Our son, Iolo Ray, was born on Sunday, July 15 at 8.30am. I could sit and write thousands of words about it, but I’m not sure any amount of typing and contemplation could really do it justice… so here’s just a brief recollection.
During the last few weeks of the pregnancy, time seemed to slow down and I began to wish it away, longing for the day of the birth to arrive. We were told Iolo was measuring big and his movements had also slowed down, so by week 38, the doctor had scheduled an induction to bring him into the world.
This was set on his due date, July 17, so with this in mind, I decided to try to bring on the labour naturally beforehand. In between having three membrane sweeps, I cooked curry, ate pineapple, had massages, bounced on my birthing ball, took baths with lavender and jasmine oil and walked. Who knows whether doing any of things made any difference, but on Friday, July 13, the contractions began.
They continued slowly through that afternoon, easing up enough to allow me to sleep a few hours in the night, before kicking in with greater force from 5am on Saturday. We began timing them and within a couple of hours I was having one every 7-8 minutes on average. They spread across my back, then built from deep down like an intense period pain.
Hours passed by as I waited for them to become more regular. I brought into play all the coping methods I had learned – deep breathing with golden thread breath, lying over my birthing ball moving my hips, swaying from side-to-side, taking several baths, hanging onto my fiancée, listening to some of my favourite music, dancing and using a TENS machine.
As the day progressed they became stronger, but I was frustrated they weren’t getting more frequent. I called the Delivery Suite at our hospital, who said I shouldn’t come in until I was having three every ten minutes.
By midnight this still hadn’t happened, but I knew my labour was moving on and I couldn’t manage the pain at home any longer. Once we arrived in hospital and the midwives helped me up onto a bed, I felt relieved I was in safe hands and was going to be looked after. I was totally shocked to be told I’d dilated to 8cm at home when they examined me.
The contractions gathered in strength and although gas and air helped, at some point during the next hour or two I knew I needed more pain relief. I asked for an epidural.
According to my birth notes, I was in established labour five hours 50 minutes. Most of this time can be divided up by time spent waiting for the epidural and what happened after. It took all my strength and more mental power than I thought imaginable to get through the contractions before the pain relief kicked in. Nothing could have prepared me for how painful it was. Asking for an epidural was the best thing I could have done, as once it began to work I was able to compose myself and breathe deeply again, focusing on the job in hand. I was so lucky to have my fiancée there holding my hand and my sister on the other side.
Dilating the last two centimetres took me through until 6am, when I looked over at the clock on the wall and they told me to start pushing. I did this for two hours. Although I wasn’t in any pain at this point, I could still feel the massive pressure of the baby’s head and my increasing tiredness was making everything much harder.
So at 8.30am, under the assistance of two midwives, two doctors, a pediatrician, my partner and my sister, our son Iolo was born, with the aid of Ventouse (largely due to the fact the baby had one arm up by his head!).
I cannot describe the moment they placed him up on my chest. I could not believe I had done it. It was the hardest, most emotionally and physically demanding experience of my life – but I succeeded and gave birth to a happy and healthy baby weighing 9lb 50z.
This may not be the most straight forward of birth stories, or the one you read that is going to tell you child-birth is a blissful experience that can be achieved with a few deep breaths and a bit of pushing.
But I figure there is no point writing it unless I am truthful. It is eight days now since the birth and I am still coming to terms with what a mind-blowing experience it was. My baby is asleep on my chest as I type this. Every time I look at him I will always be reminded of what an incredible achievement it is to grow and give birth to a baby. It was given me a renewed and deep-rooted respect for all child-bearing women as I begin the next stage of my life as a mother.