And it is that time again for another entry for Artefact motherhood, a beautiful blog circle which is a collaboration of artists & mothers from around the world sharing stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. These are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artefacts we are leaving behind for children and the generations to come. Please have a look through mine and then check out the next artist in our circle.
I cannot believe that in a few days time you will be five months old, these past few months have felt a bit like a dream, the days seem to flow into each other with such extraordinary speed and I have been so conscious of the passing of time wanting at times for everything to stop and slow down and at other times wishing the days away. This season in our lives has been full of calm peaceful waves along with some pretty incredible storms but I wouldn’t change it for anything because your arrival has changed everything in the most beautiful of ways, our lives are filled with even more love because of you and the one thing i have learned in my life so far is that love is the most important thing in the world and all that really matters.
I’ve been wanting to write about your birth story for a long time but I wasn’t ready to do so until now. It took a long time for me to be able to talk about it without bursting into tears. It’s hard for me to even know where to begin so I guess I will start from the very beginning when I first found out about your existence. It was a day I will never forget. It was in May last year & Nixie and I were out in the woods by one of our favourite streams, it was such a beautifully sunny warm day and I remember being surrounded by turquoise damsel flies and had such a feeling of peace flowing through every part of my being and towards the end of the day we were laying on our blanket having a cuddle when all of a sudden out of the blue she put her hand on my belly and looked straight into my eyes and said with such a wise knowing voice, “there’s a baby in there”. I didn’t quite know what to say so I just responded, “is there? You think so?” and she said very matter of factly “yes there is” and gave my belly a hug and a kiss. We had been trying to get pregnant and every month when my cycle would arrive my heart would feel heavy. I didnt want to get my hopes up but that night I kept waking up with extreme projectile vomiting and couldn’t leave the couch the whole next day. I had a feeling your sister was right but I wanted to wait a week before i took a test but the anitcipation was too much for me and less than 48 hours later I found myself in the bathroom waiting anxiously to see the results.
When i saw two little lines along with 2-3 weeks pregnant appear my heart skipped a beat, my hands became clammy, i felt a rush of energy travel up from my toes all the way to the crown of my head, I was pretty speechless. I immediately sent a photo of the positive test to your dad, Kevin and he straight away called me back and was so happy but speechless too. As it was such early days I normally wouldn’t want to tell Nixie until we knew for sure everything was ok but in my heart of hearts I knew that everything would be OK, I had already had visions of myself with a big bump & I felt so certain that we would soon be a family of four & since she knew i was pregnant before I did I decided to tell her and she became so happy with the news that she was right!
The next couple of months until we had our first scan ended up being filled with a lot of anxiety and worry, I felt incredibly sick most of the time and never knew the true meaning of exhaustion until I became pregnant with you. I had some scares and worried that we would lose you (our worries were heightened due to a previous miscarriage we experienced before I became pregnant with your sister Nixie) but once we had that first scan all our worries started fading away.
Sadly your daddy wasn’t able to be with me during that first scan because he needed to look after your sister but the second scan which happened in September your auntie Karen came to stay with us so that he could and I will never forget how beautiful that experience was. I watched his face when he saw your little body for the first time and when we found out you were a boy he couldn’t contain his tears, finally it all became so real for him and he was the happiest person on the planet.
Because I was labelled with Gestational diabetes while I was pregnant with your sister (although completely diet controlled and didn’t affect me at all really) i had to take a test around 16 weeks and it came back negative but i had to take it again at 28 weeks and this time it came back positive, i was right on the cusp, they had said that they had recently changed their readings of the test and if I would have taken it a couple of years ago it would have been negative. So once again I had to do blood tests before and after each meal, this time though my body was much more sensitive and I had to be a lot stricter with my diet, I couldn’t handle any carbs, any starchy foods, or sugar of any kind and would have to work out after each meal, doing 100 squats each time i ate luckily I still managed to keep it diet controlled.
Even though dealing with all of that was a bit draining and stressful at times I still absolutely loved being pregnant with you. I loved feeling you move within me and I felt so deeply connected to you from the very first moment I knew of your existence & every time I would feel you move within me I felt on top of the world. Nixie was already showing so much love for you always giving my belly kisses and cuddles, she couldn’t wait to meet you! My heart was truly in a state of continuous overflow with the most divine love I’ve ever experienced.
