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Harvey Jude's Waterbirth

This is my candid birth story…. you’ve been pre-warned.

| Born 25 September 2014 at 7:20am |

I am writing my birth story on 29 September with sweet Harvey laying so cutely along my chest. I feel so incredibly blessed in this moment. I cannot believe I’m a mother… and that my son is so perfect.

The Backstory

My pregnancy definitely had it’s ups and downs. Tom and I weren’t *trying* to get pregnant, but we weren’t really preventing it either. We were doing the natural family planning method (NFP), so we were aware when we could potentially get pregnant and made an informed decision each time.

But to be honest, we didn’t think it would happen as quick as it did. I was told in December 2012 that I was not ovulating after evaluating my NFP charts. I didn’t see much change in my charts from then on, so we weren’t actually sure if I was ovulating.

I moved to the UK in June 2013 and we got pregnant late December 2013. 

I realised I was “late” for my January period when I was labour sitting assisting at my first birth in the UK. I mentioned this to Tom, but neither of us thought much about it because my periods hadn’t ever been extremely regular.

A few days later, we decided to take a pregnancy test when I had a bit of a melt down because I couldn’t complete a simple task at work.

We walked to a local shop down the road from the building we were both working in to get a pregnancy test. I took the test in the women’s bathroom and made Tom stand in the stall with me. We waited the 5 minutes and the test showed negative. We looked at each other in some relief and then I said, “wait… I’m kinda sad it’s negative” and Tom agreed and began re-reading the pregnancy test instructions to see if we did it wrong. Indeed we had. We turned the test upside down and it immediate showed 2 pink lines….positive! We were a bit in shock. Sex really does make a baby! 

I called my friend Laura and my mum within 20 minutes of finding out. I skyped my dad and step mum the next day to tell them. Everyone was so excited!

The pregnancy had it’s highs and lows. I felt very lonely and isolated through much of my pregnancy- especially in the beginning. I began working from home soon after finding out. I was really glad for the break because I was so tired and it was nice to be able to take a daytime nap, but it got really depressing and lonely fast. The UK weather at that time was absolutely horrible as well. It rained for about a month straight. I couldn’t go outside much and most of my friends worked in the day. I had serious food aversions and craved one food item at a time. I was so hungry, nauseated, exhausted and lonely.

I started feeling better closer to summertime. I was finally able to eat better which made me feel well, and the entrance of sunshine helped my mood drastically.

Our trip to the states was definitely the highlight of my pregnancy. It felt great to see family again and to be around familiar places and people. We went on some lovely adventures. 

I actually think I felt the best in the beginning of my third trimester as that coincided with summertime, my visit to the states and was feeling great.

When I went to the states, I also found out that Faith Morie, the midwife I trained with, would be able to fly to the UK for my birth! I was beyond excited and relieved! Another part of pregnancy that was really hard for me was not having anyone here to relate to as a midwife. Not many people could understand any of my worries or desires both in pregnancy and for the birth.

I had always envisioned having Faith as my midwife, having prenatals like I was used to being a part of and having her as my midwife. I knew who I wanted to be my birth photographer/videographer, doula, etc.

But of course, none of those options were feasible while living in the UK. So when Faith told me she would come for my birth, I felt like I again had the support that I’d always wanted and thought I needed for my birth.

Many people, including my NHS midwife, told me they thought I would have the baby early. I tried to keep it in my mind that I would most likely go 2 weeks late, but it was hard not to hope everyone was right about me going early. I felt okay overall, but was ready to meet my sweet baby.

Faith arrived in the UK on 6 September. I was very relieved with her arrival and hoped I would go into labour very soon after.

I had a few days where I thought “I think this may be the early start of labour”. Those days always coincided with a big weather or atmosphere change. The first was on 8 September- the Supermoon. I had cramps all night and generally felt a bit unwell. I went to bed hoping I would wake up in active labour. That didn’t happen…

I went to see the Chiropractor for baby’s persistent OP position. I went twice a week until birth. It made me feel much better, more open and baby turned to ROA by the birth. For that, I am very thankful! 

