A's Home Birth Story, by S

S's first baby was born at home in the UK in the year 2000. !

2am - Woken by a contraction, didn't think anything of it, just went to go back to sleep.
2:04am - Another contraction.
2:08am - Another contraction.
2:13am - Another contraction.
2:17am - Another contraction. And my leg felt a bit wet. Went to the toilet, still half asleep. Had a wee, and then just kept weeing a bit more every few seconds. Went to dry myself, and found that the toilet paper was covered in watery blood, and I kept pushing more out. This couldn't be labour, I wasn't ready.

Checked my dilation (stupid thing to do - germs - but I was half-asleep and wasn't thinking straight) and I wasn't in the least little bit dilated. Went back to bed and woke DH up. I told him I was having loads of contractions, they were about every four minutes, and about the blood and all the water. "Wouldn't that be your waters breaking?" he asked. I burst into tears and said that I didn't know, I'd never done this before, but I didn't know what else it could be. He just held me.

I was waiting for the contractions to stop, but they just kept coming. "It's not fair" I said, "I'm supposed to get a twenty minute break in between these contractions, but they're coming one after the other. And I think this might be back labour, because they are hurting my lower back." He hugged me tighter.

I had planned a drug free home birth, but I didn't think I was going to make it. Labour is supposed to start off easy and get harder. If this was the easy bit, then there was no way I was going to cope with transition. I wondered if it was too late for Pethidine, or even a C-section. I don't know if I was joking or slightly serious, but I didn't hold that thought for long.

We got out of bed, put the waterproof sheet on the mattress, made the bed, and got back in it. I was getting up to go to the toilet for quite a few of the contractions, but I felt the water leak over my leg whilst I was still in bed. I cried some more and apologised to DH for accidentally wetting the bed. He burst out laughing and told me not to be so silly, that it didn't matter in the least. I was still going to the toilet for some of the contractions, but I had put a towel under my hips and stayed in bed for most of them. I felt the baby move, and then the contractions no longer hurt my back, and were a lot more manageable. We talked in between the contractions until about 3:30am then decided to try to get a bit of sleep.

I checked the time in between each contraction, and they were always on target, about every four minutes, sometimes going down to every three minutes. At one point a couple of them slowed down to every 6.5 minutes, and I thought to myself "See, I knew it was false labour, it's stopping now!" No it wasn't, and they soon got back on target again.

And then I started throwing up. I started having strange double contractions, where the first contraction would be a normal one, that I could feel affecting my cervix, then I'd get a ten second break, and then I'd get the other contraction, which made me throw up a bright yellow liquid. And these double contractions were happening every 3.5-4 minutes, so I was hardly getting a break in-between at all. I had left my bedside lamp on to make it easy to see the time, but this must have dazzled me, because I then got a migraine. I turned the light off, to try to get rid of it in the dark, but I still had to keep checking the time every three or four minutes.

I was doing my best to get to sleep in between the contractions, with the hope that by relaxing I could make it go away, I did not want to give birth with a migraine, and luckily it eventually cleared up. By now, I seemed to be getting an early warning of when the next contraction was going to come. About five seconds before the contraction arrived, the baby would give the top of my womb two sharp kicks!

According to Dr Bradley, I was supposed to relax every muscle in my body. NO CHANCE! The whole of my upper body was extremely tense during each contraction, and I was clinging tightly to the edge of the bed, but I was trying as hard as I could to relax my innards. I found myself chanting "Let it do its job, let it do its job" during the contractions, whilst relaxing my womb as best as I could. I was coping with the contractions by breathing/groaning my way through them, and knowing that they only lasted for twenty breaths. Some of them hurt too much to breathe deeply through, and I had to pant my way through these, meaning that they lasted about fifty pants. And some of them were now lasting longer than I expected, instead of 20 deep breaths, some were lasting 30, and even 40 breaths.

In-between the contractions, I felt absolutely freezing cold. I was shivering violently, and desperately needed to be cuddled by DH. During each contraction, I was roasting hot, and couldn't stand to be touched. Depending on which side I was lying on, whichever leg was on top was shaking extremely violently, and I couldn't stop it.

