Welcome Little Hypnobub Finn
I had a beautiful water birth in October at the birth centre with the home birth service.
I know that births rarely go to plan. Somehow mine did. I believe a lot of it was luck. Baby in position, healthy mama, everyone’s heartbeat doing the right thing at the right time. However, there are two other important contributing factors that got me through: preparation and support. I’d prepared myself mentally and physically like I was studying for an exam. Physical exercises (including Epi-no training) and mental work-outs... many hours spent listening to my hypnobirthing tracks and meditating. And I had the best support I could muster... included in that were my parents, my birth partner- my man, Chris Witty, and a like-minded midwife with whom I could share my silliest questions, my deepest concerns, most ridiculous wonderings, and importantly, my deepest trust.
My waters broke at 3 am. I woke to that warm sensation of fluid spilling softly out between my legs. "Witty, there's water flooding out between my legs!” He jumped up from bed, alert as ever! "Ok !what do you want me to do?". It seemed rather comical to me that he appeared so awake so suddenly and this made me laugh, immediately pushing more juices down past my thighs. This squirt effect made me laugh again, of course which caused more surges - a ridiculous series of floods and giggles! This comical circle of chaos finally eased when a towel was found and wedged between my thighs. I waddled over to the toilet to check that there wasn't any blood. All clear, so I flopped back into bed on a throne of several dry towels Witty had laid on top of the puddle.
Witty instantly became world's best feeder. Out in the kitchen at 3 a.m., in his jocks, he rustled up avocado on toast and big bowls of cereal with fresh yoghurt, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, banana, honey! The method to the madness was to energise. He thought I should eat while I still could so that I'd be equipped with energy for what we expected might be a marathon. Good plan. While I ate, Witty phoned into the hospital to let them know about the situation. He came back and relayed the information he'd gotten from the wonderful midwives up on the 6th floor at RDH. Their advice was try to get some sleep and to contact Romy, our homebirth midwife, in the morning.
At 7 o'clock I rose after a few hours dozing between light surges, and there was Witty, standing over my bed with a big grin and another plate of avocado toast! Romy had called and a plan was in place so I propped myself up on the pillows to knock off a second feast and then prepare ourselves for the birth centre visit.
When we arrived at 8 am, our midwife was there with the CTG machine set up and we jumped on the bed to monitor our little Cub's heart rate. Everything seemed fine and so ensued the drier but important conversations about hospital policies, and what could happen next. We knew that 18 hours after my waters broke, the doctors would want to induce me. We knew we'd still have options but because spontaneous labour is often slower with the first baby, we understood things might not go to plan. You feel like you are suddenly working to a deadline. This doesn't always put one at ease. Mind you, I'm a journalist by trade, so maybe the deadline sub-consciously put me into gear!
The idea of a slow labour was made even more unappealing as this was our midwife’s last shift before taking a week’s leave! Such a loving and trusting relationship had grown between us over those past few months that I dearly wanted her to be a part of this final exciting journey with us. It was a hard pill to swallow, but we accepted the facts that Romy might not be there when Cub arrived.
After the all-clear, we returned home to do the relaxing as per the midwife's orders. By about 10.30 the surges started to get noticeably stronger. Witty helped me set up with the exercise ball, my music, and my journal to start recording the times between surges. Following the advice of a friend I hung myself over the exercise ball like a sloth (all floppy) and began my hypnobirthing affirmations track as I breathed into the first truly focussed surges. It felt like stepping into a lucid dream.
I wasn't really focussing on anything anymore besides me and my Cub. I was rolling, heaving, with the surges as the exercise ball moved with us. I’d breathe long conscious breaths. I acknowledged a rising power I needed to surrender to. I’d call out to my body to open and relax then I’d visualise my muscles following these requests. Somehow I think my body obeyed. At one point, I came out of the daze. Unbelievably I’d been in that same position for 45 minutes! Maybe the "hypno" part of this birthing was really working!
Then I let out an almighty groan. This was big. Witty helped get the TENS machine on to my back and I hung over the ball again with my surge buzzer in hand. The wave would ride up and I'd groan that baby down. I was talking to Cub. I was talking to my vagina! I was calling out all sorts of funny things to my body and my baby. It's probably quite interesting to sit from a distance and listen to a labouring woman speak to her cervix like it's a good friend she’s choreographing some dance with! Still, I talked to that cervix... and she listened!