The next night I thought I was possibly in early labour was 17 September. A huge thunderstorm and cold front came in that night. I had Braxton-Hicks all day and they ramped up by the evening. By the time I went to bed, they were every 5 minutes and had backache and lower ab cramping with it. Faith was visiting a friend in London but came back that night just in case. I woke up with no contractions. I was very frustrated. I was so disappointed. Yet again, I was not in labour…

On 22 September, I was very tired and discouraged by the practice warm ups. I also knew that Faith would have to go back home in about a week. I started doing taking some gentle herbs and essential oils to try to get my body over the edge and into labour since it seemed I was close. I had some BH by the evening.

I did a bit more the next day as well.

Faith had went to London again for a couple days before this to visit some friends. She decided to come back that night as she felt like I was close… She arrived at my house around 11pm. We all stayed up chatting for a bit and all went to bed at 1:00am.

Labour Day

I woke up on 24 September at 5:00am (with only 4 hours sleep) with mild cramping/contractions every 4.5 minutes lasting just less than a minute. I got out of bed by 6:45am and started about my day as I couldn’t sleep through them. They weren’t painful, but quite annoying. I told Tom he was able to go to work but that I may call him home if the contractions continued. I bounced on my ball in the morning while messing about on my laptop. 

I took a nap from 8:45-9:45am and woke up with stronger contractions. By 10:00am I was having some bloody show and loose stools. My waters broke at 12:28pm. 

I continued to have contractions and the strength grew, but was still very manageable. I texted Tom and we decided he would come home at 4:00pm. As the day progressed, we both thought he should come home at 3:00pm. I was also in contact with my birth photographer and agreed for her to come around 5-6pm.

I got into the shower at 1:30pm. The hot water on my back felt so good! I finally  had a true sense how amazing water can feel in labour. 

Faith advised me to lean forward with contractions to help bring cervix forward. I labored walking around and would put my hands on the wall and lean forward with contractions.

By 2:00pm I was asking Faith to give me counter pressure on my back. I started whimpering/crying a little with a few contractions. I was fighting off my disappointment.. I knew I was in early labour, but wanted it to go faster. I had no idea how much longer it would be and that bothered me. 

I enjoyed laboring on the toilet as I felt the contractions were more effective and it gave me some personal space.

Tom arrived home around 3:30pm. I labored on the birth ball, on toilet, leaning forward onto the wall or onto Tom. Tom and Faith starting setting up the birth pool as we knew it’d take a long time to get it all set up with the small amount of hot water available in our apartment.

At 4:15pm my friend Miriam came to the house to bring over a TENS unit and showed Tom some accupressure points on my back to bring about more effective contractions.

By about 5pm, I was in active labour. I was feeling quite tired. I started using the TENS unit to relieve back ache and felt quite a bit of relief in my back. I enjoyed it a lot and liked pressing the button during contractions.

My contractions grew in intensity by 5:45pm. I labored on the toilet for a long time. Faith and Tom would come sit in the bathroom with me. I enjoyed their presence. 

I got into the birth pool at 7:10pm. The relief in the water was absolutely incredible!! My contractions spaced out quite a bit which was a bit frustrating but I also enjoyed the relief. My friend Laura arrived around that point.

I got out of the pool after about an hour to do the Roll-Over Technique to get baby’s head under the pubic bone. I knew my pubic bone was flat, narrow and low and I would probably need to do some positions when he descended to help him.

I slept a bit between contractions while doing the rollover.

I entered transitions about 11pm/midnight. The contractions were so long and close together.

I got back into the pool by midnight and sat upright between contractions and labored on my hands and knees during the contractions.

At 2:15am I got out of the pool to take a shower. This shower was not nearly was effective as the last one! I hated it actually… it annoyed me.

I can’t remember transition much thinking back. I walked around, sat on the toilet, swayed with Tom and tried to not be too discouraged, but I was! I told Tom how hard this was and how upset I was that I had labored for so long and hard with such ‘slow’ progress. I wish I wasn’t so aware of time…

The pressure I felt when sitting on the toilet was a bit overwhelming, but I enjoyed sitting there. I started feeling a bit pushy at 3am. I moved to the bed to lay on my side. I was able to sleep a bit between the contractions again. Contractions spaced a bit and I was able to fall totally asleep in between. I was so glad for those moments of sleep!

Faith told me to try to push with a few contractions when I had the urge to see if I felt relief. I did… sometimes. But sometimes it kind of hurt and I was didn’t think it was quite the right time to push, so I just pushed with some of them. I knew I still wasn’t completely dilated.

