Joanne's first baby, Ethan, was born at home in June 2000. Her second, Tabitha, was born at home on 8th September 2002, at 43 weeks and 3 days' gestation.
Tabitha's due date was the 14th August, but due to the midwives being twitchy when I had my first baby (Ethan) at 41weeks + 1 day I told a fib about the date and said that this baby was due on the 21st. As it turned out that was a good idea as Tabitha decided it was far to comfy on the inside and decided she didn't want to be born until 43weeks + 3 days (and then she needed some persuasion!)
For a couple of weeks before Tabitha was born, I'd have a run of nights where I would have contractions in the early evening, that would amount to nothing. I was always so fed up after them because with Ethan I had two nights of contractions before the big event, so kept assuming she was going to appear at any moment. The amount of mornings I woke up thinking "tonight's the night"!
When I got to 43 weeks (or 42 as the midwives thought) they asked if I would be induced, which I declined, but I did agree that I would go in for monitoring of the baby. Everything was fine and the Consultant was happy for me to come back in two days time for monitoring again. In fact, I didn't even see her so didn't get a lecture.
I went in for monitoring at 43weeks and 2 days, and again the baby was fine. Unfortunately I had a very twitchy midwife (Gayle) who was adamant I see the Consultant and asked that I wait on the CTG machine until she arrived (which turned out to be an hour and a half!). The Consultant wasn't free in the end, so I saw a Senior Registrar who asked why I refused to be induced (that's what Gayle had told her). I explained that I wasn't "refusing" just "declining" at the present moment. She asked my reasons and I explained that I thought the risks of being induced i.e. cascade of intervention etc. versus carrying on with the pregnancy when the baby and I were well was not one worth taking. She was fine about it and even agreed with me! She asked if she could perform a sweep to see if that might get things going. I agreed and a very thorough sweep was performed. She also asked that I go in for monitoring again the next day.
I drove home and picked up Ethan and took him home, and for the rest of the afternoon felt very crampy, but otherwise fine. Whilst Ethan was asleep at lunchtime I spent time working on the points on my leg my Reflexologist had shown me, and when Ethan woke up I took him on a long walk to the park and had a go on the slide myself. The rest of the day passed without anything else happening and I went to bed not really expecting anything to happen.
Boy was I wrong - at 2.44am on the 7th September, I was woken by an enormous contraction. They started coming every 10 minutes; after that first one they weren't overly painful, just irritating, but I couldn't keep still through them, so couldn't go back to sleep. The contractions continued every 10 minutes, getting a little more painful, until about 4.30am when I woke my husband Philip and asked him to attach my TENS machine (he wasn't very happy about being woken!). The TENS machine helped and meant I could lie down and sleep a little for a couple of hours until about 6.30am, when I couldn't stay still any longer and went downstairs to get some breakfast.
At around 7.30am, I had to go to the toilet and had diahorrhea, which made the contractions stop for about half an hour, but by 8.00am they were back and a little stronger. I phoned the hospital to tell the midwives I was in early labour, but that I was fine, and was thrilled when Angela phoned back as she was one of my favourite midwives. She said she would come round at about 10.30am to see how I was doing and if I wanted her any earlier to phone again.
So I went upstairs took Philip a cup of tea and got Ethan out of bed, and then decided to have a shower and wash my hair, which made me feel a lot fresher.
At around 9.30am I called my sister Samantha, who was going to look after Ethan, and asked her to come over.
Contractions were still only every 10 minutes and bearable if I walked and breathed through them. I decided it would be a good idea if I made some muffins so we would have something to eat once the baby had arrived, so Ethan helped me make some berry muffins, which took quite a while, what with him helping and me having contractions!
10.30am and I got a call from Angela who said she had been held up at the hospital and was going to send Gayle (twitchy midwife) over to see me. I wasn't thrilled about that, but consoled myself with the fact she was only coming to check me over and then go.
We asked Samantha if she would take Ethan to the shop to stock up on some supplies, and whilst he was gone I decided I liked the peace and quiet, so asked Samantha when they got back to take him to hers and keep him over night should it be necessary.
