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Mark's birth story, by Jillian

Mark was my third baby. I had my first in hospital and it went okay despite me being induced due to pre-eclampsia - only interesting feature really was that I had a multilobed placenta. My second was born at home which also went fine but I had a PPH afterwards, involving a trip to hospital and surgery to remove large pieces of very firmly attached placenta, then a 5-unit blood transfusion. The conclusion was that I'd had another multilobed placenta but that this time some of it had been abnormally adherent.

I spent my third pregnancy planning to give birth at home. My consultant reluctantly agreed but said to look carefully at the placenta on my scans. Sure enough a late scan showed a possible weird extra bit on the placenta. Meanwhile the midwives were trying to talk me out of a homebirth and into a hospital birth, and trying all kinds of negotiating tactics, and basically agreeing to do whatever I asked them as long as I came into hospital to give birth.

Eventually I decided that I would make my mind up about where to give birth when I went into labour, and just see how I felt at that time. I stopped having conversations with people I knew about it and just adopted a 'wait and see' policy.

So I was 10 days overdue, and not expecting to give birth for another week or so. I'd had period pains on and off for several days but only when I needed the toilet. On the 3rd of May I had a show first thing, then period pains throughout the morning. Took Hannah to preschool, then Ellie and I went for a coffee and I must've been in a bit of a state because when they took ages to take my order I nearly ended up in tears. Afterwards we picked Hannah up from preschool then I got loads of outdoor toys out of the shed for the girls to play with, then made them lunch.

1pm
Realised I was having more regular pains and started timing them - about 5 minutes apart. Fed the girls, then finished packing their bag and mine, just in case.

2pm
Mum turned up to take the girls so I could go for my post-dates appointment at the hospital. She looked at me deep-breathing through contractions and suggested she drive me to hospital. We tidied up the place (fun while having contractions), loaded stuff into her car including a very complicated carseat (even more fun while having contractions), then we all headed off to hospital. Contractions coming about every 3-5 minutes.

2.30pm
At the antenatal clinic I was seen remarkably quickly - amazing what telling people you think you're in labour can do for you. Saw Bridie the midwife, who checked my BP and got a bit worried, then told me there weren't any appointments free for being induced. "That's okay, I don't want to be induced," I said. She looked at me slightly strangely, then told me I'd have to be scanned and monitored instead. I told her this was fine, and she wrote on my notes "Declined induction." All seemed a bit academic considering I was deep-breathing through contractions every 3 minutes now.

3pm
Registrar examined me and said "Ah, 3-4cm, possible 4-5cm - definitely labour. Lets get you to labour ward." I had expected to be sent home again and told to come back when something real was happening. Suddenly I realised I was officially in labour. Amazed to have got to this stage with so little pain.

Walked over to labour ward (declined wheelchair - it was obviously a day for declining things). On the way I called Mike and told him to come straight to hospital with my bags. He told me he was nearly home (I later found out he was actually stuck in traffic miles from home!) At labour ward I was v relieved to find the birthing pool free. I had previously said if it wasn't available I would go home again and give birth there. In fact by that stage I wasn't feel too assertive and needed Mike's support. Was left alone in the delivery room, where I paced, deep-breathed, looked around, and had various mild panic attacks and confidence crises. At one stage it occurred to me to time my contractions again, and I had five in six minutes. Still nothing I couldn't breathe through though, and only about 30 seconds each.

3.30pm
Sarah the very young-looking midwife arrived and announced she would be looking after me. I asked if any of my team midwives were on, and she said Bev was, but was out. Hmm. She did various checks then asked me if she could put a Venflon in my arm. I said I'd rather not. Told her my contractions were very frequent, and she asked if I'd like some pain relief. Said I'd like to use the pool. She said "Hmm, have you talked about this with anyone during your antenatal care?" I said "Yes!" very firmly. She looked at me, thought a while, then the penny dropped. "Are you the lady who booked the homebirth?" "Yes! I'm the pain-in-the-bum lady who's being very difficult..." "Aha..." From then on she argued with nothing, and went and started running the water.

