I met this beautiful soul, Laura Danielle Sharp, when she walked into my morning yoga class, with a beaming smile she told me she had just moved to Edinburgh. She was pregnant and we chatted briefly about birth, pregnancy and change. Laura came to some pregnancy yoga classes and asked me to be her doula. Her journey continued and she moved to Manchester before the baby came. We stayed in touch and she emailed me what you will read below. She was happy to share her birth story... so here it is.
Tess I wanted you to be the first person I share it with written down. . I feel you have been an important part of my birth preparation, helping me to focus on the positive and accepting the ebb and flow of the journey.
It's just my recollection of my birth experience and what happened.
Waiting patiently for Baby...
She was born at 9:40am on Tuesday 28th November. 18 days after the due date.
We had a few difficult appointments at the hospital with them wanting me to have an induction. In fact, I declined 3/4 sweeps in those last few weeks. I had such a healthy pregnancy and there were no medical reasons for me to be induced. Just their guidelines on the risks of being '42 weeks +' but I knew things were changing in my body and she was getting ready in her own time.
The last few days were increasingly difficult and dealing with the come down of her not arriving with each day that went by. Doing nothing is really the hardest thing.
But on the Monday evening, my contractions started about 9pm. I burnt my hand cooking at the same time so that distracted me for the first couple of hours. I went to bed, not sure if they would fade like the ones the night before, but they didn't. They continued to grow stronger and by 1am I decided to call Kay, my doula.
I went into the room I use for yoga. It is a soft, pale blue with light greens and pinks and grey. I worked how how to get into a comfortable spot for each contraction, mainly from the yoga ball to kneeling on the sofa. They came on very fast but only lasted 45 seconds or so.
Kay arrived and helped me through each one, pushing into my lower back, which helped a lot.
Ross and Kay then went downstairs to inflate and fill the pool.
At around 5am, I went downstairs to get in it. It was heavenly. They had made the lighting really soft with lamps and the pool seemed to glow a light purple. Getting into the water was amazing. It felt so relaxing and I was overwhelmed with relief and joy that I was finally in the pool, in my kitchen, in labour.
Ross then went upstairs to lay down for a while. It was just me and Kay. We talked a a little and she sat with me for every moment. I held onto her hands, her arms, her legs. Leaning over the side of the pool as each contraction got stronger. I remember her calling the community midwife to let her know my labour was progressing and we would like someone to come over. They were on change over so said if we waited an hour they could send over someone who was at the beginning of their shift. Once Kay had hung up, my waters broke and things began to increase. I went through quite a difficult transition and really felt as though I could do with some kind of pain relief. As there were no midwifes present I couldn't have anything so I had to really use my breath and focus in on what my body was doing moment by moment.
I could feel her head moving down and was able to keep measuring how close she was getting. That really helped me to feel in control and I knew that my body was doing what it should.
The midwifes took quite a long time but by the time they had arrived I had got the hang of breathing through the contractions and I felt very calm and focused. It was only in those last few hours that I began to understand how to breathe through them and not try to resist them happening.
Ross came downstairs to sit beside Kay and I held each of their hands. The midwives quietly moved around us to check Naima's heart rate, which stayed consistently calm and they pretty much left us to it.
I was aware of gentle murmuring of conversation and the sun starting to come up and I could feel that she was nearly here. The last few contractions were really intense and I had to use all my strength to allow her head to come out. I remembered not to push and tried to allow her head to sit in the most intense, open position and wait for the next contraction.
I didn't speak a word in those last hours. I went to that place they say labouring mothers go, deep inside yourself, where you draw on all your physical and mental strength and you discover how incredibly powerful you are. It was then that she took over and I surrendered to the pain that was necessary in order to allow my daughter to enter the world.
Naima was placed in my arms and I looked at her face, her lips were full and purple and I said 'I got you'.
My cord was pretty short so I had to try to keep her head raised out of the water while not pulling upwards too hard. I was then helped out of the pool and onto cushions and towels on the floor. Ross lay next to me and held Naima on his chest while he sang to her. Throughout my pregnancy I have been to many of his gigs and she recognised his voice straight away. I then had another two contractions and my placenta came out. This was the part I was most worried about as my own Mother had a retained placenta with me, so for it to happen so easily was a huge relief.
The midwives then asked to examine me. I had only one small graze. No tears and no need for stitches.
Kay then helped me up the stairs to our bedroom and I lay on the bed. Exhausted, empty and overwhelmed.
I had a warm bath and lay there trying to come back into my new body and started to slowly process what had happened. I then went back to our bedroom and Kay then asked if I wanted to try feeding her. I held her mouth against my nipple and she latched on and started sucking like she had done it a thousand times before. My milk started to flow into her mouth and that’s when I cried. I was feeding my daughter; we were both safe and warm. We had done it, Naima and I, in our own way, in our own time.
Naima's birth was such a euphoric, positive experience and I feel really lucky to have this story to share with you.