In a massive surge, another huge and final gush of fluid came rushing out down the inside of my thighs. I laughed and cried at the same time. I had to remember to surrender, not fight this power. Witty supported me to the bathroom and carried me over the tub walls. I washed the 'waters' off me and crawled out before another surge came. "Please! Get me back to the ball" I cried out!
Witty stayed by my side now. I needed his hands on me. He was putting hot towels on my back, putting cold towels on my face, grabbing the spew bucket and then... SPEW! Check Mate. Spewing drew the line in the sand. It pulled me out of my daze, out of my no-doubt enthralling conversation with my "softening, stretching cervix" and my "down the birth canal" baby. "I think it's time to go to the birth centre" I said. Clearly Witty felt the same way because before I could say 'vagina' we were in the car and rolling down Bagot road again!
Arriving at the birth centre was a blur. People were looking curiously at me as I wove my way down the covered walkway, speeding and slowing, resting against poles before resuming a dither toward the birth centre doors. I sighed as I entered the room. There was our midwife, smiling as always. The blinds were down. The room was a cool, shaded and welcoming space from the bright, hot carpark. Immediately I eyed the birth ball and flung myself over it. Heaven!
With our midwife pressing down on my back, I started to fall back into that deep inner space in my head and my womb, where I'd been while at home. I was glad I could find that space again. It had dissipated during the drive and made the surges more of an affliction than a force I was part of. Witty unpacked some of the goodies from the bag... but things were moving quickly. I wanted, more than anything, for him to be near me and as fully involved in the moment as he could be. The birth bag was abandoned. Positions assumed. The birth was on!
Our midwife was the perfect support for us both. She offered Witty ideas and created a space for us to connect as a couple. And of course, she knew what to offer me and when. As everything intensified, she'd guide my breath up and help me release. Her words were soothing and encouraging. "You've got this Golden", she'd say, calmly and confidently. I'd been over the ball for about an hour when I asked if she wanted to check my dilation. She assured me everything was going perfectly. She said if I really wanted her to check, shewould, but she didn’t think I needed it. I trusted this. Instead, she asked if I'd like to try out the shower while she ran the bath. I answered yes, again, trusting her guidance. I was so grateful for these suggestions. And so, as Witty whispered mantras of relaxation into my ear, he helped me toward the shower. I stripped down and quickly dropped to the shower floor, leaning over a chair as the next huge wave rose. An all-encompassing squeeze sent waves of pressure throughout my body, flooding every one of my senses. Sound, sight, smell and touch suddenly became one great ball of 'noise'. Not horrid, certainly not comfortable... but quite simply, huge. I surrendered further. I spread my knees and moved my hips. I cried out to release tensions with my vocal chords. I kept calling out to myself to "move" and groan to "let go!" All the while Witty squatted next to me, reminding me to breathe. He'd run the shower up my back with each inhale, down my back with each massive groaning exhale. The hot water felt magnificent. When I could speak I’d tell him, "Please don’t stop". Then, in a riptide of surges I would be swept away again. After about 45 minutes in the shower Witty guided me over to the bath and I clumsily slid in. It was warm, full, and an unexpected feeling of comfort returned to my body! The room was dark and the ethereal sounds of Sigur Ros were playing in the background. Witty climbed in with me. I felt close to him and very close to birthing...so close to my baby. The surge rose like tsunami force through my body, and the first thoughts of panic rise up as my baby stretched me wide. I must have been holding my breath as I heard Witty call out to “gently breathe in, breathe out”. I heard our midwife’s voice again. She told me I was doing great. Every word from either of these two was absorbed like a sponge. Like an immediate truth or the sage advice of an old soul. As the surge ended and I was breathing again, Our midwife’s words were echoing in my head. “Yes, I am doing great!” I concurred, somewhat ridiculously. I was hoping the power of words would coerce me in the right direction. It did. Confidence over fear. There is no denying that this was taxing work... but I swear by the power of suggestion. Another surge. My guttural groans rippled through my body like the shudders an earth quake sends though the world. Our midwife asked me if I could feel the head. I remember sliding my two fingers gently inside, nervous and excited about what I might touch. Nothing baby-like. Momentarily I thought of defeat as though perhaps I should have been further along than this. But the thought was shaken off by a new, roaring surge! Wincing, pressing, groaning, I could only breathe and groan. I could hear Witty with his words... Breathe in breathe out. It ended and an exasperated “fuck” fell out of my mouth like near defeat! It was one of only two times I actually