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Jordan's Birth, by Jo-Anne

Great photo of Jordan showing a keen interest in latching on!

When I found out I was pregnant with Jordan I booked with the same independent midwife I'd had before, Sarah. Both of my daughters were born at home but the births were very different. With Chelsea I had gone over 43 weeks, then had a precipitate birth, ending in a BBA. It was a real shock and I'd found it really frightening and been disappointed that I hadn't had time to enjoy it and that my midwife had missed out on it. I dreaded Kalonice's birth being similar but it was lovely and the midwife was there. Kalonice's birth was so wonderful that I managed to get over Chelsea's birth. Afterwards I kept on about how lovely it was and how I wished I could do it every day!

The down side was that having such a great birth gave me high expectations for the next one. As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Jordan, I became excited at the prospect of another wonderful birth. In fact I decided this birth would be even better as there were a couple of ways in which Kalonice's birth could have been improved.


I decided this time I wanted to try and give birth in a different position. I had been kneeling leaning over the bath with Kalonice so I couldn't actually watch her being born; this time I wanted to see the baby come out. Also I hadn't known until the very end that I was in labour so I spent a long time worrying that I was wasting my midwife's time and not knowing I was in labour meant I missed out on a lot of the excitement. The other thing I was looking forward to this time was filming the birth. I'd actually wanted the other births on video but as I didn't have the equipment or anybody able and willing to help, filming them was never really a possibility. This time I had the use of a camcorder and was really looking forward to watching the birth afterwards.
As the pregnancy progressed things got more and more difficult. I'd really enjoyed being pregnant with the others but this pregnancy was hard to enjoy as I had so many problems. As soon as the morning sickness eased, I started suffering from very painful SPD, and several other problems too. I soon decided that this baby would be very likely to be my last as it was hard to look after two children when I felt like this; there would be no way I could cope with three children if I had another awful pregnancy. This made it even more important to me to have a good birth though. I was determined to have a perfect birth this time. I was silly to be so unrealistic but just felt if this was going to be my last time, everything had to be just right and exactly how I wanted.
After thinking more and more about it, I realised I couldn't really have a perfect birth for various reasons. There are very few people I feel completely comfortable with, so I knew that even in my own home and even though I really loved my midwife I wouldn't be able to be myself in labour. The only way I could get on and do my own thing would be if I had an unassisted birth, but although having a planned unassisted birth might be exciting in a way, I couldn't forget how scared I had been when I realised I would be giving birth to Chelsea without a midwife present.
I had often dreamed about how as soon as I knew I was in labour, I would turn off the lights, light some candles, put some essential oils in my burner and play some relaxing music. Almost every night while I was pregnant I listened to one or more of my relaxation CDs that I used when treating clients (I am an holistic therapist), wondering which would be the most appropriate to use in labour. I finally decided on The Way of the Dolphin by Medwyn Goodall but also found out a couple of classical music CDs as well and put them to one side, along with the camcorder and TENS machine, even though I've never used pain relief in labour before, and some homeopathic remedies and massage oil. However, as a child I was always told if anyone came to visit me or anyone else at the house, that I must turn off the TV or any music I was listening to so I knew that as soon as Sarah arrived I would turn off the CD and stop burning my oils as I felt it was bad manners. (I suppose its bad manners not to offer a cup of tea as well but I don't think I've ever even offered her a glass of water so I don't know why I was worried!)
I also thought it would be nice to keep the placenta this time although wasn´t sure I´d be brave enough to tell Sarah I wanted it in case she thought I was weird. I´m sure she´s probably had loads of her clients do it but as I used to think it was a strange thing to do, I assumed she would too. Now I think the placenta is such an amazing thing and has done such a good job of looking after your baby it´s a shame to just get rid of it. There´s no way I´d consider eating it but I think the idea of burying it in the garden and planting a tree there for the child is quite a nice idea and as I´m interested in art I thought it would be good to do a placenta print too.
So, I decided it wouldn't be the perfect birth as I wouldn't have my music or oils but I would try and deliver in a position that enabled me to see the baby being born, I would film the birth, Sarah knew that I would want to know straight away whether I was in labour or not and hopefully I would get to do some placenta prints too. I got more and more excited about all these things every day.
However, towards the end of the pregnancy, I became worried I would have a hospital birth as I had housing problems. I was lucky enough to be given the chance of giving birth at someone else's house. At first I wasn't going to as I felt I wouldn't be comfortable doing so but reminded myself I wouldn't be comfortable at home anyway so I accepted.
My baby was due on 10th June but on Tuesday 5th Sarah did a stretch and sweep as I was in agony with SPD and exhausted from lack of sleep due to not being able to get comfortable at night. She said she'd return a bit later in case anything was happening.
