Our Squidgy girl’s birth story is a little bit of a lot of things. It’s still quite raw in my head, and this will probably all come out a bit rambly, but… it is what it is. It was imperfect, and yet perfect too. It was perfectly different. Perhaps that’s the first lesson I’ve had to learn in parenting two children. Perfectly different. For a short birth, this is a long story. Here it is:
Squidgy, who is as yet unnamed, was born at 17:23 in water in our living room at home on 13 March 2012. She weighed 4.2kg, or 9lb 6oz, with a head circumference of 37.5 cm and length of 56cm. So, yes. A rather big baby. By scan dates she was 42 weeks and 5 days gestation. By my dates she was 40 weeks and 5 days. Her placenta was fine and she was still covered in vernix and not at all wrinkled or looking like an overdue baby.
I kept the TENS machine going, but started getting Ameli ready for nursery – I figured contractions were far enough apart that she’d not miss anything by going to nursery. She went, and I did my work for the day, and sent a few emails and finalised a few things. I didn’t expect things to progress too quickly, and figured there was still time, so I didn’t do too much preparation.
Ameli got home and her and daddy went for a lie down, during which time my contractions were powerful, but still about 11 minutes apart. I just relaxed on the sofa or the birth ball, and did a lot of dancing in the lounge during contractions, swishing my hips and doing figure of eights and focusing on my breathing.
Martin had partially inflated the birthpool in the morning, and I was starting to feel it was going to become necessary sooner rather than later. I finished inflating it, and cleared the lounge, preparing it for the midwives.
I let my midwives, both of who were off duty for the day, know that I was in labour, and then let the on call midwife, Deanna, who I had never met before know that I was in labour, but that there was no rush. I had had a session of acupressure the evening before with a newish friend, Rhiannon, and had discovered that she was actually training to be a Doula and that she needed a few more clients before qualifying, so I’d said I’d let her know when I was in labour, and if she wanted to come over, she’d be welcome to. So, I let her know and she replied saying ‘Can I say that I’m secretly hoping to make it to support you!? I have felt so drawn to you the last week, it’s such a strong emotion to feel compelled to support a birthing woman!” Her reply excited me, and flooded me with energy and I looked forward to having her there. Also because I didn’t know who was going to be attending, midwife wise, I was happy to have someone impartial that I could trust – someone who wasn’t emotionally invested in the birth of a child or grandchild.
Just after 16:00 I tweeted that we’d made a cake and it was in the oven. I was in the lounge. My mother was drying her hair upstairs and Martin was still working on the pool. I was contracting and couldn’t sit on the birth ball anymore for the pressure. I leaned over the back of the sofa, but became concerned that my waters might break over the sofa. I moved onto the floor, because I was pretty certain that I was now bearing down, but I wasn’t sure. Somehow I felt uncertain, because no one else was concerned. Everyone else seemed to be busy with other things, and I had Ameli with me saying “Are you breathing mama? Are you breathing?”
It was around this time that I became aware of Rhiannon arriving, and she immediately managed Ameli by asking her if she could go upstairs and get her favourite book, I think! I had another contraction before I could even recover from the previous one, and I told Rhiannon that I needed them to fill the bath because they weren’t going to get the pool filled in time. At this point the midwife arrived and there was such a rush of activity, I started feeling quite panicked. I stood up, contracted, leaning in to Rhiannon, and changed into what I would be wearing in the pool.
I climbed in the pool and Rhiannon gave me something homeopathic so that I wouldn’t be sick from the gas and air Deanna had set up. Amazingly, I wasn’t. I didn’t have any reaction to it at all, in fact. Not even the wooziness I experienced with Ameli.
Ameli got in the pool with me and was very excited by everything going on. We were still filling the pool, I was having definite pushing moves, my husband was somewhere, sorting out the video camera, (which I noticed at one point near the end, and realised you couldn’t actually see anything. I’d intended to have it with a room view, rather than just on me, but had obviously never communicated this to anyone else! I meant to say something, but had a contraction and forgot about it) and my mom was somewhere in the room with one or two midwives – somewhere during all this, Tanya, my midwife who was on a day off, had arrived.
