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Rosie's Birth, by Lisa Rabin-Smith

I was in bed on the night of the 28th May, and my stomach started to hurt. I felt really uncomfortable so I moved my right leg, which was up at a right-angle. As soon as I did, the pain went and I felt a pop and my waters broke, shooting out with some force. I yelled to Stuart “my waters have broken’ and headed to the loo. I was stunned by how much there was. I soaked a maternity pad in minutes and even using a bath towel didn't help – it soon ended up soaked. My waters have never gone on their own before so I was a bit shocked and shaky and felt sick. I was concerned that contractions weren't going to start, but at about 12.17 I had a big one, then a few irregular easier ones. They soon settled into a pattern of every 20 mins. I tried to go back to sleep but I was too excited and the contractions were too much to sleep through. Around 7 Stuart phoned the midwife and she decided she would come and have a look at me. I was 4 cms dilated and 50% effaced and by this point the contractions were very strong and coming around every three minutes. I could feel them most strongly on the right, and I didn't feel them in my back like I had with Matthew. I tried to stay in positions that would help the baby turn. The baby still seemed to be posterior but she couldn't feel any suture lines. Andrea said the baby was bald as all she could feel was the top of a head and skin, not hair. She said she was on duty that night but she was sure I would have had the baby by then.

The children were up by this time and very excited by the idea that they would meet their brother or sister that day. They got themselves breakfast and wandered in to see how I was every now and then. I was getting more painful contractions and eventually we decided to fill the pool. I got in – it was lovely but unfortunately the contractions slowed to around every 6 minutes. I went up and down stairs a lot and as this seemed to speed things up, we decided to go for a walk around the village. The boys stayed at home and we went for a walk, stopping when contractions came. They seemed to be lasting a long time.

Later the boys decided to go round to their friend's to play and took a phone so we could call them if anything happened. The contractions were really powerful by this point. Around 5/5.30 (I was trying not to look at the clock as I felt that wouldn't help) I decided to try the pool again. The contractions slowed down again to around 6 mins and Stuart rang the midwife to ask what she thought. Carol came out to see me and did a VE. Things hadn't changed at all since the morning which I found really depressing. It also explained why the pool was slowing things down. She tried to listen to the baby's heart but the heart was so quiet that she couldn't get a reading on the sonicaid. She was also concerned about how long my waters had been broken. She suggested that I go in to have the heart monitored and check if the fore or hind waters had gone so that I could decide what to do next as the hospital protocols were that I should go in in 4 hours. She knew that I wasn't happy to go along with this and felt that if the hind waters were intact she would be happier. I agreed to go and have the heart checked as it was incredibly quiet, and then I would come home again, deadline or no deadline. I was to go to delivery where I would be met by a midwife I knew, Leigh, and then they would run a trace to check the heart rate and try to see if it was just the position which was making it so quiet.

We rang the friend that M and J were with and she said she would hold onto them. We didn't take anything with us, as we were not going to stay, and we felt that we didn't want to tempt fate, especially as they were talking about the time limit after waters had gone. Carol basically said that they couldn't make me go in but that they would be happier if just the hind waters had gone. I agreed to go in to have the heart checked for a 20 minute race with the intention of coming home again and staying there – in spite of the 18 hour “rule’.

The journey to hospital was uncomfortable as I kept having very strong contractions. We arrived and headed up to the delivery suite, where Leigh met us. We went straight to the delivery room and they hooked up a monitor. The heart rate was showing alarming decelerations and the midwife was concerned – she said she would have called an ambulance if this had happened at home. The doctor seemed less concerned. She checked and confirmed that the waters had totally gone. She said that if not she was going to break them. Leigh intervened at this point and said that I hadn't been asked and how did I feel about this? It was moot anyway as she confirmed that the smoothness the midwives felt was a bald baby head rather than membranes (as Andrea had said). The monitor showed the baby's heart was still refusing to behave – there were more decelerations after contractions and the heart rate went very slow for a while (Leigh reckoned baby was asleep) then very fast.

I had had a urine test and the urine showed ketones, even though I had eaten and drunk all through the labour. The doctor was keen to get a drip but Leigh said I could have some coffee and toast and promised that I could still have the natural labour I wanted, even if I had to stay in hospital. I had no intention of staying in, but was waiting to see if the heart rate would settle, as in spite of the doctor, the midwife was alarmed and I knew that the heart rate was really not right. The doctor said that I was contracting very hard but that they were too far apart for it to be established labour. She and Leigh were very impressed with how I was dealing with extremely strong contractions. I was finding the contractions harder to deal with and used a birth ball and a rocking chair, but the monitoring was annoying, even though Leigh was working hard at not being in the way.

Stuart suggested we go home and collect things and then use the rest of the time we had to see what happened. The idea being to get me out and home to continue there. (Carol had said that things might suddenly go very quickly) I found myself getting really pathetic and tearful. I was worried that as I wasn't in established labour and the baby was posterior, that I would have hours to go. I was frightened and tearful about the heart rate, and that something was wrong with the baby. I said that if I needed a c-section I would rather have it now and really began to believe that was what would happen. I told Stuart I wanted pain relief and that I couldn't cope and that I didn't want to get in the car again. I was horrified that I was being pathetic and couldn't work out why, although looking back I realise I was in transition. Stuart had stomach ache and decided he needed the toilet. I climbed up on the bed on all fours to try and get more comfortable. While Stuart was gone, I was sick – this alone should have told me what was going on.

