Conrad's birth story, by Lonnie

Lonnie lives in Surrey in the UK and is the proud mother of three children. Phoebe's was a planned hospital birth, Eloisa was born at home, and Conrad's was an unplanned hospital birth. Lonnie transferred to hospital after her waters had been broken for 24 hours, and she was still not in established labour.

Having had a wonderful homebirth with my second daughter I was in no doubt about where I wanted my 3rd child to be born - at home again - and I spend my pregnancy feeling very happy with this choice and actually looking forward to this amazing experience that birth is..

Wednesday - spend the day feeling very fed up with being pregnant, back hurts, tummy is sore and I have niggly pregnancy pains everywhere.. Speaking on the phone with dh my oldest daughter decides she needs to speak to him to so I pass her the phone and decided to pop to the toilet whilst they talk.. after potty break dh (Dear Husband - Nick) and I continue talking and I suddenly feel as if I was leaking.. Hmm! I thought, didn't empty your bladder properly, (find that difficult when heavily pregnant) so finish off phone call and go upstairs to change knickers.. on the way up the stairs I felt another leak.. hmm I thought (both my previous labours my waters have not gone until I was in well established labour so this was a new feeling for me).. I rang my girlfriend Ellie who said yes it sounded like water leaking. And as it happened again whilst I was talking to her I decided that it was probably a good time to ring dh to tell him to get home..

Get this sorted - all the while I am leaking more and more (very bizarre feeling walking around with wet underpants) so after about 30 mins I decide to put on a pad and also ring dh again and tell him that he better take home from work what he needs over Christmas, as I am pretty certain that he won't be going into work the next day.. Speak on the phone to my girlfriend Nicky who is due to have the girls for me whilst I am in labour to warn her that things are happening and decide to also ring for the midwife on call so she will know that I am likely going to need her to come out some time during the night..

I ring hospital and get told that it is Liz who is on duty (she is part of "my" community midwife circle so I am very happy with this as I know her and like her).. Liz calls me about 20 mins later and says she will make her way over and check if it actually is my waters. She arrives and we go up to bedroom for her to examine me. She however takes one look at my pad and says yes definitely waters, no need for a swab test to be done. Liz does a examination and baby is at -1; good news as week before baby was free (ie head not engaged).. we decide against internal as there is little need at this stage. We have a little chat about birth plan etc. Liz says to ring her once contractions are regular as she is not keen on 3rd labours - she says in her experience they happen fast once they get going (but according to her they can be a problem to get started).

Dh arrives home whilst Liz is here which is nice as that way he knows who is on duty.. Liz leaves and dh and I get the girls settled in bed and have pasta for dinner (energy food for me) feeling very excited and have problems sitting down yet don't want to be running around either.. Pop on to Internet to tell friends that things are moving, then potter about with dh getting things set up and contractions start so we sit up and wait watching a film on tv. Contractions however do not last and at about 1 am we decide best thing would be to go to bed as nothing much is happening (I have tens machine strapped on at this point). Off to bed we go - dh falls asleep easily and after about 1 hour I fall into a uneasy sleep every now and then waking feeling a very low contraction but nothing that is settling proper.

At 4.35 am I wake and feel that I need to move so I get up and go downstairs put on some nice music and start timing my contractions - still nothing too regular. At 5 am I go upstairs and ask dh to come down. I feel lonely on my own and would rather have him sleeping on the sofa than sitting there on my own.. my contractions at this point are coming every 10 mins but are not bad. I am managing fine with my tens machine and breathing.

At 5 30 am we decide to ring for midwife as she did ask for us to call once they where regular (7 mins apart now) so we call and Liz says she will have a wash something to eat and then come over. I am happy with this and am also feeling rather happy that it is coming up 8 am as I know this means that "my" community midwife, Hilary, whom I completely adore, will come in and take over and be present during delivery (she was the one present when I gave birth to my second daughter and she was wonderful). Liz comes over and we sit and talk whilst my contractions stay at 7 mins apart. At 7 am Liz decides to ring Hilary so she can come straight to me and we decide it is time for dh to get girls up (who are still asleep) and over to my friend. At this point it is looking very much like baby will be born before lunch time and there is that lovely expectant feeling in the air.

Hilary arrives and it feels lovely having her here. I trust Hilary and I know she has a very similar take on birth to me and she is 100% supportive of the kind of birth I would like. However, in the 30 mins it has taken Hilary to come over to my house from her home, my contractions have slowly stopped and when Hilary arrives I had not had a contraction for 15 mins. Not to worry - they will surely start again soon; my body obviously needs a rest. Dh takes girls over to my friend and comes back. Liz leaves to do hers and Hillary's antenatal checks for the morning and says "I will see you later" to me as she will be the second midwife.

