The days that I gave birth to all three of my children, gave me the three best stories that I will ever tell. My three favourite stories of all time and all three, so different from each other… Just like my babies. In the throws of labour, the adrenaline, the pain, the intensity, the excitement and the fear, I think every mother wonders how any woman can forget a single second of it. You swear that you will never forget how much it hurts your body, how it takes everything that you have got, to get through it. You don’t understand how other people tell you that you will soon forget it once you have your baby in your arms. You think that they must be mad.

I’ve forgotten already!

Not everything of course but the reality of having Dexter in my life now has made every second of birthing him somewhat irrelevant. Since he was born, I have fallen in love again and have been completely swept away… and it feels like my memory of the pain and self-doubt was too.

I was exactly 41 weeks pregnant on the day that I gave birth to my baby boy, my baby number three. It had been a long, hard, nine month slog. I had a hard time of things. I suffered most days of it and as much as I tried not to complain… most days involved some kind of tears, me thinking unkind things about myself or sitting on the bathroom floor, back against the door, deep breaths, lips quivering, head in hands and trying to pluck the strength from deep down to get me through the days, weeks and months to follow. The hard parts of giving birth will fade more and more over time. The hard parts of being pregnant, I will remember forever. In the end, the only thing that was keeping me going and smiling through it, was love. Raw, unconditional, overwhelming love, for the little life that I was growing in my body. My baby boy who I knew that I would do anything for. Who I would give my life for.

Anyway… rewind a day. It was Monday, 3rd July 2017 and I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant. I was also beyond fed up. Being overdue by even one day was bad enough, I don’t know how some women cope with anything up to 2 weeks over. It wasn’t my lightest time in terms of my emotions. However, I had refused intervention by the way of a membrane sweep to start my labour off…purely due to my ideals of a natural pregnancy, labour and delivery and because I am ever so stubborn. I had no control over so many things during my pregnancy, the hyperemesis Gravidarum and Pelvic Girdle pain being the main culprits, I was desperate to have the birth the way that I wanted. I have had two children before Dexter and both were natural births without a shred of pain relief… I wanted to do it again and so I refused any interference and carried on.

After having some particularly aggressive but unconvincing braxton hicks the night before, in to the early hours… by the time I had woken up that day, they had stopped. Out of nowhere, I had a new lease of life, a real energy burst. So, I took the opportunity to arrange a hike in our local woods with my brother to see if I could naturally give this labour a little shove in the right direction. As I say, I was feeling fed up and ready to meet my baby by this point so was getting a little desperate. I had a close family friend on stand-by, just in-case anything happened while out walking and I needed to be shoved into a car quickly.

We walked for ages and not slowly either. There were plenty of hills and I worked up a sweat. Eventually, I went home to freshen up before I went on the school run. I’m not going to lie… I was very disappointed that nothing was happening. By the time I walked to collect Noah and Ellenah from school, my pace had slowed down and my head was hanging low too. It didn’t help my mood when I met them both from their class and they looked sad that I was still pregnant. We were all ready to meet our final puzzle piece to our family.

As we walked home, my pace started to slow even more and not by choice. It felt like something had taken over me, was protecting me… or when I look back, was preparing my body for what it was soon to endure. Ellenah needed the toilet so needed me to hurry but I couldn’t pick up speed. I had to truly concentrate to put one foot in front of the other and my pelvis felt like it had turned to a really painful jelly…almost like from my pelvis down, I wasn’t attached together properly. It was peculiar. I had never felt so happy to put the key in the door as we reached home and once inside, I basically fell onto the sofa and that was where I wanted to stay.

At around 5pm, I felt my waters break and so did a smile, across my entire face. It was finally time…

With this, I ran upstairs to clean myself up as best as I could and then I called Matt to get him to come home. I explained what was happening to the children and took a shower… At this point, I was in absolutely no pain. Matt arrived home shortly and because I was booked in for a home birth, we made the decision to call the hospital to have a midwife sent out to examine me. Between the time we made the phone call and the first midwife arriving, the reality of my home birth was sinking in. Of course, I was a bag of nerves mixed in with pure excitement, but for the first time in my whole pregnancy, I felt such a stillness and a true sense of calm and I was taking myself to a different place in my head… so that I could get through the next stages. I busied myself before she arrived, preparing my living room for my birth. I made sure that I had enough towels, shower curtains, buckets…everything down to the right music and right lighting. We gave the children dinner and they waited with me in anticipation for the midwife to come.

Hers was a fleeting visit. She checked my vitals and respected my decision not to be examined. She was confident, due to the sheer volume of fluid that I was losing and had already lost, that my waters had broken and so advised me to eat and try to get some rest in preparation for the big event. As I was still in no pain, she went on her merry way and off shift, after giving me the information that I would need for when things started to happen.