3.40pm
Mike arrived with bags. Asked how I was doing, watched me having some contractions, seemed happy with my state. He started being more assertive about where was Bev and could she be my midwife. I was happy to have him fighting my case. I'd kind of decided by this stage that it was fate that I should have this baby in hospital - I certainly couldn't face driving home again.

3.45pm
Got into the pool. Suddenly my contractions went from every minute to every 5 minutes again, and felt really different. I had been a bit nervous that they'd hot up once I got in the pool, but in fact they were easier and I started to relax. Shortly after Sarah came in to tell us that Bev was in and would be taking over. We thanked her and felt pleased.

Bev came in and talked about my care. It's strange how when in labour you can sit there totally naked and talk easily to people without even thinking about it. She noted that I had declined the Venflon, wanted to use the pool, and asked if I'd like her to stay or leave. We said we'd just be happy to be left for a while.

Mike got his book and turned the lights down, then we both relaxed and waited. I contracted occasionally, then dozed in between. Still just deep-breathing through the pains without feeling the need for any more help. I felt quite out of it and worried that things were going to slow down massively now, but was learning to just relax and go with the flow.

4.45pm-ish
Contractions getting stronger and more frequent, and starting to feel like I needed a poo. Told Bev, who started getting stuff ready for delivery just in case. I pointed out that I might actually just need a poo. A bit later I hopped onto the toilet for a good old clearout, although not quite enough of one it turned out.

5pm
Contractions had been getting stronger and longer, but I had still been coping by deep-breathing through them. Mike and Bev were having a chat about parking permits at the hospital when I was hit by the most amazingly strong pushy contraction which emptied my bowels quite effectively into the pool. Yuck! I was totally taken over by it and found myself moaning and groaning involuntarily. Second stage officially started. Mike started sieving the pool...

From here on I felt almost totally out of control most of the time, and spent a lot of it with my eyes closed trying to work out what to do (as if there was anything I could do other than just hang in there). Sometime around now a second midwife called Sue joined us and got things like the resus unit ready.

I asked if I ought to get out of the pool. Bev told me it would be nicer for the baby but it was up to me, and started putting her huge gauntlets on. Apparently just as she finished getting them on I announced I would get out and onto the birthing stool - partly because the water was so disgusting, and partly because I couldn't get my head around how I was going to deliver the baby in the water. I felt like I needed some help of some kind from the midwives - although I wasn't sure what. Waited till the next contraction had finished (as if I could've moved before) then got out and onto the birthing stool just as the next contraction hit.

Birthing stools need backs to them! I desperately told Mike I needed support. He stood behind me with his arms under my armpits and held me up. Gripped the edge of the stool while I writhed around. Feeling quite scared at this stage - they were such violent contractions, yet I couldn't believe the baby was coming any time soon, and I just wanted it all over. I wanted to just lie down and have someone else just take the baby out of me.

Suddenly I felt the baby moving down and stretching me, then back up again. Next contraction he moved down again and this time felt like he might start coming out. I was mooing and groaning, and at some stage it occurred to me that whoever was next door really didn't need to be hearing the sounds I was making. The baby just stayed there for a while between contractions, then felt like he was wriggling around inside me and moving back upwards. The midwives said he was nodding his head. I was furious - how dare he consider moving back up again! Bev asked if it would be okay to break my waters, and I agreed - anything to speed up the process. I didn't notice them going at all.

Someone asked me if I wanted the injection for the third stage. I didn't care, so I nodded. In it went, I suppose - I didn't notice.

Still didn't believe we'd got any further than just seeing the top of the baby's head, but with the next contraction I was being told to push, push, then pant pant pant, then push to get his chin out. I was elated that we'd got this close and it would soon be over. Then his head was out and it all hurt a bit less. The contractions stopped, and I felt like I had nothing left in me to push with, and hoped it was okay to just rest till the next contraction. No one was telling me that in fact the cord was well and truly wrapped round his neck and shoulders. Then the contraction came, and I was pushing with it, Bev was tugging on the shoulders, part of them came out, I got all worried all of a sudden about shoulder dystocia, then suddenly he whooshed out of me and it was all over.

