Zachary Oliver Lemon
On the morning of the 21st June 2011, I was woken with dull labour pains. As this had happened three times before, I was careful not to get too excited! I was ten days over my due date by now so deep down I realised that this was probably going to ‘be it’.
As the morning progressed, the discomfort eased somewhat, and was quite inconsistent – sometimes with 30 mins between very light contractions. I kissed my little boy Connor goodbye as he went off to the childminders as usual for the last time as my baby, but felt excited for him as he left that he would have a brother or sister to share soon!
As I could still function relatively normally I just decided to try and take my mind off what was happening, my partner Karl was around so he made us lunch and he continued to work upstairs while I watched some episodes of a series I had been watching on the i player. As I had been having the contractions for more than half the day now, I called my mum and asked her to collect Connor from the childminders as was the plan if I went into labour. At this point I felt quite despondent that things were not progressing as quickly or intensely as I had hoped. It was about 2pm and I thought that at the rate this was going, we wouldn’t be going into hospital until about 3am the following morning! However, I was still aware that I needed to be conserving energy so I certainly wasn’t going to be depressed about it. I put my hypnobirthing cd on and tried to relax instead.
By good fortune I had an acupuncture appointment booked with Amanda, and on calling to cancel, Amanda suggested that it could still be useful to have the session anyway. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to drive- so she said she would come to us.
In the meantime things had progressed for me – the rushes were stronger and coming more frequently now and although manageable, I needed to focus through them. By the time Amanda came, they were about 6/7 mins apart, strong but still very manageable. I knew that these intense cramps were different from what I had been experiencing during the day and that things were now at last happening! Amanda arrived at about 4pm and she gave us a really helpful crash course in co birthing, using the “sue” breathing technique. Then she gave me some acupuncture – about 3 needles – which almost instantly seemed to kick things off for me!
As she left, she instructed Karl to cook some pasta- slow release carbs for the journey ahead. I then really started to concentrate on the yoga I had practiced and used the birthing ball in the living room. I found it all really helpful and remember thinking at the time that I was glad I was finally able to practice all I had learned over the last few months. As we live 40 mins from the hospital I was aware that we needed to factor in this time before things got too far along- I knew that this certainly wasn’t going to last all night – this baby was definitely on its way! It was so wonderful being at home- I was so grateful for my home comforts- being able to walk in the garden in between the surges – it was a beautiful afternoon and evening. After coming back into the house, the surges were now very intense indeed and I felt that being more vocal was one way of easing the discomfort. By 7:30 we had called the hospital saying we would be on our way soon. At 8pm we were in the car on our way to the hospital.
The car journey was very intense and I was crying out not being able to move in the seat- I was gripping everything I could and moaning out through each contraction. In the middle of the journey, we spoke about what sex the baby could be and I think it was at this point, I mentioned the boys’ name I liked. On arriving at the hospital, I somehow managed to get out of the car and up to the delivery suite- having to stand and hold Karl swaying and moaning through each powerful surge- but feeling very good and excited at the same time.
On examination I was found to be 5cms! I was so proud, this was already a totally different experience from the last and I was so pleased to have got to that stage on my own. Karl asked if we could have the room with the pool and we were taken straight through- I was so happy that I would at last have the water birth I had so wanted!
I felt magnetised to the birthing ball – and couldn’t move from it- just rocking through each wave – and using Karl as a prop to grip and hold on to – he was my rock throughout. On one hand I was telling him to sort out the i pod and put on the music I wanted but seconds later I was calling for him to come and hold me again! I managed to breathe through each surge and connect to it’s power as I had been practising, I felt zoned into each surge and really did feel at the end of each one ‘I’m actually doing this all on my own!’ it felt good. I was measured and I was 7cms- this was only 30 mins after being measured after being admitted our midwife was Julia (who really left me to it and spent nearly the whole time writing my notes) now said it was time to fill the pool. I didn’t realise how long this would take- it felt like forever, and now at this stage I was on the gas and air. The gas made me woozy- as if drugged up – I knew what was happening around me but I felt unable to communicate fully. I half liked the feeling it gave me, but half of me knew that I was not in control as I had been. Julia listened for the baby’s heart on the Doppler and announced that I’d need to be monitored for a while before getting into the pool as it was irregular. Now I know that if I was being born, I’d probably start ‘getting ready’ as it’s a massive physical challenge for the baby too, but I was in no state to argue and was led off the ball, and onto the bed- on my back, which was not what I wanted as it gives no gravity for the birth – but, at this stage I was willing. Looking back, I should have just stripped off and jumped into the pool – but at nearly 10cms, this was not possible! I’d still like to look at this as positively as possible- I had done the entire journey on my own and I was immensely proud of myself.
The gas and air now became my ball substitute- my new magnet! Julia said that it was now time. I couldn’t believe it because at this stage I thought I was only being monitored before I was to go into the pool, so I didn’t realise I was at the end and was about to enter the transition. I really did try my hardest to focus- perhaps it was the gas and air, or perhaps it was the shock of actually now meeting my baby but I lost the rhythm I had set and animal instinct set in. Another midwife entered the room and I was told that this was it and to bear down. I remembered my birth breathing but I just couldn’t get it, and felt the loss of control as I bit into the gas and air tube. The feeling was totally intense – I felt like I was about to literally explode- and then my waters broke- and all of a sudden the midwives announced that the baby’s head was out! I couldn’t believe it!! I knew it wasn’t over but I didn’t know what to do so was told to push, push push. I tried but felt like I couldn’t actually feel my body to push anything , I just moaned and again bit into the tube. The baby slid out of me and was immediately placed onto me. I was half elated but half shocked – I can still remember the little face focussing up at me. I didn’t even wonder what the sex was! It was 10:18pm.The midwife told me to look and I did- a boy! Karl was so happy and told me how proud he was of me and how he loved me. The baby was placed into Karl’s arms and he then said ‘do you look like a Zachary then?’. We were both delighted and in love with him from the second he was born.
This was the birth story I had hoped for the first time, when it hadn’t happened, I discovered I could set myself a different birthing environment. I felt like Zac’s birth has been a journey for me, not only of self discovery and trust in myself with the added aid of yoga and acupuncture which I had not really used before. I loved that Karl was so involved in this birth, we were connected through each contraction- I don’t think I could have done it without him, and am not sure he realises how important he was, not only as a gatekeeper but, the prop I needed in the loving arms he provided. As were told – the love that made the baby would birth the baby. It did.
Unfortunately I had complications with my third stage, I am not going to outline them in this as although its still part of my story I want to separate the self – and the medical side, although I will say that 16 weeks following Zachary’s birth this has finally been resolved.