Like any first time mum, finding out I was pregnant is something I'll never forget! I was unbelievably excited to finally see a positive test; I did five tests just to make sure! As it was December, I decided to wait a week or two before telling Joe; I wanted the news to be the best Christmas present he’d ever had! That said, not telling him made it the longest week of my life! Finally it was Christmas Day and the look on his face was worth the wait as he opened and read his card on Christmas morning.
My pregnancy began very smoothly, no tiredness or nausea; I couldn’t believe my luck! I had a lovely vision of a home waterbirth in our cosy Surrey cottage, supported by my partner Joe and the homebirth team who I knew well from work. Unfortunately, like Hannah I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes, this time at 28 weeks, which put me in a slightly higher risk category as my blood sugars needed to be controlled with insulin. Once the consultant had got my diabetes under control, my pregnancy continued like any other, but with regular scans to monitor Euan’s growth. As it got nearer to meeting our little baby, after lots of discussions with my medical team, I made the informed choice of being induced at 39 weeks.
The induction process for me was comfortable but very slow, two days in fact. I’d been practicing my hypnobirthing techniques throughout pregnancy and was able to use these skills throughout the induction process to help me feel calm and in control. Once the induction medication finally worked, it seemed like my body suddenly got the message that it was time and labour then progressed very quickly! 1hour and 45 minutes to be exact!
At the time I couldn’t believe it; I kept thinking like a midwife and telling myself that there was no way my urge to push that quickly was correct. Euan on the other hand was very much wanting to enter the world, and did so very smoothly. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of love and shock when I finally got to meet him, he had a thick head of blonde curly hair and started as he meant to go on, hungry. On paper, the birth might not have been what I had hoped for due to the medical intervention, but I was able to make informed decisions and was in control of my birth at all times, making it an empowering positive experience.
When I found out that I was pregnant with Iris it was near to Joe’s birthday, so I wanted to follow the same tradition of surprising him with the news as a present. I wrote a very special card to him from Euan on his birthday telling daddy that he was going to be a big brother. It was the loveliest moment to share together, knowing that finally we were going to be a family of four.
My pregnancy with Iris was very similar to Euan's, apart from slight nausea at the beginning, but I put that down to running after a very active toddler! Unfortunately the gestational diabetes returned and I had to manage my blood sugars with insulin again. My pregnancy continued well controlled with the insulin and having regular growth scans - the hardest part of this was not asking the sonographer to tell me the sex of the baby, I was so sure she was going to be another boy.
After regular chats with the medical team, we came to the joint decision to only induce around my due date if I hadn't gone into spontaneous labour before then. The scans showed that Iris was growing fine and my blood sugars were under control. As I had a bit more time to hopefully go into spontaneous labour I could use my hypnobirthing techniques to help prepare my mind for what my body would do. I practised the hypnobirthing relaxations every night in pregnancy, at the time it was my quiet escape from a very busy life working and running after Euan. Not only was it preparing me for labour but it helped me wind down at the end of each day.
I made the decision not to opt for a homebirth this time. Being in control of the induction decision was very important to me, it helped me relax and make my own evidence based informed decision. Luckily I went into spontaneous labour at home. The only way I can describe the surges is as powerful, I kept myself very calm with my breathing and just relaxed in the garden on a sunny morning. After about 6 hours of gentle surges things got slightly more powerful but never very painful. I knew then it was time to go to the hospital, things quickly progressed, but I kept my breathing steady just like I practised and used visualisations to avoid any panic while slowly making my way to the delivery suite between surges. Twenty minutes after entering the delivery suite I gently breathed my little girl out. It was the most natural, empowering experience of my life and I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of it. I got the same rush of love when I met her, and couldn’t believe she was a girl, bigger than her brother too! She also had a head full of hair, but this time jet black, I couldn’t believe that two siblings could look so different as babies. There was a small complication after my birth which required me to go to the operating theatre, I continued to use my breathing and visualisations to help me keep calm. My partner Joe and baby Iris came with me so we were never separated. Even with this small hiccup at the end, I still think of this as the most positive birth experience I could ever ask for. This has given me the confidence to know that even though my pregnancy was categorised as high risk, I still managed to be in control of my own birth preferences and birth, achieving the calm and relaxed natural birth I’d hoped for.