Martha Clementine Evans
Weight: 8lb 1oz
'It was intense, extreme euphoria and elation like nothing I have ever experienced…I DID IT!!'
The initial excitement of discovering I was pregnant was swiftly replaced by a strong resolve to “do it better” this time around - from being active and eating well to addressing some significant fears I had about labour, following the birth of our son Ted in 2013. We were totally unprepared for Ted’s birth and the familiar tale of induction, followed by several epidurals, further intervention and a long recovery had become my story. I definitely had to face my demons and actually came to realise I had a lot of residual anger about how it all happened. I came across my hypnobirthing teacher on Instagram and I was immediately taken with her infectious positivity and belief that birth could be an empowering and joyful experience - I wanted in, so signed us up for the course.
My husband Tim was very supportive although didn’t really know what he was signing up for, but I could tell within 30 minutes of the first session starting he was as hooked as I was. It was really fun and indeed funny (there was a very, very lengthy conversation about taking booze in the hospital bag) and above all totally logical. We left the course feeling excited about giving birth. We religiously practised the relaxations scripts, light-touch massage and listened to the mp3s on a daily basis and it was the perfect partner to the yoga I was doing several times a week. Everyone commented on how relaxed I seemed and I genuinely felt it and was confident enough to decline the first offer of induction at my midwife appointment at 40 weeks but as each day past beyond my "due date”, the feelings of panic that she’d never come out and that I simply wouldn’t go into labour naturally, set in. I sent a panicked message in our Whatsapp group and was reassured that my baby would know exactly when to come. This helped me reset and ignore the constant stream of “any news?” texts and we continued with our practise in earnest.
I decided that at my 41 week appointment we’d book an induction for 41+6, one day later than the latest they’d like me to go but this felt like a small victory, buying me an extra day but providing a finality to the hanging question of “what happens if it doesn’t happen?”. I was truly starting to get the sneaky suspicion that I wouldn’t need it anyway and by my third and final sweep on the Friday I had been getting some pretty significant, period-type aches and starting to feel excited. Tim had taken it upon himself to arrange for my Mum to travel up that evening and be on hand to look after Ted. This is one of many examples where hypnobirthing had empowered him to trust HIS instincts and make decisions like this so that I wouldn’t have to; he knew that this would allow me to fully give over to my "birthing body".
On the Saturday morning the dull aches were coming and going more frequently so I spent the day keeping distracted - cooking a roast chicken for lunch, bouncing around on my ball, alternating between an icepack and a hot water bottle against my back and tummy, I even managed to have a really glorious afternoon nap for a couple of hours. However by about 6.30pm I knew things were ramping up and I had to work harder on my "up breathing" through what had clearly now become surges. We had some dinner together, I gave Ted a big kiss and hot-footed it to our bedroom, it was where I had to be. I got my cold flannel with lavender oil and put a funny film on the laptop. By the time Tim had put Ted to bed and joined me, the surges were coming thick and fast but I was breathing through them and staying calm. He left briefly to make me a cup of tea, while I hopped into the en suite for a very hot shower holding the head either at my back or stomach.
When he came back I couldn’t have him leave my side again because I was starting to get very anxious at the intensity and power of the surges now coming on top of each other. He immediately calmed me down, placing his hand on my shoulder, speaking softly and slowly refocusing me on my breathing, reminding me that I was safe, I could do it and I’d soon be meeting our daughter. The icing on the cake was revealing that he'd called Ted’s nursery BFF’s Mum, Liz to drive us to the hospital. This was amazing to hear because I was scared an Uber driver was going to refuse to take us! He got me dressed, put my headphones on for me, his phone in the pocket of my coat with the relaxation mp3 as loud as he could possibly make it. We left at 8pm and as we hobbled down the communal stairwell of our flat my waters suddenly released with a great gush. In fact that was probably the only bit that was like a movie!
I piled into the back of Liz’s car kneeling over the baby car seat as I couldn’t possibly sit down at this point. Looking back I think I was in transition at this point because this was where I began to get extremely noisy, wailing for Tim, desperate for it to be over. He later told me that every single light that could turn red, did. I opened my eyes once and knew that we were another couple of turns from the hospital and we were close. The minute we pulled into the carpark I felt the urge to push. This felt so reassuring, I knew by this point that I could totally trust my instincts. I clung onto Tim every step of the way from the entrance to the delivery suite. As we arrived at the reception I opened my eyes briefly to see about 20 other labouring women sat down waiting. The receptionist stuck her hand out for my notes without even turning around to look at Tim and he just banged his fist on the counter and said “previous PPH, she needs to push NOW” and suddenly the doors flung open with a wheelchair waiting for me.
I wouldn’t sit on it but draped myself over the back as we were rushed into a room. I flung myself onto the bed, kneeling upright with my arms hanging over the back and I was apparently introduced to various members of staff - a nurse and a couple of midwives but I didn’t open my eyes the whole time, I was totally in my own world. They examined me and found I was fully dilated...I already knew this but just let them get on with it, I didn’t want the distraction of a conversation, and then the urges to push came back again. I could vaguely hear a midwife starting to try and coach me but Tim put a stop to it very quickly and to be fair to them they had no time to read our birthing preferences so they just did what they normally do. I waited each time for my body to tell me when to breathe her down and I won’t deny it was definitely intense as her head was there suspended for quite a few breaths. Another couple of down breaths later and at 8.31 she was out! It was exactly 10 minutes from the point they put the monitor on to when she arrived.
She was guided up to my chest as Tim pulled my nightdress and bikini top over my head so we could have immediate skin to skin. I held her warm, slippery little body close and gazed into her eyes as she quietly and calmly blinked back at me. It was intense, extreme euphoria and elation like nothing I have ever experienced…I DID IT!! Tim ensured that they delayed the cord clamping and after a few minutes I passed her to him while I delivered the placenta (with the injection given the PPH at Ted’s birth). I had a tiny tear which then required stitching and a bit of monitoring just to make sure I didn’t have a large bleed again…I didn’t. I felt high as a kite but I’d not even had gas and air, I was high on the beautiful baby in my arms and Tim’s loving and calm support. He did reveal that his one and only moment of panic was me dropping his beloved iPhone on the bed way too close to the business end during my down breathing for his liking!
We spent the next few hours cuddling our baby, eating and drinking our delicious snacks (coconut water with a straw is an absolute must-have) followed by tea and toast, which was the best meal I’ve ever had! Martha and I spent the rest of the night on the post-natal ward so the baby doctor could sign her off in the morning and even though it was boiling and generally pretty rank I was far too excited to sleep and spent the night feeding and beaming at her. We were discharged by lunchtime the next day and I carried her in my arms as we walked home in the sunshine with her adoring older brother dancing around excitedly on his buggy board. 11 days later I’m astonished about how amazing I still feel. Sure I’m tired but fully alert and present, I don’t have any of the post-epidural sluggishness or the numbness from the cocktail of drugs I was on for weeks after Ted was born.
For me hypnobirthing is the lighthouse that calls you back when things feel difficult. There were definite moments where I thought I couldn’t cope with the intensity and power of it - it’s hardcore(!) but each time, with Tim’s help I could gather myself back again, focus on the job in hand. I absolutely recommend it to everyone. This is the birth that healed me.