Birth Story of Ramona Lily

15 November, 2012

Two years ago this very day my darling, precious daughter was born. And now here is the story of her birth , for what other thing could I post today?!

I share it because I love to read birth stories. When I was pregnant, I would read story after story on HomebirthUk every lunchbreak, weeping hot, happy tears on my desk.

And I share it because it is a chance for me to reflect on it, and imagine what this coming baby’s entry to the world will be like.

So here it is. Be warned though, it is more mucous plug than modge podge recipe. So walk away now if you are in search of thrifty craft, walk away.

12th November 2010

It was my due date, hurrah! What better way to spend it then on a two hour bus journey  through south London to eat lunch at Ikea with my nephews (my sister had to pick up a Swedish trinket) and then with my best friends and their kids for a big party for a small two year old. At the party my mucus plug began falling out and I was able to share this gross but fabulous detail with my lovely chums.

On the way home I approached the train station just before mine, and one part of my brain said “Get off the train early and march home, EVERYONE says you need to get moving to get Wrigglewriggle (our nephew name the womb-baby) wriggling on down.” My heart, a deep down instinct, though, said “STOP! Stay on the train, and then catch the bus straight to your door, you need to relax.” It was a 3 second dilemma and I opted for what seemed most rational and hot stepped it 3 miles home.

In hindsight, I will always question if choosing logic over intuition in that moment led to me having the labour and birth that didn’t match up to my home waterbirth ideal.

That evening I was so excited that even 3 hours of googling “mucous plug fall out” and “signs of labour” and the information that mucous plugs could loosen weeks before birth, could not quell my surety that babe was on the way.

Early the next morning, at 6am, I went to the loo and felt very wet in my pyjamas, I knew this was my waters breaking but tried to tell myself that I just wet my pants a little bit (as you do). I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I woke up at 8, read the Guardian and had a cuppa then got up to, well, go to the loo again. As I stood up an almighty gush of water poured out and just kept pouring, I felt like Mary Poppin’s hanbag – how could this much water possibly fit inside of me???!!! I delved into Wrigglewriggle’s awaiting pile of washable nappies and stuffed the liners into my undies and awaited our midwife and friend, Nikki.

Nikki had a coffee with us, heard that my waters were clear and not pink (or another colour which would be bad) and left us to it.  She talked us through the NHS guidelines on waters breaking- you should go in to the hospital after 12 hours. However the “doubled risk” of infection only goes from 0.5% to 1% so we wanted to stay at home as long as possible. She was fully supportive. We were told to call when contractions begin.

The day passed by, cake with friends and a takeaway curry in the evening, delivered by a man who was the spitting image of Lionel Ritchie.  It was that evening that my twinges turned into surges (hypnospeak for contractions) we had turned our lounge into a love cave with saris hung all over it, candles and my American hypnobirthing lady on the ipod. “Totally loooose and totalllly limp”. I will never again be able to hear the words totally, loose or limp again without her voice bursting in to my mind! I rocked on the birth ball, did some yoga moves, and thought about welcoming a baby in to the world – we reckoned on being parents by dawn.

My surges grew in their intensity but didn’t get closer together for some time.  I was torn between doing a lot of physical activity to keep them coming and resting in order to conserve my energy for the real deal. It was probably the hardest part of labour- not knowing which to do. When I put the effort in the surges got faster and stronger, so much so that we even blew up the pool. However at 5am I went for a sleep at which point they slowed down from three every ten minutes to one every ten minutes.  They then didn’t pick up again for some time.

At 10:00am on Sunday Nikki popped over again and had a feel.  My waters were pink now, meaning my cervix was on the move a little but we were gutted to hear that I was only 1cm dilated. I was not even going to have vaginal examinations but curiosity just got the better of me. I thought the baby would be out in my arms by now, not still snuggled happily up there! Nikki was calm though and told us to keep doing what we were doing.

