I often feel that Hypnobirthing is most transformative for partners- that for mamas, they realise they are just tuning into what they somehow knew deep down. But the most sceptical partners can experience a complete overhaul of their expectations and understanding. And a supportive partner makes ALL the difference.
Here’s what hubs had to say about Rory’s arrival, in his own words…
Keri has asked that I write our birth story from my perspective, so here it is (probably nowhere near as well written as the version you now know!)
The pre birth preparations started on the morning of the 21st of April, a week before little Rory’s arrival.
We had already experienced a week of ‘false starts’ before Keri asked that I stay at home, she was having a particularly intense session of timely surges and we both felt that it was only a matter of hours……it wasn’t! This pattern of surges starting, intensifying and disappearing continued right up to early hours of the 27th, Rory’s birthday.
I learnt a new word in those last weeks of Keri’s pregnancy…..prodromal.
Keri would have explained what this word means, but this brings some unexpected pressure on the partner of the birthee, when to start paternity leave!
I was left worried that I had started mine too early. A full week had passed with still no baby and only a week left before I was to return to work.
It’s not that I am selfish, but I was slightly concerned that it might be viewed that I had simply decided when was convenient for me to take a break and I still had no photos of a baby to share. Furthermore, I was concerned that I would not be available to aid Keri post birth as I would like.
This ‘prodromal’ stage brought further worries, do I start preparing for our birth plan or do I play down the latest surge episode, the right answer, who knows!
Play down the baby’s latest round of ‘here I come, no I don’t’ you’ll have a wife looking at you as if you dont care and that you are not very affectionate (I’m not!)
Go with the flow and start preparing for the birth, you could end up like me pumping the birthing pool up 6 days too early and it becoming an inflatable wrestling ring for our first born and his bestie, ending with a third tier puncture.
Now think about how that plays out, a woman pumped full of hormones, exhausted by the later stages of pregnancy coming to terms with the latest round of surges ending with still no baby and now a puncture in the birthing pool. Naturally ‘this puncture’ was my fault for my ‘false start’ or worse still for not deflating the pool, refolding and placing it back in the box, I should have known that a 6 day delay was coming!
The night that Rory finally started his descent was different from the previous 6. Intuition? Call it what you will, but that night I had thoroughly cleaned the kitchen before bed and Keri had ‘popped’ to the shops for ‘midwife’ snacks (4 packets of biscuits, 3 crates of cakes and 16 varieties of tea bags! (Note that we had stocked up on biscuits and cakes in our weekly shop 4 days earlier, only Keri knows what happened to those ?)).
Maybe, sub consciously we both knew this was our time and Rory would soon be with us.
At 1:30 Louis (our first) called out for us and got into our bed. I asked Keri, for the millionth time if the surge pattern had changed, the response no (great I thought, more sleep).
At 1:45, all had changed, Keri had visited the toilet for the 48th time that evening (roughly) and returned with news that her waters had broken…….downstairs we went.
My thoughts at this time? she better be in full labour and not this prodromal rubbish! Of course I am only joking. I, like anyone being awoken from their sleep (twice in 20 minutes, heroic really) was in a sleepy haze and started thinking about filling the pool. Keri however was on her own little mission for a mention in the midwife chronicle for host of the year, our kitchen turned into a BIrdwood bakery (one for the locals).
If you are thinking now is the time my story gets more serious, not quite.
We spent the next few hours watching some Peter Kay stand up whilst Keri sat on her ball breathing out each surge and I gently completed my light back massage duties.
I would like to pretend I was a brilliant birthing partner in those early stages, but it seemed every time a more intense surge arrived that required Keri’s full attention, Peter Kay turned on his best performances leaving me in fits of laughter.
I cannot remember exactly, but I think the surges become more powerful and regular around 6.15 and we phoned for a midwife.
In terms of my duties, things were going well. Birthing pool filled – check
Midwife called (and coming to our home) – check
Light massage duties – check
Keri was doing even better!
