Summer was due on the 27th of December. Shaun had the pool ready for action, I had everything ready for labour – birth bag, 'just in case' hospital bag, aromatherapy oils, high energy snacks, old knickers – you name it, I had it. I had also been listening to a home birth hypnotherapy CD everyday for about a month and doing antenatal yoga. I only slept on my left side. Everything was with the intention of ensuring I would be able to give birth at home. Christmas was a welcome distraction from all the preperations.
On the 4th of January a Midwife came to talk about the possibility of induction and also to give me a membrane sweep. Just before she arrived I had the urge to dance to Michael Jackson, I can't remember which song, but I think it was Billie Jean. I thought it might get things moving. This was followed by some random gardening until I heard the Midwife knock at the door. The sweep itself was very straightforward and the midwife said she could feel the head and that I was 1cm dilated. This was very exciting news and to celebrate Shaun and I walked into town and had a hot chocolate. During the walk I felt as if I had a melon pressing on my perineum area which was quite uncomfortable but I think the news that I was slightly dilated was sending enough hormones through my body for me to keep on walking around. We went to Waitrose on the way home too.
Sometime late afternoon I passed the mucous plug, so I knew things were starting to get going, but then we read in a book that this can happen days before labour begins so I did not allow myself to think that I was about to have a baby. I then started to get pains in my back. I'd had these a few days ago and they'd turned into nothing so I still didn't believe my labour had begun. We put on David Attenborough's Life of Birds and chilled out to this. I was sat on the floor and as the pains came I kneeled up on all fours. The pains (which were still all in my back) kept on coming but I could talk through them. I was thinking if these are labour pains, then this is easy. At the same time I was aware that it could get a lot worse and that 'it' might actually be happening.
We decided to have a veggie sausage sandwich for sustenance around 5.00 and after this went for a walk to the Off License to get some fruit juice and opal fruits which for some reason I fancied. In hindsight being in an Off License having contractions is quite amusing, but at the time I didn't have much of a sense of humour.
At about 7.00 I had a couple of paracetamol. I was doing very big burps for some strange reason. I was having contractions about every 3 minutes for about 20 seconds. I was using a heat pack on my back which felt nice. At 9.30 it was still all in my back, but the contractions were getting longer – about 45 seconds. Shaun took the bold step of ringing Triage about now as I was still in denial - only for them not to know who should come out to me. A midwife from Darnall rang me and implied that as I was talking through my contractions (I had one on the phone) that it wasn't very far on. I found this quite annoying, but luckily didn't have enough energy to pursue this thought.
In the end Pippa rang, who was the midwife for my area on duty that night. She agreed to come round and assess me. I think she came at about 10.30. She examined me and said I had made it to 2cm and that I was in early labour, she reckoned the sweep got me to 3cm. She informed me that 'active labour' started around 4cm. She also delivered the news that the baby was back-to-back – that's why all the pain was in my back. I was very frightened by this, and also by her comment that it was going to be a long night. I had heard a few bad stories about back to back births, but I was more frightened by the thought of being up all night. She said I might like to use the pethidine (that I had got from the hospital and was safely stored on the bookshelf) to get some sleep. SLEEP! There was no way I was going to be able to sleep now. A bath was also suggested - to help pass the time. Her final advice was to keep active to keep the baby moving down. Keeping my leg raised or legs wide apart and using the swiss ball would help keep get the baby moving down. This was more like it – something I could focus on. She said to call her again when the contractions were getting longer and stronger.
Once she had gone and I had gathered my thoughts I got on with my prescribed 'exercises', I think I also took a couple more paracetamol, why not? It seemed as soon as she left the contractions got stronger. I went upstairs, with the intention of having a bath but as the contractions were still really frequent I couldn't bear the thought of sitting or lying or anything to do with a bath. Instead Shaun showered me on my back with very hot water. This felt really nice, but we couldn't do this all night so we went downstairs and Shaun put David back on the tele for ambience, the room was dimly lit and the heating was on (luxury in our house). I sat on my ball (which was quite soft so this was bearable) and as I had contractions I lifted myself off the ball and leant onto the back of a chair. At this point I started to understand why women had pain relief as I was thinking if this pain lasts all night I am going to take any drugs that come my way.
As the contractions became more and more intense so did my breathing which made me very thirsty. I was drinking from a cup with a straw. I was shouting to Shaun 'WATER! And he would bring my cup and straw. I had not done any breathing preparation at all, but just found a technique came very naturally as a way to cope with the pain, basically breathing out through my mouth very purposefully and noisily as the contractions happened.
Shaun took the bold decision to ring Pippa again about 1.30, even though I was still thinking is this it? Is this labour? Do I accept it now or is it going to get a lot, lot worse?