When it came time for me to decide my birth plan I knew straight away that I wanted a home birth, Nixie’s birth ended up being the opposite of what we had hoped for and in the end it ended up being very medicalized, I had an epidural,it was pretty text book in the fact that it led to so many interventions:,pectocin then an episiotomy and then a forceps delivery and I was determined that your birth was going to be different. I had done my research and had even talked to so many other midwives who were so very supportive and who told me about so many other home births they’ve attended where the mother had been labelled with GD. I had to have a meeting with the consultant where she went over the risks etc but in the end she gave me the go ahead with my plans.
Nixie arrived two weeks after my due date but I knew for some reason that you would arrive sooner and I was right, on January 20 in the morning (just over a week before your due date) I began noticing that some of my mucus plug was coming out so this confirmed my thoughts that I was getting closer to meeting you. I knew I was running out of time, I had this sense of urgency to do so many things. Nixie and I spent the day creating my birth affirmation cards and hung them up on the wall, your daddy did a crazy deep clean of our house, we tested out the birthing pool, and even did a belly cast late in the evening, we even hesitated to do it because I was tired but knew that if we didn’t do it that night that we would probably have missed our chance and we couldn’t have been more right!
I struggled to get to sleep that night, I was buzzing with this crazy energy and about 20 minutes after midnight as I was trying to fall asleep I felt three strong sensations sort of like you were pushing me from the inside, it wasn’t painful and a moment later felt a gush of water, my water started breaking. I Called the birth centre and labour line even though at this point I wasn't having any surges. One of the midwives who answered my call was really lovely and made me feel at ease and told me that someone would be calling me around 8:30 in the morning to see how things were progressing. I was feeling a bit shaky and clammy, a tad nervous about my plans for a home birth but at the same time so excited that soon you would be in my arms, everything felt so surreal! Your dad called my state of being loveicipation and that is the perfect word to describe how I felt. All I wanted to do was sleep because I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me but my waters kept gushing out through the night which made that very difficult and also it was almost impossible for me to switch off my feelings of excitement but I did manage to sleep maybe 10 minutes here and there. Around 2 AM or slightly before I finally began having surges but they were mild and very inconsistent happening about every 10-15 minutes. At this point my goal of sleeping felt even more important but the leaking of my waters combined with some leg cramps made it very hard! Instead of sleeping I stayed in a half dream state and I experienced such incredible sensations, it is very hard to explain but it felt as though my body dissolved and all that was left was pure power, pure energy, a ball of golden light. It was so beautiful and I actually enjoyed the surges and the places you took me. You gave me such a gift.
Around 4:30 I got up and made myself a bath and had a meditation. By this point the surges were becoming more powerful but still pretty inconsistent. I ended up returning to bed and cuddled up with Nixie, she was stirring and half awake and wanted to nurse. During each surge your daddy held my hand while Nixie was in between us and I’ll never forget the feeling of such intense love. I felt enveloped by the most beautiful energies in the world.
Once Nixie was fully awake we had to tell her that you were on your way to us and that she might get to meet you later in the day and she got so emotional. She cried her heart out saying “I don’t want him to come out!” her overwhelming emotion made me cry too. But I held her and we cuddled and then I had another surge and your daddy put pressure on my sacrum and she tried to help too, the way she was able to go from releasing such big emotions to wanting to help me really blew me away. I remember being overwhelmed with emotion too but in a good way, feeling you within me, holding your sister and knowing that these moments would be some of the last moments as a family of three before you would arrive and change everything was bittersweet. It’s really a strange feeling knowing you are about to experience extraordinary change but not really sure how it’s all going to fall into place.
By 7:25 daddy and Nixie were downstairs getting the pool ready while I stayed in bed trying to get as much rest as possible between the surges. I remember the sun rising and hearing your sisters laugh from downstairs and how happy it made me, she was having a lot of fun getting things ready and came back upstairs with water for me and declared very proudly that she had gotten the strainer ready for the pool so that it could catch my poo! She thought that was the funniest thing ever.