The midwifes arrived around 6.45 and the pattern of Keri’s surges had become more intense, naturally she was feeling tired. I tried to reassure her that every surge that passed was one more ticked off before she would meet our baby.
Keri’s mum and dad arrived and were prepared to do their duties and occupy Louis when he woke.
Now you can be the best birthing partner in the world, but you can never quite judge what the birthee is thinking. I was never fully confident I was doing and saying the right things, this kept me on my toes, I imagine a birthing woman’s patience is not where it might ordinarily be and that they are looking for an excuse to punch you!
At around 7:45 the surges were strong and regular enough for Keri to want to get into the birthing pool.
Take a step back in time to the 17th of May 2013 (The day of Louis’s birth) Keri and I had tried for a home hypnobirth and reached roughly the same stage, minus a pool.
However, back then I had not completed my side of the bargain with our planned hypnobirth and had allowed the Midwifes to interact with Keri too much and had lost my bottle when due to some excess bleeding the midwifes asked that Keri transferred to hospital. In my defence, all I wanted was for Keri and the baby to be safe, but I regret that I allowed that to happen. However, given the facts at the time, I would probably make the same decision.
However, hypnobirthing is not just about the goal of a perfect birth, if that happens then everyone celebrates. Hypnobirthing (as I know it through what Keri teaches and the discussions we have) is more on educating woman of the choices they have and providing couples with the tools to adapt when things do not go to plan. It is the using of ‘tools for when things don’t go to plan’ part that I have the biggest regret from our first birth.
Yes, the excess bleeding had led to the decision, as a precaution, to complete the birth in hospital. However, It didn’t mean that the rest of our birth plan could not be respected. I allowed several people to interact with Keri and watched from the side as our planned birth (that was going well and to plan for 10 hours) had spiralled to a scene from one born every minute, we had lost control for a time, and it was only towards the end of the birth that we took it back.
I learnt alot from that experience and the affect that it had months, maybe years after on Keri and would do everything in my control to ensure it was not repeated.
Luckily we had no blood loss this time and we had great, respectful midwifes. But there are still things that needed to be done to keep our environment as we would like. Things that sound sound simple, but are not naturally easy for me.
Asking someone (a stranger) to be quiet or talk in the othe room away from Keri, this is actually not that easy. How often do you see someone talking on their phone continuously on a train in the silent coach and no one says a word. So I know I am not alone in this struggle!
The other small thing I was required to do was ask the midwifes to move their medical equipment out of the view of Keri, again it might seem simple, but I know (Through Keri) the importance of the environment, the visuals and the importance of not allowing anything that might break the birthees concentration.
Small things, but I made sure that they were done this time!
Keri got into the birthing pool after showing complete disrespect to my left foot, I don’t know what it was but my foot was soaked and no one was apologising!
It is the later stages, when fatigue is setting in and the birthing experience intensifies that I imagine is the hardest part for a woman to prepare for.
Keri had a small wobble, as she lay hunched over the pool (I was now in with her) and told me and the midwifes she couldn’t do it, I knew she could, there was no room for doubt. I reminded her of her favourite visualisations and quotes, but still I didn’t know if I was helping. Keri however got back in her zone, got her breathing back under control and at 8:22 Rory Fitzgerald Jarvis was in my hands at the bottom of the pool ready to be gently lifted for his first breathe of air.
Magical, I was the first person in the whole world to hold him…..it lasted for 8 seconds before Keri turned around and demanded our baby.
I am very thankful to Keri for the amazing experience of Rory’s birth and for our two beautiful boys.
It was such a contrast to what is shown on TV and was actually an experience that I can say I enjoyed, not just meeting Rory for the first time, but the transition of Rory from Keri’s belly to our arms.
In summary, the outcome was ‘our’ perfect and what we wanted, we had the home water birth.
However, to get there we had a number of obstacles that we had to overcome, the path wasn’t smooth.
A prolonged early labour, a punctured birthing pool, our first, Louis waking up just as the surges intensified, my wet foot (still no apology).
But we adapted to each challenge, achieved our goal, and I will always be the first person in this world to have held Rory, magic!