I’ve never enjoyed the experience of being pregnant. I had very different experiences with both Harper and Ethan but I’m not sure I’ll ever be someone who misses the bump.
Ethan was a “normal” pregnancy. Placenta where is should be, growth measurements spot on every week and head down at 32 weeks. That changed at my 34week appointment to be told he was breach and had two weeks to turn before we looked at ECV rotation. We had been on holiday the weeks prior and I genuinely believe all the horizontal time caused this. I used the website spinning babies to look at exercises and methods to encourage him to turn. You would often find me with my knees on the sofa and my elbows on the floor most evenings trying to get him out of my pelvis so he could have some space to turn. I was also doing prenatal yoga and Hayley added a few exercises to help with this too! At 36weeks my midwife wasn’t 100% sure so she sent me to be scanned. Success!! Head down and now eligible for the birth centre! After having a water birth with Harper I was desperate to beat the odds and make it two for two!
My due date came and there was no inkling of his arrival. I was so uncomfortable I felt like I had this immense pressure pushing down on my pelvic floor and I was really struggling. Two days after my due date I took to social media for advice. Top recommendations were Raspberry leaf tea and Dates, to Waitrose I drove and stocked up. By 4pm I’d eaten 9 dates and drunk 10 cups of raspberry leaf tea, then coincidence or not 2hrs later contractions started.
6pm triggered the familiar sensations I had with Harper, for anyone who hasn’t experienced labour it’s hard to describe a contraction. It’s uncomfortable but not like a normal pain, pain is the body’s way of telling itself there’s a problem. Labour is the reason the female body was designed so to use the word pain for a normal contraction feels wrong. Breathing through each contraction they gradually got longer and closer together, that said I was now starting to get incredible amounts of pressure on my spine, I had never experienced this before and knew something was different this time. He was back to back and as my body was preparing to open to move him down the birth canal his skull and spine was pushing against my vertebrae. This was PAIN like I had never felt, it was unbearable, I wanted to breakdown but knew I was a long way off from labour. A friend had recently given me a box of bits that she didn’t need and in there I remembered was a tens machine , not knowing how to use it or if it even worked I opened it up willing to try anything! I will love her forever for that little machine which was loaded with batteries and ready to be used. I strapped it on after a quick google on where I should position the pads and it was a total game changer, now I was still in pain but now it was numb, such a weird sensation but without that little machine I was about to head off to hospital for an epidural to end the most painful experience of my life to date. It was now 1:30am and anytime I sat down the contractions got further apart and shorter, I rang triage for advice. Do I carry on walking around trying to encourage things along or do I sit and rest. The told me to sleep if I can but definitely rest. I managed to increase the distance between contractions to 18mins apart by resting and tried to doze off between each contraction.
3am I’ve been resting for 1.5hrs. Intensity and duration had increased. It was time to head to the hospital I couldn’t take it anymore without knowing how far along I was. I woke David up and he quickly got all the last minute bits for me like the cold lucozades and the power bank for our phones which was charging. We pulled into the Hospital car park at 4:20am and headed straight into the birth centre.
I was taken to an assessment room blood pressure was fine, baby’s heart rate was normal but my pulse was high, too high to be admitted into the birthing suite. I was given 30min to lower my pulse, I knew I had no choice but to take control of my body, enter Zen mode and focus on nothing but my breathing. I would do anything possible to avoid the labour ward, I was desperate for that second water birth. As a pregnant woman you are told every horror story under the sun and 4weeks earlier a close friend had been through the most traumatic experience I had ever heard with both her and baby lucky to be alive. I wanted to go against the odds! Someone has to have the water births and I was determined to get there.
The midwife rechecked my pulse and she was happy that it was low enough to be admitted to the birthing suite. Room number two, the same room and the same pool Harper was born in, we had made it!! 5:20am and my dream for a second water birth was on its way to becoming a reality. I had gone without gas and air up-to this point so continued my Hypnobirthing breathing for another 40mins with the tens machine.
I needed to wee, something felt strange. I asked them to start filling up the pool and I went for a wee in the en-suite. Whilst I had lost my plug in pieces over the day prior I now had a full bloody show. It’s 6am, I head back to the ball I am leant on and I can feel something bulging... time for the gas and air! 6:20am and my waters exploded like something in the movies. A giant pop and then a huge gush! I still had my PJ bottoms on so they were saturated, but the water was clear. No meconium which meant the pool was happening. 6:30am and I’m getting in the pool we had made it!
I could start to feel the head crowning, breathe just breathe! 3 pushes to get his head out. Then the most intense pain internally where the only way I can explain it was him kicking me to turn from being back to back. The next contraction came and I thought ok one last push and he’s out... but no, his shoulder was stuck. I had to try and pull him in slightly and then on the next contraction I gave it everything I had and he was out! 6:54am we had done it 2 water births!
The midwife tried to push him through my legs up to me but he wouldn’t come through, they realised his cord was wrapped around his neck, they unwrapped it and pushed him too me. He was completely floppy and blue. Now I was scared! The midwives had towels and were rubbing him trying to get him to take a breath, cry, scream... anything. They clamped the cord and got David to cut it straight away and took him off me to get him to respond. Those few moments seemed like an eternity. The scream finally came and the relief on David’s face told me it would all be ok, our little boy was born, breathing and gradually gaining colour
I was taken out of the pool to deliver the placenta whilst David did skin to skin, as I got out a huge gush of blood covered both my legs, it was like something out of a horror movie. I walked over to the beanbag and sat down, had the injection for placenta delivery and waited. I was now given our little boy who was still hysteric from his traumatic entrance but a few minutes on mummies chest and he calmed down. I delivered the placenta which was intact and the mid wife handed over to the next shift to finish off stitching me following a second degree tear from his shoulder getting stuck.
I got showered and washed all the blood off as Ethan was too traumatised from the birth to feed so he had cuddles with Daddy. Time to rest, have skin to skin and try to feed him. It was about 2-3hrs before he was weighed but everyone kept telling us what a big boy he was... finally the number came in 4580g, converted 10lb 2!!! Because of his size a midwife was unable to do his newborn checks, he was 80g over the 4.5kg threshold. We had to wait for a Paediatric Doctor, it was a busy day and so where we were expecting to be discharged at 1pm at 3pm he still hadn’t been checked. David followed up and about 40min later the Dr showed and began checking his reflexes, shoulder movements after it got stuck as it could cause nerve issues and hearing test. Finally we had the all clear! Home time!!!! 5:40pm and we’re off home to start our lives as a family of four.
I cannot thank the midwives at the Abbey Birth Centre enough in particular Lucy (our student midwife on her 40th birth and who was graduating in 2 weeks) for their support and encouragement throughout, and making sure Ethan took his first breath! Yes I beat the odds in having two water births which I will cherish for so many different reasons but by no means was it easy!