We decided to start trying to conceive whilst on a wonderful family holiday to Ibiza in the June. Within 3 months and within my first ovulation we conceived and were absolutely over the moon. I was so excited that I was pregnant after being so surprised it happened so quickly!! I took the test randomly one day after work as I was feeling rough and hadn’t done my monthly test yet. I DID NOT think it would be positive, I probably would have waited for Daniel to get back from Germany if I’d have thought I was actually pregnant! I painfully waited the 24 hours for him to get back so I could tell him. It was lovely timing as we were off to Sardinia the following morning
I loved being pregnant, I didn’t love the 4 months of morning sickness but luckily I had just changed jobs from a livery yard to a recruitment office. After 4 months of feeling nauseous I perked up just in time for Christmas. I had a lovely month then got a terrible bug and ended up having to spend a few days in hospital.
The positive side of that was that I spent those few days on the antenatal ward watching women checking in, going into labour, going up to the labour ward and coming back down with their babies. Those women coped with labour amazingly well and some would turn down pain relief even though they sounded like they were in major pain. It made me realise that labour was totally bearable and removed any fears I had of labour. The care I received whilst there was fantastic and I was really looking forward to going back there to have my baby!
After returning to work for a couple of weeks and still being in pain from the bug I decided to take early maternity leave. Looking back I am so glad I did and feel like being ill was a blessing as it meant I got 3 months of time before my due date. This is when I really started to enjoy my pregnancy…. I slept, cooked and ate really well, did yoga, shopped for the baby and threw myself into reading up on natural birth and how to avoid medical intervention. This is when I discovered She Births. After listening to an online conference called ‘Bumps, Births and Babies’ which was an incredible line up of talks all focused on natural birth and natural mothering I decided to continue my learning with the online She Births course. I learnt so much about my body, the natural process of labour and coping methods for during labour. This was enough to convince me that my body was built for this and as long as I relaxed, let go and gave the process over to my body and my baby then my labour could be an enjoyable experience! I was excited for the experience and had no fear, which I think is the main factor in my fantastic labour. 8 weeks before my due date I started to practice Kundalini yoga more regularly, I found an incredible teacher who taught me so many wonderful tools to use during labour and this practice further convinced me of the spiritual aspect of childbirth. I felt so connected to the universe and my baby, I knew my baby was meant to be and he would labour how and when he wanted to, I gave over all control to my baby with utter confidence.
2 weeks before my due date my other half and I went to stay in a hotel in London. On the morning we checked in I woke up with what I thought were Braxton hicks, the only difference being the sensations were coming and going similar to a contraction, which I had never felt before. We carried on through the day shopping and going for dinner as usual, the surges were getting closer together and a little stronger but at no point did we think I might be in labour! My Mum said “ If you’re asking me if you’re in labour, then you’re definitely not in labour!” so with that in my head, we thought this was a false start as I was 11 days away from my due date and we were convinced I was going to be late.
Luckily, I managed to sleep in the hotel and woke up on the Sunday morning with my surges coming stronger and closer together. We still didn’t think I was in labour but I knew we needed to get home sooner rather than later. We went down to breakfast and with my surges now a few minutes apart it was a struggle to get in the lift and down to the buffet. I wasn’t in any pain but with each surge I now needed to stop, lean over and really breath through it, which isn’t easy in public or in a full lift of strangers!! I quickly waddled from my table to the buffet knowing I only had a few minutes before the next surge, I was having to eat in the breaks between surges until I got to the point where I decided I should not be in a restaurant or any public place really as people were beginning to stare now. We headed back to the room (as quickly as I could) packed and checked out. We still had an hours drive back home through central London, I was keeping myself together quite well but knew the quicker we got home the better. With one eye on the satnav I started to time my surges and they were lasting nearly a minute and were every 3 minutes on average.
I got in the bath as soon as we got in at around 11am and put on my favourite Kundalini yoga album. We decided to call the midwife at this point for a little advice as we still didn’t think we were in labour, they recommended a bath, paracetamol and to just wait it out and see what happened.
The warm bath took away all of the sensations and my endorphins must have been building up nicely to this point as I suddenly had a rush of pain relief, along with this came a high I have never experienced before. I was so relaxed I could barely talk or lift my head, it was heaven! This lasted for around 45 minutes until I started to feel the need to move onto all fours so my bump was totally immersed in the water. I started to feel some pressure down below and I had one surge where everything just changed. It still was by no means painful but VERY strong. I had to make a lot of noise to get through it, a very low, deep growling noise which was very primal! We called the hospital again straight away and knew we needed to make our way there sharpish. The midwife suggested we come down to be examined but not to bring our bags in as we would probably be sent home.
