Connie Marie – Birth Story
When I think back to my labour and Connie’s birth, I realise that it wasn’t until about six weeks before she was born that the fact that all the nudges and kicks and flutters I was feeling was actually a tiny person and that I was responsible for them! At the point when I realised this I freaked out a little, I couldn’t relax when we practiced our hypnobirthing scripts and I’d end up having borderline panic attacks.
What I realised is that I wasn’t worried about becoming a Mum, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to have the labour I wanted. Once I’d established this worry I wrote my birth plan and I made sure it was as comprehensive as it could possibly be without my qualifying as a midwife/doula myself.
My first “show” was on Sunday 28th August 2016, the feelings that followed were a tiny bit of panic followed by sky level excitement – I was finally going to meet my baby! What I didn’t know was that she was going to take another three days to arrive!
We had planned a home birth and amusingly we’d had a midwife appointment booked that morning at 8am however when I’d woken I’d discovered a message to say she couldn’t make it, on ringing the midwife team they said my only option was to go in, so I said due to the fact I felt fine I was quite happy to wait until someone was able to visit me. I wasn’t about to do the 40-minute trek into Leeds on a hot sunny day, 9 days over my due date!
I was having intermittent contractions, but I mean really intermittent, like I’d have one and then maybe another 20 minutes later but I could walk and talk and function during them and could go hours without any. To say I was disappointed by the end of Sunday to not yet have a baby would be an understatement!
My Mum basically moved in with us on the Sunday afternoon and didn’t leave until the Wednesday morning several hours after Connie was born, hilariously she only brought one spare pair of pants but thankfully the last thing I sewed before going into labour were two pairs of knickers I was making (very late) for her birthday present! When I’d told mum I was having a home birth she said “please can I come?”, which was complete given, I couldn’t have imagined it without her and she was amazing throughout at keeping me going!
I feel like I should speed up a little but it was a long three days leading up to it. Although I have to say I still thoroughly enjoyed them! On the Monday morning a very enthusiastic young midwife rang and said that she was going to come and see me to do the check over I probably should have had about a week before. So, along she came, checked my blood pressure (fine √) my protein levels (fine √) my measurements (fine √ – but seriously who the hell knows how big a baby or bump should be by that point?!) and booked me in for a scan that Friday just in case I hadn’t yet had the baby by then….
Monday otherwise was uneventful, we all did some gardening – being on hands and knees was a comfortable position for me so gardening worked well! The only time my contractions *really * sped up was when Anthony and I went out for an ice cream and I drove my car with Anthony as passenger (it’s a two seater) with the roof down for the last time. There was part of me thinking I shouldn’t be driving but another part of me knowing I needed to get my oxytocin levels up and I love driving, especially fast with the roof down so it seemed like a good thing to do!!
If I thought I was disappointed on Sunday night, going to bed Monday night I was positively bored! Why wasn’t I a Mum yet? I’d done everything I could think of to get all the happy hormones flowing, we’d watched funny films, I’d done all the things I enjoy doing to relax, we’d had sex, I’d made and eaten curry with rhubarb in as it was supposed to bring labour on, we’d shouted “Monkey” really bloody loudly, why weren’t they here??
On Tuesday morning at 6am Anthony’s alarm went off, I was definitely having contractions and they were definitely regular, they’d been coming every ten mins or so for a few hours so finally something was happening!
I’ll be completely honest and say that the three days are a bit of a blur in my head, but it was basically a 36 hour build up to Connie being born! I remember being made to walk all round the village, my mum doing reflexology in the garden which bloody hurt, starting one of the hypnobirthing scripts also in the garden only to have next doors kids burst into song or just generally being loud what felt like right next to my ear!
Throughout Tuesday my contractions got closer together and we spoke to the midwife team who said to ring once they were 3 in 10. I gave over responsibility of measuring them to Anthony as I couldn’t remember to hit the timer and stay relaxed as I kept looking how much time was between them. After repeating the birth script again Anthony told me that my contractions were 3 in 10 so he was going to call the midwives. (hee hee!) It was about 5.30pm by this point so we knew their shift change was at 7pm and the only people likely to come out were on the next shift.
