My first two children were born by emergency caesarean (both weighing 7lb 2oz!). Rio-George was born on 27th August 2004. I had irregular contractions from the start and it went on for days. He was OP (occiput posterior, ie facing mum's tummy - see 'Get Your Baby Lined Up') and when I went into hospital to be assessed his heart rate was dipping with every contraction and taking a while to recover. I ended up with lots of intervention and drugs-pethidine, epidural, ARM, hormone drip etc etc and eventually after being in hospital for nearly three days, he was born by emergency caesarean with cord wrapped round and round his neck. I believe he was in trouble from the outset and am 'happy' with that outcome.
My second child, Angeni, was born 17 months later on the 26th January 2006. This time I wanted a vbac (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean). I discussed things with my consultant who wrote it in my notes. I didn't want continual monitoring and wanted to be as mobile as possible which, when I arrived at the hospital contracting strongly and quite regularly was completely ignored and I was cajoled into 'fifteen minutes' of monitoring and every time I tried to get up was told 'Just a bit longer'. I was left all night by myself with my gas and air; I ended up with pethidine again because I couldn't manage the pain on my back on the bed. My waters had broken at home and the fact that it was a dry labour didn't help either. I went to the loo and there was meconium and I was whisked off for a section... Angeni was born with her arm over her head which I think may have changed or maybe I could have delivered her like that had I been able to move. I was disappointed and felt very let down by the team who 'looked after' me. Other things that didn't help were comments such as 'your pelvis is too small to give birth', well I proved everyone wrong!
When I got pregnant for the third time, I was determined things would be different. I was willing to fight my corner and just wanted to be given a chance. When I met the registrar and told her I was planning a vba2c, she seemed surprised and went off to 'check with the consultant' if it was ok. She said they would give me a 'trial of labour'; the term itself sounds pessimistic before it's begun!
The main thing that was lacking in both my previous labours was support so I hired a doula, Catrin, and from then on in, she came to my appointments for moral support and I felt much better to have someone on my side. She came and had a chat with me and my husband and I expressed my interest in homebirth and she helped my husband understand the benefits of staying at home and if things weren't going to plan we could always go to the hospital but being at home I could keep my options open.
My community midwife was surprised but knew I was going to say something like this as she knew I wasn't happy about my previous attempt at vbac and she referred me to the consultant midwife at the hospital. I discussed things at length with her and we came to some kind of agreement although they never stopped trying to get me to come into hospital it was kind of accepted homebirth was what I was doing!
My due date (23rd February) came and went. I started with contractions on the Sunday night the 25th February and phoned Catrin when they were five minutes apart. Catrin dutifully came and spent the night at our house whilst my contractions got more and more irregular and far apart and eventually tailed off by morning. This was followed by a week of painful tightenings, a couple every hour, getting more regular at night and less during the day. I felt as though i'd been kicked in the groin and couldn't leave the house that week, it was terrible.
On Monday the 5th March I had an appointment with the consultant to discuss my options and we agreed that at 42+ I would have daily monitoring and wait for spontaneous labour. The consultant midwife was there and carried out the usual antenatal checks and whilst she was palpating my bump I had a big tightening!
That evening me and my husband ate dinner with the children, bathed them and put them to bed. I relaxed in front of the tv and noticed the tightenings getting stronger and more regular. After timing them for a while we decided to give Catrin a call. I tried to get comfortable with the tens machine and breathing through contractions, which were still irregular but getting more painful. Catrin arrived and sat with me and my husband for a couple of hours.
At about 11pm my mother-in-law and father-in-law arrived, my sister-in-law came to collect my other two kids, and things started to slow down. Catrin tried to make me feel more comfortable to get things going again, lighting candles, dimming lights and leaving me and Curtis (husband) alone. I was suffering terrible pain in my kidney area and was convinced I had a UTI; I'd had the same pain the previous day at my appointment and asked them to take a urine sample. I now know this was due to baby being OP. The pain in my back actually overtook the pain of the contractions at times. I couldn't find a comfortable place to be. I had intense pain in my groin when I had a contraction and found it hard to stand, sit, kneel etc so when the pool was filled and I could get in it, it was such a relief to not have gravity to deal with as well as the intense pain in my groin. I floated in the pool in the candlelight and finally relaxed a bit. I wanted gas and air so the midwives were called. It seemed I was too relaxed in the pool as contractions started to tail off so Catrin ordered me out of the pool!!! I knew she was right but really didn't want to, so I reluctantly got out to use the loo and things picked up again!