About 4.30 (half hour after the sweep) I started having contractions, strong enough and frequent enough for me to not be able to cope with the children and making me feel really irritable. The y kept going like this for several hours and I wanted to hurry up and get the children settled in bed as I really couldn't cope with them. Eventually the girls went to sleep and a bit later on I managed to doze off for a very short while.
I woke an hour later due to really strong contractions and found this was probably because Chelsea, who's 3 and a half, had decided to have a breastfeed, after stopping night feeds early on in the pregnancy! Contractions continued for a few hours again and just as I was starting to get excited they died off again, leaving me a bit frustrated.
At 10.30 on Wednesday, my friend came to pick up Chelsea and Kalonice and Sarah did another stretch and sweep to try and speed things up as I was struggling to cope with the tiredness. I had much more bleeding so got excited again but once again the contractions stopped. By midday I was really getting fed up and confused, thinking things were picking up only to find the contractions dying off again. I was also feeling very stiff by now after being on my knees leaning over the bed for so long.
I managed to grab another 40 minute sleep and mid-afternoon, I endured yet another stretch and sweep. Each one was getting more and more uncomfortable but I was desperate to hurry things along. Sarah said my cervix could be stretched to 6 cm but my contractions were now quite short.
About 11 pm the contractions were really unbearable but I was so excited, thinking, "this is more like it". I had some heavier bleeding again and I started feeling like I was pushing but for some reason didn't want to tell Sarah this. She asked me what I felt was happening and I said "Nothing!" I think I was trying to tell myself nothing was happening so that I didn't get disappointed if I was wrong. Then I went to the toilet and the pain increased. I knew things were definitely hotting up so was absolutely gobsmacked when Sarah said I think it is partly your IBS! The contractions with the girls had felt like IBS pain and I'd been amazed when Sarah had told me Kalonice was coming as I'd been sure I'd just been about to poo(!) but this time the pains were nothing like IBS. I'd obviously done a good job of convincing Sarah nothing was happening as she then left me to get some sleep so at 12.50 I got into bed and burst into tears, feeling so alone and frightened that I would give birth without her.
I tried telling myself I wasn't in labour, whilst rolling around in agony, knowing that I was getting closer and closer to having my baby. I was worried about disturbing people so trying really hard to be as quiet as I could, coping with the pain as best I could by moving around loads.
Eventually at 1.40 Thursday morning I could cope with the pain no longer; I screamed and screamed louder than anything I've ever heard before and didn't give a toss who I woke! I started shaking uncontrollably and felt really hot and I knew I was in transition. This was it, baby was finally coming but instead of being excited I burst into tears. I've no idea why but I just couldn't stop crying and became hysterical. I was screaming and crying and shouting "I can't do this", as the contractions followed relentlessly without a gap. I became more upset when I thought about how much I wanted the birth on video as I wasn't filming it.
Sarah came and I told her I couldn't do this. She tried reasssuring me I had done it before and I told her this time it was different as the others had been nowhere near this painful. I just kept saying no, no, no and saying I couldn't cope. I was also really really scared that I really couldn't do it. As I felt the baby move down I felt pain in the bones of my pelvis and was convinced my pelvis was going to shatter into millions of pieces. The baby felt enormous and I thought his head must be at least the size of a football. I really couldn't see how I could birth this baby myself, I felt sure I would need a caesarean. Just after 2 am, when I pushed I thought the head was out but then my waters broke and I realised it was just the membranes but it was a real relief when this happened, I felt much more comfortable. There were several other times I felt the head was out and then when I thought it definitely was Sarah said "a little bit more for the chin" and I thought he'd never be born. As I was pushing I kept thinking I must change position so I can watch this time but I knew I wouldn't be able to move so I didn't bother trying.
Eventually at 2.20 am on 7th June Jordan was born weighing 8 lb 10 oz and I just sat there shaking and in shock from the intensity of the pain and the difficulty in getting him out. However, 6 weeks on I no longer feel traumatised by it but still bitterly dissappointed that it wasn't filmed.   And of course, being in someone else's house I didn't keep the placenta.  I'm still feeling a bit embarrassed and ashamed as I made such a fuss and I know if I saw it on video I'd be even more embarrassed thinking "What must Sarah have thought of me?" but, even though it was much more painful than the other births put together I feel like I'd like to be able to relive it everyday. It no longer feels like an awful experience; it feels like a wonderful experience, the only thing which really upsets me about it is the fact that I didn't film it or at least have photos taken.
Anyway Jordan is a lovely baby and champion breastfeeder and I'm enjoying the experience of tandem feeding three children, although it's a bit of a challenge as I only have two breasts! Kalonice's first reaction was to smile and say baby, but when asked if she liked him, she said "No, baby go!"; Chelsea hardly looked at him until the first time she saw me get ready to feed him then said "No baby, no milk, my milk!" but now they think the world of him.

Jo-Anne Berry

Related pages:

Home Birth Stories

Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?

Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?

Pain relief - what are your options at home?

Big babies and homebirth

Independent Midwives - what they do, and where to find one.

Hypnotherapy for childbirth


Home Birth Reference Page

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Jo-Anne Berry