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Esme took her own sweet time coming into the world. I take it as a warning that she has inherited the stubborn streak of her father and brother in doing things at exactly her own pace, and no other. That pace seems to hover around terminal velocity for most of the day so she’s clearly making up for lost time.

After I had finished work, I took to mailing my birth team every day with what soon became a non-update. A few niggles here, some contractions there - we even reached the dizzy heights of a suspected UTI one day – but nothing consistent or purposeful.

I was blessed that where I had been barraged with “OH MY GOD WE MUST GET THIS BABY OUT STAT!!!” with Alfie, I was met with lots of “she’ll come when she’s ready” replies from Amanda and Mel. It helped sooth my restless soul.

On around the 15th I started getting contractions. They would last an hour or so and need me to concentrate. I timed them on an app and sent the logs through to the ladies just to keep them up to date, but still nothing felt like it was really picking up.

I wondered, like a lot of modern women, whether my body knew what to do. More to the point would I know what to do? I also wondered whether my hypnobirthing might in fact stop me from taking contractions seriously enough until it was too late.

The answer to that one was definitely yes and no.

From the 20th things started to get a little more interesting …
Natasha wrote:
Morning ladies, Another really disturbed night last and some kick arse contractions when I'm up and about, but only every half hour or so. We are about to take Harry to a local wood for a mooch, as much to avoid maternal crazy making as much as anything else XX
Amanda wrote:
All sounds good!! A nice walk will be good! X
Natasha wrote:
Don't faint it anything but it appears I am finally having a proper show. At this rate of progress we should be on for a Christmas baby ;) XX
Amanda  wrote:
Shall I get comfy for an evening of TV or fill up the car?? How are you feeling? xx
Natasha wrote:
Similar to the last few nights, serious contractions that take some breathing through but only every 30 mins or so and no sign of them getting closer yet. Reckon you're safe tonight :) XX
Nothing happened of course, Esme carried on teasing us with her stop/ start descent and another routine appointment came and went. We tried throwing some acupuncture and reflexology at her and she responded in much the same way she does now, by beating the shit out of my ribs.

A few days later and we were here:
On 22 Nov 2011, Amanda wrote:
Hope all is well!!  Any news – ticking along??? xx
Natasha wrote:
Not bad thanks, having some mega contractions but still quite far apart. Feel quite teary because I miss small boy (although that might just be an excuse I suppose) and I'm struggling to eat much, my stomach feels a bit raw. I am snacking on bread and drinking lots though. Going to try and have a nap now in case it picks up again tonight XX
Amanda wrote:
Awwww you will miss Alfie... Try and eat, toast and buscuits with lots of fluid... Rest, rest and more rest!! It will be soon. Xx
By now Alfie had been packed off to my mum because of a particularly violent night of contractions stopped in their tracks as soon as he woke up. I wondered whether my need to look after him was holding me back so off he went with Keith’s dad to spend a day being spoiled before being dropped off with my mum. We were so lucky to have these awesome grandparents ready to drop their plans to support us. If I were them I would've told us to plan better and given us the name of a babysitter!

That night though, my birth team did come to join us, and it would be a few days before they left again.

Things were still stop/ start and it made me hesitate to bother them on the basis that I thought as soon as I did everything would go quiet.

I was feeling very intense contractions but they were manageable with breathing and using my favourite sway post to get through. Turns out a baby gate is perfect height and I rocked the shit out of the one in our lounge doorway over those few days. I loved having the freedom to try different positions and locations and actually found that different ones helped in different ways at different times.

Time blurred and dragged and now I can only remember snippets of what happened. I actually have a birth account written by Mel, my Doula and it tells me a lot about the birth that I hadn't even begun to realise. I don’t need to remember every detail of those few days though, just that they were calm, and intense and beautiful and healing. 

Until the day I die I will be able to close my eyes and remember the moment when the midwives arrived. I was in the pool with a fire blazing and Nirvana Unplugged playing in the background. I was contracting and concentrating hard but through it all I remember thinking that right there was one of those “perfect moments” in life, where there is nowhere else you would rather be.

Problem was Esme had similar ideas about being happy where she was and things weren't progressing quite as everyone wanted them to. I happily agreed to an internal (my first of the pregnancy) so I could understand what was going on.

It took us all a while to work that one out but it turned out that Esme had wedged her head into my pelvis in a way that is technically described as “on the wonk”. Her poor presentation was causing a very intense stop/ start labour and there was much discussion about how we would get her in a better position without putting too much strain on my old c-section scar.

We tried a lot of things.  We gave her time, tried strange positions, watched Twilight films, floated in the pool, I think at one point I contemplated calling a damn witch doctor but Esme was determined, and now progressively more tired.

As was I.

The ladies left Keith and I to talk about what we wanted to do and we came to the decision that we wanted to stick by our previous views that a good section was better than a bad birth so when they returned, we told them that we wanted to transfer into hospital. Amanda made the call to the hospital and we packed up in three cars to convoy in.

The journey in was agony. I couldn't sit down for the contractions and being trapped was making me panic. When we arrived the registrar made it clear that I wouldn't be getting a section until the day shift arrived in seven hours and was generally about as egotistical as it is possible to get. I think before daybreak there wasn't one of us who hadn't had a fight with her.

During the night I have to be honest, my hypnobirthing deserted me and I panicked. I was suddenly in pain and desperate to crawl out of my body. My back felt like it was being split in half and the muscles to either side of my bump were so sore they were visibly bruised and frankly, I was ready for it to STOP. With the aid of a stab happy anaesthetist it did, and if I'm honest I can see why women go for epidurals. 

After the epidural was in place I was supposed to get some sleep, but I was strangely restless and now immobile, so I sent Keith and Mel off for coffee while I dozed and contained my excitement at the prospect of seeing my baby.

Typically, the consultant chose that very time to do her morning rounds and after listening to me for a few minutes agreed on the spot to my wishes and said we’d go into theatre. I had to grab my mobile to call the other two so that they would get back in time!

I made some simple requests that Esme be put on my chest for skin to skin and that Keith be given the chance to cut her cord and then off we went. I was so excited I remember grinning like an idiot the whole time. In hindsight a foolish approach to major surgery.

Esme was born quickly and easily in the same way as her brother. She was nicked by the scalpel and whisked off for butterfly stitches but then brought back to be laid on my chest. Unfortunately right about that time my heart rate started going a little nuts and I felt too ill to hold her, so Keith was treated to a whole heap of extra cuddles he hadn't expected.

They stabilised me, and wheeled us out into recovery for us to start breast feeding. I was so scared about this part because Alfie had refused point blank to feed but Esme showed me her mind and took to it easily. I was overcome - although I was so tired by that point the photos show the emotion didn't quite reach my face – and could barely hold back the tears of happiness as she latched. She fed hungrily then, and for many hours afterwards, and I loved every second of it.

We were exhausted but we were finally triumphant in bringing Esme into our family. I fell in love with her from the moment I saw her, deeply and completely, and she bears a heavy burden lightly for such a little person: she is responsible for having healed the darkness of Alfie’s birth. She wasn't the homebirth she was supposed to be, but she was the good birth we had hoped for.

We couldn't have asked for more.

Esme Simone Batsford
Born 24/11/2011 10:03
6lb 15oz

PS I want to thank Amanda and Claire and Mel for their wisdom, kindness and love. If all birth teams were like you every birth would be a happy one XX

1 comment

  1. Awe just made me cry....It was such a pleasure being part of your journey. I am in awe of your strength. You and Keith are very special parents and your children are adorable xxx


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