In 2018, I fell pregnant. My partner and I had been trying for a couple of years and nothing happened. We saw a fertility specialist, and were referred for IVF. We didn’t even know if I could get pregnant, nor did we know what IVF entailed.
My pregnancy was quite traumatic, though. I’d waited so long to get there, that I felt anxious and unwell for the first three months. I bled the day before my five month scan. I had a couple of other scares with scans later on, where they were concerned about my son’s brain. So by the end of my pregnancy, I was so ready to have my baby!
I felt quite positive about giving birth. I’d done hypnobirthing online and pregnancy yoga. I felt prepared – nervous, scared, yes, but prepared.
My son was due on August 3, and three days before, I went for acupuncture, which I’d had through my IVF, too. The next morning, my waters broke – a big, Hollywood gush! They were everywhere. Straight away I called my husband (who is known to panic in situations) to come home, and my neighbour waited with me while he did – 45 minutes later, he still wasn’t there. I called him again.
“I’m sat at my desk,” he said. “What, did you want me to come home?”. Wires had been crossed, and he thought I was going to ring him when he needed to come back – I was angry, but my neighbour helped me see the funny side.
We went to hospital, but were sent home because I hadn’t had any contractions yet. My husband stayed busy power-washing the patio outside, while I laid on the couch watching a film.
The contractions were getting more painful into the evening. We wanted to wait it out as best we could, holding on going back to hospital until I really couldn’t get through the pain. That moment came about midnight, when I became immobile from the pain. We drove to hospital.
I was in triage for a while before getting my own room. You have to bear in mind here it was 35 degrees, it was so hot! Then I was moved into my own in a birthing suite that was air-conditioned – it was amazing. They started filling up the birthing pool but I couldn’t go in until I was dilated enough.
Eventually, I was in the pool. Apparently – I don’t remember – I closed my eyes and was breathing in and out for four hours! I went into my own world and the water helped through that stage of my labour.
It got to a point where I needed gas and air and it was the best thing. I kept gushing about it, telling the midwives I felt like I was on holiday in Jamaica after having wine. I came to life – I hadn’t spoken for hours but I sat back and had Monster Munch and chocolate. I felt relaxed.
My midwife encouraged an active birth, which I loved. We were holding hands doing squats together, it was like a workout. She was amazing, telling me I was strong and doing really well.
I went through a transition, then, and felt a lot more pain. I was on all fours making animal sounds. At one point, when I got out the pool to have a catheter, they realised I was 7cm dilated. It was time to get out and push. I ended up on my back with my legs up and two to three midwives pushing against them to help me push. They were small, though, and I’m 5ft 10. I felt like I was going to push them over.
They took my gas and air away (I was enjoying it a bit too much) and the head midwife came down, telling me we needed to get this baby out. She was sturdy and strong and really pushed against me and gave it some welly. I knew the baby’s head was coming because my husband was down that end and his face was a picture.
I did it! Eventually I pushed him out, around 11.45am. It felt amazing, the midwives were incredible, and I couldn’t stop thanking them. It was a really positive experience, when I look back at it. I was just so grateful to have a straightforward birth after having an unnatural conception.
My birth advice?
Know your options. Make sure you understand everything that can happen. I read The Positive Birth book and went to positive birth groups, as well as NCT and NHS prenatal classes. I didn’t go in with rose-tinted glasses. Being prepared is the best.
Find out more about Cat through her weekly newsletter, The Freelance Parent.