A "High Risk" Birth Story
He’s Here! May 10, 2017
Two weeks ago today; we welcomed to the world Noah Jupiter Pye — and what an incredible welcome it was!
I intended to write a bit more about how the end of my pregnancy went… but I had literally written that day “write blog” – and he decided to make his grand entrance that evening! … So perhaps I will come back to that post; but for now – whilst it’s still relatively fresh in my mind, I want to share with you how the birth was…
As you might already know; type 1 diabetics (indeed, I think any diabetics) are considered a high risk pregnancy… so at the start of my pregnancy I resigned myself to the “fact” that I would have to be induced, or have a cesarean – due to the risks involved in letting him, and my body, decide when the right time for him to arrive might be… but as the pregnancy progressed, and I read more and more around how birth actually works, I started to seriously question whether that was the right path for me. I wrote a bit more about that here, but basically because all the things they were monitoring in me and him kept coming back normal; often great even… so I started to wonder – if my body is presenting as healthy as any ‘normal’ mum, then do we need to automatically need to funnel me off down the high risk route?
I want to be clear – if he/we needed intervention, then I would absolutely take it – no-one, least of all me, wanted to put Noah at risk *at all* — so if induction/c-sesction/any other evicting method out there was necessary then I would have done it whatever my feelings and preferences were… but I was being monitored for placental flow, his size, my fluid levels, lack of pre-eclampsia, my blood pressure, his heart rate, my blood sugar levels etc etc etc regularly – and all the way through they kept coming back as that of a non-diabetic. So I figured if that continued to be the case, then surely whats best for everyone is to let Mother Nature do its thing.
And do it’s thing it did!
So, at midnight, on the new moon of the 26th April – to the howl of a fox outside (I swear to God I’m not making this up!), my waters broke. That was an experience in itself… at first it was a trickle – if I didn’t know better I might have thought I’d peed myself — but pretty soon there was *a lot* of water… so I sent a text to my incredible Doula; Victoria, and told my husband, Nick… and both suggested we just get some rest and wait and see what happens… and this made sense to me too; cos at this point I had no signs of contractions… I had been having the ever increasing feeling of pressure in my pelvis for the preceding days beforehand, but nothing else that might have suggested I was in early labour… so Nick & I got back into bed, and I tried to settle myself – whilst sorta thinking
“Oh My God; This Baby Boy Is On His Way!”
… which did mean that whilst Nick started snoring within seconds…
(Hello, Nick here; this is entirely true!)
…. I was less quick to nod off… so I put a podcast on and shut my eyes…. just as the contractions started…
To me they felt like period pains; not terrible but I was definitely aware of their presence… so I figured the podcast might not cut the mustard in distracting me and put on a mediation instead… and the contractions became more intense… I tried my damn best to nod off but it wasn’t happening, so I figured I’d get up and go to the living room, make a cup of tea, watch a bit of tv etc…
However as soon as I made it into the hallway I was very, very aware that I was needed to stop and wait for the contractions to pass as they were ramping up somewhat – I lost track of time, but I think it was about 1.30am by now and I remember thinking;
“Jeez, I’m being a total wimp about this because I’ve got hours and hours to go yet before I even get into active labour”
— and telling myself to pull myself together and make a cup of tea and settle… I got into the living room and though I tried my best to light a fire and make a cuppa, I couldn’t finish either as everything was getting so intense that I was starting to clutch onto furniture or a nearby wall whenever a new contraction hit — at this point I thought even if I was being a wimp about it, I really needed Nick and/or Victoria here for some support… so I texted Victoria again – who said she would head over straight away — and woke Nick again…. who said
“Okay sweetheart, do you mind if I get some more rest…?”
(Yup, Nick here again…true!)
— what could I say – I knew that him getting rest was probably the best thing; there was no point in both of us being shattered when things really start happening… so I went back into the living room; but this time when each contraction hit, all I could do was start to growl/moan/emit low noises to help get myself through; surely this couldn’t be just the early phases of labour…??
So again I went back through to Nick (more time must have passed than I am remembering because this time he was up and showering) — and said actually I really thought we should head to the hospital, as things really were ramping up now… but Nick had been to every meeting and read every article and book that I had; the ones where it said labour, especially with a first, is most likely to take many many hours; days even…
So though he agreed – he also didn’t entirely hurry to bundle me to the hospital…
I don’t think it was till he eventually came into the living room and saw me clinging onto the back of the sofa, howling, with our puppy Willow (who is huge!) licking my face frantically ‘trying to help’, that he realised that things really might be further along than either of us thought possible…
I do clearly remember thinking just before Nick came into the living room that I was going to end up having a home birth with Willow as my “midwife”!
But eventually we were in the car and heading to the hospital;
(Nick; this is not before she put on her flower crown, DURING a very strong contraction!! I kid you not! ;-))
And it was that massive cliché that you’re told never really happens with a first baby; where we were speeding down the dual carriageway; me howling and both of us seriously wondering if Bubs was going to arrive in the car…!
We got to the hospital just after 3.30am… where there was a bit of a kerfuffle about them wanting to take me onto the consultant led ward and me insisting I’d already okay’d it to birth on the midwife led unit… till eventually I was up there and the lights were dimmed, and the lovely midwife Heidi was asking me if it was okay to check how dilated I was:
Yes please! I said – inwardly dreading her announcing I was, like, 1cm…
And she did her thing and said “okay; I’m guessing you’ve been feeling you want to push?”
‘Yes!’, said I.
