Caiden is Debbie's fifth baby and he was born at home in 2006.
My name is Debbie Dooley and I am a 39yr old, Type II Insulin Dependant Diabetic, Mum of 5. I have hypothyroidism and in my 2 last pregnancies my dosages have always had to go up significantly. I was on 200mg of Thyroxine, which worked pretty well.
It was Friday 7th July and I had reached the magic stage of 37 weeks. This meant it was all systems go for my Home Birth. Everyone was very excited as I was breaking new ground for Diabetic women in the UK with one of the first ever planned Diabetic Home Births.
Note from Angela: most hospitals recommend a hospital birth if you go into labour before 37 weeks. A few recommend hospital before 38 weeks. It is always your choice whether to accept this advice or not; see Home Birth before 38 weeks for more discussion.
It was vitally important that I didn't go over 38/9 weeks otherwise my homebirth was in jeopardy and an induction would be more likely.
Anyway, we had looked into various self-induction techniques to be started at 37 weeks, so I had everything planned for Friday night. A nice hot curry, followed by a massage with Clary Sage oil and then lots of sex. (If practical LOL)
The curry went according to plan, but then we were both so tired we just went to bed and zonked. DOH!! LOL On the Saturday morning we decided to do the massage with Cassie's (our 2yr old) help. My partner, Ian and Cassie spent about half an hour just massaging my bump with the oil. We then tried to go Asda shopping, but my hips and back were just so painful, I couldn't walk very far, but I did walk much further than I had for a while.
We got back home and I was shattered so I sat on the sofa and had a chat with my best friend, Trudy on the phone. As I was laughing at something her little one, Livvy, had said, I suddenly felt a warm 'bubble' come up between my legs. My first thought was I had peed myself LOL, but then suddenly there was much more of a gush! My waters had broken!!! I looked at the time, it was 4:55pm.
Excitedly I said to Ian, "Ermmm...Ian, my waters have broken!" I heard Trudy stop talking on the other end of the phone and it was all silent for a minute, so I repeated myself and Ian jumped up off the sofa and I laughed nervously. Trudy carried on talking and Ian ran around looking for towels to soak up the rapidly expanding puddle on the sofa and floor. I'm not really sure what we said to each other, but I know I was still talking to Trudy LOL, when I suddenly realised that this was *IT* and the time had come to have my baby at home and prove to everyone that Diabetic women could have normal uncomplicated births without interventions and hi-tech medical procedures. I was very nervous, I DID believe in myself and my body, but even after all the months of planning and research, there was bound to be still a little niggle.
Sooo, I bid goodbye to Trudy and promised to keep her informed of developments, then I rang the labour ward and asked for the Community Midwife to pop round. Then I rang my Mum and told her to come up as labour was imminent. In all 4 of my previous births, my babies have all been born within 4 hours of my waters breaking, so I didn't anticipate this one to be any different.
My Mum and Sister arrived very soon, at the same time as the older kids arrived home from seeing their Dad. Everyone was very excited and they all rushed around tidying up and getting bedding and clean towels whilst I sat and leaked.
My Midwife, the wonderful Therese, arrived at 6pm and told me my waters had indeed gone. She did my BP and temps and had a listen to baby's heart and all was well. So she told me to get some rest whilst I could and she would come back at around 9.30pm to see if anything had happened.
I sent my Mum home too and we all sat around just watching TV until Therese came back. She arrived promptly at 9.30pm and did my checks again, all well, but still no contractions. She then said she would leave me overnight and I was to ring her if anything 'kicked off'. If not, then I was to go up to labour ward to be monitored for half an hour the following morning as my waters had broken and she would see me there.
I started to get slightly nervous at this point, thinking that I once I got up there they wouldn't let me back home and I was also a little confused about why I was having no contractions. So, at 11pm we all went up to bed and I hoped for something to happen.
I had just dozed off and at 11:55pm I was woken by a strong contraction and I heaved a sigh of relief! I woke Ian and told him my contractions had started and he said "Oh ok!" then snored! I lay there for around 2 hours having contractions in varying strength until I felt I needed to get up and walk around. I woke Ian again and told him I was going downstairs and for him to stay in bed, but he wouldn't and got up with me.
On my Mum's orders, I rang her at around 3am and she said she was coming up. She arrived shortly after with my sis and we all sat and drank coffee and ate buttery toast. Ian went back to sleep on the sofa in the back room! By about 5am my Mum thought I should ring Therese, although I wasn't convinced as the pain wasn't very bad, but definitely there. But I gave in and rang her. She arrived with the 2nd midwife´ Kate, in tow at around 6am. After examining me, she said I was effacing slowly but definitely progressing and they would hang around for a while. Ian and the older kids were kept busy by filling up the birth pool in the dining room.