I got back into the pool at 4:45am to try to push past the cervix while relaxing better. I felt inside and felt the swollen lip. I was so upset. I didn’t know why it was so hard…

I remember having overwhelming primal pushes and those were the most effective. They also took the least amount of strength from me… my body just took over at that point.

I got back in the pool at 6:18am. It felt much better to push in the water. I remember thinking how crazy I must look pushing so hard. I didn’t let that hinder me from pushing with all my might though. I saw Tom pacing around and looking anxious for the first time in the labor. He would walk from the birth pool in the living room to the kitchen. I was just waiting for him to be sick… I was sad for him and I wanted to tell him it was all okay. I knew he knew we were finally so close to having our baby. 

I would feel inside to see where the baby was. I felt a bulgy bag and assumed the other water breaking was just a high leak. I popped the bag myself at 6:47am to see if that would help descent. I remember feeling SO MUCH PRESSURE! His head was not even visible between contractions and I was convinced there was no way I would be able to push him out. He already felt like he was tearing me open and he had ‘so far’ to go. He didn’t really have that far, but in relation to the pressure I felt, I did not know how it would be possible. I remember telling Faith that there was no way he would be able to fit through my bones. I remember asking her if some babies just can’t fit past where he was. This was by far the most intense pressure. 

Faith suggested a couple times that I get out and get into a lunge to help open my pelvis because I was really concerned he wouldn’t actually fit. I would gather up enough courage to try to stand up and would immediately kneel back into the water. The gravity made the pressure even worse. I told her ‘no way! I can’t get out.'

I moved to hands and knees in the pool at 7:00am. It was very hard to push through the pressure I was feeling when he would really start to descent. I did not want it to get any more intense and I knew it would. I could feel a tiny bit of his head on the outside and I did not know how I would push an entire head when this was overwhelming. I remember telling Faith “he’s not actually going to fit through my bones. Can that be possible? He can’t fit…” She then encouraged me again to get into a lunge out of the pool. I tried one more time to stand up and completely gave up that theory. It was too much…

I knew then that I had to just do it. At 7:16am the baby started moving down very quickly. My body kept pushing and pushing. I didn’t want it to because I was so scared. I felt like I was ripping in two. I said “Faith… Faith… Faith…” I needed her support. I told her I couldn’t do it.

She said “push into that pressure”. I told her I was scared to do that. She kept telling me not to pull away from the pressure but to press into it. I finally worked with my body and pushed past it. It was so scary! I couldn’t think at that moment, because if I did, I would have held him back out of fear.

Finally we were at a half crown and I knew he was coming but it was SO MUCH! My body kept pushing and I was assisting it a little as well. When I got to full crown, I knew I could do it and I was doing it and it was almost over! I couldn’t believe how fast the end went.

I felt his head as he was being born.  As he came out I felt his fingers by his head. That explained the “ripping” I felt inside.

Then Faith said “okay with the next contraction his shoulders will come out”. I had a moment of fear where I thought he would have shoulder dystocia. I don’t know why that fear came over me. I had never even really thought about it before then. That really scared me. There was less than a minute between head and shoulders/birth. I remember always watching women give birth and didn’t know how they were so calm in these moments. There was a head out of their vagina But I just waited for shoulders. The next contraction, Faith said “here are the shoulders” and the relief… oh the relief… No dystocia, my baby was almost here, it’s almost over and I did it!

The body slid out so easily and she said, “okay take your baby”. It was incredible! I was in utter disbelief.

He had a huge cone head and the cutest quivering lip. Tom came around to my side and we both just admired him. I saw Tom take a few pictures to send to family. 

Harvey cried within the first minute. He had a bit of mucous so we were stimulating him a bit to get him to cough it out.

I got out of the pool and moved to my bed fairly quickly after the birth. I remember the sweet feeling of relief. I was so hungry, tired, but oh so thankful and in love!

We quickly established breastfeeding, had a nice, hearty meal (‘breakfast’) and snuggled in bed together. The three of us… as it should be. So calm, so relieved and so thankful!

I was so grateful to my incredible birth team and support. I knew that Tom and Faith believed in me and were very proud of my progress, no matter how slow it seemed to me. That was my normal. My body was working very hard to bring me my son.

I was so glad I had a home water birth like I had always wanted. Not everything happened like I imagined, but it all worked out so perfectly.

We did it!

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