Around 9 am my contractions start again after me having used nipple stimulation and Clary Sage oil. OK, things are moving. I use breathing, my birthing ball and at one point try to sit on the birthing stool that I have hired to keep contractions going and strong. We decide for Hilary to do a internal and whilst she does this she attempts to break what is still intact of my water sac (not pleasant) but she can't get them to go as my contractions have stopped completely at this stage. I am at 4 cm.

I spend about 30 mins walking up and down the stairs in a attempt to get things moving but nothing is happening.. Liz comes back whilst Hilary goes off for lunch and my contractions are coming back slowly but never really get going this time, and have petered off completely 1 hour later when Hilary comes back. Things are very relaxed as Hilary and dh and I are sat talking, but obviously we are all waiting for baby.. My contractions start up again and then start to peter out again.

I ring my girlfriend Ellie and ask her for help; she is very good with homeopathy and I hope that she will have something that will move things along. She pops over at around 2 pm with her 3 kids, has a quick chat with me and goes off to get her homeopathy kit and ring a friend of hers who is a qualified homeopath.. Comes back without her children who are now at our friend Nicky's place (Nicky who also has my 2 children, so she now has 7 kids in her house!). Ellie gives me some Chamomilla 200 and my contractions start up again so we keep with the Chamomilla for 5 dosages and contractions are there, "OH good" I am thinking, "this is moving on again".. Hilary does another internal and this time manages to break what is left of my membranes. Now things should move on. Thirty mins later my contractions start to peeter off again, Ellie tries me with caulophyllum 200 (?) but this has no effect at all. my contractions stop again completely.

We spend 30 mins talking and do a lot of laughing every now and then I get a very mild contraction but nothing is happening. At 4 pm I know that things are looking bleak for my home delivery. I know that Hilary won't be able to keep me at home if there are no contractions and my membranes have been ruptured for 24 hours.

Note from Angela:

Many hospitals recommend induction of labour 24 hours after rupture of membranes, as the risk of infection rises once this has happened. However, all women are not at equal risk from having prolonged rupture of membranes. If you have risk factors such as a positive Group B Streptococcus test, your baby is at increased risk of infection after the waters have broken and you might be inclined to accept induction sooner than others. If you have had internal examinations after your waters have broken then this also increases the risk of infection, as bacteria which colonize the lower part of your vagina may be pushed up towards the cervix and enter the uterus. For this reason, some women decline to have internal examinations after their waters have broken, until they are sure they are in established labour (ie regular contractions at least every 5 minutes).

Current guidelines in the UK, published by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence based on recommendations from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, is that 'expectant management' (ie 'wait and see' - waiting for spontaneous labour) is acceptable for up to 96 hours after rupture of membranes. After that, induction of labour is strongly recommended as the risk of infection rises significantly. However, it is still the woman's choice. For more information about prelabour and/or prolonged rupture of membranes, see the UK Midwifery Archives pages.

The hospital which Lonnie was booked with had a policy of advising transfer from home births 24 hours after membranes had ruptured. As always with such policies, the health authority can advise women to transfer, but they cannot force you. However, it can be very difficult to negotiate when you are in labour, early labour, or prelabour, as Lonnie probably was. Some women in this situation decide that they will remain at home, but will have regular checks on the health of the baby and on their own temperature. Others accept transfer - they may not realise that they have a choice.

Sadly, hospital policies on transfer are often presented as if they were laws, eg "You have to transfer to hospital if your membranes have been ruptured for 24 hours". I wish that women could be treated as adults capable of making their own decisions - my preference would be for people to be told "We recommend that you transfer to hospital if your membranes have been ruptured for 24 hours for the following reasons.... but it it is your decision to make. Please think about our advice and let us know what you have decided"

Back to the birth story...

As Liz (who was on duty during the night) is one Hillary's supervisors I also know that we won't be able to fiddle any hours anywhere. At this stage I am sitting by my birthing ball and the tears just start to flow. Nick comes over and we sit for what seems like a very long time whilst I just sob my heart out. I then walk upstairs as I need to be left on my own. They all seem to realise this as they leave me alone, after about 15 mins Hilary comes upstairs to see me and she says "I won't take you in until we absolutely HAVE to, Lonnie, and things can still move on.". I think however we both know that it won't this time, but it is lovely to know that she is aware of how hard and devastating this is for me.

