The Birth Story of Emma

"I can remember the pain of a headache I had about a year ago but not any pain from child birth. We had a very positive birth experience."

Sarah and Matt started their Hypnobirthing journey with MGH last summer for the birth of their first baby and were an absolute pleasure to teach. They asked lots of questions, got themselves informed about their choices and practiced lots. Sarah also attended the MGH pregnancy relaxation classes to keep up with her practice and continue to experience deep relaxation. Their birth story left me with goose bumps when I heard it for the first time. Sarah is an inspiration. Matt is an incredible birth partner. What a team! Sarah has kindly agreed to share a letter she has beautifully written to her daughter, Emma, and I hope you enjoy it and soak up lots of birth positivity and confidence . Warning: tissues required!

Dear Emma,

You were born on Tuesday 25th October 2016 at 10.51am weighing 9lb 4oz, this is your birth story.

According to the scans I had during pregnancy, you were due to arrive on Monday 17th October. Midwives spoke to me about intervening once this date had passed because you were measuring to be a "big baby" and it could be risky to have you at home in case your shoulder got stuck on my pelvis ("shoulder dystocia" in scarier words!). Having practiced hypnobirthing during pregnancy, we decided that you knew best and trusted you would be born when you were ready. We had affirmations posted around the house reminding me to relax, trust my body and that "baby knows best".

Sarah and her beautiful bump. She remained calm and positive through pregnancy, birth and beyond by practising hypnobirthing with Miriam Greaves.

Sarah and her beautiful bump. She remained calm and positive through pregnancy, birth and beyond by practising hypnobirthing with Miriam Greaves.

A whole long week later, full of misinterpreted signs that you were on your way, Daddy started his paternity leave. We had a lazy morning at home, then went swimming together, went for a walk and out to lunch. I was a bit grumpy and Daddy did his best to cheer me up as we did a jigsaw puzzle together to pass the time.  In the evening we went for another walk. I was disappointed that another day had passed and I hadn't met you. When we got home I stood on the doorstep and told myself as soon as I entered the house I would be positive and happy. I enjoyed a long bubble bath and got into bed. When daddy came upstairs to brush his teeth I woke up and told him I thought I'd been having tummy cramps whilst I'd been asleep.  As he laid down for a night of rest, I sat up and announced that this time it was definitely happening. I was filled with excitement.

We had been planning a home birth from the very early days of finding out I was pregnant and deemed low risk. We worked so hard to create a cosy nest in our spare bedroom in the loft, however when my body started to tell me I was in labour my instincts told me I needed to be in our bathroom, so we abandoned the idea of moving upstairs.

I felt a tight squeezing sensation in my back, and it slowly crept around to the sides of my round tummy then it crept up towards my belly button and drifted away. I breathed deeply every time and with my eyes closed visualised a bright yellow balloon rising up into a clear blue sky. This happened over and over again. When it got to 3am I felt so tired I didn't think I'd be able to carry on as it was exhausting and I just wanted to sleep, but with Daddy's encouragement and motivating words I continued. He rubbed my back and told me when I was half way through when the powerful waves took over my body. He called the hospital a few times and they told him the home birth team didn't need to come out just yet. I spent most of the night kneeling down beside the bed swaying.

We lived in a house with a train line at the bottom of our garden, when I heard the first train of the day I knew it was 5.30am and that I had been awake all day and all night. Just that thought was exhausting. Daddy ran a lovely warm bath for me and lit candles. We had the same music playing that I had listened to every night going to bed.  It was so relaxing.

After calling the hospital again we were told that a new home birth team would be starting their shift at 7am.  As it was 6.30am we would be best to wait for the midwives to turn up at 7am rather than have two teams do a handover.

I was later told that actually, when calling the hospital, Daddy was told no midwives on the home birth team were available to come out to us. He had taken the decision to protect me and keep me relaxed at home where we were safe and I was calm.

I felt different in the bath and I think you were ready to meet us at that point but the arrival of the midwife distracted me.  Our lovely midwife, Leigh, turned up at 6.45am. I agreed to an examination and she told me that I was 9cm dilated. I couldn't quite believe I had got that far on my own at home without any pain and just breathing through the surges. Minutes later my waters released. Daddy explained to me the midwife had said there was signs of meconium in them and as soon as you were born a paediatrician should examine you to check you weren't harmed in anyway. With all the information we needed to make the decision we chose to transfer to the hospital for your birth, knowing it would be the safest thing for you should you have inhaled or ingested the meconium.