Things started hotting up at around 11am when the 'real' contractions started to kick in, I had been wandering around the house, sitting on my computer chair, kneeling on the sofa, kneeling on the floor and sprawling all over my white leather sofa in the front room. I was reluctant to use the birth pool as I was worried about infection as my waters had broken, so after everything I didn't use it in the end!
My Mum was fab at rubbing my back during the contractions and Therese was so wonderful, she talked so calmly to me, telling me to relax my body from the top down as each contraction hit me. It was almost hypnotic how she did it and one of my most vivid memories is of standing in the front room with her in front of me, holding my hands and telling me to breathe in deeply then let my whole body sag with the breath out. Ian was my rock; he was everywhere. If I wanted to lean on him he was there, if I needed to get up he was lifting me, if I needed to sit down he lowered me down, and all the time he held my hands and was always with me.
My girls were wonderful, they took over if Ian had to do anything and they fetched and carried, but mostly they talked to me and tried to help wherever they could. Chloe was fab as the videographer and got the whole birth on video and took pictures despite shaking and trembling and crying for most of the time!
My sister was wonderful with Cassie and kept her amused all the time it was going on, if she wanted to be with me she was and if not then she took her into the other room or outside.
By the time I started to push I had decided I was sitting on the sofa in the front room and no one was going to move me LOL. I asked for gas and air at around 11.30am and then the contractions hit me in big style!!
I remember becoming a bit panicked as the pains were very intense and the pushing urge was so strong, I seemed to be pushing for a long time, but Therese was saying that baby wasn't coming down. I began to think about shoulder dystocia and I started to feel out of control and worried. Therese was so calm though, she soon had me back in check and I realised that Caiden couldn't move down as I was sitting in the wrong position, in fact, I was sitting on his head! With a massive effort, as the contractions were coming back-to-back now, I bumped my bum down the sofa until I was half on and half off it, with one leg up on the sofa one leg on Ian's thigh. I pushed about three times and the head crowned, then Therese told me to pant, which I did and I felt the rest of his head come out. I heard Cassie say, "What's that?", and I realised she was actually standing behind Therese with her hand on her shoulder in prime position. With the next contraction his body slithered out and Therese lifted him up onto my chest. He was so warm and beautiful, I just kept saying hello baby, hello baby. At this point, Cassie said "It's a baby!!!" with such wonder in her voice; I knew it was the right thing for her to be there.
Everyone was crying, My Mum, my sister, my two girls and Ian, it was such a beautiful moment. I am so glad I had so many of the people I love around me. I just wish my other little boy had been there too. :-(
Caiden didn't cry at all and just lay there pursing his lips, Kate, the 2nd midwife passed me the oxygen and I held it to his face for a few minutes and rubbed his back, although there was no worry as he was still attached to his cord. He was so calm and quiet and soon began to pink up so we knew there was no problem. He never cried at all and has remained a very placid and laid back little guy.
We left his cord to stop pulsing and he had his first feed whilst he was still attached to me. Daddy cut his cord around 15 minutes later and had his first cuddle whilst I started pushing again to deliver the placenta.
It took about an hour for the placenta to come out naturally, and Caiden fed wonderfully and helped it to detach.
Kate finally got to weigh him and he came in at a lovely 9lbs 5oz, not my biggest baby, but also not my smallest. Although I must admit he did feel bigger at some points!
I felt so comfortable in my own surroundings and Therese was the most wonderful midwife, she made the whole experience mine from start to finish. Even down to monitoring Caiden´s heartbeat during the labour was left to me to say when and where.
Most importantly, my Blood Sugars remained within normal range and I have proven for Diabetic Mums everywhere that it can be done without the intervention and you CAN have the type of birth you want to have.
Sorry for the great length, if you got to the end then you deserve a medal, but it feels so important to me to have an accurate record of this birth. I have been asked to write it up for the Radical Midwives Association and also for the Homebirth UK Group. I really do want to try to help move things forward for Diabetic Home Birth.
I did this for ME and for Caiden, but if it can help other women experience the wonderful birth I did, then I will do my best to help them.
Debbie Dooley and Caiden Lewis
(Written when Caiden was 9 Days Old)
See also Diabetes and Home Birth - a talk Debbie gave to a midwives' conference about why she chose homebirth, and the support she received from her doctors and midwives.
Home Birth Stories
Diabetes and Home Birth - discusses both Insulin-dependent diabetes and gestational diabetes.
Diabetes and Home Birth, by Debbie Dooley
Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?
The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?
Big babies and homebirth
Home Birth Reference Page