So Matti is 8 today … ohh my I am smiling & crying as I remember the day he arrived earth side and it was truly amazing for both myself and my husband. So in celebration of a wonderful little boy here’s his story and how it empowered me to believe that anything is possible.
With Imogene I went into labour on the 19th April 2000, Grand Prix day in Northampton which my husband had tickets for!! You can imagine the rest!!
5am I had a show and had been advised due to a persisitent rash that as soon as anything happened I was to go into hospital immeadiately. Like a good little girl I did and so started a cascade of intervention from pessaries, to pethidine to oxytocin & eventual c-section for what we thought was failure to progress but was in fact heart rate decelerations not just for baby but for me too. I had been going for 41+ hours and dilated to 1½cms maximum.
It took 5 years to even think about another baby becasue I was so frightened that I would have the same experience and that I would be treated like I had then. But empowerment is certainly a friend indeed.
I started to write this just after Matthieu had arrived but found it very difficult as I was so elated and excited but also shocked that I had had the birth experience I had. Matthieu will be 4 months in a few weeks and I am due to return to work, and feel that now I can do his birth justice and lay to rest the feelings of despair and failure I had experienced during my first birth experience.
I had never contemplated having another baby, but I became so engrossed in massage for pregnancy & labour & ultimately babies, that a pathway emerged that felt very natural to follow, almost as if it was my destiny to put right the pain, desolation and the sense of failing I had carried with me for 5 years. My pathway led to the door of Michel Odent and Liliana Lammars where I undertook their Paramana course to embark on the beautiful journey of becoming a birth doula.
Mark and I had been trying for another baby for months but each month I just choked back the tears and began to wonder why this was happening to me. A belief in holistic therapy and the fine tuning of some Bowen tecnhique treatments by Mark, helped release the negative emotions & feelings and allowed my body to start to heal itself and start the nuturing process.
Michel talked through my birth experience, as I had broken down on the course introductions not realising that I felt so emotional about it all 5 years on. He listened carefully to what we had experienced and asked me pertinent questions and at the end declared that there was no reason why I couldn’t birth a baby. Spurred on I came home and talked to Mark about everything, it had opened up this well and it was brimming over.
Our lovely daughter, Imogene was born in the year 2000, I say born because I didn’t birth her the way I would have chosen and ultimately choice was taken from us in a split second when we were made to face the reality that it could be one, both or none to survive. I realise that this is scaremongering now, but at the time, I ended up going under the knife to have my child, who I had had such aspirations to enter this world in a beautiful pool of water by the glow of a dimmed light and gentle, calming music.
After 40+ hours and dilating to 1½ cms, we ended up after so much intervention experiencing an emergency c-section instead. I couldn’t understand why months afterwards I would have these dark feelings of failure, now I know that I was probably suffering with post-natal depression. But onward & upward I mustered and kept the troops at bay. I have a beautiful bond with our daughter, which was kindled from the moment I knew I had conceived her and even now there will be a look or a touch between us that we both understand. She is a beautiful, loving little girl full of fun & character. What better than to give her a play companion and to make the family complete.
Imogene wanted a brother or sister to play football with, not too much pressure but enough, which counteracted with the roller-coaster year I had just experienced (being made redundant) seemed to be working its odds against us. During the 18 month period running up to this big event, I had opted to retrain as a massage practitioner and during this training became very interested in pregnancy & labour massage. The circle seemed complete when I was told about Peter Walker’s Developmental Baby Massage programme.
We found out 6 weeks later after the Paramana course and a few tailored Bowen technique treatments that we were expecting our second child. Everyone was elated. Talking to our Consultant really helped to focus us on what we wanted from this pregnancy and birth. I hoped in my heart for a VBAC and then when I was edged into a corner by a new midwife I decided to take the bull by the horns and plumped for a HVBAC. Of course at this point I felt opposition but I wrote expressing what I wanted and received a lovely letter back stating that they were happy for me to go ahead with our planned birth. No discussion about scar rupture or trying to scaremonger me.
Our planned homebirth started on the Monday before Matthieu was born, feeling sick and traipsing around Tescos, scaring the lady behind the checkout and finally coming home to flop and admit enough was enough. I should have known all the signs but choose to ignore them. It wasn’t until Thursday when Imogene promptly threw up, not once but four times that I had to admit those Braxton Hicks were actually contractions and perhaps I should do something about them. Emergency call to the doctors for Imogene not me and a trip to Tescos, Mark not me, followed by a quiet sit in the chair and then a call to the on call midwife, who said she would come round and check and see how it was going. Calpol given to child, poor husband looking blurry eyed and me deciding that I wasn’t in labour topped the early hours and finally I got some sleep catnapping during the day with a sick child lying on the floor covered with a huge blanket and a well positioned bowl.
Saturday dawned bright & our daughter promptly got up and announced “I’m going to play” after being at deaths door. This was the point that the wall finally gave way and I allowed my body to go into labour. Contractions were off & on all day Saturday and throughout the evening & night. Finally on Sunday I decided to call the local midwife and our Doula, Julie, to let them know how things were going. Julie came over and settled in, being very positive, doing reflexology, using homeopathic remedies to assist the birth process and generally being very supportive and taking my mind off everything.
But everything ground to a halt, so after the midwife had been in the evening we decided that we would all go home and have a rest. Ha Ha I couldn’t go anywhere, I already was at home!! I really didn’t feel like cooking, so take out it was and I sat on the birthing ball feeling really deflated but secure in the knowledge that the baby’s heart rate was very stable & there was no cause for concern, & my waters were intact.
