This is local Mamma JoJo's story of the birth of her son Ezra, born at NSEC at 3.42am on 12.2.20. Her story is one very close to my heart; JoJo and her husband joined me on one of my Hypnobirthing workshops in Northumberland. before Christmas, and their determination and love is something which will always stay with me. This is a story of a Mamma following her instincts, and not being afraid to stand up for what was best for her, and her baby. It's also a story of a couple's strength in the face of heartbreaking and difficult circumstances.
"I attended a full day Hynobirthing workshop with Jessica in December a couple of weeks before Christmas. With it being my third baby I was so excited at the prospect of having a whole day with my husband to just focus on our baby boy - something I would have never usually made time for with two little ones to care for. My favourite part was the section for birth partners equipping them with strategies to help during labour. I went away with no apprehensions about the pain that may be involved. I felt empowered and excited to go into labour.
As one of our previous babies was so big I was told I would have to have growth scans this time. So I went along to the growth scan followed by a consultant meeting. The consultant said my baby was measuring big so would I like a Caesarean, to which I instantly replied no.
So she booked me in for an induction two weeks before my due date. 5 minutes later the meeting was over. This was not presented to me as an option. I left the room feeling overwhelmed and instantly messaged Jessica. I knew I didn't want an induction. I spent the next few weeks in regular contact with Jessica who was amazing. She doesn't judge you or advise you but instead equips you with lots of research based evidence. Informed is best.
I read lots about induction and came to the decision it wasn't for me. I felt very confident in my bodies ability to birth my baby. However I had two more growth scans and another consultant meeting. My baby was measuring off the growth charts and I was told that if I went full term my baby would be well over 11lb & the consultant spent the whole meeting telling me why I had to be induced. No balanced argument.
I was close to giving birth, I knew I was likely to be carrying quite a big baby and I knew I was going to have a natural birth. I needed to go into this feeling calm and relaxed not terrified. So again I turned to Jessica who was phenomenal. She trusted me, she was on my side and she gave me even more evidence. I read lots and continued with my daily hynobirthing. I weighed up the risks and decided I would decline my early induction, try get myself into labour and would book in an induction for my due date. During this whole time I did not feel like my baby was too big. Instead of getting scared by the scans I kept telling myself that my body had grown the perfect sized baby for my body.
By the Monday night I still wasn't in labour so I didn't get much sleep as I knew I was going to be induced which I didn't really want. We went in at 11am on Tuesday 11th Februsry. I had a really clear birth plan which Jessica had helped us with and all the midwifes did seem to read. They listened to my wishes when I told them I would have the two pessaries but I did not want my waters broken or a drip put in. I told them in my labours my waters don't break until I push and this is my main form of pain relief. It was important to me that my body was in control of the process.
I went on the CTG and had to stay on a long time as my babies heart rate was quite high. I do not like being on the CTG at all and don't feel relaxed or comfortable. I had my first pessary around 1pm and started my quest to get into labour. I made the room smell amazing by putting paper towels with aromatherspy oils around it, dimmed the lights listened to my labour play list and watched Rob Becket to get my oxytocin flowing.
Soon after I knew I was experiencing pre labour. I walked up and down lots of stairs and could feel my contractions were getting more regular and closer together. We were getting excited as we knew I was in labour. However when I was put back on the CTG my contractions stopped. Not because I wasn't in labour but because my body doesn't feel relaxed on this.
An examination showed my cervix wasn't favourable enough so I agreed to have another pessary at around 8pm and was told my waters would be broken in 6 hours. I felt completely calm as I knew I was in labour. I was having regular contractions which I was managing well with my breathing techniques. I put my hynobirthing track on and remained calm. I had an examination around 2am and was told I was 2cm dilated and not in active labour. I calmly told the midwife that I would dilate from 2 to 10 cm in the next hour as that had happened twice before. The midwife then left the room I could tell she didn't believe me.
The next hour was very intense. I couldn't get comfortable on my ball and remembered Jess had said the shower could help so I got in the shower. The running water was great pain relief. I used the rails and clung onto them as I breathed through my contractions. During each contraction I breath through them counting slowly up to 5 them down from 5 knowing when I get to 0 it will have passed.
