In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Larissa Clark, 38, shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email email@example.com.
I was determined to have a positive experience for my second birth – and I’m so glad I did.
Four days before my due date, I was out for the day with my mum and sisters for brunch. My first child had been late, so I wasn’t expecting signs for a while yet. We had a lovely day and when I came home I had a brief feeling this little one would come earlier than her brother. I didn’t think much of it, though, had some homemade soup for dinner with my husband, then trotted off to bed.
At 3.45am my two-year-old woke up, and my husband put him in our bed. I had bad stomach cramps and berated my poor husband for the bean soup he’d made me. “It’s given me indigestion!” I complained, throwing myself to the other side of the bed, huffing and puffing, while my husband whispered his profuse apologies.
A few minutes later, I realised it was definitely not indigestion and more likely to be labour (but didn’t want to say anything, having just chewed his ear off about it). The cramps started coming thick and fast. I had to apologise.
“It wasn’t the soup!” I said. “I think we’re in business.”
Our two-year-old was still in bed with us, so we decided to ride it out and see what happened, but the contractions weren’t slowing down. My partner hopped in the shower while I gave our son some milk – but I had to stop because I was the contractions were getting so intense. I couldn’t even hold the bottle.
It’s amazing how your primal instinct takes control in labour. While my husband took my son off me, I climbed out of bed and crawled into the bathroom. I knew we didn’t have long, but my husband didn’t realise how fast it would be.
He called the birth centre and, after they heard me having a contraction on the phone, they knew right away I needed to get there – fast.
We gathered as much we could together, flung my son in the car without his shoes on, and drove to my sister’s house. It was around 4am by this time, so the traffic on the road was thankfully quiet. We pulled up outside and dropped my son off, while my brother-in-law got into the car in his place. We knew we weren’t going to have much time, so we intended to drive up to the entrance and hop out, while he went to park.
Once we’d arrived, we shuffled our way to the doors only to find they were locked. It only took a few moments for us to call and get someone to open them, but I definitely remember trying to prise the doors open with my fingers. Once we were in, it was relief to be at the midwife-led birth centre – I felt a great sense of calm about being there.
I’d read the Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill during pregnancy, so despite the frantic buzz to get there, I felt quite relaxed. I went straight into the birthing room, walked over to the side of a chaise longue and dropped on my knees in front of it.
The midwives tried to put towels under my knees for comfort, but with all due respect, my knees were the least of my worries. I had two puffs of gas and air – and about 15 minutes after we arrived, Skye-Elizabeth was born.
We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl and my husband was the person to tell me, which was such a beautiful moment. They passed her to me underneath, and I was amazed it had all happened – and that quickly. I was so happy I had such a positive experience. I remember feeling powerful and alive. Bam, bam, bam. She was here.
And by the end of it all, we were holding our baby daughter before my brother-in-law’s Uber has even arrived to take him home.
My birth advice?
I loved holding onto a hot water bottle during the contractions. It was the best relief ever – super powerful.
As told to Amy Packham.