Saturday 9th April is a day I will never forget. It started off well as I woke up feeling the most normal I had for AGES, clear in my mind and happy . I was even able to have lunch with mum and Sarah without snapping at them/ ignoring them/ grunting at them…result!
My lovely friend Vera came over at around 5pm to give me some Bowen…it was quite an intense session in that it really felt like something was going to happen, Vera told me I was like a ripe peach! (who would not want to be described that way?!?) Upon leaving our flat Vera announced to Ross that he should get some sleep as the baby would be coming “tonight!!”. I remember feeling a mix of pure excitement and extreme terror. I hoped that Vera was right as I was 3 days over due and definitely OVER being pregnant (I actually reached this point around week 8 I think!!)
We continued our evening together with K+G, having our 3rd curry in as many nights to speed up the arrival of Baby Roro and off to bed I went to not sleep and try to find the least uncomfortable position before waking for my usual 1st wee of ten million. BUT….this, I would discover, would be the wee to end all wee’s! As I sat with a heavy wallop onto the loo seat I felt and heard something go POP inside me and thought “WHAT…have my waters broken?!?”. A few tense seconds passed where nothing more happened, so a little disappointed I waddled back to bed. But as I lay down suddenly some water rushed out of me!! Not a tidal wave, more like a small wee, and so my first thought was that I had wet myself. But as I sat up more water came out!!! “ROSS!!!” I called, only to be ignored, so up I get (naked with a giant belly, eye mask on my head, nose strip stuck to my face – NICE) and trudged along the hall to Ross, with more water falling out of me. “I think my waters have broken!” I screamed! He looked at me absolutely terrified (probably at the sight of me!!!) and said “Right! What do we do?!?!”
The next few hours then passed really quickly for me as I KNEW our baby would be here soon! We got an Uber to the Birth Centre at Chelsea where I was assessed and we decided to go home and wait for nature to take its course. We were told not to go back until I was having 3 contractions every 10 minutes. I felt sure that would happen soon as for the last 1.5 weeks I had been having stronger and stronger Braxton Hicks, brought on by a beautiful reflexology treatment from Revive Within Holistic Therapies. Braxton Hicks are basically preparatory contractions, my uterus flexing it’s muscles and checking the team are ready!- where my stomach would form the shape of a giant cube, as here below! (i LOVE my face in this pic….I am just SO fucked off and over being gigantic!!)…
VERY weird to see especially during yoga class! My belly would literally look like a box stuck to me! I think the funniest time was during a special class at Bikram Yoga Chiswick for just us teachers and a few students, taught by the Boss Helen..at one point Hels was rubbing my back to help me through a Braxton Hicks whilst everyone else was doing Locust, so many of us thought that I was going into labour that Kamal kept looking over thinking she would need to deliver the baby in the studio (my not-so-secret wish!).
I tried to go to sleep when we got home, on the advice of the midwife, but just could not get comfy and was starting to get stronger contractions. At 2.30am I got into the bath, in the dark, and for the next 2 hours I timed my contractions on an app – I was moaning very loudly….and I felt scared at this time. I was by myself in the middle of the night, and I knew THIS was the night, there really was no going back….I had been preparing for the birth in a big way, approaching it entirely with NO FEAR, but these 2 hours alone I did feel fearful, it was the UNKOWN…and also that feeling that life was about to change in a HUGE way, and never be the same again. All of my thoughts until this point had been on how to ensure I had a natural labour, I really honestly had not thought beyond that, that we would have an ACTUAL LIVE HUMAN BEING that was the sum of both of us, and that it would be our job for the next 18 years and beyond to keep it alive, feed it, water it and watch it bloom and grow. That thought is bloody scary to have when you are just going into labour! As dawn approached, my body began seriously gearing up for the very thing it had been made for, and part of that I found out was that the body tried to CLEAR OUT! Yep. I puked on the bathroom floor and lost control of my poops as I got out of the bath! Oh!!! 3 CURRIES!! At 4.30am I woke Ross waving my iPhone in his face with my contraction app, to tell him that I was in FULL ON LABOUR AND WE HAD TO GO TO THE BIRTH CENTRE! He looked at me like I had two raccoons attached to my ears and didn’t believe me until I projectile vommed all over the bedroom floor.😂👍🏼
Ross rang my mum and said “Wendy! It’s happening !…” He carried on talking to her but realised when she arrived at our flat literally minutes later with Sarah that she had put the phone down almost immediately to get to us as quickly as possible! (GO MUM!!) Sitting in the back of a Ford Focus in labour is NOT FUN LET ME TELL YOU! I don’t really remember much apart from telling mum and Sarah that our flat was now full of my puke and poo and please could they sort it out (this is the kind of thing only family will do, especially my mum and sister who’s mission it is in life to ensure that ALL KITCHEN SURFACES ARE CLEAN AT ALL TIMES), and I do remember Sarah crying because she was so upset to see me in such a state. (love you small Skelly!)
