I've thought long and hard the past few days, about how I would write Mollie's birth story, or if, perhaps, I just shouldn't write it at all.
You see, I'm very conscious of the fact I might sound like I'm skiting. I don't want it to come across like I'm boasting, and I worry that I can't find a way to write it that doesn't sound a bit that way.
There's a reason for that though: I had my perfect birth.
I am a huge (natural) birth nerd, I watch birthing videos for fun, and dream of the day I might catch other people's babes. I think I get as much of a kick from birth stories as I do from meeting little ones.
I'd been blessed by being able to have two straight-forward, safe and relatively easy, homebirths with the boys. They were wonderful, but in each case there were things I would have done slightly differently.
I was so determined that this, my final birth, would be absolutely perfect.
(Which, really, is not a wise thing to expect with something as unpredictable as birth!)
I spent this pregnancy reading and re-reading all my birthing and midwifery books, and taking mental notes of methods/information I could use to 'better' my birthing experience. I came away with things things I was sure would help me.
1) keep my lips and face relaxed. Ina May Gaskin says that by keeping the lips loose, it helps to keep the cervix relaxed.
2) keep my bottom relaxed, by swaying through contractions.
3) visualise my body opening up and my baby moving down to come meet us.
4) and this is purely a personal choice - keep a sense of humor, avoiding complaining and/or swearing.
I also knew that having a midwife that shared my views about birth and pregnancy would be very important. I liked my previous midwife, but she didn't provide me with the type of support I felt I needed, so this time I was very careful in my choice. I opted to have a very recently graduated midwife, who I had seen as a student when pregnant with Otto. Louise was as excited as I was about the birth, and was incredibly thorough and dedicated. I honestly could not have chosen better. (And I'm so pleased I could give her such an ideal experience for her first independent birth!)
I was really looking forward to the birth, but when my estimated due date came.. and went.. and a week passed.. I started to get a little worried. I really wanted to give birth before my parents flew to the U.K on the 1st of May, and I also needed to avoid an obstetrician getting involved at the 42 week mark. (Being induced is an automatic hospital birth..).
We started trying the natural methods of induction. Everything from curry to clary sage oil, to no avail. I had two stretches, which gave me two nights of false labour but left me no closer to having the baby.
I decided perhaps he (I was sure it was a boy..) was just going to stay in there forever.
On the Saturday night, 10 days over due, Mum and Dad offered to have the boys to stay. We jumped at the chance, went and bought some fancy steak and hired a dvd.
We spent the evening eating delicious food, and knitting/dvd watching and enjoying each others company. I had a contraction at about 8:30 and we decided to walk around the block and see if we could encourage any more. No joy, so we headed to bed.
Around 3 in the morning, I woke to another contraction. They continued for nearly 2 hours, every half an hour. And then, suddenly, stopped. I went back to sleep.
At 8, I had another. I used the bathroom and found signs that my body was, indeed, getting ready for labour.
The contractions continued to be half an hour apart for the rest of the morning.
We got up and had the most glorious morning, pottering around the house. We baked cookies, cleaned and tidied the house, Abraham cleaned the car and we put the babymoon bedding on the bed. It was the perfect morning and so exciting to know that our babe would finally arrive, sometime in the next day or so.
Things picked up a little around 2pm. I text Mum and the midwife to say that contractions were 15 minutes apart and that I would keep them posted, but it would likely be that evening. Then I felt a strong need to go to the bathroom. I sat down, but nothing happened. I then had a very intense contraction.
From here, my contractions jumped to being 5 minutes apart. I quickly text Louise and Mum back and said ' Cancel that! Come now!'. In the time it took Lou to get here, about 10-15minutes, contractions were down to 4 minutes apart.
I stood at the counter and breathed through the tightenings, talking in between and swaying my hips to the music we had playing. I wanted to use gravity for as long as I could manage it. Things happened very quickly from here though.
I knelt down, with my body over the window seat, and made my way through another few contractions. My Mum arrived (and was very excited, babbling.. shhhhh Mum! Need to concentrate!) and the back up midwife too. The time between went down to 2 minutes. I was now finding myself letting out low moans and groans with each one, and the spaces between were getting shorter and shorter. I struggled to finish a sentence. Abraham brought me cold flannels, and Louise checked the heartbeat every now and then, otherwise the room was calm and quiet.. just waiting for the babe.
After a few more really hefty tightenings I began to feel that wonderful urge to push. I love that feeling, knowing that I could then have somewhere to channel all the energy the rushes bring. I pushed a little during one contraction, and felt what I thought was my waters.. but it was just wee.
(ha ha. See, I knew I wanted to maintain my sense of humor, weeing everywhere helps!)
I double checked with Louise that I was good to start pushing, and with the next contraction I felt the head move right down and that familiar sting beginning. With the next one I felt the head crown, and before I knew it it was out! Already!
I heard Louise tell me to hold off a little, something about the cord being looped over the neck, but my body wasn't going to stop. I tried to pant a little, but the urge overpowered and with one more push the baby arrived!
The very first thing I heard was my Mum yelling 'Oh-my-god! It's a girl!' (guess I forgot to tell her we wanted to look a bit later..) and then a little cry that sounded exactly like Otto did when he was born.
Abraham handed her to me for some skin on skin, she looked so much like her brothers!
Then they told me how she was almost born in the caul (in her waters), but Louise had had to snip it at the last minute to unloop the cord. I couldn't believe it, babies being born in the caul has come up in conversations so many times for me in the past few months. Funny how the universe prepares you for things - even Abraham knew what it was because I'd told him about it just a few weeks earlier!
Baby started rooting around for the breast almost immediately and latched on without a hitch. She stayed on almost 40 minutes, until the placenta arrived and Abraham cut her cord. I just sat there, besotted, and a little bewildered, at the fact I now had a daughter!
Mollie weighed in a 8lb12oz - making her my smallest baby. And my 'active' labour (from when my contractions became regular) was only 1.5 hours, with 3 minutes pushing time. I felt great physically (and still do!) and, more importantly, I feel so incredibly blessed to have had the birth I dreamed of. I wouldn't change a thing - and that is a pretty awesome feeling.
(If you made it to the end - thanks for listening and sharing in my happiness! I feel very lucky to be able to share such a nice positive story, but I also feel strongly that peaceful births like this are not just about luck, but also about choices, belief and support. I guess maybe I was lucky to have these things x)