Oh man I am tired this week! I am so glad I finished work last week as I think I would be really struggling right about now. Everyone is coming down with colds and sniffles and I woke up today with a bit of a sore throat, usually it wouldn't bother me so much but when your exhausted already it does knock you a little. I am learning to just take it easy when I feel like I don't have the energy and only do one big thing a day. For instance this morning we had our NCT class and I planned on going Birthday/Christmas shopping afterwards but after our class I knew walking around the shops would make me totally exhausted so I went home for a rest instead.
Our NCT class this morning was good, Tom came along but ended up being only one of two of the other dads to be. I guess its hard for lots of them to get time off during the week but I'm so glad Tom is able to come with me and I really think he enjoys them too. A big part of why I think the NCT is so good is that it has a large focus on the social aspect and lots of emphasis on talking about how we are feeling. I had intended on going to the NHS classes too but after missing the first one (due to going to the wrong place) and telling my midwife about it she advised there was no point in going to both anyway. I met up with a friend from pregnancy yoga yesterday who had been to both and said the NHS one which was only 6 hours in total (compared to the 18 hours with the NCT) had about twice as much people in it than her NCT class. She also said that the NHS ones were very much more hospital and fact based in comparison to the NCT which spend a lot of time on alternative methods of birth/pain relief and emotions. I cant comment as I haven't experienced the NHS classes and I know I am very fortunate to be in a position where I can pay for these classes but I can only highly recommend these NCT ones if anyone is thinking of doing them.
One of the things we did last week was read through a birth story which I thought I might share here because its pretty much perfect in my eyes. I really hope I can be lucky enough to experience something similar! By the way, I apologise in advance if anyone is getting sick of these pregnancy/baby posts. I guess I use my blog to organise some of my thoughts and feelings about my life at that point in time as well as recording some moments I might otherwise have forgotten. When I first started it I may have had different things going on in comparison to where I am now but at the moment my life is pretty much focussed on having a baby so I can only write what I know about! I hope they are interesting to someone and not sending you all into boredom induced comas :)
Birth story – Pella Saige
Relaxed Birth and Parenting doula Millie Colwey shares her birth story
Early in pregnancy I would picture the birth of my baby taking place in a hospital. There was always a sense of urgency, and in my head I could hear machines beeping and anxious midwives rushing about the place. Although my due date was months ahead of me I began to feel worried about the pain associated with labour. I was upset because the idea of having a drugged birth experience conflicted with how I try to live my life – being connected with my body and mind. I also had concerns about the effects of medical intervention on my baby, but it never crossed my mind that it would be possible to give birth to my child without the drugs, drama or agony.
So, I began to seek information that would help me frame birth in a different light. I came to understand that birth is an ordinary function of the female body, not an emergency which requires medical assistance, and that the key to a successful birth is relaxation, because pain in labour is the result of fear, which causes your muscles to tense and directs blood away from your uterus.
Something changed in me and my outlook became hugely optimistic. I had always been happy to be pregnant, but suddenly I felt beautiful, healthy, proud and very excited. I began connecting with my body in a way I never had before. I was being positive for my baby. We discovered something very important about building a relationship with our baby before she was born. Sam and I devoted time everyday to playing her music, massaging her through my belly and reading her stories. I was amazed by how responsive she was. We were spending quality time together as a family long before our child came into the world, and I believe this is why she had such a deep connection with both of us from the moment she arrived.
Our baby was ‘due’ on 23 May 2010 and, although I was prepared for the possibility of her arriving late, I never anticipated that I would carry her until I was forty-three weeks pregnant. We knew the date held no special significance, and yet when we went ‘overdue’ time seemed to start dragging by so slowly. Because we felt so strongly that our baby was entitled to arrive naturally if there were no complications, we declined the offer to be induced at ten days past our EDD (estimated due date) and agreed to go in for regular assessment at the hospital. There are three indications that an unborn child is healthy once a woman goes beyond her EDD: regular movements of the baby, plenty of amniotic fluid in the womb, and a strong heartbeat.
Despite experiencing some very unsupportive and unhelpful attitudes at the hospital, after persisting and asking for second and third opinions, we were eventually put in the care of a registrar who reassured us and explained that the monitoring showed that we had a very healthy and happy baby. She asked us if we would like to be induced, even though she was aware of what our response would be.
Although we had been planning to give birth in the hospital we gave it some long hard thought and decided that we would go for a homebirth with an independent midwife. We knew our baby could arrive any time so we began making preparations immediately. We gave our lounge a clean and removed most of the furniture from it. We were very fortunate to be able to borrow a birth pool from some friends. Everything was set-up by the time I was exactly forty-two weeks pregnant.
Once my due date had passed I began using natural methods of induction. I was burning clary sage oil, walking, walking, walking, eating curry and pineapple, driving up and down cobbled streets… but as I approached my forty-third week of pregnancy I stopped trying, because I realised that nothing was going to bring my baby out before she was ready – it was then that I truly realised she knew exactly what she was doing.