Ameli started wanting to do all sorts in the pool and I felt the need to go inwards and have space, so asked for her to be removed. She was not happy, and my mother grabbed her and took her upstairs to redress her. She screamed fiercely, which unsettled me, but they were back soon enough, and my mom started doing the activity pack with her. This pack was an absolute winner in my view-from-the-pool. There was enough to keep her busy, but she was able to be a part of what was going on. She was able to stick her head over the pool and see what was going on, but not having to be an active part of it. She didn’t watch Squidgy being born, but saw her raised out the water. I was very happy with her ‘involvement’ in her sister’s birth.
At this point, however, I was feeling frantic. Everything had moved so fast – the last hour had seen three people arrive, a pool filled, Ameli in the pool and back out again and somewhere the beeping of the oven to say the cake was ready too! – I lay in the pool pushing, thinking ‘No, no, no! I’m not ready! I need to focus. This hurts. Why does it hurt! It didn’t hurt last time!’
I couldn’t understand where the pain was coming from. I know that sounds odd to most people, but there was no pain in the transition at Ameli’s birth. I was so calm, I was so focussed, it was so different. I said I needed everyone to be quiet because I couldn’t focus and the room did quiet down, albeit temporarily. I asked Martin to change the MP3 player from the hypnobirthing CD which I was just not able to focus on, to music. The effect was immediate. I was able to focus in on the music, sing along to the song and focus all my attention inwards. I felt immediately calmer, and my pain level actually halved. It was amazing relief being able to just internalise, and visualise. At one stage Rhiannon and my mother were singing along with me and I remember having my eyes closed and thinking they sounded like angels.
I also remember feeling my waters break very near the end – in fact I think Squidgy may have crowned just after. It was an odd feeling, like a ‘POP’ but I couldn’t say anything to anyone, I wanted to wave my arms and point, but I couldn’t move my arms, instead my legs jerked up and down. My eyes were closed, but I imagine I looked like chicken thighs jerking about. When I finally could speak again, I told them my waters had gone.
Everyone worries about pooing during birth, and at one point, I know I must have because I remember someone saying ‘where’s the sieve’ and I actually giggled to myself – although quite possibly only I heard it – because I saw the words from an article I read by Ina May Gaskin floating in front of my eyes “Where there’s maternal poop, there’s usually a little head that follows”. I was excited about the baby head and choose not to think of the poop.
When I felt her head, I said I want to pick her up myself, I didn’t want anyone else to touch my baby first. Once she was born I remember someone telling me to pick her up, that I had to pick her up now, and I remember not moving, but thinking ‘no, not yet’. I think I mumbled something about ‘Where’s the cord’. Ameli had the cord wrapped around her neck twice, and we cut it straight away as we couldn’t get it unwrapped. I didn’t want the same to happen again.
That wasn’t a problem this time, however, and I picked my baby up out the water and put her on my chest. I asked for her towel to be given to me, and my mom handed it over to me. I wrapped her in it in the pool and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing.
She nursed pretty much immediately, I had some Angelica Root to help the placenta release and sat in the pool looking at my little…. Well, I had to look twice, because I had been so sure she was going to be a boy, but instead we had another little girl! I was so surprised – but we are both really happy to have another girl.
Martin cut the cord when it had stopped pulsing, and Rhiannon whisked the placenta off to the kitchen, ready for processing (I have had it encapsulated.) Ameli came to look at her sister properly, and her first words on the matter were “Can it walk?”
We all had a good chuckle.
From there it’s all a bit of a blur. The baby was weighed and weighed again, because we thought there was something wrong with the scale. She was so much heavier than we thought. I had a quick check, and then had a shower. Rhiannon made me a smoothie, and Deanna wrote her notes. My mom looked after both my children – BOTH MY CHILDREN!! – while I was finishing up (actually I have no idea what happened while I was showering, now I think about it) but when I came downstairs, my mom had the baby and Ameli was playing with her puzzles.
Deanna left, Martin made me some pasta, I shared the news with the world, and then went upstairs to bed. My mom called my dad and showed him the baby, by which time I’d fallen asleep. Someone, I think Martin, brought her back in to me, and so we slept, through the night, as newborns tend to do.
Till Next Time!