The Last Push

11 days late, my son was born into the world under slightly different circumstances than I had planned or would have liked. I had missed my opportunity to have a home birth and so, after holding off for as long as I could, we headed into hospital not much before 11pm. We were shown into an admittedly large and pleasant delivery room, which the midwife said they had given me to try to make it as home-like as possible. The transition slowed my contractions down a little, but not for long, and soon I was on my knees on the floor, sucking on the gas and air in desperation as pain ripped through my body and my free hand flailed around in protest. To be honest, the speed of the progression caught me by surprise, and I had no time to really prepare myself for the radically increased intensity of my contractions – my coping mechanisms of breathing and visualisation went out the window, and I realised how much I would have benefitted from somebody there to remind me of them.

The midwife had left me to labour a while but, eventually, some time within the hour, she examined me again and noted that I had gone from 4cm to 8cm dilated. She kept telling me to follow my body, that I would know when it was time to push. She wouldn’t examine me again to discover if I was 10cm. And this created a complex for me. I started wanting to push, but was it safe to push? She kept telling me to do what felt right – if it felt like time to push it was probably time to push. Probably? That didn’t seem good enough to me; I had become very unsure of myself in this strange situation, and I was defaulting to my tendency to obey the figure of authority, because I didn’t feel like I had any. This was one of the things I had been trying to avoid by planning a home birth, but that didn’t matter anymore.

After a while, I started trying out some gentle pushing – I couldn’t bring myself to really go for it, and I felt myself trying a bit and then halting it, out of fear. The midwife checked me after a while, and said she could feel the sack of waters bulging out, and so I should push. And on one of the subsequent pushes they gushed forth, startling E.

So now it was time to push, but still I kept interrupting myself, because I’d been holding off so long that now it felt wrong to push. I had been ‘resting’ on the bed for a while, and I got back round onto all fours, which significantly intensified things. It was actually incredibly unpleasant, but equally it felt like how things were supposed to be – I felt more able to push, the contractions were quicker and more intense, urging me to push, and I could console myself by burying my face in the bed and rocking.

But what seemed like very soon after that, the midwife wanted me back on my back to ‘open up my hips more’. This led to more pain, much more discomfort, and a slowing of my contractions. She put my feet in the stirrups and kept adjusting them to push my knees toward me. I had to keep asking her to lower them again because of how much it hurt my right leg. Then she kept raising the back of the bed, which curved my back and caused even more pain and discomfort. So I found myself in the very position I knew I didn’t want to be in, and it was about as bad as I could have imagined. My old back and knee injuries were clearly making themselves known.

Plus the mouth piece on the gas and air had started making an atrociously loud buzzing which blocked out all other sound and vibrated incessantly in my mouth. It was obviously to do with the change in my breathing now that things were really serious, but try as I might I couldn’t rectify it. While it was buzzing, it was also failing to deliver the full amount of gas. So I was trapped in distraction and frustration, unable to ignore the buzzing as the midwife kept instructing, and unable to set aside my crutch, even if all it was really doing at this point was giving me something to bite down on.

I was annoyed at myself for not claiming more power over the situation. I was annoyed at the midwife for following such conventional wisdom and more or less ignoring my protests (as weak as they may have been, I don’t really remember). I was supremely annoyed at the mouth piece. The whole thing felt fudged.

But at some point, the gas and air was set aside, the midwife told me in no uncertain terms what I needed to be doing, and he started coming out. My contractions had slowed down a lot now that I was on my back, and it felt like in between pushes we were all just tensely waiting for something to happen again for an unreasonable length of time. There began to be talk of drugs and doctors because I had been pushing for so long. The midwife stepped up her cheerleader game, which I was incredibly grateful for, and my son emerged before drugs or doctors.

It wasn’t how I had wanted it to be, but it was over, and I couldn’t say it had been so bad. And now he was on my chest. In the real world. A real human. Who we had made.

Was it worth it? Of course. Would I do it again? Not like this.


I had started writing a post on the 17th, albeit never getting past the title, contemplating the idea that I was somewhat responsible for my son’s delayed exit/entrance.

I have a tendency to claim unnecessary responsibility, it’s true, but considering anxiety, for instance, is shown to slow labour, I had to come to terms with the fact I may not have been totally passive in the decision of when he was born.

There was certainly an element of fear of the birth process, which I was often able to reframe into excitement, but still lurked there, frustrating me. I wished I had done more to deal with it. Another factor for me, though, was that most of the challenging relationships in my life, particularly with males, have been with Cancers. Meaning there were a collection of dates around my son’s due date that were, to varying degrees, preloaded. Associations, good, bad, and conflicting, that perhaps it was better not to involve a new life in. And maybe I felt like I was navigating a minefield, or negotiating some karmic cycle, even though I told myself both that it didn’t matter and that it was out of my hands.

I didn’t get very far with the post because I started getting regular contractions.

And now I have a week old son, born on a blank canvas day (at least to my psyche).

Still waiting

While pre-labour things have been happening intermittently for quite a while now, still nothing has officially kicked off. So Malachi is now a week ‘overdue’, although of course we’re still within a pretty normal timeframe. My timeframe for a home birth, on the other hand, is almost over, as there is only a midwife on call for me until 8am tomorrow. After that I will have to go into hospital. Which, more than anything, just seems like a big old faff.