Liz rings Hilary up and they have a conversation. Hilary is trying to convince Liz and her other supervisor that I can go into hospital without an ambulance (the hospital's policy is that you transfer with a ambulance) however they are not convinced and Hilary is told that unless contractions are starting up and strong we will have to transfer in to hospital and I will have to go in an ambulance.

Note from Angela: What a waste of NHS resources! Since Lonnie was not in established labour, her situation was similar to that of a woman planning a hospital birth who goes into hospital when she starts her labour. Would anyone suggest that women in this situation should take an ambulance? This is a classic example of a ridiculous policy - Lonnie didn't want an ambulance, her midwife did not think an ambulance was necessary - but the health authority's policy dictated that she should go in one. In this situation you are of course entirely entitled to refuse to go in the ambulance and to ask your birth partner to drive you to hospital, if that is what you would prefer.

Lonnie says: I knew that it was my choice whether to go in the ambulance or not, but simply decided that I did not wish to waste my energy on arguing over something like that (felt that I would need that energy for "later" when there was more important things to argue over and boy was I right.. :o)) I don't actually remember if it was made clear to me or not but I knew that I didn't have to and I know that Hilary would have known that I knew. I simply decided this was one that I would "Let them win" (you choose your battles, don't you? )

At 5 pm I am still having no contractions and we make the decision that transfer is what will happen. I need to be part of that decision and not have it told to me, so it feels better to do it at this stage than to wait until 6 pm when my time limit is up. Ellie and Nick go off and pack me a bag as I have not packed one, having not thought that I would need to go to hospital.

Lonnie adds:

I knew that I did not have to transfer, but because of Phoebe's delivery in this hospital and because of my liking my named midwife a great deal, I felt that I would transfer because I did not think it would end up the way it did. And liking Hilary as much as I do was probably a disadvantage at this point as I did not want her to end up with being "piggy in the middle" (hey - for the first time ever, getting on well with your midwife is a disadvantage - ha !) As it was I know that she was "summoned" to see her supervisor because she had argued against the ambulance AND later argued with the registrar! And again, with Phoebe's delivery I had felt supported and listened to at the hospital so I really did not believe that it would end up being a horrible experience.

I walk about aimlessly feeling rather upset then get a moment with Hilary where I ask her what will happen etc. so we sit and talk for a while and she tells me just how sorry she is and I can feel she is as disappointed as I am. I am again having contractions but they are doing very little and there is no regularity to them whatsoever.

At 5.15 pm Hilary rings hospital and speaks to midwives there explaining fully to them that whilst I am transferring in from home delivery I am NOT a emergency and I am still wanting to follow my birth plan with as little intervention as possible. She also makes a point out of telling hospital that this is very difficult for me and that I am rather upset about it. She clearly points out that I wish to leave ASAP after delivery to get home again. Hilary tries to get a number for the ambulance without having to dial 999 but it seems that there is none so she dials 999 for it.. (I say to her "I will pretend that I did not hear that" when she dials). It is decided that Nick, Ellie and Hilary will all go to hospital in their own car and I will go into hospital in the ambulance on my own. I am happy with this as I am not sure that I will be able to keep calm if someone I know and trust is with me in ambulance.

The ambulance arrives far too fast and I walk out to it and get in. I can feel the tears well up again as I get in, but all 3 ambulance people are wonderful and do their very best to make me feel as good as possible, one of them even telling me that his wife had to transfer in from a home delivery so he understands just how I feel.

I get into hospital and get wheeled (another stupid policy I think but on the other hand can't be bothered to argue about it) into the maternity ward. I get taken into the Water Lily room, where my oldest daughter was also born, and in a way this feels good. I get off the trolley and look around. A midwife introduces herself to me as Shelley, and Hilary arrives at the same time. (She comes right up to me and puts her arm around me and whispers to me "Shelley is a good one, you will like her") I at this point realise that I have left my birthing plan at home so Hilary and I go through with Shelley what I would like to happen and what has happened so far. Shelley seems really lovely and I feel reasonably happy. Nick arrives with my birthing ball and the birth stool.

I have a bit of a talk with Shelley and Hilary about the blinking belt monitor. It is a really big thing for me as I have a real mental block about it - it was a horrible part of my first labour and I really want to avoid going on it as far as possible (my local hospital has a policy of monitoring on entering and then every 4 hours for 20 mins each time.) Shelley and Hilary try to reassure me that it won't be as bad as with my first birth and that I won't have to lie flat as they have new monitors and in the end I agree to try out the monitor for a short while whilst sitting on the birthing ball.. I get strapped on and get rather upset, so sit and hold Nick whilst trying to keep calm. After 10 mins we take the monitor off again. Ellie arrives at this stage having been down to the supermarket to pick up some food and some drinks.

