Georgie’s birth story

Midnight

I remember waking sometime after midnight, with a sense that something was shifting. I was almost 42 weeks pregnant, so the inevitable had obviously been in my consciousness for some time – but the strange thing about birth is that, even when it could begin at any moment, it always feels so far away. Unimaginable.

So I just lay in bed and waited, with Nick sleeping soundly next to me, and I thought to myself – ‘I’ll just see if that happens again.’ And it did. It wasn’t a pain, or even a physical sensation at all, it was just a sense. Like moving within a gentle wave, something shifting; or like something I needed to pull into focus, but was still blurry.

So I thought it best to get up and use the loo… and I remember sitting there for a while, the sense still coming and going, but it now felt as though I had eaten something dodgy. I leaned back, gently placing my hands onto the wall on either side of me, and tried to let go of all tension. I just sat there and tried to let go.

I remember not wanting to wake Nick, but not wanting to go back to bed. So I went into the living room and checked the time – it was somewhere around 12.15am – and then I knelt over some large cushions on the sofa. I remember rocking my hips and breathing, slowly and deeply. I thought I was just pretending, practicing, just trying to imagine…

1.15am

What felt like 5 minutes later… I decided to get my phone and send a text message to my mum and dad, who were to look after Beau when birthing began. Looking at my message history, this was actually a whole hour later, at 1.15am.

At the time, I remember thinking I was jumping the gun a bit, but that it was better they came sooner rather than later – so that they wouldn’t need to drive in the middle of the night, and Beau would already be taken care of once things did get underway. I was even thinking that if labour didn’t establish, then Nick and I could simply enjoy the next day together, relaxing, patiently waiting for things to begin… my parents live a 30 minute drive away and it was lucky I messaged exactly when I did.

I remember my dad replying to my ‘are you awake’ text immediately, as he was still awake, and how he simply asked “are you starting?”

“I think so.”

“Shall we come now?”

“Yes please.”

Then the rest becomes a blur. After sending the texts, it was literally as though I had flicked a switch and all was on. It was now more than apparent that labour had started.

I started to make low, deep groaning noises with every exhalation during a surge. I remember doing this, not only because it helped, but also because I thought it might wake Nick or Beau up – I wanted someone to come to me, but at the same time I didn’t want to move or to wake them.

Eventually I had to – I went into our bedroom and told Nick ‘I’m in labour and mum and dad are on their way.’ I must have sounded urgent, as I just remember him startling and jumping straight out of bed and asking if he should call Sue, as I went back to the loo. I wasn’t sure if we needed Sue yet, I just knew I needed to be breathing on the loo.

From now my story is pieced together from the birthing notes Sue kept in my clinical record, along with the fragmented memories I have of my own experience. They replay almost like a staccato of images in my mind – surreal moments where I lost myself within the surges, wedged alongside memories of strange lucidity between the contractions.

It was 1.45am when Nick had called Sue, just 90 minutes after I had woken up, and my surges were already established in a solid 2-3 minute rhythm. There was barely any time after the last had ebbed away, before the next one had started to build. The surges were really slamming me; Sue heard this over the phone and thought it best to come straight away.

2.15am

“Arrived at Hayley’s house. Hayley is working really hard to relax her body between surges. Getting little breaks between them as some shorter surges between the stronger ones.”

Everything happened so quickly!

There had been 30 minutes in between Nick calling Sue and her arriving, and in that time my Mum and Dad arrived. Mum stayed with me as I laboured in the bedroom, whilst Nick busied himself putting the last bits and pieces in my hospital bag. I’m not sure where Dad was, and I hardly even thought about Beau, bless him! But that’s because I knew he had people there to take care of him, of course – I could relax into labour knowing he was OK, which is likely why things began in earnest once I’d made those arrangements.

Later on I was told that Nick had taken Beau from his bed and put him into Mum and Dad’s car, and all he could say was ‘wow, look at all the stars!”,  before being taken to their home in the countryside. What an adventure!

So it had been just after 2.15am when Sue arrived to assess me, and by her notes it was 2.50am when we left for the hospital! Labour was well and truly established.

I remember the cool night air when we stepped outside, and how the whole world felt asleep; I remember touching the cool dark surface of the car and wondering how I would get in; I remember Nick driving us up our steep driveway and quietly repeating “I long for these surges”; I remember just how much I had longed for my surges, before labour had began, and thought what a fool I was now; I remember I’d made a music playlist, but wanted silence; I remember thinking we were the only ones on the roads, even though we couldn’t have been; and I remember having such intense contractions as we drove down The Avenue, passed my old university, once we got on the motorway, and in the carpark at the hospital. I remember having no idea what to expect, but also knowing exactly what I needed to do – to just breathe. To surrender.

These surges really gripped me, I have to say, and I did everything I could to relax into them. But it was hard. I felt as though the rug had been pulled out from under me – there was no gentle, gradual build up, it had seemed as though labour had begun suddenly and abruptly and I hadn’t a chance to get my head around it. So I just tried to focus on filling my lungs and exhaling deeply through each surge – pushing the energy down into my pelvic floor, letting go, feeling the full force of each wave.

I wouldn’t say I was riding the waves, as much as I was trying not to drown under them. When each surge ebbed away, I opened my eyes, took stock, and waited for the next one. They kept coming, over and over, relentlessly. This was all so sudden and intense – but, at the same time, it felt so productive and progressive so I didn’t fight it. I just kept breathing and pushing that energy down – opening myself to them.

3.15am

It took a while to get into the hospital, as I had to keep stopping – by the pay machine, on the zebra crossing, up the steps… we went through the emergency department and the waiting room was full of people, big wide eyes, and bright lights. Someone asked if I wanted a wheelchair, I declined. I stopped to breathe through a surge over the back of a chair in the middle of everyone. I took a few hobbled steps, and asked for that wheelchair… we went through some double doors, people stepped aside, we were in a lift, then I read “labour suite.” My clinical notes say it was 3.30am when we were admitted.

