Watch video, the birth of my very first baby
What an 8 hour rollercoaster adventure it was!
You might remember nearing the end of my run across Canada, when I began shouting ‘who’s the Daddy?!’ Well, it’s finally come true.
As a difficult year ends, I couldn’t imagine it finishing in a more enriching, fulfilling and magical way as watching the birth of my baby girl. When it comes to an adventure, I’d say this experience was the best yet.
At 9am on 19th December Anna woke me up; “J I think my waters broke at 4am. It’s happening, it’s game time.”
Half asleep, I was trying to process what was going on.
Over the past couple of weeks, Anna had been worrying that our baby hadn’t arrived as she was past her due date by a week or so. She had really wanted to deliver our baby girl at home, drug free but if you go over the due date by a few weeks, the NHS want you to stay in hospital and induce you, which Anna really didn’t want to do.
I responded to Anna by saying “nooooo waaaaay” in disbelief. Then realised I better get the pool ready.
All of a sudden, Anna began her first contraction in front of me. She was on all fours and wiggled her hips and bum. It looked like a rhino getting ready to charge!
10 minutes later, I was filming and helping her to attach the TENS machine which supposedly helps with contraction pain. I did also notice that Anna was wearing her fantastic (and enormous!) Bridget Jones pants and I was filming them in all their glory, to share with the world.
After our Bridget Jones giggle, Anna looked concerned, she’d realised the contractions were coming on way faster than expected.
They went from 3 contractions in an hour; to a contraction every 10 minutes. They came on so quickly, that we didn’t believe what was happening and we thought for sure they’d back off as time went on. (First time parents eh?!)
In our plan, we had hours upon hours of time on our hands to watch the Frozen movies whilst the journey evolved.
“When do we need to call the midwife?” I said looking at Anna breathe very deeply. “Once I get to the point of having three contractions in 10 minutes, that last at least 45 seconds, then I’m in active labour and we’ll need to call the midwife.” She replied. I understood, but I can’t say it made me feel any less overwhelmed.
Since 4am, Anna had been keeping notes on her phone of what she’d been experiencing and she wanted to show me. One of her bullet points read: ‘08:17am another runny poop’.
“Ooooooo, I’m so glad you had another runny poop, thanks for showing me!” I said. “Yeah, I know, I’ve had a fair few. My bowels are emptying ready for you know what.” Anna replied with a grimace.
Poo’s aside of course, Anna needed to let her Mum Sue, know what was going on and Sue confirmed to the pair of us “Once your waters break, there’s no going back.”
While Anna was chatting to her Mum, I thought it might be a good time to get the pool up. I’m not one for being very prepared but I switched gears knowing a baby would be entering the world (there’s a first time for everything and nothing focuses your mind like imminent fatherhood!). Setting up the pool wasn’t as bad as I’d expected, luckily a few weeks before I’d done a bit of prep of how it should be blown up and watched a whole load of YouTube videos. As a dyslexic, written instructions are my nemesis, so it’s all about YouTube for me. And it paid off. Phewwww.
After the pool shenanigans, Anna’s contractions were getting faster. Now she was having 2 contractions, every 10 minutes.
“J’, can you go and get the biscuits for the midwife. Then get straight back here.” As I left the house, I started up the car and began to drive off but then stopped. Something inside of me said ‘don’t leave her on her own.’
So I got back out of the car and went into the house asking “Anna, shall I get the next door neighbour to stay with you while I’m out? I don’t want to leave you here on your own.”
“No, just go now and be quick.” She replied through gritted teeth and another contraction.
I jumped into the car and went to Aldi’s, picked up Christmas Mince Pies and some Apple Turnovers. That surely had to be what all Midwives eat?! Whilst I was shopping, my fight or flight instinct was on high alert and I was constantly worrying about Anna.
When I pulled up in the car at home, I checked my phone and there was a message from Anna; “When you’re back, you need to call Alex the midwife.” (This didn’t bode well!) My heart was pumping out of my chest but I called the midwife straight away but frustratingly got no answer.
As I ran in the house, I immediately saw Anna on the floor making these loud cow noises. IT. BLEW. MY. MIND. And my heart pounded even harder!
Thankfully 10 minutes later, Alex the Doula turned up. If you’re not sure what a ‘Doula’ is, it’s a person who acts like a mentor between the Midwife and the Mum-to-Be but the Doula’s sole mission is to have the Mum-to-Be’s needs at the heart of everything. As amazing as the NHS are, they have to have a ‘system’ to cater for the masses and that system doesn’t always swing into the best outcome for the Mum. We outsourced the Doula, also named Alex (I know I know, difficult story line with the Midwife being called Alex too, keep up will ya!).
With Doula Alex here, I definitely felt somewhat calmer and she immediately got stuck in asking Anna “Does it feel like you’re pushing on every contraction now?” Anna nodded and her facial expression read, 110% I’m pushing on every contraction!
Doula Alex walked me into the kitchen and firmly said “You need to get the midwife here right now.” That was the moment I wanted to scream ‘HOLY s#$t THIS IS HAPPENING!’
Finally, Midwife Alex answered her phone to me excitedly declaring “The baby is coming Alex! The baby is coming!” She calmly reassured me she’d be here in 10 minutes.
Within 5 minutes, whilst watching Anna, I was going out of my head thinking ‘where’s the midwife?’ That 10 minutes felt like a lifetime.
When Midwife Alex showed up, I introduced the two Alex’s and I felt a huge sense of relief we were in two pairs of capable hands.
