Charlie had her first baby, Finn, at home, in just three and a half hours - not bad for a first baby who was born in the occiput posterior position! Charlie transferred to hospital a few hours later because of high blood pressure. This is the story of her second baby's birth.
I discovered I was 7 weeks pregnant when my first son, Finn, was just 19 weeks old! As I was breastfeeding every 2 hours round the clock and had no periods since Finn's birth this was a wee bit of a shock, but we were delighted all the same! 3 scans later confirmed my due date as 29th August 07 (the day after DS1's first birthday).
I had a lovely straightforward pregnancy, with none of the blood pressure problems I experienced during my first pregnancy. However, I had moved back to Scotland since my first lovely homebirth and found that my midwives weren't as enthusiastic about homebirths as my midwives down south. After much discussion and an outpatient appointment with an OB who tried the old, 'what if you bleed out? And what if you have a stroke? And what use would you be to your first son if anything went wrong this time? Why don't you opt for the local birthing unit' (which is low risk and has no more high tech equipment than I would get at home)! I informed her that if something was to go wrong there, I'd need to transfer to Aberdeen hospital anyway which is half an hour away and that I actually lived closer to the ambulance depot than the birthing unit was!! It was funny, she didn't know what to say to that! She then performed a very rough palpation of my abdomen which sent baby's heart rate soaring, so I was put on a trace for half an hour and all was found to be well so I was 'Given Permission' ha, what a joke, to go ahead with my birthing plans.
Once I had given the midwives my birth plan they seemed much more enthusiastic (although my own midwife had been great from the start, it was the powers that be that weren't so keen) I was told however, that I wouldn't be supported until I'd reached 38 weeks as apposed to 37, after further discussion I just decided to wait and see what happens if I went into labour before the magic 38 weeks, I would probably have told them I was in labour now you'd better send somebody round! Luckily that never happened.
I was offered a membrane sweep one week before my due date as DS1 came at 39+1. I refused as it seemed too soon, but a few days later when I was leaving my breastfeeding group I saw the MW and agreed as I was struggling to cart DS1 around everywhere as he wasn't walking yet but was starting to get into everything. I was found to be 1cm dilated but the cervix was still very thick. I was disappointed as had been having lots of powerful braxton hicks and had been doing lots of walking and bouncing around on my birthing ball.
The next evening after a long soak in the bath I decided to thoroughly clean the house although it was totally unnecessary as it was spotless from all the nesting I'd been doing over the weeks, sure sign things were happening now that I look back. Then I started feeling pretty sick and dizzy so went to bed early. My partner was on a nightshift at the airport and I considered calling him home in case anything happened and he was busy working inside a noisy helicopter and wouldn't hear me calling, but I decided I was being melodramatic and went to sleep.
I woke at 1am with terrible backache so got up for a wee and went back to bed, 5 minutes later the same thing and I could not get comfortable but dozed off again, 5 minutes after that I was up again with the back ache so decided maybe I should call J home 'just in case' this was it. I found he was already home when I got downstairs as he'd had a quiet night, he was on the couch relaxing with a glass of red and some twisty fries. I told him I might be in labour and why did he have to go and stink the house out with fries and trust him to be having a glass of wine when I go into labour. Poor soul, I think he realised by the way I was acting that 'this was it'! I wasn't keen on phoning the midwife as I thought maybe I wasn't really in labour but the contractions were now coming every three minutes but not very painful. At 2.30am J convinced me to call the midwife as I may be in for a very fast labour judging by the first if this was it.
The MW arrived at 2am. I had my tens machine on and was wandering around the house and chatting to J (I was in a much better mood already!) She asked if she could do an internal straight away; I was horrified and said no, its too soon, I can tell I'm not far gone! But when she said, if we find you are in very early labour I can go home if you like. That sealed it, I was delighted that we might get some more time on our own. I was found to be only 1cm but fully effaced; we agreed that she should go home and we'd call her if we felt things were picking up. She reminded us that we'd need at least half an hour for the 2nd on-call midwife to get here, then she set up the gas and air and was on her way.