Once in our room, Sue was there again. She put a cannula into my right forearm, for in case of an emergency, and strapped a CTG belt around my waist, to continuously monitor baby’s heart rate. This is standard hospital procedure for a birthing mother with a previous c-section – but still requires your informed consent. I had given mine prior to labour beginning and can honestly say that the IV leur (strapped down with a bandage) and the tummy belt did not hinder me or my mobility in any way – I barely noticed they were there, and the belt was water-proof, meaning I could still get into a pool.

Once the necessary things were done, Sue went straight to fill the birth pool, whilst we waited awkwardly in the birthing room, trying to settle in. I continued with the surges, I think I may have mentioned to Nick how intense they were for me, and I distinctly remember faffing around looking for my togs, in the bag I had packed and repacked several times over the previous weeks – before eventually finding them, wondering how to put them on, and Nick questioning why I needed them anyway.

4.15am

“Hayley is into the pool…”

4.45am

“Hayley is requesting entonox – same given.”

I remember wishing I had asked for gas and air sooner. On getting into the pool, my expectations that it would ease my discomfort were quickly redefined. It did not ease the intensity of those contractions. Not at all. But the water did enable me to squat deeply, without toppling over or my legs getting tired, so that in itself was a huge benefit, as labour continued to race along.

NB: Sitting and leaning back, into Nick, was not an option for me. I tried and quickly asked him to propel me forward, as the pain was too much and being upright and forwards felt entirely more manageable to me. It was almost as though I was welcoming labour this way, not collapsing under it. I remember this was just the same the first time.

The experience itself, of getting into a birthing pool – something denied to me with my first birth, due to premature rupture of membranes and risk of infection – was divine, to me. I had wanted and fought for this and it was at this very moment I realised that my baby could come however they needed to, without me feeling a sense of loss or birth trauma, because I had achieved all that I had set out to do – no elective surgery, no unnecessary interventions, spontaneous labour, natural progression, and letting it all happen in its own time. I had been fighting to be left alone. Fighting for my opportunity to VBAC. Now I had reached the point of the transition phase, and I had made it into the birthing pool, so now I could surrender and welcome the course it would take.

At one point in the pool, I remember resting my cheek on the side, staring intently at the tubes coming in and out of the gas canister, and hearing Nick – who was sitting in the pool behind me – affectionately comment on my hips moving in time to the music. I had no idea he had even put any on.

Eventually there was an intensity that felt greater than me. A pressure that felt like my very own life force being pushed out. At the end of every exhalation, there was an urge to exhale further still, far beyond any breath I had left. I was pushing and groaning and banging my hand on the side of the tub, almost begging for release. It seemed an odd but very necessary thing for me to do. Sue kept reminding me to inhale. But I just felt this internal force trying to push itself out of me. It felt like being squeezed. And then I would get the release, and wonder what was happening. It just simply felt greater than me – as though this energy surging through me was no longer mine. And it no longer felt productive. It felt as though I had hit a wall and was banging against it. Which is remarkable… because we would later learn that my baby had…

5.15am

“Hayley out of the pool, back to room 8, on the bed kneeling – needing strong pressure on pressure points on her lower back…”

I remember Nick and Sue helping me out of the pool, drying me, putting me in a hospital gown, and then walking me through the corridor back to our designated birthing room. (Previous c-section mamas aren’t assigned to the rooms with the pools in them – because hospital policy is that we ‘aren’t permitted’ to use them. Having to leave my room in the throes of labour, to walk the length of an insanely bright corridor towards an unoccupied room with a birthing pool at the opposite end, was a small price to have paid to assert my right).

Back in the room I now continued to labour intensely – moving constantly, into any position that felt right or necessary to be in: kneeling over the pillows of the bed, with Nick and Sue pressing my hips on either side; standing beside the bed, leaning on Nick, with one leg raised and placed upon it; sitting on a swiss ball, legs wide apart, leaning over the bedside… all of these positions, with hindsight, were an attempt to open my pelvis as wide as I possibly could. The pressure and the intensity of these surges were off the chart…

And so the surges continued, relentlessly, with little to no break in-between them and I could no longer cope. I was starting to become quite overwhelmed and not only did I think ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ but I actually didn’t want to either.

I requested a vaginal exam to check on my progress, just to see I was heading in the right direction…

“Palp: LOL Ceph. VE: 7cm dilated, effaced. Head @ stn -1. LOL-OA. Bulging membranes esp w surges. Hayley reasurred and continues to use entonox and changing positions.”

5.45am

“Hayley is desperate for an epidural. She feels the demand is too high with these intense, close contractions. Anaesthetist called.”

6.00am

“IV plasmalyte now running. Hayley is working hard. Early decels <80bpm.”

6.15am

“Epidural sited.”

I remember this so distinctly. I remember asking for the epidural and, despite not wanting one, knowing deep down this was the right decision for me. A necessary one. I just knew it. I remember reassuring Nick and Sue that I would not regret this decision later on.

And I didn’t.

I remember the anaesthetist arriving and being asked to sit on the edge of the bed, Sue giving me a pillow to lean over, Nick uttering soothing words. There was the intensity of the ongoing contractions, the ice cold disinfectant wiped over my back, and the fear of having a needle inserted into the most delicate of places during the most unyielding of surges. I remember all but screaming as a surge reached is peak, just as the epidural sent its electric shock into the socket of my left hip, then down behind my knee caps. It felt as though I was launching out of my seat as Nick’s hand on my shoulder grounded me. And then bliss.

I was helped to lay down, Sue busied herself with IV lines, the anaesthetist laughed at our birth music as ‘Mr Boombastic’ blared out of the speakers, and the gentle fizzing away of those powerful contractions. I could breathe, I could relax, I could glance at the clock…

“How long before this really kicks in?” I asked.

“By 6.20” I was promised.

And then I lay back and closed my eyes.

8.15am

“Contractions continuing, with good relaxation between them.”

Over the next two hours, my had body continued to labour unassisted, whilst I relaxed in the hospital bed.