So, once we had said our goodbye’s and her, some ‘good luck’s’, we said goodnight to Noah and Ellenah, who went to sleep quickly, tucked up in their bunk beds. I ate and put my feet up for a while…and waited. I kept the lights dimply lit and continued to get myself in the right headspace to handle labour head on. I spent some time saying goodbye to my bump, my pregnant belly. I stroked it and tried to get in tune with my body so that I could let it do what it is naturally meant to. I wish that I could tell you how I do that because three babies on, it has helped me every single time. I have never read up on hypnobirthing…The most that I did in preparation like that was listen to relaxing music on spotify. If I’m honest, all that ever made me do is think about what needs to go on my shopping list and what is going on in the months ahead that I need to remember. I’m not sure that is how you are meant to use it…

Anyway, just before 10pm, five hours after my waters had broken, my hand protectively and forcefully gripped onto my lower abdomen as I felt my first intense contraction. Again, that smile broke across my face. I just remember thinking that I was one step closer…and that it hurt so much! It lasted around fifty seconds and it made me hold my breath and my eyes water. I knew that with the next one, I had to handle it better… I had to breathe and push the pain away. And so, I waited for the next one to arrive…

I wasn’t waiting long, just less than 3 minutes actually and the contraction lasted over a minute. A pattern in my contractions appeared immediately. Every 2 and half to 3 minutes for between 57 seconds to 1 minute and 27 seconds. Each and every pain feeling much harder than the last. We called the midwife after my eleventh contraction and she told us that she was on her way.

While we waited for her to arrive, with my arms and head resting on my birthing ball, I rocked and continued to physically push the pain away with my hands. I was desperately trying to stay active, to keep my pelvis moving. I was desperate to have my baby in our home. Desperate for Noah and Ellenah to wake up in the morning, to come in to our bedroom and to find him fast asleep. So, between every contraction, I continued to move…knowing in the back of my mind that I had been previously advised to consider a cesarian section due to SPD and then after seeking a second opinion from a midwife with alternative views, I had chosen to trust her and my body and stay as far away from any hospital as I could. Now was the time that I had to know my body more that ever, give it everything that I could and to not let the fear penetrate my focus.

The midwife soon knocked at the door and came through to our dimly lit living room with the sound of Billy Joel’s music playing gently. It was very quiet. She spoke calmly, softly and confidently about how this was going to go. She let me lead the way with my vision and birth plan. She reminded me that she had gas and air in the car if I was to need it. I remember shaking my head as I threw off another contraction with gritted teeth.

It really was very quiet. Kind of beautiful.

I was hot. It was exhausting. Matt kept bringing me water which I refused often. I was so focussed and even taking a sip of water felt like it was interrupting my flow. I didn’t want to stop. I remember that it was hard and I was fighting my way to the end. Constantly reminding myself that this was my last hurdle, just breathe, push away the pain, keep moving…Keep on keeping on!!

Matt was with me every step of the way. He rubbed my back, encouraged me when I was struggling to keep going and let me squeeze his hands as hard as I could. He helped me to move around, knowing that my broken body wasn’t allowing me to do it for myself. He held me up, kissed me and told me that I was doing well. I remember looking into his eyes and thinking to myself that I had to tell him how much I loved him in that moment… Once I had the energy, when this was over… I would! It felt like it was just him and me in the room. Him, me and the promise of our new life as a family of five.

As things became more intense and it was harder and harder to push away the pain, the second midwife arrived.

I remember saying to Matt that I didn’t think that I was doing very well, after I had been pushing down for some time. I remember telling the three of them that something was wrong. The sensation when I pushed… It was different, like it wasn’t doing anything at all, like baby boy was stuck. It wasn’t that I wasn’t pushing. I was pushing for my life. Pushing so hard that I felt like I could burst. I started to get very frustrated with everyone and myself. I felt like I wasn’t communicating well enough and I felt like I wasn’t being heard in the right way at all. So, I asked Matt to help me upstairs to the toilet. I wasn’t sure if I actually needed to go more than I needed a little bit of time by myself. I’ll be honest, I quite liked sitting there. It was comfortable and supportive to my tired body. Something about it just made sense.

Eventually, I went back downstairs to try again at the pushing and so that I could have baby listened to and all of my vitals checked for the hundredth time…Just to make sure that we were both happy still. We were but I didn’t stay downstairs for long. I could feel that I was close to the end as I manouvered heavily and clumsily between positions. Instinct took over eventually and the next thing I know, I was half crawling up the stairs, half pulling myself up by my arms. I think I knew deep down that at that point, I wasn’t coming back downstairs without my baby.

