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  • Writer's pictureShani Yeend

Charlie's birth story

Sadie Rose Hayley, our birth story.

I was 37 weeks pregnant and something in my gut was telling me to slow down, to press pause on work and enjoy a few weeks of a slower paced life before the unknown of a new baby. I was teaching until 38 weeks, still flowing through badass, teaching boxing and moving with my clients (albeit a little slower). It felt so empowering and good for me to still be able to move my body at this stage in pregnancy, but I was starting to feel tired and heavy. I was ready to hang up the gloves for a while. The week before I went into labour I slowed down. I enjoyed lazy coffee mornings in bed without setting my alarm, I went for long walks and met up with friends. Shani and I took two sweet trips to the beach with the kidlets and my huge belly. I hung out in the sun and enjoyed being horizontal and doing ‘nothing’. Of course I was doing the obvious nesting too, the ridiculous task of pulling every cupboard out and deep cleaning and organising everything in sight. Under my bed had never been so clean!

I could feel things were starting to move. I’d had a couple of early labour signs at the start of the week including losing my mucus plug and my bump had well and truly ‘dropped’. My body was preparing itself for something epic. The day I went into labour I woke up and went to the toilet (after five or so toilet trips during the night) and as I wiped I noticed blood, I’d had the bloody show. Another sign things were starting to happen. It was the September 15th, a balmy hot heatwave day, around 30 degrees in London. I’d met an old family friend in Peckham park for a picnic, we spent hours giggling about silly things we used to do as kids. Reminiscing on the good times we had growing up. The happy hormones were flowing that day and clearly it was what I needed to give our babe a happy little nudge.

We had a follow up scan at Lewisham hospital booked for the early evening, to check the size of our babies head as previous scans had shown it was measuring small. Head still in 3rd percentile, they asked us to wait to see the doctor for more monitoring and to discuss results. We were so far along in our pregnancy and hadn’t yet had the green light for the birth centre (snore), we followed doctors orders and waited in line, begrudgingly.

We were told the wait to see the doctor could be hours, starving - we decided to grab a cheeky Nandos. I mentioned that I’d been bleeding so they handed me a pad to slip in my pants and off we went. My mum called to check in, whilst mum was on the phone I felt a sudden gush of water trickle into my pad. Like in the movies, it tricked out of my pad and down my legs, I froze and looked wide eyed at George. I whispered ‘my waters just broke’ not wanting to jump to conclusions or panic mum who was on the other end of the phone. At this point we were blissfully unaware that things would develop as quickly as they did and ordered our boneless platter with excited nerves. At the end of the meal I started to feel tightenings in my tummy, it felt like my muscles were engaging around my bump, a hardening feeling, a really weird sensation. It was super mild at first, questioned whether they were actually contractions. Another seven or so minutes passed and the tightenings came back still mild. I messaged Jo, our formidable 'Jo Doula' as she is affectionately known, with an update. To which she replied ‘I don’t think you’ll be leaving the hospital without a baby tonight.’ Shit started to feel real.

During the 10 mins at my waddling from Nandos back to the hospital I started to have the regular tightenings and within an hour they were every three minutes and getting stronger. It was so hot, there was no air and we were sat waiting for the doctor on uncomfortable plastic chairs in the waiting room. I felt the desire to seek comfort, I wanted more than anything to go home and get in the bath or have a cold shower. After an hour with these contractions escalating George had a word, after a gentle nudge we were taken in to a delivery room on the labour ward.

I was instantly strapped up to the monitors, at this point they were still keen for us to check in with the doctor as planned following our scan. For now, we had our shit together and things were under control. We were left on our own and the midwives put us at ease suggesting it was likely we’d be able to continue labouring at home after seeing the doctor. My contractions started getting very intense very quickly. Within two hours I was naked in a gown, chugging on gas and air after having downed a few paracetamol. I felt an involuntary, overwhelming urge to push, I couldn’t stop it and it was intense. We realised we weren’t going anywhere and actually Jo was right, we weren’t leaving hospital without our baby earth side.

Despite spending hours agonising over what to pack in our hospital bags, our bags still weren't packed. George rang his parents and they bought them to us at hospital. George made the call to my mum, she jumped straight in the car and sped her way to London. Jo Doula was on the end of the phone the whole night and was an absolute legendary support and voice for us throughout. Although she wasn’t in the room, her presence was felt. George would call or message her with any updates, she’d send through responses and detailed options for us to consider. We were well into a 12 hour labour and the intense pain quickly localised in my sacrum.