I chatted with Sue, I laughed and smiled with Nick, we even took the odd photo. I almost forgot about what was imminently ahead… but then I slowly started to regain my thoughts again and I realised – I either need to push this baby out, or I will be off to the theatre again. I kind of already knew what the outcome would be. I knew the moment I got out of the birth pool, to be honest. And at this point I started to get scared.

For the first time in both of my pregnancies, my two labours, and my first c-section with Beau – I genuinely felt scared. Nick told me I would be ok – and I knew I would be. But I was still scared. And I felt really alone. Like – it was easy for him to reassure me, given he didn’t have to embark on this monumental journey himself. And I was exhausted. I remember that I kept saying how glad I was I had asked for the epidural. I felt so empowered by that decision.

9.15am

“VE: cervix continues to be @7cm dilated, with no descent. Whilst doing the examination the membranes ruptured with muddy brown meconium. FHR baseline has increased over the past hour or so from 135bpm > 145bm. Head feels deflexed and asynclitic OT-OA @ stn -1 to -2. Discussed findings with Hayley and Nick and advised Doctor is coming to see them asap.”

Three hours had gone by, since I reached 7cm dilation and had an epidural, and no further progress had been made despite my uterus having ongoing contractions. Baby was now showing some signs of distress and the head was presenting in the same way Beau’s had done – which had been an emergency/late stage c-section due to being obstructed. It was seeming quite apparent at this point that the same complication, and thus the same outcome, would occur.

I waited for the Doctor to come and tell me that she would need to prepare me for theatre. I nodded calmly to the expected news when it came. And I tried not to cry, whilst as the same time feeling the deepest sense of relief. An end point in sight. But more than that – I had done all that I could, and this time I knew it. A sense of peace over my first baby’s cesarean birth settled within in, for good. I had done all that I could then, and I had done all that I could now. Soon we will meet our second baby and life will move into a new chapter for us all.

10.15am

“Hayley prep’d for theatre.”

The anaesthetist I had this time, Andy, was truly wonderful. I confessed my fear to him (especially when the first spinal block wasn’t as effective and I needed a second) and he looked me deeply in the eyes and told me all would be OK. I felt safe with him, and he stuck by my side the whole time. Sue was there for baby now; Fiona was the Doctor performing my c-section; Nick was there for baby and me both; but Andy was there just for me. His professionalism, expertise, and kindness, held me together throughout that surgery when I could feel myself falling apart.

There were three others in the theatre – a surgical nurse, a second anaesthetist, and another midwife – meaning we were a team of 8, with one more soon to join us… Far from being the private, dimly lit, and deeply relaxed environment I longed for to birth in – this was bright lights, many busy and excited faces, and wide open sharing. And you know what – it was perfect. It was a really defining moment in my life – I didn’t need to cope, to be calm, to hold it together or be brave, I could just be me. And all would be well.

11.17am

“It’s a girl?”

Nick had been invited to take a look at baby – and I heard his disbelief and joy play out through his gentle words, as he discovered in that very first moment…

“She’s a girl!!!!”

Georgina Mae Greer, Georgie, was pulled from my tummy – crying before even her legs were out. Eyes wide open, wondering what all that was about, she weighed a squishy delishy 9lb 5oz and was- is! – the most beautiful wee darling. She, who we had dared not to wish for, had come to us.

*

I’d like to say that the moment was as beautiful as the picture, but it wasn’t quite. For me, the moment was incredibly challenging. There was a space left inside of me, when baby had been pulled out – and this void now felt like I was being suffocated as my lungs tried to stretch back into the space. My sinuses had completed blocked, so that I couldn’t draw any air in through my nose at all. And my mouth was as dry as cotton wool, making swallowing difficult. All of this whilst laying flat on my back was quite overwhelming – and not at all like my first c-section, which had been comfortable, fascinating, and enjoyable.

I remember wishing for it to be over. I remember Georgie being brought to me – noticing meconium in her creases; the lively pinkness of her; and feeling her skin, warm and soft, against my own. And then I remember asking Nick to take care of her until I could. I didn’t want to introduce myself to her this way.

There are photos I saw later, of the moments Nick then shared with Georgie – shirt off, skin-to-skin, welcoming his girl into his life – and I am so happy they had that time together. She has two parents, not just one mother. The team kept my mind occupied, whilst I did my best to keep myself together for the rest of the surgery – Sue gently stroked my sinuses, which helped greatly; Andy got me wet wash cloths to suck on, to moisten my cotton dry mouth; and Fiona told me she would be as quick as she could, but wanted to do a careful job, so asked if I’d prefer to be put to sleep. I most certainly did not – so I meditated for the duration of the surgery and soon it was over and I was sitting upright in recovery.

*

There was violent shaking post-op; someone helping me to drink through a straw; the tightness of the blood pressure cuff – on and off and on and off; the swift and gentle care of the post-op nurse, who was a young Asian man; the kindness of Fiona, who came to see me, reassuring me that I had done everything I could, that there was no way I would have birthed her vaginally; the warm feeling of pride and elation to have heard that; wondering where Sue and Andy had gone; feeding her for the first time and both knowing what to do; seeing my Nick quietly but intently watching us from the side; being wheeled to a ward; Nick there still, all the way; trying to remember how different or similar all this had been with Beau; not being able to keep my eyes open… drifting off… sleeping…

And then I woke and there was a kind nurse – Mandeep – but I had been bleeding too much, and so there was a red button and Fiona again and other people and weighing of blood loss and telling them I was scared and my stomach being palpated and various drips in my arm and other people coming in and Nick’s reassuring eyes and Fiona’s kind ones and being told I was OK but not believing it.

This was all a blur, and there would be several more hours of discomfort… and then Georgie.

Then I saw her. She was in my arms and I don’t know how long she had been there, but it didn’t matter – because she was there with me and now I could see her.

The sun was setting outside, so it must have been around 5 or 6pm, and the room had filled with a pink-hued golden light. She was stunning. She looked like her brother, only she was Georgie. She was simply Georgie. And she was beautiful and she was my girl and I stared at her for a very long time, whilst she slept in my arms.

