STACEY'S BIRTH STORY
Arlo was born Tuesday 4th May 2021 at 4:58 am, weighing a teeny tiny 5lb 3oz. Suffice to say it was a bit of a whirlwind, but a wholly positive experience!
A bit of background: we had planned for a home birth. We had looked at the stats, I was low risk, healthy and fit, we had the birth pool on hire and I was looking forward to getting into my own bed post-birth. However, having only moved into our new house a few weeks before baby arrived, we didn’t manage to get a suitable space ready in time so decided we’d be best off going into the hospital.
I always had a hunch that my baby would come early, I don’t know; let’s call it Mother’s intuition. Well, I was right!
In the week leading up to Arlo’s birth I experienced on and off cramps, not unlike period pains, which ramped up and moved into my back on the Monday. They still weren’t too bad so I continued about my day putting them down to Braxton Hicks.
My hubby, Joe, had actually booked a few days off of work so we were enjoying getting out and about and that afternoon decided to go for tea and cake. We talked about how this could be it - though I don’t really think either of us believed it to be the case! As the day progressed the cramps stepped up another level and I found myself rocking for comfort as they surged.
Come 7:30pm on Monday 3rd I told Joe that the cramps were getting stronger, so he got me a hot water bottle, we settled down to watch a movie and started the Freya app to time things and just see where we were at.
By 9:30pm surges were 5-6 minutes apart. We’d done hypnobirthing with the Happy Birthing Company and by this time I was already having to use the ‘up’ breathing technique to see them through. Joe called the birth centre to let them know things looked like they were happening and we were advised to try getting some sleep as this stage can take a long time, particularly with first pregnancies.
I went to bed and tried to sleep but the surges were coming too frequently and lying down just didn’t feel right. I later discovered that in this time Joe was frantically trying to finish reading his birth book so that he knew what to expect and how to best help with what was coming. When he next came up to check on me, at 11:15am, he could see I wasn’t doing great in bed so he ran me a bath with candles and my meditations playing quietly in the background.
Getting into the water was lovely; it’s true what they say about water being a natural pain reliever. Joe was amazing! I’m not one for fuss, particularly when I’m ill or in pain, but he stayed close, letting me do my thing. Just knowing he was close by was enough.
I think I lasted about 45 minutes in the bath before things leveled up again. Breathing through the surges really helped – it gave me something to focus on and by this time they were lasting around 40s so I knew that with just 4 deep breaths I would come out the other side.
The next couple of hours were spent trying to get comfortable. I tried getting back in bed (not good), standing up at the sink in the bathroom (worked a little with Joe rubbing my back and compressing my hips) but eventually settled on the toilet! It was honestly the most comfortable place. Joe pulled a table into the room and set some pillows on top so that I could rest my arms and head between surges, which by 2am were coming every 2-3 minutes lasting 60-90s.
We called the midwives again seeking advice. After speaking to me the midwife advised that we could go in, but that we would likely be sent home and that if I wished to be assessed, then Joe would have to wait outside until I was 6cm dilated – thanks COVID! In hindsight this is where were should have gone in, I don’t believe the midwife on the other end of the phone knew quite how far along I was and I’m certain this is because of the coping mechanisms I had learned through hypnobirthing. However, we decided to stay home thinking that we had time and we were doing okay on our own. I also really didn’t wish to be apart from Joe.
Things continued at a steady pace for the next 2 hours, then at 4am my waters broke – luckily I was still sitting on the toilet at the time! Joe made one final call to the midwife unit to tell them that it was show time and that we would be coming in. Upon getting off of the phone he scrambled round to find socks and get everything we needed but I felt a shift and the overwhelming need to bare down. I knew that baby was making their way into the world – fast! I told Joe to call 999, we weren’t going to make it in the car! He protested – later saying that he didn’t want to be that guy that calls 999 unnecessarily – but eventually conceded.
Whilst on the phone, the operator was essentially gearing Joe up to deliver our baby! He was advised to have me lie on my back, to which I protested knowing that this position was practically the most unnatural position in which to give birth. He was also told to find a shoelace and safety pin, which provided a comical moment amongst the madness when Joe came back up into the bathroom to politely ask me where the sewing kit was, only for me to reply through gritted teeth: “I don’t f**king know!!” - this was the least of my concerns in the middle of a surge. The operator stayed on the phone until the paramedics arrived. The time now was 4:30am.
Until this point we had continued to keep our environment calm, with the room lit by candlelight. However, lights were switched on and everything became very busy and crowded when the paramedics arrived. I distinctly remember keeping my eyes tight shut and trying my best to stay in the zone despite the chaos that was happening around me.
A gas & air mouthpiece was thrust into my hands and within just a few minutes baby’s head was here! Turns out I was blowing into the mouthpiece rather than sucking on it, so it didn’t really offer anything in the way of pain relief but it did help me regulate my breathing again in these final moments.
Next, I vividly remember the paramedic telling me to push to get the rest of baby out but I fought back saying something along the lines of: “No! I need to wait for my next surge!” I didn’t have to wait long and just a few moments later, baby Arlo was born, with Joe right by my side, and placed straight onto my chest. Our world changed forever.
As we had initially planned a home birth the community midwives were aware of us and called to relieve the paramedics. Two lovely ladies arrived around 25 minutes after Arlo was born. The placenta was delivered and I received a single stitch ‘down below’, before we were moved into the bedroom and Arlo was eventually checked over.
Unfortunately the peace here was short-lived as Arlo’s temperature was reading cold – likely a result of his speedy entrance into the world combined with him being a teeny baby. We had to transfer into the hospital. However, after a short stint under the hot lamps and some time warming up in a hot cot, he was given the all clear and we could make our way home to start our “new normal”.
Looking back, despite the crazy way in which Arlo entered the world, I am so pleased with our birth story. I felt in control and empowered, educated and informed, and I am so proud of how both myself and Joe managed the labour. I wouldn’t change our story for anything.