I had an appointment with my OB on Wednesday morning, 39+3. She checked my cervix and told me I was 3cm dilated and .5cm thin. I happily accepted a stretch and sweep and was excited and hopeful it would get things moving. Once home, I noticed some intense and regular braxton hicks which I’d been having for weeks so didn’t think much of it. They lasted all day and only settled down once I went to bed. They came back every one of the 80 times I went to the toilet that night and began again in the morning.
"It was hard to work out if it was just the constant tightness and the weight of her in my pelvis or if it was period pain"
Thursday 30th September
By 9am they started to become a little bit painful but it was hard to work out if it was just the constant tightness and the weight of her in my pelvis or if it was period pain. At 12pm I put both the girls down for a nap and I laid on the bed and started to time them. It was then I realised that it was a dull period pain and approximately every 15 minutes. I called mum to come over.
At 3pm I finally had a contraction that was painful and after trying to work it out all day, I knew something was happening. Mum took the girls home with her and I went for a walk. This made them pick up to 10 minutes apart but the pain was still very mild. At this point, I didn’t know if I should rest or keep active and moving to keep things progressing.
I laid on the couch when Ben got home and things slowed back down so I decided to get up and try the breast pump. I almost instantly began having contractions that I had to breathe through every 3-5 minutes. After a while I put on the TENS machine and my hypnobirthing tracks and began walking up and down our long hallway. I text my OB and she said make sure you don’t leave it too long.
At about 9.30pm I decided I wanted to go to the hospital so I could settle in and focus on what I had planned to do with my hypnobirthing. At this stage contractions weren’t very regular going from 3-10 mins apart since I stopped pumping. When we got to the hospital I was put on the CTG monitor and they noticed Leni’s heart rate drop with each contraction. The midwife said it could be because she’s asleep and or because she was so engaged.
They gave me some apple juice to wake her up and did another CTG. She woke up and her heart rate stopped dropping as hoped, but being on the bed for almost an hour and had pretty much fizzled out the contractions. By 11.30pm the nurse suggested we try and get some rest. Ben went into our room which was close by and slept and I stayed in birth suite and did not sleep a wink. I kept my TENS machine on and used it to manage what I would describe as bad period pain, no idea how far apart but it kept waking me from my doze.
"It was here I started to panic as the pain all of a sudden was so intense and I didn’t have enough time in between them to work out a comfortable position. "
Friday 1st October
By 6am I was ready to get up and get things happening again- I just didn’t really know how. We went for a walk which picked them back up but they were still mild and irregular. My OB came to see us at 9am and we discussed the options. Go home and wait or break my waters. At this point I was so ready and so excited I didn’t want to go home. At 9.20 she broke my waters.
We. Were. On. I was on my knees, leaning over the birth ball having strong, regular contractions. This is when our hypnobirthing worked it’s absolute magic. We were calm, I swayed and rocked through them listening to the ‘prompts for birthing’ track. Before long I needed to change positions. It was here I started to panic as the pain all of a sudden was so intense and I didn’t have enough time in between them to work out a comfortable position.
I tried waking, standing, leaning on the bed and couldn’t stand any of it. The pain became so unbearable, so quickly. The noises I was making started to change and I honestly felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. All of these things I knew in my mind to be transition but it had only been just over an hour so I thought surely not. I was thinking how tf will I do this for another 10+ hours and I screamed for the epidural, totally out of control. I’ve never wanted anything more in my whole life.
I heard the nurse say to Ben I think it might be too late for one. She asked to do a VE which revealed I was 9cm. Sorry, wot? It’s been an hour and a half, how?!? It almost flicked a switch in me as I knew there was nothing to do but keep going and I knew she was close.
I started on the gas and got them to set up the bed so the back was upright. I got up on my knees and leaned over the bed. The pain was so intense I thought I’d surely die. I’d like to say I stayed calm and listened to the voice in my ears telling me that ‘the contractions weren’t too powerful for me, because they are me’…. But I have to be honest, they felt wayyyy too powerful for me.
I remember feeling panicked and trapped in the pain cycle like Hali’s birth but Ben helped bring me back down in between each contraction with gentle touch and getting me to look into his eyes while the nurse was running around trying to close doors so people wouldn’t think there was a wild animal on the loose 🤣 at 10.45 my OB arrived and she pretty much just stood back and let me do my thing (scream).
I could feel Leni moving down and I started to get the urge to push. I knew I had to try and relax but all my body wanted to do while in that much pain is tense and tighten. I remember my OB saying you need to stop climbing up the bed away from it, relax your muscles and bring her down. So that’s what I did. She crowned (FMLLLLL) and I was directed to hold her head there in between the contraction to stretch me slowly and gently while my OB held a warm compress. It stung like a bitch but it was actually nice to feel a different sensation than the crippling contraction pain. With the next contraction her head was out, and with the next, I reached down and pulled my baby up to my chest.
Leni Jade was born at 11.16am weighing 4.210kgs and 53cm long after 2 hours of active labour. Thankfully, nothing but a small graze to show for it.
It was quick, raw, wild and so primal. While it was far from quiet, calm and gentle, both Ben and I couldn’t have done it without the help, support and knowledge we gained from our beautiful hypnobirthing teacher Kat from @bellybirthandbubs. I also can’t recommend hiring a TENS machine from @thebirthstore enough. I put it on Thursday night and didn’t take it off until she was born.
I had 3 very different birth experiences and I now know I am one of the few lucky ones who can say that I birthed in the private hospital system and managed to come away loving each one of those experiences.
Through my research and preparation for my 2 VBAC’s it became very obvious to me how many women were having horrendous birth experiences within our maternity systems leaving them entering postpartum and motherhood broken. I couldn’t get this out of my mind. I also could no longer ignore the immense pull I still felt to be involved in the birth even though I knew I was done have babies of my own.
At the beginning of 2023 I set myself the goal to become a doula and in June I started my doula training and I’m so excited and grateful to say I am now a practicing doula and absolutely loving helping women step into their badass birthing power. Women are so incredible and I can’t tell you what a joy it is to witness and support them to do this divine dance with their baby.
Head over to Jade Ball Doula to follow Jade through her journey. She posts a bunch of handy information over on her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jadeballdoula/