Emma prepared very thoroughly for her first baby's birth; she and her husband attended a HypnoBirthing course, went to a homebirth support group, and were very well-informed. Emma had a very long, but positive, labour and homebirth, followed by a transfer to hospital to have Cameron checked over. Cameron was found to have a serious congenital abnormality, and spent the next three weeks in hospital.
As I sit here on my sofa at 0630, I realise most people would think I was mad to be up and writing my birth story now, and when they found out that I had already dusted the lounge and hall before I started they would be certain I had lost the plot. But you take the time to do these things as you find it, and I feel so lucky to be able to have my little boy at home with me I take every waking opportunity to spend time with him. So please forgive me if this story seems a little disjointed or suddenly has a few mistyped words but he is asleep next to me and not for long I am sure!
Our little man has always done everything in his own time, he took his time getting here (8 years we waited for that positive result), he took his time to let mummy feel him for the first time, so why I thought the biggest day of our lives would be any different I don't know.
I was due in the first week of April 2007, and convinced he would be here before then; yes, I knew most first babies were later than their due date, but he was going to be early. So when nothing had happened 5 days after my due date the midwife offered to come and give me a sweep to see if we could move things along a bit. As it happened she went off sick on that Thursday and so the sweep did not happen. With the birthing pool inflated and the bags packed just in case, we sat and waited, we made no arrangements and the only day that would have been inconvenient was the Saturday as I had a relaxing day planned with the girls a birthday surprise for one of the train gang.
Someone obviously forgot to tell my son that the Saturday was busy as at 0210 he woke me up. I was surprised how calm I felt, but then I had been listening to my HypnoBirthing affirmations and relaxation CDs religiously every night for the last couple of months. I pottered around for an hour and a half, well, that is I cleaned the kitchen and bathroom and then I woke up Daddy to vacuum the house and make sure it was clean. Although he got up and did it I couldn't understand why he had the hump; surely this was the most exciting day of our lives so far? Until he asked why he had to get up at 4am to clean the house and I explained that the baby was on his way. Having understood what was happening the protective mode took over, he tried to get me to sit down and take it easy or even better lie down on the sofa.
But I was a new woman and determined to have an active birth and as the baby was arriving that day, I sent a text to Sarah and let her know I would not be making it to the relaxing day. I knew that as things progressed I would probably not want to eat, so the next plan was to have breakfast. Not cereal and toast but a full English breakfast! Once that had been cooked and eaten my surges were now happening about every 5 10 minutes and were 30 seconds in length, so not time to ring the midwife yet then, but time enough to fill the pool with warm water, and so the morning went on.
The girls popped over about 09:30, I was up and dressed and able to say hello. They wished me well and asked if they could come back later in the day to see the baby. So we were set, until I remembered that I had never got round to writing my birthing plan, so we sat down together and came up with 10 points we believed were the most important.
About lunchtime I announced that the surges were lasting longer and it would be a good idea to call the midwife. The number was programmed into number 9 on the phone so nice and easy.
The midwife arrived at 14:30 and it was Carol, my midwife how lucky was I, she examined me and although I had said that I didn't want to know how far along I was, I changed my mind as it had been 10 hours and surely I was doing really well and the baby would be here soon. When she said 1cm, I couldn't believe it.
I was disappointed but decided that I would try and follow the advice and get some sleep. However after each contraction I was having to go to the toilet. And, as Carole had reminded me, I was still waiting for a show. After she left, I got up and carried on as I had been, stopping momentarily for each contraction.
The day progressed slowly with the surges being eased by some yoga positions and the birthing ball. The birthing pool now had its heat-retaining cover on it, and I was relaxing on the sofa listening to my relaxation CDs. Eventually in the early evening I had my show, and we waited for my water to break and baby to arrive.
More time passed and not so much was happening. Gordon decided to get some sleep, and to help me sleep we began going through the relaxation scripts. However, all the scripts we practiced were not helping, possibly because the surges were interrupting them. So back to the book we went, and eventually found a script that worked.
The only problem was Gordon was getting bored of the script after a couple of hours and both of us were very tired now, so I lay down on the sofa and Gordon on the floor. Each time I had a contraction I would concentrate and squeeze his hand and he would say in with the endorphins, out with the stressand then snore!!
At about 0400 on the Sunday morning I asked Gordon to call the midwife as the contractions were much stronger and longer now and I thought they were five minutes apart at the most. Gordon said he had to time them before he phoned and promptly went back to sleep, so after a bit more prodding got back on the phone.
I moved myself to the sofa bed in the conservatory, as I had more room to move and being curled up was easing the discomfort. It was also the easiest place to be examined, and we had placed a dust sheet underneath the normal sheet.
The doorbell rang about 0445 and Gordon answered the door; he came into the dining and said it's a man shall I let him in? Shall we just say I said yes to that question? Paul came in and he immediately put me at ease, he examined me and now I had been awake for 26 hours, I was sure he would tell me the baby was almost here, so when he said the baby was definitely arriving today imagine my excitement, just to have it dashed by finding out I was now 3cm dilated!!
He checked the home birth pack and said there was some paperwork that was missing. As we had a while yet he would pop up to the hospital and get the right paperwork and then come back. It only took 45 minutes for him to get back, but in this time I had decided to get into the water.
Gordon describes the change in me to being from Mrs Angry on steroids to being me again. The water definitely worked for me, not only to help with the surges but to relax me and help me feel more in control.
The only problem was that Paul did not have underwater equipment, but not an issue - I just stood up each time he wanted to listen to the baby's heartbeat and I got out the one time he wanted to examine me.
Paul rang my midwife at about 0900 and I was 5cm dilated; she confirmed that she had notified Margaret. Carole arrived not long after Paul called her. Gordon was still doing his supportive bit, but now had to make tea and coffee for two midwives.