All of  Sunday  I had the Black Eyed Peas song going through my mind “tonight’s gonna be a good night!” We were once again certain that we’d be parents by dawn. We walked, slept, rocked, ate ice cream, wrote a letter to Wrigglewriggle inviting her out, and one to each other- to make sure there was no hidden anxiety keeping me all closed up. Those were special, if frustrating moments. We had chance to reflect on life and each other, but we were impatient to meet our new family member!

At about 1am on Monday morning I went to bed to try and rest. I was missing a whole night of sleep. But I couldn’t sleep- the surges were strong enough for me to have to leap out of bed and spiral my hips (!) – a brilliant move that we nicknamed the Circle of Life.  At about 3am I got out of bed on all fours, these surges were serious now. About an hour later I woke Tim up- I needed some light touch massage, thank you darling.  I was really using my hypno breathing techniques now, I had to preempt each surge, prepare for it. They got closer and closer,  every two minutes, eeep!  We called Nikki at about 6am.

Nikki arrived and had an exploration- 4cms dilated: woopie!  Nikki reckoned babe’d be here by lunchtime. Tim filled the pool. I got shouty. I was so in the zone. Making growly OOHs really helped my focus and breathing. The love cave we had set up downstairs was neglected, it was here in the bedroom, leaning on the end of the bed, that I wanted to be. I was finished with the American too, her and her rainbow relaxation. I was working with something innate now.

At 10 am I jumped in the pool, so delicious. Sadly it was so relaxing that my surges really settled down, from one a minute to one every 2-3. I got out and Nikki had a check. I was only 5 cm dilated and what was more she could feel Wriggles head and it was at a funny angle. Nikki wondered if my babe was a bit back to back, and my surges not strong enough to push head through my cervix. The word “Hospital” came up for the first time. We thought we’d give it a couple more hours.

However the next three monitors of the babes heart rate showed it was rising. With me being three days past my broken waters, Nikki felt this was a worrying sign of infection. Nikki called the ambulance, I put on a ridiculous purple beret – it was a freezing, snowy day and it was all Tim could find. We flung together a hospital bag (so certain of my homebirth were we that we flouted the advice to prepare one just in case) and we left. Tim was feeling sad at this stage, I was just still so focused on the job.

It was 1pm when we arrived. They immediately hooked me up to a monitor for the surges and the baby’s heart rate. They felt that I should get some antibiotics and also some fake oxytocin to give my surges that extra boost.  It was 4pm when this started coming through the drip.  Because my surges had been so strong before there wasn’t a clear change, I was still able to totally get on top of them still and breath through each one.  I was really drawing on visualisation at this stage, with every breath in I imagined my cervix opening up like a flower and with every breath out I imagined Wrigglewriggle moving down and turning into the right position.  I was very purpose filled so the pain wasn’t overwhelming at all but at one stage I did have to ask for paracetamol.

In between contractions I tried to take control of the environment a bit more, the hospital responded with strange looks perhaps at requests of lights being dimmed and staff coming in small numbers and with low voices.  It was as if it was preposterous that I might try an establish a cosy, intimate environment at a hospital. I had to really assert myself at times, but I was like a bold, purposeful lioness at this stage and felt confident making sure my voice was heard.

I refused to wear their hospital gown, but the midwife responded with “Well, you may need a C section so we need you in the gown”. Manipulated, I gave in. But then my next emboldening surge came and with it I cast off the gown and did the whole thing Butt Naked. HA!

Someone came into discuss epidurals. I tried to be clear that I would like to avoid one, that I’d use the gas and air if I needed pain relief. As she left the room she rolled her eyes at my midwife and said “If it gets too much she is going for the big guns.”

I was leaning on the side of the bed on my knees.  At 6pm they checked me and Hurrah! The baby had changed into the right position and I was 7cm dilated.

By now the growly oooh’s I was making before had turned into full blown primal roars.  They came from the depths and really helped me feel in touch with my body.  I didn’t feel any urge to scream or swear out of pain, these vocals were something else altogether, as natural as a cat purring!

At about 7pm my body flipped a switch, the ejection button, and my contractions were suddenly pushing this baby out.  It was incredible. Shortly after this an obstetrician came in and told me that they would check me again at 10pm, and I exclaimed “Not on your nelly, this baby is going to be out well before then.”

