When you become pregnant with your fourth child it is amazing how many people, near total strangers included, feel free to comment on your lax morals and inefficient use of contraception. The whole idea that such a baby may be much wanted seems to be an alien concept.
Anyway, (rant over), when I realised I was joyfully pregnant with my fourth baby, I also knew straight away that my due date would be very close to my oldest boy's 7th birthday. I had an excellent home birth with my third boy, Patrick so was keen to repeat the experience. Having a baby at home is so much easier for us; no mid-labour transfers, worrying about giving birth in the car. No need to wake the children or panic about a babysitter, as my children always appear in the middle of the night.
The advice is always to keep planning events, so the October half-term week was dutifully packed with events, including Tim's party on the Wednesday. Note to other parents - do not attempt to take eight 7-and 6-year-olds to the cinema, Macdonald's then home for a party tea and play when your due date is the following day. I was k******* and stressed out by the time they all departed at 6 pm.
The following morning I was woken with a contraction at 5.30 am, but passed it off as a braxton-hicks. I certainly could not be going into labour as daybreak approached! Reluctantly I eventually dragged myself out of bed and went to turn the horses out. Oddly enough they were very uncooperative, and I was still having quite strong "practice" contractions.
By 7.30 am Stephen (my husband) was ready to leave for work, and I was finding it difficult to concentrate through the increasingly frequent contractions. He was actually in the car and starting the engine when I decided he should stay at home, although I was still unsure if I was in labour or not. He came inside and changed back into his jeans, not that giving birth at home is such a messy business that it was necessary. He decided to ring the midwife, and my mum to ask her to look after the boys while I was in labour. We had made no contingency arrangements for childcare, having assumed that birth would take place during the night, and they would all be asleep.
By the time the midwife arrived I was trying to persuade the boys that they really did want to play Lego in the playroom, Stephen having told them that mummy's baby would come soon. I was rocking through the contractions on all fours, with Stephen massaging my back in between checking on the boys. I found it quite difficult to cope each time he disappeared as he is such a cool, calm birthing partner. Eventually I asked him not to go out again, and coped with transition by having some great gulps of Entenox and muttering about how I could not cope any more.
An enormous urge to push, and several pushes later Philip slithered into the waiting hands of the midwife, still completely enveloped in his membranes. After breaking open the bag, and confirming he was our fourth boy, we called the other three in, to see the cord being cut.
I had elected to have a natural third stage, so moved to a slightly more upright position and the placenta arrived about fifteen minutes later. It was about quarter to eleven by now. Mum finally arrived at 1 pm after all the excitement was over. Tim, Matthew and Patrick were, and still are, thrilled with their baby brother. Philip was slow to start feeding, and did not feed for about 12 hours after the birth, but now is rarely without my breast in his mouth and is a delightful baby.
I should end by praising the entire Selby area team of community midwives. I think most of them have cared for me at some time during my last two homebirths, and they are all expert exponents of the gentle art of watchful, waiting midwifery. I can thoroughly recommend a homebirth; it is a very easy, hassle-free way to introduce your new baby to the world.
Julie's third baby, Patrick, was also born at home.
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