Baby boy was due on 14th March 2022, however after a pregnancy massage to ease my severe back pain, my waters broke on Friday 4th March (in the beauty salon!).
24 hours and a long walk later, there was no sign of labour, so we headed up to Burnley Birth Suite to take the next steps. Due to risk of infection, we decided to be induced and get the ball rolling. We had mentally prepared for it and didn’t want to turn back now!
Another 10 hours and I finally started feeling contractions, very manageable at first with lots of walking and circling my hips just as I had been doing on the yoga mat for all those weeks before. We were moved to our room in the birth suite in the early hours of Sunday morning and as I had been induced, baby and I were monitored throughout. Luckily the monitors were cordless so I was still able to move around.
As labour progressed and the contractions became more intense, I essentially was a kid in a sweet shop with pain relief! There can be a lot of pressure on woman who hear “I want a completely natural birth”, “wow you are amazing to not have any pain relief!” and “oh, did you not manage on your own?”, but don’t let those thoughts overrule you. I knew my own body and knew what I needed - and thankfully so did my partner who encouraged and supported me throughout.
Whilst I couldn’t get myself in to yoga positions on the floor due to the monitors, I could stand and stretch and repeated Tessa’s words in my head - reminding myself how powerful, strong and capable I was. Instead of getting in to table top and swaying my hips which I always loved throughout pregnancy, I made use of the work surface and leant my elbows on this as I swayed contractions away.
Welcoming midwives back from their shift they had been with me on 12 hours earlier, I had cannulas in both hands (for oxytocin, pethidine and reminfentanil - a 60 second epidural!) and looked like a puppet on strings. Whilst my contractions were progressing and now 90 second apart, I wasn’t dilating at the same rate and was 4cm.
At midnight on Sunday, 33 hours after being induced and 45 hours after my waters had broken, 3 lovely doctors came in to the room. A c-section was suggested as I was given lots of information and time to make an informed decision. 5 seconds later after vigorous nodding between my partner and I, we agreed to go ahead.
The next moments were some of the most incredible experiences I know I will ever have. After confirming the c-section at 12:15am, I was wheeled down to the operating theatre and my partner was gowned up ready to join me. A swarm of doctors, nurses and my amazing midwife surrounded me and I felt in such safe hands as the injections were put in to my back and they prepared to deliver our baby. As my lower body became numb, my upper body shook intensely from the spinal block. Throughout the whole labour, this was the most uncomfortable feeling, but my incredible anaesthetist reassured me it was completely normal. Thankfully, because of this feeling, I felt absolutely nothing that was happening behind the screen and the first time I knew they had even cut in to me was hearing our baby boy cry.
Throughout my pregnancy, I never had a birth plan, or even really birth preferences. Our one and only wish was that my partner had the first skin to skin contact with baby - after 9 months of me feeling and bonding with baby, I wanted him to have that special moment. The emergency c-section was never in my thoughts of how labour would be, but I am so thankful that my partner was there to hold our baby for the first time (cue brilliant timing after 60 seconds of holding him did baby deposit that first black, tar poo all across my partners chest!)
Stanley Robert Gary Finch was born at 12:57am on Monday 7th March and our hearts were complete.
A note on breathing - all hail the golden thread breathing!! At every part of labour, the induction, examinations, contractions and c-section, the breathing got me through. Taking myself back to my yoga mat and the focused breathing techniques enabled me to stay calm throughout (for the most part!). As Tessa says, this breathing isn’t just for labour, it is something we should be doing for ourselves on a daily basis and I completely understand why - it instantly calms your body, resets your mind and gives you focus.
And finally, Our NHS - none of my birth story would be possible without them. Firstly my 3 incredible midwives - Rhian, Julie and Laura. The support, love and care they gave to me felt like they were family and I will always remember this. The anaesthetist, doctors and nurses during my c-section who kept me calm, reassured me throughout and who we will be indebted to forever for bringing our baby boy safely in to this world. And finally the midwives on the post-natal ward who guided me through the first few crazy days of motherhood. I have always known we are so fortunate to have our NHS, but never more so over those few days. Nothing will ever seem enough to thank them for everything they do.
”Tessa Clemson Yoga - your yoga studio in Great Harwood, serving Hyndburn, Blackburn with Darwen, Ribble Valley & Burnley“