The Registrar (doctor) is due to come and talk with us. He arrives shortly after and starts off by saying his name and then says "Right, has Hilary told you what is going to happen??" I look rather shocked and Hilary replies "Well NO, I thought this was what we were about to talk about..". As I know Hilary well, I can hear in her voice that she is mildly annoyed. The registrar ignores Hillary's comment completely and goes on "Right, well, we will put up a drip of antibiotics as you have had prolonged rupture of membranes, then we will put up a hormone drop to speed up contractions and you will have to go on to the monitor again so we can keep a eye on baby, and what kind of pain relief do you want???" At this point Hilary goes "LONNIE coped VERY WELL in her last labour with her tens machine and gas and air." Registrar looks very surprised and I say "I am not willing to go on a antibiotic drip". "OH hospital policy after 24 hours" he says. Yes, I reply, but I also know that you don't need the antibiotics at 24 hours, and that in some hospitals they leave women up to 72 hours before they give antibiotics.

The registrar tries to fan me off when Hilary says "Lonnie does not believe in doing things for the sake of it and as I explained when I rang in she is wanting as natural a delivery as possible.." Registrar looks annoyed but then leaves the antibiotics to go on to speak of hormone drip to get things "going"... Ellie asks is there no other way of doing this? "Can we not perhaps use a gel". The Registrar sighs and goes "OH NO she is to far gone for that". I ask Shelley and Hilary (ignoring the registrar completely -whom I at this point have decided I really do not like) is there nothing else we can do?? Hilary suggests that we try a membrane sweep and to break waters (baby's head keeps blocking the water sack so whilst she had managed to get a good gush out earlier, things had stopped again) and they leave us alone for a few minutes to decide what we want to do.

Nick, Ellie and I have a talk and we decide that we want to go with the membrane sweep and breaking of waters and I say I do not want that registrar anywhere near me to do that. When Hilary and Shelley returns (with tea) I ask them who would do the breaking of waters. The registrar I am told.. So I say well, I am not comfortable with this, and I am assuming that Hilary is not allowed to (this is right, I am told - stupid policies again as she is a community midwife she is not allowed to do stuff like this in hospital) I would like for Shelley to do it. (I am feeling comfortable with Shelley who has been supportive of my wish to keep this as natural as possible) Shelley looks surprised and says I will try but we midwives tend to be gentler than the registrar so I may not be able to.. Nick asks her "But can you do it??" "Yes" she replies "I can but I may not be successful".. Right Nick says "Lonnie would prefer for you to try before we worry about getting the registrar in.."

The registrar returns and asks what have we decided. When we say we have decided to go with membrane sweep and rupture he looks like a thundercloud. "FINE" he sulks, and turns on his heels and literally storms out of the room.. (In retrospect there is a kind of humour in getting this grown-up man to throw a toddler tantrum because you decide against his "advice", but at the time it was deeply upsetting for me).. Hilary says she will stay whilst Shelley does the rupture and sweep and Nick goes down to the car to get the rest of our things up whilst this is happening.. I get a good dose of the gas and air and Shelley manages to break my membranes (again) without much trouble. She also has a good sweep and agrees with Hilary that I am at 4 cm (thought Hilary said at 11 am I was at 4 cm it is now 7 pm).. Nick comes back in and Hilary has to leave.. This makes me very upset as this for me is my last link to my home delivery and I am also very fond of Hilary and it feels totally wrong for me that she has to leave.. I feel completely devastated and have a bit of a cry when she leaves.. I am at this point getting good contractions and it looks as if things are moving along..

Shelley leaves us alone with a CD player where we play some cds of our own. I ask for the lights to be turned down as low as possible as this kind of makes the room less clinical and with my own familiar music on I can pretend that I am still at home.. My contractions are coming steadily and I start to use the gas and air.. Ellie and Nick encourages me through each contraction and it feels wonderful to have both of them present. At 8 pm Shelley has to go, and a new midwife named Jo is taking over. I remember feeling this would not have happened at home.. I had just got comfortable with one midwife when a new one comes in..

