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Gabrielle's birth story, by Doris O'Connor

Doris had her fifth baby, Esther, and her sixth baby, Molly, at home. Gabrielle is her seventh, and her birth was filmed for Homebirth Diaries - an excellent TV programme which has been shown on the Discovery Health channel.

Gabrielle was born 8 days overdue on 17th December 2004 and her labour was a bit of an ordeal! Basically I had been having contractions on and off since the Sunday night and Tuesday evening they really kicked in for a while and I so thought this was it, contracting 1:3 and my waters were leaking too and then true to form it all died down again. GRRRR!!!

Had contractions on and off again all day Wednesday, called the mw out lunchtime as I was in an awful lot of pain, without any real contractions, especially a sharp pain on the top of my bump which really worried me. Turns out she seemed to have a leg stuck at a funny angle, great, I couldn't even lean forward without being in agony and mw confirmed that it sounded like my waters may have gone so I had to go in for a trace on the baby and to check whether my waters had gone.

The trace was all fine of course, waters were still intact, must have been a high leak and home we went. Trace showed regular contractions every five mins, but true To form it all died down at 10.00 pm!

On Thursday I had an appointment at the hospital, as I was overdue, which was all very positive. Registrar did a sweep to get things going and I was 3 cm dilated stretching to 4cm and therefore would not need any pessaries etc to be induced just would need my waters breaking. She booked me in for Sunday if nothing happens beforehand. (At this point I just wanted this baby OUT!!!) So we left the hospital happy bunnies, there was an end in sight(!) and I was really pleased that all those sporadic contractions were actually doing something.

We popped to Tescos as it was Marcel's 12th birthday and we had yet to get the cake and walking round Tescos my contractions started again.

Made it home and then they hit fast and furious, I was convinced that she would be here in the next hour or so, so we called everybody etc etc.

Well....... when mw came I was in full-blown labour and now at 4 cm and there I stayed! And then the contractions eased off and eased off......... and yep STOPPED! AAAAAARRGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had the odd one after that, strong enough to wake me up in the night when I did manage to fall asleep and I kept losing bits of my mucous plug (tmi sorry!), but that's it, I was just hanging about, feeling like a human timebomb ready to explode at any time.

I felt very achy, crampy and loose iykwim and everyone was on tenterhooks just waiting again.

Mws were very reluctant to do anything but wait and see, which was the right thing to do of course, even though it was extremly frustrating. The more interventions the more chance of things going wrong, especially when you have had as many babies as me, so we just had to be patient! Spent an unsettled night with the odd strong contraction waking me up, when I did manage to fall asleep!

Contractions kicked in again fast and furious at 1.00 pm on the Friday and Gabrielle Grace was born at 2.01 pm weighing in at 11lbs 12oz!!!! OMG!!!!!!!

She's huge, there was no time for any pain relief, as the second mw only arrived with the gas and air as Gabrielle made a rather dramatic entrance. Even the first mw only got to see my face once it was all over as I was stuck on all fours, so her first view of me was my bum!

She was born in the caul (with membranes intact) but once her head was out I couldn't push out the huge shoulders, so the mw hauled me over on my back (VERY PAINFUL!) thrust my legs up in the air like a stranded turtle and out she popped, thankfully! Phew.

She needed a fair amount of rubbing to breathe and her agpar was 5 at birth, 8 after 5 mins. She had a couple of bruises on her head from her dramatic exit, but of course she was perfect and gorgeous and we all love her to bits! :-)

Me I was all spotty where my blood vessels burst with the huge effort to push her out, but otherwise fine, no stitches or tears, which was a minor miracle really considering her huge weight, but boy was I proud, I did it all myself, no pain relief and I got my homebirth :-)!!!!!!!!

We had mws just popping in for days to catch a glimpse of this HUGE baby who was born at home, which was rather amusing and I later learnt that had she been born in hospital she would have been whisked away straight away to be kept an eye on in the neonatal unit due to her size, and would have had to endure numerous blood tests to check for blood sugar levels etc.

Thankfully, being born at home she never left my side and has been exclusively breastfed ever since, weighing in at 11lbs 14 oz on day ten!!

Doris O Connor

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