Kristina and Matt’s imperfectly perfect birth…

It all starts with a last minute attempt at a baby moon… we’d always wanted to visit Iceland and deemed it better to visit pre baby… the perfect baby moon. At 30 weeks I got the doctors sign off and off we went. On our second night I woke up thinking I’d wet the bed (!?) but quickly realised something wasn’t right. Waking my partner Matt up, we tried to remain calm realising we were a very icy, 1 hour drive away from the nearest hospital in Reykjavik. Navigating the precarious roads to A&E, Matt dropped me at the entrance and had gone to park the car when my waters totally went. Standing outside the a&e entrance in minus 12 degrees there was no doubting it this time. Panic set in. We were quickly sent to the labour ward where it was confirmed I was in labour at 30weeks and that my contractions were coming thick and fast every 2 minutes. I remember the doctors  asking me if I could feel them but I was honestly zoned out and focussed on the heart beat of our baby on the screen. They really did just feel like tightenings. The doctors explained that labour needed to be stopped immediately in order to give our baby a better survival rate. I was quickly put on a tractocil drip (a drug to stop labour) and told I needed two steroid injections over the next 48 hours to speed up baby’s development and lungs. So that if he was born when the tractocil drug was stopped (and their first opinion was that this was highly likely) our baby would have a better chance of survival.
It was the longest 48 hours of our lives. We went into action mode making lists of things to do, insurance, family, arranging extended cattery stays, the list was long but we were in a zone of calm. The doctors were more positive as I had the two steroid shots and our visit to the nicu unit put everything into perspective. Talks of emergency c sections and the size of the baby ran over us and we clinged to each other and the hope that our little baby was going to be a little fighter. After the 48 hours I was taken off the drip. 7 days then passed and it was clear labour wasn’t going to be starting anytime soon. By this time we were so desperate to get home, each day that went by I desperately thought of traveling home. We were out of the danger zone but no one would fly us home. Eventually our insurance company agreed to put on a rescue plane. So accompanied by several medical staff and an incubator we landed back in London on a private plane. I’ve never been so happy to be home! Our hospital said they would induce at 34 weeks as the risk of infection then crosses over with the risk of the risk of preterm birth. So we had just 2 weeks to sit still and prepare to meet our little man.
At 33plus 3 I was a little concerned about a reduction in babies movement. It was just over a week before Christmas and we had nothing ready so I said let’s pop into hospital on the way to John Lewis… just to be on the safe side. A scan indicated that after 3 weeks since my waters broke I now had a dangerously low level of fluid now and the baby was compressed and possibly getting a little distressed so they would go ahead with induction today!! Again a huge shock and after sending Matt out with a list of things to buy we were hooked up to syntocin on the labour ward. This was so, so far removed from the birth I had envisioned for my first baby. I was supposed to be in a birthing pool in February with dim lights and very little intervention but instead I was being talked into epidurals under bright lights lying in a bed strapped up to all sorts of monitors. But my number one priority was hearing that strong heart beat and having my baby delivered as safely as possible.
We tried to rest and take it easy, remembering all of Hayley’s advice over our lessons. I listened to the audio and got into the zone as much as I could. After 19hours I was only 1cm and each time they turned the drip up the babies heart rate went very high before dipping low. Doctors came to see us and said a c section would be necessary as they couldn’t increase the induction drip anymore and there was no progression. There was a 3 hour wait for a section so we should sitback and relax. Matt asked what the alternatives were and was very quickly laughed down by one of the doctors who said there was no alternative. I felt fine on the syntocin so we asked if we could continue on the low level until our turn for a c section. Eventually one of the doctors agreed under the condition that one more heart rate dip from baby and it would be turned off.
Durning our wait for the section, we were prepped and ready. 3 hours flew by with baby thankfully behaving, the doctor was astonished To find I was now 7cm and they agreed to give us a few more hours. A catheter was put in place as there was still a lot of doubt surrounding babies health for a natural delivery and we were coming up to 24hours on the drip. My midwife went for a cup of tea and another midwife was sitting with us. I needed the gas and air at this point as the intensity had increased over the past half an hour or so. I vividly remember one of the nicu doctors coming to talk us through what would happen when our baby was born and the different scenarios depending on his needs. I needed to dip in and out of the conversation to take in the gas and air. I said to the midwife I felt like the catheter was in the wrong position, she was keen to wait for my midwife to return but I kept saying it was wrong. She went to get a doctor to check and whilst she was out of the room I felt down between my legs and felt the babies head!! Saying to matt ‘just give me your hand a minute’ I put his hand on the head and he started pushing all the red buttons on the wall. The gas and air hadmade me find this all very funny. The doctor confirmed it was definitely time to start pushing and the room filled with nicu doctors and nurses but my midwife was back and I focussed on her and matt. Within 15 minutes I had delivered our little boy. Matt got to cut the cord and I head the cries that confirmed he didn’t need resuscitation, one of our major concerns. He was whisked straight onto the crash unit and examined. I was handed this tiny little bundle for a quick cuddle before he was whisked away and I was left with our wonderful midwife and a very quiet room. We had already arranged that matt would accompany the baby up to the neonatal unit.
I can’t thank our wonderful midwife,Rhianna, enough. It was just the two of us now. She made me tea, helped me deliver the placenta and showed me how to begin the arduous job of expressing some colustrum and collecting it in a syringe to get my milk production going and give our baby the best start.
Oscar James Ritchie was born on 18/12/17 weighing in at 4lbs4oz. A little fighter. We spent 2 weeks in hospital establishing feeding and getting him strong enough to bring home on 02/01/18.
I really couldn’t recommend Hypnobirthing strongly enough. One thing I’ve learnt about birth is that anything can happen!Hypnobirthing is theone tool that can be used and applied in any situation. I know my next birth will (hopefully) be very different and I will come back to the techniques I learned with Hayley. We would say that one of the best things about Hypnobirthing is the role that it gives the birthing partner. Matt is the first to admit how sceptical he was when I first voiced my desire to do a Hypnobirthing course. However, after completing the course and educating ourselves on birth, Matt was left with a strong, defined role. He knew he was my voice in the labour room. We took time to discuss our thoughts and wishes on the twists and turns birth could take and just felt so empowered when it came to birth. We surprised ourselves by questioning doctors and decisions. We were informed and asked for time to make decisions, discussing things with knowledge and making informed choices which resulted in a calm and strong birth which I look back upon with the fondest memories. Without Hypnobirthing I am convinced we would have gone along with the doctors advice to turn off the syntocin drip and wait for the c section. I’ll never forget how shocked the doctor was when he came back after 3 hours to find huge progression after saying we were definitely having a c section!
Hayley was absolutely fantastic throughout the course and went above and beyond when things started to fall apart for us. Despite lots of things going wrong I would do it all again tomorrow and I would put a lot of that down to our Hypnobirthing practise.

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