Amelia Rose was born in 2005 . Hers was a planned homebirth and she weighed 8lb 7.5oz. Here is the story of her birth...
At a week overdue I was miserable. I didnt imagine with my third baby I would go this far, and had gone to bed every night for the previous three weeks thinking tonight might be the night. I had been planning my second homebirth since I found out I was expecting, and this particular evening, I had just had enough. I upped my raspberry leaf capsule intake (by taking a large handful!), had a hot curry, loads of pineapple, a hot bath with Clary Sage in, which I was also burning and later I got my partner Ian to massage into my tummy. I bounced on my birth ball for hours and was feeling really positive that I would go into labour that night.
I woke up the next morning very much still pregnant, and was gutted! As I was now 8 days overdue, I was booked for a membrane sweep from the midwife at 1pm. I dropped my 3-year-old James off with a friend and headed off to the surgery, but not before having a bit of a moan about my aching back. On arrival at the surgery I discovered that they were running really late as one of the midwives had called in sick, so I was faced with a 40-minute wait. During this time I had 3 mild pains in my back. They were strong enough to make me need to change position in my chair but that was about all, and only lasting about 25 seconds. When the midwife was listening in to the babys heartbeat I had another one, which she said she thought might have been a contraction, although that really didn''t hurt. Despite being really rushed the midwife managed to squeeze in my membrane sweep, and I am sure that had nothing to do with me saying I wouldnt leave without it! However, my membranes were only lightly swept as it was discovered that I was already 3cm dilated. The midwife said the head was still pretty high in the pelvis, but being third baby it could drop anytime and she felt sure the baby would be born this weekend. This made me happy, as being 8 days late is pretty depressing, but the midwife insisted on booking me in for induction the following week. Despite me telling her I would never be induced and therefore wouldn''t be going, she still made the appointment, stating that was her job done and basically if I didnt go it was not her fault! I left the surgery wondering if things were starting, and knowing that the baby was lying posterior I was expecting a really long labour so didn't really get too excited.
I went back to my friend Tina's, who was looking after James, and had a cup of coffee and the pains, if you can call them that, continued. They were about 10 minutes apart, sometimes closer, but really didn't hurt much and didn't last long. I even managed to go and pick my 7-year-old Lauren up from school and take her back to Tina's for tea. I left the 2 children with Tina and drove home around 4.30 with Tina the only person who really thought I was in labour. When I got home Ian and I had a tidy around the house just in case we were having midwife visitors that night. I scoffed a huge cheese and tomato sandwich and then a bounced on my birth ball in front of the computer, did my online Tesco grocery order and looked on a few websites to see if they thought I was in labour – they didn't. I needed to be having pains 5 minutes apart or less, and lasting 1 minute. Mine weren't. In fact, they hadnt got any worse at all. I was beginning to think this was going to be a very long labour!
At 5.45pm I decided to follow some of the advice I had been reading online, which was that if you are in early labour conserve your energy by taking some paracetamol and having a lie down. Well I didn't need to be told that twice, so Ian tucked me into bed and I shipped him off to Tina's at 5.50 to collect the kids and get them bathed and into bed while I had a snooze! I also said I might ring the labour ward and tell them I might be in early labour, as the midwife had asked me to do that if the opportunity arose so that they could decide who was coming out to me and be prepared. I was dubious about this though and Ian and I had discussed this beforehand when doing the birth plan. I really didn't want to have midwives here for hours and hours as I'm quite private and knew I would prefer for it to just be Ian and me for as long as I could manage.
From now on, I only know the times because they are all logged on my mobile phone...
Ian left at 5.50pm and at 5.53pm my best friend Jo phoned as I had sent her a text earlier saying I wondered if this was 'it' and being impatient as she is, she wanted an update. I didn't chat for long though as I had a stronger pain while we were chatting and I thought it was from lying down, so I had to say my goodbyes and sit up again. Then at 5.57pm I decided to phone the labour ward. I felt such a fraud saying things like 'mild pains' 'not very regular' etc, in fact, while I was talking I decided it was too soon and I felt a bit silly. But then while I was chatting I had another pain that hurt a hell of a lot more than the rest, in fact I needed to put the phone down and rock over the edge of the bed. It lasted much longer than the others and I was aware of me breathing very hard and making a kind of 'ooooooooooh' sound until it ended. When I picked up the phone again the midwife said that it sounded like pretty impressive pains I was having and that she would send a midwife out straight away. Who knows what she must have thought of me after my 'they don't hurt' comments! I then burst into tears and could barely get my name and address out, not that it mattered too much as they already had my details in the homebirth book, and as the midwife later said she was told that 'the homebirth' was in labour so I don't think there were many homebirths booked around the same time as me. It's not a bad label to have but it made me feel a little sad!
Anyway, after crying on the phone to the midwife I dialled Ian's mobile (6.01pm) and sobbed down the phone to him that things were getting worse and he had to leave the children there cos I needed him home. I then instinctively headed to the bathroom and had another one of those really intense pains. I felt really scared at this point and actually yelled out loud during the pain, which is something I didn't ever do when I had my first two children.
I sat on the toilet and had what must have been a show but seemed a hell of a lot more blood than I remembered, and for some reason at this point I sent a text message to my mum (6.04pm) saying nothing more than 'I am in labour'. After that, all of a sudden there was another really, really strong pain and I could do nothing but push. My waters broke, no, make that "exploded"! Thankfully most of it went into the toilet but it really hurt, in fact it felt like a crack in my pelvis, it was horrible and certainly didn't feel like it had during the previous 2 labours. It was also really brown and after having it with James I knew was meconium, which isn't good.