Once I was in the bathroom, in the early hours of Tuesday morning, I was examined for the first time.

I was definitely right to be pushing…but to the midwife’s surprise, due to how much fluid I had visibly lost and was continuing to lose, a second, bulging amniotic sac was completely blocking him from progressing any further.

I knew it. I knew in my heart that something wasn’t working right.

Medically there a few reasons why a second amniotic sac was present with only one baby. It is likely that for me, the cause is due to my hind waters developing a leak at 37 weeks but closing up again. But… nobody really knows!

Anyway… everything suddenly made sense to me and the midwives. With the next contraction, the midwife gave the sac a shove to the side to try and help baby boy out. And with that, my waters… the last ones, burst… and flooded the floor of my tiny bathroom.

From that moment, everything felt so intense. My body took over completely and I had no time to think. The contractions were amped up and my body was shaking. Matt was physically holding me up. He held onto me as I screamed through the ultimate pain of birthing my baby boy’s head. He held on to me as I panted and waited for his body to follow. He held on to me, lifting my fragile body, keeping me on my feet in the moments that our son came into the world and was handed to me. Our beautiful boy, with the big, alert eyes… heavy on my chest as his wrinkly hands with long, skinny fingers gripped on to the neck line of my night dress. My beautiful boy who I had fallen in love with in an instant.

I don’t remember how I was lowered down on to the toilet seat, how my feet were deep in blood and fluid or even too much of Matt cutting the cord like the proud Papa that he is. I only remember it because it was so tight and had to be done quickly. I delivered my placenta in to the toilet and it was trying to pull my baby in there with it. I vividly remember holding our new life tightly, sobbing and smiling… telling him that he would be so loved and that he is going to have the happiest life. I remember our eyes locking and staring at each other for what felt like an eternity. I know that I could have stayed there, in that moment forever.

Dexter James was born on Tuesday the 4th of July 2017 at 1.55am. He was born on USA’s Independence Day. He was and is still, so beautiful. So perfect. A dream come true. Everything that I imagined he would be. Just as I thought he would look. The missing puzzle piece of The Sweetest Life family. Our final team member. The youngest in our gang. He is pure, innocent, wonderful and we are all so in love with him.

I can’t believe that this is my life now and I am a mama to three beautiful humans. I feel so lucky that I get to love them every day and to bring them up. To raise them to have kind, open hearts, adventure in their veins and to love our beautiful world and the people in it.

On Dexter’s Birth Day, a new life started for us. A new chapter, a new journey… new adventures. I am so excited for everything to come, for all of the wonderful times ahead of us… as a family of five.

With Love,

Ria x

 

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Baby Dexter's Birth Day

I am so proud to FINALLY announce the safe arrival of our beautiful baby boy. His name is Dexter James Langner and he was born at 1.55am on Tuesday 4th July (USA’s Independence Day). He weighed a whopping 8lb 9oz and was born in our tiny bathroom, at home. He has been absolutely incredible and a dream come true. Noah and Ellenah absolutely adore him and he has stolen all of our hearts. It is insane how much time you lose just staring at your newborn… but, I wouldn’t class a single second of it as wasted.

I am going to be writing a detailed account of his birth story here on the blog over the next few days… or as soon as I can steal myself away from our newborn bliss for enough time to do it justice. So watch out for that if you enjoy a birth story as much as I do.

Until then, I will leave you with the video of our positive, empowering home birth for Baby Dex. I can’t watch this back without wanting to cry. It was absolutely one of the best days of my life. I still have to pinch myself to check that it all really happened. It was just so lovely, so perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

And, Dex is just so wonderful. Worth the wait. Worth the pain. Worth it all x

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The Last Days Of Pregnancy

Written On Saturday 1st July 2017

I haven’t made it to ‘full term’ of a pregnancy before. Noah arrived in 2009, bright and early in week 36. Ellenah showed up in week 39, a week before Christmas in 2011. This baby boy is not only full term, he is now late. Having to tell people, ‘Nope, he’s still cooking’ when I walk by them with my baby bump in tact and they ask, ‘No baby yet then?’… It’s damn soul destroying.

