Charlie and Finn, aged 4 months.
The Birth Story of Finn Marcel Louis Raemakers. Born Aug 28th 06, weighing 7 Pounds 15 Ounces
When I first discovered I was pregnant I knew instantly that I wanted a homebirth! The fact that I felt so strongly about it shocked me, as I'd never even considered it before that very moment. My partner is from Holland where it's normal for women to deliver at home, so he was incredibly supportive of my decision. Most of my friends and family were very negative at first; I think they were shocked at my decision but they came round to the idea after a while. I was also incredibly lucky to have the full support of my midwives who were all very enthusiastic about homebirths (Thank you to the Lark Midwife team in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk!!!!)
I read a lot of birth stories while I was pregnant and did a lot of research on natural childbirth and the physical process of giving birth. The more I understood the more confident I felt and after being inspired by Maggie Howell's birth story and ordering her natal hypnotherapy CD for homebirth, any fears I felt towards giving birth completely disappeared (The woman is amazing - I thoroughly recommend the CD!)
Note from Angela: for more info, see the Natal Hypnotherapy website and the page on hypnosis for birth on this site.
At 21 and a first-time mum, people never believed me when I said not only was I having a homebirth but I was looking forward to experiencing childbirth and completely unafraid about the pending arrival of my baby. People tried to scare me with their horror stories but I blanked them out. Don't get me wrong though, I was completely aware of what could go wrong; I wasn't under any illusions that it was going to be a bed of roses and I knew that my whole birth plan could go out the window in a blink of an eye, but I was prepared for that too!
Towards the end of my pregnancy my blood pressure began to creep up. I was back and forward to the Antenatal Assessment Unit but it usually came down pretty quickly. I put it down to the fact that I had just been made redundant. However, a couple of weeks later they found protein in my urine and my blood pressure was up (At about 38 weeks) so it was off to the hospital to be assessed again. My blood pressure had come down by the time I got there so I was discharged after an hour or so but they decided to monitor me every few days to be safe. All the while I was assured that if I went into labour as things stood I would still be supported in having a homebirth, but to be aware that I was showing signs of early preclampsia (I had pretty bad odema as well) and if it was in the best interest for me and the baby I would need to consider having the baby in hospital. I of course accepted this and really appreciated the fact that they didn't try to bully me into scrapping my plans. I'd already had a show at bang on 37 weeks so I was pretty sure I wouldn't have too long to wait anyway.
On the evening I turned 39 weeks my partner took me for a slap up 3 course meal. I was having the odd twinge but I felt great, we even went on to a bar afterwards so he could have a nightcap.
The birthpool had arrived, I'd bought all of my aromatherapy oils, my birthing ball was inflated, I'd collected my Tens machine and all of the baby's things were bought and in the nursery; the only thing left was to try to get the baby to turn as he was posterior. We joked that he'd be welcome to come anytime now though, but it would be particularly nice if he came the following day as it was a bank holiday Monday and daddy would get an extra day paternity leave!
We got home at about midnight and retired to bed. I'd already had some spicy food so we decided to see if we could try another well-know method of induction, if you know what I mean...
At 2.30am I woke suddenly to a loud popping noise and sensation in my belly! It wasn't until I sat up that I realised that my waters had broken! I sprang out of bed which is a miracle in itself as I was soo big and was dancing in the doorway (I didn't want to go into the hall as it was carpeted but the bedroom floor was wooden so fine to drip on!) I was yelling at my partner that my waters had broke. He too sprang out of bed and proceeded to nearly faint as we'd left the heating on by mistake - it was very hot and he'd got up too quick, not to mention the fact that he'd finished a bottle of wine only a couple of hours previously!
I phoned my mum immediately; I'm actually Scottish so she was a bit far away to be in attendance at the time, but she wanted to know the moment anything happened, whatever time day or night. I wasn't having any contractions so spoke to her for a wee while and reassured her that I felt calm and really positive. Of course she still didn't manage to get back to sleep!
