ISIS'S BIRTH ...with thanks to Nikki & Kevin

After living for 7 years in Sydney, Kevin and I found ourselves back in London, jobless, homeless and pregnant. We were more than just a little anxious about what the future held, let alone the birth of our first baby. In Sydney, the norm was to do a ‘calm birthing’ course in preparation for birth. Settling back into London life I soon realized that the ‘norm’ was doing an NCT course. With a bit of Googling, to my relief, I found that calm birthing did exist in this hemisphere and London Hypnobirthing came highly recommended. We didn’t have the funds to do both. It was one or the other. I will be forever grateful that I opted for Hollie’s course. The birth of your child stays with you for life and in my case, that’s a blessing. The icing on the cake was that Kevin and I anticipated the birth with excitement, not fear. We felt empowered with knowledge and a set of practical tools that we knew would help us aid the natural and safe passage of our daughter into the world.However, what I hadn’t accounted for was just how fast that passage would be…

At 9.30am on 7th January my surges begun. Kevin had left for work. Not 100% certain that I was in labour but just incase, I decided to slowly get myself up, have a shower and generally make myself presentable to meet my baby. At 10.30 Kevin called to see how I was – I told him I was ‘maybe in labour’ but to call back in an hour. He reminded me to listen to my positive affirmations, practice my breathing and ‘have a bounce’ on my birthing ball. By 11.30am, as the surges intensified I had a brief moment of panic, it was definitely happening. Without my calm birth training I feel things could have got very scary at that point, but instead I was able to bring my thoughts and my breath under control.

By 12.30pm Kevin arrived home. Despite having a lovely big bedroom, I found myself in our tiny box room wedged between the bed and the radiator – on my knees, elbows on the bed. I was very focused on breathing but needed a bit of support. With Kevin by my side counting, the distraction of a TENS machine and my breath I felt fully in control. I was even laughing and joking in between my surges.

The hours flew by in a blink and as my breath turned into growls I wished I had stood my ground on having a home birth. I was perfectly content where I was and would have had no problem giving birth right there surrounded by my creature comforts. My mum arrived to take us to the hospital at about 4pm (after I’d refused point blank to get in a taxi). Afterwards she’d said she was in shock to find me still at home – having had four children of her own she quickly realized I was pretty close to having my daughter.We drove the whole way to Kings with me facing backwards, kneeling on the backseat, unable to sit down! At the time it didn’t occur to my why…

Arriving in the foyer of Kings – wearing my PJ’s with a towel stuffed down my trousers, shuffling and growling – I was unprepared for just how hectic it would be and how many people would be milling about, I felt all eyes were on me. I really had to go within myself at this point to avoid feeling vulnerable and regressing. Again – the hypnobirthing was invaluable. I had the mental tools to draw on. I felt like I was able to escape to another plain. The part that followed was almost comedic. Made manageable due to how calm I was still feeling.

As we attempted to get up to the labour ward, only one set of lifts was working. I had to stand there waiting, having surges, as all these people created an ever widening circle around me. Finally, we made it into the lifts. There was only one other couple brave enough to travel with us. After we had visited every single floor – including the basement we reached in the labour ward ‘home and dry’ we found it totally deserted. I was stood, with my head on the reception desk – having yet more surges. Eventually, a very nonchalant looking midwife approached us. She’d seen how calm we looked and obviously made an assessment that she’d be sending us on our way, back to East Dulwich, to wait it out a few more hours. She humoured us by taking us to examination room where I was asked to ‘pop’ myself up on the bed. I remember eyeing up the cold hard bed thinking – there’s no way I can maneuver myself up there and lay down – I’d been upright the entire time.Within seconds of the examination beginning, it ended and a wide-eyed midwife was asking me ‘get down’ from the bed as soon as possible exclaiming that should I take my time I could be giving birth right there and then. Guess we wouldn’t be heading home empty handed then! As I shuffled down the hall to my birthing suite with as much pace as I could muster whilst staying in the zone and calm, with people running ahead to prepare the room, other midwives were appearing from doorways practically high-fiving me.One said ‘you go girl! That’s the way to do it’.

Within 15 minutes of being in that room – I was peeping down between my knees to find a huge, gorgeous, bloody, frowning human being. I was stunned.Not only had I given birth already, it was a girl! We’d only managed to get 3 tracks into a four-hour playlist, she was born to Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together.When we arrived into our room, Kevin had diligently started explaining that as stated in our birth plan –we wanted a waterbirth at which point he’d been told that by the time the bath was full our baby would be here. To say that it has happened quickly would be an understatement. From start to finish the labour had been six hours long.I would say the experience was intense but not painful – there was a few seconds of ‘fire’ as she emerged but I felt my body flood itself with natural anesthetic, the most amazing sensation. Although I’d been totally lucid through-out labour, I would say that I’d been in a bit of a trance. It was only after the birth, as I lay there with Isis Evelyn on my chest that I began to feel really, really overwhelmed by the whole thing. All that preparation and then it’s over and done with.I ended up needing to have a few stitches – by far the most unpleasant part of the whole thing (and really not that bad!). I was so glad of the blissed-out haze induced by copious amounts of gas and air. It gave me a chance to chill out and come back down to earth. I could now appreciate the magic of my newborn and begin the next chapter of parenthood. Hypnobirthing gave us a birthing story that we can cherish. It’s also set the benchmark pretty high for baby number two…no pressure!