Flynn's Birth
by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Sarah had planned a homebirth for her first baby, Sebastian, but transferred to hospital when a long prelabour progressed slowly, and she wanted an epidural. This is the story of her second labour:

Flynn Thomas was born at 1:42am on Monday 3rd November 2003, weighing 9lbs 12oz, 22 inches long and with a 38cm head! He was my second attempt at a homebirth, my first ending in an ambulance transfer three quarters of the way through my labour. After a course of hypnobirthing, I was optimistic we'd get to stay at home this time; how wrong I was, though!

I went to a routine antenatal appointment on the Friday before my due date, where my BP was up to 168/98 and I had protein in my wee. I got sent straight up to the hospital who immediately imprisoned me for the next 5 days. Here endeth our homebirth plans in full glory for the second time (I should have listened to whoever it was that told me that our ceiling caving in the week before was a sign to go into hospital!!).

Spent the next 2 and a half days stuck in bed, being prodded and poked and having all my bodily fluids collected in varying plastic containers, waiting for the weekend to be over and the consultants to be back at work so they could decide what to do with me (apparently I wasn't emergency enough to warrant any action). As I obviously wasn't being let out and homebirth/waterbirth was off the cards, and having read every single magazine in the hospital shop, I decided that the best thing would be for my BP to get scary enough for them to induce me. On Sunday morning I got my wish with a nice impressive BP, 3+ protein in my wee and a postive PET blood screen, so a nice SHO decided to finally do something with me!

Sunday lunchtime I was given a dose of prostin and, since I was in hospital already, spent the next few hours planning a nice intervention-full birth with an epidural, consisting mostly of me laying on my back, doing nothing for several hours until they had me push and generally not being in any pain. At 5pm I was monitored and was having contractions every 4 mins but couldn't feel them - bonus! Then got a sweep, had dinner and re-read 'Take a Break' for the thousandth time. At 8:30 they weren't any closer together but had got a little bit stronger, still nothing like any pains I'd had with Seb, so called Ian, my husband, and asked him to come in as I wanted some company.

Ian arrived at 9:30 just as they'd decided I really was in labour (4cm) to find me bellydancing up and down the corridor as the labour ward was full and I really didn't enjoy being in labour on the antenatal ward, especially as the girls had nicknamed me darth vader (with my breathing).

At 10pm I swore at the midwife and told her I was going into the labour ward whether they had a room or not, as I wanted to make a lot of noise and didn't appreciate having an audience any more. Finally, at about 10:30, I got a room and calmed down and put my walkman with my hypnobirthing music on. I really can't recommend this enough; I had absolutely no pain for the next 2.5hrs. I could feel the contractions, but they weren't painful, almost enjoyable in a perverse way. I remember feeling really chilled and happy and just rocked on my birthing ball for ages and also got my BP down from 100 to 80. The midwife was totally freaked out by it all and Ian had to explain that I wasn't doing some mad Paul McKenna type stuff and that whilst I seemed really out of it I could actually hear her. Still she kept talking to me like a 3yr old so she obviously wasn't convinced and was probably waiting for me to do a chicken impression or something.

At about 12:30 I started my usual labour vomit-fest and then 10 mins later was asked to move to a different room (had been in a sideroom til then) so back to the corridor it was and I couldn't coordinate my vomit bowls, walkman and other bits and bobs, my earphones fell out, I lost my trance and suddenly was in severe pain. I knew if I used entonox I'd puke even more violently, which wasn't appealing, and the hospital had had their birthing pool removed the previous month to have a new one fitted so decided to ask for an exam to see how far dilated I was. Was really disappointed to be told I was only 6cm so decided I wanted an epidural as the labour was becoming a bit too scarily similar to Seb's and I'd got stuck again. We had to wait about 10mins for the anaesthetist to arrive and I started to feel an urge to push, but again I'd had this with Seb from 7cm so just ignored it and lied when the midwife asked me in case she stopped them giving me the epidural!

Had all sorts of lovely ideas of laying back and having a sleep for a few hours and getting a can of sprite and a mars bar when the pain went. At about 1:15 I started having really bad urges to push but kept breathing through them in case they noticed and tried to examine me/make me push/stop me having the epidural!! At 1:20'ish the epidural was finally in and I was given the test dose and stuck on a monitor. At this point the pushing contractions were unbearable and I really started to scream and the midwife looked quite freaked out and asked me very firmly if I wanted to push. Finally admitted I did (bloody epidural clearly not going to work in time now as there was no way they were giving me the proper dose and I was filling with horror at the thought of having to do childbirth without any form of pain relief). She examined me and said I was fully dilated and she was going to break my waters.

At about 1:30 they broke my waters and it had loads of really thick, dark meconium in them, so the room suddenly filled up with midwives and a paediatrician. I really, really didn't care about the baby, I just couldn't believe that they were making me push without any pain relief and told them I wasn't doing it and wanted the epidural drug, then Ian said something and the midwife got really stern with us and told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to push and the baby was coming whether I wanted it to or not. Feeling like a chastised school kid, I gave a very half-hearted push and Flynn's head came out and I swear I have never been in so much agony in my life. It was the most revolting sensation I have ever felt and the searing agony of everything stretching was unreal. I REALLY didn't want to push again, but my body kind of made me and thank God his body came out with the second push otherwise I'm sure I would have passed out. Anyone who chooses natural childbirth has my hugest respect, I can't understand why anyone would choose it!!

(Note from Angela: I think Sarah must have written this birth story before she had her third baby... )

Flynn was passed straight to me and I was totally freaked by his size and thought there was something wrong with him as he looked so small. Everyone thought Ian and I were really weird when we kept saying "he's tiny"!!! (big brother Sebastian having weighed 10lbs) He was quickly checked over by the paed and found to be fine, just very dirty and smelly (nothing's changed since the birth!!). Then we were all cleaned up (including Ian as Flynn had done a major poo all over him) and packed off to the ward for the remainder of the night. We were kept in for the next 2 days for "meconium obs" and BP obs for me. Apparently we were meant to stay in for 3 days but the combination of building work in the wards, the overly hot central heating, and the woman opposite me Gina Fording her 2 day old baby, made me discharge us early in order to preserve our sanity! Overall it wasn't a bad experience, but certainly not the one we were planning!

Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Update: Sarah had planned a homebirth for her first baby, Sebastian, but transferred to hospital when a long prelabour progressed slowly, and she wanted an epidural. She tried again for her third baby, and finally cracked it - Rafferty was born at home, and he was even larger than his brothers!


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