About twenty years later the midwives arrived (not really but seemed that way!) and seemed to descend upon me in the bathroom, not sure if that's what happened, it's a bit of a blur but I felt surrounded in my little bathroom, anyway they brought gas and air so redeemed themselves somewhat.
The next few hours are a bit of a swirl of gas and air. I was sitting, standing, on the floor, on the couch, in the loo, in the pool, out of the pool, it felt as though I was everywhere! I know I had a couple of vaginal examinations but don't recall how dilated I was, which is strange as my other two labours stalled at four and five cms and dilation was always a worry for me but it didn't seem to matter to me anymore.
At one point things seemed to be relentless; there was no end in sight, I was feeling the urge to push sometimes and intense pressure and I thought I was going to drown in the pain and I remember breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably. I felt like I couldn't go on like this.
Apparently then my waters went (don't remember) all over Catrin's legs with thick meconium-poor Catrin!!! This was about 10am and I was pushing and pushing and pushing (it felt like). Julia, the consultant midwife, who had arrived at some point (don't know when) asked me if she could do a vaginal exam to check baby's position and it was OP and brow presentation. So then Catrin helped me to try and move the baby. I went to the loo, lay down, hands and knees whilst she put pressure on my hips and swayed them side to side, she supported me whilst I squatted and worried I was going to pull her on to the floor with my pulling! Then I think it was suggested I have a catheter because my bladder was full to capacity which wasn't helping and I agreed (I would do anything at this point!) and we used my son's potty (!) and I almost filled it to the brim!!! Julia then said if that didn't work she was going to put her hand up me and physically tuck baby's chin..
I think that may have motivated me as I pushed and pushed and pushed with all my might and finally felt baby's head crowning and then going away and crowning and going away. The effort was massive and finally I reached the point of no return and I felt my baby being born. I delivered on my hands and knees on the floor and Julia passed baby through my legs - a girl! Covered in poo and a cord too short to lift her up! Oh well, you can't have everything I suppose!!
It was 12.21pm on the 6th March 2007, eleven days passed my due date. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before Curtis cut it. We tried for a physiological third stage but blood was gushing (into my son's potty again!) so had the injection and delivered the placenta into the potty-an essential piece of homebirth equipment! The relief was enormous that it was all over and our beautiful baby girl was finally here! She was 8lb 6oz and we named her Jaya, which is Sanskrit and means victorious!
It felt fabulous to be in my home with the sunlight streaming through the window instead of recovering from massive surgery in a boiling hot, noisy hospital! Everything was tidied away and everybody left me and Curtis to marvel at our new baby and collapse with exhaustion!
I definitely would have ended up with assisted delivery or caesarean in hospital in my opinion, so feel I made the right decision to stay at home and I couldn't have done it without Curtis and Catrin's unwavering support and belief in me! It was traumatic, and the hardest thing I've ever had to do, but so worth it. The midwives were fab; they just watched and waited and didn't do anything without explaining fully first. It felt like I was actually listened to and my opinion was valued and that someone had actually read my birth plan!
Home Birth Stories
The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?
Pain relief - what are your options at home?
Meconium - what does it mean if your baby does a poo before birth? How does it affect a homebirth?
Waterbirth at home
Get Your Baby Lined Up - what it means when your baby gets in an awkward position, and what you can do about it.
Doulas - professional birth attendants.
Homebirth UK email group
Home Birth After Caesarean
UK VBAC/HBAC (Home Birth After Caesarean/ Vaginal Birth after Caesarean}) group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ukvbachbac
Home Birth Reference Page