Doula Alex quickly checked “Jamie, do you have baby clothes ready?” I thought, ‘baby clothes?!’ This was all getting ridiculously real now and I raced upstairs and spotted a onesie suit that read ‘Hero’ – that looked like the perfect outfit to me.
Then it was the waiting game. I sat back and watched in awe seeing Anna push on every contraction like a trooper. I was both petrified for her wellbeing and yet, watching her, it looked so primal and so natural, like she was born to give birth to a baby.
Midwife Alex gave her first check of the heart beat by using a scanner. I held my breathe whilst she was was searching for the beat. 20 seconds went by and I began worrying, then I heard the throb of the heartbeat ‘ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum-tsh….’ Listening to it, my hands were shaking but I caught my breathe and let out a huge sigh of relief.
After another 20 minutes, Anna began to look exhausted “Do you fancy the pool?” Midwife Alex suggested.
“Let’s try the pool, yeah is that all right?” Anna tentatively asked, as she was trying not to be a bother to anyone (crazy eh, she was the one doing all the hard work). Luckily as soon as Anna got into the pool, I noticed the tension from her face instantly relax, which was reassuring to see.
Trying to support Anna emotionally as much as I could, I kept telling her “You’re doing absolutely amazing Anna, you really are.” Totally in awe of what was happening.
Until, Midwife Alex asked “Jamie, do you have a mirror? I need to look under the water to see when the baby is coming.”
“I’ll look” I replied confidently as I left the room but I knew Anna never wears makeup and I certainly don’t ever look in mirrors! So thinking on my feet, I ran to our next door neighbours, knocked on their door and Imogen answered, a 15 year old girl. I quickly shared the story of what was happening and why we needed a mirror so urgently. Imogen’s face said a thousand words. Bearing in mind that Anna and I only moved into our home a few weeks ago, so it was quite an intimate way to get to know the neighbours.
After 5 long minutes, our lovely neighbours found a mirror, I ran back and after more pushing in the pool, Anna then asked desperately “When is this going to be over?”
I thought this was my moment to reply with some pearls of wisdom, knowing from our previous chats one of Anna’s greatest worries was tearing ‘down below’. We had learnt that if the birth happens too quickly or if Anna pushes too hard too soon, that tearing can happen.
So my pearls of wisdom spurted out of my mouth; “Anna, the time it’s taking is exactly how it’s supposed to. It’s good that it’s not over just yet. Remember, it’s all about the journey.” I said proudly thinking wow Jamie, you really nailed that line.
The two Alex’s burst into laughter and Doula Alex said “Jamie, I think she’d rather just have the baby out right now.”
After every hard push Anna began losing hope that the baby was coming, I think Doula Alex picked up on it and nurtured her by telling saying “You’re at the hardest part, you’ve got to get the baby around the bend.” Then she visually showed Anna using her hands how hard it was to try and get the baby around the bend and continued “Once you get her around the bend, it’s just a straight shot after that!”
I was thinking ‘a bend?’ Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution really didn’t quite hit the mark here did it?
Anyhow, Anna’s face did perk up, I could see it gave her hope and instead of being on all fours, she changed position and laid on her back and began another almighty push.
Doula Alex then gave more reassurance “You’re doing it. You really are.”
Whilst the midwife was down the business end, she signalled to me that the baby’s head was crowning.
Naturally I began peering over Anna’s shoulder, down the pool to look but I stopped myself and thought, ‘do I really want to look?!’ Then Midwife Alex asked “Jamie, do you want to come down this end?” I hesitated for a moment, then in mid push Anna squealed out “Don’t you dare go down that end Jamie!” I was more than happy to stay next to Anna. Although, I was still in a position to see the baby’s head poke out which was great to see.
“So with the next surge Anna, just use all that energy to push the baby’s body out.” Instructed Midwife Alex. Sure enough, one last push and I saw the baby fire out like a flying rocket.
The baby was in the water for only a split second and Anna leapt forward almost as if she was saving a drowning baby, sweeping her out of the water and putting our baby in eye line with Anna, “Hello. Hello, little one” Anna said. Then squeezed her with a hug.
Tears rolled down Anna’s face. Tears rolled down my face. I felt a deep sense of love in my belly that I’d never experienced before.
The baby cries were gratefully heard, “I guess this means you’re alright little storm.” Anna said warmly.
Midwife Alex enquired “Does she definitely have girlie bits?”
Anna looked down and confirmed; “Yeah, there’s no penis.” I fist pumped the air with delight!
Whilst Anna cuddled Storm, she kept talking to her “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe you just came out of my body. I actually cannot believe it! Oh my goodness me!” Storm was still crying, “Don’t cry little one, this is the world. This is the world, you’re going to love it.”
“You were an absolute warrior during that.” I said proudly to Anna.
“That was nothing like I expected it to be” Anna said with relief. We all laughed!
Storm was born.
The support we had from Alex our Doula was amazing! In equal measure, the Midwife Alex was incredible too.
You have to love our NHS – we are so grateful that we had them with us on the adventure.
We’d also like to mention the positive birth company, on the lead up to the birth Anna read their book, made use of their affirmation cards and used their freya app which was all instrumental in having an amazing birth.
From a Dad’s perspective (did I just say ‘Dad’, wahooooooo!) it was honestly one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve done some daft adventures, but this one was the best yet.
If you’ve enjoyed this vlog / blog OR you think it’s a positive birth story that may help other parents-to-be, please do share it.
Wishing you all the love you deserve for 2021.
Lots of love, Jamie, Anna and STORM!
If you haven’t watched the video yet, here it is again, pinky promise you’ll enjoy it: