Louis George Aubrey Batt
6th June 2018
It’s been a whirlwind 11 weeks and despite the normal teething problems of adjusting to life as a family of 4, we have been having a bloomin’ great time! Louis is a joy to be around and brings us so much happiness. He’s loved beyond words( especially by his big sister).
This time around, as well as planning for my birth, I spent quite a considerable amount of time formulating a ‘postnatal plan’ as my postnatal period after having Matilda was fraught with anxiety and just a bit of a shambles in all honesty! I’m going to share in another post exactly what my postnatal plan looked like and the major adjustments we made this time around to help make the transition back to the newborn phase as smooth as possible.
But for now onto the very important business of the little chap’s birth story. . .
On Tuesday 5th June at 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant I woke up with the pangs of both disappointment and relief that I had become quite accustomed to over the past couple of weeks- disappointment that I was still pregnant and baby B hadn’t decided they wanted to meet us yet and relief that I had at least a few more hours until the craziness of having 2 children hit us!
After a lazy morning, that afternoon, Matilda and I went swimming and had a great time playing with her new mermaid barbie. With not the slightest hint that baby would be making their appearance, we carried on the usual dinner, bath, bed routine and as had become the norm, an exhausted and far too pregnant me fell asleep with Matilda whilst putting her to bed. At 9pm I woke with a start when I felt a tiny little trickle. I was doubtful that it could be my waters but thought I would get up just to check. As I stood up all guess work was taken out of the equation, with a huge ‘movie style’ gush, my waters went, soaking me right down to my socks! I waddled in to tell Francis who at first laughed and made a comment along the lines of ‘yeah ok’ with an eye roll, until he saw my face and soaked trousers and realised I was not having him on! Within an hour, our wonderful midwife Katherine was with us, doing a quick check of baby and me and contractions were coming (yay we’ll meet or baby soon we thought!)
About 11pm we made our way over to the Princess Anne where we had already agreed a plan that I would be giving birth on labour ward due to the slightly increased risks of my low lying placenta. We spent some time chatting to a lovely, friendly midwife called Laura who instantly made us feel at ease. But labour was not playing ball . . . By 2am, contractions had come to a grinding halt and we made the decision to go back home and try to get some rest for what would hopefully be a pretty exciting following day.
Over night, very little happened and this continued well in to the next morning when eager to help things to progress, Francis and I left Matilda with my mum and set out on a walk around the village and to get a well deserved tea and cake. I had a little cry (well actually a really big ugly cry!) which helped to release all the remaining tension and worries I was holding and the combination of this and cake and love and walking helped some mild but regular contractions to start coming.
Back at home we had some pizza for lunch and a chat with Katherine who had booked me in for an aromatherapy massage at the hospital to hopefully encourage things along (always going above and beyond, Katherine helped me to see for myself just how important continuity of care is through pregnancy and labour as whenever I spoke to her and felt at ease in her presence, my contractions picked up!) After the biggest cuddle from Matilda and a few more tears from me in the car, we arrived at the hospital at 3pm for our massage appointment.
One of the midwives Michelle on Broadlands ward (of the Pampers adverts fame) gave me the most wonderful massage using a blend of Rose, Jasmine and Clary Sage essential oils. And with a urine sample pot of the left over oils and hopeful hearts, we set off for more walking up and down hills around the hospital with the hope that the walk back would be punctuated with moments of breathing through strong and regular contractions.
Over 3 hours later after ice creams in the park and lots of sniffing my urine sample pot (some of the looks I got were slightly puzzled/disgusted but how were they to know that I wasn’t just a crazy pregnant lady sniffing a pot of urine!) we returned to the hospital with some fairly strong but completely irregular contractions coming. As well as keeping upright and smelling the essential oils, we used some acupressure points to get things going which had been kindly taught to us by the acupuncturist I had been visiting during pregnancy.
By 9pm we were down on labour ward with our assigned midwife Jo and despite contractions still being irregular, by this point I insisted I wanted to use the pool as this time I wanted to experience labour in the tub as opposed to just the second (pushing) phase like I had with Matilda. After 45 minutes it became quite clear that things had yet again come to an abrupt stop and feeling a little defeated and tired, I got out the pool and asked for a cervical check.