When the ambulance arrived, after a frantic search for some trousers, I calmly walked downstairs and outside. It was a beautiful, bright sunny morning.  Living close to the hospital meant it only took five minutes to get there. Daddy followed in the car behind. I was completely in the zone and focussed on my breathing so much I wasn't really aware of anything going on around me. As I was unloaded on the stretcher, I reached out and Daddy's hand was there waiting for me to hold. The parking ticket tells me this was at 9.30am.

In the delivery room I had to start pushing. I tried to do the down breathing I had been taught and visualised a waterfall, focusing on the water moving down, but I couldn't seem to relax.  In hindsight, I wished I had asked if Daddy would call my mum, your Nanna, to tell her I was OK, as I knew she would be worried about me. If only I had said this out loud, he would have told me that he had already been in touch. Maybe then I could have released any tension in my body. I should have known that he had everything under control.

I had a few breaths of gas and air, possibly a bit too much as my pushes were poor for the next contraction. The pushing carried on for a while and I didn't feel I was getting anywhere. Then the midwife said "one more push and that's baby's nose out, well done, one more for the chin". On the next contraction you came out in one rapid movement. The umbilical cord was short so it snapped meaning there was quite a bit of blood everywhere.  I looked down as the first person to ever hold and touch you, your Daddy, lifted up my little baby for me to take.

Sarah and Emma meeting one another for the first time whilst enjoying that all-important skin-to-skin.

Sarah and Emma meeting one another for the first time whilst enjoying that all-important skin-to-skin.

The midwife asked what you were. I checked and announced that you were a girl. I birthed the placenta out with a little of the wonderful gas and air. Then we cuddled for two hours, enjoying skin to skin contact to keep you warm, calm and safe.  I turned to Daddy and said "I know what some people say, but that's not the hardest thing I've ever had to do". I said hello to a new midwife in the room and started to explain that we had planned a home birth. Daddy told me that Alison had been with me the whole time, even at our house, but that I was focused so much on my body and breathing that I hadn't been aware of her presence.

Matt enjoying skin-to-skin with his daughter. Just look at that smile - that's one Daddy filled with a lot of love!

Matt enjoying skin-to-skin with his daughter. Just look at that smile - that's one Daddy filled with a lot of love!

I had quite a bad tear so had to go to theatre to be stitched. Daddy took his t-shirt off and tucked you inside his hoodie; skin to skin contact helping the two of you bond.

In theatre I asked for my phone so I could listen to the same relaxing music. I was offered a blanket and my eyes were covered with a scarf placed over my face. I felt so relaxed and empowered, proud that I had made choices and requests to make my birth experience my own. After a short while someone came in and told me "your baby girl is wearing a yellow knitted hat, wrapped in a blanket being cuddled by her Daddy as he has some tea and toast". This painted a beautiful picture in my mind and was a gesture I will never forget - one of the most happy and memorable moments, which I would never have thought to put on my birth plan. I laid there replaying the night's events in my head.  Before I knew it you were back in my arms and Daddy was by my side.  Nanna and Pops came to see you and I was so proud and excited to introduce you. Daddy went home and had a really good sleep. In the evening the lights were turned down low, the ward was quiet and although I was told to let you sleep in the plastic cot, three foot was just too far away so we slept together in my hospital bed. Your mummy; the rebel!

The Eamers.

The Eamers.

We had hoped to encapsulate the placenta but, due to the rushed transfer to hospital, we didn't have the equipment required to preserve it.  However, we called Michaela and she said she could collect it. Whilst we were unable to have a smoothie or capsules, we could have a tincture made. This arrived six weeks later.

All the staff at the hospital were fantastic. I stayed in overnight which I loved and found really reassuring that you were checked regularly.

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"I can remember the pain of a headache I had about a year ago but not any pain from child birth.  We had a very positive birth experience."

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Emma, thank you for showing me how strong I am.  You've taught me patience, to trust my instincts and love my body. I was also shown that, not only do I have a wonderful husband, he is also the best birthing partner I could ever have asked for.  He played a huge role in the story of your birth. That night he protected us both, gave so much love and support and knew exactly what you and I both needed. He made me laugh and kept a calm, positive environment. Your dad is amazing.

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I can't wait to do it all over again and give you a brother or sister, but Daddy says we have to wait a little while in case they're not as brilliant at sleeping as you are.

Love you lots

Mummy xx

Beautiful Emma Grace

Beautiful Emma Grace