365 days of thunder

Exactly one year ago I became a mother for the second time. Our feisty little Thora Olava was born April 15th at exactly 5.10 pm, the most incredible experience of my life. Having given birth naturally once before I thought I knew how it was going to be, but the second time was completely different. So today, on Thora’s first birthday, I will share with you our birth story.

With my first pregnancy I gave birth at 38 weeks and for some reason I fooled myself into thinking I was gonna pop a little earlier than my due date this time too. So from week 38 I was done, I wanted that baby out. I suffered with PGP and sciatica and I was in quite a bit of pain at the end, the baby had to come out before I went crazy! I had many false starts before eventually the contractions turned into the real deal. At exactly 40 weeks I had my afternoon appointment with the midwife, where I expressed my concerns with going ‘over’ time. We booked in an induction and during that 30 minute appointment I had three ‘Braxton Hicks’ contractions. You think you will know exactly when you are in labour the second time, because you think you remember how it feels. False! I was in labour. My midwife knew. I hadn’t yet caught up with the fact. She said she didn’t think I’d have to wait too long.

So I left the midwife with my two year old in her pushchair and I made my way home, I just had to pop via the shop first. I walked though the isles hunched over in pain, finally realising that these weren’t Braxton Hicks. I was in the very early stages of labour. But my first labour was long, so I didn’t think it was going to be a very quick ordeal this time either. I managed to walk waddle home and send a message to my husband letting him know that I thought it had started, but it would be a little while and not to rush home. While I was at home he had arranged for his parents to come and collect Iselilja, and they pretty much arrived at the same time early that evening. I was so happy that it was finally happening! But it wasn’t. After Iselilja and the dog left, the house was so quiet and calm that, to my dismay, the contractions stopped completely. We watched some TV and I kept feeling for any sort of twinge or indication that it would happen, but nothing apart from the occasional surge. We went for a couple of walks and eventually we went to bed, hoping it would happen in the night. But it didn’t.

I woke up at about 4am the next morning, a Friday. No baby! I was so disheartened, but at the same time adamant that this baby had to come out. At least I had managed to get some sleep. So I got my yoga mat and my yoga ball out and bounced vigorously for a couple of hours before doing some light yoga to get things going. Eventually I told my husband to work. There would be no point in wasting a day of paternity leave on watching me bounce around on a yoga ball. But he wasn’t so sure… He stayed at home and encouraged me to go for walks, so we did that. And sure enough the contractions started coming. 6 minutes apart. It was happening! But I wasn’t in too much pain, I could easily deal with it. Which I couldn’t the first time! In fact I wanted them to be more intense. I was sure it was going to be another 24 hours, at least, before we got to meet the new addition.

At around 10/11 am we called the maternity unit expecting to be told to keep an eye and to come in when things were more established, but since it was baby number 2 they thought we could come in straight away. I couldn’t believe how quickly things were progressing, as a contrast to the first time. So we got our stuff ready and arrived at the hospital at 12pm. They checked me over and I was at 2 cm… Which I had prepared myself for because the pain wasn’t too bad. The midwife gave me a sweep and told us to go for some lunch and come back in a couple of hours. Oh boy did that sweep do its thing…! It went from ‘this isn’t so bad at all!’ to on-all-fours-on-the-floor in a matter of minutes.

Luckily my husband’s parents live pretty much next door to the hospital so we headed over there for some lunch while I tackled the contractions, one by one, on their living room floor. Eventually the contractions got strong enough to warrant going back to the hospital, around 3pm. When we arrive I get checked over again, and I’m only at 3 cm. I prepare myself for a long night. Go for a little walk, they say. So we do, we walk through the hospital, but after my second examination things have accelerated and the contractions are becoming close to unbearable. We have to go back, I say to my husband, clinging onto him as we walked through the very full maternity unit and into the labour ward (I felt so sorry for the expectant mothers sitting in the waiting room, waiting to have their scans, who watched me waddle in, in full blown labour!). They checked me over again and in 40 minutes I had gone from 3 to 6 cm!

They knew it was gonna be a quick one, because they had already set up the birthing pool for me while we were out walking. I don’t know about you, but when I am in labour I cannot be restricted by any clothes, so I stripped off completely and got into the hot water. Oh sweet relief! The warm water did wonders and made me relax totally, my body knew what it was doing and I trusted it. This was at about 4 pm. There were two midwives with me, a senior midwife and a midwife student (poor thing, I must have been one of her very first mothers, she was very inexperienced – but very lovely!). They were amazing and didn’t intervene at all, they let me do my thing and I powered through the contractions with a little bit of gas and air (and lucazade) until I felt the familiar pressure in my bum. She was about to come! But not before I utterly and totally shat myself. I am sure that happened last time too, but then I was so tired and drugged out I didn’t have a single care in the world. This time it was a bit more mortifying… Since I was in a pool and all… But shortly after, the baby’s head was crowning and with a final push she slipped out and I brought her up from the water and held her close. She didn’t cry, but I knew she was alright. At 5.10 pm she was born, she came so quickly and I delivered her myself. It was one of the most empowering and incredible moments of my life!

Happy Birthday Thora Olava, our little thunder bolt.

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