*

I remembered the dream I had had, just when I was beginning my fertility treatment in order to conceive again, in which Sue had come to me. She had been sitting in the middle of our living room, as though we had been deep in conversation, and she had simply pointed to my stomach saying “honey, you have a girl in there. She’s just not ready yet, but she’s in there.”

And now here she was. Georgie Mae. Here in her own time.

*

I didn’t know my heart could expand anymore. This sweet soul came along and I thought my heart would need to make room; but instead she made it bigger. She fits right in. I fell in love with her instantly – I literally felt myself fall. It was like taking a step over the edge and flying.

And something seemed to lift within me too, as though I felt lighter… like she had picked me up and taken me to a place where I could leave heavy and unimportant stuff behind. Beau showed me that place existed, and Georgie took me by the hand and gently led us all in. It’s as though I was waiting for her all along. And now we can all take that next step, together.

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Georgie // a short film

For those who know me well, you will know how much I wanted to conceive a second baby and how it wasn’t an easy road for me. Fertility issues are a silent battle many women are fighting through. I’ve been there and, if you are there too, you have my full understanding.

Having not had any issues the first time around, with Beau, I really struggled with it all – especially the label “Secondary Infertility.” I felt broken, and it took me a little effort to realise I in fact wasn’t broken, and that conceiving Beau ‘without even trying’ was actually just a beautiful and random stroke of luck. It had nothing to do with any accomplishment on my part, nor did my fertility issues second time around have anything to do with a mistake I was making.

For anyone who has conceived effortlessly, it is simply a beautiful and random stroke of luck. And for anyone who has battled, or continues to battle, please don’t lose faith. I can’t tell you if or when you will conceive – but I can tell you that you haven’t done anything wrong, and that you deserve to be a mother more than anything. In your heart you already are. Please don’t stop fighting for it.

This is a film I made for Georgie, yesterday… once I had conceived my second babe, I celebrated every damned moment of it. It wasn’t always comfortable or easy, I gained 20kg overall and struggled with pelvic pain and a bit of antenatal depression and my 9lb 5oz babe needed to be delivered via emergency section because in transition of labour she was obstructed and couldn’t get out, but it was all simply beautiful. And utterly worthy of having the shit celebrated out of it.

Love you, Georgie. I’d go through it all over and over again to get you. You were worth the wait. 

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The Rockstar Birth questionnaire!

Recently, Jo from Bella Mama shared a birth questionnaire in our private Facebook group – it came from Shalome at Rockstar Birth Magazine, and Shalome had written on her own Facebook page:

“I teamed up with a swag of other rocking Birth Professionals to turn the focus to where it NEEDS to be. To open the conversation on healthy, positive & transformational birth. Less about what pain relief you had or when you gave birth, and more about how birth made you FEEL. How it transformed you into the Rockstar you are today.”

It was a Friday night, my husband and I were relaxing on the couch at home, so I took the time to answer the questions. It was such a rewarding exercise to do! I wrote to Jo that ‘on some level I think I’ve been feeling anxious about doing it all again, but as I wrote it all down and remembered it in such detail, I kind of reassured myself that ‘I’ve got this!’ So thank YOU!’

Jo reassured me that I totally do HAVE this. And she is so right. We need to tell ourselves, in order to believe it 😉

If my words, or this exercise itself, might be helpful to you – this is why I have shared it.

Much love to you, mama!

*

 Who did you have at your birth & why?
My husband, my midwife and her assistant. We had two midwives as we planned to birth at home… but things ended up in the operating room, due to an obstructed labour, so we had a large number of attendees in the end. Every single one of them were a joy to have around me – all I remember is impeccable professionalism, happy smiling faces, and how obvious it was that everyone was there to help me.

 How did you prepare your birth partner for birth?
He prepared himself! He read all the books and articles I read, after me. He came to all my midwife appointments (I felt him getting on with our midwife was equally as important as me getting on with her), we took hypnobirthing classes as well as practicing hypnobirthing exercises together before bed (often we would be giggling away and couldn’t calm down – but always we felt relaxed, so we felt we were nailing it!), and the best thing was the pregnancy massage course of Jo’s which we took – he got me through many hours of labour with his hands, before I needed extra help (drugs!!).

 How important is language in pregnancy and birth?
One of the things I loved about hypnobirthing was how contractions were referred to as “surges.” This subtle language change was incredible in terms of how I viewed labour.

 How would you describe your care providers?
Knowledgable, experienced, professional, and deeply caring.

 What did you do in the lead up to birth to celebrate your amazing body?
I enjoyed pregnancy yoga classes, massages, and splurged on a professional photo shoot – it was wonderful to celebrate my body in that way. I loved the way my body looked carrying my baby, and have those photos to cherish forever.

 How did you surrender to birth?
I distinctly remember the moment I truly surrendered to birth. It was when I ended up in hospital – 48 hours after my waters broke and 12 hours after my natural labour stalled. I needed to be given antibiotics, and to have baby monitored for a while – but we didn’t even take hospital bags with us as we were still convinced we’d be going home to have our baby! But then we had some scary moments of sudden decelerations in baby’s heart rate (<60bpm) whenever I moved into certain positions – after a flurry of doctors and discussions it was deemed I would be staying put. My midwife, normally the picture of calm professionalism, looked at me in a way that urged me ‘I must do whatever is needed for baby, now.’ I surrendered. I knew we needed help, and I was fully open to the guidance of the medical staff. I believed I was in safe hands. Thereafter all I needed to do was breathe.

 Top tip for staying in your birthing bubble?
In the build up, read positive birth stories and watch calm birthing videos. There are SO many out there. Share everything you are feeling with your partner and midwife, and let them be there for you. If you are having a baby shower (do!), be mindful of who you invite and surround yourself only with positive/like-minded people. And when your labour does begin – only your birth partner and midwife need know. Turn your phones off and leave the outside world behind.