This part of the day is unpleasantly vivid, I was relaxed but in pain with every contraction as my back was starting to hurt so I’d got the TENS machine on full whack. From memory it was only helping a little and the buzzing also made me feel a bit peculiar! Anyway, Anthony rang the midwife unit and passed the phone to me, mid contraction. The midwife asked me how I was and started going on about the fact that sending someone out might slow my contractions down and generally telling me stuff I knew which is why we’d waited to call. I got really upset as she wasn’t making sense as she didn’t seem to understand what I meant when I said that the contractions had been regular for 12 hours, gradually getting more and more intense. Anthony had to take the phone back from me and talk to her as I really couldn’t deal with her!
We knew that getting a midwife out to us would take a minimum of an hour, as it was it was another three and a half hours before one arrived! So, 8.50pm on Tuesday 30th August and I was approximately 4cm dilated, thank goodness all the huffing and back pain had been something happening!
At some point between the midwife arriving and getting in the pool my Dad had come to bring more towels, unbeknownst to me the hosepipe had syphoned water back out of the pool and all over the dining room floor so our “enough” towels suddenly became not enough! Dad wasn’t here long but I remember making him hold me whilst I leaned on him through a contraction, there’s something very reassuring about having a hug from your Dad no matter what situation you’re in – well there is from my Dad anyway!
Anthony had been in control of the birth pool and as soon as it was ready I checked with the midwife that I was ok to get in. As soon as I got in the pool my back pain disappeared which was a huge relief. I think this was about 9.45, I must admit this was the last time I was aware of the actual time for a while.
My ongoing mantra from this point on was “My body and my baby know what to do”. This was something from the hypnobirthing training which I really clicked with, for some reason I couldn’t focus on every contraction bringing me closer to baby, not at that point anyway.
We did a “birth preparation class” with my yoga teacher (who is also a doula) quite early on in my pregnancy and one of the things that had intrigued me at the time was her saying that she had been “off her head on hypnobirthing” during her labour. Looking back on those final few hours, I totally get what she means. I was 100% focused on the contractions and then breathing and relaxing between them. On at least two occasions I fell asleep between contractions, waking myself up talking and realising where I actually was!
We had made up a playlist of our favourite music to play during labour, we had fairy lights on the ceiling (they’re still there now!) and had some pretty colour changing lights in the pool. It was all to help set the mood, the fairy lights and the music were great, the coloured lights not so much, they floated rather than being at the bottom of the pool and I kept whacking them away from me as the light got in my eyes!
The next time I was aware of approximately what time it was was when the midwife asked me whether I would like her to check dilation again as it had been four hours since the first check. The second midwife was here by that point (although I’d barely noticed her!) and I attempted to stand up to get out of the pool. At the point where I tried to properly move I had an intense need to bare down, there was no way I was leaving that pool.
Again, I just know I was very focused by this point, my Mum was holding my hands and Anthony was there next to me too. The intrusion of the midwife checking babies heartbeat was completely unfounded as it was incredibly reassuring, each time she checked she would say “happy baby” and I knew that everything was ok. At some point soon after the contractions had heated up she said that they believed I was in the final stages of labour so would be checking baby more often.
The noises I had been making went from relatively quiet to sheer primal at this point, I was shocked by the noise I was making but no more so than anyone else! I remember thinking “Poor Gay!” as I was worried about waking up our neighbour, she later told me that she did hear me, but only when she got up to go to the toilet and she thought “Oh the poor girl!” as she knew I’d been in labour all day too!
My Mum has said that she was feeling really sorry for me towards the end as it had taken so long, the difference for me was that I had no idea what time it was! I was just concentrating on my breathing and the fact I was going to meet my baby soon, if I think back it did feel like a long time but then at the same time it went incredibly quickly.