Whilst Ethan was out and we were waiting for Gayle, Philip painted my toenails for me and as he finished Gayle arrived at around 11.00am and did a mini ante-natal check and said that everything was fine, and to call again when the contraction were coming every 5 minutes.
I kind of assumed I would be calling back in a couple of hours time, but Tabitha thought otherwise!
The contractions continued all day at 10 minutes apart, mostly bearable, but I was getting frustrated and tired and I couldn't keep still during them. At around 2.00pm I had a bath, which slowed them down a little and I managed to get some sleep for about half and hour once I got out of the bath.
It had now got to 4.30pm and I was getting cabin fever and wanted to go out for a while, but didn't feel like walking so we went for a drive in the car, which at the time seemed like a good idea! At first it was fine, if not a little uncomfortable during contractions. We stopped after about 10 minutes driving for an ice cream from a local van, which was a nice distraction, and then continued with the drive for about another 30 minutes. Then my contractions decided to pick up a bit and starting coming every 7 minutes (perhaps she was telling me something, perhaps she didn't want to be born at home after all!), so we headed home.
It was now around 5.30pm and the contractions were still coming every 5-7 minutes and were picking up in strength, so Philip put some potatoes in the oven for dinner and we started formally timing the contractions - in fact Philip wrote them down on a piece of paper! Whilst dinner was cooking I gave my sister a call to find out how Ethan was, as I missed him terribly (which is mad because if he had been there he would have been driving me insane) but got so emotional when I heard his voice I couldn't talk to him and had to give the phone to Philip.
We ate dinner at around 6.30pm and I then decided that the contractions were becoming serious (or so I thought because I started to get a pain in my bladder during contractions that I had had with Ethan, but the pain didn't start until I was nearly ready to push with him) so called the midwife at 7.00pm. I got a call back from the hospital saying that Angela wouldn't be able to come out after all and that it would be Gayle instead, which I again wasn't thrilled about.
At around 7.45pm Gayle arrived bringing all her stuff with her. She asked if I had any idea where I wanted to deliver so that she could set it all up. I explained that I was to deliver downstairs and I wanted to stay upright during second stage as I'd had some bad back and pelvis problems after the birth of Ethan when I had been lying down on my side/back.
So Gayle set everything up and started on her paperwork. When she had finished she asked if I wanted an exam, which I agreed to and it found I was 4cm dilated, which I was a little disappointed with, but thought that things would start hotting up soon.
Contractions continued getting stronger, but not a lot closer together and by this time it was around 9.00pm. I told Philip to go to bed as I thought this may go on for some time - Oh how right that prediction was!
After Philip had gone to bed the contractions continued getting stronger and starting to come in multiples, ie 2-3 contractions at a time and then a few minutes' break. Around this time to I started to get immense pain in my bladder with each contraction, and the only way to relieve it was to jump down the stairs one at a time during a contraction. I found during this time I really wanted to be on my own, so was wandering all round the house, but often gravitated towards Ethan's bedroom or my bedroom.
At around 10.30pm the second midwife from the hospital arrived (Jenny). I knew I wouldn't know the second midwife as the hospital had a couple of midwives who wanted to attend homebirths and I had agreed that this was fine. The only thing I found a problem was that I couldn't remember her name and had to keep apologising and asking her what it was. Afterwards when I was saying to Philip how embarrassing it was to have to ask her twice what her name was, he said that I had asked a few more times than twice!
Contractions continued like this but never got closer together or intensified, but did come in greater multiples ie. 4-5 contractions at a time. It got to around 12 midnight and the contractions were still coming so Gayle asked if I would have another VE which I agreed to. This time I was 6cm and she was not happy about it at all and started muttering about transfering (which I ignored). She asked if she could break my waters, which I umm-ed and ah-ed about for a while, but agreed to. My waters were broken, and they were clear and there wasn't much of them. After that had happened I decieded I did want to give birth on my bed again and not downstairs, so Gayle and I lugged everything upstairs. (Looking back on my notes I also notice that the baby had turned occiput posterior, after starting right occiput anterior, which Gayle never mentioned - methinks it might have helped to tell me that!)