Mum arrived at 2am, I can’t actually really remember her arriving. I was in a complete trance, a swaying dance between contractions took over my body as I held off George’s shoulders. Moving through different positions and failing to find something that felt comfortable. Holding onto the space between contractions to catch my breath, to refocus and prepare for the next one, which would come in stronger than the last. I desperately wanted to know how long I’d be in this pain, how much worse it would get and whether or not I could do it, obviously nobody had the answer to my questions. They realised the baby was back to back and one of the midwives was concerned about the level of pain I was experiencing in my back and offered an epidural. This was the one thing I was petrified of, this was my non negotiable… I feared the huge needle, the unknown of what would follow, I couldn’t do it and I didn’t want to. George, at this point was my biggest cheerleader, backing my wishes for as little intervention as possible. He looked into my eyes and reassured me that both the baby and me were doing great, I trusted him, despite the brutal pain which came with every contraction, we were good.

As I writhed my way through the next few hours, George holding me and mum silently watching from a distance. I can’t remember whether we had the go ahead to start pushing or whether I'd made my mind up that I was ready. Because of my early urge to push, I'd aggravated my cervix, it was inflamed and in the way. A very full bladder and the inability to wee meant I had to have my bladder emptied. The intensity in my sacrum was almost unbearable, the head lodged in the very bottom of my spine. My pelvic floor was struggling to relax, swallowing up any sign of our baby’s dark hair after every contraction. Still strapped to the monitor, we were told our baby’s heart rate was dropping. It was time to dig deep and get this baby out. There was suddenly a sense of panic as a few other midwives rushed into the room. An episiotomy. I remember being so scared. Will I feel the cut, will I heal, will this be the end? A numbing injection into my privates and immediately I was cut, I can’t remember how it felt. I was too focused on what came next. My contractions had slowed right down and my body was exhausted, I started to tell myself I couldn’t do it, I was too tired. At the time I didn’t realise this was my ‘rest and be thankful’ phase, my body giving me a few moments of peace and calm before the big event.

I remember pushing so hard that I physically could not push harder, I was at my limit. The noises that were coming out of me, purely primal, guttural, like a wild animal. After some intense pushing, our baby’s head was out. I remember stroking the top of the head in between contractions, it gave me hope that we could do this. A few contractions later (and a whole lotta cheering me on) the body followed. Our bright blue baby, not crying and covered in vernix was placed on my naked chest. Those big bright eyes starring into mine for the very first time, knowing it was a battle we’d won together. Our tiny baby started to cry and I nuzzled her into me to find my nipple. After the umbilical cord had turned white, George cut the cord. It was at this point he told me she was a girl, It hadn’t even crossed my mind to ask. Our Sadie Rose a bundle of absolute perfection at 5lb 13 oz, born at 7.25am on the September 16th 2023. In complete bewilderment, exhaustion and awe of this tiny human we’d created, I sobbed as I held her close, my body shaking with adrenaline, George stroking and kissing my forehead.

What was to follow wasn’t pleasant, a quick birth of the placenta after a dose of oxytocin in my thigh, I was so over it by this point. Then half an hour of stitching me back up, I’ll spare you the gory details but it wasn’t pretty. George swept Sadie up and had his first few moments of skin to skin, mum held my hand as I cried into her. My mother, holding her baby after just having birthed her baby, mind officially blown.

When George and I had a moment to decompress, we both felt like we’d been raving for days, scrap that, for weeks. I’d lost my voice, I felt like I'd be gurning for 12 hours straight and was on a different plane. Reminiscing on what we’d just experienced and who we had created, so perfect, tiny and ours. Sadie was here and we had the rest of our lives to get to know her.

I truly believe our birth would have looked a lot different if it wasn’t for Jo’s guidance, we’re eternally grateful for her educating us throughout pregnancy and our labour. Grateful for the incredible midwives at Lewisham hospital and of course George and mum, it was the cheer squad of dreams.

I look back on Sadie’s birth with nothing but pure love, it’s funny how you forget what the pain felt like and remember and hold onto the good bits. The wildest 12 hours of our lives bought Sadie to us, safe and sound and we couldn’t be more stoked to do life with her.

Charlie x


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