Paul did his handover and was ready to leave when it seemed I had three contractions one immediately after another. Paul, being the consummate professional he was, decided he would stay until Margaret arrived.
Although I kept trying different positions, for each surge the best position for me seemed to be kneeling and leaning forward. It also meant I could hold Gordon's hand during the surge, and in between I would sit back in the water as if relaxing in a hot tub.
Margaret arrived and Paul left, and now we had all the underwater equipment I was not moving around as much. I did try and make myself move from one side of the pool to another between surges so that I was still a little active.
Gordon made some breakfast between surges and even managed to eventually eat his breakfast as well. Of course during a surge he was being his supportive self, just without the snoring this time.
Although it felt that the surges were now getting much closer together, my notes show that they never got closer than 5 minutes apart, so time distortion was definitely in play. They were certainly getting stronger and about 3 hours before I met my little man I had my crisis point, where I doubted I could do it and even said that I had changed my mind not about the home birth but about having a baby. The midwives were fantastic; they encouraged me but did no more than that. They would ask me if I wanted the Gas and Air but I kept refusing for another hour.
I am not sure what happened after the crisis point but suddenly I knew the baby was coming and I could actually feel him moving down. It did not hurt but was uncomfortable. And then I felt a big pop, I remember saying to everyone Something's happened I was sure his head had popped out!! Your waters have just brokenwas the reply - this was at lunchtime on the Sunday.
Now I decided that gas and air might help, but I think I may have been sucking too hard as I wasn't getting anything and then would turn my head and disconnect the mouth piece from the canister.
Now with each contraction I could feel the baby moving further and further down and then I felt I needed to push, suddenly within the next couple of surges I felt myself opening up and his head coming out. Imagine my surprise when at the end of the contraction he popped back in again!! Again I announced this to everyone, I know they could see (well Gordon couldn't) and the midwives were very supportive and told me it was common.
The next surge and his head was born; again I remember feeling stretching but nothing more than that really. But now the time distortion seemed to stop. I remember being told the next push and he will be out and waiting and waiting, and saying nothing's happening, but again according to my notes it was only five minutes before he was completely born.
Is he alright?was the first thing I said and the answer was Yes, you can turn round and see him if you like!. This I had not considered, but at that time they have seen everything anyway so I just lifted my leg over him and suddenly I had him in my arms.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, and whilst waiting mummy cuddled and tried to feed. Daddy then cut the cord, after which Daddy had a chance to have a cuddle, after the vitamin K injection, which we had opted for, had been administered.
I was told I would have to get out of the pool for the third stage. And although I had decided not to have the injection, I did change my mind, I was so tired and just wanted it over with. This again was relatively painless and then I was given my baby back and I was a mummy.
Within 2 hours I was up and dressed and we were ready to receive visitors, and the rest well that is another story!
I would just like to say thank you to everyone for all their positive actions and thoughts. And that having the home birth group really helped. I am sure that the HypnoBirthing we chose to try was effective, but if we had practiced some more and different relaxation scripts I may have got some sleep in those first 24 hours.
A wonderful experience, which when asked one hour after giving birth if I was still planning on having more children quickly, the answer was yes that should tell you all you need to know!
Cameron was a coughing up mucus after he was born and, being a first-time mum, and being very tired, when the midwife told us we could go to our local hospital (Darent Valley) and have his stomach washed, which would take about an hour, we said yes. So off we went in our car to the hospital, Carole (the midwife) had rung them in advance, Gordon pushed proud mummy and new baby to the designated ward.
We arrived and Cameron was assessed; his oxygen intake was slightly below normal but nothing to worry about. They then took us to a small room where they measured a piece of tube to pass through his nasal passage into his stomach. With the tube cut they tried to pass it, however they could not get the tube down as far as they thought they should be able to.
To cut a long story short, after a couple of x-rays and a couple of more goes at passing the tube, a registrar came to speak to us and explained that they thought that there might be a problem with Cameron’s oesophagus. They were not certain but wanted to keep him in overnight and monitor him. They were also in touch with Lewisham hospital, which was the centre of excellence for problems of this type. Without a special x-ray they would not be certain. So we were sent home, tired and confused and in disbelief that our baby was not with us.
At 6:30am we were back at the hospital, where they said they were as certain as they could be that his oesophagus and tummy weren't joined (oesophageal atresia) and normally with this condition there would be a fistula (a small tube from his trachea to the tube at the top of his tummy). Lewisham had a bed and he would be transferred later that day.
When we arrived at Lewisham, as we could not travel with him, he had had the x-ray and they had confirmed that he had the suspected problem. They also told us they had managed to fit him into surgery for the next morning. So he spent 3 weeks in intensive care. In the middle of the second week we got to have a cuddle again, and that was the best feeling ever.
Well he is five months old now, and all is well. He had his operation and made a rapid recovery, coming home 3 weeks to the day after we had taken him to Darent Valley. I am so pleased we opted for the home birth, it gave us those few precious hours with him before he went into intensive care. He is a very happy and contented baby, and I put that down to the time I spent relaxing before he was born and the fact that I was able to have him at home.
I have met other mothers whose babies have had the same, and were born in hospital; the difference for us was the time we had. Their babies were immediately whisked away to be sorted out, the problem was found slightly faster, but baby went straight to intensive care, so no bonding time, straight after birth.
Would I do it again? Well we will be trying IVF again in February 2008, so that answers that question. Would I have a home birth again – definitely. Do I worry about what might be? No. I did not know there was anything wrong with Cameron, nothing showed on the scans. There is no reason that another baby would have a problem, so onwards we go with our beautiful baby boy, each day bringing new delights and joy.
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