Having spent the last three months in my newborn baby haze with Connor, along with sleepless nights, endless amounts of baby spew and so many cuddles – I cannot believe how quickly the time is flying. His story is the last in my little blog series of births, and it is still very fresh in my mind! It’s been really lovely writing down these stories and remembering it all brings back a lot of emotions. While Neve’s birth is now over five years ago, I can still remember it all very clearly, and Dani’s seems like just the other day! Writing down my sons story brings all the details of the day he became ours back to mind and I love remembering it all. These three days that I have written about have been the most momentous moments of my life and writing them here means that I will always be able to read back on them and remember those special moments.
With my last ever birth that I was going to experience, I decided that I wanted to try for the “best birth” possible with him. I know that no two births are the same, but I was also quite anxious (read, terrified) about experiencing the pain of birth again after my experience with Dani. I found her birth manageable but it was very intense, and I was quite scared of giving birth to my third baby given that people were telling me that baby’s get bigger the more you have and also that boys tend to be bigger, Dani was 9.1 pounds and I felt every single pound of her when she was making her way, so I was quite anxious about managing to get through a birth if this baby was larger! So I decided to look in to hypnobirthing. I am not really a “hippy” type of person (which I naively thought you had to be, to be in to hypnobirthing) however I am always open to different things. I spoke to my midwife about it and she lent me the book Hypnobirthing – The Mongan Method by Marie F. Mongan. She also told me that she had attended births where hypnobirthing was practiced and she thought that it was a great thing to try.
I read the book and I found the whole idea of hypnobirthing very interesting and it made sense to me so I thought that I would give it a try. I knew that I wouldn’t go the whole hog with it, but that I would listen to some CDs and see how I went and see if some basic techniques could help me. So from about midway during my pregnancy I downloaded some CDs that my midwife lent me and started listening to them on earphones before I went to bed. They did help me drift off to sleep and I did feel that the further I went in to my pregnancy my fear did lift (to an extent), and I began to look forward to giving birth to my last baby.
While I was looking in to hypnobirthing, I did read that it was promoted as a way of having a pain free birth. I didn’t (and still don’t)! believe that it is possible to have a birth that is pain free unless you are unconscious (I am sure that there are people that beg to differ, and I am over the moon for you if you achieved a pain free birth using hypnobirthing or any other technique), however I do believe that hypnobirthing can help you get in to a mind frame where birth isn’t as scary as you may think that it is, and also give you some techniques to work with the pain instead of tensing up and stressing out. The mind is a very powerful tool. However I have to admit, when I got to the very end stage of my labour, hypnobirthing pretty much went out the window and I am not sure if I used any of the techniques, but I do think that I was calmer in this birth then in my previous two, and able to ride the intensity of labour a bit better.
Connor decided to make his way on to this earth on the morning of Monday 21st January 2019, one week before his due date. I was lying in bed just before 7am, and I felt this leakage of water. I was so embarrassed thinking that I had wet the bed. Toby was up getting the girls ready for daycare, so I got up to quickly go in to the bathroom and as I stepped out of bed another small leak of water came out, I walked quickly in to the hallway and a large amount came out. Toby was in the hallway with the girls and we both just looked at each other in a bit of shock and I said “I think my waters just went”. I couldn’t believe it. Mine have never broken naturally before, they have been broken artificially both times and when I was quite far in to labour. So it was a total surprise to me, and a week early! Which I was stoked about as I was totally ready for the baby to come. I went in to the bathroom, and Toby mopped up the hallway (bless him), then we just sort of moseyed around waiting for things to kick off. I wasn’t experiencing any contractions at this point at all. We decided to keep the girls home from daycare. I text my midwife at 7.25am to let her know that my waters had gone, they were clear, and that I wasn’t having any contractions, just more a feeling of getting my period. She told me to keep her posted when contractions started. Me being me, I started googling about what can happen if waters go before contractions and read all sorts of things about infections etc, so I was a little nervous in my mind and willing contractions to start (note to self, stay away from Dr Google, it is always worst case scenarios)!! I had a shower, washed my hair and straightened it, trying to keep myself busy. Then about 9.45am I noticed that I had more of a significant show and then contractions started. They were pretty mild to begin with and far apart and completely manageable. Throughout the morning they kept coming on at irregular intervals and I kept leaking water along with most contractions.
We made the girls some lunch and packed them some overnight bags. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and I was hoping that things would happen quickly and Toby could be home with them for the night. But we also needed to plan for the event that they needed to stay the night at my friends (their first ever sleepover – eek)!!