Around 8:30 the midwife called to see how I was doing, I told them things were progressing, but that things were still irregular but getting a lot stronger they made plans to arrive for 11:00. Around 9:30 I spoke to them again since they told me to call if things changed and the surges had become a lot stronger and were about 5 minutes apart. I was in such a great place, feeling strong and confident. Your labour was so different from Nixies, this time I felt in control and empowered and I wasn’t afraid. Around 10:00am I received another phone call from one of the midwives and this time it didn't go so well. I will never forget this moment because I was in between some intense surges leaning over the bathroom sink swaying my hips, at this point I could no longer speak while going through them, they were getting stronger and stronger but I was still in such a great place, I felt the strongest I've ever felt in my life, I trusted my body wholeheartedly and had surrendered to it's mystery. But this phone call really messed with my mind. There was no real reason for her to call me and the only thing she said to me was that I could still go to hospital if I wanted to, she really threw me off and after a surge all I could say was I knew that but that I wanted to be at home but she wouldn't drop it and continued to talk my ear off telling me that she didn't think it was safe for me to be at home… I got angry with her and asked her why of all moments would she choose now when I'm in the midst of surges to say all these things to me. I ended up giving the phone to Kevin and he basically told her she needed to stop that it wasn't the right time or place and that she wasn't helping and only making things turn negative. After this phone call I just burst into tears and I completely lost my centre, I felt so unsupported and it really shocked me because that was one thing I hadn't considered would even be a possibility. Somehow after a while, with your dad's help I managed to get myself back to my strong place.
By this point my surges were getting even stronger and stronger, all I could do was focus on my breath and to try to keep my body as relaxed as possible, I had even instructed your dad to remind me to relax my face if it looked like I was tensing up. He was my rock, my safe place, he supported me through each surge. Your sister also wanted to help and would try to copy him as best she could, I felt so loved and safe with the two of them by my side. Every so often your sister would come and lay next to me snuggling up close and each time she did it gave me such incredible power.
Around 11:00 the midwives arrived along with a student midwife and my biggest worry was confirmed, the midwife that had upset me on the phone was one of the three midwives now standing surrounding me next to our bed and even more frustrating was that she was the senior midwife. I had to clear the air and told her how she had really messed me up and brought me to a bad place and that in order for me to stay in a good place I needed to feel that I was surrounded by loving and supportive people and that I didn't want to hear anything negative. I remember consciously trying to send love to her and everyone else in the room so that you would only feel good energies. Luckily I felt a kinship with one of the other midwives, she had beautiful energy and I felt really safe and supported with her and she was the one that stayed by my side the other two were mostly downstairs only coming up to check on my progress which was only when I was OK with it. When they did the first check I was about 4.5cm. From here on my surges kept getting more intense, but I was managing them with my breath, each time a surge would reach its intensity, I would take myself to this place deep within me and I would connect with you knowing that what I was experiencing was good and that each surge was bringing us closer to meet each other. You gave me so much power, you truly gave me so much courage.
As time went on the surges kept reaching a new intensity and they never eased up, and that was when I discovered you were back to back. Maybe an hour or so later they did another check and I was 6.5cm and around this stage I felt such an intense need to push but the midwife told me not to and it really took all the power within me to counteract this urge, it really felt like my body was pushing at times and that there was nothing I could do to stop it but she just kept telling me not to, I discovered that by letting out a very deep guttural moan type sound that I was able to keep my body from pushing but sometimes I wasn't able to control it. It was really hard, verging on impossible. Now was when I really needed the support of the midwives but instead of telling me I could do it, they started bringing up the hospital again and how they would feel better if I was there saying to me they were worried I may have blood loss because with Nixie I did but only because I had an episiotomy but it was still within what was considered normal and also the consultant wasn't even concerned about this! of course this upset me again but I tried to ignore their words. Having a home birth was so incredibly important to me. I can't explain why but it was something my soul needed and I wanted it more than anything.
Now here's where your birth story starts to get a bit hazy and blurry. Around 13:00 my sweet friend/soul sister Elina arrived. I felt so happy once I saw her come into the bedroom and her presence gave me such strength, her and your dad took turns being with me putting gentle pressure on my sacrum & with keeping Nixie company who was playing in her room. I was finding the surges a bit overwhelming by this stage, they seemed to never stop and even when it would reach it's peak it still felt I was surging, my lower back and hip area were really tired and felt so tense and painful, I used gas and air which helped a little and I was still managing them by focusing on my breathing, I kept taking myself beyond the pain and kept returning to the vision i had in the morning of the golden ball of light, I kept focusing on that image and repeating the words, this is power, and reminded myself that everything I was experiencing was bringing me closer to you. I knew deep down that my body wouldn’t do anything I couldn't handle because it was me. Having a back to back labour was a whole new level of intensity. I never even made it downstairs into the birthing pool, I felt the most comfortable in our bedroom lying down on my side or sitting on the toilet! They would periodically check your heart rate and you were completely happy in there and showed no signs of being upset.