I kept telling myself that these contractions were not stronger than my body as they were my body. I even managed to fit in a hair wash between the contractions. This helped to distract me, the shampoo smelt lovely and I gave myself a little head massage. This may seem ridiculous as this is probably the most painful hour I will ever experience but these little things really got me through. Smell is a massive anchor for me in labour.
I knew I was getting closer to meeting my baby as I couldn't get comfortable at all and was on all fours crawling around the shower floor. The midwife arrived and said I was going to be transferred to the birthing suite. I felt a little confused as thought I've just done my labour. I didn't realise they had separate induction and labour rooms. She said don't worry there is a rail you can hold onto during the walk!!
Once in our room the new midwife asked me to lay on the bed for 20 minutes for a CTG, she would them break my waters and in 4 hours examine me. I just heard the 4 hours and turned to Dan for support.
He calmly told me you will not be in labour for 4 hours you are transitioning. These are the most useful words he has ever said to me. He'd patiently watches me labour. Jessica had educated him in the process and he knew more than anyone what was happening and had faith in me.
I got on the bed and the midwife tried to put the CTG on me. I knew this was ridiculous as when in active labour I am physically unable to stay still. And quite ironic that during the whole of my active labour which still no one other than Dan seemed to believe I was in, no one had checked my babies heart rate.
I knelt up on the bed and broke my own waters. I calmly told the midwife I needed to push.
She shouted out for help. I breathed through my contraction and began to push. I do remember thinking I should push hard as the consultant had said his shoulders may get stuck. Two pushes later my baby was handed to me. 4 minutes after I had started pushing and 8 minutes after I had been asked to move rooms.
I knew there was something wrong as we had asked for delayed cord cutting and they were quickly asking Dan if he wanted to cut the cord. Ezra was taken off me and resuscitated. I went into shock and was shaking uncontrollably. I'd just given birth but where was my baby! He was brought back in and I tried to latch him unsuccessfully and he was taken off me again and taken to SBCU.
I delivered my placenta and got showered and dressed as quickly as I could and walked straight to SBCU. The team there were phenomenal. They were so kind and caring when explaining to me what was happening to my precious little boy. They let me put my hands in the incubator and touch him which really helped to ground me. I had to leave to go get some food and back in the room I just sat and sobbed.
Jessica's techniques were again invaluable during this time. I used my breathing and aromatherapy to calm myself down. I spent the day sitting by his incubator expressing colostrum and waiting patiently in case he wanted to feed. By the evening he was off his CPAC and I managed to lath him and he had a 45 minute feed.
Finally my empowerment came. I felt so proud that I finally had my baby in my arms and was feeding him. This all came crashing down when the nurse came in and said that she thought the night staff would have to give him a couple of formula feeds in order for him to leave SCBU and would I be happy for him to have a dummy. I felt really unhappy about this, and I would never usually do this, but I remembered Jessica saying you could ask for someone else to provide your care if you are not happy so I asked to speak to the nurse in charge.
She was incredibly supportive and we made a plan. I asked for his drip to be decreased so I could feed him on demand more. 5 hours later our plan had worked and Ezra was released from SCBU into our room. I was so happy that finally I could have my baby in my arms. We had to stay in to wait for Ezra's blood tests to return and I was desperately missing my other two children so we continued to use the techniques Jessica had taught us in our postnatal room.
We dimmed the lights and used aromotherapy creating our own little oasis of calm. The facilities at NSEC are amazing and I was so grateful that Dan could stay by my side throughout. The staff were fantastic. I have no idea of the name of the midwife who delivered our baby as we had 5 during my labour. However our last midwife on the postnatal ward was an ex pupil who Dan and I both taught. We knew she would make a fantastic midwife and she proved us right. What a lovely personal touch just before our discharge.
For me I will always wonder if I was left to deliver in my own time without induction would it have meant SBCU wasn't needed. However I will be forever grateful for the team who acted quickly and saved my babies life. I went into hospital with the intention of no pain relief and avoiding a cascade of intervention. I achieved that goal and happily walked out of hospital feeling great and ready to care for my three amazing children.
Oh and Ezra was 9lb 2oz ... so definitely not too big for my body to birth. I will be forever grateful for the support Jessica gave Dan and I. I would recommend everyone to go on one of her courses. It will be one of the most valuable things you will ever do."