On arrival I was examined and told I was already 4-5 cm dilated!!! This was amazing to hear as I knew that my time alone in the bath had been the real deal. We were then taken to our room (the perfectly named Lavender room after my fave herb…although…it’s not actually a herb is it?!?) and this was where shit got really REAL… Ross loves to do his impression of me at this point. As the midwife filled the birth pool for me I gradually got completely naked and enjoyed quite a few peoples fill of gas and air, conducting a kind of tribal/hippy dance, just for me. At this time I was starting to journey inside myself, and zone everything around me out. Every single part of me was beginning to focus only on each breath, I felt truly there, in each and every moment. I really felt every single thing. I knew I needed gravity on my side as much as possible to help Rexy, so I was standing up, or on all fours for the next hour and a bit. I kind of thought in the run up to giving birth that maybe my resolve wouldn’t be as strong as I had hoped, for my pain relief free delivery, but as soon as I got to the birth centre I made up my mind that I could do it~ it was basically like agreeing with myself that I could finish Standing Head to Knee pose on one leg, that strength of mind I have cultivated in the hot room for the last 8 years was of huge huge significance. A natural birth was right for me, Ross and Rex that day and I am so grateful we achieved it.
The time in the lavender room was short but time for me had no meaning at that point. I got into the water at 8.30am and it felt wonderful!!! Ross was there in front of me the whole time, supporting me, giving me sips of water and reminding me to breathe. I used my hypnobirthing breathing the whole way through to relax me between contractions and get me through them…eyes closed, on all fours in the water…I was letting my body completely take over and do its thing. I only opened my eyes 3 or 4 times when I felt like i couldn’t go on and remember saying “ I cant do this! Help me someone” to which Ross and the Doula would reply “Katie you ARE doing it, all on your own, you are doing it!”, and after those moments I would shut my eyes tight again and breathe. I really truly thank my Bikram Yoga practice for the birth of my son…without that control over my breathe and strength in my body and mind I am certain it would have been different..towards the end I remember asking “how much longer?!?!?”, the reply “10 minutes to an hour Katie! The baby is nearly here!” and I said “OK, I can do an hour!!”
Ross said that all throughout this time he had been swatting curried poos away from my face as they would float past my nose, and that the midwife had a little sieve she was catching them in…LOL!
As Rex made his way out, it took every ounce of my strength to breathe him into being, but it was not painful…it was a RELIEF, and RELEASE and just the MOST incredible moment. My entire body did it- every fibre of me came together to work in perfect harmony and show him the way out into the world. And as he slid into the water I looked down, saw his little body and pulled him to the surface. My eyes immediately looked at his little willy and as I looked at Ross I announced“it’s a boy!”. We were both in full on tears I think, we just couldn’t believe it. At that moment I was SO happy that I had a son…I knew it was really what was meant to happen for us and really I had known all along – even when I first found out I was pregnant I would think “he” and just felt like our baby would be a boy. But I kind of changed my mind towards the end and even maintained throughout that I was desperate to have a little girl. But now Rex is here I can’t even imagine him being a girl, he is just perfect. The moment I saw him it really felt like life had begun. Ross and I had been wanting to have a baby for a long time , especially Ross, because we realised that we wanted a purpose to our lives. Life was fun, don’t get me wrong, but it had limits – eating well, seeing family and friends, going to yoga, being together, relaxing at home: we love all those things but they didn’t fullfill us and we knew that having a baby would, and it is the right thing for us. I know how hard it is to get pregnant as I see close friends around me struggling with it which is heartbreaking – everything has to be in perfect alignment, it truly is a miracle, so I know how lucky we are and I am grateful every single second of every single day for Rex being here.
