Andrea has ten children, five of whom were born at home. Seth, her youngest, was born in November 2001 at a planned, unassisted home birth.
I started niggling on the 24th (Saturday). By niggling I mean the Braxton hicks contractions became noticeably stronger and more frequent. I felt I was gearing up for labour and it wouldn't be too far away. I was aware that night of a few contractions while I was sleeping; one woke me up at about 4:00am Sunday morning and I said on fully waking "I think we may have a baby today". But once I was up and about the contractions stopped, although every few hours I'd get a strong Braxton hicks that reminded me it may start up again at anytime. Throughout Sunday I had little bits of show coming away so I new things were getting close.
I went to bed late that night, about 1:00am, as I wanted the lounge clean and dishes done; I didn't want to go into labour during the night and have to get up to a mess. I also think I was trying to keep awake so I wouldn't go into labour - I don't like labouring at night. For some reason things seem 10 times worse in the still of the night for me.
Again at about 4:00am I was woken by a contraction. It was a definite labour-type contraction this time though. I remember thinking 'this is the start, I wonder when it will finish'. I decided to go to get a drink and go to the toilet since I was awake anyway and had a very large show. I felt inside to see how much my cervix had changed and was excited to feel I was starting to open at last. I went back to bed and was aware of a few more contractions as I slept, but they weren't strong enough to wake me fully, I just acknowledged them and went back on dreaming.
Monday morning and I woke to some strong contractions, but again once I was up and about they stopped. Peter had taken the day off work, so as it was such beautiful weather he spent most of the day outside with the children pottering around the section, planting trees and landscaping, which allowed me to rest and enjoy my last day of pregnancy freely. I had a nice long shower and rubbed body glitter over my hard, round belly. It sparkled like a jewel :o)
Around 4:00pm I felt the need to retreat away from everyone as my contractions had returned and I wanted to listen to them and turn inward. I was tired of these disappearing contractions and wanted my baby born. I felt I needed to turn inwards now and tell my body I was ready, it could get serious now. I never timed the contractions but they were far apart - I probably had about 3 or 4 an hour. It was nice this way as I had these lovely long stretches in between contractions where I just dozed, ate chocolate and cuddled my girls as they wandered in.
Around 8:00pm the contractions became suddenly stronger and more frequent. I was aware that the baby's head was bulging and fanning out the birth canal with each contraction. My baby had finally dropped - I was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen!
At around 8:30pm I was at the fridge getting some juice when a powerful contraction hit and I felt everything open up. As I surfaced from it I told Peter the baby was coming now and I went into the bedroom where I'd been making my safe little birth space.
A few more contractions brought the head right down. I felt no need to push; everything was moving down on its own at this stage, I just opened up and let it happen. I put my hand down to touch the head, as I thought that was what was coming, but instead a balloon of water filled membranes came out to greet me.
Peter was concerned they would burst forth their contents all over the duvet so he got a bowl from the kitchen to try and 'catch' everything when it ruptured. This little balloon was swaying and swinging from me with him trying to follow its movements with my mixing bowl under me - it must have looked so silly! Of course, when they did burst with the next contraction he missed it completely, but the duvet was spared I'm pleased to say; my birth sheets did their job well.
The next contraction brought the head almost out; I guided it with a little counter pressure until the contraction stopped before the head was totally out. I wanted it right out so I decided to push. I needed both hands in front of me for grip so the rest of the head birthed on its own - what a relief when that was finally out. I asked Peter if everything looked ok. He was giving me counter-pressure on my lower back and had a better view than me, who had no view.
Next the shoulders, but again the contraction stopped before I could get them all out so I had to push without the help of my uterus. It was hard work but I gave one last mammoth heave and felt that last hump birth. I thought that would be it and waited to feel that slippery eel whoosh out but he was still in there.
Peter said "he's out to the hips, his bottom is too big". Arrgghh - I didn't think I had anything left in me to get the rest of him out. I thought I would die or split in two waiting for the next contraction to birth him completely. Why the heck couldn't this baby just slide out like the others? Then Peter said "it's going purple, but it's fine". Well, that's all I needed to hear - I gave one more almighty push and the rest of him came out with what seemed like a 10-gallon drum of water following him. This time the duvet did suffer slightly.
He cried straight away and I turned over to see my new baby. It was a boy, I knew it would be :o) I scooped him up and told him how beautiful he was and how I'd been waiting so long to meet him and thought he'd never get here. He just blinked and poohed on me. We weren't clock-watching but he was born around 8:55pm on Monday the 26th November 2001. We cuddled, gave him his first taste of milk and introduced him to the children who were still awake; it was a treasured, calm, sacred time. So special and so intimate.
At 9:50pm there was still no placenta, as I'm also still sitting on the birth sheets (with dry towels under us) I'm feeling a little uncomfortable and want to move to a new comfy area, I want to hand Peter the baby but can't as we're still attached. I add some Motherwort tincture and Black Cohosh tincture to a glass of water, sip on that and put the baby back on the breast. I'm sure the placenta separated around the time I first put the baby to the breast, 5-10 minutes after birth, as I had some cramps and a small gush of blood and fluids.
At 10:00pm Peter comes close and I give him the baby to hold while I squat and do an internal to feel if it's there. I can feel it inside so give a push. Not much happens. I jiggle about a bit and push some more and it comes down. When I feel it at the entrance I bear down - it's painless but requires a lot of effort from my tired body. Eventually it's part out but just hanging there. I cup my hand over the part that's bulging out - it's coming foetal side first. I sort of stroke it out -as I bear down it slips out into my hand, all warm and floppy.
I stay close to it as a band of membranes is still inside of me, I don't want to tear them. I pull a little on them and bear down but they don't seem to want to come away, I try again and they snap, some comes out but I'm not sure if all did, it doesn't worry me as the rest will probably come out with the lochia over the next few days anyway.
I have my first look at the Placenta. I expected it to be bigger to match the baby who looked huge. The surprise was the cord was coming out of the edge of the foetal side, not the centre.
I had planned on a lotus birth, leaving him attached to his placenta until it separated from him on its own, but once he was here and the placenta was here I didn't feel comfortable about carrying them both around together. The cord was so cold and dead already, and the placenta getting that way rather rapidly, yet the baby was so warm and alive - it just felt like they should be separated now. I used a piece of gauze to tie off his side and cut the cord. Blood ran out from the placenta side of the cord over his fat tummy.
I didn't want him dressed - I left him naked just loosely wrapped in a soft fluffy towel, but he majorly meconiumed all over the nice soft fluffy towel so I decided to pop a nappy on him. Before I did we had a go at weighing him. The spring scales I bought only went up to 5000gm; I nearly bought the next size up but thought 5kgs would be ample, I only needed them for birth weight not an on-going thing.
Well, Peter started raising him up and the gauge hit 5kgs before he'd even really left the ground, they maxed out to their limit and the handle part you hold nearly started to come off under the pressure! I don't know how much over 5kg he is, but we'll weigh him in a few weeks and see what he is then out of curiosity.
I wrapped him in a new soft, fluffy towel and we went to bed, both of us slept soundly until about 8:00am the next morning. He has the most amazingly powerful suck - by that evening I already had blisters on my nipples, he's ferocious.
After much debate and family voting a name was finally decided on today, the 28th November. Seth Liam; I hope he likes it.
Andrea's other birth stories:
The hospital birth of Andrea's twins, Rose and Amelia, is on the Association of Radical Midwives' site (www.radmid.demon.co.uk)
Lydia's birth story
Oscar's birth story, and afterbirth story.
Grand Multiparas and home birth
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