The contractions started getting quite intense and closer together around 12.30pm and I started to get nervous about the girls being home, I didn’t want them seeing me in pain and thinking the baby was hurting me. So we decided to get them ready and Toby dropped them up to my friends house at 1.25pm. Basically as soon as he left the house with the girls the contractions stopped. I couldn’t believe it!! It was frustrating, but I had also been told that third babies can be quite stop and start with labour, so I thought it might be a false start. We decided to head out for a walk with our dog at 2pm to see if we could kickstart things again. We walked down to our local rugby park and walked around there a few times and up and down the same steps I walked up when I was in labour with Neve. I started getting contractions again but they were quite mild and irregular. We bumped in to a friend while we were out and Toby had a chat with them while I continued on the stairs.
We came home and decided to try and watch a movie, so we put one on Netflix (The Darkness with Kevin Bacon – I never made the end of it and couldn’t tell you what it was about)!! The contractions started up again early in the movie but I could easily sit through them and breathe. Then about midway around 3.45pm they started to get really intense and I couldn’t sit anymore. Then it all kicked off pretty quickly and they were coming every few minutes and lasting for over a minute. The most comfortable place I could find was bent over our kitchen island and rocking my hips and breathing through them.
We text our midwife at 4.10pm that they were coming hard and fast but didn’t hear back from her straight away, Toby could see that things were progressing pretty quickly so he called her at 4.19pm and we agreed to meet up at the hospital. So we got the car loaded up, I got changed in to some different clothes and my sports bra that I gave birth to Neve and Dani in (I believe it is my lucky birthing bra, haha), then I very slowly got in the car having contractions along the way. Luckily the traffic wasn’t too bad as people were still on their summer holidays. I put my hypnobirthing recordings on in my earphones and they did help me get through the car ride, I can’t really remember all that much of it. I had a few intense contractions in the car and was squeezing Toby’s hand through them.
Toby parked outside the entrance and went and got me a wheelchair but I had a really big contraction while sitting outside. So he got in the car and moved it closer to the entrance and I had another intense contraction and felt even more waters go. I got in to the wheelchair and we went up to the birthing suite. I had another contraction on the way up. A lovely young hospital midwife met us and showed us to our room. She got me set up on the birthing ball and gave me the gas and went to fill the pool. I had my earphones in still and was listening to my hypnobirthing recordings. We were settled in by 5pm. Toby left to go and park the car and I listened to my recordings and breathed on the gas which definitely made me feel better. My midwife arrived shortly after and then Toby was back. I was asked if I was OK with a third year student whose name was Rose to attend the birth as well, and that was fine by me.
I was in the labour room for a little bit sitting on the birthing ball, breathing on the gas and listening to my earphones. They checked the baby’s heart rate and everything seemed ok so I was allowed to hop in to the pool. I had another big leak of my waters just before I got in the pool at 5.30pm. I felt some relief as soon as I was in the water (funnily enough the same pool that we delivered Neve in which I thought must be a good sign)!
The contractions started up again more full on and I was feeling a lot of pressure with them pretty quickly, which basically feels like a huge amount of pressure in your behind! At one point they weren’t too happy with the baby’s heart rate which seemed to drop a little bit, that panicked me, but it picked up again and they were happy with it. It gave me more motivation to get the baby out though!
