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Sidney's Birth by Jeanette Archer

Jeanette has four children, and her third baby, Angus, was also born at home.

On Sunday 3rd July, I went to bed at around 10.30pm resigned to the fact that my baby may not arrive for a few days more, and I would have to face another week maybe of carrying around my by now rather huge and gravity defying bump.

At around 11.30 I was woken by quite a strong contraction, thinking it was probably just a Braxton Hicks, I tried to go back to sleep, then I had another, and another, they seemed fairly regular so I went downstairs to my dh to see if they would ease off, or get stronger.

I sat and watched tv with my dh for a while, and the contractions still came, roughly every five minutes. It looked like the beginning of something.

We decided my dh should go to bed and try to get some sleep before things started up properly.

I stayed up and pottered about watching tv and surfing on the internet.

Meanwhile my 3-year-old ds woke up, but refused to settle in our bed without me, so I was up and down the stairs to him every few minutes, all the while the contractions were getting steadily stronger.

By 2am I decided I would phone for a midwife. I woke my dh,and also my dd1 age 9 to go and get into bed with ds and keep him company. Hoping they would both go back off to sleep.(dd2 soon woke up and joined them!)

When the mw arrived at 2.15 I was mid contraction leaning over my birthing ball.

She settled in, and went through my birth plan with me briefly; we had not met before.

I had said I didn't want any vaginal exams, but we discussed it and she said she'd like to do one to see where we were up to, and although I had some reservations I too was quite curious and so agreed.

I was 4-5 cm dilated and she said my cervix was "thin as tissue paper", though the head was still a little high, and baby was still quite posterior.

Things seemed to be progressing nicely.

The mw had come direct to my house, so had no equipment with her, and said she was going to pop to the hospital and pick everything up. (The hospital is only a five-minute drive from my house.)

She said I might like to sit on my ball rather than lean over it to get the head moving down, and if things happened quickly while she was gone to phone 999.

I sat on the ball, and as predicted the contractions got stronger, I had a lot of pressure and pain low down at the front of my bump just above the pubic bone, and I could feel the head getting lower. I then had an urge to stand and while holding onto my dh I had several strong contractions that seemed to merge into one, my whole body was shaking and I really did think this baby might come before the mw could get back!

I really wanted some entonox at this point too!

My dh had already given me some rescue remedy, and put a dropper full in my water to try to stop me shaking.

Just as the mw returned (she was gone only 30 minutes) I got back down on all fours over the ball and the contractions immediately became much more bearable and less intense.

However,this didn't feel right to me, so I went back to standing and had a bloody mucoussy show with the next contraction.

All the signs pointed to this baby being born very soon, and the mw phoned for a second mw and started to lay out her equipment ready.

The second mw arrived shortly afterwards, fresh from the labour ward and apologised for her uniform being incorrect!

I continued to have contractions regularly and strongly, every three minutes while I was standing or sitting, but was becoming more and more exhausted with each one. I was relying heavily on the gas and air and expecting my waters to break any minute.they didn't!

By around 7 am we all realised things were not moving quite as quickly as we had thought they were and I agreed to another vaginal exam with the hope that my waters could be broken, even though I had wanted to avoid having them broken, I was so tired and fast losing faith in my body.

(my older children were awake at this point and I could hear them playing upstairs)

The exam was incredibly painful, and we had to stop for me to get on all fours each time a contraction came.

Then came the bad news, I was still 4-5cm's, and had made no progress, was not even in established labour! How could this be? I was devastated and promptly burst into tears. I was kneeling on the floor sobbing and feeling like a complete failure, this wasn't how it was meant to be. My ds was born at home only three years previously, and was a simple easy gentle birth, and that's what I expected this time. This labour though was fast turning into the labour I'd had with my first child and I was scared!

I pulled myself together and announced to the mw's that I was off to march the stairs and see what would happen!

So I spent the next fifteen minutes or so marching up and down the stairs, stopping only for contractions.

It didn't really change things, but it made me feel better; got some of that anger and frustration out!

I was aware that the mw's were about to change shift and two others were on their way with more supplies of entonox.(I went through almost 5 canisters this labour, compared to just a few breaths with my last baby.)