Meanwhile Jeroen (my partner) began to inflate the birthing pool. He lit candles, put on some music and rearranged the furniture in the livingroom as we'd discussed, to maximise the space we had (after he'd gotten over his near-fainting episode of course!)
I had an overwhelming urge to create somewhere comfy and safe, just in case I didn't like the pool, and prepared a 'nest' downstairs out of a mattress from a satellite chair and pillows, sheets and cushions all propped up against the couch. It really did look like a nest!
My contractions started at 3am. We were back up in the bedroom at this point talking and I was telling J when one started and one ended and practising my breathing and visualisations through them so I'd be a dab hand when the contractions got stronger; they were merely dull cramping sensations at this stage. J applied my TENS machine and I was shocked to hear that each contraction had been coming every 2 minutes and had lasted for 1 minute since the very first one. I really had no concept of this and thought I'd only experienced one or two contractions. As they were soo bearable (thanks to the self hypnosis I think) I was convinced that I was having all of these contractions but they were non-productive because the baby was posterior and the contractions appeared to be mild.
I called the delivery suite at 3.30am to let them know what was happening. My favourite midwife, Jeanette, who'd actually done our booking appointment, appeared at the door at 4.30am, 2 hours after my waters broke. The contractions were still coming for 1 minute every 2 minutes but I was chatting through them and walking around the house, up and down the stairs to try and help things progress. The were still bearable but getting stronger; the breathing really helped and I felt totally in control. The midwife filled in some of her notes and after a while took my blood pressure. It was up to over a hundred and she couldn't measure my protein levels because my waters had gone and I was having a bit of light bleeding so my urine would have appeared full of protein. She told me not to worry and she'd check it again in a short while and we'd take it from there.
At about 5am-ish they really picked up but with the help of my TENS machine and breathing I was coping well but had started to make moaning noises during contractions. The midwife decided to check my dilation. I told her if I was only 1cm I didn't want to know. As I still appeared to be in not too much pain we all thought I was in early labour and that she would be handing over in a couple of hours. The examination took a while as she was trying to see what position the baby was in. She said well the good news is that you're 7-8cms dilated (2 1/2 hours after my waters broke). I never asked what position the baby was in, I assumed that's what the bad news was. I thought 'Oh my God, it's really happening, there's nothing I can do to stop this.' The realisation was a bit of a shock.
I stood up (I couldn't bear to be sitting) and really hit transition. In an instant the force of the contractions ripped through my body and for the first time small thoughts of self-doubt began to creep in. Up until this point I'd only used my TENS machine for pain relief and we had lavender oil in the oil burner to keep me calm. (For some reason it started to smell like TCP to me - labour does strange things to your sense of smell!) I asked if I could try the Entonox. The midwife told J he had to hurry up and finish filling the pool but I knew there was no time for that so he ran me a bath with lavender instead. By the time he came downstairs to get me I was pushing involuntarily (this was only 5 minutes after she'd checked my dilation). She told me not to push, just to breathe and relax through the sensations as I wasn't ready yet.
I went upstairs with J so I could have the bath. But when we got into the bathroom I was still really pushy. The midwife appeared with the gas and air and passed it to me. I sucked hard on it to try and stop myself from pushing. I was bellowing like a strange animal so J shut the windows so as not too wake up the whole street!! I also recall that it was really stormy and thunder was roaring all around the house. My midwife told me I'd better come back downstairs but I got all pathetic and was sobbing that I really wanted to get in the bath. She went to call her backup and told me to get in then. As I was about to get in my body really started pushing violently and I was yelling that I couldn't stop it, in-between telling J that I wasn't going to do this anymore, I'd changed my mind and the baby could stay where it was. J shouted to the midwife that I was really pushing. I was told under no certain terms that I had to come downstairs as the bathroom was too small to deliver the baby in. I marched down the stairs butt-naked in between contractions, in front of our glass front door and window (lucky it was really early in the morning, not that I cared anyway). I really felt like the baby was going to fall out en-route. I knelt down on my nest leaning over the sofa while the midwife checked me. She said "OK Charlie you're ready to push" ...well you don't say!
