Me and my husband are crazily punctual. We are always the first people to arrive, always the ones waiting around for others to show up. I get properly panicky about arriving late, part of my general social anxiety, palpitations, unable to breath, the whole works, and so I make a point of always leaving early. Having children hasn’t affected my need to be on time, I just start getting ready even earlier to account for those last minute toilet trips, tantrums or clothing changes that inevitably happen.
My children did not follow our lead, particularly in terms of their arrival into this world (I was, of course, born on my due date!) My daughter arrived ten days late, after three stretch and sweeps, and after my exhausting myself trying out every single possible method for encouraging her out. I was terrified at the prospect of induction, my mother had had one with my brother and had the most horrific experience, which was burnt into my subconscious. Even so I signed up for my elective induction at twelve days post dates thinking that was my only option. No other choices were mentioned to me.
Second time around I was far better informed about the genuine risks of going over my due date, and the risks of induction itself. After hypnobirthing and talking through all my fears with my doula, I felt able to trust my body, trust it to be able to birth my baby, and to choose the right time to do it. And if I did genuinely need an induction, then I knew that I had the support I needed to get me through.
I knew that my estimated due date based on my scan was wrong, as I knew exactly when our ‘one-hit-wonder’ had been conceived. I was pretty sure he would be arriving later than expected, so booked my doula to be on call a bit later than standard, from 39-43 weeks, to let him come out in his own sweet time. It did lead to a few anxious nights as my on-off, tighten-relax, never-ending prodromal labour started a little earlier than that.
I hadn’t had much in the way of Braxton-Hicks or prodromal labour first time round, just the occasional nightly period pain feelings, so I assumed this must be the real deal. To start with I did try to help it along, got the Clarey Sage oil out, did lots of birth ball bouncing, on-all fours yoga positions, and some of the other traditional methods as well! It soon became obvious that it wasn’t the real thing, and that I was wasting my time.
I found myself really enjoying this time, and decided that I wasn’t too fussed how late he ended up. I refused the stretch and sweeps that were offered, I wanted my body to do this all by itself. At that midwife appointment I’d also geared myself up for a fight as I had firmly decided against elective induction, but amazingly my midwife was completely supportive of that choice, and we agreed that I could have monitoring if I went past 42 weeks.
At this point I didn’t even try to do anything to get things moving. I had been drinking raspberry leaf tea for months already, more because I like it than anything else. I was using aromatherapy as part of my hypnobirthing, so included Clarey Sage with that. I kept doing my prenatal yoga more as a nice way to relax than anything, along with my birth art in the evenings. I took lots of long walks in the countryside with my mother and my daughter, because it was warm and springlike and the world was bursting into life around me.
Eight days after my expected due date, I suddenly felt exhausted. Exhaustion had been a big feature of my first pregnancy, but I’d been pretty energetic the whole way through this one. But that day I couldn’t do anything. I sat in my chair, and put a blanket round myself, and I let everyone fetch me things as I did absolutely nothing. I barely moved from my chair the entire day, just watched my family buzz around me. I stared to feel discouraged for the first time really, feel like this baby would never arrive, that this was all a disaster. That evening my mum gave my poor tired, swollen feet a long massage with Clarey Sage, and I had a (relatively) good nights sleep.
I think I needed that day of hibernation to gather my strength together, ready for the next big push…