I carried on labouring standing for a while and one of the mw's stood behind me holding my hips and helping me swivel them gently with each contraction.

Then exhaustion hit, and the same mw persuaded me to rest on the ball while she massaged my back, I admit this was bliss, and much appreciated.

The two new mw's arrived, and I said a fairly tearful goodbye to the ones that had been with me all night. By this time things had calmed down quite a lot and my contractions had become quite erratic, I was feeling pretty low.

I decided I needed to be standing again, and once again the contractions got very strong and very painful. The mw's had said that by 9 am they would like to examine me again, and there were mumblings about no progress and hospital transfer.

I had a chat with them, and explained that I was reluctant to have another exam as I felt the baby was bobbing out of my pelvis when I lay down, but was right in it when stood up.

We finally agreed to do another exam, and see what if anything was happening. So I endured another incredibly painful exam, and as predicted, no progress, the head was still high enough that if the bulging membranes were ruptured there was a risk the cord might come down first!

BUT, there was hope! The mw took on board what I had said about the head bobbing out and she propped me up with as many cushions as she could find.hey presto! The head was far down enough to break the waters, which she did.what a relief!

Then things really started to happen. I tried sitting on the ball, I tried sitting on the birthing stool, but I had an overwhelming urge to stand, so dh was once again taking all my weight while I tried to cope with the now overwhelming contractions.

Then came that old familiar urge to push, this time to my surprise accompanied by me screaming for all I was worth! That felt so good! I never screamed while birthing my other children, and I'm glad I warned my children that sometimes women do scream while giving birth!

I could feel the head emerging, then as the contraction faded the mw's asked for another push to get the chin out,I knew at that point what was to come, and didn't panic, just felt kind of calm.

I sank to my knees and gave another push the head was out, but with the next contraction there was no familiar slither of the rest of the body following, and quick as a flash the mw's were turning me onto my back, pushing my knees up by my ears and that's how the shoulders and the rest of the body were born.

My baby was placed directly onto my chest, and my dh checked the sex. A boy! A very large baby boy!

9.30 am 4th July,his due date!

His face was blue, from being out a few moments before the body, but otherwise he was fine.

The mw's helped me undress and wrapped us both in a towel to enjoy some skin to skin.

When the cord had stopped pulsating it was cut. My dd2 had initially said she'd like to cut it, but changed her mind. She and my ds came into the room to see their new brother, but my dd1 refused to, I think my screaming had really unsettled her. (It was a good hour or so before she would come and see us. She brought me some breakfast once I was showered and in bed.)

Then I suddenly began to shake and the pain really hit me. I couldn't hold my baby, and I think my body was in shock. I felt utterly helpless and started to cry rather pathetically. My baby was wrapped in a towel next to me, but I couldn't hold him, and I needed my dh to hold me.

That's when I asked for syntometrine; I just wanted it all over, and couldn't bear the idea of waiting possibly an hour to birth the placenta. I couldn' t even muster the energy to climb the stairs to empty my bladder and agreed to have a catheter put in!

I just felt so utterly dreadful.

I even left my new baby with the mw's while I insisted my dh help me shower. I just couldn't bear for him to leave me.

Before I went for my shower the mw's tried to weigh my baby, but the scales only went up to 11lbs, and were not very accurate, so a passing mw was called to bring digital scales. My baby boy was 10lbs 14.5ozs .62cms long, with a 37cm head circumference!

Once I was showered and in bed, I could hold my beautiful baby and he had his first feed. Bliss!

We've named him Sidney Indigo. (Sidney after my dh's granddad, and Indigo was chosen by dd1)

He's now 5 days old, feeding like a real pro (milk came in on day 2) and seems very content. I am loving having a newborn baby again.

I admit, I have had a few moments of disappointment that the labour (particularly) and birth didn't quite go as I imagined it would. I have felt like I let myself down somehow, but there was always a possibility that things were never going to go as smoothly as they did when I had my ds1.

I did manage to avoid a transfer to hospital, and birthed a large baby at home with no real problems, so I am on the whole more pleased than disappointed.

And of course how could I be disappointed with my beautiful baby boy?

Love Jeanette Mum to India, Eden and Angus, and Sidney Indigo born at home 4th July 2005

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