This was where it got hard- my body was totally pushing this baby but the midwife wanted me to restrain myself as she could see that I hadn’t fully “blossomed”.  My hypnobreathing came in so useful here as I just really kept in control of it and tried to imagine blossoming.  This stage is really compressed in my mind, it just feels like moments.  Before I knew it my midwife just said “Let go to the feeling now”.  It was brilliant just being able to let my body do its thing.

Within moments Tim was looking at the top of Wrigglewriggle’s head, a hairy little thing, and with 5 or 6 long pushes Ramona Lily unfurled out of me and gave a yell to rival her mothers.  I grabbed her through my legs and at the sound of my voice she stopped crying and nuzzled in for a bit of nipple.

Welcome, Ramona Lily!

She nestled into my arms, born to be right there.

Gosh. Birth eh? What an experience. There was some pain, and I was surprised by it so convinced was I by all the orgasmic births I had been reading about. But dished out in equal measure was purpose and exhilaration. It isn’t my perfect birth story-  I was gutted not to have a home waterbirth, gutted to have oxytocin and antibiotics, but throughout the time I was completely confident of my body’s ability to do this.  Of me being designed perfectly to give birth to Ramona.  It was a long and tiring three days, but I would do it 10 times over to have this beautiful little girl in our life.

At the end, as I held Ramona, my midwife called me a superwoman.  In 7 years of midwifery at Kings College Hospital I was the only woman she had seen have synthetic oxytocin without an epidural, let alone no gas or air or other pain relief. I don’t think that speaks of me being tough and brave, but more of us being quite out of touch, as a society, of how birth should be. Women are designed to have babies but we have got into a crippling cycle of fear, that is perpetuated constantly.

I can not WAIT to go through it all again for this little treasure inside me now. Despite Ramona’s pleas for it to “wake up! Come soon baby!”, I have 5 months to spend listening to the American and her limpy, loose Rainbows….

Happy 2nd BirthDay Ramona!

PS Read all about The Mule’s Positive Birth Movement…

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  • Mel Wiggins 15 November, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Ah! I loved reading this! Happy Birthday Ramona! xo

    I hadn’t taken time to read up on hypnobirthing when I had Levi – one for next time I reckon…(oh next time – you are a scary little prospect), but american lady aside, it sounds helpful.

    I wrote about my birth story here Mine also didn’t go as planned (I wanted a waterbirth too) but in the end I made complete peace with it. I spent so much time in the water during labour. In fact, the midwives referred to me as ‘the lady still in the bath’ as they did their shift change over…!

    I totally agree about just knowing your body could take it. The fear that is put on us pre-birth was really frustrating to me. I make it a priority now to encourage my friends that are first time preggo how do-able it is.

    • lulastic 16 November, 2012 at 10:42 am

      The lady still in the bath… ooooff, haha. Loved reading your birth story, put a proper smile on my face 🙂

  • The Mule 15 November, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks SO much for giving the Positive Birth Movement a mention! Very much appreciated x

    • lulastic 15 November, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      My complete pleasure, I love what you are doing with it all.

  • Patch 15 November, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    My waters didn’t break at all with my first. With my second they did but I had gone to the toilet so didn’t realise!! We ended up staying in hospital so Little J could have antibiotics 🙁
    One things for sure, this next birth will no doubt be quicker.

    • lulastic 16 November, 2012 at 10:37 am

      Let’s hope so. My friend had her baby born in her water bubble a few weeks ago – how cool!

  • lally Young 15 November, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    My eldest got the worst start in life, stuck in my pelvis and I ended having emergency c section. And my heart didnt like the stress, so poor old dad to be ended up sharing time between Cardio and neo- nates. The other births have been closely watched, but I dont mind.

    • lulastic 16 November, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Wow, Lally that sounds like it would have been a really intense time for you all. How wonderful you all made it through and are are happy family now, eh.

