Lachlan's Birth, by Megan Montgomery

Megan Montgomery's first baby, Seoras, was born at home in 2003, but, tragically, he never breathed unaided. Despite immediate resuscitation measures by the midwife, and rapid transfer to hospital, Seoras died later that day. The story of his birth is on Seoras's website. Megan believes that Seoras would have died no matter where he was born, and she cherishes the memory of his birth at home. Seoras's little brother, Lachlan, arrived safely at home on 28 February 2005. This is Megan's story:

My waters breaking at 4am was not how I'd expected labour to start, since with Seoras they'd not gone until he was crowning. However every labour is different and thats how this one started. No contractions at first and then non-painful ones, but two minutes apart by 5am, so we phoned the midwife. Not wanting to risk a BBA (Born Before Arrival - when the baby comes before the midwife!) S (my midwife) decided to come straight away. DH put the liners in the pool and filled it, since we had no idea how long it would take. During the morning the contractions slowly got stronger and further apart. I chatted online while S made some phone calls and did paperwork. AT 12:30 the second midwife (S2) arrived. We'd not managed to get hold of her to say I was in labour so she arrived expecting just an antenatal visit! Since I'd not met her, it was good to get a chance to chat before active labour started though.

At 2ish I decided I was a bit tired and went upstairs to nap. I think I successfully napped through contractions until about 3:30, when I remember the afternoon play really annoying me (of course actually it was probably the contractions), but I stayed lying down a little longer. S and DH came upstairs in response to some "ow ow ow" contractions and I asked to be checked to see how things were going (and also whether it was or wasn't too early to think about the pool. I'd not really wanted that, but we wanted to make sure I was in active labour before alerting the two hospitals (New Cross in their supervisory role, Staffs as our intended transfer). I was at 5cm, so S called them both to say I was in active labour and we were proceeding with the planned homebirth as all was going well. DH topped up the pool with hot water as it had cooled down a few degrees. I also sent S off to get some more entonox since we ran out last time! (The depot is just up the road from us).

I held off on the pool another hour or so walking through the contractions, getting in at 5:30. It wasn't the same relief I remember it to have been last time. However after a few experimental positions I settled on alternating between kneeling upright or all fours, so the water served its purpose well providing support in those positions. No way would I have managed 3+ hours on my knees without it. Unlike with Seoras I found myself vocalising through contractions, which helped a lot though the neighbour's comment when they came by yesterday was "we did wonder what you had on the TV, it certainly didn't sound like Coronation Street!".

About 7pm the contractions were getting a lot harder to deal with so I asked for the entonox. I was also getting very intolerant of noises, so figured it was probably transition hitting. I timed it just right because the first contraction I used it would have been one in which I screamed the place down otherwise (I remember doing that with Seoras). I tried to use it sparingly though - one of the things I like about it is that you *can* just breathe air instead and come back to normal in a few seconds. I settled into a pattern of taking a couple of deep breaths at the beginning of a contraction, then one of air, then a couple of shallower ones to get through the end of the contractions, especially the pushing ones.

By 8pm I couldn't help pushing, but like with Seoras, progress was on the slow side. The forewaters were, it turned out, still intact and I felt in a way that they were holding things back a bit (much less than Seoras's full intact membranes had been, oddly). I knew more what I was doing, but again, while the position I was in helped with dealing with the contractions it didn't seem to help with descent. So after a bit I turned around and squatted, perching on the edge of the step in the pool for support. That got things moving a bit better and S also encouraged me to lay off the entonox so I could tell what was happening more, which also helped.

Psychologically this bit was really hard because I had also been using the entonox to block the memories of Seoras's birth to an extent - once I got to pushing I physically could have managed without (and I suspect this may have been obvious, since I was using it *between* contractions). I remember saying that I kept thinking of his birth and was scared of the bit that came next.

In the end it took about 4 pushes to deliver him and S scooped him up and handed him to me. He opened his eyes and looked around, pulled a few faces and *finally* after about, ooh, 30 seconds started howling, Which he did for the next ten minutes, giving DH time to fetch the phone and ring both of our mothers to let them hear! I think we were all crying as well.

About 10 minutes later I decided I wanted to get out. The pool had been on the cold side towards the end of labour anyway, but didn't bother me at the time, afterwards it was suddenly very cold. S2 spread a shower curtain and some old towels across the sofa for us to settle down on and gathered the towels that were warming on the radiators to wrap us. Everyone helped me out and we settled on the sofa, at which point I got the shakes really badly, a combination of shock, relief and cold, I think. Third stage took about half an hour total. I remember thinking I just wanted it over with. Physiological, but the cord was clamped and cut earlier than intended, because as I got out of the pool one of the vessels snapped - my own fault for not handing Lachlan to S to hold as I climbed out.

After that we settled on the sofa and cuddled, phoned the families and a couple of friends and I sent a couple of e-mails, while the midwives obtained the cord bloods and cleaned up a bit. We all had a little bubbly (well, DH had most of it!) to celebrate. Eventually we went upstairs and I had a bath then S showed me how to feed lying down. That worked well - he finally latched on properly having been pretty disinterested up until then, but it gave me horrible afterpains, which sent DH and S chasing for hot water bottles and anti-inflammatories for me (we have a well stocked medicine box, luckily!) S left about midnight by which point I was dozing off and L was sound asleep.

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