Valencia's birth story, by Farrah

My name is Farrah and I am 18 years old. I have been married for almost three years, and our baby was welcomed into our family on July 12th, 2006 at 3.24 pm.

We live in England. I was afraid to have a homebirth at first, as I'm only 5'3" and slim. Baby valencia weighed 6lb 2.5 oz when she was born. Thankyou for reading this!

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This is really long, and may be a little sketchy because I can't remember some things that well. I've discussed it all with Dh and our Doula, and this is the most accurate thing I can come up with. I'm sorry its so long!

I'd been thinking I'd go into labour soon. So when I woke up on the 12th of July and saw some 'show' when I wiped, I was excited. However, nothing else happened that morning, so I carried on my day as usual. Dh Had band practice, and he was really keen on me going with him, to show his band mates my big pregnant belly and brag about how he was going to be a Daddy soon.

I was having period like cramps at 11.30 like the ones I'd been having for the past couple of weeks, and thought nothing more of it. I was just relaxing in a chair when I had my first contraction, at 11.45. Straight away Dh stopped playing the guitar and ran up to me when he saw the change in my face. The contraction hit me like a wave slowly hitting the sands - it started out slowly, quite serene really, but got harder, and eventually reached quite a painful peak.

Dh called his father to come and fetch us, because neither of us drive. When his father got there, it was about 12.30. my contractions were getting steadily stronger and I was feeling sleepy. I sat on the back seat of the car with my legs up on the seat so as I could just relax and let the contractions flow through me. I tried not to tense up, and let the muscles that I needed the most do all the work. After about half an hour in the car I started to get anxious, because I really wanted a water birth. I started to worry that we wouldn't be home on time. After another half an hour, we were home.

I got straight out of the car and went and sat in bed. I don't feel safe anywhere other than in our bedroom, and sitting on the bed that was our wedding present to each other was the most amazing thing to do while I was in labour. I called my midwife to tell her I thought I was in labour, and she said she'd come over right away. Dh started to fill the birthing pool up in our bedroom, and I laid on my left side and drifted off to sleep between contractions.

I awoke when the midwife got here, and suddenly felt really unclean. I went downstairs, had a shower, washed my hair, and the contractions were getting really painful by now. The last one I had before I got into the shower almost knocked me off my feet. It was about 2.15 when I got out of the shower, and I decided this might take a lot longer than I'd expected, and decided maybe having something to eat was a wise idea. I got an orange from the fridge, and peeled it. each time I was about to eat a piece, I had a contraction.

I decided I wanted to be in the birthing pool, so I climbed up the stairs, slowly, because I was starting to feel a lot of pressure on my hips and climbing the stairs was quite painful.

Our midwife, Jennie, and I had a conversation now, at about 2.30, about how I was feeling. She asked if I wanted an internal, and I said I didn't, because I felt I could be more in tune with my body if no one told me how I was progressing. I felt there was no need for me to discuss the way I was feeling with her. I thought evaluating my progress and talking about things would help me during labour, but when the time came, I just wanted silence.

I decided right now that I needed to be naked. I took all of my clothes off, and sat with my bottom really close to the edge of the bed. My water hadn't broken yet, and I was thinking that if it breaks now, it will stain the carpet. I realised after that we don't have carpet, we have varnished floor boards, and the floorboards were covered with an old shower curtain and towels.

The birthing pool was full now, and I decided I wanted to get in. The sides were quite high, and Dh had to give me a helping hand so I could climb in safely without slipping or hurting myself.

It's almost 3 o clock now, just over three hours since my first contraction, and the contractions are getting so intense. Each one comes, and doesn't really stop before the next one. I began to get confused, and was on my knees, resting my shoulders on the edge of the pool, holding dh's hand and visualising the baby coming down the birth canal.

I hadn't actually spoken to anyone since I'd told Jennie that I didn't want an internal, and I just closed my eyes, and laid my head on the side of the pool. I was quite sleepy at that moment, and I opened my eyes, said to Dh 'I love you' and he said 'I love you too.' As I lifted my shoulders from the side of the pool and was kneeling upright I had the most intense contraction so far, which lasted what seemed like an age. I felt that this position would be a good one for me to stay in for a while.

I waited for the next contraction to come, but I didn't feel one. I felt a type of pulling inside the birth canal, like something was pulling my cervix apart. I sat down with my bottom on the bottom of the pool, (thank God for those towels Dh put underneath to keep me from hurting myself) and relaxed a little while. I started to think that maybe I wasn't even in labour, after all it was three weeks before my 'due' date, and my water hadn't broken.