Pippa arrived at about 2.00am. My blood pressure had gone up, which was a good sign. I was entering my own world by this point, just dealing with each contraction as it came. I was aware of having an urge to push, but didn't realise this consciously. Pippa picked it up from my breathing though and said she'd have to examine me before I went in the pool. By this point I was so engrossed in dealing with the pain that I agreed to this even though I really did not want anyone examining me anywhere. Shaun started to fill the pool.
I lay on my back on the old futon base we had ready to absorb the goo and Pippa did a VE. When she announced that I was fully dilated I felt on top of the world for one brief moment. I was not going to be up all night. Hallelujah!! This made me feel as good as I can remember feeling, however this was a brief moment of relief followed by a contraction lying down which was almost unbearably painful. As I rolled onto my side to get up my waters broke. The sound was fantastic, a proper Pop! and lots of blood and goo all over the floor and the wall. It was like the biggest spot ever being popped. Great. I think about now I knew that I really was in labour.
I stayed on the futon base, but came up onto all fours. I leant forward onto the ball. I had the sofa propping me up on one side and Shaun on the other. I remember stuffing a cushion between me and the sofa so I was really solidly supported as I had no additional energy to support myself.
I was really feeling the urge to push now but was still breathing through this – it felt as if I had mastered this technique and I wanted to keep doing it. Pippa broke the news that I was going to have to actually push and I was very frightened by this. I think I said 'I can't' as it felt impossible, I was very aware of having a baby's head inside me and that this had to come out and that there was only one route for it to take. I couldn't hear what Pippa was saying as I was making so much noise and Shaun was having to repeat her instructions to me as he was right next to my head.
Pippa said she could see the head, although I don't really remember this. I was busy groaning and moaning which was really helpful in dealing with the pain. It was very instinctive to make these noises and making noises was the only way I was able to cope with the physical sensations – it almost felt like it was a way of releasing the pain from my body.
Summer was born at 2.43am, although it was probably a few minutes after this when I saw her. I think she had the cord wrapped round her a bit and was born with her hand by her head, but I didn't see any of this. Pippa passed her through my legs and she lay on the blankets for a moment whilst I looked at her. Pippa said pick her up, and I said 'I can't'. It had all happened so quickly and here was my baby. I was scared because she was still attached to me too. Soon I did pick her up and I did a lot of swearing and exclaiming how lucky I was. I was still so pleased to have not been up all night. The pool had three inches of water in it, the 2nd midwife was still on her way with the entonox and I had a baby!
Pippa said Shaun would have to act as second midwife and he passed her things and cut the cord. Then he held Summer whilst I naturally delivered the placenta. That bit was easy, but strangely squeamish as I could see more of what was happening, I think I had to cough to get it to come out. About now the second midwife arrived. She only stayed a few minutes as it was all over. She'd had to come out from Rotherham too. I think about now I was feeding Summer – she latched on straight away and fed for about 20 minutes.
Around now Shaun rang my mum and his mum to deliver the news. This was one of the times when it was great to be in our own house as these bits of normality were lovely and made us able to enjoy many moments that I feel would have been lost in a hospital.
As I had second-degree tears I needed some stitches. Pippa called another midwife (Wendy Davis) who agreed to come out and repair me. She was fab, very matronly and quite bossy which I really liked. She talked me through every stage of the stitches which was a bit too much information for me to absorb but it was still nice to know what was going on. I had very shakey legs at this point but didn't feel a thing whilst being stitched.
Getting up the stairs of our terraced house was quite a feat and I was followed by Wendy and Pippa who were catching the blood. I nearly fainted when I got to the top from a combination of the amount of blood I had lost and the shakiness of my legs. Still I was greeted by a bath that Wendy had run for Summer and I. Wendy showed me how to hold Summer in the water, but I was way too tired to take in any of this properly. Wendy dressed Summer who did the biggest meconium poo she'd ever seen (my first proud moment).
I remember getting into bed felt really good. Wendy put Summer right next to me so she could feed. She didn't even ask if we had a cot or basket which was great as we had planned to sleep with Summer and this made it feel like the right decision. Wendy delivered some more instructions none of which I can now remember but I felt really looked after and was happy to accept this care, when normally I would feel uncomfortable being 'fussed' over.
Wendy and Pippa said goodbye and Shaun was left to clear up the mess downstairs. I could hear him beavering away but I was in another world with my new baby
First Babies and homebirth
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Get Your Baby Lined Up - what it means when your baby gets in an awkward position, and what you can do about it.
Blood on the carpet - How much mess are you likely to encounter at a homebirth, and what can you do about that carpet?!
Overdue - but still want a homebirth? When is 'postdates' risky?
The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?
Post-Partum Haemorrhage - what can be done if you bleed heavily at home?
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth Reference Page