I originally wrote this post for Mini Mummi blog. In the midst of so much loss, it was actually cathartic to write out this birth story. I loved reliving the birth of my daughter. It was magical.
The Birth of my Little Ivy
My darling daughter was in as much of a rush to meet me as I was her. After a long, difficult pregnancy, I was booked in for induction at 37 weeks. And despite my concerns, I loved my birth.
Before pregnancy, I thought I would be an Earth mother, having a zen and calm birth in a pool surrounded by soothing music and flickering candles. However, when I was told at 18 weeks that I had ICP, I quickly realised that I needed to change my expectations. At first, I was distraught at the thought of induction (a likely consequence of ICP). To me, this meant interventions, medication and probably a c-section. I thought that induction meant I would have a bad birth.
Thankfully, I had plenty of time to mentally prepare. Despite knowing I would be induced, I spent time listening to hypnobirthing tracks. I have since read wonderful things about Hollie De Cruz – her hypnobirthing book comes highly recommended. She also makes Yes Mum cards with affirmations to help you through birth. I wrote a birth plan with my husband. We looked at what we wanted as an ideal, but accepted our main goal was a healthy Baby and Mummy. We talked about the language I wanted my husband to use. We researched ways that we could have control during an induction – such as a mobile monitoring unit, massage, music. We took time to ensure I felt comfortable – comfy clothes to wear, a tens machine, my birth ball, a soft cloth with clary sage oil. We understood that the induction would probably be long and painful, I would probably need pain medication and I might need a caesarean. I was finally OK with all of that and ready to be induced.
I started my induction at 3pm on a Monday. This entailed inserting a propess (a device that looks like a tampon but has something on it to make you dilate) for 24 hours. I was completely unfavourable. I was so closed up and so far back the midwife practically sank her whole arm inside me to tell me I wasn’t even effaced. She warned me it could take 4 days and would likely lead to c section. She didn’t seem too pleased that I was being induced as it seemed so likely to fail. Contractions started at 6pm but we’re totally bearable until 6am when they ramped up a bit. It was at this point that I phoned my husband and told him to GET HERE NOW thinking things were going to start happening. I had some paracetamol and strapped on a tens machine (heaven!). Then it all got quiet. The couple of hours of mildly painful contractions had faded. When I was monitored, no contractions were picked up and Baby looked fine.
We spent the day resting. I bounced. Lay down. Chatted with my husband and sister. And not very much happened. I knew that this might happen so I wasn’t worried – just a little disappointed. At this point, I was on the antenatal ward and was sharing a room with a woman and her 3 children. Her husband had gone home and her kids were running wild (I felt so very sorry for her!). This was the most drama that happened all day.
After 24 hours of period-like cramps and a few painful contractions I took the pessary out and they checked again. I was a whopping 2cm. At this point, I resigned myself to a long and terrible labour ending in caesarean. The midwife, however, seemed really pleased with my progress and told me I was now ready to start my induction … I thought it had already started but apparently that had just been the warm up. I was transferred to the labour ward – I finally had my own little room.
After being talked through the process, I had my waters broken at 5.10pm. I went from a calm zen mama to a roaring lioness. The back to back contractions happened so suddenly I felt overwhelmed and scared. I became pretty out of it with crazy consuming contractions coming thick and fast. The next step was to go on the hormone drip but I begged not to as my contractions were so regular. My midwife said she wanted to check me to see if I was progressing so she could make a decision. She checked – 6cm at 6.25pm. My labour had officially started. I have no idea where that hour went; I was in such a daze.
I started to shake and say to my husband that I couldn’t do it. I told them I needed to poop so they strapped me up to a portable monitor but I couldn’t go. My husband reminded me of all the affirmations and calming words we had practised. A voice inside me told me I was in transition which helped to calm me. After wanting to go med free, I used my safe word and asked for all the drugs. However, the doctors were in theatre so I needed to wait. The epidural never materialised but I was quickly jabbed in the leg with pethidine and handed some gas and air. The shaking continued and I started to roar. The midwife got cross and said the noise I was making sounded like I was pushing. I was. She told me off saying I needed to wait. At this point, I had retreated into myself. I knew what was happening and let my body take over. I trusted my body. I wasn’t scared anymore. Pushing was such a relief. It transformed the pain so I was no longer overwhelmed.
Somehow another hour had passed and at 7.29pm, after being told off for pushing, the midwife agreed to check again. I roared like a lioness as she proclaimed I was about to have a baby. I felt Boo coming down the birth canal and her head popped out then she came sliding along after at 7.51pm. It was all so very fast. There wasn’t any time for meds to kick in or the hormone drip. And despite losing it a bit at first, I loved my labour and delivery. Pregnancy made me feel weak and defeated. Birth made me feel strong and powerful. I was ready to be a mother.
As you may know, I developed post natal depression – you can read more about why and how I overcame it. To those of you who are worried that you won’t feel that rush of love – don’t worry. I didn’t. But I look at these photos now, and my heart is full to bursting. Take lots of photos and don’t panic if you don’t feel it straight away.
My daughter is now 2.5 years old, she is a little legend, kind and caring, and a clever cookie. You can follow our daily antics over on my instagram @the_muddled_mum . Being her mum whilst suffering through recurrent loss and mental illness has been hard – but she is my shining light and makes it all worth it.
Love you Boo.
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