I'd always intended to have a hospital birth - in the birth centre part of the maternity ward, but as I went past my EDD, agreed to have an induction at 42 weeks. As it was I went into labour following the pessary, and gave birth 9 hours later, "normally" to a 9lb 11oz son, Seth. However I had felt assaulted my the constant barrage of machinery and barked orders/thinly veiled threats of intervention, and then contracted MRSA post-birth. I always felt that I'd missed out the birth experience I, and my son, should have had. Seth had not been ready, and had gone into shock post birth, not waking for 12 hours at a time.
I found out I was pregnant again when Seth was 10 months old. I placed my 40 week date at Boxing Day, and a scan at 11 weeks confirmed my dates. I was determined to have a homebirth and the NHS midwives said all the right things, even if I did see a different one every appointment! Everything changed once I reached 36 weeks. I was told by the midwife I would then have for the rest of my pregnancy, Jeni, that I couldn't have a homebirth as my baby was breech and I hadn't had my iron levels checked. I knew my levels would be around 9-9.5 but felt fine, and the baby was cephalic, as he'd turned from breech a couple of weeks before. I went home angry and upset, crossing out "refused" comments in my notes and writing in 'declined'! I started to look into unassisted childbirth/freebirthing, and decided to play by ear if/when to call for a midwife.
By 41 weeks baby had made no sign of appearing, and I declined the offer of membrane sweep or induction. I had a long and rather comedic to-ing and fro-ing with Jeni, who couldn't grasp the concept of going past 42 weeks and not inducing. She seemed more concerned about following her protocol, than taking my wishes into consideration. After several phonecalls to and from consultants and head midwives she left me feeling as if I was waging war, not trying to have a normal birth!
Finally I talked to her about the risks of going postdates and the risks of induction, explaining that I felt happier with the former.
By 42 weeks I was receiving daily (and more) calls from the midwives, and offers of monitoring. The idea of handing myself over to them was less appealing day by day, and I couldn't trust that they wouldn't "find" something on the trace, that would mean further pushing for an induction. So I declined monitoring, and said I would continue with weekly antenatal checks at home.
Finally I was given the relevant numbers to call, and a "birth kit" which was little more than some steri-wipes, clamps and a box of rubber gloves.
Heading into my 43rd week I started noticing the contractions I'd been having for over 5 weeks were more regular - about every 20 minutes. Once Jeni came over to do our weekly check they stopped dead, and I didn't have any more for hours. She had made an appointment for me to see a consultant at the hospital the next day, but I said to Sam (hubby) on the phone that it was OK. By then it'd be too late.
That night I really, really felt like this was it, and spent a while timing - every 6 minutes on average, and lasting 50 secs or so.. sometimes they'd drift to 10 min intervals, but would then last about 90 secs.
I had an urge to get outside and walk at 3am, I continued to have contractions, but enjoyed walking through them in the cool rain, I felt very peaceful and happy to be active, outside and free! I got hom and went to bed , to try and sleep before things got more serious. I woke 2 hours later, unable to lie through a contraction, went to the toilet and had a show! Whoohoo - my body can go into labour itself :o) Contractions were every 5-6 minutes, same as the night before. I went back to bed to get some sleep, but when I woke again they had slowed to every 10 minutes or so, and weren't any stronger. I kept having more show through the day, and continued contractions, but they would chop and change in intensity and frequency. By about 4pm I decided to go for a walk (in the gales!) The force of the 70-80 MPH winds sent my contractions spiking, but it was a welcome distraction.
We got in and I was feeling really fed up. Wondered how long I would have to deal with false labour that wasn't progressing, but was strong enough to stop me resting properly. I felt the contractions really hurt when I lay down, and I felt tired already. I knew I needed to have energy to labour well, so started to worry. I decided to try to get Seth to sleep for a bit, so that I could nap, and so that if I laboured later, he would have had a rest too. We got in the bathtub together and the warm water was very comforting - the contractions continued in the tub, but didn't hurt, and slowed right down to 10 minutes or so again. They were only lasting 30 seconds, and I was annoyed that they weren't "worth" the pain, as they were short and sharp - not building momentum/pulling up.
