Over the next hour, I noticed the mucus ‘show’. I decided that before I became totally focused on the birth, I wanted to finish a few chores. Michael left the house to finalise a few things he needed to take care of. As I wandered around the house, I practiced my breathing. I continued this all morning, repeating over and over to myself ‘loose lips’ like a mantra, in addition to ‘I trust my body’ and ‘my body knows what to do’. I also knew that I had to conserve my energy for when I would most need it later in the day. All of my learning from the course helped with this as it enabled me to remain calm and focused.

At about 9:30 am, I thought I should start to time my surges, as they seemed to be occurring quite frequently. I discovered that they were approximately 3 minutes apart, lasting for 30-40 seconds. While it occurred to me that these were quite close together, I thought that we still had plenty of time before we needed to head into the Birth Centre. I think that part of the reason for this was that my surges did not feel intense. In fact, I was surprised by how subtle they felt during this time. It was at this time that I first called the midwife. I said to her ‘I wanted to let you know that I am going to have my baby today’. She asked me why I thought that and I explained that I had experienced period-style cramping and that I had a bloody show and that I just knew it was going to happen today. The midwife then said that when my surges became ‘too difficult to talk through’, it would be time to come in to the hospital. She also offered to come and visit me at home later in the afternoon to examine me and assess when I would need to make the move into the Birth Centre. She suggested that I have Michael run a bath for me when he returned, and then we agreed to talk again in a couple of hours.

Not long after this, I became nauseous and brought up my breakfast. Michael returned home and found me still in the bathroom. By this time, I had taken to keeping my eyes closed as I didn’t want to be disturbed by light or outside influences. I was completely focused on my body and my breathing. I found that I did not want to talk, and was almost unable to talk or explain things to Michael, even when I wanted to. Michael was the most incredible support that morning. He ran a bath for me, which I soaked in for a bit over an hour while my surges became longer and occurred more frequently. He timed my surges, and finalized things at home – locking doors and windows, gathering up the last of the things I needed for my hospital bag and packing it in the car, taking out clothes for me to wear to the Birth Centre, and finally getting me out of the bath, drying me off and dressing me. Just before taking me out of the bath, Michael called the midwife again to discuss my progress, letting her know that the surges were now about 1-2 minutes apart and lasting for about 50 seconds or so. The midwife advised us to head into the Birth Centre to be examined. On the way to the car at about 11:45 am, I mentioned to Michael that I really felt like I wanted to have a bowel movement. While he appeared calm, inside he was thinking ‘oh no… what happened to the transition phase?’ All the way to the hospital I kept my eyes closed. I couldn’t bare the light.

When we arrived at the Birth Centre the midwife immediately examined me. I remember the surprised look on her face, and her excited tone as she told me ‘Emma, you are fully dilated! Whenever you are ready, you can push your baby out’. I was stunned! For the next two hours I focused all of my energy on birthing my baby. I continued to draw on the tools and techniques that I learned in the classes. I was surprised to find that while the experience of second stage (in addition to the part of first stage that I experienced since waking) was intense and powerful, it was not painful. There were a couple of moments when I began to doubt my ability to bring my baby into the world, and during these moments I noticed my body responding to these thoughts in a negative way, moving more into a state of ‘fight or flight’ and away from the calm, controlled state that I had been in. It was at these times that Michael’s incredible support was the most valuable. He reassured me that I did have the ability and the resources within me to birth our baby.

He helped me focus again, and regain trust in my body and its ability to work in partnership with my baby to bring this new life into the world. After two hours of pushing, the midwife explained that we would need to consider some form of intervention. Hospital policy dictates that second stage should not carry on much longer than two hours in order to ensure the health and safety of both mother and baby. As I was becoming very tired and the baby’s heart rate was decreasing with each surge, the decision was made to perform an episiotomy. A doctor was called from the Maternity Ward to attend me but as he was stuck in surgery, the midwife began the procedure and when the doctor arrived a few minutes later, he completed it.

Later the doctor explained to me that my baby’s head had become stuck and so the skin needed to be cut in order to allow baby to make its appearance. I was happy with this decision as I trusted the medical staff and knew that they would not intervene like this unless there was a legitimate need. They had my baby’s interests and mine at heart. My eyes were closed at this stage and I remember hearing Sarah and Michael yelling excitedly ‘Emma, look, look, your baby! Open your eyes!’ Sarah slipped a beautiful, pink, bright-eyed baby onto my abdomen and I remember feeling overcome with emotion that our perfect little baby had finally arrived and was staring up at me with big blinking blue eyes and skin that radiated heat. I heard myself exclaim ‘My baby!’ and then shed tears of joy and intense love. I looked over at Michael and he too was crying with happiness and love. It was the most incredible experience of my life. Sarah asked ‘is it a boy or a girl?!’ and it was only then that we thought to check.

Our beautiful son was born at 2:20 pm. I couldn’t have asked for a better or speedier birth.

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