After my waters had been broken the contractions got much much stronger and I was really vocalising during contractions and having to jump down each step with some vigour. Philip woke up and complained that my stomping had woken him!
Contractions carried on getting stronger and stronger and still coming in multiples. When it got to around 1am I was getting to the "I can't do this anymore stage" and asked quite politely for some entonox, Gayle told me she didn't have any!!!!!! - to which I very nearly screamed "well get some them" - but politely asked if someone could please obtain some. So Jenny left for the hospital to collect it.
Whilst we were waiting for Jenny to get back with the entonox Gayle suggested that I try having a bath and doing some breathing exercises with her, which I readily agreed to. Philip was despatched to the kitchen for a jug (which he looked rather bemused about, I don't know what he thought he was going to have to do with it!). I got in the bath and Philip poured water over my bump during contractions while Gayle got me to focus on the contraction and my breathing - whilst this did help a little it wasn't as good as the entonox was gonna be, I was sure!
Jenny arrived back at 1.50am and I got out of the bath at some speed and got onto my bed leaning over the birthing ball. I was given the entonox mouthpiece, felt the contraction coming and took what I thought was going to be a blissful first breath, but the canister was empty - ahhhhhhhhhhhh - so I complained loudly and there was a swift changing of mouthpieces to the other cylinder ready for the next contraction. I then spun off with the entonox for about 20 minutes' worth of contractions.
At around 2.20pm I had the most terrible urge to fart! And was obviously muttering something to this effect because Gayle said "well it's not really surprising, I can see the head" - that was news to me! But with the next contraction I got a slight urge to push which I ignored as long as I could and then gave a little push which propelled Tabitha forward at some speed. Gayle said the baby had a lot of hair and asked if I wanted to touch the head, yuck was my reply and I pushed again. With the next contraction her head started to crown (which was totally painless) and Gayle asked me to breathe through the contraction whilst the head came out. As with Ethan, once the head had been born the body shot out, not bothering to wait for the next contraction.
As Tabitha was born onto our bed someone asked the time and I looked at the bedside clock and shouted TWO TWENTY NINE quite jubilantly!
Tabitha's cord was really short, so I couldn't pick her up and I could only see her head and chest between my legs, so Philip was told to look and tell me what we had - a little girl, Tabitha Cerys. I was so emtional I didn't know what to say, I thought I was going to cry if I opened my mouth.
It was a real pain her having such a short cord, because I was having a physiological third stage and didn't want to have the cord cut until it had stopped pulsing, so I had to stay kneeling upright with Tabitha between my legs for a couple of minutes until her cord was cut (by Gayle - neither Philip or I wanted to), and then at last I could pick her up and cuddle her, whilst we were waiting for the placenta which arrived around 10 minutes later.
Philip then helped Jenny to weigh her (8lb 6oz/3900g), measure (length 53cm) and check Tabitha over - APGARs 9,10 & 10, whilst Gayle checked me over. Gayle asked if we had a little torch to check for tears, and I said there was little pen light in bedside cupboard, but of course no one could find it. Philip then produced from the wardrobe one of the those huge 6-battery Maglights for her to use, the thing was like a search light, Oh how dignified! - but it did its job and I had only a tiny graze.
After all this was done I got in the bath with Tabitha, who then wanted to feed, so I settled back for her first breastfeed. After half an hour I thought she must be finished soon, but no, she wanted to carry on, but the bath water was getting cold and the midwives wanted to go home, so I passed her out to get dried and dressed, I dried off and got into bed, where Tabitha started to be feed again, and in fact carried on for TWO hours, finishing at 5.30am (so glad I got out of the bath when I did!).
It was then time for a little sleep, before phoning everyone to tell them the news. My sister was so emotional, I said "What do you think we got then", and she replied "I know it's another boy but I don't mind at all" "um, guess again" I said, she got all tearful and started blubbering about how wonderful it was. After we put the phone down Philip said "what on earth was she going on about stripy tights for?" "ahh, a girl thing" I answered!
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