Andrea has twelve children, seven of whom were born at home. Her tenth baby, Seth, was a planned, unassisted birth, her eleventh, Lydia, arrived by caesarean, and for her twelfth, she planned another homebirth:
I'm what you call one of those 10th moon mamas. I always go to term and then some, always. I even carried twins to over 40 weeks. I just don't do early.
You can imagine my surprise then when at just after 38 weeks my waters broke. Most people would be delighted at this, evicting the sprog early, but I was rather annoyed, I was taken by surprise, I wasn't ready, my body didn't check with me first. I still had stuff to get, things to wash, mental preparation, physical preparation. I just wasn't ready. Too bad how sad, as they say. My baby was coming ready or not .and I was most certainly NOT.
I started my day much like most, reading my email over breakfast, when I felt a snag and pop over my right hip. Hmmm I thought, if I didn't know better, and the fact I don't go early, I'd say my waters just broke. I sat and waited, wiggled a bit in my chair. No water escaping, not even a drip. I'm sure that was my membranes rupturing, I wonder what happens when your waters break but the cervix and plug are still tight and the water can't escape? It probably just floats around inside your uterus, tears heal, I've heard lots of stories of women who had little leaks and things healed over and their baby wasn't born for days weeks even. That will be me, it will heal and I'll plod on to my expected 42 weeks.
Goodness I'm tired; I can't keep my eyes open. I went and laid down on the bed, Lydia joined me and we fell asleep for a small time. Half awake half asleep I turned over and gush, here comes the water. I guess things weren't as tight shut as I thought. Argh how annoying, I was enjoying that nap. I called for Tyler (12) to fetch me a cloth nappy, I popped that between my legs and made my way to the bathroom. A quick inspection found nice clear water and a bit of show that had washed out. This is insane, I don't go early, isn't anybody listening?
I gathered my thoughts, did a quick stock take of what I was lacking for my birth erm everything, and what I needed for the baby, not much thankfully, then made up a shopping list. I didn't even have any groceries in, I normally did them the following day so things were looking pretty stark in the labour snacks department too. My next task was to contact Peter and get him to come home so I could go and get the things I needed before labour started. Unfortunately Peter wasn't answering his phone that day $#@^%$. It turned out he was charging it at another site as where he was building still had no power supply. After leaving 10 zillion messages he finally called me back around midday and said he'd be home after lunch. Obviously lunch on his planet is at a different time to lunch on everyone else's as he didn't get home until 2:30pm $#@%&.
In the interim I'd had a few sporadic contractions that felt no different to the contractions I'd had for weeks, nay months previous, but I could feel a little tugging on the cervix during them so I was sure pretty they were starting to do something. I did a check and the cervix was very high, I could just feel the posterior edge of it and I was fully effaced and was open a wee bit, not a lot, maybe 1-2 cm's but without being able to feel the whole cervix it was hard to tell. I had a palp of the baby and he was LOP with his head still fairly high. I put some stuff on the wash and dry, and gathered all the birthy bits I had together and set the 'at home' kids to work cleaning up. I had a sudden need to sterilize the place, scrub walls and wet vac my couch of all things.
I headed into town around 3:00pm, feeling fairly confident labour wouldn't start until I was home, maybe not even until the next day. I also didn't want to ring my midwife until I'd had some proper contractions and knew it was the real deal, although if contractions hadn't started by that evening I was going to ring her and notify her it could be soon so she wouldn't be woken in the night without any warning, I'm thoughtful like that.
I started running my errands, made my way through the supermarket gathering the essentials and a few treats for labour. I bought a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the new arrival and made my way to check out. As I was waiting in line a contraction hit a real contraction, oh my lordy goodness, hurry up peeps in front of me, lady with a baby on its way out, in a hurry HAUL ARSE PEOPLE! I had the most ditzy check out girl ever, I felt like screaming at her, hurry the hell up I'm in labour here and I don't have time for you to double check the price of a pumpkin, just charge them something, anything and get moving. I finally got out of there and put the stuff in the car. Another contraction. Holly Hell I need to step up the pace, I still have my bean bags to get. I can't give birth without a big poufy bean bag to lean over. I hopped in the car to drive off and I see someone waving at me out my side door. It was Rhys (17) wanting a lift home. I've never been so pleased to see anyone in my whole life, at least I won't be alone now if I give birth in the middle of town.
