This week on The Partner’s View I am excited to introduce Sarah and Lauren from 2 Brides 2 Mums. Sarah tells us their story from conception through to birth by c-section. A decision that was made calmly after induction at 37 weeks. It’s a moving story, with many important decisions made a long the way by both Sarah and Lauren. The part that really resonated with me was both Sarah and Lauren were making the decisions, with the expert advice of their healthcare team, rather than it being an emergency. I hope you enjoy reading their story as much as I did.
What were your thoughts and feelings leading up to the birth of your child?
As our baby was an IVF baby, pregnancy had been our holy grail for a long time – it was a really special time. My wife Lauren had dreamed of pregnancy for years, but it came with many blips – a severe bleed due to a haematoma at 6wks when she was told she had likely miscarried, severe morning sickness that lasted for her first two trimesters, and then pre eclampsia. She was extremely brave thorough it all though, and her being pregnant at Christmas was lovely! We were so, so excited to become parents, we had already dreamed a whole future for our baby.
As a birth partner, how did you prepare for the birth?
We had originally planned for a home water birth, and as people who follow a fairly eco friendly life, wanted things to be as natural as possible. However life, pregnancy and birth are all pretty much as unpredictable as each other, and our original idea of how the birth would be was not destined to be! Early on in the pregnancy we discussed every eventuality, and what Lauren would, and wouldn’t like, so that whatever happened, we would feel in control, and relaxed.
Lauren unfortunately was diagnosed with pre eclampsia at 33 weeks. She went into hospital to be checked after feeling unwell, and doctors considered delivering our baby there and then! She then ended up being hospitalised for two weeks as a precaution, but was allowed home luckily, at 35wks, with a plan for induction at 37 weeks at the latest, if her blood pressure stayed below a certain level. After the panic of thinking our baby could have arrived so early, when we were so unprepared, we made sure we were ready for the little one to arrive at any moment! We had a baby shower, decorated the nursery, bought a pram, and generally enjoyed our last two weeks as a child free couple!
Tell us a little about your partners birth?
Lauren went in for induction at 37 weeks. She was luckily given a side room so I could stay with her, and she was in labour, contracting strongly and regularly, for about 48hrs. She used a birth ball, yoga breathing, and aromatherapy to cope with the pain and discomfort. We actually quite enjoyed these two days in hospital! We went for walks in the gorgeous sunshine England was having, went for coffee in nearby coffee shops, bought picnic food from m&s ate in our room with music playing, and went for lunch with Lauren’s parents.
After the 48 hours, Lauren was examined and told she was 1cm dilated, and unsuitable to have her waters broken. We were asked how she wanted to proceed, and had already decided that in this situation, she would choose a Caesarean section. She did not want to be given another induction pessary, for it to again put her in pain for days, likely have no effect again, and she end up with a caesarean anyway, but in the panicked emergency setting we were determined to avoid. We were booked in for a section in a days time. Knowing how and when our baby would arrive was really reassuring.
I remember the midwife coming out of the blue to tell us that theatre were ready for us, and the adrenaline filling us and the room. We were shaking with nerves and excitement as we fastened up Lauren’s hospital gown. In the theatre room, we were introduced to our two surgeons, our two lovely midwives, and the anaesthetist who isn’t usually someone who would impact on care a great deal, but was so friendly and funny we will remember her forever! Myself and one of the midwives held Lauren’s hands as the spinal block was put in – we were shown such kindness and respect, we will forever be grateful for that.
I sat next to Lauren’s head, facing away from her feet, and with the surgical screen up, it seemed like we were in a little cocoon, just the two of us. At our request, our music was played softly – a mix of music from our wedding, the road trip through America we did on our first wedding anniversary, and music we had listened to throughout the pregnancy. It was so peaceful, so relaxed, and we felt completely calm and in control – all the reasons we had wanted a home birth, but had all been catered for perfectly. After a while we heard a cry and our eyes met as we gasped. He was here! The midwife whispered to me that she would be quick and in what seemed like seconds he was bought to us. Lauren had requested I was first to have skin to skin, so our baby boy was placed inside my top. He weighed 7’11lbs, so not so tiny for a 37 weeker! We cried, and laughed, and were in awe at how perfect he was. A beautiful boy with big, bright blue eyes, perfect features and soft copper hair – we had always wanted a boy with red hair, so being as we were lucky enough to get one, we gave him the name we had always said we would call a little boy – Oskar.
What were you most afraid of during your partner’s birth?
That she would feel that she hadn’t had the experience she wanted, or that her birth experience hadn’t been a positive one. We definitely preempted this by preparing for, and considering, pretty much every eventuality.
What was the best and most positive part of your partners birth?
The biggest thing I will always remember was the feeling of peace, calm, and control we both felt. It felt extremely personal. Apart from our wedding day, it was the most beautiful, magical experience of our lives.
How did you support your partner and baby after the birth?
As Lauren had had a section, she was very limited in what she could do. She was in hospital for a few days as Oskar was on antibiotics as a precaution as his temperature was low at birth. Lauren was determined to breast feed but struggled with this as Oskar was very sleepy due to the antibiotics, so I helped her express colostrum into syringes for him (it worked, as she is still breastfeeding after 3 months!) As she was on a ward, I couldn’t stay with them, so I stayed with them 10am-10pm daily, then when I went home made sure everything she would need was in easy reach of her bed. She didn’t change a nappy for weeks, and even after three weeks we joke that she is milk mummy and I am change mummy!
What advice would you give to a birthing partner?
Make sure you know what is important to your partner to achieve the birth experience they want. It may sound strange that Lauren wanted either a home water birth or a c section, but these things both provided the peace, calm, and control that were important to her. Make sure you are prepared for every eventuality- even if, like us, this involves taking three huge bags to the hospital! Feeling prepared and comfortable definitely helps with pre birth nerves. Let them know how proud you are of them whatever happens – the strength, grace, calm and courage my wife showed during the birth of our baby made me love her even more.
A little bit about Sarah and Lauren:
“Lauren is intelligent, sweet, extremely caring and generous, and amazing at planning. Going on holiday is her hobby! She loves cups of tea, pink, Tiffany & Co, and pyjamas. A hippy at heart – peace, love and nature make her happy. She loves a chat over lunch with friends or family. Sarah works for a luxury home decor brand. She is sensitive, imaginative, funny, and loves tidying and organising! She loves coffee, animals, Tim Burton & Harry Potter, good manners, and individuality.”
If you’ve enjoyed reading this and would like to take part in my guest series, this please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org