I labored away in the pool and I was quite proud of myself thinking that I was handling everything pretty OK. It never crossed my mind that I couldn’t do it, I knew that I could get this baby out safely. I was relaxing between contractions and breathing through them with the gas. I didn’t really move once I got in the pool. I was sort of paralysed in a reclined position and didn’t want to move from there! Things were definitely bloody painful though, but having experienced the pain twice before I knew that it was all leading to something amazing so I think I was more able to embrace it, rather then fight it. Things started getting way more intense and I got to the point of involuntarily pushing by 5.48pm which surprised me. I even said “he can’t be coming this quickly can he”? I could feel him coming down with each push, they got a peep of his head by 6.08pm, and then I was shocked when his head started crowning, and that burning bloody ring of fire feeling again!! His head was born with a couple of pushes by 6.12pm, the midwives were watching and happy with how it was all happening and everyone was calm and Toby was encouraging me as well as holding my hand – I couldn’t believe he was coming out so quickly and was nearly here and that it would all soon be over! I put my hand down and felt his head which is such a surreal moment, finally touching this tiny human you have been carrying around inside for months. Once his head was fully out my midwife encouraged me to push and push which I was doing with everything I had, but I could feel that he wasn’t budging any further, at one point I felt him trying to squirm around which is an incredibly uncomfortable feeling!! My midwife then reached down and was trying to turn him which was very painful and I remember trying to push her hand away. She then buzzed for another midwife, and then decided I needed to stand up as his shoulders were preventing his body from coming out. So once again just like Dani, I had to stand up quickly and put my foot up on the side and push and she helped him out. It was all very rushed again, my midwife had to quickly clamp and cut the cord, I heard two little cries come from him which was a relief, and he was rushed away in to the labour room. They quickly got me out of the pool, wrapped me in some blankets and in to the labour room. As I was walking around I felt a huge gush of blood (sorry for the TMI – but this is a real birth story after all)!! come out of me on to the floor which was very scary as I had been terrified of having a haemorrhage after experiencing one with Dani (I was scared it would be worse and something terrible would happen to me)! I think it gave Toby a bit of a fright too, he told me not to look and they got me up on to the bed. They quickly gave me an injection of syntocinon and the placenta came out easily. Then my midwife worked on getting my bleeding to stop, they gave me another injection of syntometrine which helps to stop excessive bleeding, and they were massaging my tummy and checking me ‘down there’ which was incredibly painful. I remember feeling scared but much calmer then I had felt after Dani. I was experiencing basically the exact same outcome I had with Dani, so I knew what was happening, what to expect, and in my mind I knew I was in safe hands and it would all be sorted out, so I just had to let them do their thing. Connor was on the little table in the same room as us and he had a Doctor and two midwives working on him, they were giving him some oxygen to try and get his oxygen levels up, he had a little blue hat on (they had to go and get this hat as the first one was to small for him), I still hadn’t seen him properly.
Everything settled down after a while and he was finally given to me for skin to skin at 6.30pm. He was so noisy and doing lots of skwarking and squeaking! I had never heard a newborn making as much noise as he was! We tried to get him to latch which took him a little while but he eventually got on. I continued to bleed throughout this which my midwife kept checking but it came under control eventually. After about an hour or so I had a quick shower and clean up in the bathroom, I was feeling really light headed afterwards, but put some clothes on then came back to the bed and tried to get him to latch on the other side. My midwife went and made me a milo and some toast and a ham toastie which I ate – post birth meals always taste like the best thing ever! Then all his measurements were taken.
Our baby boy was born at 6.13pm, at 39 weeks, weighing 4030 grams (8.8 pounds / 4.03kgs), his head was 37cm and he was 54cm long. We named him Connor Keith Ballard (named for my Dad Keith who has passed away).
One we were all ready, and my bleeding had settled, he was wrapped up and put in the bassinet and Rose the student midwife pushed him. I was still feeling very faint and very sore around my bottom, so I went in a wheelchair. My midwife wheeled me and Toby took all our stuff.
We went around to the maternity ward and I was settled in my own room at the end of the ward which was lovely and quiet. The ward midwife came in and my midwife passed all my details on to her. Everyone left and it was just Toby, Connor and me for a little while. Toby went and made me some more toast. Then he left. And I hung out in the room with Connor for the night – I couldn’t quite believe that he was here!
My three births were all quite different. One was extremely long but the actual delivery was smooth sailing, one was quick and chaotic in the end, and Connors was pretty mellow with a bit of chaos at the end. But they were all the same in that they delivered me three healthy, divine little babies.
After experiencing three births that were not picture perfect, but I still think were pretty good experiences – if I could give any advice to Mums reading this, it is that birth doesn’t have to be a scary experience. Look in to hypnobirthing, I truly believe it helped me with my last birth and wish I had of known about it with my first two – you can pick and choose bits of it that suit you, or you can go the whole way with it and take classes, get your partner involved etc. But if you can just try to relax, listen and trust your body, get your mind frame in to one that is positive about what you are about to go through, have a midwife that you can trust implicitly, go in without huge expectations, and just give it your absolute best – you can end up having a positive birthing experience. It might be fricking painful, it might be downright unglamorous, you can feel incredibly vulnerable, and pretty much leave your dignity at the door – but at the same time you will feel like superwoman, you will feel immense pride in yourself for doing something so amazing, and then you have this incredible bundle of deliciousness that is yours in your arms afterwards – and I bet you would go through it all again in a heartbeat!