5.18pm
There was a long grey baby boy lying at my feet with an incredibly long cord. Mike said "Jill wants to cut the cord," but Bev wanted to get the baby onto the resus unit as soon as possible so I agreed to her cutting it. Off he went for a rub and some oxygen. I sat on the stool, feeling empty but relieved, and convinced he would be okay. Sue said something about him being fine, and Mike asked if he could have a cuddle with him. Feeling somewhat strange at requesting attention when there was now a baby in the room, I asked if I could lie down. Bev picked up the end of the cord and clamp, and we walked carefully over to the bed. At this stage I was completely naked with a cord coming out of my bits - quite strange. It was nice to lie down.

5.25 - 5.30pm
Bev examined my bits, saying something about how the shoulder delivery had been a bit rough. I was feeling quite sore and protective of the whole area. She said I had only a bruise on the apex and I didn't need any stitches. Then it was time to deliver the placenta. I said something along the lines of "You'd better get all that placenta out Bev." She felt gently on my tummy, then said the placenta was just at the cervix. She gently pulled on the cord and I felt an enormous sense of relief as the placenta slid out of me.

Someone wrapped me up in sheets and gently put a pad in place. I felt nervous about what was going to happen next. Would I have a massive bleed? Would I need surgery? I didn't really dare hope it might all be okay. Then the syntometrine side-effects kicked in and I started feeling too sick and shaky to care about anything, then the afterpains really started taking hold. I spent an hour feeling terrible, and waiting for some codeine and paracetamol to kick in, while Mike cuddled the baby and phoned people and sent texts off. The midwives cleared up, brought us tea, then left us to it. At some stage Bev and Mike examined the placenta together - she showed him all the bits and explained everything, and he was happy that it was all normal and okay. Decided not to keep it.

Eventually I started to feel better. Mike put the baby beside me and he latched on for a feed. I didn't feel up to cuddling him yet, but I did manage a quick chat with mum then my sister, I think.

And a bit later I felt well enough to have a shower next door, which was bliss.

7.30pm
Got dressed, then talked to Bev about when we could leave. Protocol was to stay for 6 hours but she agreed that wasn't going to happen, and said could she have an hour to finish typing up my notes. Mike suggested that I have a sleep while he got some food. Lay down and relaxed in the dark while the baby slept in the bassinet.

8.30pm
Bev handed over my notes, told me the paediatricians were aware that we were leaving but that we would have the baby check done at home the next day by a midwife. We had a bit of a discussion about the baby's weight - she'd initally told us he was 8lb 8oz, but then written 8lb 1oz in his notes. In the end she weighed him again just before we left, and we decided he was 8lb 8oz.

Then we were off. We thanked Bev for all her care, and the fact that she managed to give me a birth that was as close as possible to what I'd wanted, despite being in hospital and me being classed as high-risk. I'd arrived in the hospital at 2.30pm and was leaving at 8.30pm with my baby. I'd laboured without a venflon in or any drugs, hadn't had to argue too much about using the pool, I'd been left in peace until I felt like I needed help, I'd had no intervention during the second stage, I didn't need any stitches, I hadn't had any retained planenta pieces or a PPH, and I felt like I'd made almost all the decisions that I'd wanted to make. I'd achieved virtually everything on my birth plan, without even having given it to the midwives to read. It was as good as I'd hoped, while at the same time being incredibly intense and overwhelming.

I felt inordinately pleased with myself, but also in shock at how fast it had been. It was my easiest first stage, and my most intense and scary second stage. It was wonderful to have laboured in the day, and for it to have been over so fast. And I felt okay about having had the baby in hospital, even though everything would have been okay at home too.

Mike was just pleased at how it had all gone, and happy to have our baby boy with us, and to be taking us all home.

Jillian

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