As I caught Rex and brought him up to greet me and Ross, he wasn’t breathing and struggled to take his first breath – the midwife thinks because he came out so fast he thought he was still inside me. After some vigorous rubbing he took a deep breath outside and Ross brought him back in and had Rex on his naked chest for a few minutes and then passed our son to me, whilst I waited to birth the placenta. I really had no idea how long this would take and had opted to try without the injection first of all. However, after over an hour of trying and the midwife gently pulling the umbilical cord (the strangest sensation ever!) the placenta was firmly still in place. So I was given the injection. And then after 15 mins was told that I would have to go to surgery for a spinal and to have the placenta removed as I had lost a lot of blood by this point. I was heartbroken that after my completely natural birth this was happening. But then, as if by magic, I pushed and out came the placenta!! Trying to “push” having just given birth was very strange! I had NO idea where I was pushing or if I even was, but luckily my body seemed to know what to do. I had decided to have the placenta turned into capsules so the Doula popped it into my freezer bag, after showing us how huge it was, and lifting the membrane to show us where Rex had been living got the last 10 months – that was a pretty unbelievable sight! It was just so mad to think that he had been inside it, inside me , for so long, and now was here with us. A lot of people had warned me that the love I would feel for Rex may not be immediate, as every woman has a different experience , but I can safely say that it was immediate and all consuming…he is just such an amazing little boy. He sometimes has this look is his eyes as if to say “ I know, I have been here before…”, and a part of me believes that inside him is a bit of my dad – just the good bit – because sometimes when I look into his eyes I see my dad staring back at me. Its true that when one life ends another begins, and our family needed Rex to readdress the balance between male and female. After going through such a painful few months after my dad died, Rex was created at exactly the right time, only when I was really ready for him. There have been many times in the last 13 weeks where I have looked at him and burst into tears because I just love him so much and cannot imagine life without him – its like he has always been here now. Being a mum is by far the most intense job I have ever had, every day I learn something new about Rex and he likes to spend most days talking to me and Ross constantly, as we do to him. I know that he can understand what I am saying. One of the funniest things is how much he finds the Bikram Yoga dialogue comforting – in his first few weeks, whenever I wanted to soothe him to sleep for a nap, I would say the dialogue, and off he would drop, usually by the middle of Awkward pose…good boy! Every day he changes right in front of my eyes, he is as bright as a little button now and I can see that he is going to be a kind and helpful little boy, full of love and fun things to say – he tries every day, all day, to tell me his thoughts and I am so proud of him.
So I will end this blog post with my top tips to help towards a smooth birth:
Double doses of raspberry leaf tea, to strengthen the uterus
6 dates per day, to help shorten the first stage of labour and result in less need for drugs to help labour along
Massage your perineum! I did mine and it meant that I just had 1 tiny tear, the doula agreed with me that this masaage DOES work
Keep active! My labour was short and efficient! When I told the doula my exercise history she said “well I also delivered another bikram yoga teachers baby here 5 years ago and she was also very quick like you! Next birth for you should be a hime birth!” – so keeping physically fit during pregnancy is absolutely worth it
Breathe: Hypnobirthing – I practiced the breathing and listened to the relaxations and fear release every night in my last trimestser, it really helped to prepare me mentally and achieve my approach of NO FEAR. Combined with my yoga practice and daily meditation where the breathe is also the focus, it meant I was really in control
Relax: I would meditate daily and also practice Yoga Nidra every day throughout the final trimester
Try alternative therapies: my best friend gave me a reflexology treatment about 2 weeks before Rex arrived which triggered the start of my intense Braxton Hicks, and Bowen definitely triggered my labour and also ensured my pelvis was aligned and ready to let Rex out
Aromatherapy: I used clary sage a lot in my final weeks to help stimulate labour, I also relied on lavender a lot throughout my pregnancy to help relax me, in my favourite Epsom Salt baths, which were still possible for me to have as I invested in a thermometer to ensure the water was not too hot for Rexy
Finally – Trust Yourself. When the time is absolutely right your body will know what to do – it’s completely instinctive and what we as women are built for…knowing that gave me huge strength, I felt like giving birth to Rex was the most natural thing in the world, something that I feel honoured to have experienced. Every morning when I get him out of bed I kiss him and tell him I will kiss him every day for the rest of his life…how I hope that to be true!
If you are going through pregnancy and having a hard time like me, please know that waiting for you is the most precious gift you can ever imagine. It is 100% more than worth it…..and good luck!