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Oliver's birth, by Karen Tye-Walker

On Friday 23rd Dec (38wks and 3 days gestation), my waters went at around 8pm - strange feeling, took me a while to figure out it was my waters and I hadnt just lost control of my bladder!! It sort of trickled slowly, no gushing. That day we had been Christmas shopping for 5 hours in Guildford town centre, which is very hilly, then I came home and walked the dog for an hour. I remember thinking earlier that if anything happened that night I would be tired.

Jon started to wrap all of the pressies we had bought that day and I sat on a towel on my bouncy ball, no contractions straight away I just felt a bit crampy.

We went to bed at about 11pm until about 1:30am when contractions were waking me up and I was really uncomfortable lying down. We both got up at this point and moved downstairs to living room, put the fire on and watched tv. I rocked around on my bouncy ball and we started seeing how far apart my contractions were. They started off around every 5 minutes and lasted just under a minute.

At just after 2am we phoned the midwives to let them know what was happening. The labour ward was really busy and the community midwife on call ended up being stuck on the ward until around 5:30am. They put us in touch with a midwife further away but all she kept saying was that she didnt want to drive all the way to us (about 40minues) and she had a cold, so couldn't I go and get checked out at the hospital. I just said no as I knew baby was very active still, waters were still draining clear and I was coping fine. I felt that a trip in the car would either stop everything or get everything going faster so that I didn't feel I could leave hospital once I got there.

At around 5am we had a phone call saying on-call midwife was on her way - relief!! At this point contractions were coming around every 3-4mins and lasting over a minute. I stayed rocking on my bouncing ball because the one time I got up to go to the toilet the contractions came closer together and were much harder to cope with. I switched off during each one and just concentrated on my breathing.

When midwife arrived around 5:30am she took a while filling in all her notes, listened in to baby, who was doing fine and then examined me. She said wow, you are 9cm and I nearly started crying, couldn't believe it. I was prepared for her to say nothing was happening. She could feel baby's head wiggling against her finger, and so could I, which was a strange sensation.

After this I got straight into the birthing pool (hired from Gentle Water). Contractions started getting more intense, but the break in between was nice to recover. I moved around pool how I liked and we just waited for me to start feeling pressure. This built up gradually as baby moved lower down. I found the second stage the most tiring, even though officially it only lasted 47 minutes. I blew out during each contraction as my body started pushing baby down. I could feel how baby was moving down and then moving back up again, especially as he had to go round the corner.

The power of the pushing really took me by surprise. I appreciate all the moving down and stretching everything now, as I didn't have any sutures, only had a small vaginal wall tear, but I didn't at the time. Having been completely silent during the first stage, I got quite vocal during second stage, but I wasn't ever abusive or anything. Everything still felt really relaxed.

As the baby got lower I was really keen for his head to come out as I was eager to meet him. I reached down and felt his head when it came out; it was covered in black hair! The only time I actively pushed was to get his head out and then his body. When his body emerged into the water I struggled to reach down and grab him, but once I did I lifted him out of the water and placed him against my chest. He opened his eyes wide and looked up at me and Jon (who was supporting me from behind). He didn't cry - he just looked at us and I thought he was absolutely gorgeous (even though he was covered in vernix!!). It was lovely seeing that he was a boy as we hadn't known the sex at all. He was born at 8:02am.

We waited for the cord to stop pulsating before Jon cut it and then he got lots of hugs while I got out of the pool to deliver the placenta. That took just under 20 minutes and one push, then midwives gave me syntometrine as they wanted to slow down the bleeding. Once bleeding had slowed they moved us upstairs to bed and I fed my little boy for the first time. We had decided on a name for a boy and girl only the day before, so we now had a baby Oliver Edward. I spent all day in bed with him and we had lots of visitors seeing as it was Christmas and everyone was due to visit.

Labour was classed as lasting 6 hours, which is very nice for a first baby.

I wouldn't have changed a thing about his birth - it was exactly how I had been hoping it would be. Beforehand I had visions of being overdue and fighting not to be induced, and I was sure I would end up in hospital!! I am extremely glad I didn't agree to go into the hospital when I first spoke to the midwives. Both the midwives who were there when Oliver was born were lovely. One was experienced with water births and for the other it was her first one. I only had one examination when they arrived and they just left me to it once I was in the pool and trusted I would be able to do it.

Karen Tye-Walker

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