Williams Birth Story

Sweet William, you have been part of our lives for 15 joyous months now but I still remember the day we welcomed you with open arms, hearts brimming with love like it was just yesterday, although thankfully we’ve learnt a thing or two since those early days.

Like any great birth story ours starts at IKEA, in some ways I’m thankful I didn’t go into labour and in others I wonder if perhaps I did, would I have had flat pack furniture and meatballs for life?

We were actually at IKEA 4 days before William was born but this was the start for me and I recall every day after with such clarity. This particular day was a hot May Day and I was wishing I was at home resting, starting to feel the pressures of pregnancy and actually, not feeling all that well. Finally at home with my mum in the garden and it was then it hit me, a sharp pain, comparative to a strong period pain. Mum and I exchanged excited glances and always ahead of the game, mum was jumping into labour plans and scaring Jamie with tales of how close we were. Another 40 minutes passed before another pain and although we weren’t going to be dashing to the hospital anytime soon, waiting for one of the key signs we’d learned at our NCT lessons; waters breaking or contractions 5 minutes apart, we were on guard.

I spent the next three days preparing for the birth, yoga, buying the last items for my hospital bag, nesting. Swinging between these sharp pains and feeling normal, or at least as normal as you can at 38 weeks pregnant. There was one day where I spent it at home with my dad because the pains were strong and continuous but still 30 – 40 minutes apart. My appetite was non existent and we were just waiting for something to happen, we still didn’t know if I was experiencing Braxton Hicks or the onset of early labour. The following day I had a midwifes appointment, I discussed everything with her and she informed me the babys head was not engaged and I was not in labour. She confirmed the pains were Braxton Hicks and booked our next appointment for 40 weeks. We finally all felt like we could rest easy, assured that I wasn’t about to go into labour any time soon.

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I awoke on Thursday to a beautiful May Day, blue skies and the sun shining, the makings of a perfect day. A morning spent finishing packing my hospital bag, pottering in the nursery and taking my last ever bump photo, I was feeling good.

By late afternoon I had the urge to go to the bathroom, a lot, this may be a sign for some that labour is beginning as the baby begins to move downwards. At about 4:30pm there was blood. I realised this must be the ‘show’ that everyone refers too before labour but I was concerned about how much blood there was so I called the midwife and she confirmed all was ok, it meant everything was moving In the right direction, that my cervix was opening ready for labour and the next stage would be my waters breaking, but it might not happen yet for a few days, it varies for everyone.

By 4:45pm my waters broke! Only yesterday the baby wasn’t engaged, wasn’t ready and now here I am, in active labour. I was in the bathroom when it happened and I cannot tell you how thankful I am because despite our NCT teacher telling us it isn’t like the movies and it’s more of a trickle than a gush, in my case she was wrong!

This was it, we were finally going to meet our baby. Were we having a boy or girl? What would he look like? What colour hair would he have?

With the excitement of my waters breaking came strong contraction pains. Throughout my pregnancy I found peace and calm in the bath so I ran the hot water and called my husband at work. I was anything but calm at this point, not being able to locate Jamie’s work number when he didn’t answer his mobile and garbling a message to his receptionist through gritted teeth, poor women. One of Jamie’s worries were that he’d be at work when I went into labour but again our NCT teacher put our mind at rest ‘because most women go into labour during the night as their body is most relaxed at this time’ and ‘labour could be up to 20 hours from that very first contraction through to baby being born’. I can only imagine what was going through his mind but to me he was the epitome of calm and he was on his way.

Climbing into the bath my mum calls, as she often does when she gets home from work to see how I am.

…”mum {mid contraction} don’t panic, my waters have just broken, Jamie’s on his way home”…

…”Dad and I are on our way to you now”…

And just like that my parents arrive. Mum helps me out of the bath, and in her emotional state she’s chanting “breathe, breathe, breathe”. I can assure you I was breathing, nice slow, steady, calming breaths just like I’d practised during yoga and my mums technique had me yelling, “I am breathing”.

Another contraction comes fast and it takes me to my knees, I’m on all fours in my bathroom, powering through the pain and the front door knocks… Dad opens the door and two men are delivering my new washing machine!

