Most people know that their birthing partner will be their partner. Being on my own with my own mum living far away, I needed to plan.
The plan was my mum would be there, and that I’d have two other friends on call. However, babies never come on cue – timekeeping has never been their strong point, and what if my mum was still in Scotland or my friends were at work?
I decided to get the help of a doula, so I’d have one person guaranteed to be there. A doula is someone experienced in helping women give birth and who helps the mum prepare mentally and emotionally.
Of all the things I bought while planning my birth, the best £100 I spent was on a hypno birthing course. Hyponobirthing is a method of pain management involving visualisation, relaxation and breathing techniques. I had a lot of friends laugh saying there was no way I’d be able to give birth without pain relief but I’m normally quite sensitive to the side effects of medication, so I was determined to give it a try.
After the hyponobirthing course, I felt prepared. My waters broke in the night about a month before I was due. For me, it wasn’t the flood people have on the telly, more like I woke feeling as though I’d had quite wet sex and then had a never ending pee as I went to the toilet. (Sorry to be so graphic, but that’s the way it is).
My mum was staying with me but had had a few drinks in the evening (thanks a bunch Mum), so as I wasn’t in too much pain I drove myself to the hospital. I put a towel on the car seat, just in case!
Maybe the hyponobirthing worked as I spent most of the day in the hospital bath. The nurses said I was so calm, they were sure I had another two or three days to go. My friend went home for the evening and said I should call her if anything changes. My mum was about to leave. I stopped her. Should baby come, I was not doing this alone.
Luckily I was right as five minutes later, the pain stepped up a notch and I asked my mum to get a nurse for gas and air. In those moments of labour pain, there was definitely no time to call anyone. They put me on the gurney to move rooms and suddenly I felt his head between my legs. A quarter of an hour later, with not even time for a paracetamol, baby Robbie was here!
I’m not saying drug free labour and hypnobirthing will work for everyone, but I’d definitely try it again. My gorgeous boy was here, healthy and has been smiling and entertaining me ever since.
One thing about solo motherhood is lots of the nurses haven’t quite caught up. When you’ve just had a baby it’s not necessarily the best time to have to explain about having a donor while nurses and midwives ask about “the father”.
We were in hospital for a week after due to my baby having jaundice as a result of being a little premature. This is very common with premature babies and almost always nothing to worry about. Every day visiting time could be quite lonely as I could hear all the other families on the other side of the curtain. Officially, it’s immediate family outside visiting hours but once I explained that I didn’t have a conventional family and partner, I was told I would be allowed friends. Still, some days my mum arrived flustered as she’d had to fight her way in.
Finally, after a week we got to go home. My home would would never be the same. Here’s to the next chapter in my life as a mum!