I remember more negative comments being said to me and I remember Elina doing her best to counteract them. As time went on I started to doubt my plans for a home birth and instead of telling me I could do it the midwife just said that the pain is going to get so much worse and it’s not going to be easy and that if I wanted pain relief that I could still have some but that we would have to call the ambulance soon because it would take them at least 40 min to get to us and it would be another 45 minutes until we arrived at the hospital. I began feeling a bit scared & began doubting myself. I started to worry about all the things they mentioned throughout the day. I no longer felt strong and felt that I couldn't do it and made the really tough decision to get transferred to hospital so I could have an epidural, I didn't really want to have one, but my fears took over. Once I made the decision to be transferred I really felt like I let you and myself down. I was also upset because Nixie wouldn't be present for your arrival which was something so important to all of us. I felt sad and extremely disappointed. Everything became a bit hectic as your dad sorted out a hospital bag for me and a bag for Nixie as she ended up going home with Elina.
I don't know how much time passed before the ambulance arrived but it felt like forever. The surges were beyond intense and the need to push was so strong but the midwife just kept telling me to stop pushing. I don't know how dilated I was at this point. When the ambulance arrived I dreaded having to leave my little cave but surprised myself by how easy it was for me to crawl down the stairs. I put on a robe and somehow made it outside into the ambulance. Your daddy couldn't ride with me and had to drive separately. This part of your birth story was the worst part, I really thought I was going to die. The EMT strapped me to the stretcher but tried not to do it too tight so that I still had room to move, I was laying on my side. I'll never forget the moment when we had just driven around the block and how shocked I was at how bumpy it was and I made some sort of comment about it and the EMT's response was, "oh you think this is bad?!? Wait until we get going, it's going to get so much worse, this is nothing!! " in almost a joking way. He was so insensitive. I felt a little comfort knowing that the midwife I liked the most was with me but I ended up feeling let down by her too because while I was having surges while literally in the air (it was that bumpy!) she was busy chatting away to the EMT, it sounded like they were flirting they were having casual conversations and even laughing together and I felt so alone and unsupported and I was pretty scared by this point, labouring in mid air was not what I had anticipated, if I had known the journey ahead I would have never ever requested to go to the hospital. I was happy at home until the midwives started putting fears into my head. I remember at one point thinking we must be close but I was told we had only just reached Brockenhurst, we still had at least another 30 minutes to go. The urge to push was getting even more intense and this was the only time that the midwife seemed to acknowledge me, Just to tell me not to push. There were many times where I just let my body push because it was beyond my control, I couldn't stop myself. I felt like an animal and that I was all alone and trapped,it was a horrific experience for me, I was in survival mode just trying to hold on until we got to the hospital, all that kept me going was that soon I would be getting my epidural and I could relax. When we finally arrived and they carried me out on the stretcher into the labour ward, they checked me again to see how far dilated I was and I was now at 10cm and they told me to start pushing, I had transitioned in the ambulance! My wish for an epidural was no longer an option (this is something that I now find comfort in)
They tried checking your heart rate but struggled to separate yours from mine so they wanted to put a little probe in your head, I asked them if it would hurt you and they told me it would feel like a little scratch but that it was important, I felt so much guilt, and hated the thought of you being hurt. It wasn't a very pleasant experience when they did this.Your dad still hadn't arrived and I thought I was going to welcome you into this world without him by my side.You were a bit distressed and the tensions in the room were high. I kept trying to push you out, I was kneeling on the bed with my arms over the side but you weren't coming down fast enough. Your dad finally arrived and he could see the top of your head. Seeing his face come through that door made me feel such relief. The only good thing about the ambulance ride was that it had turned you over but you were still not in the greatest position. They had even gone and brought in the special resuscitation kit along with another woman who was ready to give me another episiotomy. The midwife who had been the biggest source of upset was the main one in charge and according to your dad it was because of her that I wasn't cut, she was really pushing hard for me to be able to give birth to you naturally. The lady who was standing by to cut me seemed really eager to get things happening faster. I was told that if I didn't get you out in 5 minutes that it would happen. All I thought was no, not again!! I really didn't want that to happen! I kept pushing and pushing and each time you made a few mm's of progress and when they checked your heart rate again you had calmed down and were no longer in distress. I had a moment where I did not think I was going to be able to push you out, I was running out of energy but then i did! And it was by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life! At 16:29 on January 21, your head came out and then the rest of you came out an instant later. I did it! I couldn't quite believe it, I was in such a strange state, it all felt like a dream, right away they handed all 9 pounds 3 ounces of you and immediately I just held you on my chest taking you all in. You, our beautiful sweet boy had finally made it into my arms. It was by far one of the greatest moments of my life.
