Ethan's Birth Story

By Joanne King

Ethan James King - 29th June 2000 - 3.19am - 9lb 1oz

Well, where to start! Perhaps just a little bit of background first.

According to the community midwife's calculations, this baby was due on 22nd June. When there was a no show, she booked me in to see the consultant on the 29th to discuss induction. This was my first baby and Ipswich hospital have a policy of only "letting" you go 10 days over.

Editor's note: the hospital may have a policy of offering induction to mothers who go ten days (or whatever) over their due date, but it is just that - an offer. Mothers do not have to agree to induction, and cannot be forced to do so. The hospital staff are in no position to 'let' a mother do anything - it's her choice, and when professionals use terms such as 'we will only let you go 10 days over' or 'we can't allow you to do x' it is somewhat misleading, as it might imply to some people that the doctors or midwives actually have the authority to force the mother to accept their recommendations. They do not. This is why Joanne put "letting" in quotes! - Angela

Ethan first started showing signs of finally emerging on the 26th. I had irritating contractions from 10pm - not particularly painful, just enough to stop me sleeping. It got to 4am and I was so fed up with constantly getting up for a contraction and going to squeeze out about 2 teaspoons of wee every time that I decided to have a bath to see if this would either get things going or make them go away. I was in the bath for about an hour and they weren't going away, but I did get a little bit of sleep.

Contractions continued like that all that day and by about 3pm I was getting really tired from not having slept, so I called the midwives (Heather), just really to have a chat and moan at someone! She said she'd come out and see me, did an exam and told me I was only 1cm dilated (flipping heck, all that for 1 piddling cm).

Contractions continued that evening and at about 7pm the doorbell rang. It was Jackie, another of the community midwives, who had just been passing and came to see how I was. She recommended I take a couple of paracetamol and have a hot bath to see if that would help me get some sleep. This I did and I managed about 2 hours' sleep before the parcetamol wore off (but hey, better than nothing). Contractions continued through the night of the 27th and I again had a bath on the 28th at about 4am and a short sleep. I also had breakfast in the bath, which Philip (my husband) provided!

I was now starting to get very miffed with this giving birth lark. It was the 28th and I was really tired through lack of sleep, but the contractions continued (as they do!) throughout that day. By about 5pm I was now seriously tired and starting to get quite tearful (I don't want to do this, will it ever end - sort of thing). Philip arrived home at about 6.30pm and called the midwives and told the senior midwife I was becoming quite "distressed" (rather an understatement looking back!).

Jackie (a very down-to-earth and experienced midwife) arrived at about 7pm as she'd been visiting someone quite close by and did an examination. "Well, you'll be pleased to know I'm not going anywhere" she said, "You're 4cm dilated" ('about flipping time' were my thoughts).

From that point onwards everything seemed so much easier. I got a new lease of life and a surge of energy; at least I now knew something was happening.

I went downstairs to tell Philip things were at last starting to happen. Contractions were about 5 minutes apart and still just irritating. Over the next hour contractions were still at about 5 minutes apart, but I was starting to get lower back pain. Philip suggested I put on my TENS machine (which we'd completely forgotten about). I wasn't really that keen because I'd been using it over the last couple of days and hadn't really found it was doing anything, but I gave it a go anyway. I was pleasantly surprised that it helped ease my backache measurably and made the contractions (which were at this stage speeding up and getting a little more uncomfortable) bearable again.

It was now about 8.30pm and Philip was eating a pizza! And I was watching the Henman (tennis) game (haven't a clue who won). I'd written in my birthplan that I wanted the birth to be as natural as possible, with as little interference from those in attendance as possible, so Jackie was in the dining room doing paperwork from the hospital. She just asked occasionally if I was ok, did I need anything etc, and she would come in to listen to the baby's heartbeat.

When it got to about 10.30pm I was really tired and wanted to lie down, so I went upstairs to lie on the bed and once I got there I didn't really want to leave - NB we had planned to give birth in the living room. So all of Jackie's birthpack and the towels, sheets etc. had to be moved upstairs and set up again in the bedroom, which was a bit of a squeeze.

At about 11pm Jackie asked if she could do another exam, and told me that I was 8cm dilated, but that the baby was still very high. She asked if she could break my waters and explained that she thought it would help the baby's head descend. I agreed (mostly because I thought it would make less mess happening under controlled circumstances! - yes I know it's not a good reason for agreeing to ARM (artificial rupture of membranes), but I did consider the head descending bit as well!). Jackie broke my waters and it didn't hurt a bit, the waters were completely clear, and the baby's head descended a little but not a great deal.

At about 12 midnight I got some niggling urges to push, but they weren't overwhelming and were non-existent when I stood up! Nevertheless Jackie called the 2nd midwife Angela (she wasn't supposed to be covering but had agreed to come out when I went into labour - which was nice because both Philip and I had both got to know her quite well through the NHS parentcraft classes and we both liked her down-to-earth attitude).

