My baby girl turns six months today. Six whole months. I always think the monthly birthday of your child is a lovely time to reflect on their impact on your life. And today, I’m going to do just that by sharing Lila’s beautiful birth story.
Oliver’s birth was epic. A two-day marathon event, which saw all my plans for a natural birth go out of the window. Instead of a calm, water birth Oliver was posterior. So after hours and hours (32 to be exact) of dealing with contractions, he got stuck at 7cm and I had an epidural. Luckily he came out the usual way, but it was tough, exhausting and left me feeling a little numb. Not just from the waist down.
But this isn’t the story of Oliver, this is Lila’s story. And a very different one at that. This time round I decided to not to hope for anything. If truth be told, I was pretty much resigned to a similar scenario. How totally wrong I was.
At 11pm one week before my due date my waters broke while I was asleep. I woke Paul, who’s first words were ‘What? Really? But I’m not ready’. Lucky I was then! And I really was. So excited, apprehensive, but most importantly calm (although that didn’t stop me demanding we changed the bed sheets before we left for hospital that night!).
At the hospital I discovered I was already three centimetres dilated. A bit of a bonus considering I hadn’t had any contractions. We were sent home to ‘sleep’ (always makes me laugh that one – can anyone really sleep in labour?!) and soon those low, slow aches began.
By the morning, Paul got Ollie ready for daycare as I relaxed in the bath. All trace of the contractions had faded, but Lila was sitting so low I felt like she could literally fall out at any minute and was almost too scared to stand until Ollie had gone, just in case. As they left, I remember feeling quite strange knowing the next time I saw my baby boy, he wouldn’t be the baby anymore (actually, who am I kidding? He’ll always be my baby!).
To get things moving we pounded the streets and the familiar ache returned. Just. At midday I was fed up. The contractions were still easy and I was getting impatient and worried that history was going to repeat itself. Luckily my amazing midwife was so reassuring and told me to come in again to check my progress and discuss options. So we did. And lucky we took my bags.
After a trace on the baby, my contractions finally started to intensify. I was managing them well with my breath and a tens machine. Then - I shifted onto my side to get comfortable when suddenly there was a whoosh of waters and I felt something go. I don’t mean in a breaking sense, but in that instance I knew things had changed. Suddenly I went from contracting once in every 10 mins to three in every 10.
We moved to the floor where I found a comfortable position over a birthing ball. For the next three hours I don’t think I have ever been so focused. One of my yoga teachers kept reinforcing the importance of keeping your jaw soft through labour (soft jaw, soft cervix!) and that became a mantra for me. I felt calm. I breathed deep. I kept my jaw soft.
It’s so interesting in labour how you get in to a groove. There are things you like and things you don’t like. Ways of coping that you only develop right then and there in the moment. For me it was the breathing. Cold towels on my forehead. Being able to control the tens machine on my back (amazing btw – who knew they were so effective?!). There was talk of moving to the shower, but I was happy in my zone. I also needed Paul close by. Not doing anything in particular, just holding my hand and staying close (he did ask if he should massage me at one point and received a curt ‘no you’ll just irritate me’ in reply. Gotta love a labouring woman for being direct!).
After these intense three hours, out of nowhere there was a feeling, movement and a change like nothing I have ever felt before. My body totally took over and did what it was designed to do. I shouted for gas. Suddenly the need to push was so strong. Paul was frantically buzzing our midwife who came in and matter-of-factly said ‘yep you’re having a baby – just go with it.’ And that’s really all I could do.
With the next push the head crowned. With the next it was out – and holy hell that hurt. Having had an epidural the last time I was quite apprehensive about this stage, so I was lucky that it all happened in one go. That was probably the worst part. The midwifes were telling me to breathe quickly and pant and not push. Don’t push. Don’t push. I could hear Paul’s voice in my ear telling me not to push and finally it clicked. Don’t push, just breathe. So I did – until the next contraction, when one last push and there she was. It was so quick and such a blur that Paul didn’t even have time to watch her arrive.
Then Lila was placed in my arms. I was crying from the shock of it all happening so fast. She didn’t, not once. In fact she was so quiet I had to ask if she was ok. And she was. Just perfect. Quietly looking up at me with these huge eyes, just asking to be held and loved.
And love her we have. All three of us. She’s been the perfect addition to our family. She’s bought balance and calm – just like her arrival in to the world.
Love you Lila Clementine, I am so grateful for having you in my life, my perfect little girl.