 Your best tip for labour?
Breathe, breathe, breathe. No matter what happens – whether everything goes as naturally and smoothly as can be, or if you need medical help and intervention – all you need to do is breathe. Trust that you are capable of making this journey – because you are! ❤️

 What was the best moment of your birth?
When I was wheeled into the operating theatre and my surgeon asked for the radio to be put on – Lighthouse Family’s ‘High’ started to play and I will never forget that moment. I could cry whenever I remember it! “When you’re close to tears remember, some day it’ll all be over, one day we’re gonna get so high…” And before I knew it, he was here. And high doesn’t come close.

 What were you most proud of?
The healthy, strong, beautiful little boy I brought into this world. I remember looking at him that first night and thinking ‘he’s mine’ – not in a sense of ownership, but in a sense of achievement.

 What did you learn most about yourself?
That I am a perfectionist! Not in a good way! But also that I am self-aware and courageous enough to look honestly at myself and learn from my mistakes.

 What surprised you most about giving birth?
Birth itself! It feels like magic to be honest – but it’s all us

 What were your early postpartum days were like?
A real shock. It had been a very long labour and difficult delivery. It was almost like having an out of body experience for a few days – I was somewhere deep inside this shell, and I felt very timid of my own body. I couldn’t believe my baby had been inside me – that surely some kind of magic had happened between my last day of pregnancy and his birth! Breastfeeding was confusing. And it was overwhelming to realise that the work was just beginning. I felt so broken and unsure. I cried a lot and my family held me. But they were also the happiest days of my life. Pure love and wonder and a sense of there being no other place for me than right here.

 Would you / did you do anything different in subsequent births?
I have the same midwife, but a much more realistic mindset than the first time. I think overall I have less expectations. What will be will be. And it will all be ok.

 What surprised you most about becoming a mother?
That it’s not always joyful! You will cry and scream and rage and hurt sometimes. But you’ll take it all in your stride.

 What was the hardest adjustment when becoming a mother?
The demands of breastfeeding and not getting solid blocks of sleep for a while – that was a really hard adjustment. But soon those days are over and you are no longer breastfeeding and you’re sleeping through the night again, and you’ll remember those hard days with nothing but fondness. You’ll miss them.

 How did your birth make you the amazing Mum you are?
It taught me that it’s not just about me, anymore – it’s about what’s best for him.

 What has your child taught you?
Patience (a work in progress!), and to let my words of love be louder than anything else.

 Your advice for other mums to be?
There will always be someone ready to judge you, no matter what choices you make. So stay true to what’s best for your family, and don’t feel the need to explain or justify yourself to anyone else.

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Be you.

Today we have baby’s anatomy scan! It’s usually at this point couples find out if baby is a boy/girl.

With Beau, we wanted a surprise. We didn’t eed to know, and felt it best to let baby introduce themselves to us at birth. It was the best decision; such a powerful moment. It was Beau! It always was him.

This time, for a variety of reasons, I’ve felt a strong desire to know. My senses tell me it’s a baby boy growing in my womb – we’ve even had his name given to us, as if we’ve made a discovery rather than a choice. I’m struggling to imagine a baby girl in our lives, but would of course be overjoyed if she came. Overall, I’ve struggled to connect with this pregnancy – life is already full with Beau. It feels surreal. I felt as though knowing would bring me some clarity, that I would settle into this journey and be able to prepare in a practical way.

I spoke with Nick; we spoke at length over the weekend and last night. He doesn’t feel the same way, but he respects my needs and let the decision be mine. So we were all set!… right until the 11th hour… I panicked and realised, I can’t know! Not yet. The idea of finding out felt to me like I was about to burst a sacred bubble. Halfway through the conversation with Nick my intention turned full circle, and he laughed with affection and mutual understanding, as he witnessed me defend the position I had initially tried to uncover.

And so that’s it, baby! I will continue to nurture us during pregnancy, my anticipation will continue to build, but we will await your own introduction at your birth.

I don’t know who you will be… but I do know you will be YOU.

And you will be loved

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We’ll be waiting…!

Dear baby,

You are the second soul to have lived in my womb, and today I saw you for the first time.

Your daddy was there and your big brother, too.

It wasn’t like the first time, when we first saw your brother – although the circumstances were almost identical… I had been asked to drink half a litre of water and not pee for an hour. And so I was sitting in the waiting room, with crossed legs, thinking of nothing but the loo, before I heard my name called… and we all went in.

We had a lovely sonographer – she was really welcoming and friendly. The warm goop was plopped on my tummy, and the ultrasound stick she used to look at you glided smoothly across my middle… and there you were, straight away. Your daddy noticed you first.

I had been nervous this time, so it was with relief to immediately see your movement and to have the sonographer comment on this. You are very much alive and well and growing in my tummy – but I wasn’t flooded with emotion, like the first time. There were no tears of joy, or exclamations of wonder. There was just a calmness and an acceptance.

I reflected on this driving home.

Many people before me have said the same thing that is now being whispered in my own mind… how can I love this baby as much as my first? It’s something that has worried me.

You see, with your brother – it was all magical and wonderful and new. We hadn’t planned or tried for him, he just came – surprising us and blowing our minds. I began pregnancy in great shape, glowing from our recent honeymoon, and every stage of the pregnancy was enjoyable and exciting. I felt so empowered and in control.

Then your brother arrived. And he was more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. And far more lovely. And, despite his birth and those post-partum months being the hardest and most arduous of my life – physically, mentally, emotionally… I loved him so completely and everything was perfect. We got through it.

But now we are on the other side, there are parts of your daddy and I that feel worn down, battered, in need of a tune up.

This time, with you little one, there is no magic or wonder or surprise. We worked hard to get you, we fought for you, and I know exactly what I’m in for. I’m higher risk on account of your brother’s birth (a late stage c-section), and I’ve already put on a fair amount of weight because eating all the bread is the only thing to keep my nausea at bay.

I’ve been caught in a state of despondency – a lack of energy, motivation, and joy. I’ve been feeling anxious about the duration of pregnancy, the endurance of labour, and fearful of all that is to come… because, this time, I know what is to come.