swore, which surprises me now, as I’m not adverse to a bit of bad language! Another surge. The same result. I was desperately trying not to push. It felt like I might split in half if I did! I could feel everything stretching, really bloody stretching now! Suddenly it was like the muscles made sounds as they stretched. The sensation of feeling had morphed into some sense of sound! I focused in on it, surrendering to the sharp sounds of a violin bow on a string... I stretched. I slipped two fingers inside again. There was something there! Very soft and silky on my fingertips, like cotton wool in water, or like soft coral you might touch on a reef. It didn’t feel like a baby! I groggily described it to Romy, who said if it didn’t feel like a head it could be the membrane. Who would have known it actually was the hairy little head of my Cub starting to inch down! I had been breathing through the last 3 or 4 surges to open my body up but all I could think of was PUSHING! Finally I admitted that I really felt the need to bear down. “I feel like I need to poo!’, “That’s great,” she replied calmly, “It's just your baby coming down”. “I really want to push!” I exclaimed, nervous for what that might mean for my fanny! “That’s Okay,” she said, “Listen to your body. If you feel like you need to push, you can push”. Well you didn’t have to tell me twice! I felt like I’d been given an early mark by the teacher! School’s out! Freedom! I might have been able to hold on for another surge but with Romy’s all-clear, we were moving on! Stretch, split or explode, I was going for it! Suddenly I was becoming more alert, as if stirring quickly from a slumber. The adrenaline was kicking in. Cub was coming out! Our midwife told me to get into a position that felt right to have my baby. I turned to face Witty, front on. He was speaking to me gently, stroking my shoulders, reassuring me with his practiced affirmations. I spread into a sumo-type squat and leaned into him. For the first time in hours my eyes focused on something. It was my husband's face. Our eyes locked. I kissed him. Our foreheads and noses rested on each other’s. “Here we go!” I grinned with eyes wide open! That strange ‘sound’ of stretching began to take over again. This time it was the sound of a violent flood approaching. Like the walls of a lock bursting open. The epic surge was coming to flood me. I closed my eyes and surrendered. My voice gave out. My senses exploded. I bore down. When I came out of the noise, the surge was subsiding. I dropped my hand from Witty’s shoulder and felt between my legs. “I feel the head” I explained, breathless. “That’s great. How far in can you feel it? Two fingers?”. No, no...I feel the whole head...on the outside”! Now apparently I said this very calmly and matter of fact. I don’t recall, but I do recall our midwife’s surprised response with widened eyes. “Oh!! Well, I better go grab another midwife!” And out she ran! For those short few seconds we were alone. This was it! Just Witty and me in the bath together with a baby half born... in our little water world. Nothing seemed to exist outside of this bath in this moment. I could feel our skin on skin, our underwater embrace. Two kids on the brink of parenthood. A child on the brink of life. There we were, all hanging there effortlessly in the water as if time had stopped for us to take this in. I took it all in. I laughed at the messy perfection of it all. I held my man. “We’re gonna be parents.”
Our midwife returned to the room with another midwife. She was briefed quickly and then our midwife connected into our world with us. Then, sure as anything I’ve ever anticipated, I felt a surge drawing me up. The room had gone soft to my senses. It was like someone rubbed all the sharp edges away with an eraser. There was no fear, just one final surge I could foresee. I bore down. I groaned out with relief and joy, feeling the body of my child slip into the water beneath me. Our midwife’s voice confirmed it. “I'm bringing your baby around to you under the water!” I heard. Magic. I lifted a leg, spinning on one foot in the water to bring myself around and see a little human below me! Swimming in that pool like a fish, our midwife’s hands were gently cradling him and guiding his paddle. I started to laugh and cry. This was truly happening! I settled into Witty’s chest again, and then up came our little Cub, wading up to meet us and take his first breath of air. I took him into our big wet embrace of entwined arms and laughter as he surfaced onto my chest. “Our Little Finn” I sighed with admiration. I was referring to this aquatic performance I suppose. I must have been for ‘Finn’ wasn't even a name on our shortlist. It just slipped out. Like he did! Our little one had so much hair. I realised this must have been the cotton wool, the soft, sea coral I had felt earlier on. His eyes were wide open. He lifted his head high as he breathed life in and smacked his vernix-covered face against my breast. Nobody had noticed the sex yet. I held him against me. “Any last guesses on the sex?” I asked! Witty looked at his face. It must be a boy, he said with a grin. I’m sticking with girl!” our midwife chimed in. And so with a smile, I felt under his toosh. Two soft, ridiculously big balls! “Witty’s right. We have a son!” I exclaimed. And the room just felt like a big, fat smile.