I think all in all I probably pushed for about 20 minutes. I was saying 'Help me' and that I just wanted it to end but a little voice from the self-hypnosis cd was going round in my head and I think I held it together a lot better than I would have without it!!! She checked my BP in between contractions, which was up to 190/135!!!!!!! Dangerously high! In the kneeling position I was in she couldn't get the baby's heart rate so I turned round and sat propped up with pillows and the sofa on my nest. I'd bought a fetal monitor that you listen to through headphones when you're pregnant; I used it all the time and found it great for bonding but it meant I really knew the sound and rhythm of my baby's heart and could tell instantly that it had decelerated quite a lot. I panicked and really threw myself into pushing and getting this baby out. J was sitting on the sofa behind me holding my hand, pulling it back as I pulled it forward while I pushed. I found having something to pull against really helpful with the pushing.
The 2nd midwife arrive and I greeted her saying "I don't usually meet people for the first time while I'm in the buff!"
Jeanette said "I can see lots of dark hair" and I thought she was lying because I couldn't feel the burning I expected, just lots of pressure. J was telling me I was a natural and I was telling him to F Off!! Soon the baby's head was born and his body followed very quickly. He was born face-up as he never turned while I was in labour; I think I coped with a posterior labour as well as I did because of Maggie's CD. He passed some meconium just as he was born but scored an APGAR of 10 at 1 minute old! He was put straight onto my chest and I just couldn't believe that my beautiful baby boy was here! I didn't cry straight away as I thought I would, it all happened soo quickly that I was in shock. Finn Marcel Louis Raemakers was born at 05.58am, 3 hours and 28 minutes after I went into labour. I couldn't take my eyes off him and after a few minutes the tears came. I fell in love! (Plus I didn't need any stitches soo I was thoroughly chuffed) I had originally planned to deliver in water with J in the pool beside me. He was going to catch Finn and pass him straight to me which all seemed very romantic but I wouldn't change how it happened for the world.
Trying to latch Finn on for his first feed.
Finn breastfed well straight away; it was like he'd done it a million times before! I think feeding your baby for the first time is as exhilarating as meeting him for the first time; nothing can compare to that bonding experience! I'm planning on feeding him myself until he's at least one.
In the end I was transferred to hospital 4 hours after he was born because my blood pressure wouldn't come down and the midwife couldn't stay with me all day. It was great that she'd let me stay home for soo long in the hope that my BP would come down though! Another lovely midwife called Jenny came to the house after Finn was born to take over from Jeanette and to look after me. She was my antenatal teacher and I loved her, I was sooo lucky that my favourite midwives were there. She appeared at the door with a rose that she'd picked, which was very touching. I dried it and I've still got that rose.
An ambulance was called but the paramedics in their range-rover thingy arrived first. They were a bit over-enthusiastic and put a cannula in my arm straight away in case I had a fit. Soon the ambulance arrived and Finn, myself and Jenny were taken to the central delivery suite in the ambulance and J followed in the car. To cut another long story short, I refused to let them put a catheter into my bladder to check for protein, as my BP had come down to 130/90 when we arrived and to 130/80 a couple of hours later. I felt they were doing it as a matter of protocol and not because it was necessary. I'd already had bloods taken to check my kidneys were functioning. I stood my ground even though an OB/GYN was putting a lot of pressure on me to have it done. J asked her to leave and said we'd discuss it between ourselves to get me out of the situation. Because of this I had to stay in overnight but it really doesn't matter to me now! I got the birth I'd dreamed of! I delivered my amazing little man at home naturally and he was healthy, thats all that really matters!
Finn at about 1 and a half hours old after being bathed and dressed
Charlie had another baby, Ruben, less than a year later!!!
Home Birth Stories
First Babies and homebirth
'Get your baby lined up!' what Occiput Posterior presentation is, and other awkward positions..
Transferring to hospital - why it may be advised, and experiences from women who've done it.
Meconium - what does it mean if your baby passes meconium? Should you transfer to hospital?
Hypnotherapy for birth - what's on offer, and birth stories from women who've used it.
Home Birth Reference Page