I am using valuable sleeping time to write this while it’s still fresh in my head because other positive birth stories really helped me when I was pregnant and I’m hoping to do the same for any other mums to be out there. Little Gordon has been in our lives just over five days now and he is currently asleep in his Moses basket as opposed to on either Tom or I which is nothing short of a miracle. So here goes… excuse the Mum brain typos that are bound to happen.

I’m one of those somewhat rare people that had a fantastic, easy pregnancy. Some of you may feel frustrated or may not even buy that sentence but I think that too much negativity is put out there about how hard and awful being pregnant is and not enough is said about what an incredible experience it really is. Granted some people have complications that mean there is no way they can enjoy it and I totally sympathise with them – please don’t think I’m smug, I know just how lucky I was.

Anyway the pregnancy was great right up until Gordon was about a week overdue. By this point I was receiving countless messages each day checking in to see where baby was and I couldn’t help a feeling of anxiety that something was wrong and my body wasn’t doing what it should be doing to let this baby know it was time to come. Up until then I’d managed to keep positive throughout with daily walks, yoga and hypnobirthing practice but as the days dragged on and on without any sign of baby I began to feel like a failure. Even though the average kiwi first time Mum goes over their estimated due date by 10 days and ours was a real guesstimate as previously we had been through a miscarriage so the dates were based purely on size. Still, it took over my thoughts and I couldn’t shrug the negative feelings no matter how irrational they were.

On the ninth day after Gordon’s original due date Tom and I had a look through our hypnobirthing folder and found a fear release script centred around a Balloon trip. The idea behind it was that you see yourself going up in a hot air balloon and you release your fears by throwing them out of the basket. Tom read it to me and as we tried not to laugh through it (scripts like this tend to be a bit corny) I started to try really hard to believe in the words and to truly let go of any fears lingering in my mind about the birth.

The next morning I was woken by my body at around 5am and I knew – baby was coming today. I let Tom sleep for a bit while I practised my breathing that I had learnt to cope with surges (hypnobirthing speak for contractions). They were really just little niggles so it was easy enough to stay in bed for a while. I remember how excited I was when Tom woke up – I could finally give him the news he’d been waiting for!

After a few hours in bed listening to the radio and having breakfast we decided to get up and relocate to the lounge. The surges were slowly but consistently getting stronger and harder to ignore but we stayed chilled and watched back to back Friends episodes to keep the mood light. We hired a TENS machine from our midwife and I can totally recommend these – other than a pleasant sensation on your back they also provide a great distraction. Tom was tracking the length and frequency of the surges using an app (it’s called Full Term) so he was very involved from the beginning and it saved me having to keep track. This also was a great distraction as I kept telling myself that the stronger they became the closer we were to baby.

Eventually the surges became intense enough that I felt like it was time to call the midwife. By this point I had been labouring all day (it was around 4pm) but I felt so calm and ready that I don’t look back and remember any pain, just overwhelming sensations – again thanks to our hypnobirthing breathing practice. We had given our midwife a heads up earlier in the day that baby was on his way but by this point I was needing to hold on to Tom during the surges and I couldn’t ignore a really strong bearing down sensation. Tom relayed all of this to her and to our surprise she told us to meet her at the hospital – the original plan had been for her to come see us after her clinic around an hour and a half later so we knew we had to get going fast.

Classic us, we’d had the car packed for over a month but had decided to take all the stuff out and repack in the last few days. We thought we still had hours to go so once Tom got off the phone there was a mad dash of packing while I continued to experience surges. I remember it was pissing it down with rain and I just wanted to stand out in it while the surges were coming in waves. Then we were in the car and hit typical Auckland-in-the-rain traffic. Thankfully Tom kept me focused and got us to the hospital quickly. I remember looking out and wondering what people looking into the car must have thought when they saw me straining on the seatbelt. Somehow I was relatively comfortable though and felt so overwhelmingly happy that I was crying happy tears and remember saying to Tom that we were on our way to meet our baby.

We had done a recce of the hospital earlier but somehow managed to get ourselves in the wrong wing. By this point I couldn’t walk very easily so we had to hobble around a bit before finding our midwife and being shown to our birthing room. My first impression was that it was windowless and felt claustrophobic. The lights were off and there was just an illuminated birthing pool with little star-like lights on the roof. Once I got into the pool though that anxious feeling instantly melted away and I didn’t want to be anywhere else, it was such a relief on my body to be floating.