I didn’t consciously think I was in labour but I just knew we had to move quickly and get to the hospital. Daniel was running around the house trying to get our things together and find me clothes to put on etc, it was all a bit of a rush and I no longer had much time between contractions, they were coming every minute and a half and lasting for around a minute and a half. I got into the back of the car on all fours and continued with the deep noises the whole journey to the hospital. Poor Daniel!! When we arrived we managed to find a wheelchair in the car park but I could definitely not sit down on it! There was quite a lot of pressure at this point so I climbed aboard the wheelchair on all fours which combined with all the noise I was making must have looked hilarious! Daniel whizzed me up to labour ward (instead of the natural birthing centre where we had planned to have the baby) going by the sight of us the midwives rushed us into a room and as soon as I had a quick break between surges I was examined. After having a good feel of the babys head (which I could weirdly feel in my tummy) we were told I was 5-6 cm with bulging waters. The first thing I said was “ Oh Daniel, we are in labour then!” I was just happy that we were actually in labour and I’d managed to get to 5cm at home J
As soon as the midwife had examined me I felt like she had shaken things up a bit, then I had an almighty surge which was so different to what I’d been feeling beforehand. It was VERY painful, my body took over and from my head to toe I was pushing down and screaming at the same time. It’s safe to say I totally lost my shit! The student midwife looked very confused as I was only 5cm, she gave me gas and air which felt very strong and synthetic compared to the natural pain relief my body had been producing, I also didn’t feel like it was taking this intense pain away, I felt like I was disorientated with it which I didn’t like.
After 3 or 4 contractions like this I gave birth to my waters. They came out like a balloon and broke once they were out, I thought I’d had the baby! I later found out this only happens to 1 in 80,000 women. All of a sudden the room went calm and quiet, all of the pain had gone and the urge to push had stopped. The midwife (a wonderfully calm woman called Ella) sat on the end of the bed and said “ If you want to start pushing, you can… he’ll be here soon, his head’s right there” I had to get her to repeat herself! Only a few minutes before I thought I was 5 cm and all of a sudden he was on his way J I was so happy and excited.
The pushing stage was nothing like I thought it would be. My contractions slowed right down to every 4 minutes or so and I had no pain at all just a feeling to push. Don’t get me wrong it was hard work! I had no energy left, I was exhausted and running on empty and just couldn’t be bothered to push. I was making some horrendous noises but not through pain, it was just a reIease I think, I had to tell Daniel not to panic as I wasn’t in any pain at all but just needed to scream! I can remember thinking all the poor women overhearing me would think labour was awful but I wanted to shout to them that it’s not that bad, it just sounds it! Between pushes I would rest and the room was totally peaceful, it was lovely, then I would feel the need to push then rest again. My sister, who unbeknownst to me was rushing her way down here from Coventry, knocked on the door just before he crowned. As she walked in I remember looking at her and thinking ‘one more push and he’ll be out’ she said “ how you doing?” and I replied in a cry “Oh Emily I’m just so so hot!!” I just remember being boiling!! J
One more push and his head was out, there was a few minutes between contractions where we just had to wait for the shoulders. I remember thinking, what are we waiting for? But of course you need another contraction for the rest of the body to come. We all just sat there looking at his head, touching it and laughing… then before we knew it the rest of him came, the shoulders did burn but I cannot believe how painless the whole process was. I can see how many of the feelings could be perceived as pain but I just felt it as intense, strong sensations.
The relief and joy I felt was amazing. I was so proud and happy and full of love for him. One of my first questions was “have I torn?” luckily, I hadn’t J possibly due to the perineal massage I had been doing 2 weeks before the labour and taking vitamin E. He latched on beautifully straight away and started feeding while the midwives just gave us time to be with him. I was surprised at how much time we had to just enjoy the moment, I thought they would try and whip him away and clean him up but I actually felt like we were left alone for ages after which was lovely.
Aubrey Belcher was born at 3:46pm, Sunday 17th May 2015 weighing 7Ibs 10.
We moved up to the labour ward where we spent our first night wide awake from adrenalin just watching him, we were elated and couldn’t get over how beautiful, perfect and soft he was.
We were allowed to go home at 11am the next morning and we very excitedly headed home with our lovely little newborn.