I was pushing from then and could do nothing about it so I quickly redialled Ian's number to see where he was (6.05pm). He had done pretty well and got as far as the Blue Bell traffic lights, around a quarter of a mile from home. All I could do was holler 'MY WATERS HAVE GONE AND I AM PUSHING!' down the phone. He seemed quite calm and said 'I am at the Blue Bell'; I'll be two minutes' so I hung up and redialled the labour ward (6.06pm). I couldn't speak by the time they came to the phone, so I put the phone on loudspeaker and set it down next to me. I put my hand down between my legs and she was crowning, I felt that bulge and could feel the baby's head, it was all slimy and lumpy, and then before I could think it literally popped out in my hand. So much for panting the head out, it really was that fast. I dont remember if I was consciously pushing or if my body had just taken over, it just happened and I just remember clenching my teeth together really hard and making that groaning/shouting noise. I didn't really have time to think now (James was born in very similar circumstances - when I felt him crowning I was sitting on the toilet again but had my wits about me and managed to John Wayne waddle across the landing to my bed), but I was just totally overwhelmed by what was happening and had to submit completely to my body, I had no control.
The head was in my hand for barely a second I think and the rest of her just seemed to fall out in a slither, and all I could do was lift the poor baby out of the toilet where she landed. She was covered in horrible slimy brown gunk, but underneath I could see she was lovely and pink, and she was screaming the place down so I knew she was breathing and I just picked her up and cuddled her. I'd managed to get a bit tangled in the umbilical cord, so I had to lift my leg over it to get untangled, and then I just sat back on the toilet and tried to settle my crying baby. This was when Ian arrived in the bathroom and greeted his new baby, but he couldn't seem to say anything other than "oh my god" "what happened?" and "is it ok?"
After a minute or so I remembered that the labour ward were still on the phone so I passed it to Ian and he spoke to them. They asked if we wanted an ambulance, which I didn't, and gave him some instructions but it wasn't anything that we weren't already doing – leave the cord alone and keep the baby warm. They also asked if it was a boy or girl, so I checked this for the first time and found we had another daughter. The hospital told us just to sit tight and the midwife would be with us soon. This was actually quite a nice 15 minutes or so. I just stayed on the toilet, wiped the baby down and cleared out her mouth a bit. Ian took some photographs of her, I changed into a clean nightdress and chatted to my mum who phoned at 6.14pm. She couldn't believe she was hearing a baby cry, as when I had sent her a text 10 minutes earlier she had been driving along a busy road and was waiting for somewhere safe to pull over before ringing to give me some moral support. It was all quite surreal, but my mum was really worried when she realised I had a baby attached to me but no midwife! Ian was worried too and kept asking if I was ok, and was the baby ok and I was by far the most calm person (a little high on endorphins I suspect) and I just kept saying "we're fine, dont worry!" Tina (who still had my children) had phoned during this time to see how I was getting on and was also shocked to hear the baby crying. A couple of minutes later Duncan (her husband) phoned to see if we wanted him to come over as he is a doctor, but I think Ian just had a telephone consultation as we really felt things were ok. As you can imagine, I wasn't exactly looking at the clock when she was born so we have had to go by Ian's mobile phone and mine and estimate that she was born at 6.10pm. If I didn't have the call and message log on there I would have had no idea at all what time my daughter was born!
When the midwife arrived it all sped up again. She came into the bathroom and clamped the cord for Ian to cut and then we all shipped into my bedroom. I had a bit of a hard time with the midwife as she wanted me to have the syntometrine injection for the delivery of the placenta and I had decided on a physiological third stage. She seemed surprised by this and uncomfortable with it, in fact when I was on the bed waiting for the placenta I had to get quite firm with her because she wanted to pull the umbilical cord and press on my tummy. You could see she wasn't comfortable with just waiting for it and it was quite hard for me to stand my ground. I decided to try to take the baby to the breast to try and bring on some contractions, but we never got quite that far and I ended up going back into the bathroom and delivered the placenta down the toilet too, which must have been pleasant for the midwife to fish out and examine! In the end it was only about half an hour between the baby and the placenta arriving so the midwife had no need to get so twitchy as I knew we had up to two hours.
Soon after this the baby was checked over and weighed, and Tina arrived with the children. We posed for a few photos and James entertained us all by looking for the hole that the baby came from and then asking us to put it back. Tina took James back to hers for the night while Lauren just sat cuddling her new doll/sister. We tried the baby at the breast but she wasnt particularly interested, she was more interested in looking around the place; she was so alert for about 3 hours after the birth, it was lovely. Once the necessary things were cleaned up I asked the midwife to leave, which she was happy with. It was about an hour since the baby was born and I got to enjoy a soak in my own bath while Ian and Lauren relaxed with the baby taking photographs and kissing her, and then we all curled up in my bed reflecting on the unusual evening we had just had!
She is now 12 days old and seems to be thriving. She is a feeding-sleeping-crying machine and the children seem less than impressed by how little she does, but all in all I would say the family is now complete. I certainly don't feel like I could ever go through labour again; I've taken far longer to recover from it this time than previously, physically and emotionally. Really, it took less than 20 minutes from it getting going to the baby being born. It's taken me about 6 times longer to write this down than it actually took to happen. I thought James's birth was traumatic (at home, 45 minutes, no pain relief, no midwife, extremely large 11lb baby), but that seems positively lengthy in comparison to Amelia's. People think that having fast labours with no pain relief must be the best you could wish for, but it isn't at all, it's traumatic and both times I have gone into shock. The fear of what could happen if I were to get pregnant again is just about the best contraception I can think of!
Home Birth Stories
Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?
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?
Big babies and homebirth
Home Birth Reference Page