  Jo and I however do not exactly connect to begin with as she uses words that really upsets me (such as "allow" and "policy in hospital") and after about 1 hour she starts to tell me about stop-start labours, and how they make the woman feel. I reply I know, this is what my first labour was like and she says WELL you are just going to have to stop thinking about it and comparing them.. (dh says that what she meant was that I needed to put the bad memories of my first delivery away and concentrate on this one but that is not what it felt like to me) I shout at her I am NOT comparing it to my first labour I am comparing it to my LAST labour and it is NOT AS GOOD. She then says well we have to do what is best to get this baby out as soon as we can.

  I literally shout at her "NO BECAUSE I have to LIVE WITH this for the REST OF MY LIFE.. it HAS to be done RIGHT" I dissolve in tears.. Ellie and Nick do their best to calm me down. Jo realises that she has really upset me and apologises saying I am really sorry I did not mean for you to get this upset what I meant was.. Nick goes "You didn't upset her" I feel like shouting "Yes she did" but somehow realise that he is trying to get something working again so just stay rocking slowly on the birthing ball trying to calm myself.. Jo then says to me what is it you want and at that point the only thing I wanted was for Hilary to be there with me. As she had been such a wonderful support through out all my pregnancies and through out my second labour she had been a rock I just wanted her there with me.. so I reply "I just want Hilary to be here" and Jo replies well it is late and Hilary has gone to sleep she could not continue staying up all night you know that.. At this point I shut off from her and turn my back to her.. Jo walks out and Nick follows and they have conversation outside what is said I don't know but when she comes back in I can feel that something has changed..

  My contractions are going ok at this point and I am trying to concentrate on them and get through each one as they come.. but I am having problems getting a rhythm.. suddenly during a contraction I clearly hear Hillary's voice inside my head and she continues through every single contraction to carry me through the contraction and towards end telling me how well I have done, just like she did during my last delivery.

  Even though she is not present in the room I can somehow feel her there and I know she is helping me through this.. Jo comes back in to the room having been outside for a short while and tells me in a much milder tone of voice than before "Lonnie, Hilary just rang she wants you to know she is thinking about you and that she is rooting for you and that she is going to bed now and will see you tomorrow morning at home around 9.30 am.."

  We decide to do a internal to see what is happening and at the same time Jo makes a attempt to stretch my cervix so we can get the contractions to go further. This is rather painful but I get through it. I am still at 4 cm and I get rather disheartened at this. It is now nearly 10 pm and nothing is happening. It has also been established that baby is posterior (baby facing mother's tummy instead of facing her back - see 'Get Your Baby Lined Up...' for more info)and this is why things are moving so slowly.

Jo leaves the room and I sink down on the floor onto the birthing ball.. Ellie and Nick leave me for a little while whilst whispering together they then come over to me and we start to talk about what will be our best cause of action.. After much deliberation we decide that the best thing to do is for me to have a shot of Pethidine as I am by now very tired and nothing much is happening.. This is very hard for me as Pethidine has always been the thing on my birthing plan that I do not want, but the alternative is a epidural and something just tells me that this is not a good idea, something inside me knows that if I go with a epidural I will end up with a c sec.. (for me that would have been completely horrible). Nick goes off to find Jo to tell her what we have decided and also explains to her that this is very difficult for me as pethidine is something that I really have never wanted to use.

  I think that at this point Jo realises that I am not some "new age Hippie" (excuse the expression but I can't find a better one) who HAS to give birth in a set way, as natural as possible, but what I am actually after is the gentlest way into the world for my baby that is possible. I felt a big change in her after this and she really began to work with us. Nick, Ellie and Jo actually managed to work up a very good relationship.. (I can't say so myself as I had distanced myself from her at this point and moved my emotional and physical needs towards Ellie and Nick and not her, but I did notice that her way of talking became a lot more careful and she searched for other words to use than words she obviously thought would upset me and I felt happier with her after this).. She is very good about my distress about the pethidine decision and sits down on the floor with me and takes a good 5-10 mins with me to talk about pethidine and epidurals etc. and tells me that she thinks that going with the pethidine so I can get some rest is the right decision. We have also said that I am ok about having the monitor put on for a while but to be aware that I may not find this comfortable; she says we will try and see how it goes.. I get the pethidine shot and lie on the bed on my left side. Jo goes off and comes back with 3 pillows and tries to make sure I am as comfortable as possible and I do not notice the belt monitor going on at all..