J ran me a bath as we'd decided not to bother trying to get the birth pool up as Ds1 came faster than we could get it all going. J sat on a stool next to the bath and hosed my back with the shower hose and sponged my bump with warm water during a contraction. Everything was incredibly managable so I decided we were in for a long night and that I must have only had a fast labour with Finn as my waters broke first that time. I made great use of Maggie Howells natal hypnotherapy for homebirth again and was using the relaxation techniques! I'd practised the Cd even more during this pregnancy and found it came like second nature this time, I really enjoyed it!
The only hint that my labour may be advancing was that the contractions had started to last for about 2 minutes at a time and we're coming every minute until they were back-to-back, but I still felt fine, although I had to lift my bum off the bottom of the bath as the pressure was too much sitting down. J was trying to convince me to come back downstairs and see what happened and maybe call the midwife. I told him he was worrying and that I couldn't be that far along as I was only 1cm less than an hour ago and would know if we needed to call her back. In the end I agreed we'd go back downstairs but I was worrying about leaving the bath in case things got intense as they'd been soo easy so far.
I got out the bath and J started to towel me down and put my tens machine back on, which wasn't easy as I kept on contracting (they still weren't all that painful though but I felt I needed to move during them) I felt I had to empty my bowels so did so in a short break between contractions. I stood up and started to shake and had an almighty pushing contraction, during which I was trying to tell J that we should probably call the MW now but I couldn't due to the force that my body was involuntarily pushing!
I managed to step into the hallway then felt an enormous amount of pressure down below; I reached down to feel my baby's head crowning!! I dropped to my knees and told J the baby was coming. He looked at my bottom and said no its not then got down to my level and said oh, it is and shoved a load of towels that had been drying on the banister underneath me. I was still cradling the baby's head at this point, calm as you like. J was also amazingly calm!
The baby's head fully crowned by itself no pushing required. My membranes were still intact so J punctured them with his finger and cleared them away from around the babies nose and mouth; I'll never understand how he knew what to do', but instinct had taken over I guess. 2 short pushes and the rest of him slid out along with my gushing waters into his daddy's waiting arms. The cord was incredibly long and was tangled around his shoulders, so J passed him between my legs and untangled him, I saw we had another boy, which was a lovely surprise as we didn't know the sex.
It took a good 10 seconds for him to cry and J was rubbing him with a towel to try and get him going; it felt like a lifetime but at last he started to scream his first breaths! I picked him up and cuddled him to my breast. I'd ended up delivering right outside DS1's nursery door and he woke up when his little brother started crying and was quite upset at all that noise in the night, so daddy got him out of his cot to see what was going on. They went downstairs and called the birthing unit to ask them to send back the midwife as we'd just delivered a little boy (my neighbour was the MW that answered, she was very surprised).
His time of birth was 3am, 1 hour after the midwife had left. They came back upstairs to me as I was still kneeling on the floor where I'd given birth. The placenta came very quickly with no pushing as I was upright. I told J that I thought I'd just delivered the placenta (I wasn't actually sure!) he said I had, so I turned round to see it roll off the towels and onto the carpet, which is ruined (insurance man has since been round to inspect the damage so we're getting a new carpet for free!!!).
The midwife arrived 10 mins after I'd delivered and cut the cord (I was still in the same position!) All was well, no stitches, blood pressure was fine so she had tea and muffins with us and took loads of pics while DS1 inspected the baby that had appeared from no where outside his bedroom door. We gave DS1 some milk and sent him back to bed an hour later. It was great having him there, he kept us entertained and was the star of the show. And to think he wasn't even 1 until 3 days later, and already a proud big brother! The MW left at 5am so we headed upto bed and all snuggled down together waiting for Finn to wake up wanting his breakfast! Bliss!!
I recovered very quickly, I was hardly sore at all down below but had terrible after pains every time I fed for a week.
Ruben is now 5 weeks old and thriving! I never planned an unassisted homebirth - the thought would have terrified me. We're just soo lucky everything turned out Ok and I'm incredibly lucky to have had such a calm controlled honorary MW who was just amazing from start to finish, he really was a rock!
Charlie's first birth story
Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?
Fathers and home birth - fathers' feelings about the birth, and how they can help.
Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?
Hypnotherapy for childbirth
Blood on the carpet - How much mess are you likely to encounter at a homebirth, and what can you do about that carpet?!
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth Reference Page