  • Aimee P 15 November, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    LOVED reading Ramona’s birth story! I totally get what you’re saying about society being a bit out of touch…..I was pretty gutted with all the medical intervention I ‘needed’ to bring Miela into this world – and it probably did stem from fear….not my own, but my OB’s (I was pre-eclamptic with crazy high BP and failing kidneys) I deep down believed my body knew what it needed to do, evidenced by the fact I was already 2cm dilated when the induction began, but the Docs weren’t so convinced….so we chugged on down the medical intervention train. Although I was totally aware that I’d probably not get the birth I desired (to the point that I didn’t even have a birth plan!) I still felt a bit ripped off when I wasn’t able to be in control of my labour.

    • lulastic 16 November, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Maybe you’ll get another chance! HAve you read Ina May Gaskin? Really, REALLY amazing. I do totally understand your sense of being ripped off. I really want to be more mature than this but I can’t help knowing that if I don’t get to homebirth this next one I will be really sad!!!

  • sammy millar 15 November, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Beautiful, inspiring story Lu, I love it! Even had a teary eye as I was reading!

    • lulastic 16 November, 2012 at 10:40 am

      Oh thanks Sammy 🙂 It is such a miracle isn’t it, this birth stuff.

  • Hollie A Hylands (@Holzo) 15 November, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    YAY another positive birth story! I have yet to meet anyone in person who had a positive birthing experience. It is only after giving birth to Mila and sharing our story with people that I realise from their reaction (a mixture of shock and disbelief) just how big a deal her birth really was in how natural it was and how great I felt after it. I am so lucky to have had such a positive experience like you – thank you Marie Mongan for sharing your message on Hypnobirthing. It REALLY does work IF and only IF you believe in it and most of all YOURSELF!

    HaPPy BiRTHDaY Ramona Lily xx

    • lulastic 16 November, 2012 at 10:41 am

      I was astonished at how happy people were during my pregnancy to give me horror stories! Trying to out do one another! I think that is one of the things that perpetuates fear. Only once Ramona was born did people start coming out and telling me the good stuff- as if they were ashamed of not having a horrendous experience!
      Can’t wait ot read your one 🙂

  • Heather Stone 16 November, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Happy birthday Ramona. Our little man was born the day before your little one. He was breech which we didn’t know until he was well on his way. words like forceps and c section only made me push harder and he was born vaginally with no pain relief. the nurses at the hospital were funny as most of them had never witnessed a vaginal breech so Regan was a celebrity 🙂 all the best for your pregnancy and birth. our bodies are amazing!

    • lulastic 16 November, 2012 at 10:36 am

      WOW! I was just speaking with someone yesterday about how women who don’t know their baby is breech are much more likely to have an uncomplicated, non intervertionist vaginal birth – often it is the fear and panic (from both mother and midwives) that comes with breech that sets things off course. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • em 16 November, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Happy Birthday Ramona! Thanks so much for sharing your birth story. I used hypnobirthing to peacefully birth my 2 daughters and am deeply into it again in preparation for number 3 in february. I think the great thing about hypnobirthing, is even if your birth doesn’t exactly go to plan, the skills you have learnt give you the absolute belief in your abilities as a woman. Bring on birth number 3, I can’t wait! Love the blog, always inspiring, funny and uplifting. Thanks xx

    • lulastic 16 November, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Yes, I think you are completely right. It is the TOTAL confidence in your body that makes you feel happy to trust it. I think I will have that to an even greater degree with this one.
      Congratulations on your third and I just hope you have a brilliant pregnancy and birth x

  • Bake 16 November, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Love reading birth stories too 🙂 More so now that I’ve had my baby-not so daunting! I have the best memories of my labour which I can’t believe was 8 months ago now. I hadn’t heard about hypnobirthing, but just went with the flow at home on the day and completely trusted my own instincts. Arrived at the hospital fully dilated (after a VERY quick car journey – was starting to push, oops!) and he popped out 30 mins later 😉
    I really feel our expectations play a huge part in how we cope. Breastfeeding on the other hand took longer than I expected to come together!
    Happy belated birthday Ramona! xoxo