…”Where do you want this fitted”…

…”If you can just leave it in the kitchen, my daughter is in labour”…

…”argh”… {said daughter powering through another contraction}

…”But they’ve paid for removal of the old machine and fitting of this one”…

…”yes, but my daughter is in labour upstairs, we have to go to the hospital NOW”…

They make a call to the office to confirm the fitting cancellation and dad eventually gets them out the house with the promise that they would refund the fitting fee (Thank you AO.com) , washing machine left in the middle of my kitchen, I’m crossing things off my hospital list in a bid to check I’ve got everything, mum is in utter disbelief that I’m crossing off my list, trying to find everything I tell her (shoes mum, I need my shoes from THAT cupboard, no THAT one) and dad is downstairs telling me we need to go now because thankfully he’s been counting the contractions and we are less than 5 minutes apart. He grabs my hospital bag and ice pops and off we go, mum staying behind to wait for Jamie.

I could feel a pressure pushing down and I knew we were close but the trip to hospital seemed endless.

…”Dad, please tell me I’m not going to have my baby in your car”…

…”No, you’re not, you’re doing great”…

My legs are crossed and clamped shut, like that will stop this baby coming but I’m so thankful to my dad and his calming influence and reassurance. If you’re ever in a crisis my dad is the man you want because he is the most cool and collected person I know.

On arrival to the hospital I fall out of the car and onto all fours again, in the middle of the car park, the midwife rushes out with a wheelchair and Jamie swiftly parks behind us.

We’re another step closer now, oh my heart, thinking about it now makes me want to cry and I wish I could live this day again.

It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised the midwife never examined me, she could already see I was ready to push but I had my heart set on a water birth. They started running the water and I was determined to birth in the pool and so I did. As soon as I climbed into the water I felt my body melt and I was ready to push.

I remember the playlist that I had made months ago that had soothed me for so long in the bath at home playing in the background. I remember Jamie soothing me by rubbing ice along my neckline to keep me cool and offering water. I remember the calm lighting of the suite and the long slow breaths in between contractions, the importance of catching your breath before the next contraction overwhelmed. I remember listening to every single word the midwife was saying and doing exactly as she told me. I remember the moment I realised I had no pain relief and thinking, I’ve come this far, I can do this and finding an inner strength I didn’t know existed within me. I remember that moment the midwife told me the shoulders were coming and it would sting… boy did it sting. And then she told me my baby had dark hair just like daddy and this was all I needed to get through that final push and the relief that followed as my baby boy was placed into my arms in the water, while Coldplay hummed in the background.

We welcomed William into the world on Thursday 12th May 2016 at 7:16pm, a short 2.5 hours after my waters broke and the contractions started, weighing a perfect 7lbs 9oz.

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Jamie has a video of this moment and I still cry when I watch it.

We were transferred to bed for skin to skin and I watched in amazement as William nuzzled to have his first feed, it was a perfect moment. We knew that we wanted to delay the cutting of the cord but when the time was right, this honour was passed to Jamie who then dressed William for the first time, in a white sleep suit with stars, our little star, while I was busy delivering the placenta.

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Unfortunately my perfect story ends here because once I delivered the placenta I fainted, on the toilet no less, in rushed a hoard of doctors and professionals for all my family to see and panic ensued. Thankfully I was none the wiser and according to my midwife I came round with a smile from ear to ear. I remember dreaming and it took me a while to realise I was actually on the floor naked with doctors all around, oh the embarrassment. Everyone was reassured mama and baby were all good. More baby cuddles later and finally ready to let our family meet our beautiful baby boy, I headed off to the shower and fainted again! We were surrounded by doctors one more time but this time they told me I had to be admitted to a ward for the night for observation, which was all utterly ridiculous to me because all I wanted was to stay with my family. I just needed some food and drink because for the last 4 days I had barely eaten and I’m still certain my body was in shock, nothing a little TLC and food couldn’t fix. None the less, I spent the first night alone with my baby on a ward, willing him to feed all night long so we could go home with daddy the next day. I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night but I was deliriously happy with my snuffling babe in my arms.

Jamie spent all day with us on the ward until they finally released us that evening and unsurprisingly we arrived home and our parents walked in behind us, arms full of gifts and love for us all. I felt wary, tired and elated, I felt empowered and I was down right proud. I had just birthed our son into the world and our exciting new chapter was finally beginning. For me, the birth was everything I wanted because my birth plan was simple:

Natural water birth
Skin to skin contact
Delayed cord cutting
Music and lighting

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William, you made me a mama and my love for you is unfaltering. You have changed me and while I still may not be perfect, I am better because of you. My darling son, you are the very reason I get up in the morning, quite literally because otherwise I could sleep all day, you are my greatest achievement.

I’d love to know what you thought of labour, or any advice you’ve got for new mamas to be if you care to share.

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