Somehow I then slept for 2 hours, but woke feeling tired and agitated, and contracting hard. I checked my dilation, and found my cervix still at 1-2cm. At that point I felt so low and disheartened, then Seth woke screaming, and as I held him I had contractions coming thick and fast - and very painful.. I wanted to squat, but he screamed unless I held him. So I lay crying with pain, sobbing in agony, wondering why they hurt so bad so early, how I would cope, and wishing I could just concentrate on calming Seth. I managed to get him back to sleep, but had pulled the muscle in the right of my back doing it. I went to the loo, and there was more show - like I didn't have enough already!
I went on all fours rocking through contractions, and felt that concentrating on thinking *down* helped, almost like imagining I could push the pain down and out meant that I was feeling the pain move down.
Sam tried to reassure me, but all I could think was how long I'd been contracting - almost 24 hours at regular intervals, and nothing had happened!
I decided to run another bath at 22.30, as that had helped earlier, and I needed to try to ease the pain a bit.. I had started vocalising through the contractions, and Seth was up. I felt OK in the bath, the water seemed to help, then all of a sudden I had ridiculously intense pains, one on top of each other and had an overwhelming urge to bear down and said to Sam I wanted to push. He asked if my body wanted to push, or if I was just tired and so was thinking "I want to push" - I thought about it, but was confused, said I didn't know then got really scared because I felt bearing down was the only way to get through the pain. I was making lots of noise, having to just let loose during the contractions and really feeling uncomfortable but still 1-2cm.
I asked Sam to call for entonox; he explained that it came with a midwife attached, and I laughed and said I was sure, I would like him to call. That was at 2250. I got back in the bath, and had a feeling that I needed to go to the loo, pushing down on the next contraction, I realised it felt better than not pushing. I realised my tensing up was me involuntarily fighting against bearing down. Sam was on the phone to the midwife, Lesley, saying the contractions were 6 or 10 minutes apart (rightly at that time) she said to call back when they were 3 minutes, or my waters went.. and that she had "plenty of gas" - what a tease.
At 2320 I got out of the bath and started crying, sitting on my deflating birth ball saying I couldn't do this, didn't want too, I decided I don't want another baby yet... Sam's jaw just dropped and he muttered something along the lines of oh, transition.. I, however, felt terrible at this stage, sure that I was only at 3cm max, and the midwives would come and ruin the birth, that everything I had hoped for would be trampled on.. I prayed hard, as I went to the loo, I felt something crown -the bulge was obviously my waters, so Sam called Lesley again and said that I was going to be any minute now, and I went to find some clothes, to not scare her off before I got some gas!
She turned up at about 23.30, I went all composed, answered all her questions, then grabbed the gas and lunged for the loo (wanted waters to break there). I squatted down on the loo, put the mouthpiece in and pushed... made a HUGE mooing noise, at which Lesley pricked her ears up and got out her phone to call for a 2nd midwife. Out came the waters, and then the head, and then Lesley flung her arm out to stop the head going down the bowl.. I waddled the 3 feet to the back room birth nest I had made.. as I crawled onto the mattress out fell my baby and about a pint of blood! For a moment Lesley was concerned because the waters were stained; as it was, he was fine.. he'd just passed meconium on his way out. (Not surprising considering he came out in one big push!)
Lesley went to cut the cord, wrapped all around him, but I said no. I had wanted a lotus birth, but as I was losing blood I asked her to at least wait for the cord to stop pulsing. I was glad we did because she later said otherwise she'd have probably had to put him on oxygen for his breathing with all the mucus otherwise.
I had the syntometrine jab, and I birthed the placenta next push, then another few bowls of blood.. so was glad I had the shot really! I felt fine, and Lesley was pleased at how quickly the haemorrhaging stopped once the placenta was out. I had a teeny tear on my old scar line, but asked for them to leave it.. she checked it an hour later (just before she left) and agreed that it would heal in days alone. I've not had any pain from it, so am happy about that!
Malachi was born at 23.38, just after Lesley finished making her preliminary notes. He never left me, was weighed and all checks were done by the second midwife with me, while Lesley did a stellar job of tidying up, so we were left to get to know each other as a family by 1am.
I would absolutely choose to homebirth every time now, but whether I would subject myself to the gane of Russian roulette that is NHS midwife care? I don't know.
Home Birth Stories
Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?
The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?
Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?
Big babies and homebirth
Overdue - but still want a homebirth? When is 'postdates' risky?
Home Birth Reference Page