My next clear memory was being very aware that Connie’s head was crowning, I reached down and I could actually feel her head!! Another contraction and she’d gone back up! So frustrating! Next the midwife almost shouted “keep your bottom down!” as I adjusted myself in the water, literally moments later my waters broke and Connie arrived and I caught her between my legs!
I was holding my tiny baby, I didn’t even think to see whether she was a boy or a girl at this point, I was just looking at my baby who I’d been talking to for the last nine months! Then one of the midwives said, “Do you know what you were having?” And I realised I had no idea, then I looked and we all said, “It’s a girl!” – We’d been so convinced she was a boy! But I couldn’t have been happier! She was here and that was all that mattered!
Connie was born at 3.10am on Wednesday 31st August 2016, about 21 hours after my contractions had really kicked in, it felt like a moment but a lifetime all at the same time!
We stayed in the pool for the next twenty minutes or so. Connie was born with some of the membrane still on her head and she started making noises very quickly but had a bit of stuff on her chest which the midwife helped her clear with a proper pat on the back, then she really showed us her voice!
We moved out of the pool and over to the chair in the corner of the room, both wrapped up in towels and still connected by the umbilical cord. We had chosen a physiological birth so we didn’t cut the cord until after the placenta had been delivered which was over an hour after she was born. I had started to feel very shaky and almost sick soon after the birth, I think it was the after effects of the labour and basically exerting more energy than I had in my entire life for the last six hours on next to no food!
Delivering the placenta was a very strange sensation, whilst there were still contractions it almost “flopped” out and I couldn’t get over how big it was! I felt much better afterwards and about an hour and a half to two hours after birth Connie nursed for the first time – definitely a new sensation, but also amazing, she knew what to do innately, this tiny little human knew how to feed without any kind of instruction!
The midwives were incredibly patient with us and waited until I was ready to do the weighing and checking over, she was 7lb 11oz. The midwives had thought she was bigger! One of them checked me over and said I only had a slight “graze” but no tearing – which because of the size of Connie they thought was pretty unbelievable!
They left around 6am and we got ready to go to bed, we’d all been up for 24 hours now! Mum helped me to shower whilst Anthony got his first hold of Connie whilst laid on the bed and then I ate a bowl of chicken soup before Mum would let me sleep! Eating soup at 6.30am after being up all night wasn’t as odd as it sounded, I realised I was actually starving and it was definitely a very sensible thing to do!
I realised it was 6.45am by this point and I knew it was the time that my Grandad usually got up to walk his dog so I rang to tell him about Connie! He didn’t pick up so I left a message and within a couple of minutes he called back, within the next ten minutes I had text messages from half of my mum’s side of the family saying “Congratulations” etc, it was amazing how quickly the message got out!
We slept for the next couple of hours and when we woke up it was quite strange not to think it was all a dream, however impossible because there she was, all wrapped up and perfect! My Dad came round at about 10.30am and it was wonderful seeing him meet Connie for the first time, it was definitely love at first sight!
The rest of the day was spent in a zombie like state, a midwife who’d rung and said she didn’t have time to visit turned up just as we’d all gone back to bed in the afternoon. She was somewhat ditsy and didn’t seem to have a clue but declared Connie perfect and left us again.
Anthony went shopping for some new-born onesies as we didn’t have many only for us to realise that little miss long legs was too big for them – after he’d put them in the wash so we couldn’t return them!! My parents came back later in the day and bought us a take away and we sat and watched bake off together. It’s funny what you remember isn’t it?
I was desperate to post a photo on social media and as I’d been posting every day for the two weeks leading up to the birth I had people messaging me asking why they’d not heard from me! Anyway, in true photographer style Anthony wanted her first photo to be perfect so I had to wait until he had taken it and edited it before I could post!
When my parents left I realised I had no clue whatsoever and Connie seemed to pick up on our nervousness as she cried her little heart out. At some point she settled, and we had our first proper night together, sleeping and feeding in rotation. Our world changed irrevocably but perfectly, and we awoke on the Thursday morning slightly more rested for our first morning as a family of three!