Angela arrived at about 12.30am and by this time my contractions were very close. I had an excruiting need to pee, but every time I went nothing came out. It was getting so painful I felt like my bladder was so full it was going to explode. I must admit this nearly sent me over the edge a few times, and if I accidentally dropped the booster for the TENS machine I went into major panic mode.

Jackie asked if I wanted to try having a catheter inserted to see if this would help, and I readily agreed! Catheter was inserted but there was nothing in there, Angela suggested it may be the baby's shoulders pressing on my bladder making it so full and that it would pass once the shoulders had moved.

Another quick exam was done and I was fully dilated, but the baby's head was still very high and pushing was having no effect what so ever, in fact I never did get an overwhelming urge to push. At this time I was on the loo in the bathroom and Angela was in the bath talking to me (we discussed how Philip and I had done up the house and how handy he was etc.).

When it got to about 1pm the baby's head was still not descending and the bladder problem was now getting past a joke. Angela suggested I try some Entonox to help me relax and give time for the head to descend. I agreed and it was fab!!!!! So off I spun to another planet for a while, the 10 minute supply of Entonox lasted for about an hour's worth of contractions, and by the time it had run out (about 2pm) the babies head had descended and I was ready to start pushing again. During this time I was chatting to Angela about books on my bedside table and my collection of nail varnish!

After I'd been pushing for about ¾ hour on the bed and nothing was happening Jackie suggested I try standing/squatting to push and this was far more effective (along with the fact that Jackie warned if I didn't get a move on I'd need to transfer!). Squatting seemed far more natural and easier and things speeded up a bit. When the baby was close to crowning I got back on the bed to deliver, Jackie told me the head was there and asked if I wanted to touch it, no thank you was my reply (seemed quite an icky thing to do at the time).

The baby had now crowned, but didn't want to come out any further! No matter what Jackie did, or how much I pushed, there was no budging the little blighter. Jackie said she knew I didn't want an epistomy but time was getting tight and the babies head had been there too long, she asked if was ok to put the local anaesthetic in just in case, I agreed and also agreed that she should perform an epistomy if she thought it was necessary. After a few more pushes it was apparent that no progress was still being made, so Jackie said she was going to cut with the next contraction, and wouldn't you know it, just at the moment she cut, the head shot out - so I got a small one-stitch episiotomy!

After the head was out the rest shot out as well and was placed straight onto my tummy, where I was so relived that it was all over I forgot for a while to look and see what we'd got! - so quickly rectified the situation and exclaimed that it was boy (and Philip said of course it is, he'd always said it was a boy). My next comment was, god he stinks! - Angela said it was all the general goo and that it would go when he'd been washed.

The baby was wrapped up and given to Philip to hold while I delivered the placenta, I had originally wanted a physiological 3rd stage, but Jackie recommended that I have it managed as pushing had taken so long, which I agreed was fine. Neither Philip nor I were particularly concerned about cutting the umbilical cord, so Jackie did this and then administered the injection. The placenta came out pretty quickly, but I was bleeding quite a lot (Jackie was scooping handfuls of blood into a bowl!) so she gave me another injection. It soon turned out that the reason for the bleeding was that a couple of small bits of placenta had been retained, but these quickly evacuated themselves and the bleeding slowed and stopped very soon after.

When this was all over I was stitched up and then we were left alone for a while. When Angela and Jackie came back the official business of weighing and measuring was done, which Philip helped Jackie to do (which I thought was really nice - also Ethan had his first bowel movement in Jackie's weighing sling!).

All exclaimed over his vital statistics which were weight 9lb 1oz, length 52cm and head circumference 36cm, with his agpars being 9 at 1 minutes, 10 at 5 minutes and 10 at 10 minutes - top marks.

When all of this was complete Angela escorted me to the bathroom were they had run a bath with lavender oil in and Philip lit the candles in there. I had a quick soak and then Ethan came in the bath with me were I cleaned him all over (to get rid of that pong!) I then handed him back to daddy, who dried him, put on his first nappy and dressed him. Philip then went back to our bedroom with him and Angela came back to sit with me for a while and helped me out of the bath and dry off.

When I got back to the bedroom Jackie and Angela had cleaned everything up and made a pile of the towels etc in the hall to be washed, so I got straight into bed, where Ethan was handed back to me for his first feed, which he and I got the hang of straight away.

Angela and Jackie left at after he'd finished which was about 4.15am and left instructions that I was to sleep and that Angela would be back to see us at about 10am. I swaddled Ethan and put him in his moses basket, but couldn't sleep, as I was much too excited - I couldn't really believe what had just taken place.

Philip then did all the ringing round to inform everybody that Ethan had arrived and my mum said she would be round shortly!

So, all in all, threatening me with hospital is obviously the way to get me motivated - the appointment with the consultant was 10AM the morning Ethan was born, and threatening me with transferring to the hospital made me push him out!

Joanne King

joandphilip@homebirth_antispam.ntlworld.com - remove homebirth_antispam. to get the correct email address

Joanne's second baby, Tabitha, was born at home in 2002.

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