Baby, your imminent arrival won’t be to a new and wide-eyed mother, floating on cloud 9. But it will be to an experienced mother, already with her stripes, and her feet firmly on the ground.

I will in fact be more sure of myself, somewhere on the middle ground, with wide open arms and a wide open heart for you. Always. And of course I will love you as much as I love your brother. Of course I will. But I know my love for you will be different, it will be unique, because it will be yours.

Your arrival won’t be rose-tinted or golden hued – but it will be so resolutely beautiful in all of its raw truth. I know what’s in store… and I know that means not knowing. I know it means allowing you to guide me, and getting to know you as you get to know me. I know that it will be uncomfortable at times. I know that it doesn’t mean I’m failing if I’m not getting it right. I know that doing what I can is doing enough. And I know that I’m not alone.

I also know how terrifying it will be, all over again, to have a part of my heart living outside of my body. But I also know just how much my heart will swell with love at the same time. I learned so much with your brother, and I am about to learn so so much more.

I will be there for you, baby, in every imaginable way, just as I am for your brother – for all the rest of the days of my life, and hopefully beyond. I will always be your biggest advocate, your greatest admirer, and a tireless cheerleader egging you on.

I know already that your life is your own. And we are simply here to care for you, to guide you, and to learn from you. You will enrich our lives and there are no words to express how much you already have.

You are our faith, and you are our love.

Your big brother, he is so excited about you. And he talks about you and kisses my tummy, where you live, every day. You will learn much from each other – and it won’t always be easy for you both – but your daddy and I will always be here to remind you both just how loved you are.

There is another 6 months before we get to meet you, and we have things to do before then. So keep on growing, my little one.

We’ll be waiting,

Mumma. X

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Week 39

Dear baby

Today we had a chat. Well, I did all the talking and you just listened.

I thought it was time we discussed what is about to happen to you. Very soon baby – you are going to be born!

On the one hand, I simply cannot wait. I cannot wait to finally meet you and cuddle you, to get my body back, and to be able to move around easily again! I cannot wait for our family to begin. And for all of the adventures we will have together.

But then, on the other hand, I think about you – how safe and protected you have been inside me, for 9 months now, and what a scary experience it could be for you to suddenly be thrust out into a foreign world.

So, when I was speaking with you (and you were squirming around in my tummy so I definitely know you were listening), I told you not to worry – that we are on the journey together, and I will be right there to catch you when you arrive. In fact, I will always be there to catch you – even when you no longer need me to.

I’ve spent a lot of time preparing for your birth, baby – mentally, as well as physically. And fully educating myself on the physiology of what is going to happen. It’s still so incredible for me to think that such a natural, normal process (birth) – something that is continuously happening all over the earth – can still be such a momentous event for one woman and her baby. And for a first time mother, it can be especially daunting – there is, unfortunately, a lot of fear mongering associated with labour and birth in the western world (not to mention a lot of pressure to turn pregnancy into a medical event, by default instead of actual necessity). So I have spent the last 9 months eradicating fear from my experiences.

And so, I have maintained a sense of self-empowerment that I plan to bring with me to my labour. I trust my body to be fully capable of bringing you into this world, without interference, and I am completely open to (and excited about!) the process that lies ahead of me. Whatever happens, letting go and remembering to just breathe is about all I need to do – there is nothing to fight. Just a tremendous journey to go on.

And, should we encounter any bumps in the road at all, we are fortunate to live in a country where emergency services are utterly amazing. We have nothing to fear, baby.

But this is not just about my labour – this is your birth.

And the thing is, baby – when the time comes, I know you’ll know what to do.

I hope I can remind myself often, when the going gets tough, that every part of the process brings you closer to me. And if I can focus and go deep enough then perhaps, for a short period of time, we can be in-between our two worlds together.

You know something, I have been teasing your daddy throughout my pregnancy that if you are a little girl, I will call you my Tinkerbell. He’s not keen. Don’t worry – I won’t record that on your birth certificate of course – it will just be my little nickname for you. And if you are a little boy I will absolutely come up with something else… but I came across this Tinkerbell quote in a wonderful article I read recently and, no matter who you are baby, I think it says everything that I have tried to write to you in this letter:

 “You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you… that’s where I’ll be waiting.” 

And that’s where we are right now baby, an in-between place. A place where we won’t be for much longer – but a place where our two hearts will always be together.

I have had the most amazing 9 months carrying you.

Your journey will begin soon, baby… whenever you are ready. And when you reach the other end, those will be my arms that hold you. My eyes spilling onto you. My mouth kissing your cheek and telling you over and over that I love you. And then… I will finally introduce you to your daddy.

We cannot wait to meet you little one.

Any day now.

Your Mumma. Xxx

Tink3

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Week 37

Dear baby

This morning is a Saturday and, when I first woke up, I put my iPod on and the Mumford and Sons began to fill the room. I’ve only recently put music onto my new iPod, so it’s been a while since I listened to them – my favourite band – and, as I lay there still snuggled under the cocoon of our duvet, it immediately took me back… to 3 years ago, when their music carried me through an eventful time in my life.

I actually couldn’t believe that was just 3 years ago… Then, I was single for the first time in 10 years (my adult life so far), completely solo, and everything but nothing all at once! In my life up to that point I had moved from one side of the earth to the other (a couple of times, actually); travelled extensively, around many of the places in between; worked jobs in too many industries to remember; performed a lot of theatre; and obtained a degree in psychology. Great achievements, great memories, and experiences that will stay with me throughout the rest of my life – but all of those things saw me looking outwards at the world, at other people, and it was finally time – aged 26 – to start looking inwards. At me.