We had dinner and I decided to have a lie down, poor Imogene must have gone to bed, I don’t remember very much, thinking I was going to get a lovely sleep, only to find half an hour later I was screaming with the pain and calling Julie back. She had managed to have dinner with her husband and then a quick return. We decided not to call the midwife until it was really necessary. A need for some pain relief, as I was open to the idea of gas & air, prompted us to call the midwife, who had said before she left I don’t want to hear a smile in her voice because I know then that it is real labour. She most certainly didn’t get a smile, just lots of cursing and moaning.
Labouring at home was beautiful, we were in control of what we were doing, massage, eating etc, the calm music, essential oils, lighting and the whole environment was conducive to a beautiful birth. I could wander with or without clothes as I choose. Finally the midwife arrived with the entonox and relief, but it was soon apparent that our little bundle was turning OP depending on the position I was in. The massage was invaluable and I changed positions, ate, drank plenty of fluids regularly, even invented some new positions. At 3am ish the midwife decided to check progress and it was declared I was 3cms. I was so elated and they felt really guilty for having to tell me. They reassessed the situation and decided to transfer us in.
Alas at this point I did lose it, but had to keep in my mind that I could still achieve a vaginal outcome even though it would be in a hospital environment. As the midwife had said when she came to visit me in hospital, the birthplace wasn’t important because I had laboured beautifully at home and we had created a really special environment. Julie was great in reinforcing that I should continue my positive thoughts. I must admit I was all for giving in and letting them section me, but deep down I knew that everything had been so favourable at home: baby wasn’t distressed; my stats were good; I felt that I could do it and Mark kept saying to me that we had got this far and not to give up!
We arrived at the hospital at 4am and we were handed over to a new midwife and team who wanted to intervene, intervene, intervene etc and they kept meeting the barriers of “Why?”, “No” etc. We did refuse continual monitoring because we were sure that the baby was fine as there had been no indication otherwise. We signed to agree to intermittent monitoring (mobile) and I asked for confirmation that everything was ok, I think to reassure me that we were going along the right path. We also refused to have the IV sited just in case, as I felt there was no need and I wanted them to believe that I could birth my baby. We also refused the fetal scalp monitor as there was no indication that baby was distressed.
We did let them do ARM as we felt that this would be a good indicator to show whether there was any foetal distress. There was no meconium and on arrival it was estimated we were 4cms dilated, after ARM we were 7-8cms. Time seemed to pass slowly especially as from the moment I had arrived I had shut my eyes and communicated very little, allowing Mark and Julie who were both very clued up to my preferences, to speak on my behalf. I have been told that time passed quite quickly. Julie kept referring them to our birth plan and they finally read it, after this the Registrar didn’t come back, only the midwife stayed. I had conversations with the entonox fairies and knew that transition was close because I kept thinking just give me an epidural, no better still c-section me, I was not with it and I know that if I had voiced these thoughts both Mark and Julie would have talked it all through with me, but transition is transition and lots of bizarre thoughts go through your head, you feel very vulnerable and at a loss, you just want to feel protected. I know that every time the lights were turned down, I could sense them being turned back up, hence why I kept me eyes closed!!
I remember saying that I needed to push and trying to get off the bed, only to be hauled back up onto it in a sitting position. The midwife asked me if I wanted to touch the babies head and I kept thinking it’s not there and she told me off for wanting a physiological birth and not touching, I was in disbelief that the head was there!! Only a few minutes / seconds (?) later I definitely knew the babies head was there when it crowned, the searing pain, and the “ring of fire” was astounding. The head was out and on the next contraction I experienced the most earth shattering experience, my beautiful baby swam out was placed on my tummy and I just couldn’t believe that I, we had done it. It was awesome. I kept looking at this bundle and thinking we did it!! It was absolutely beautiful; I kept my eyes closed the whole time until he was placed on my tummy and I met my son and his daddy’s eyes which were full of tears (of joy and awe). It was spectacular to have a baby placed on my tummy and have skin to skin immediately. Matthieu’s birth helped me to heal the experience I had had with Imogene.
As for Mark’s reaction, he was inspiring and I saw a very different side to my husband. The tears of joy and (relief?) rolled and I think at that point I realised just how much he had believed in me and that we could do it. The months of persuading him that it was safer for me to birth vaginally and I didn’t want a negative experience really paid off, even though we did end up having a hospital VBAC.
I look at Matthieu and there is such an overwhelming emotion of love and with it a real sense of achievement in that I birthed him according to my terms and with great support from my loving husband and a fantastic friend & colleague. Matthieu arrived on the 21st November 2005, 9 days early at 07:35, established labour was 9 hours 5 minutes.
A huge thank you to everyone for listening and believing in me when I said that I wanted a VBAC. The belief that I could birth a baby naturally and have the most amazing experience will help me to inspire other mums that they too can achieve a positive birth outcome.
Claire’s Thoughts on having a VBAC
I am so please and still on cloud nine four months down the road of achiving my VBAC. My advice to clients is that “It is possible to do it on “Your” terms even in “their” environment. You just have to have someone steadfast in their mission to stick to the birth plan and question why something should be done.” Mark, Julie and I were brilliant at this.
– By Claire Morrow-Goodman
I am going to add this here as I thought this was quite interesting .. a few months after I had Matti I was chatting with a Leicester based midwife and she asked me how far I had dilated with Imogene. When I explained only 1.5 cms she explained to me that I was one of the women they deemed as never able to birth a baby. I was surprised and asked why and she said because your cervix didn’t dilate … do you realise how lucky you are and how wonderful your body is? I did realise that my baby & my body had worked hard and I will be eternally grateful for those that really believed in supporting me to have Matti naturally. Thank you. Hugs Cx