Being my third baby I thought I knew what to expect... wrong! As I often tell couples, every baby is different and every birth is different. Funny how you forget these things when you're in the thick of it.
I had been practising my breathing and listening to the Colour and Calmness CD each evening from about six months and was very excited about the coming birth. People think I'm crazy as I actually really look forward to the birth, and was hoping to have a longer labour this time so I could enjoy the moment for longer.
The birthing pool was ready and waiting, we had done a 'dry' run (or a wet run as it turned out), my relaxation music was primed and ready to go (no plinky plonky music for me, I had been listening to the Game of Thrones soundtrack each night), the list of who to call and when was on the notice board, the only thing missing was the labour. Both girls had arrived before their estimated due date and so I was convinced that babies that I produced would all be early and small... So as my due date came closer and closer I felt that I was overdue.
My first sign that labour was beginning with both girls had been a definite 'show', so again I was convinced that that was how this labour would begin... I was wrong again! This labour had no apparent 'show' and no early signs at all. My first inkling that things were starting was my waters breaking, on the morning of my estimated due date. My 'mummy-sense' must have kicked in, because at 4.30am I suddenly sat bolt upright in bed, thought 'What woke me?' and 'pop' my waters broke... everywhere. It really was like something out of a film... it was a tidal wave. It makes sense, thinking about it, as the baby's head was not being pulled down by gravity and acting as a plug while I was lying down.
I informed Stu, wrapped myself up in a towel, and proceeded to go back to sleep, thinking that I should conserve energy while I could.
Stu decided that he should probably stay home from school that day as my first two labours had been pretty quick and he didn't want to miss it. Freja and Erin went to school on the understanding that if things started happening then we would pick them up so they could be there for the birth. We had done a lot of preparation with the girls and given them the option of being present for the birth. We called my mum, as she lives at least 4 hours away, and let her know that my waters had broken, but nothing much was happening.
My midwife had told me that it was her day off but that she wanted to attend as she wanted to see a hypnobirthing birth for herself, so I gave her a call around 11am. She informed me that she had her last upholstery class before Christmas that afternoon, and jokingly said that if we could hold on until after 4 she would be very grateful. At 3.30pm my surges started. I think my body may have been waiting until the whole family was safely gathered in so that there were no other distractions, whatever the reason, my surges started gradually just after the children had come home from school, my mum had arrived and Stu's parents had settled down with a cuppa.
My surges started gradually and were over with in a breath or two. Between surges I busied myself with setting up the pool and making little videos with Freja and Erin. As my surges became more regular and longer I would stop and relax, concentrating on my 'up' breathing. I was much more self sufficient during this stage of labour than I had been with the girls, so Stu and his dad set up the video cameras and everyone carried on, as normal, around me.
As the surges became regular and around five minutes apart we called our midwife. Although I was happy for her to wait a while she said she would come and assess me. She arrived and I decided that I would like to get into the pool. The water was lovely! The weightless sensation was particularly enjoyable and soothing.
My surges were coming thick and fast at this point and I had gone completely into myself. Stu started talking to me in his soothing tones and I was surprised to find that I actually liked him stroking my arms this time. It is amazing how some of your senses become very heightened as others dull: I was hardly aware of what my body was doing, but very aware of the smell of the birthing pool plastic... it was a very comforting smell.
Very quickly I realised that I had gone into second stage labour. It was a very strange sensation, as this time I had a very powerful urge to bear down. I also found myself being much more vocal, I sounded like a lowing cow! I heard Freja getting anxious that I was in distress, so as one surge finished I reassured her that it was simply the sound my body was telling me to make and that I was perfectly happy and comfortable. I then retreated back into my birthing body for the next surge.
Between surges I reached down and I could feel the top of my baby’s head. It was a lovely feeling, knowing my baby was soon going to be with me. I was so excited. I breathed down with each surge and soon the head was born. There was a short pause, which felt like a long time in my mind, and I was impatient for the next surge to start so that I would finally be able to hold my baby. The next surge arrived and my little boy was born, witnessed by my two daughters, my husband, my mother, mother-in-law and father-in –law! It was a very surreal moment, as he was greeted with a round of applause.
It was a wonderful birth. Torren was born at 6.53pm with a birth weight of seven pounds five and a half ounces. He came into the world in a calm, peaceful manner and has continued in the same vein ever since.
I have been very fortunate to have three very different but equally amazing experiences.