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“Oh my God I feel like someone is ripping all the hairs from my fanny.”

Julie’s plan was to remain focused throughout her labour and have a natural birth. She spent most of her labour at home in a warm bath. At the hospital, she briefly tried gas and air to ease the pain but discovered it reduced her level of focus and sense of control. Her daughter Harish was born with a bilateral cleft lip that was easily corrected by a simple operation two months after the birth.


Julie & Harish

My pregnancy was great. I had no problems. I was 27, very active, and hadn’t needed to give up work. By the end I had put on a stone and a half. Throughout the pregnancy I communicated with my baby and a few days before she was due I explained to her that we were about to go on a long journey together. I told her she may feel frightened at times and I asked her to remain focussed and strong because it was the biggest journey of her life. I believe it’s important that women have this focus.

It’s early afternoon on my due date. I’d been cleaning frantically, washing cupboards and baking cakes – something I never ever do. I was determined to make a banana loaf cake for all the visitors I imagined would be coming to meet my new baby. I remember thinking that banana loaf would be perfect with a cup of tea. In the middle of all this uncharacteristic domesticity I remember looking at Sue, my mother in law, and saying: “Oh my god I feel like someone is ripping all the hairs from my fanny”.

Sue looked at me and said: “That’s it. You’re starting”.

The pain was infrequent but intense. I was surprised to feel it so much. It was located low in my pubic area, a sort of ripping sensation. This was my first real experience of such pain.Looking back I was totally in denial. I thought people go on like this for weeks. I told myself that it was too soon and believed that this was not going to happen today. When the contractions first came over me I was a bit overwhelmed. I stood there holding my breath.

Sue she said to me: “Do not lose it. Breathe with it. Stay on top of it.”

My midwife had told me it was like blowing out candles. Short blows. I used this breathing technique and it worked for me. This went on all evening. I had a bit of dinner. I wanted to have most of my labour at home. My biggest fear for some reason was going to hospital. I knew I was okay at home. In the early hours of the evening the pain intensified. At the time there were five family members in the house. Eventually everyone fell asleep. At one point I called my midwife, slightly worried that I hadn’t felt the baby move for a while. She called me in to hospital to monitor the baby.

As we drove in I remember clutching a hot water bottle. Every time we went over a bump, the pain went straight through my crutch. At the hospital they told me I was only 2cm dilated. The contractions had lessened and they sent me home. I stayed awake all night having baths. I was constantly in and out of the bath. Even with all the other members in the house, I was in my own world. I was in my own little cocoon. By the early afternoon the next day, I’d been having contractions for 24 hours. I remember getting out of the bath, standing there in a towel when the contractions kicked in heavily. I had a few tears and then stopped myself, realising that if I was crying, I wouldn’t be able to control the pain. I had to keep on top of it.

At 6pm I had a show. We went to the hospital and it was so busy. I remember walking up and down the hall, on my own, pressing against the radiator for warmth to ease the pain. I hadn’t sat down during the entire labour as the pressure of sitting was unbearable. I remember a midwife looking across at me and saying: “Look, that little girl is doing it all on her own”. Here I was about to have a baby and I felt about 14 years old. They took me into a side ward where two or three different midwives were popping in and out to see if I was all right. Then a midwife came in and stayed with me. I stripped off naked, still up, walking. I kept saying, how long is it going to be? Her answer was “as long it takes”.

I’m now surrounded by family members all wanting to talk. I asked a few to leave. Warren was in and out, looking panicked, and meanwhile I was the coolest person in there. Then my waters broke.

I’m standing in a whole pool of water and Warren is mopping it up. I tried the gas and air and didn’t like it at all. It made me feel hazy and sick and I didn’t like not being in control.

I got onto the bed on all fours and by now the contractions are intensifying. The rhythm is still there, but faster. My midwife is looking concerned and wants to get the baby out as soon as possible. I turn onto my back, my mother-in-law far left hand corner, my mother far right corner, Warren at my left, and they’re all telling me you have to push this baby out now.

I’m focussed but still making jokes at this point, for some reason I still have a sense of self. The pain is like when you’re a kid and you put your fingers in your mouth and pull as hard as you can.

The baby’s head kept appearing but as the contraction eased it would slide back up again. I could feel a general panic about me thinking this baby must be born now. My mother was saying to me: “ Julie, you have to do this, you can do anything you want in this world, you’ve proved it to me that you can do it”. And with a cry of ‘go’ out she came.

I remember looking down and seeing a black, very small, oblong gooey shape. I thought: “Oh my God is that my baby. It looks like an alien”. Skrawny, thin, but as every second went by, she just pulsated and became plump and large. It was the maddest thing I’ve ever seen. My midwife had gone into action, she had hardly spoken two words but I was impressed with her actions. They cut the cord, wrapped her in a blanket because she was blue, then took her to one side. From that moment my whole focus became my little girl. I don’t even remember anything about the placenta accept I don’t recall a lot of blood. When they came back with my baby they told me she had bilateral cleft lip. It really didn’t matter to me. Even though she had a misshapen mouth, she was gorgeous.

At two months, baby Harish had one operation that fully corrected her lip.

“My advice is to stay focussed and handle what you can. If you want to, have the drugs.”

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