This is Lauren’s story. Her first baby unfortunately passed away at just 22 weeks, she then went on to have another baby girl a year later. Here are her beautiful words, reflecting on two life-changing experiences:
“I first fell pregnant in April 2017, my now husband and I had been keen to start our family ahead of our wedding in June that year, our dream of announcing our pregnancy to the world on our wedding day. After an Easter weekend away with family we were thrilled to discover our dream was about to become a reality.
3 days after our 12 week scan, Chris and I said ‘I do’ infront of friends and family, and during the speeches we announced that we were going to become parents at Christmas, seeing our loved ones faces light up was exhilarating!
I have suffered from anxiety since I was a young teenager, inevitably the anxiety surrounding my pregnancy and birth bubbled to the surface and I found myself overwhelmed with familiar sensations, one evening, I searched and searched for the perfect answer, this was when I found Chloe and Do It Like A Mother, their approach to birth, relaxation and hypnobirthing instantly made me feel calmer and more empowered.
As our pregnancy progressed, I leaned on the support of Chloe for her invaluable advice, reassurance and knowledge to prepare myself in bringing our baby into the world.
Sadly, on 18th August at 22+3 weeks, we discovered our baby had died. Our world which was once floating on clouds living out our dream come crashing down, the life we planned disappeared and our vision became black and bleak, we stumbled through the next 48 hours and, on Sunday 20th August at 6.28pm our daughter, Vera Maggie Marston – or Little V she is affectionately known – entered the world, weighing one precious pound.
A labour extremely different from our plans, I had been advised upon finding out Little V had passed away not to be a hero, to take all the pain relief, so I did. I wasn’t going to get to bring a baby home at the end of this, so for me numbing the pain as much as we could helped me come to terms with what was happening.
We had to go home before coming back to hospital to be induced, those hours was the longest period of time I’ve ever endured; the rollercoaster of emotions swamping us, making us laughing in hysterics followed by howling with grief.
I called upon the brief time I had spent reading and practicing hypnobirthing to calm myself in those moments, something I used throughout my labour; it gave me empowerment and focused me to channel my grief and pain into bringing baby into our world. With each contraction I pictured my baby moving down and eventually leaving my body, except my visions didn’t end with a Hollywood moment hearing those gorgeous cries, instead the room fell silent, I fell silent and looked into the midwife’s eyes, praying for her to say there had been a mistake and hand me my daughter wriggling and eyes blinking up at me. But it wasn’t to be.
We spent 2 amazing days saying hello to our baby, she slept with us, we introduced her to our friends and family, we cuddled and kissed and took hand and footprints.
Throughout our experience we were always positive, I believe our attitude to our situation enabled me to labour quickly, with no complications and little recovery.
I was broken and hated my body for letting me down, a relationship still fractured to this day, however a little mended now.
To our surprise in November 2017, we discovered we were expecting our second child, our rainbow baby!
Our pregnancy was complex, intense and littered with medical intervention and monitoring. Although thankful for our amazing midwives and consultants, we longed for a ‘normal’ labour and delivery…
As soon as we discovered we were expecting we knew we wanted Chloe to be with us again for this journey. As soon as I felt able to I joined pregnancy relaxation classes, giving myself time to connect with my growing baby, feeling them kick and breathing calm and tranquility to them, reminding myself that if I could do what we did in August, we could do again and again and again.
Chloe held us closely as our time grew nearer, we used visualisation to imagine ourselves holding our newborn baby, pink and squishy and ours. She guided myself, my wonderful husband and supportive mum to give us the best advice for our labour, how we work together to provide the best and calmest environment, using tools to relax and empower me to breathe through each contraction.
At 38 weeks we were induced, a medicated route for sure, however we ensured we used massage and essential oils, soft lighting, music, breathing techniques and visualisation to birth our baby.
I laboured back to back, using breathing until established labour, where our calm and secluded environment was flooded with doctors and midwives, bright lights and beeping machines when our baby was found to be struggling.
I was given an epidural, rendered static on a bed and instructed to turn each time baby’s heart dipped. Hearing those beeps slowly decline as each wave rose sent our anxiety levels soaring.
In this time I remembered Chloe’s advice, I focused solely on one person to communicate with, I blocked out the copious other doctors busying around the room, allowing time to slow down and for me to concentrate on bringing baby here safely.
I became ready to push in 90 minutes, going from 3-10cm… with each wave I could feel baby moving down and out, but her heart rate kept plummeting so we were rushed to theatres to be helped with the final part.
Finally, at 8.20am, weighing 5lbs 14oz our beautiful baby girl Maddie Grace Marston was placed into our arms, no cries, but two big brown eyes staring up at us, perfect bowed lip and button nose. She is utterly incredible.
I feel that even though we didn’t get our ‘dream birth story’ – who does nowadays? – our anxieties surrounding birth helped us come to terms with each sharp turn our journey took. Breathing through the tense situations and worrying moments helped relax me, my anxiety floated above my head and never penetrated me, I was able to control me and focus on our daughter and only our daughter.
I feel had we not had the support of Chloe, I would not have had the sense of power and control to manage my anxieties, to set them aside and birth our baby, to listen to my body and to go with the flow and surprises that labour brings. Despite our traumatic times I now feel confident in the knowledge that my body made two perfect little babies, just one was destined to watch over us from the heavens.
My body and I still have some making up to do, but we are mending slowly but surely!”
Thank you to Lauren, for sharing your inspiring feats of strength and resilience. It was an honour to be a support for you during this time, you taught me many lessons- as did your wonderful girls.