Daniel's Birth by Anne Humphreys

Anne gave birth to her second child, Daniel, at home, after transferring to hospital for her first, William.

Simon and I decided to go for a home birth second time around, even though William, our first child, had been born in hospital after we transferred in during labour. We both knew that the only place I would feel happy labouring in was home. If we did have to transfer in, we knew what it was like, but I really wanted to give birth at home this time.

At 5am on a Sunday morning, three days overdue, I woke up in the middle of a strong contraction. I lay in bed wondering if this was it so soon - last time I was three weeks overdue. Fifteen minutes later there was another one, then another, fifteen minutes after that. This was it. I got up to phone Mary Cronk, our midwife. Afterwards she said I had sounded quite pleased with myself when I announced "I'm in labour, Mary!"

In the bathroom, my waters broke with an audible pop (honestly!) I woke Simon and left him to arrange the bedroom while I went into the shower. Then I got the urge to push. This couldn't be right.

"Simon, phone Ingrid!" I was very glad that Ingrid, our backup midwife, lived just around the corner. He brought the phone to me. It was great to hear her voice sounding so calm, reminding me what to do. Thank heaven for cordless phones! I got down on all fours with my head down on the floor as directed.

Soon Ingrid arrived. She was so calm and sympathetic. I was not yet fully dilated so had to just wait and ride the contractions. Ingrid taught me how to breathe to lessen the urge to push and this helped. I had been planning to manage without pain relief, but the strength of the contractions and the speed of them was overwhelming. I kept saying "When Mary arrives I am having the entonox !"

We moved to the bedroom, as the bathroom floor was rather hard on my knees. When I went through the bedroom door, the room looked so lovely. Simon had pushed the mattress over to one side and formed a cosy corner for me to give birth in. He had also arranged a dim light just as I wanted. I remember thinking "This is where I am going to have my baby."

Mary arrived. Her brisk Scottish presence gave me encouragement and her firm back massage was almost as good as the entonox! Ingrid could now go, but she obviously wanted to stay and we wanted her there, so she stayed.

William woke up and, on being told that I was in labour, wanted to come and see. He seemed unimpressed (though later he did ask me about it). His presence did seem to make the contractions milder, which gave me a brief respite, although I was glad when he left. By then Simon's parents had arrived to look after him.

Shortly after Mary arrived, I reached full dilation. It was great to be told that I could do something at last. It felt right to get up onto my knees for this. The second stage seemed to last a long time. A time of intense work and teamwork between Simon, Mary and me, especially since I was very keen not to tear. Sometimes I could push with the contraction, sometimes I had to wait and breathe through it. At one point, to see how things were coming on, I made the mistake of feeling for the baby's head between my legs; I wished I hadn't; some things you just don't want to know! Then another push and the head came out. A pause, with everyone so quiet, waiting, then another contraction, and the baby was born. Mary deftly passed him through my legs and there he was, lying in front of me, still all clay-coloured. As he began to pink-up, I picked him up and turned to Simon. We wrapped him in a towel and sat cradling him together.

Mary said "You're having another contraction!"
"I'm not." But I was, and out came the afterbirth with no problems. Then she said "can I cut the cord?" Having a physiological third stage and delaying cutting the cord had been important items on my wish list for the birth, but now they were minor events - we were so absorbed in looking at Daniel.

We called William in. When he saw me kneeling there with Daniel he said "A lickle baby! A lickle baby!" He was so thrilled. Then he saw the mess on the absorbent pads covering the bed and asked "What's that?" He stayed with us after that and was completely unfazed by it all. He was fascinated by the meconium that covered Daniel and the towel he was wrapped in. Later, I heard him examining the placenta with Ingrid in the bathroom. Ten months on, William still remembers in his own way the day that Daniel was born. I asked him about it the other day. "Do you remember coming in and seeing Daniel for the first time?" "Yes, and Mummy had drunk TWO juice boxes!"

Daniel and I had a bath together. While I lingered in the bath, Mary dressed Daniel and they tidied up. Simon came back into the room in the midst of this and couldn't see Daniel anywhere. Then he spotted him, neatly swaddled and laid in a corner out of harm's way. While I was in the bath, Simon took a photo of Daniel and William. It's a very special reminder of Daniel's home birth. When I came back into the bedroom, everything was clean and in order. I got into a clean bed with Daniel and snuggled down. "Could I have a bacon sandwich for breakfast please?"

Simon and I would like to thank Mary Cronk and Ingrid Coscos for making Daniel's birth so special.

Anne Humphreys

It sounds like Daniel passed meconium in the labour. Do you know when this happened?

The meconium was on him when he came out, in sort of trails, so I think he did it as he emerged. There was no sign of it in my waters when they went at the start of labour.

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