I clung to the sides of the pool during surges and Tom held my hands, fed me cold water and kept me cool with damp cloths on my neck and head. He also put some music that we had used for our relaxation practice on loop which honestly made me feel so much more at peace. Music is incredibly powerful and this track ‘The comfort zone‘ provided just what it says it does – comfort. Our midwife sat quietly by only really speaking when she needed to check baby’s heartbeat.

After a while (I had no concept of time by this point as I refused to look at the clock) it became clear that things weren’t progressing as our midwife had expected. It had been several hours (even though I thought it was more like one hour!) of me labouring in the pool so she decided I should try getting out for a while. After trying standing, sitting and crouching over the pool and still no sign of my waters breaking, our midwife started talking to us about alternative plans of attack. If my waters didn’t break soon they may need to break them but as she knew we wanted little or no intervention we decided to wait it out for as long as possible.

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More time passed (by this point we had been at the hospital for four hours but thankfully I still had no concept of time) and still things seemed stalled so we transferred to a birthing room so that our midwife could examine me. I remember how hard it was just to walk across the hall clinging onto Tom for dear life. He never left my side aside from the odd toilet break and I remember so needing his presence to stay calm.

I was vaguely aware that the situation wasn’t entirely ideal but as the atmosphere was calm I didn’t let it get to me. Essentially baby was posterior meaning that he had to turn around in the birth canal before I could start pushing. It also meant that I felt very strong sensations telling me to push and I had to ignore these as much as I could. I’m not sure if I physically could have done this for much longer so it was with great relief that we finally got some good news from the exam – I was 9cm dilated, baby was really coming and I didn’t need to have my waters artificially broken.

Hearing this changed up my mood from calm to determined. I was ready to get this done and focused all my energy on making sure my body could do what it needed to do to get baby out safe. Our midwife told me I could finally surrender to the feelings I had been feeling since before we left for the hospital and I was able to give in to the bearing down sensation. We were given the option of returning to the pool but I was so ready and couldn’t really speak so decided to stay on the bed on all fours. Eventually my waters broke and with such force that I thought that it was the baby coming! It took all the strength I had to keep labouring knowing that we still weren’t quite there but our midwife assured me that a few more surges and our baby would be here which gave me a big burst of energy.

I remember being so surprised by the noises coming out of me – they were so primal and loud. I also remember hoping that Tom wasn’t scared by them! By this point I was so focused on harnessing the energy that I got from the surges to bring baby out. I’ve never felt more motivated by anything in my life and it was both overwhelming and completely empowering.

As we didn’t have any pain relief or intervention I remember everything so clearly and am so thankful for that – most people say you forget what it feels like so that you want to do it again but I wouldn’t want to forget. I often think back to the moment when I saw this little perfectly formed body suddenly appear between my legs and remember feeling such a sense of pride and relief. My body had worked so hard and it had finally paid off after 18 hours of labouring naturally. Gordon was the ultimate prize and I’m also so proud of him for making the incredible journey out all on his own – I’ve been told that a baby turning in the birth canal is no small feat so I really appreciated what he had to do to get here.

In fact the whole day was a real team effort and the first test of our life as a family. There is no way that I could have done what I did without Tom’s constant calm reassurance and support. He was so a part of the birth and I’m so thankful for that. I’m also so thankful for a midwife that understood we really wanted to do this naturally and for keeping us well informed with all our options right throughout the labour.

We later found out that our post date scan had shown an elevated level of fluid so the doctors had advised that we would need to be induced on the day that we went into labour naturally. It’s a funny coincidence but I honestly believe that our bub was just waiting for the right time and knew that was it. I also really believe that fear release plays a huge part in when babies come – your mind can often get in the way of your body so being able to trust in it is such an important skill that I certainly wouldn’t have developed without hypnobirthing.

To some people it might seem strange that I’m sharing this with the world but so often pregnant women are told awful birth stories and I think this can have a profound effect on their state of mind. We need to look after our pregnant mamas by talking about the good births and reminding them that their bodies are incredible and have the power to bring new life into the world.  Yes not every birth is easy in fact I’d argue no birth is easy but every birth is amazing. So from me to all the mamas out there, whether you did it naturally or via C section, with or without pain relief, induced or not – remember you did an incredible thing and please think twice before you share any negative birth stories with mums to be, the mind is a powerful tool and they need to know how to use it to their advantage when they’re bringing their new little people into the world.