In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Megan Nichole shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email email@example.com.
I’d had the copper IUD for four years when I found out I was pregnant. My periods had always been regular, but one afternoon I realised my cycle hadn’t come on when I’d expected it. I swept the thought aside, because I was in the process of a move. When I still hadn’t come on after a few weeks, I took a test. It was positive.
A doctor performed an ultrasound to find out why I’d fallen pregnant – perhaps the IUD had moved out of position or dislodged, he said – but when he did check, it was where it was supposed to be. No one knows why it happened.
I was very upset. I’d just graduated from pharmacy school and was in the middle of a fellowship programme, 100 miles away from home. It wasn’t a happy scenario for me. I hadn’t planned on getting pregnant for another five years or so. My partner and I weren’t engaged – we didn’t even live together.
The first half of the pregnancy was a whirlwind. I had to leave my fellowship programme to move home, as well as find a new job. So I didn’t think much about giving birth until about halfway through. The second half mellowed out and I began to get excited once I’d got into my routine.
Initially, I did research on natural birthing. I have scoliosis, you see, so I didn’t want to have an epidural. And, as a pharmacist, I didn’t like the idea of having the drug pumped into my spine. My scoliosis is quite mild, but it was definitely a factor in preparing for birth. I focused on coping mechanisms to relieve back pain if my labour was going to be intense.
At 37 weeks and three days, it started. But I had no idea at the time. I was probably labouring for 24 hours – and didn’t know until about five hours before I delivered my son. I was at home, working, on calls, just going about my day. I felt constipated, but it was only later after looking on a parenting forum, that I realised that feeling could mean I was in labour.
I already had an appointment booked with my doula that day. She came over and could tell something was happening so told me to go to the hospital for a check. When I did, I found out I was at 10cm already! The pain was about an eight out of 10, but having studied hypnobirthing, I managed to go through the exercises to breathe and keep calm. My eyes were closed; I was in the zone.
I asked if I could have the water birth I’d written in my birth plan, but they were concerned it’d take 45 minutes to fill up the tub – and I was already close. In my plan, I’d also written that I didn’t want to be coached or told when to push, so they waited on my cues. Thankfully, I managed to get into the water before my actual waters had broken, and after about 15 minutes I felt an intense pressure inside my body – it wanted to push the baby out.
It wasn’t a conscious effort, my body just started pushing and as it did, my waters broke. Five minutes later, my son was out. The midwife instructed me to pull him up and I reached down and did as I was told. He was taken away for a little while for a check while they got me out the tub. I delivered the placenta and he was put back on to me, where I could nurse him for the first time.
Everything happened so fast and felt so unplanned that it was difficult to process what was going on. I kept thinking: “Did that just really happen?”. I was so in shock, I didn’t emotionally catch up with everything that had happened until he was about two months old.
If I could sum it all up in one word? Miraculous, that’d be it. From getting pregnant to the way he was born. It was just miraculous.
My birth advice?
Try any sort of mental work you can to prepare for the birth. It doesn’t have to be hypnobirthing. Look into the ways you can stay mentally calm during labour and delivery. And try not to stress about the actual birth – ultimately, it’ll go how it’ll go but think more about what you’ll have after.