To be honest, I was actually quite discontent in my life. I was at a loose end, continuously disappointed with people and the situations I found myself in and, ultimately, I knew the life I was living wasn’t mine. I needed change. I had completely lost sight of what I wanted to live for, what I valued, what mattered to me – instead, I was simply going through the motions, living within other peoples’ lives. With every new person I met, I felt myself taking another step further from ‘me.’ So, abruptly, I gave notice everywhere and bought a one-way ticket back to the UK. To London. A city I had visited twice as a tourist, with no one to meet me at the airport, nowhere to go, nowhere to live, no money beyond an overdraft in my bank account, and a suitcase full of clothes I no longer wanted to wear . The absolute most difficult and the best thing I have ever done. I completely broke myself down into my elemental parts – and proceeded to rebuild myself…

Since then, all sorts has happened. I fulfilled a lifelong dream to perform professional theatre and workshop at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art; I became a poet; I travelled and lived alone, anonymous in London city, and I (oh so cliché!) really discovered myself. To cut a long story short, I guess I simply figured out who I am and what I want.

Today I have shaped my life into one I am incredibly happy with, but, even better than that – I am content. I have met (well, ‘met again’ – but that’s a story for another day!) and married your daddy, and I have conceived you. I am also back living in New Zealand… (not that place has anything to do with what I am talking about)… and I am now a marriage celebrant! THREE YEARS! Imagine what the next 3 could have in store…

I really am so looking forward to the future and our growing family, but, none-the-less, I did have a moment or two this morning of nostalgia. I’m not going to lie, baby. I even felt a pang of grief – for a time so brief that it was over before I knew it. A time before your daddy, before you, a time that was just me and no one else. Yes, I ached for you both before I had you. And I want nothing more than to be where I am today. But this morning I remembered where I have come from to be here, and I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it would be to just close my eyes and relive that journey for a moment. A journey that defined me in so many ways, and has enabled this very path I am on today. A journey so eventful, that I wish I could go back and cherish it.

Yet I know that time is already long past.

Which really got me thinking, baby – it’s been a fantastic week, with a delicious baby shower to celebrate your coming, a wonderful photoshoot to capture my amazing body at this time, and a lovely home visit from the midwife who announced I am “ready for baby” and that SHE is “so looking forward.” This is an amazing, precious time in my life and I am so treasuring it and cannot wait to meet you little one. But, deep down, I do have a frightening sense that I could lose myself again… that maybe I already have… even if temporarily. Because, with all of the wonderful things going on in this chapter of my life, ultimately, everything is all about you. As it should be. And I can’t help but grieve a little bit, for me.

Even when your daddy sees me now he says hello to “his babies” (meaning us both). I’m no longer sure where I end and you begin.

Baby, it’s not that I want to turn the clocks back or to separate us – ever! – it’s just that I want to be able to remember exactly who I have been for these first 30 years of my life. The person your daddy fell in love with. Before someone else’s needs (yours) become greater than my own. It’s important not just for my own sake now, but for your daddy’s sake, and for your sake too. I will be his devoted wife, and your devoted Mumma for the rest of my life – but I am also so much more than that. I am me. I want you to know me, not just for being your Mumma… and I want you to love me, for my own sake.

You know what – with time, baby, I am sure you will.

And, likewise, I will grow to love you for you too. Not just for being my baby. I simply cannot wait to meet you now, and to watch you begin the discovery of yourself. And I cannot wait to continue my journey in life, learning more about myself through the things you teach me.

I guess being on the right path, which I know I now am, is all that matters.

~

Anyway, I guess you felt all of those strong feelings I had too. As you moved around in my tummy a lot this morning – and I believe it was more than just a shared appreciation of the Mumford and Sons. 😉 I think you were saying ‘I love you mummy – all of you.’

~

At that moment your daddy came back into the bedroom, and when he came over to me he could see your movements under the bed sheet. So he lifted the covers and put his hands on my tummy and said “good morning baby!” And you moved for him. Lots. Your daddy was so chuffed and he kept saying “it’s your daddy!” and giving you kisses. And immediately I left behind my memories, and was right back in the room with you both.

I’m right here, baby. Patiently awaiting your arrival; enjoying the last of my time between my two worlds.

I love you, I love you, I love you!

Come soon!

Your Mumma. Xxx

Nova3

Image (c) Nova Photography

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Week 35

Baby!

It’s been a long time since I wrote to you – 5 eventful weeks! – but of course I do talk to you every single day.

Truth is, I’ve just been so busy preparing for your arrival, that it’s taken a bout of the flu to sit me down long enough to catch up with myself. And it’s been a pretty hideous week to be honest; a total wipe-out – never in my life have I felt more exhausted – and between coughing and sneezing and snuffling, and body aches, and worryingly high temperatures, the only other thing I’ve had time for is to complain about how much I am over being pregnant!

And I don’t mean that I am over YOU, just that I am over this waiting and this cumbersome body we share, and I cannot wait any longer for you to come into this world so we can meet the little person you are and I can return to being the comfortable and energetic person I am/you need. (Given how active you are being, I have a fairly strong inkling that you feel the same way!).

You’ve really grown a lot over the last month, my darling – and all of a sudden I found myself unable to get dressed without breaking into a sweat, or walk for any longer than 5 minutes before I need to pee, or sleep comfortably without 4 giant pillows wedging me in place (it must be the most hilarious thing in the world to the fly on the wall watching me dismount the bed 5-6 times each night and then bottom-first my way back in…). And I haven’t so much as cuddled your daddy in weeeeeeeeks, baby. Weeks! I see him every single day, but I miss him! He just can’t reach me! So, add to that ‘one flu,’ and I reached our biggest hill yet… declaring, “I am over it!”

But! It also has to be said that, now the flu has passed – I am back to appreciating my amazing body once again, even for it’s sickness! Because it knew exactly what I needed… I was so busy with one thing or another that I wasn’t doing what I should be doing above anything else – slowing down, and resting. So my body gave in to the flu and forced me to relax. And I am so grateful for it.

It has also been pretty incredible watching your daddy take care of me. I didn’t think it possible to be any more in love with him. I was wrong.

So, we still have a few weeks to go yet, baby, and I am right back to being just plain old uncomfortable, but still utterly in awe of your presence inside me. I am ready for you little one! – I have been for a very long time. So now it’s simply time for me to enjoy the quiet, as I sit in the middle of my two worlds.