  • Molly @Mother's Always Right 16 November, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    An amazing story and one that shows how different each labour is. I remember sitting in one of my antenatal classes thinking, “But not all women are the same, that’s not what happens on One Born Every Minute. I’ll do it myself with no pain relief”. But the day came. And went. 12 days past due date, one day before the dreaded induction was booked and my mother came to visit and massaged my back. My beautiful girl decided to start making an appearance that night, knowing her (doctor) aunt would be with her dad to help her mum, while her grandma paced the floor all night and her granddad hung on the end of the phone. I also wanted a waterbirth, but at the hospital. Instead, I gave birth in the room next door, just like a normal bedroom, no hospital beds in sight. But the first 5 hours of my labour was spent on a cold, hard bench in the “waiting room” because my contractions weren’t believed to be strong enough. I later found out my bubs was back to back, the contractions that were so strong (one every minute) that later became more regular once my baby had turned around were real. When my waters broke, my sister and husband ran to get help, only to be told, “She’s only been in active labour 4 hours, it’s unlikely to happen yet”. My baby was born 15 minutes later. We are all different. I had pethidine and gas and air and it was the most painful experience of my life. But I’d do it again, tenfold, for my girl. Bloody hell, I love being a mum. For all the pain and tiredness and exhaustion. It’s the most amazing thing ever.

  • mumofalltrades1 18 November, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I loved reading this, and you are right, birth stories are so nice to read, no two are ever the same.

  • snozcumber 19 November, 2012 at 12:35 am

    This made me smile and brought back all the happy memories of childbirth with my two. I did the ‘i think i just wet myself’ thing too! I had a waterbirth with my first, he was born within a few hours – my second was even faster so no time for a waterbirth unfortunately.
    You are right, too many women are quick to tell the horror stories, and I like to share mine as a positive one too.
    Not to go back on what I just said, but breastfeeding the second time seems to cause stronger uterus contractions. Nobody told me that!

  • Claire 22 November, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    I am the same as you, love to hear birth stories, yours is inspiring, as are all the others here. I oftern think of mine as a horror story due to rubbish hospital, but actually it is quite positive in reflection. i also had oxytocin and only had paracetamol and was in labour for just about 12 hrs, but was nearly talked into epidural by doctors who didnt even examine me. I had to be induced due to high BP, but i was ignored for hours as they assumed would take a while to work even though i was three cm in 3 hrs, so i spent hours in the bath like mel. Much later docs then told me I should have drugs as I was ‘making such a fuss’ ( I prefer your description of the primal groans!) and said I would be 4 or more hrs, but turns out I was in agony as I had undiagnosed SPD and actually had my baby within an hr. Sad that with everything I experienced (added to high BP, SPD I also had products left in womb that were unnoticed for 5 weeks) I will not be able to have water birth in the future….unless I just stay at home….agree with the fear thing – now am scared of hospital but also scared of doing it alone.

    • Lucy 2 January, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      Wow, an intense story. Amazing how, like you say, your birth story is a super positive one, but massively tainted by the treatment of the hospital. Perhaps a birth unit might be a good inbetween… xx

  • Claire 22 November, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Ps happy birthday Ramona lily, what a beautiful little lady x

    • Lucy 2 January, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      She is too 🙂 We love her!

  • Narcheska 23 November, 2012 at 12:53 am

    So glad it all worked out well for you and Ramona Lily! Birthing my second was very similar, waters broke, no action for three days, midwives threatening to induce me and telling me I needed anti-b’s, and me ignoring them as best I could. I also used hypnobirthing and the CD with the American, and also the British version! Midwives told me I couldn’t possibly be in labour as I was too calm. Hooray for hypnobirthing. And Happy Birthday Ramona Lily! 🙂

    • Lucy 2 January, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      HOORAY for hypnobirthing! I can’t wait to start getting in to my rainbow meditation this time round 🙂

  • Julianne 23 November, 2012 at 10:56 am

    such a beautiful story – thank you for sharing!

  • Lucy 2 January, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you for reading and commenting, it was lovely for me to spend sometime thinking about this all again xx

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