Looking back on it, I feel like a fool for not recognising the signs of labour, but as my baby was not due for another 6 weeks, I explained away the back ache and the ‘leakage’ as symptoms of a bladder infection (which I did have by the way).
I had really been looking forward to going into labour, as my reading and calmbirth classes had given me confidence in my body’s ability to deliver my baby naturally and calmly. So when I finally accepted that I was in labour, I only had another hour of labour to ‘enjoy’ the experience!
In all, my birth experience was not one that I had envisioned or hoped for. I experienced the ‘medical model’ where I was made to stay on the bed, hooked up to a monitor, in a brightly lit impersonal hospital room. To every one of my requests to change position etc, the midwife replied, “No, because you’re only 34 weeks”. Knowing the importance of language to create anxiety/calm, I finally said with exasperation, “Stop saying ONLY!” If the labour hadn’t been so short (about 2 1/2 hours – the first hour of which I didn’t realise I was in labour), I may have had time to collect my thoughts and stand up for myself a little more. Similarly, my mother, who had been coming to the calmbirth classes with me, didn’t have time (or maybe forgot!) to guide me through my visualisation. In all, I felt bullied by the hospital staff (both midwife and doctors) and was disappointed in the way it progressed.
Because Rose decided to arrive so early, I was only able to complete the first 3 of the calmbirth classes and subsequently missed out on the class which talked about ‘pushing the river upstream’ and this was a concept that I hadn’t come across in my other reading. I really wish that I had managed to learn about this before my birth because I succumbed to the midwife and doctor’s instructions to push beyond the contraction, which just didn’t feel right. As a consequence, although this shortened the ‘pushing stage’, I also ended up with horrendous hemarroids (ew!) a few days later which I truly believe was a direct result of this forced pushing.
Although going into early labour is a stressful experience, I don’t remember being stressed at all. I think that the relaxation practice and knowledge gainred at Calmbirth made me confident that although it was all happening so early and quickly, it was all going to be ok and my body was doing what was right for it at the time.
Rose was born a healthy 5 pound 9 ounces and to me was a perfect little baby despite the day not going ‘as planned’. I think this was just her first nudge to let me know that life was not going to go now I planned any more – I would have to listen to her from now on!