  I spend the next couple of hours in a weird daze. Contractions keep coming but baby is not very happy - heart rate is going high (around 170) and very flat. Contractions are slowing down and getting further apart again, so we decide to go with the antibiotic drip and a hormone drip to speed contractions up. At this point I am asked to turn from my left side to my right. I find this nearly impossible but I do manage after a while and as this happens baby moves from the posterior position...it is now about 1.30 am... I am finding the contractions very hard to deal with and am holding on to the gas and air for dear life.. Ellie and Nick are encouraging me every step of the way and my focus for each contraction is holding Nick's or Ellie's hand so I can squeeze it as I have a contraction (In retrospect I am sure I must have bruised both their hands terribly but none of them have complained at all).. Jo is at this point getting pressure from registrar to put a head scalp monitor on baby, but she manages to fight him off. She is very good at this point. In retrospect I think that had she been present when I came into hospital we would not have had a mis-connection as she would have understood where I came from, from the word go.

  The contractions are now coming very close together and I find it impossible to find any sort of rhythm over them. I am saying "I can't do this" and everyone is telling me OH yes you can yes you can.. I am thinking what do they know and look around the room suddenly I am very aware of my grandmother (who died 8 years ago) being present in the room she looks at me and says not long now, listen to Nick and Ellie and you will do this. I look for her again and she is gone I get another contraction and through the contraction clearly hear Nick's voice telling me how well I am doing and Ellie's voice going Come on Lonnie rise above the contraction breathe through it and I find my rhythm again over the next 3 contractions.

  Jo at this point tells me that as baby has this flat heart rate and there has been no anmiotic fluid leaking for a long time, they have to assume that baby has passed meconium and a paediatrician has to be present during delivery of baby to deal with any emergency.. This doesn't bother me at all as I kind of feel like it is not a problem and I don't have a problem with anyone standing in the corner not doing anything. As baby is still not doing wonderfully with the heartrate etc. it is suggested that I try to kneel on the bed holding on to the top of the bed as this is often a good position for baby.. I get up kneeling and am holding on to the top of the bed (that is put up as if you were going to sit in a straight-backed chair) I hang over the bed top but I find this position completely horrible, contractions feel weird and I can't manage to work my way through them at all.. I also feel very sick and say I need to throw up - a kidney bowl is passed to me but next thing I know I have another contraction wash over me so I push it away to get the gas and air mouthpiece back.. Ellie at this point I am later told whispers to Nick "She is in transition" but I did not hear this..

  Jo is busy worrying about baby's monitor and readings on the belt monitor and does not appear to think I am in transition at all.. I am going "I can't stay like this it is horrible" and they are all going "Lonnie this is REALLY good for the baby" (heart rate is slowing and is no longer flat-looking) but I go "NO NO I can't stay like this.. "(this was a horrible position for me and I really felt like I would lose it, and on top of that I was very worried I would fall off the bed) Jo asks "Well what can we do so baby stays happy and you feel comfortable" and I suggest my birthing stool.. YES they all go (similar position but different level for me)

  I start to move down the bed. Some place inside me I am amazed that I can move as I have lost all sense of balance in transition in my previous 2 labours - this is very weird for me in retrospect as I must have on some level known that I had passed transition but I do not recall knowing this at the time..- I move down the bed slowly and suddenly become aware that I am pushing so I say PUSHING to them and Jo seems to not believe me but as I start to slowly lower myself down from the bed my body pushes again and Jo seems to panic as baby is moving down VERY fast and shouts to Ellie and Nick PULL THE CORD PULL THE CORD.. (to get another person present in the labour room)

Some place I dimly hear Ellie say look they are clear I have NO idea what she is talking about (but am later told she was talking about my waters that were clear with no meconium in them). One more contraction hits and I hear Ellie's voice screaming "LONNIE PANT PANT" and I pant and next thing I know I feel baby move out of me (3 pushing contractions and not one of them where I was actively "helping" to push myself - my body did it all on its own).. I turn around and hear Nick go DONT TELL, DONT TELL to Jo (I had wanted for either him or myself to find out the sex of our baby) he then goes "Lonnie we have a baby boy.".. and I have this wet warm little body handed up to me..The door bursts open with another midwife coming in going WHAT IS HAPPENING?? the atmosphere in the room has completely changed and Jo laughs and goes OH we have just had a baby.