When Stuart came back I told him he'd managed to miss the being sick this time. I was brought the coffee and toast and started eating it between contractions. Stuart was dithering about going to fetch stuff but I was still being quite pathetic and saying I couldn't manage without him, and that I couldn't go anywhere and couldn't face getting in the car. I was in the middle of the toast when I felt another contraction building, put the toast down and ripped off the monitor –( Leigh had been trying to listen in without getting in the way) saying “I don't care about that stupid thing’ and then shouted “I'm pushing’ I wasn't aware of making a decision to push – it just seemed to happen. I still had pants on at that point and the midwife asked if she could remove them and then said in a voice of calm “I can see the baby's head – just do what you need to’ She then pressed the emergency buzzer for help and a delivery kit. People came rushing in and the coffee got thrown in the sink.

I didn't even feel the head crowning, just Leigh telling me to stop pushing and then that the baby's head was out. It was so hard to stop pushing. Stuart came up and was at my face telling me to breathe. He seemed to know how difficult it was – he said later that, due to the speed, he was worried I would tear really badly and that was why he wasn't at the business end. As I hadn't felt crowning I thought Leigh was lying when she said the baby's head was out and was about to tell her that when she asked me to push again and I felt the shuddering sensation of the shoulders slipping out. This is the first birth where I actually had to push the shoulders out. When I felt that I knew that the baby was there. She said that the baby had a hand up by its face as it was born.  

;She passed the baby to me – difficult because of the short cord. I looked and it looked odd to me. I had asked for them not to tell me what the baby's sex was as that was to be Joshua's job – or Stuart's if in hospital. I looked and couldn't work out why I couldn't see a penis – I was about to ask where it was when Stuart said “it's a girl’  I couldn't believe it. I held her awkwardly as the cord was so short. She couldn't reach the breast. She was covered in vernix and slightly hairy – especially around the shoulders. We looked at her and stroked her and waited for the cord to stop pulsating. Stuart cut the cord. I was in a mess as they had nothing ready for the birth and the sheet was what she was delivered onto. They whipped the filthy sheet off and I tried to feed her, cuddling her against me, skin-to-skin.

It took some time for the placenta to be delivered – probably about half an hour. She didn't open her eyes and looked a little bruised and swollen. It was quite hard work to get the placenta out and I was uncomfortable wanting to get rid of it, but it was such a tiny placenta – especially compared to Joshua's. It was lovely because we were given as much time as we wanted to get to know her. No-one touched her without asking and Stuart actually had to ask them to weigh her. She was 9 lb 2.5 – tiny compared to her brother. Eventually they decided they had better put on the security tag and put wrist bracelets on us both. Leigh wrote on the white board in the delivery room “Happy birthday Rosalind Ellen’ and the time she was born 19.44

I had a small tear which Leigh said was already going back together and there was no blood loss. She was amazed that it had been so quick – second stage was recorded as 1 minute. There was no pain relief, no gas and air even or Tens. She was born with a hand up by her face and then it stretched out, Leigh said, like Superman. That was what caused the small tear – otherwise she reckoned I wouldn't have torn at all. She said it was down to me stopping pushing when she said – that I did it all! She obviously turned as she came out the right way although she had been posterior when they last checked.

In all the excitement my pants had been thrown away – they were pretty gross anyway! I had no clothes for me or Rosie. They said they would get me some disposable pants and I got given a towel. They also said they would get some clothes for her but the HCA went off duty so I ended up with just a pad between my legs and eventually a nappy for Rosie (a disposable!)  Andrea, who had been to assess me that morning, came on after Leigh. Leigh asked if it was Ok if she went! Stuart had gone to get the children to meet their new sister and they told me that I could go home at around 11. M and J arrived – Stuart had told them I'd had the baby but not whether it was a boy or a girl. They didn't notice the board and Matthew started to take off her nappy to check when I pointed out the board. The boys spent some time there and we were finally able to take pictures. Stuart eventually took the boys home while I had a bath and got dressed. Rosie was happy in the cot. They checked us both out – she wouldn't open her eyes and it took 2 to hold them – she had opened them for Joshua though when he held her.

Stuart left the boys at home – Matthew rang my mum on the way to tell her, and then came back to fetch me. We drove home – got in around midnight – I rang mum on the way. I was starving so had beans on toast when we got in. Then we went to bed. I had made up the cot earlier when in labour as I knew I would have my baby that day. It was lovely spending the first night in my own bed with Stuart, and the children close by.

I still can't believe that I had an accidental hospital birth – that is really galling. My sons were very disappointed as they were going to be there. It also meant we had no photos of the birth. After all my stress about the hassle I would get for being older and having big babies it seems so unfair that I ended up in hospital by accident. The panic and distress about the thought of going home was obviously that part of me knew that the birth was imminent. If we had left when Stuart suggested I would have given birth in the car.

Labour started at 12.17 am and Rosie was born at 7.44 pm. 1st stage was recorded as 42 mins (the length of time I was in hospital) 2nd stage was 1 minute and 3rd stage was 24mins. The contractions never got close enough for me to be in established labour!

Lisa Rabin-Smith

Related pages:

Home Birth Stories

Accidental hospital births - when a trip to hospital 'to get checked out' turns into more than you bargained for.

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?

Older Mothers and homebirth

Transferring to hospital - why it might be advised.

Get Your Baby Lined Up - what it means when your baby gets in an awkward position, and what you can do about it.

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