Then, in-between contractions, I started to get one of the nicest feelings I have ever felt. I was so warm and relaxed and content, it was a lovely place to be. The contractions became just something I had to get through to get back to that feeling. At about 6:30am, DH said "So do I go to work, or do I have to stay here?" He thought that he would be hanging around all day with nothing much happening. "I'm sorry, but can you stay with me please" I said, crying. I was terrified of being left on my own. He went downstairs to phone in work, and to get himself some breakfast. He seemed to be gone for ages, and I just got on with things on my own, wishing he would hurry up and come back and hold me. At 8am, the contractions just kept coming, there was barely any break in-between them at all. I sat on the toilet for most of them, and there wasn't even enough time to get back to bed in-between.

DH called upstairs to ask when should he call the midwives. "Not yet, wait a while longer" I said. I had read so many stories of people thinking that they must be in transition and it turning out that they were only 3cm dilated. I didn't want that to happen to me, I didn't want the midwives to have to hang around all day with nothing to do. I had heard that labour was a lot worse than so many people expected, that I just kept thinking that it was going to get a lot worse. It was still quite manageable, but I knew that it would get really bad before it was over.

And then I pushed! Eh!? No, I must have imagined it, that couldn't have just happened. And then I pushed again! My god, this was second stage! I tried to get up off the toilet, but I couldn't, it hurt deep in my pelvis. I pushed again. "Aren't I supposed to enjoy this part, because now I actually get to DO something?" I thought to myself, not really enjoying it at all at that moment, because it still hurt. I waited a minute, and then managed to get up. I called downstairs to DH. "Darling, you'd better call the midwives now, I think I'm in second stage." "Okay" he said. Turns out he didn't believe me, he thought that I couldn't be in second stage yet, it was supposed to take about 15 hours with a first baby. He called the midwives and just told them that my contractions were every 2.5 minutes. Luckily the midwife came out straight away.

Whilst I was waiting, I just pushed as gently as possible with each contraction, I didn't want to push the baby out whilst I was on my own. DH was running around getting all the junk shifted out of the bedroom. We'd stored a few of the big things for the baby's room in our room, intending to move them well before the baby came, but we had been caught unawares. He got it all cleared out before the midwife arrived.

I was in the middle of a contraction when Stephanie arrived. "Do you want me to fetch the gas and air?" "No thanks, I'm fine," I said. Once the contraction had finished, I said, "I think this is second stage". She checked me, and said, "Yes, you're ready to push this baby out!" She phoned to get the other midwife down.

She stayed with me whilst she got DH to run around getting everything that was needed. She told him what she needed from the boot of her car, and had him searching in the loft to find the baby clothes that we would need as soon as the baby was born. She pointed out that the house was too cold, so as soon as I had finished the next contraction, I told her where the controls were and which switch to move.

I continued to push as gently as I could. She got DH to help her move me to the other side of the bed, and into a more upright position. The other two midwives arrived fairly quickly. Mandy held my hand whilst Stephanie dealt with the business end. DH held my other hand for a while, and when I had a contraction, I kept that hold nice and gentle, because I didn't want to hurt him. I was also ridiculously polite and said "please" and "thank you" to him whenever I asked for a sip of water.

DH remembered that we wanted photos of the birth so went to get the camera. When he tried to take a picture, Stephanie stopped him. She wouldn't let him take any, until she had made sure that I knew what he was trying to do, and that it was what I wanted.

I had a few more pushes, trying to gently stretch my perineum, and then Stephanie said that I should give it my best shot on the next contraction, and birth my baby. "No, I want a rest during this contraction, but I promise I will push as hard as I can for the next one" I said. And I did. Even though I didn't like that stretching feeling. Even though my groan went up an octave with each tear. I pushed as hard as I could. As soon as the head was born, and I felt my stomach suddenly sink in, I stopped pushing, but Stephanie said, "Keep going, keep going" so I did, and birthed the body as well with that same contraction.

She held my son up for me to see, but had to wrap him up before handing him to me because the room was still so cold. Our baby didn't even cry. DH came to cuddle me and look at our new son together, and there were tears in his eyes. Stephanie then checked our son, weighed him, and dried him off, before handing him back to us, this time for keeps.

The first contraction had been at 2am, and our baby was born at 9:41am - just over 7.5 hours from start to finish, and it could have been shorter if I had phoned for the midwives before second stage. I had thought of labour and birth as something horrible that you just had to do, but I actually found it to be quite a pleasant experience. And I believe it was so much better because I was at home, I know I would not have enjoyed it had I been in a hospital.

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