You might have to bear with me on this one, I need to go around the houses to get the main point!
OK where to start….6 years ago we decided to try for a second baby, I fell pregnant unexpectedly first time around so naturally and very naively assumed that it would be equally as painless to fall pregnant for a second time. Wow, was I wrong, 5 years of trying to conceive, one miscarriage and a devastating ectopic pregnancy resulting in my right tube being removed, and a painful procedure to discover my remaining tube was blocked, and suddenly, like that all our options felt like they had been taken away.
Secondary fertility is a tough one, you have one perfectly healthy child, my son being 7 at this point, so society makes you feel like you have no right to be absolutely utterly crushed that you can’t have another baby. ‘‘Who does she think she is, she should be grateful she has one, there are women out here who would give their right arm for the chance of one baby’’. Wanting a second child doesn’t make you selfish, I couldn’t bear the thought of my son being an only child, I couldn’t bear the pain in my chest I felt and the pang of guilt when he would say ‘‘mum, can I have a baby sister for Christmas/my birthday’’, he said this for years, from age 2 to age 9, it broke my heart, I just wanted another baby, no excuses, no reasons needed, I just felt like we weren’t quite complete as a 3.
Fast forward slightly to us making the decision to pay for IVF, we weren’t entitled to NHS help with already having a child, private treatment was our only option. Que another naïve moment in my life, presuming it was a given, we were having IVF so we were going to have a baby-yey!!
Holy crackers, IVF……a warped universe where time stands still and all you have is hope and well a little bit more hope. I am quite stubborn in nature and I think that’s the only reason I kept going with IVF. We lost 3 embryos, 3 fails, 3 devastating heart breaks to add to our miscarriage and ectopic, in amongst it all I gave up my job, my career, a job I loved, I didn’t feel understood and felt like my infertility was simply a burden to others and I couldn’t do both, it was work or my family and I chose my family.
Somehow mentally, physically and financially we kept on going, no alcohol, low caffeine, low sugar, this vitamin, that supplement, some weird green smoothie I read on the internet would definitely help, never booking that holiday or weekend away, scared to commit to someone’s wedding invite because ‘’well we could have a new born’’. Life literally goes on hold and its absolutely all consuming. And don’t get me started on the medications, the relentless injects, I mean a drug that at age 34 makes your body think you are in the menopause, well that was A TREAT…..NOT!!!
February 2018, we had one embryo left, we had spent over £11k, in the January we had just got past our 3rd failed IVF. Something switched inside me and I went a bought a pack of 3 pink baby grows and 2 pink teddies. It was going to work; our last embryo was going to work, and we would have a baby girl. I couldn’t tell my husband, but I did confess to my friend, she was very sweet, although I’m sure she thought I was mad, she didn’t say it, (thanks Rach, I will always be grateful for that love).
We threw a final few grand of medication at that last round, tablets to prepare my womb lining, tablets to thin my blood, and 3 injections, one of which cost £79 for one week’s worth, and on the Friday 13th April, we transferred our 4th and final embryo, she stuck, you’ve heard of the line ‘’I knew I loved you before I met you, I think I dreamed you into life’’, that was what happened, that was it!! She was ours; she was here to stay, and she would be perfect with dark hair and I wasn’t taking any other option from the universe!
Fast forward the 9 months, it was so very, very important to me to have some control over how I brought my daughter into the world. I couldn’t conceive her in the conventional way, I couldn’t fully relax into my pregnancy because of the nerves we felt as a family and I couldn’t shake the fact I felt a little like my life had been an out of control tornedo for more than a few years. My lovely amazing, supportive husband was terrified something would go wrong, he didn’t say it, he never breathed a word, but he was, and I knew it. I started researching hypnobirthing, I needed knowledge and I needed control.
Mindfulness and relaxation had been my crutch throughout our fertility struggles, it kept me somewhat sane at some very low points and stopped the fertility drugs and hormones from sending me completely loopy. Hypnobirthing just felt right, this was something I had control over, something just little old me could do for myself and for our daughter, something I could do to show my husband, I had this, I had it covered and no matter how she got here, waterbirth, c section or anything in between, it would be right for us and it would be more than right for our baby.
Obstetricians in the NHS tend to view IVF pregnancies as high risk, extra scans, extra monitoring and a low tolerance for ‘just getting baby here’. I also had a previous C-section under my belt from giving birth to my son 10 years earlier. The week of my labour I felt in a good place, my head was clear, my heart was full and I was excited and ready to bring our daughter safely into the world, slight nervous point being in labour, in church at my sons Christmas Christingle but I didn’t let that burst my bubble, I smiled along at all the children in between contractions and even managed to laugh as the head mistress announced to the masses ‘’Fin’s mum is in labour and we may get our very own baby Jesus!!’’
I had the most amazing labour, the most beautiful water birth and a feeling of high and self-achievement I have never ever felt in my life and think I will be unlikely to ever feel again. I breathed my beautiful, precious, ‘high risk’ baby into the world exactly 3 hours after my waters broke, with no pain relief and no damage to my nether regions, and nothing more than my husband and my positive affirmations playing on a loop through my headphones, a very lovely midwife sat quietly in the corner, a midwife who understood my wishes and just ‘got me’. I want to share that feeling, I want to bottle it and give it to every pregnant lady I meet.
I realise that’s logistically impossible, so I decided after 18 years of nursing I would retrain as a Calm Births Hypnobirthing teacher. So, from the birth of Bonnie, my amazing rainbow baby, the precious little girl that healed my heart and completed our lives, Beautiful Births was born. No matter what path your birth takes, and what journey has gone before, with the right tools and the right mindset it can be a positive, amazing and memorable experience for both mums and birth partners. I for one am excited to share my experiences with all you pregnant mummies out there and support you in achieving your own beautiful birth.