30 years ago I first became a mother. One of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I know that it was this experience that shaped me into the midwife that I later became.
My pregnancy was uneventful until a week of stop start, (false, latent phase labour) at 39+ weeks when I started to bleed. Doctors decided to induce me which was not in my birth plan at all. I'd done lots of reading and planning about what I wanted for my labour and my wishes were documented in my birth plan. It stated I wanted freedom to move and be mobile in labour, to have minimal if any intervention or pain relief and have my husband there to support and encourage me.
At 9am my waters were broken as I was already 3cm dilated, contraction kicked in almost immediately. I was monitored by CTG ( Cardiotocography) which meant that I was restricted to the bed, no such thing as a telemetry CTG back then. 3 hours later I felt like I needed to use the bathroom for that last minute “ clear out “, if you catch my drift, so I didn’t embarrass myself when it came to pushing. As I got off the bed to go to the bathroom I was gripped by this overwhelming sense of pressure and a primeval groan that came from my body that I’d never heard before. I told the midwife that I felt I needed to push and was greeted by “it’s your first time you’ll be here hours yet”. My heart sank, I didn’t want to use pain relief but if this was only the beginning I was going to have to rethink my birth plan.
Another surge took over my body and I tried again to tell the midwife that I felt like I needed to push and that I thought my baby was on the way. She eventually told me to get on the bed and she’d check how dilated I was: adding “ you said you didn’t want any pain relief that’s clearly not working” I remember feeling such a failure. Nothing was going to plan. My husband had been sent away ( as I was not expected to give birth for hours). The pain was next level and if it was only the beginning, like the midwife said, how was I going to cope. In fact when she checked I was fully dilated and my daughter Emma was ready to meet her mum. I remember the midwives' words of “oh shit he’s going to miss it” meaning my husband. But at that stage I knew that my baby was coming regardless of who was or wasn’t there.
During the first stage of labour I was a passenger, not knowing how long this stage would last. I kept trying to tell myself, “ride the waves of contractions, go with the flow, be patient until your body is ready, you can do this. We have no idea how many contractions it will take before your baby is ready to be born and I remember at one point feeling “I can’t do this any more”. Again feelings of failure swapped over me. As a midwife I now know that I must have been in transition.
When I was told I was ready to push (in the second stage of labour) I remember thinking yeah, this is my time, this is when i can actively do something and push like hell. The contractions felt different. They didn't seem to grip my body like the early ones did. Strong yes but not as intense. I was told it was too late for any pain relief other than gas and air (entonox) which after a couple of sucks made me feel very sick and spaced out, so I decided not to use it.
Emma was born 25 minutes later. I opened my eyes and looked down to gather up my daughter into my arms. A surreal feeling when everything stops, no more surges or involuntary pushing. The sheer joy and love for her was indescribable. It was almost as if someone said close your eyes and just placed her there on me, I couldn’t believe that I’d actually done it (given birth to her) and she was finally here.
I wasn’t a midwife when I had either of my daughters. In fact I didn’t become a midwife for several years after Emma was born but I know that both of my experience of birth led me to being a midwife. Ingrained in my mind, that all words and actions leave a lasting memory albeit positive or negative.
My midwifery philosophy is to always support and empower women and their families to create lasting positive experiences. I believe we get a moment in time when we make those lasting impressions. Whether it be a fleeting warm smile or several hours of reassurance and support.
I’ve had the absolute honour, privilege and pleasure to support and watch so many women become mothers. You're all amazing, thank you xx