Mel's first baby, Thomas, was born by caesarean section after she transferred from a home birth, for failure to progress in the second stage. Her second baby, Eleanor, was born at home in January 2000, and her third, Samuel, was born at home on 10th October 2001 (13 days post-dates) weighing 9lb 1oz.
When I was almost 42 weeks pregnant, I had several strong contractions just after the children were in bed. A week earlier I had awoken in the night with frequent, strong, but irregular contractions. I had been certain this was early labour, and tried to relax. I got so relaxed that I fell asleep, and woke in the morning very disappointed that I didn't have a baby. Since then I had been having a couple of contractions most nights, but only a couple, and not very strong. On this occasion I decided to go for a brisk walk to see if I could encourage labour, so my mum and I walked through the dark streets for a couple of hours. I had hoped to bring on good strong contractions, and had envisaged leaning on people's garden walls, but no such luck. Nonetheless, when mum and I returned to our homes at 11pm, I said to her "Perhaps this will have been enough to tip things off - I may call you at 2am in active labour". That's exactly what happened.
Back at home I got into bed, and started having frequent contractions. By midnight, they were sufficiently strong and frequent that I decided to tell Ed about them. We went downstairs to find the number for the midwife, but the contractions stopped. It seemed it had all been another false alert, so we started back up the stairs to bed again, but no sooner had I climbed two steps than I had another very strong contraction.
I paced the kitchen floor for a while. As long as I was walking I had contractions, but as soon as I sat down or stood still, they stopped. At a quarter to one we called Joyce, the midwife. She arrived very soon, and I told her I had a "strange vibe" about this labour - as though it was going to be different than my previous labours, perhaps very quick. When I was about 38 weeks pregnant, I had had a vivid dream that I had a very quick labour. It was such a striking dream, I told several people about it. At a quarter to two, Joyce called Ruth, another midwife. It was lovely to be attended by Joyce and Ruth again. I also called my mum and Lindsey, my sister. It was about 2am, just as I predicted.
Now my contractions were strong and regular. I no longer feared they would stop if I relaxed, so I asked Ed to run me a bath. Just as in my previous two labours, I got into the bath and relaxed totally whilst the first stage was happening. Someone poured warm water over my abdomen every time I had a contraction, and someone else cooled my forehead with a flannel. Joyce put some essential oils in the bath, and Lindsey put the Grateful Dead on the CD player. I used gas and air during my contractions, and made low moaning noises, which helped me cope. The contractions seemed to be quite intense and long lasting, with very little break in between. There was none of the chat and banter in between contractions which we had whilst I was having Eleanor. Even so, I remained very relaxed and enjoyed the labour.
Then very suddenly I was pushing - just like that. The last contraction had been just like all the others, the next was utterly different. My waters must have gone without anyone noticing because I was in the bath, and I was plunged into second stage with no transition. Everyone could tell, because I gave a huge guttural grunt. Apparently Joyce came bounding up the stairs six at a time! The water was drained out of the bath, and Ruth said I should get out, but I was already starting to stand up. I said "I want this ****** baby out!".
Arms helped me get into the bedroom, where Ruth and Lindsey had prepared a lovely place to give birth. There were cushions arranged on the floor at the foot of the bed, covered with clean sheets, and Lindsey had lit every candle in the house, but I have to confess I didn't notice until after it was all over. I leaned over the foot of the bed and pushed like crazy. In no time at all the baby's head came right down, and then came out - what a relief! I remembered that Eleanor's body came out very easily with one more push after her head was out, but this was different. I pushed again, but the baby stayed where it was. With the next contraction, I tried harder, but still no joy. I thought "Oh, to **** with this!" and totally blasted away, and the baby came out!
It's a boy - baby Samuel. I sat down and cuddled him - pink and smooth-skinned, with no vernix on him, and a lovely round head despite being a bouncing 9lb1oz. No sign at all that he was officially 13 days overdue, he was obviously "cooked" just to perfection. I needed quite a bit of stitching after blasting him out like that. He had been born with his hand by his face, which was why his shoulders were rather hard to get out. But I have no complaints - after marathon second stages with both my older babies, Sam arrived after less than twenty minutes of pushing, and only four hours after waking Ed up to tell him I was in labour.
Thomas and Eleanor slept through it all, despite all the noise and commotion right next to their bedrooms. But as soon as it was all over, they started to stir, so Ed and mum fetched them and brought them through to see their new baby brother. They gave him gifts they had chosen a few weeks earlier, and received gifts from him (a sneaky way to stave off rivalry, but a nice ritual all the same). I couldn't have asked for a nicer birth - sheer perfection!
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