The Last Days Of Pregnancy

I waddle along now. My body is getting bigger by the day. My slight frame feels like it is buckling under the weight. Struggling with the pressure on my organs. I feel like I’m falling apart in the heatwave of 2017. Pregnancy doesn’t look good on me like it does the other Mama’s. They glow, I sweat. They have thick, swishy hair, mine is shoved in a top knot. They look beautiful in maternity dresses, I look (and feel) like a tent. I don’t feel good. I don’t understand how these days and minutes seem so much longer than any other time in my life. AND, while we’re talking about it… Why is it so hot? Where is the air? Even a gentle breeze on my face as I’m striving forward with mum life would be ever so greatly appreciated. But, there is nothing! No relief. It’s almost as if it’s making my last days of pregnancy harder on purpose. Like I haven’t been through the mill. Like I don’t deserve a little break.

The Last Days Of Pregnancy

I feel selfish every day too. I always start the day with the best intentions. I wake up and tell myself to enjoy being pregnant in these last moments. Enjoy the feeling that I’m growing a life. Enjoy the miracle of pregnancy. But, I can’t lie, It’s hard to keep it up. Everyone looks at you with empathy but mainly pity. My smile fades as the hours tick past, and goes with it the hope that today will be the day. The day that I will finally get to hold him, look in to his eyes and tell him that I love him and to start raising him. I need that day. 9 months is too long to wait, especially when it hasn’t been an easy slog.

The Last Days Of Pregnancy

Of course, I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t change a thing because he is going to be so loved when he is here. He is so loved already, I sometimes wonder if it is actually possible to love him more. The hard parts and the waiting will soon feel like a distant memory. But, I need him here…soon.

The Last Days Of Pregnancy

As I was saying, I’m selfish. I know it and it is awful to know that I can carry such an ugly trait around with me during such a special life event. I feel like no matter how hard I try though, I can’t find my balance. No amount of telling myself off penetrates the barrier around my voice of reason. My job is to give my son a bedroom, his first home… for however long he needs and wants it. Why can’t I manage to simply get over myself?

The Last Days Of Pregnancy

I know that I am being this inpatient from a good place. From excitement. From all of the love that has been building for the past 9 months… and beyond at the mere thought of having another child. I feel like the love is going to burst out of my body at any moment, bold and unwilling to be kept inside, waiting. My heart loves him NOW!

Of course, I can’t bring myself to hate these last days of pregnancy. I can’t hate the way that our bond grows every day. I can’t hate that for right now, it is just the two of us doing this incredibly special thing, unique to my baby and me. I can’t hate that he is using my body as a place to grow and develop. I can’t hate it that my body is keeping him healthy and safe.

I just can’t wait to meet him, that’s all x

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A Letter To My Unborn Baby

Dear Baby Boy,

I know that it must sound strange, when I say this out loud, but… I’m certain that I already know you. I feel like I know who you are, what you will be like. I know it sounds weird, maybe? I don’t claim to be psychic or to know things that I have no way of knowing yet. Not usually anyway. But… I am so sure about this. I’m so sure about you.

We’ve been getting to know each other for almost forty weeks now. That’s a long time. You can probably feel what I am feeling before I have understood my emotions myself. You, the little baby boy, ever so comfortable in the pit of my stomach where a lot of my decisions are decided upon. You, who has rested within my tired body at the end of each day. Tired from sickness, pelvic girdle pain or simple fatigue. Fatigue from being a mother to your brother and sister. Two people who are ever so excited to meet you and to love you forever. You, who has made my heart grow bigger than I ever imagined possible, at the same time as growing my body to be the perfect place and size for you to stay a while.

Pregnancy has been hard for me but being with you all of this time, has been one of the easiest, most lovely things that I could ever do. You will forever be a part of me now, even when you are out here in the world with me. Being your mother is easier to me than breathing. Words will never truly describe the overwhelming, unconditional love that comes with you being my son.

Our time as one person will be coming to an end soon. In just days, you could be a human being in this big, wide world. It might seem scary to you when you are out here. There are a lot of people and sometimes, it isn’t always easy for everyone to get along. But, it is a beautiful place and you are being born in to a family who adore you and want for you to see the good, be the good, be the change and to have the happiest life. Please know this though… I am and will always be your home. Always!

As your mama, I wish for so many things for you. Things that years ago, I probably would never have thought to say. We live in a world whereby the lines are often blurred. People mistake success and true happiness by how much money they have, how many holidays they have had and how important they think that they are. Please don’t accept that!

Please never be defined by money. Some of the happiest people in the world have nothing and would still give away the last of anything they have. Please always choose love over gold. If you have empathy and kindness in your heart, you have made it.

Please have heart in all of the things that you do. Don’t follow the crowd when it comes to travel… Or at all if you can help it. You will never truly get to know a place from a sun lounger. Go off of the beaten track. Open your eyes and see how people live. Learn. Explore. Always say yes to adventure. Feed your soul with life.