We decide that it was probably 2.14 am he was born (no one looked at the clock!). Baby is crying but stops as I cuddle him close, Jo ties the cord that has been left to stop pulsating and Nick tries to cut it but is at a wrong angle. Suddenly our boy starts to cough and he goes completely floppy - there is a slight air of panic and I lean over and cut the cord myself and our boy is whisked off; they need to suction him and give him some oxygen as he had so much mucus in him and this was what was making him floppy as he was not coughing it up completely. He had a apgar of 8 at birth and 5 at 5 mins. I however, somehow just know that things will be ok so sit up on my birthing stool to get on with getting the placenta out. Nick and Ellie go with our baby boy as he had to go into another room (as we were in the waterpool room there was not room for the resuscitation unit to get in properly so the quickest thing was to take him next door - this was because he had arrived so quickly that they had not had the foresight to get the unit inside the room earlier)..

Jo sits and talks to me and placenta comes out no problems, Jo is almost apologetic that I don't get the completely natural 3rd stage that I had wanted, as I have had the hormone drip in for that last 1.5 hours, but I kind of feel like the fact that I don't have the injection to speed up 3rd stage is enough for me. Parts of the membranes take a while to come out and I say to Jo at one point when she is trying to turn the placenta DONT pull it, she goes OH no I wouldn't, and I lean over to get a proper look myself and that makes the last of the membranes come out.. Placenta does not look as smooth as I remember Eloisa's looking (my 2nd delivery) very knobbly on one side and membranes look very ragged.

I look towards the door and realise that Nick and Ellie are sitting at the door Ellie has her arms around Nick and is giving him a homeopathic remedy (aconite I think from shock) door opens and our baby boy comes back in apgar at 9 mins is 10.. we sit and cuddle him and look at him in wonder. I can't believe I have a baby boy. We try to have a breastfeed but he is not very interested and after a few suckles just snuggles close. I am happy with this as it feels lovely to have him close by.. I move over to the chair next to the bed and just sit and stare at our lovely boy..

  Over the next 30 mins/1 hour we all just sit look at him and cuddle him. At some point I go to the toilet (having had all my drips off) and get dressed a little (put on Nick's joggers that he had put into bag) and puta T-shirt on.. they come in and weigh him - he is 7 lb. 4.5 oz and head measures 34 cm.. the biggest head of all my 3 children and yet I have a "recorded" 2nd stage of 3 mins.. they bring us some tea and toast and generally leave us alone.. I spend another hour or so just looking at him and then decide to get him dressed. I am actually mildly surprised that no one has come in to suggest that we do this as I remember this being done early on with my oldest child, and the midwives also did so with my home delivery.. Still I don't mind at all as this means that I get to dress my little boy for the very first time.. I then go and get myself washed up a little and then get myself ready to leave.

Nick goes down to midwives and say that we want to leave.. OH can't do that he is told she HAS to stay in for 6 hours after delivery... Why?? he asks OH high risk of haemorrhage he is told.. Nick goes back to tell us this knowing full well I will NOT be happy with this message.. Ellie goes back and ask the midwives to come to talk to us.. (she later tells me this request was meet with eyes rolling so they obviously did not like me questioning them much).. Midwife comes down (not Jo, I am not sure where she is) and says well, I realise that you want to go home, but you can't until 6 hours after delivery. I reply YES I can and I want to go home.. she says OH you are high risk for haemorrhage and I say WHY?? OH the natural 3rd stage you had I am told.. I say Oh but as you so kindly pointed out earlier I did not have a completely natural 3rd stage did I?? and I am at no more risk of haemorrhage than I will be at 7 hours after delivery and had this been the home delivery it was meant to be you lot (meaning midwives) would have buggered off by now.. She looks horrified at my choice of words but I was pretty angry at this stage (I would far rather that she would have been truthful with me and said hospital policy is that we are not meant to let women leave until 6 hours after delivery I can't stand the fact that she thought she could cajole me into staying on such a weak argument). She says to me.. Well I can't force you to stay but you HAVE to sign a AMA (Against Medical Advice) form. I look at her, smile sweetly and say "NO.. I don't HAVE to, but I don't have a problem with signing one... ".

She walks off and comes back with form and wants to check blood pressure and pulse (funny how they thought that I was high risk for haemorrhage but in the 2.5 hours since our son arrived they had more or less left us alone and no one had checked any "vitals" for me until this stage).. as she does my pulse she goes... OHHH your pulse rate is rather high.. I look at her and say in a very annoyed voice.. it is 103 degrees in here and I am feeling VERY STRESSED I am SURE it will have gone down by the time I come home... she obviously decides I am a hopeless case and simply hands me the AMA form. I sign it and she hands it to Nick saying SO who is going to witness it.. Nick looks at her and says, very annoyed, WELL I CAN'T DO IT can I ?? I am a relative, so she turns and looks at Ellie and goes well YOU will have to (she had no idea who Ellie was and for all she knew she could have also been a relative - so not too clever from her point). Ellie however signs it and the midwife leaves without a word..