This is me with you in my belly, baby! You are going to be so big and so beautiful! >

SONY DSC

Your Mumma. Xxx

 

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Week 30

Baby,

We had a fight the other day. Your daddy and I. We are so sorry about that – as I know you would have heard it. Well, you would have heard me anyway, as your daddy spent the entire time just staring at me dumbfounded. Poor thing. Wondering what on earth was going on I bet. Watching his wife ride a roller-coaster of emotions right in front of him.

To be honest, I don’t even remember what it was that specifically upset me – I just remember feeling so overwhelmed and out-of-control – with my body, my feelings, my future – and it all came out on a quiet Saturday afternoon. The climax of the situation, saw me sitting on a swiss ball in the living room, balling my eyes out, with your daddy sat on the edge of the couch next to me. So much change in the last 2 years – from living in London and getting paid to perform Shakespeare, to moving back to NZ, the familiar culture shock, the familiar starting over, a new relationship, a different career path, getting engaged, getting married, falling pregnant, moving house…

It’s irrelevant that all of those changes are things I embraced. It’s irrelevant that I have never been happier in my entire life. Change, especially so much of it, can be both unsettling and exhausting. “I don’t even know who I am right now…” – one of the things I remember crying into your daddy’s arms. And he held me, and I’m not sure if he said anything at all, or if just his being there holding me said enough. But eventually my entire vulnerability came out and I was able to look up at him. And baby, I saw a single tear had been falling down his cheek. And my heart fluttered. I told your daddy how much I loved him and reassured him that I didn’t want to be anywhere else, and he just held me some more.

Nothing is wrong with me, baby. I don’t need to do anything – I’m just riding the wave, and allowing every feeling to flow through me. Every woman who has ever been a mother before will understand. It’s very normal, and very understandable. But it’s also very important to acknowledge when we are feeling vulnerable, or exhausted, or unsure, or frightened. And being able to do that doesn’t make us weak. In fact, the very opposite – I believe we find our true strength, by being at our most vulnerable. Having you come into my life leaves me feeling more vulnerable than I have ever felt before, baby – because I feel completely responsible for you – and yet, at the same time, I also feel stronger than I have ever felt before too.

Later that day, baby, I asked your daddy if I had made him cry – and he told me just how sad he had felt seeing me so lost. And I know how hard he tries to make my world whole – how hard he works to provide for us, how supportive and encouraging he is of me and my abilities, and how he spends a lot of his own time at the moment just making my days more comfortable – cooking for me, picking me up when it’s raining, running me a bath, telling me I am beautiful when I don’t look it – he looks after me in every way. And I don’t take him for granted for one single second, baby, but lately I have realised – that however hard this transition is for me, it is every bit as hard for him. Except, he doesn’t get to feel you. He doesn’t get to spend his days with you. He doesn’t know what’s happening to us, beyond what I tell him. And yes, giving birth to you will take strength and courage and will be the biggest thing I have ever done in my life so far. But, ultimately, you are my baby and my body is made to birth you. How I approach that, how I deal with that – the point remains that, one way or another, my body will birth you. That’s the easy bit, and I have it.

Your daddy, he has the hard bit. He has to see the changes, the challenges I am going through and be unable to help. A willing helper with his hands tied. He has to know how much I love him, even when I want to be alone. He has to know how happy I am, even when I am lost in tears. He will get to watch the joy and ecstasy of me bringing our little baby into this world, knowing that I could do it all (physically) without him. But what he doesn’t know, is that he is the one holding us together, making it happen. He is our tower of strength, our voice of reason, our gentle hand. Inside his love we are found, baby. He is the one keeping us going.

And so whatever the future holds, whatever changes are coming – so are you. And I mean this when I say it, baby – I am so sorry you heard my broken words this week. But I have never, ever been happier. And I don’t want to be anyone else but yours. Ours.

Baby, sometimes I so wish I could just crawl inside and hold you! To kiss you and tell you how much you are wanted. But it’s not much longer to go now, baby; soon you will be with us.

And we cannot wait to see your little face.

Your Mumma. Xxx

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Week 26

Dear baby

My heart-broke today – not for you my baby. But for someone who has lost their own. Not someone I know – this is the crazy and beautiful thing about life as it is today – but someone who I met online. Someone with a blog I follow. And a story that has touched my heart. Just days before the due date of their precious bundle of joy, they lost her. My heart ached for their loss, for anyone who has experienced the same, and it also ached with the magnitude of my love for you. And the split second thought that something, at some point, could happen to you. I had to leave the office (I really shouldn’t be reading peoples’ blogs whilst I am working, but, in my defense, it was lunch-hour) as the tears were silently streaming down my face. Such complete sadness and compassion for all of those Mumma’s who have lost their angels. And the totally overwhelming, soul filling depth of my love for you. You are safe inside of me, surrounded by my heart, my blood, my sustenance – and whilst I cannot wait to meet you and see your beautiful face, I am just so grateful to have you safe and sound inside of me for now.

Truth is baby, something, at some point, is going to happen to all of us. The only certainty with life is ultimately death. This poor woman’s experience really hit me with the reminder that life is fleeting, life is a precious gift for all too short a time. What matters is not how we got here, or where we go hereafter – but where we are today. We can’t fill up our days worrying about the things that could happen, or aren’t happening, or happened once upon a time – but what is happening right now. And to be grateful for this moment (you’ve just started kicking me – you are right here with me).

I love you and your daddy so completely baby – I belong to you both. And so whatever happens to us, whenever it does – nothing will ever end my love for you. It will exist forever.

And so in light of that – I decided to turn that sadness and fear around immediately, and to feel joyful instead. For all of those beautiful people in this world who are so full of love to give, and for my own love as well.

I have been so very blessed in conceiving you, and having such a healthy and comfortable pregnancy for 6 months so far – and I don’t want anyone to think for one second that I take all of that for granted. Every single day I rejoice in the fact that I have been so blessed, and I live in constant gratitude. You are my precious gift, baby. And you are also my little gift back.

Make the world brighter by being here. And enjoy the ride.

I love you forever,

Mumma. Xxx

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