Just before 10pm I was examined and told I was 4cm dilated and although I know full well that this is no indication of how long labour will continue for, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that I wasn’t further along. Rather than let this get me down though, Francis made sure to keep me upbeat with some positive words and the light touch massage we had used so effectively in my labour with Matilda.
From that point things really took a turn and my contractions reached a new level of intensity and finally showed the regularity we had been hoping for (although one rolling into the next with little to no break in between as not what we had expected!).
This was a totally different ball game to anything I had felt during my labour with Matilda and I found I had to rely on my Hypnobirthing breathing techniques and Francis far more than I had to last time. With it taking every ounce of my concentration and power to focus through the peaks of the ever building surges, I had a few moments where I announced that I was ‘too bloody tired and had had enough’.
With Francis’ support (quite literally- I found that the only position I could really relax in was standing up with my hands hooked in to his trouser pockets and leaning my full weight in to him!) And him using positive affirmations and light touch massage, I kept on top of the waves and also found that repeating the word ‘relax’ out loud during the surges was a real help.
Very shortly I reached the point where I didn’t care if the pool slowed everything down and told the midwife that even though I was only 4cm dilated, I was getting in again. At about 10.50pm I got back in the pool- sheer bliss to finally have some of the weight off me.
Jo at that moment popped out of the room and in very similar style to my labour with Matilda I told Francis to get the midwife back in immediately as the baby was coming and my body had started pushing.
Of course, after a 2+ hour pushing stage with Matilda, Francis was in no hurry until I told him that I could in fact feel the baby’s head and they really were coming NOW!
He managed to get the attention of another midwife in the corridor who promptly popped in and merrily asked me if I could still ignore the urge to push to which I replied something along the lines of ‘I have a head between my legs, so no!’
With 2 midwives back in the room, I asked for gas and air which I took a few deep breaths of and found that although I didn’t like it or find it helpful during Matilda’s labour, this time around it was exactly what I needed at that very moment to refocus me. 3 more powerful contractions and our baby boy was born straight in to my hands at 11.03pm. I had some difficulty pulling him up to the surface as his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice and once Jo had unwrapped the cord and I had him in my arms it became clear that he needed a little help with taking his first breaths and to pink him up a bit. After a brisk rub with a towel and an almighty cough, Louis made himself known and looked beautiful and pink very quickly.
Somewhere in the commotion I had seen that we had a baby boy and announced it very proudly (and then checked again very quickly as I didn’t want to announce the sex wrong like I had done previously with Matilda!).
I know the thought of a cord around the neck and a slightly blue baby sounds pretty scary and there’s no doubt that when it is your own baby, the world stands still for that minute or so until you hear those first cries. But in most cases, a cord around the neck is not actually dangerous for a baby and up to 1 in 3 babies have this present at birth.
I have a feeling that Louis’ colour and necessity for a little help was not due to the cord but actually due to the fact that when he finally decided to come, he was out in an hour. It was quick and he was likely as shocked as we were that things had happened so fast!
Once out of the pool and dried off, Louis had his first feed and we had well over an hour of undisturbed skin to skin contact before he was weighed and checked over. I also got to sit back and enjoying watching Francis squirm as he tried to handle my placenta in to a plastic tub which was to go straight away to be encapsulated! We marvelled that as well as having a twice wrapped cord, Louis had fashioned himself quite an impressive double ‘true knot’ in his cord which is very rare and pretty cool to see!
After a night on the ward (no I didn’t sleep, yes I did just stare at my baby all night!) Matilda, my Mum and my sister all came to visit the next morning and by that evening we were home and tucked up in bed as a very tired but very happy family of four.
So in summary-
No 2 labours are the same.
It was not what I expected.
You can never underestimate the power of a good birth partner.
It was raw and messy but more perfect than I could ever have hoped for.
It was slow and fast all at the same time.
It was hard.
It was incredible.
It was rewarding.
It was mentally tougher than my first labour and birth.
I felt like an absolute super human during and afterwards.
I would do it again in a heartbeat (but the husband says no!)
Emma Batt, Hypnobirthing Mother of one and KG Hypnobirthing teacher.