Nick goes down to heat up car and put our stuff into the car. Ellie and I wait a little while making sure that car seat and snow suit for our boy is warm and then make our way out.. as I get to the front desk there is only one midwife present and she is not particularly gracious about me leaving.. No congratulations no good luck she just hands me a blue card with our boy's vitals statistics on and says so you are off then.. I look at her and smile and say yes we are going HOME.. and leave the ward feeling like I had the last say and very much feeling that I kept to me what I could of making it as private an experience and as close to a home delivery as I possibly could..

  WE get home at 5 30 am and ring our friends in Australia to tell them the news (could do this as it was a good time for them - last time they found out via email) we go to bed at 6 am not quite sure where to put our little boy so end up putting him in his carry cot in the middle off our bed with the 2 of us sleeping on either side of him holding on to the carry cot, not 100% able to believe that he is really here.. I wake up at 9 am and Nick wakes to looks at me and says Oh so you did not have a haemorrhage then, and we both laugh - it feels wonderful to be home.. Ring Nicky (who still has my 2 girls) and tell her the news and then the door bell rings. It is Hilary. It feels wonderful to see her again but I also get very tearful as I give her a big hug. She stays for about 1 hour and in this time tells me that when she got into hospital this morning at ten to eight she had been meet with a "OH she (meaning me) did a ama - could not even stay here for 6 hours", Hilary said she replied "NO, what she did was she kept what she could of her home delivery. I told you when I rang in about the transfer she wanted to go home - there was never a question about her staying the full 6 hours I KNEW she would discharge herself and quite frankly I am proud of her for having done so...."

  It is now 8 days since Conrad's birth (it took about 24 hours before we were 100% certain that his name was Conrad) and I am sat here writing this story out.. I still feel very upset and unhappy about the fact that I had to transfer from home, I am completely devastated that it was not my lovely midwife who was present when he came into the world, and I feel very angry with the hospital especially the registrar who, had I gone with his "advice", would have advised me straight into a c sec. When Conrad came out he had 2 very heavy ridges in his head so you could clearly see where he had been stuck and it was also suddenly clear why my contractions stopped every time I stood up. The way his head would have been on my cervix, he would have only been putting pressure on about 1/3 rd of my cervix when I was upright and had we speeded up labour at this point there is no doubt that he would have gone straight into distress and I would have had a c sec within 2 hours of being in hospital. I also feel angry about his attitude towards me. The fact that he completely ignored Hilary who at this point had been with me for close to 12 hours, I feel that he really should have been more capable of dealing with someone who did actually know a little about what she was doing, and I very much feel that he should have asked me about what I wanted before deciding on a cause of action and the way he left the room was simply disgraceful.

  I feel frustrated with all the hospital policies that kept rearing their ugly head and I feel sad that the midwife (Jo) did not realise what I wanted until it was to late for me to establish an ok relationship with her, especially as all I wanted was to get as gentle an arrival into the world for my little boy as I possibly could, and they did not have a clue on how to deal with that.. I am certain that being strong enough to go things my way was what saved me from a c section and also what made it a somewhat OK birth experience.. I am very proud of myself, my dear husband and my friend Ellie for being able to stand a united ground and get what was important for me, but it does frustrates me that it was such a battle and it made what should have been our very special and wonderful experience a fight from virtually the moment we walked into the ward.. I feel very lucky to have a friend who was willing to be present throughout my delivery and another friend who willingly opened her home for 5 children just for me to be able to have a good birth.. I doubt however I ever will be able to think back on Conrad's birth without having loads of upset feelings. I will try to concentrate on the fact that I DID give birth to him in what was the best way I could under the circumstances and I do get a certain amount of pleasure out of knowing that the very quick 2nd stage completely took the midwife by surprise.. Shows clearly to me that you should worry more about what the woman is doing and what signs she is showing you, than you should about some numbers on a monitor.. At the end of the day I have a beautiful little boy and I love him to bits. But how I wish I could get to do it all over again and have him arrive where he was meant to... in his home...

  Conrad

  Born 2:14 am

  7 lb. 4.5 oz (3341 gr.) 52 cm long

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Lonnie has recently submitted a complaint to the hospital about the way she was treated during Conrad's birth.

Update:
On 10 November 2003, Lonnie gave birth to a daughter, Aoife, at home, with wonderful support from her husband, friend, older children, and midwives!

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