When he realised I was in labour he said maybe we should just go straight to the hospital nooooo I'm having my baby at home, and damn it I'm going to make it home, I just need a bean bag, one stop, just one stop then we can go. I parked the car and got out to go to the store with the beanbags, made it about 5 steps and another huge contraction hit. I clung to the lamppost and huffed and puffed my way through it. Ok revised plans were going home right now, no time for beanbags. I clambered back into the car, he suggested he drive but I needed to be in control, between contractions I was fine, and the contractions while sitting were pretty mild and short so I felt ok driving.
I had another 3 or 4 contractions on the way home but I only needed to pull over for the very last one, about 1 minute from home. I was so relieved to be home finally, I walked inside and pointed at the car and said to the kids 'Bags, bring in, in labour, go now' they got my message and unpacked my stuff while I rode out another few contractions. My god this is it, I'm in labour, I guess those waters aren't going to heal up after all. I think Peter was quite surprised to see me so 'in labour'. When I'd left an hour and a half ago I was without so much as a niggle. I gave orders to everyone, chill the bubbly, defrost the birthday cake, scrub the floors, make the dinner, stop time. I needed to chill. I went into my room, opened the window and looked out into the bush and just breathed in the late afternoon sunshine, centred myself and accepted the fact there was no going back now, I was as prepared as I was going to get, I needed to let go and let it happen. About 10 minutes after getting inside the contractions stepped up a notch and started coming very close together. I told Peter we should ring Sandra the midwife, he asked what her number was but I couldn't recall it, I had it written in a green booklet with my notes but I was buggered if I could remember where I'd put that either. I got my birth ball out and put it on the bed and leaned over it rolling myself and relaxing between contractions, unwinding from the stressful rush home. During contractions I found myself punching the ball and hitting it to disperse the pain, such a handy dandy birthing aid those balls.
It wasn't long before I felt that pushing urge, I was really pleased to feel those bearing down sensations, the baby was on its way out, it wasn't stuck like Lydia, the baby was actually going to come out this time. I put my birthing sheets and birth mats over my birth space and muttered something about ringing Sandra again. I felt inside and was greeted by a lovely hard dimply head and the posterior fontanelle. I leaned over the birth ball and opened up as the next contraction hit, the head was coming out, I put my hand down and cupped it and felt it edge out. As that ring of fire started I gave a little counterpressure as it eased out and then pop, the whole head was out. Peter walked in and said 'The heads out' No shit, really, I would never have known that hadn't he pointed that out. Peter sat behind me and told me to give another push when I felt ready, I pushed again and the rest of his body slipped out into his daddy's hands. He had his cord around his neck a few times and Peter unlooped it off and laid him down behind me.
I turned around and saw my wee baby boy for the first time, oh my goodness the cute! He was pink and fat and just perfect. I scooped him up and kissed and smelt him. I held his little wet body next to mine and just marvelled at what I'd made. Peter handed me a warm towel and I draped it over him to keep him warm. He was born at 5:30pm, an hour after I arrived home from my shopping dash. I asked Peter to send the kids in, they were busy watching TV and doing other things and hadn't noticed I'd had him yet. I also asked him to ring Sandra and let her know I'd had him and to make sure he told her we were fine and everything was ok. Somehow this got translated to 'you don't need to come up as all is fine', which it was, so she told Peter to ring if we needed her.
The children came in and greeted their new brother, we talked about who he looked like, and about the cord as he was still attached to me. He had a little look around and took in all the faces then I put him to the breast and he had his first taste of milk. Someone asked where was the blood, I said there wasn't any blood. It wasn't until later that we found out why there wasn't any blood, but I'll save that for the afterbirth story.
Andrea's third stage was complicated by a retained placenta, and to allow readers to choose whether or not to read it, she has written it as a separate story. Mum and baby ended up OK, by the way.
Lydia's birth story
Seth's birth story
The hospital birth of Andrea's twins, Rose and Amelia, is on the Association of Radical Midwives' site (www.radmid.demon.co.uk)
Grand Multiparas and home birth Home birth after caesarean
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