I’ve tried the list of tricks, so at least I could say I have, but really they’re all just to encourage the cervix to do its preparation, and that’s all happening anyway. So now it is about surrendering to the will of the Universe. Or maybe just the will of Malachi. It will happen when it happens, and it will happen how it happens. That is all I need to know.

Mother Bog

A while ago I posted about my discovery of Cors Caron bog in Wales. It was a quiet place. Often I’d visit on dreary days and never see another soul. I’d walk around the boardwalk, talking freely out loud to myself about all manner of strange and spiritual matters. Occasionally I’d get caught out by a secret fisherman lurking in the reeds.

One particularly rainy day, with my jeans and boots already soaked through but my Berghaus keeping the rest of me comfortably warm and dry, I sat down at a corner on the sodden wood and stared out over the flatness, contemplating. Then I closed my eyes and meditated for a while. It was such an easy place to meditate. Like there was something ancient and wise residing there, welcoming me to drop into that dark, fertile space.

After however much time, I left my meditation and continued my quiet walk onwards around the boardwalk, and was hit by an idea of great beauty. The idea of Mother Earth. An idea that certainly wasn’t unfamiliar to me, and an idea that had resonated with me on some level for many years, but equally an idea I had never troubled to explore the depths of before.

The Earth gave us everything we need. She offers everything she has. Even as we betray her she does her best to sustain us. She will never blame us. She will always forgive us. She will endure every hurt we inflict upon her. But equally she won’t shield us from our self-inflicted pain. She gives us all the tools she can, but she won’t protect us from the consequences of our actions. She is not bitter, she won’t rage against us, although if we keep on the same destructive path it may begin to seem that way. She simply gives us space to learn. And trusts that we will get better. And no matter how we may forsake her, she will never forsake us. But she won’t let us destroy her. The perfect model of true, unconditional love.

This idea was accompanied with an eruption of several emotions. Guilt at all the damage I’ve done without ever truly acknowledging the gift I’ve been given. Simultaneous peace that all is already forgiven. Wonderment at the beauty of existence. Safety. Strength. Drive. Inspiration. Compassion.

I can’t know what kind of mother I will be. But I know the trials I’ve faced taught me about unconditional love, and I know they built in me the strength to channel it, and I know that day I learned what it looks like. And so, perhaps, all of that was, most importantly, preparation for what is about to unfold.

Tick tock

I thought it was all kicking off in the night. I awoke to pain and contraction, a weird wave sensation and a stabbing in my cervix. And it kept going. It faded and returned. Things continued this way for some time. I thought ‘this must be it’. And then I thought ‘FUCK, THIS MUST BE IT’. And then I thought ‘it’s okay, it’ll be over soon’. And then I thought ‘FUCK, WHEN IT’S OVER, I’LL HAVE A BABY’.

So I lay there, silently chanting the instruction to myself to allow, allow, allow. I visualised the wave passing through me, downwards, and I allowed it with all the openness I could muster. I made space for it and nothing else.

Even though he’s overdue, I hadn’t expected it to start yet. My bet was placed on the weekend. But it seemed very much like I was going to be wrong about that. And so I thought ‘okay, I guess he’s on his way’, reminding myself that this is a good thing, because I want a home birth, and my cut off for having a home birth is probably the end of Saturday, or maybe even before that depending on how the midwives’ shifts work.

After a while, I got up, and the cat got up with me. It was 3:30am. I went to the toilet, and then I sat in my chair in the living room, not really doing anything, and the cat sat with me. And nothing happened. I was fine. No pain. Just the standard squirming and occasional tightness. I was very hungry and thirsty, so I had a pint of water and some biscuits, and half an hour later I returned to bed, still thinking I must have entered the realm of early labour.

And it all returned not long after I lay down. So surely, surely, this was the start of something.

But, it seems, it wasn’t. Because while my sleep was interrupted with pain through the rest of the morning, I haven’t felt anything significant since about 9am.

Just another warm up, I guess.

Embracing pain

Tonight I am very awake. Unusually awake. Suspiciously awake. To my recollection, I’ve been awake all day. We even went out for a substantial walk earlier. Ordinarily heavily pregnant Yve would have been exhausted. But here I am, tip-tapping away, positively bouncing in my chair.

So of course one may wonder if something is about to happen. And on that count I’ll have to wait and see. But regardless, staying up late has given me an opportunity to check in with some ideas that are pertinent to me right now. A theme that keeps coming up in the things I’m reading and watching today is the power of pain. The transformative power of claiming your pain; of stepping into it, welcoming it, using it.

That is what I want my birth to be like. Partly because that is how I have tried to treat pain these past few years – particularly the emotional, spiritual and mental kind. But mainly because that, I believe, is part of the sacredness of giving birth. The gift of the pain. For me personally, to dull the pain is to lose some of the opportunity. That is how I see it right now. I accept that I may be proven wrong. I accept that if the pain somehow becomes too much to deal with, dulling it would be the right choice. Especially when it’s really not about me. But I don’t expect that to happen. This is a journey for both of us, and I want to face it head-on.

The idea of the opportunity in the pain excites me. But it also scares me. I can feel I’m on a knife edge about it. That’s probably the best we can hope for, when facing real pain. But I hope that when it comes, I do more than simply cope with it. I hope I can embrace it. And see what it has to teach me.

Maybe I just had to be awake enough to reconnect with this idea.