February 14th, 2017
*My Birth Story - A gorgeous water birth*
Friday night (20th Jan)
7pm sitting at dinner with my family
I had started having little cramps earlier in the day – like period cramps, not painful just an uncomfortable womb ache.
As they talked, laughed and enjoyed sushi I breathed through each cramp and they seemed to pass quickly.
3% of babies arrive on their due date so I was pretty certain he would not join us until early next week. I had my whole weekend mapped out, Sainsbury’s delivery, gym, office, shopping, cinema, extended family lunch…
I will never forget my Dad who was like an excited child as each time a cramp came and he saw me quietly breathing through it – he would loudly announce ‘Tara is having a contraction everyone!! I felt like a naughty school kid :)
The men started to time each one. The app said – pack your hospital bags and go to hospital as we were having three ‘contractions’ in 10minutes. I found the whole thing hilarious and was in complete denial.
My husband (Anton) suggested we went home to be near our hospital bags in case we needed to go. I was still certain I was not in labour. On the journey he asked me to call Kelly, our midwife and let her know. I honestly could not believe that she said she was coming over. I told her it would be a waste of her time as these was such minor ‘cramps’.
Once home, I showered and kept giggling. Anton dimmed the lights, played calming piano music and took our numerous hospital bags out.
Kelly arrived and bought a calm aura with her. I felt safe. We continued to time the ‘cramps’ and monitor baby’s heartbeat.
Examination showed I was 3-4cm dilated
11pm (2 hours to delivery – this is where labour began for me)
Cramps became more intense. I started calling them contractions. Kelly said it was time to go to hospital. Contractions became painful whilst in the car on the way… we listened to magic to get us through :)
We arrived at Queen Charlottes to a gorgeous room at the birth centre. The lights were dimmed, candles flickering and birthing pool half run.
Contractions were now coming thick and fast.
No time to pretty up the room.
I had forgotten about the tens machine and all other remedies in my bag.
I remember having to hold the sink and squat low.
12am – 21st January - now his due date
Waters broke when I went to the toilet.
I went into the birthing pool to try and slow things down but there were only 30 second gaps between contractions.
I could feel his head coming down – felt like the epi-no machine, which I cannot recommend strongly enough!! It fully prepared me for the birthing sensation – and kept me in tact with no tears. It's basically a little balloon than you inflate inside the vagina, to help stretch the perineum and get you used to the sensation of the head crowning.
Kelly said to feel. I reached down to feel the top of his head. It felt like a jellyfish but a moment I hope I will always remember. I asked Anton to feel too. This was becoming VERY real and so exciting.
Anton and I were nose to nose through each contraction. Breathing in and out together. He was utterly incredible in every way – as expected. Kelly too - was a wonderful breathing coach. ‘Relax your shoulders’ – ‘Relax into it’ – ‘You are climbing that hill and at the peak… coming down now’. At points, I felt to hold my breath and push. Kelly kept telling me to breathe and not push. I don’t think I realized how quickly this was all happening.
With each contraction, I could feel the top of his head pop out a little and then pull back in when the contraction ended.
I made no sounds. Breathing was everything!!
His head came out – I cried a little yelp! Then his body quickly followed after and he floated up for me to catch him. I was in shock.
Took my bra off and held him on my chest. His mouth crawled to my breast and latched on immediately. Rocco Sensky. Weighing 7pounds 8ounzes.
We had wanted to film the birth but there was no time to set anything up so I am forever grateful to Anton for capturing the moment I caught Rocco in a photograph
In my mind, it was all over – time to enjoy our little boy. But things took a surprising turn…
I got out of the pool to lie on the couch with baby Rocco on my chest and birthed my placenta ten minutes later (I loved this feeling – was very soothing after a head!). I could tell that Kelly wasn’t so sure about how much blood I was losing. I was encouraged to use the bathroom (going to the toilet helps the womb to contract). I walked into the bathroom and fainted. Two midwives came in to help me stand and get back to the couch. I fainted again.
Then I was in an what felt like an episode of 'Greys Anatomy'. A bed arrived for me and I was rushed up to the labour ward. I sensed panic from doctors and nurses surrounding me ‘She is losing too much blood’. Injections in my leg, IV fluid through a cannula, IV drip, tablets up my bottom and worst of all – a catheter. They were pushing my uterus down and emptying me of all clotting. I felt totally violated.
I was no longer practicing the calm breathing that hypnobirthing teaches - I went into panic mode. I felt that there were too many people in the room also panicking and my body seized up, which made everything they did so much more painful. I really can only describe this experience as traumatic.
The scariest thing was hearing the doctors and nurses confused by the blood loss and not knowing the reason.
2 hours later, everyone left. I had had a post partum hemorrhage because my uterus did not contract. This may well have been down to having such a quick birth.
Anton Rocco and I breathed a sigh of relief. I lay, covered in blood with tubes all over the place for another 4 hours – but the silence and calm was blissful. Holding him nestling into my neck made me forget everything.
We were kept in the hospital for two more nights and I had to have a blood transfusion. In hindsight this became a positive aspect to our birth experience because it meant having advice with how to look after a little human! We took a private room and made it our own with fairy lights, music and candles. Those two nights were really special bonding time.
Most importantly, I can look back at the birth itself and smile with tears in my eyes. It was utterly incredible. Perfect in fact. Unbelievably empowering. And the love I felt for both Anton and Rocco was off the scale.
Next time, we know exactly how to stop the blood loss so there are also no fears for baby number two.
Everybody tells you that the love you feel for your little human is something you cannot describe. It really isn’t. I am obsessed with the smell of his head. I am happy to lose hours just watching his facial expressions whilst he sleeps. He is perfect. I am in awe of how we can create little humans. Mind blowing.
Thank you so much for reading!
We have recently had a gorgeous newborn photo shoot with Natasha Wiening – can’t wait to show you all the photos!
Whilst I was writing my birth story, I jotted down a few must haves/must do’s for anyone expecting:
MUST HAVES/MUST DO’S
- Hypnobirthing course: If in London or Devon, Siobhan Miller from ‘The Positive Birthing Company’ is incredible!
- Pregnacy + app: to follow week by week progress of your little one in the womb
- Squeezy app: to remind you to practice pelvic floors every day
- Yesmum cards: to keep a positive mindset every day of your pregnancy
- Epi no machine: to help stretch the perineum and get you used to the sensation of the head crowning
- Birthing ball at home: for early labour. I found that sitting was not comfortable throughout contractions so leaning on this was great.
- Lucozade: to keep energy up in between contractions
- Flap Jack bite size: slow release energy (again great to keep energy levels high)
- Melon chopped: this was a personal love. Just have your favourite thing to hand!
- Electric candles (with remote): home from home
- Long dress like vest tops (not tshirts): makes it easy to breastfeed after birth
- Bridget jones pants & sanitary towels: comfy stretch Primark ones!
- Edith Dare ward – side room £295: If at Queen Charlottes, these private rooms are half the price of the others and are great!
- Bendy straws: to take fluids when lying down exhausted
- Pillow from home: home from home and perfect addition if staying in the hospital overnight
- Breastfeeding pillow: absolute god-send for in the hospital