“Okay then sweetheart, you do that whenever you’re ready; you’re 10cm!”
And What The Hell!?
And THANK GOD!!
— and then, without going into overly graphic detail, that’s basically what I did... first of all on the floor, then on the bed whilst the birthing pool filled – then into the sweet, sweet pool…. where Noah and I danced and twirled and swayed together…
I used to read some women who had written about their amazing birth experiences and think how lucky they were (or mad!) – but I can honestly say it was the most gentle, most incredible experience of my entire life.
I think what was most amazing was that I – and he – remained calm throughout the entire thing… I am prone to anxiety at the best of times; so I fully expected to hit a point of “I can’t do this” — but perhaps because of that, I never did.
Believe me, if I’d hit a point where I just couldn’t cope then I would have taken pain relief — I mean I had everything from tens machines to essential oils to homeopathy with me as starting point – but if I’d needed the big guys, I would have used them… but I never felt I did.
In fact there were moments of total beauty during the birth when I’d pause and talk to Noah…
Even whilst he was crowning, I paused in the pool for a few minutes and became aware of these beautiful birds tweeting… and did wonder if I’d gone into some deep inward place of meditation; so asked Heidi if she’d put some sort of relaxation CD on… and she laughed and said no; it was the dawn chorus outside! There were other times when, even as he was in the birth canal, he was still kicking and moving his arms… (I’ll not lie; that smarted a bit!) — and Heidi later told us she had never seen that before… and was discussing it with another midwife who said it just showed how alert and calm Noah was… and there were lots of little moments like this;
Moments of stillness and calm… that I am so, so thankful for.
Then, in amongst all of that – at 6.02am, just 2.5hrs after we’d arrived at the hospital, he was here!
There was this incredible moment where everything stopped and simultaneously sped up all at once whilst I caught him and lifted him up to my chest – and even more incredibly; barely before Heidi had time to wipe his face and check he could breathe / cry; he’d latched on to my breast for a feed!
(as someone who was paranoid about him having low blood sugars and whether he might need extra help, this was again one of the most perfect moments I could have hoped for…)
Then another amazing moment when he unlatched and started to cry whilst we were still in the pool… and Nick sang him a song that he’d been singing him the entire time he was in my womb… and Noah instantly calmed and settled… ❤️
I don’t want to make the whole thing sound ridiculously idealistic; I lost a lot of blood post birth; it was estimated around 1/1.5 litres – and honestly felt like death for the first few days after his birth – which was the oddest feeling in the world; feeling utterly elated and also the weakest I’ve ever felt in my life... but we’re now two weeks in and my iron levels and energy are going up each day
– and I am totally, utterly in love and in awe of this little being that we have been gifted…
He was weighed today too; and has gone from 7lb 10oz as his birth weight to 8lb 5oz at two weeks old; which is also brilliant – but also not a total surprise as he’s he certainly likes a feed! :-)
I guess what I really wanted to share in this post though wasn’t just a massive celebration of his arrival; but some confidence that if you’re out there, reading this, and wondering if you can have a similar birth experience; to say to you that I believe you absolutely can.
There are some caveats to that; I don’t think it would have been sensible for me to make some of the choices I did if the various markers they were testing for, like my HbA1c and placental flow and his size – hadn’t been coming back in range. And I also had an incredible team of support around me that I don’t believe I would have done it without… I had my consultant and the consultant midwife backing me up in my choices; without whom I literally might not have even been allowed onto the Midwife Led Ward…
But the biggest factor and support of all were Nick and my incredible Doula, Victoria.
Nick was brilliant at helping me talk through every little aspect of the choices we made; which as Noah’s father you might think “of course” – but I know many men wouldn’t; and without the ability to do that with him, I would have felt overwhelmingly responsible for anything that might not have gone to plan.
And Victoria – well she bloody well blew the doors of this whole thing… people have asked me ‘what did she do’ – and honestly, during the birth she was ‘just’ an incredible presence in the room (because I progressed so quickly that I didn’t want anything else) — but before and after the birth her strong but oh so gentle support and intuition has been really so amazing that it’s hard to get into words… there were so many points during labour that I heard her in my head – going through how to breathe and the noises to make and what to expect… even though she wasn’t talking to me at all during that time: but she’d prepped me and cheerleadered me so well in the months leading up to that day that I was READY — and without her I don’t think the birth would have been anything near as beautiful as it was.
I will forever be grateful for her and I hope she will always be “Aunty Victoria” and Noah will always know what a huge part she played in his incredible journey here.
… and there were other amazing women who supported me too; like all the wonderful women who gave me sweet words of encouragement at my Mothers Blessing…
….and women who probably don’t even know they played a part in this birth; like Shalome at Rockstar Birth – whose podcasts and magazines literally help me roar my baby earthside!
I simply can’t downplay the importance; to me – of having a tribe; no matter how remote – of people who had “got my back” during this birth. Yes it was important to be realistic; but the most important parts to me were having and exploring all options, and then surrounding myself in people who believed in and supported them too. Those people ranged from my medical team, to my family and friends – to books and online forums.
I would end with the absolute need to remain flexible and open in all of this; if you are a “high risk” pregnancy and do decide to pursue a less ‘mainstream’ birth… because whilst I absolutely had a perfect vision – and the birth itself actually exceeded that – I knew things could change at any point; and some parts of his afterbirth did – and it’s about accepting those bits too…
Once you’ve done that; gather your tribe and roar! :-)
With so much love, Nadia & Baby Noah Jupiter xx
You can follow Nadia's blog and read her birth story here too.