Please don’t ever think that if one day in your life, you are collecting coffee for a CEO somewhere, that he or she is more important than you. Never think that anyone is better than you. Never let anyone tell you that they are. They are not. Please Son, if you are ever the CEO…treat everyone as you would want them to treat you, never expect someone to do something that you aren’t prepared to do and always remember that you need to be kind to the people on your way up, you could just as easily meet them again on the way back down. You are no better than the next person.

BUT, we are all different and that is a good thing. Diversity is a good thing, something to celebrate. In your life, you might hear the phrase ‘divide and conquer’… That isn’t a good thing. Please always try and remember that we aren’t meant to be alone. We aren’t meant to be by ourselves. Be someone who makes the word ‘united’ mean something. Treat people like they matter because they do. Everyone has thoughts, feelings and you can’t judge anyone until you have walked a mile in their shoes…and even then, it isn’t your place to.

Oh baby boy… there is so much more that I want to say to you, to tell you… but for right now, I am going to treasure these last days of carrying you in my body. As excited as I am to meet you and as much as I am looking forward to everything that is to come, don’t come out until you are ready. You have time and I will always be that mama that wishes time would slow down because my children grow up so fast…So don’t let me rush you now!

Just know this… When the sound of my beating heart gives you comfort, peace and you can feel my love rush around you as you wiggle and lay down to sleep in there… Out here, when the time is right for you… You will never feel more loved. I will hold you in my arms and watch you sleep for hours and I will give you everything that you could ever possibly need. Your family have made space for you and you are so wanted. I can’t imagine that you will ever feel alone. I know that you won’t be. And out here, whenever you lay your sleepy head down to rest, you will still feel my love rush around you… and Daddy’s… and Noah’s… and Ellenah’s.

I love you little bumpy and I look forward to being able to look in to your beautiful eyes and tell you that in person soon.

From Mama x

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Ellenah & Pregnancy With Baby #3

Dear Ellenah,

Mama is now 37+4 weeks pregnant with your baby brother. Time will soon close on your promotion, how does that feel? For a long time, Daddy and I thought that you would be the baby of the family and now, you are going to be a big sister. It’s funny that you are my most feisty, strong-willed and sassy child and I am knowingly making you my ‘middle child’. I know that some people think I must be mad for doing so. But I can’t wait to see you shine brightly between your two brothers.

Ellenah & Pregnancy With Baby #3

I can see how you will be the bossy, stubborn and sometimes sly, little sister to Noah and the protective, nurturing and incredibly gentle big sister to your baby brother. You are going to grow and change in the most wonderful ways over the next couple of years. I can already see how much you love him and you haven’t officially met yet. You will learn so much about yourself and we will learn so much about you too. Being a sister to both of them is going to really allow your personality to take shape, be well rounded, spark your empathy and compassion… All while remaining the sweetest little girl, who we know, love and adore.

I don’t worry about you getting lost in the midst of ‘Team Langner’. You are everything that comes with the quote ‘Though She Be But Little, She Is Fierce’. You will never be left out, pushed aside or in any way, loved less. You bring too much happiness, joy, comedy and spirit to our gang. There is nothing invisible about you.

Ellenah & Pregnancy With Baby #3

Being from a big family and having three big sisters, my biggest support network… I did have the fleeting worry that you would not have one. I wondered who you would lean on when you want to talk about boys as you grow up, or to talk about how your friendship group has changed…How you are feeling when you think that nobody understands. I wondered who would be your maid of honour at your wedding if that is ever a path you choose. I tormented myself with the reality that you wouldn’t have anyone to ‘girl talk’ with late in to the night.

And then I realised…You have me. And suddenly, you being my only girl became something very special. I realised how far we have come and how close we are and not only that…how open we are with each other already. We have a special opportunity for our bond to become even tighter, if that is even possible. I realised that I would happily stay up, late into the night talking about your life with you. Be that about boys, your friends, your body as it changes… and I will always try and understand how you are feeling. I will always listen. I dream about the girly shopping trips that we will take, trips to the spa that we will hustle daddy to pay for and trips to the theatre. And even though I will be too old for ‘maid of honour’ status… wild horses couldn’t keep me away from coming with you to choose and pay for your wedding dress. Most importantly, I will be right by your side, lifting you up, being your biggest cheerleader through childhood, teenage years and growing into a woman. I will be there watching you choose your dreams. I will be there to help you chase them and I have no doubt in my mind that when walls stand between you and reaching them… I will be there to watch you crash through them.

Ellenah & Pregnancy With Baby #3

A new chapter is unfolding very soon my darling… and I can’t wait to see you throw yourself into it. You are not just a middle child Ellenah…You are my child. My daughter. And I love you!

Love, Mama x

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