I went into labour spontaneously at home at around 2:30am. At that time, I was 40 + 4 (in the middle of summer!!) and feeling ready to meet my baby. I was so pleased to go into labour naturally, as I was starting to get nervous about having to be induced. I remember being so excited when I felt what I was sure was my first few contractions and opened the blinds in my room so I could watch the sun come up on the day I expected my baby to be born. Contractions started 10mins apart and I tried to relax as much as possible using the breathing techniques for relaxation between each contraction. My husband woke early to go for a bike ride and I told him to go back to sleep. I used a lot of breathing and swaying in the early stages and the contractions built to about 5mins apart by mid-morning. I felt confident, strong and excited labouring at home. My mum was staying with us at the time. I decided to have breakfast because I wanted some fuel on board and I felt like it would be a while until we would meet the baby. While sitting eating with mum I would get up and lean against the railing on our deck to sway my hips. I had hired a tens machine which I found really helpful in the early stages, in addition to active strategies. It was particularly helpful in the car ride to hospital when I couldn't move, and once we got to hospital while we waited for 2 hours in reception (contractions 3mins apart at this stage) before I was checked and we were admitted to a birth suite. As my contractions became closer to 3 mins apart, we decided to go to hospital. We drove to hospital at around 12pm. While I was waiting to be checked, during each contraction I used breathing and lent into a wall in the corner of reception and circled my hips while waiting in reception. At around 2pm I was checked by a midwife and was 5cms dilated.
We finally got into our own birth suite around 2:30pm. Our allocated midwife was friendly, but on reflection a bit passive. She appeared to see that my husband and I were managing well and left us alone aside from when I asked to use the bath - which she helped to run for me. She told me she would check me at 6:30pm and expected me to be around 9cms then. I didn't find that bath that helpful, I spent a lot of time kneeling on the bed with my arms over the head of the bed, which was elevated. My husband massaged my sacrum during contractions and the midwife also bought heat packs. My breathing turned into louder 'ohmmm' vocalizations which I found really helpful. Contractions became more intense and closer together - I lost track of the timing but my husband said around every 1-2mins as we approached 6:30pm. The midwife got me on the bed (I remembered afterwards that you had said we were able to asked to be checked on all fours), and I was 7cms. I felt devastated and started to feel out of control with the pain. The midwife suggested breaking my waters to help things progress. I felt scared about having to continue at the current level of intensity and don't think I realised how much more painful things would be if my waters were broken. My mind attached to the idea of things progressing faster and I agreed to have my waters broken. This is a moment I wish I could have paused and used the BRAIN model. I don't know if waiting to break my waters any later would have changed anything about what would happen later but it is what my mind goes back to. Once the midwife manually broke my waters, I felt got off the bed and had lost my rhythm. Bub's head must have been jammed in tightly because not much liquid came out. The pain was excruciating, and I had gone from being confident with active strategies to barely being able to walk. The midwife offered me gas and I did not find it helpful, I felt like it was being pushed on me. I felt like my own breathing was more helpful. I tried to use the shower to help, but I was having a lot of trouble moving and my vocalizations felt more like screaming. I felt out of control and couldn't remember other things I had wanted to try or what might be helpful to be doing. I called for an epidural at 7:40. The anaesthetist was there by 8pm, having the epidural put in place was scary, I was worried I wouldn't be able to stay still. My husband sat in front of me and held me tightly during contractions as it was being done. Once it was in the doctor said she was happy with the position and said it would start to work in 20mins. It took 45mins to start working from there. I remember being asked if I could feel the ice, she was running up my side, I kept saying yes. I remember being asked my pain level 0-10 and I kept saying 10. My husband Sam remembers the pure relief the moment I said "four". It worked on one side first then they rolled me slightly to help it reach my other side. At around 9:30pm the midwife checked me again and I was 8cms, she said that she felt I had made the right choice to have an epidural as progression was slow.
The midwives changed over shifts at 11pm and the woman who took over was incredible. I was left for a peaceful few hours while they monitored me and bub. My mum and sister visited my while the epidural was in and my husband went to have something to eat. Bub was born on my birthday so as the clock ticked over to midnight, I sang a brief "Happy Birthday to me". Soon after that I was checked and I was 10cms. Originally, I was going to be left to give the baby time to descend but I had developed a fever and the baby's heart rate had jumped to average 10bpm higher so they wanted to get me ready to start pushing. Then bub's heart rate wasn't recovering from contractions so they informed us about the vacuum. The midwife and obstetrician still didn't seem to know the position of the baby and used an ultrasound at this point to confirm where he was. He was posterior and we were told by the obstetrician that he would try and turn the baby. Then I started pushing. The vacuum popped off his head twice which they said was due to his forehead presentation. The obstetrician was not able to turn him and he was born posterior as the midwife said 'facing the stars'. He was delivered on to my chest and everything was good in the world.
Sarah attended Pregnancy Yoga, Active Birth Yoga, Active Birth weekend with her partner and Mums & Bubs Yoga