I turned over onto my front, and floated in the water. Whilst I was doing this, I had a really strong, overpowering contraction that seemed like my whole stomach had just tensed into one big ball. It felt as though my stomach was part of another person, and it had attached itself to me. It was so diferent to previous contractions, and I was afraid something was wrong. I had a 30 second break before the next contraction came, and this carried on for what I thought was hours, but in reality was a mere twenty minutes.

I looked at the digital clock beside our bed, and saw that it was 3.10 in the afternoon, and became confused. I'd detatched myself from time so much that I thought it was the middle of the night. With the next contraction, I felt the urge to push towards the end. I felt the baby descending down the birth canal, slowly, and felt my hip bones rise and spread. I looked at the clock again, and it was 3.19.

I saw that Dh was sitting on the floor near the window, and said to him 'Mike, come over here' and he asked me why. I said 'The baby will be here soon.' He got up from the floor, slowly, as if he thought I was just longing for his attention. Jennie came over and asked if she could have a look, and I said "No, I know my own body and I know how I am getting on. Thankyou for the suggestion, but I'm fine". So she went and sat back down again, and I got on my knees, sat straight up like I was standing but with my knees bent, and leaned on the side of the pool. my legs were facing into the pool, so I had my back arched slightly.

I could still feel the baby moving down, and then everything went a little fuzzy. I felt the 'ring of fire', but it didn't hurt. It felt more like my skin was stretching, allowing the baby to pass, but it wasn't an intense pain, more os a sensation. I'd decided I didn't want to push. Not that I was afraid of pushing, but I wanted to give birth naturally. So I just stayed there a moment, and with the next contraction, all the muscles in my body seemed to turn into one, and the baby's head was pushed halfway out.

Mike was at the opposite side of the pool and saw this. He started to panic, and shouted "Jennie! Jennie! The baby's coming, the baby's coming! help! help!" and I said to him "Mike, shut up. I can do this." I think he was mainly worried because I was slack-jawed and relaxed whilst birthing the baby. He thought I would be screaming and shouting. Anyway, The next contraction came, and the babys head emerged fully. I reached down and felt, and was expecting to feel head, but instead felt something slippery, like a ballon. I looked down to see that the baby was still inside its amniotic sac.

We didn't know the sex yet, so I couldn't say 'oh, look at her' or anything of that kind - I just said 'Ok, the head is out' to Jennie, who was seated on the bed behind me. One more contraction, and the shoulders were out, and i reached down and pulled the rest of the body out and brought the baby to the surface. By now the amniotic sac had popped (when the shoulders passed) and I just peeled the membranes from the baby and gave her a little cuddle.

Mike was stood beside me by now, and I looked at him. He looked awestruck. Our baby was beautiful. She was nice and pink, and gave a loud cry as soon as she was out of the water. The cord was quite long, so I was able to keep her above the water level, and held her in my arms. I decided it would be best to get out of the water so I gave the baby to Mike and climbed out.

I sat on a towel on the floor and put the baby to the breast. She seemed very hungry - I'd heard about newborns not wanting to feed after birth, but she latched on and stayed there for thirty minutes or so. I was having afterpains, and with a push the placenta was out. Jennie and I inspected it, noted it was all there, and then wrapped it in a piece of white cloth, with the cord still attached.

I sat with baby in my arms, Dh's arms around us both and the placenta beside me for a few hours in bed. Dh and I didn't sleep, we just sat there and looked at our beautiful baby. I rang my mum up after about two hours, and told her I'd had the baby. She said a few quick fire questions, including 'how much does it weigh? how long is it?' and that type of thing. The last thing she asked was 'is it a boy or a girl?' and I just stood there. In shock, I said to her 'I don't know!' and there was a silence at the other end of the telephone. Out baby was almost three hours old and we hadn't checked the sex. I went over and took her frm Dh, and gently opened those tiny legs, completely expecting 'dangly bits'. I was shocked to find that we had a girl. I told my mum it was a girl and got into bed.

We'd discussed names early on in the pregnancy, but I thought she looked like a Valencia, and I told Dh that. He said she did too, so that's what we called her. And her middle name is Faith, because we like that name too. I was shocked, and I was so in love. And I did it - I gave birth on my own. Without the help of any doctors, with no one coaching me. It was amazing.

So there it is. The birth story of my first child. It was the most amazing thing I've ever done in my life. It wasn't painful, and it wasn't at all what I'd come to expect. Four hours is a very short birth for a first-time mother. I actually enjoyed it, and five days later, I'm completely in love with our baby.

Farrah

Links

First baby at home?

Using water for labour and birth

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