Hello Everyone, Emma here, Mum of 2!
Life still feels a little surreal around here, I’m constantly needing to pinch myself. Mum of two little precious bundles, how did I get so lucky! Two very individual little humans who both entered this world in their own unique way. I never got round to sharing my birth story with Alfie, two years later it still feels so raw yet still so tough to address. Alfie’s birth is difficult to think about, difficult to write about. The experience was long and disheartening and yes I had my beautiful baby boy in my arms in the end however the trauma haunted me for a long time afterwards. Only now since bringing Esme into the world can I finally accept and appreciate the experience of birthing both my babies.
My head is fuzzy when I think of Alfie’s birth story, I don’t remember much at all and that hurts. What I do recall is 11 days past our due date, around 7pm on the 29th October, I felt my first contraction. I remember feeling ready, so very ready to meet our baby. All those months of wondering, waiting, preparing and here I was. I had became a little impatient however I mentally felt so ready and focused. I had been longing for this for what felt like an eternity and here it was. Amongst the excitement, the unknown and the already unbearable pain I felt so at ease , so calm.
Contractions where 4 minutes between so we called and made our way to the hospital. When we arrived I was only 2cm dilated and remained like that for hours, it felt like days. Baby was back to back and my cervix just wouldn’t dilate. I was already exhausted. After 12 hours it was finally time to go the labour suite. I hadn’t made a specific birth plan but found myself opting for the pool which I loved, perhaps it was the gas and air but I again felt so at ease, so focused. I then lost a fair amount of blood which meant my time in the pool was up however apparently I was not far from pushing, I remember my midwife telling me baby would be here in an hour or two. I’m not really sure what happened next. I was pushing yet only 5cm dilated. Epidural failed, baby was worryingly distressed and I was completely exhausted. I was taken to theatre. I felt nothing, just numb and blinded by the bright lights and abundance of friendly faces. I did feel relieved though, I just wanted my baby safely in my arms. Alfie was delivered by forceps after 39 hours in labour. I held him briefly then he was taken to NICU, I was taken to get stitched, I had a third degree mediolateral episiotomy.
We both spent 7 days in hospital. Those 7 days gave me an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, I felt like I had been robbed of the first week of my newborns life. I really did struggle to accept the trauma of his birth. I felt like I had failed, like I just couldn’t do it. I went over the event over and over which definitely had an impact on those first few precious weeks of my newborns life.
Fast forward little over a year and baby Esme is on her way.
Throughout my pregnancy with Esme I worried about labour so much, I almost couldn’t enjoy being pregnant, I tried so hard to embrace my time with her in my tummy. I tried hypnobirthing techniques, countless attempts at mediation, yoga and practicing mindfulness to try shift my headspace, nothing worked. The thought of experiencing what happened with Alfie almost made me breakdown, I so desperately wanted some reassurance that everything would be okay.
My pregnancy flew by and before I knew it December was upon us. Sparkly lights, Christmas cheer and an ever growing bump, inside my anxiety was rapidly building.
My due date hit, Christmas Day.
We spent the morning playing with new toys and eating all the Christmas delights, I knew I could feel a little something, light cramps and a mild ache in my back however I almost forgot for the morning that I was pregnant . The afternoon was filled with visits from friends and family followed by the most amazing Christmas dinner. I stuffed my face, got back into my maternity Pjs and watched Christmas movies, it was such a lovely Christmas day.
Around 9pm I read Alfie a story and lay whilst he dosed off. Cramping pains where slightly more intense by now and as much as I wanted to snuggle up and watch even more Christmas movies I knew I had to keep my mind occupied. At 11pm contractions started and for some strange reason I immediately felt in denial, suddenly I didn’t want this to be happening, just not today. The trauma of Alfie’s birth still haunting me. I timed my contractions and called the hospital, they where 5 minutes apart and lasting around 90 seconds. I was advised to sleep, call back when the contractions where closer to 3 minutes. So that I did. I ran a hot bath and cuddled into Alfie who was sound asleep. I didn’t sleep, I lay with Alfie in my arms and my phone by my side timing my contractions and having a little cry at how life was about to change, happy tears! The pain was unbearable but so was the thought of leaving Alfie, I just kept thinking when I return life will never be as is now.
3pm came round quicker than I’d hoped and I knew the time had come. Contractions where closer to 2 minutes and suddenly everything was happening all so very quickly. Darren rushed to pick up my mum who luckily is only a few minutes drive away, she was ready and awaiting the call. I kissed Alfie on the head and whispered “night bubs, be back soon”, which in hindsight I really shouldn’t have as it woke him which made leaving even tougher, I cried my eyes out getting into the car.
Contractions where now 2 minutes apart, pain level 10 out of 10. The next part was a complete world wind.
We arrived at the hospital car park at 3:45am, I was still timing contractions, I knew she was coming. Darren almost carried me from the car to the front entrance where we then calmly walked to maternity assessment, Darren was silent, I was so focused on my breathing. I remember thinking maternity triage was strangely quiet, where is everyone, where is all the Christmas babies?
I couldn’t stand any longer, I knew I had to push. I took myself through to the empty ward, and got myself onto the nearest bed whilst the midwife searched for my details on the system. They say your body knows when to push, I second that. My mind was saying no, I’m not ready, I’m too scared, I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t even have my clothes off but my body was telling me it’s time…PUSH!
So I did, I grabbed Darrens arm, I said over and over, you got this, you where made to do this and I pushed. My midwife insisted on gas and air but there wasn’t anytime. I remember thinking I don’t know what I’m doing but I just know i need to push. I will never forget that feeling, the feeling of giving birth, I had longed for it since birthing Alfie, here it was. Second push….she was here.
3:58am, 13 minutes after parking the car, Esme was here, my beautiful baby girl was in my arms.
An overwhelming burst of love, pride, joy, relief, and empowerment came over me. I felt confidence like never before, I felt so grateful and fulfilled.
I ripped my pyjama top off to feel her against my skin. I couldn’t believe she was here, my little Esme was in my arms. Adrenaline kicked in and if I remember correctly Darren and I high five’d!
I held Esme in my arms for over an hour, Darren cut the cord and I cuddled and fed her whilst waiting to go to the labour suite. I had a second degree tear, I was taken for stitches then to the ward to rest. Everything just seemed to flow, the whole time I had the happiest of smiles, I felt the utmost joy, I was so in love, so happy. After a few assessments we where good to go home. It was 11 am, just over 7 hours after arriving at hospital, Alfie blissfully unaware I was even gone.
Darren dashed home to collect Alfie. We decided to bring him to the hospital to meet his new baby sister for the first time. It was the proudest moment of my life, he kissed her head, gave her his broom broom car and we made our way home. Home to start our new chapter as a family of four.
So here I am, one month later! Esme, my little Christmas pudding and Alfie, my little Halloween pumpkin both in my arms. I’ll forever be grateful for my two birthing experiences. Alfie’s birth pushed my mental capabilities to almost breaking point. It took a long time to recover but it certainly made me stronger, focused and incredibly grateful to have him. Esme’s birth has given me a new found confidence, a feeling of empowerment, she’s given me everything I was missing in me. I can’t say for sure that mind over matter works every time but I can say the key is absolutely believing in yourself, be your own biggest support, be your own hero.
I’m so glad I eventually found the courage to talk about Alf’s birth. I’ve found talking, sharing and knowing I’m not alone has been a huge part of the healing process.
Just lastly, a quick note to wrap up this super long blog post, (thank you if you’re still with me). To my son and daughter, my little Alf and Esme, Thank you… with all of my heart, thank you for making me the woman, the mama that I am today. It’s all because of you.
All my Love