Alice's Birth Story, by Ruth Clark

Alice Mary Louise Box was born on 28 March 2000

Ruth's first baby, Eddy, was supposed to be born at home, but instead ended up as a breech delivery in hospital when he decided to come feet-first at 35 weeks. Her second, Ben, was born at home before the midwife arrived.

The cast:

Ruth - me
Adam - my husband
Eddy - our older son, aged 5y 4½m
Ben - our younger son, aged 3y 2½m
Libby - friend and supporter
Teri - friend and supporter
Daniel - Ruth's brother and child carer
Julie - wonderful NHS midwife
Mee Ling - NHS midwife

I woke up on 27th March feeling very odd; the bottom of my uterus felt a bit crampy and I felt as though I wanted to stay at home. As Adam was at work I got up, got the boys up and took Eddy to school. As I was feeling the same when I got home, and as I do tend to birth my babies quite quickly, I decided that I would get Adam home from work just in case. I also called Julie as she had said that she would like to be here before the baby this time. I then called Libby, Teri and Daniel to warn them that today could be the day. Then nothing happened.

I woke up on 28th March feeling the same as I had the day before, only more so. Should I phone everyone again or would it all go away again? As Adam was on an early shift again (he's a nurse) I decided to ring him at 7.30am. I said that if I had not called him again by 9.00am he was to ring me. I then got the boys up and at 8.30am decided to ring Julie. I had also had a show. I drove Eddy to school and warned his teacher that someone would probably be picking him up early if my labour started. Whilst at school one of his friends asked me when my baby was going to come out of my tummy; at this point I had a definite contraction - "soon" was my reply. The crampy feelings were becoming recognisable as contractions, but they were still very mild and easy to cope with.

By the time I had driven home from school I decided that this was definitely 'it' and I phoned Adam just after 9.00am to ask him to come home. I also phoned Libby, Teri and Daniel to ask them to come. Adam arrived at 9.20am and Libby at 9.30am. Between 9.20am and 9.40am I counted six contractions. During these I leaned over the dining table and rocked my pelvis, but in between I was able to continue normal conversation.

At about 9.45am I debated whether to call Julie again or not. I decided that I would and she said that she was going to call round and see how things were going. Teri arrived at about 10.00. By now the contractions were getting very strong and needed all my concentration and a person to lean on. Adam timed one and it lasted about 40 seconds.

Just after 10.15am Julie arrived. Ben and I answered the door and let her in. She was just in time to witness my last first stage contraction and as she later observed, I was really noticing them. Julie then went out to her car to get the rest of her stuff in. While she was out I had the first second stage contraction; with it I felt the head move down and a very mild pushing sensation. As it was ending I stated my desire to sit on the toilet; time to go upstairs. Adam and Teri were debating how best to get me up the stairs but I had my own ideas; I wasn't waiting for anyone and as soon as the contraction finished I shot up the stairs and into the bathroom before another contraction arrived. I sat on the toilet and whipped off my knickers. Adam, Julie, Teri, Libby and Ben all joined me in the bathroom. This may seem like quite a crowd but it didn't feel like it (and our bathroom is quite big). It was a wonderful calm atmosphere and I wouldn't have wanted it ant other way.

The next contraction bought with it a very powerful pushing sensation. I was not making any effort to push; my body was doing it all. As soon as that contraction was over I whipped the rest of my clothes off and immediately had another one. As the second stage progressed Teri and Libby reminded me to blow with the contractions so that I breathed my baby out. Julie managed to get her latex gloves on and I felt the membranes bulge out with the next contraction. Instinctively I immediately put my hand down onto the membranes and I demanded that someone took my watch off my other wrist. The next contraction ruptured the membranes. At the next contraction I said that I could feel the head crowning; I don't think anyone believed me. My next comment was "Ah that's better, the head's out." I then remember someone saying that they needed to get me off the toilet; once again I had my own ideas. I had another contraction and the body was born. With this contraction I lifted myself off the toilet seat and caught our baby. I bought her up between my legs and sat back down to cuddle her for the first time. It was 10.30am, and she straightaway went to my breast.

Ben, who had been there the whole time watching with interest, came over to meet his sister. He was most impressed; his first comment was, "She's got a funny willy," (her cord). Julie hadn't even got her gloves dirty - she had done nothing, fantastically. I was then helped off the toilet and onto the floor to wait for the placenta to arrive.

Libby went to collect Eddy from school. I had intended him to be around when Alice was born and wouldn't have taken him to school had I known how things were progressing. He was one very exited little boy. Libby didn't tell him what sex the baby was and he didn't ask; I think he assumed it was a girl as both boys had said they wanted a sister. He was asked if he wanted to help Daddy cut the cord but declined. Julie clamped it and Eddy watched while Adam cut it. Adam was then able to cuddle Alice while we waited for the placenta.

During second stage Adam had decided that he would put his hands down behind me to catch the baby; unfortunately he caught something entirely different! Apparently his face was a picture but I was unaware of this until later; I was, however, very amused. A greater love hath no man!

I was bleeding quite heavily and hoped that the placenta would arrive soon. Suddenly I began to feel very dizzy and was helped to lie on the floor. We still waited for the placenta. It was suggested that I tried to sit up to get gravity to help, but as soon as I was off the horizontal I became very again and almost passed out. We had now been waiting over an hour for the placenta to appear and I was still losing blood. Julie felt that we really needed to get third stage over and done with so she suggested that we would have to work at it. She tried fundal kneading which I found really uncomfortable. I suggested that I could do this myself and when I did it was much more bearable. This along with pushing with my uterus muscles allowed the placenta to be born; it was an hour and 20 minutes after Alice had arrived.

Unfortunately the arrival of the placenta did not stop the bleeding so after discussion with Julie I asked for an ergometrine injection. Shortly after the bleeding calmed down considerably. I had been planning to have a bath with Alice but as I was unable to anything other that lie on the floor this was out of the question. Julie gave me a wash and then, as the bath had been run, she and Eddy gave Alice her first bath. Eddy thought this was wonderful, it was lovely to watch him with his new sister. Julie then decided that I would be better off in my bed than on the bathroom floor. She and Adam dressed me and then assisted me (that's what it says in my notes, they carried me) to my bed. Alice was bought back to me and we spent the rest of the day cuddled up together.

At some point Mee Ling arrived as the second midwife but I don't remember when. She didn't actually get into the bathroom and she left again soon after Alice arrived. Daniel arrived just after Alice and he helped Adam look after the boys for the rest of the day.

Ruth Clark

ruth . clark @ (remove homebirth. to get the real email address)

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