In the final days of my pregnancy Sam stayed home from work. We slowed down our lives and spent whole nights sitting in candlelit rooms, listening to calm music and talking about our hopes for the birth. It was so romantic and such an amazing bonding experience for us as a couple.
When contractions started, there was no pain even though the sensations were intense and I could feel the muscles in my uterus gently nudging my baby downwards. Sam and I went to bed for a few hours to get some rest before it really got started. At around 3am in the morning I was too excited to sleep so I phoned my mum. She arrived soon afterwards and began setting up the birthing room.
It was beautiful. She had covered the floors in a layer of plastic sheets and then laid white rugs and blankets on top. The birth pool was in the centre of the room filled with warm water. Sam lit hundreds of candles and fairy lights. The room was filled with the scent of jasmine oil burning, and there was soft music playing. It felt so cosy and safe. We read affirmations out loud and I remember relaxing into the familiarity of some which held the deepest meaning to me: ‘I turn my birthing over to my baby and my body,’ … ‘I trust my body, and I follow it’s lead,’ … ‘I meet each surge only with my breath; my body is at ease.’
By the time daylight began showing through the window I was still not in the depths of labour. Sam blocked out the light to keep the nest feeling dim and snug. I tried to remain active by using a birth ball and remaining upright. The further into my labour I progressed, the more detached I began to feel. I forgot that a world existed outside the walls surrounding me. My entire focus was on my baby and the sensations in my body. I spent hours picturing her inside me making gentle but purposeful movements downwards. I felt as if I was going inside my body and mind, and as this happened it became increasingly difficult to focus on other things.
At one point in the labour the fire alarm in our building went off without warning. When this happened I got frightened and experienced how fear can make contractions feel more painful. With the help of Sam and my mum, however, within an hour I had calmed down to the point where I was far more comfortable once more.
When my midwife arrived I was sitting on the floor leaning back against my mum while she held my head and gave me Reiki. Sam was holding my hands, playing guitar. This memory stands out because I was feeling so loved and cared for. All their loving energy was what kept me feeling strong, protected and calm. That day there were moments like this which made me feel completely blissful.
Later I began to feel an ache in my back so I got into the birth pool. The water was so soothing and fantastic at supporting me in good positions. I remember I began laughing because I could feel my baby kicking and wriggling inside me. It was a reminder of her strength and determination.
I didn’t want vaginal examinations because I was worried that the intrusion would slow my labour. Instead I felt inside myself with a finger and was amazed when I touched my daughter’s head! This was so encouraging and exciting. I continued to do this over the next couple of hours to monitor our baby’s progress. Her descent was so slow, so gentle, it felt completely normal. I thought to myself that this was how babies are supposed to arrive in the world: smoothly, without drama, allowing the skin the stretch without tearing.
Everyone helped me get out of the pool and assisted me to have a more active birth. For an hour they supported me in different positions, such as standing and squatting. They encouraged me to make loud guttural noises with each surge, and eventually my waters released. After this I began to feel real progress as our baby inched down.
I naturally leant forwards on my hands and knees. Her head was inching out with each surge I had, and Sam moved to behind me so he could watch and tell me what was happening. My midwife said ‘Your baby has lovely dark hair Millie,’ and Sam told me he could see her nose. I saw myself carrying out the ‘ordinary miracle’ females had performed successfully since the beginning of time. I felt ancient and deeply connected to our ancestors, myself, my baby and the earth.
Once her head was fully out the rest of her body came in one smooth movement. She slipped into the water behind me where Sam was waiting for her. He used his hands to guide her body through my legs to meet me. I can recall all of the images and feelings in this moment vividly. I had a thousand thoughts in just a few short seconds. I marveled at how clever she was, swimming through the water like a fish. Her face broke the surface of the water with big open eyes and I knew she was moving with the purpose of finding me. I reached my hands down to her, and brought her to my chest. Her body was hot, wet and new. I remember she had her face turned up towards mine while I held her against me, and her eyes were just gazing so calmly. It was like she recognised me, expected me to look this way, and she knew exactly what she was doing here. I felt she had anticipated this moment over and over again just as I had. She looked infinitely wise. Holding her there for that moment I felt more complete than I ever have. It was as if I had been waiting to meet her for my whole life. I was laughing and crying at the same time, welcoming her and praising her for working so hard.
I was so happy about having a ‘late’ baby because she weighed a healthy nine pounds and nine ounces, and then she gained another five ounces in her first five days. She was lovely and pink and full looking. Her skin was smooth and soft. But what stood out most was how wonderfully calm she was that night and has been ever since. But more than anything my birth experience has given me the biggest sense of achievement I have ever had. I am proud of how proactive I was during my pregnancy. I made choices and saw them through by putting a lot of my energy and time into reaching my goals. I learnt how to surrender and flow with life, and also how to fight for something important. I have never been more powerful or feminine than when I was birthing my baby.
We named her Pella Saige. Pella means warrior, and Saige means wisdom, because strength, courage and understanding were the first of her qualities I admired.