, head thrust to the open window gazing at the moon, my body has taken over and rhythmically sways without me even thinking about it. Somehow I smile and even laugh between contractions!
12.00. We are left in a scary limbo for a few moments when there is suspected meconium in my waters, at the time I was so focused I somehow didn’t let it bother me but it just shows you how quickly everything can change and how very different the experience could have been for us.
Filled with a strange confidence and refusing to have any lights put on, I stand nakedly riding through each contraction, the midwife barely has time to finish her examination before I leap off the bed to howl to the moon at another contraction. Blessedly she confirms that we could have the pool.
1.30am. Sinking into the birthing pool is more relief than I could ever have imagined! All the pressure flows from my back, hips and cervix and I feel as though this is where I am supposed to be. My husband suddenly feels useful and busies himself making our cave feel comfortable and providing me with water and cold flannels but for the most of the part I block everyone out I could be alone in the calm peacefulness of the water. Contractions feel very different in here, with each wave of pain I feel my body opening up and bearing down. My body is well and truly in control, it has a mind of its own now but weirdly I am okay with this, I know we have a job to do.
4am. Very quickly things step up, the contractions are much longer now, I am tired but much louder and all on its own my body begins to push after each long contraction. I am no longer aware of anything else in the room, through breathing, music and visualisations I could be on my own Viking ship riding through the waves of pain or in a pool in a cave somewhere tucked away from the elements. I am vaguely aware of gas and air being offered and although I take it I don’t notice much difference except that the mouthpiece is a helpful tool to bite down on.
5.10am. Suddenly I am back in the room being torn in half and calling on all my reserves of power and energy, my birthing beads hang in my peripheral vision, each one a strong reminder of the powerful female others see in me, I call upon that female to provide me with the strength I need as I cross over into motherhood. I turn in the now cooling water and brace myself for what I know is coming. Using all my energy his tiny head is born and I feel him moving side to side as with a final heave of my body our son is born, sliding baby giraffe like, out into the water. He floats calmly to the surface like a starfish, where, panting, I grasp him to my breast calm and quiet he gazes up at us both with huge blue new baby eyes.
Josie Cremore is a Creative full time mummy and part time Teaching Assistant. She lives in Kent with her Husband and son. Josie has always loved writing and having her son, Oscar, has given her a lot to say which is why she started her blog:https://mummycoffeemorning.blogspot.co.uk/