I needed stitches, a lot of them, my old episiotomy scar had ripped and because the tears were so spread out all over the place, the novacane couldn't cover it all so a lot of it I could feel. I continued to use gas and air but the whole time I got to hold you and smell you and it made everything OK. I was mesmerized by your very existence, your sweet little hands and your head full of the darkest hair I just couldn’t stop studying you, you were so perfect.
An hour into getting my stitches done your dad left to go pick up Nixie and to go get some clothes for you as he had completely forgotten to pack them. They arrived back at the hospital around 20:00 just 15 minutes after she had finished, It had taken her three hours! I remember feeling so full of anticipation waiting for your dad to return with Nixie and for her to meet you for the first time. Your first meeting was so beautiful and I was full of happy tears. She came over and told you that she loved you and that she was your big sister and gave you the sweetest kisses.
Due to me being labelled with GD they wanted to do your bloodtests and I was OK with this, I knew you were fine and they also wanted me to stay for 24 hours but I said no, I just wanted to go home and be in our space. In order to do this we had to fill out paperwork. They had told us we would be ready to leave at 23:00 which didn’t seem too late to us but it ended up being around 2:00 in the morning, only because they were taking their time with the paperwork. Nixie managed to fall asleep next to us on the bed.
When we were finally on our way home, the adventure still wasn’t over, to add to our crazy day our car broke down on a really scary bendy road with no street lights! I made a joke that you are for sure going to be an adventurer because your arrival had taken us all on quite the journey! Your dad had to call RAC and they sent out a taxi for you, me and your sister. Daddy needed to wait for them to arrive to tow the car. Around 3:30 the three of us were finally on our way home and it felt so strange getting home without your dad and it felt even stranger still getting into bed without him! But I was so happy to be home.
In the days to follow at first I felt empowered by your birth because I managed to do it without an epidural but then I felt so disappointed, I can’t explain it, everyone says that I should just be happy that you arrived safely and that you were healthy and that the way you arrived shouldn’t matter, but it did. Having a home birth was so important to me, I had expected to have an empowering and healing experience and it didn’t happen. I never imagined that it would turn out the way it did. It felt even more traumatic than your sisters birth. Even your dad cried for me knowing how painful it was for me that it didn't turn out that way I had wanted it to. I wanted to badly for you to be born at home with all of us present, for you to only feel peace and love on your journey to us but instead you experienced such negative energies especially during the ambulance ride and it really pained me.
I remember the first visit by one of the midwives and she asked about the birth and I was able to somewhat joke about everything but then she asked me how I really felt and how I must feel disappointed that I didn’t get to have my home birth and I just burst into tears, she was right, I was so sad and extremely emotional but it felt really good to share these feelings with her. She was so wonderful and the other midwives and even my health visitor that came to see me were also saddened by my experience and all said that it shouldn’t have gone that way and were sorry I hadn't gotten the support I had hoped for. I truly felt supported by all these amazing women, and talking and crying about it really helped.
The one thing that upset me the most was that they all said that there was no way I would have ever made it to the hospital on time for an epidural and that they would have known this which to me means that they only said what I wanted to hear to get me there and another thing they all said was that it was obvious that I was in the early stages of transition and that being a second time mum who really wanted a home birth they should have found ways to give me strength and encouragement rather than what they did. I shed a lot of tears over the way your birth went, some days it brought me to such a dark place which also made me feel guilty that I was feeling so sad when I had you, the most beautiful little being in my arms. I just struggled with making sense of my experience.
But now I’m finally OK with it all, I’ve made peace with it, almost 5 months later. Writing it down has been something I needed to do, it's a part of my healing, I do still feel angry and upset at times if I think about it but I need to own it, it’s our story and even though it didn’t go the way I had hoped it’s the story of how you came into my life and that has become one of my greatest adventures so far and for that I'm eternally grateful because through you I have been gifted with even more love in my life and there's nothing that could mean more to me than that and that has also been a big healing in itself. I love you my sweet beautiful Forrest Huxley.
Please check out Lauren, the next incredibly talented artist in our Artefact Motherhood blog circle at: https://laurenwebsterphotography.com/2019/06/14/an-ode-to-childhood-summers/and continue through all the artists until you get back to me!
to learn more about Artefact Motherhood please visit https://artifactmotherhood.com