Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Tadhg's Birth Story

Canavan family of 5!
As I learned quite quickly after Fionn, most people don't want to hear a positive birth story. It's almost as if you're shamed for having an 'easy' time of it, and you're 'bragging' and giving people 'false hope'.

DaithÍ and I,
12 hours before Tadhg was born
As I learned after Daithí, most people love to hear the horror stories, everyone has an awful story to share, each one more traumatic than the last, as if it's a competition. Growing up in Ireland, with a maternity health care system like something from the dark ages, believe me, I've heard my share of horror stories.
It's not wonder women are terrified of giving birth.

So indulge me if you will, I want to share a story of how my perfect birth went. This is in no way to brag, or to shame, and it was definitely not without work. But a positive birth story has an importance that reaches further than the family involved. I know had I been able to find a positive story to read before my first, or if I had known of a friend or family member who shared a great story, I wouldn't have been so fearful and blinded by the misconceptions that birth is this awful ordeal, that we're constantly fed. (Think OBEM!)

At the start of the pregnancy I  made no secret of the fact I wasn't happy. I was suffering PND from Daithí, and was finding it hard to accept a unplanned pregnancy. I knew I had to do something seriously about my mental health. (Again another thing that isn't helped by the Irish attitude to shush up and hide MH issues)

I was referred to the gym and Slimming World by my health Visitor after Daithí, which really helped my overall mood, so decided to stick to this throughout the pregnancy.
I pushed my midwife to refer me to the perinatal team, and was assigned a councilor who worked wonders for me.
Shane and I also made the decision to take a Hypnobirthing course.
This three prong approach if you will; body, mind and relationship laid the foundations for everything I needed for a calm and relaxed birth.

On top of Mount Brandon,
14 weeks pregnant 
Physically, I was fitter and healthier through this pregnancy than I had the previous two. I was surfing at 10 weeks, did the Wolf Run at 12 weeks, and hiked 75km with dEBra at 14 weeks. I wasn't sick half as much, I didn't gain excess weight, and wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as I had been before.
But mentally there was still a lot going on. The biggie, being the house move, 8 weeks before due date.
The last week of pregnancy was busy to say the least. We're having building work done in the house, I was in a stand off with my moving company and Ikea waiting deliveries. And I was organising the end of year awards evening for my football club. My parents were over for the weekend to babysit so I could actually go to the event. Needless to say I was stressed.

At the Dinner Dance
36 Hours before Tadhg was born
I knew from my hypnobirthing, that I had too much adrenaline in my system to go into labour before the awards evening, and was joking all week that as soon as the night was over, and I allowed myself to relax, baby would arrive. I wasn't wrong.

I made it to the  event, I even managed to find a dress that fit me. Sure enough, the next day I started to feel things getting going. I actually said to my Dad before dropping him to the airport, that it was going to be today. At about 9pm I started getting a little excited. I wasn't 100% sure, but knew I needed to make sure there was someone in the house with the kids, should I need to be transfered to hospital. so I rang my cousin to come and stay. Niall and Sarah arrived at 10.45, already in PJs, ready for bed. They were happy to just go to bed with an alarm set for work. We even joked as I made them tea, how chilled out I was.

Shane did a guided meditation with me at 11pm and I went to sleep. At 3.30am I woke up unable to sleep through the contractions. I timed them in bed for half an hour, they were 3 minutes apart, and lasting a minute each. Knowing from Fionn and Daithí that my labours are quick, I thought it best to ring the hospital.
I rang the hospital at 4.10am, and they said they'd send the midwife straight out.
So I instructed Shane to clean up the last of Fionn's train tracks and move the car off the drive so the midwife had somewhere to park. (There was a skip there from the extension, so not much room!!)

I took this picture 8 hours before Tadhg was born!
I knew he was on his way, and this would be the last ever pregnant picture I took.

I then pottered around setting up the living room, covering the sofa (that has finally arrived from Ikea 3 days previous) and floor with shower curtains and towels, lighting candles and getting an area in the dining room ready for the midwives. We had set up the TV to play the HB tracks, and these played in the background for the whole thing.

Alex arrived at 4.45am, she did my obs and everything was good. I was 5cm dilated with budging membranes, and she was happy to let me and Shane get on with it. At this stage I was leaning on a high book case and rocking back and forth, with Shane holding my back and counting my breathing though each contraction.

I moved then to a kneeling position resting on the sofa, where Shane did another guided meditation with me. He's convinced I fell asleep during each contraction, I don't quite remember it like that, but I was definitely in a deep state of relaxation.
The urge to push came after about 30mins of this, but because of the cold I had been fighting for the last 8 weeks had my nose so blocked, I knew I had to blow it so I could breath properly. Alex handed me a tissue and as soon as I blew my nose that was it!
Membranes bulged out like a water balloon, I had a very uncomfortable feeling in my back that wasn't passing with the contractions, so I moved into a more upright position, kneeling on the sofa, leaning over the arm. On the next contraction I pushed and my waters went and with them came the head. On the next contraction and a gentle push Tadhg was born at 5.40am. I felt an incredibly empowering calm come over me. I paused to gather myself before Alex passed him through my legs and I scooped him up to me.

Tadhg Canavan, born 06/11/17, 5.40am 7lbs 15oz
I moved back onto the floor to deliver the placenta, which was quick, easy and painless. The NHS now practice optimal cord clamping, as standard, so I knew I didn't need to ask. Once the cord had stopped pulsating, Alex clamped it, and Shane cut it. I had Tadhg on my chest for the whole thing, and he fed straight away.

Everything was so calm and relaxed when the second midwife arrived. She even commented on how well I looked (I still had my hair up and tan on from the dinner dance). At this stage we realised everyone upstairs had slept through everything. Shane text Niall to tell him Tadhg had been born, to save him the shock walking into the living room full of midwifes and a baby!

I could hear the kids starting to stir at about 7am, so I left Shane to dress Tadhg and I went to get them. As soon as Fionn saw me, he put his hands on my stomach and said 'Your belly is so small Mammy'. My heart melted when I saw his little face light up as I told him his baby brother was downstairs.

My 3 Boys
2 Hours after giving birth
Shane & Tadhg
Tadhg & I

The rest of the day was spent feeding, dozing on the sofa, and calling family in Ireland. It was so perfectly calm and relaxed. 7 weeks out, I don't feel like I've come down from that high. The whole experience had left me feeling so strong and in awe of what I'm capable of. Shane was the most amazing support, and I feel we're in a better place than we've ever been together. Fionn and Daithí love their baby brother, and I really feel like our family is now complete.

I could not have done it without the amazing support of my WiseHippo Hypno-birthing Instructor Bernie. She came to the house for classes, and worked around timings with the kids. She even picked up on how much anguish I was holding onto after Daithí's birth.We worked through everything, and I feel completely alleviated of all the guilt, shame and trauma I had been carrying around the last 2 years. Here's her Website.