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Violet's Birth Story, by Sarah Ockwell-Smith

Sarah planned a homebirth for her first two babies,Sebastian and Flynn, but transferred to hospital. She had Rafferty at home, and planned another homebirth for her fourth baby. Sarah is a HypnoBirthing teacher.

My first two birth were traumatic hospital deliveries with epidurals and lots of intervention. Determined that my third birth would be different I learnt HypnoBirthing techniques and my baby was born at home in a drug free 4hr labour in water, in fact it was so wonderful that I announced shortly after the birth that our family was complete I was going out on a high!

When I found out I was pregnant with my fourth baby (that's the thing about good births, they make you incredibly broody!) I planned exactly the same as the last time. Predictably I was assessed as high risk again due to previous pre-eclampsia and a history of big babies (9lb 12oz, 10lbs and 11lb 3oz) but this time I was determine that nobody was going to try and talk me out of a homebirth, so I refused to be under the care of a consultant or set foot inside a hospital aside from my dating and anomaly scan (so I refused prophylactic anti-D, growth scans and related consultant "discussions" and the GTT test).

Six days after my babys guesstimated due date, after a day spent doing some pretty heavy gardening, I had a feeling early in the evening that things were imminent as I was feeling very moody (just like PMT) which is always a clear sign of impending labour for me. It was the last day of the school holidays and I really didn't want to have to do the school run the next day with my 3 older children at 41weeks pregnant!

Just after 10pm I began to really hope that the regular Braxton hicks I was feeling would turn into labour, just as I had done every evening over the past fortnight! I really wanted to labour and birth at night as we had no childcare for our three older children (2, 3 and 4years old) and having had them with me for some time at my previous homebirth, I wasn't keen to have them around me again (I found I couldn't labour properly with them around so tucked up in bed asleep was the best place for them).

At around 11:30pm my Braxton hicks seemed to be a bit more regular, so ever hopeful, I Sent Ian (my husband) to bed as he was annoying me with his small talk and the fact that he kept leaving all the house lights on! I also wanted him to get some sleep "just in case" (seeing as he has a sleep disorder and is prone to falling asleep anywhere at anytime I didn't fancy him snoring through the birth as he had done with Flynn our last night birth).

Around 11:45pm I had two big and tight (but totally painless) surges (HypnoBirthing-speak for contractions) about five minutes apart and had a definite feeling that "this is it", so I called Ian back downstairs (he wasn't best pleased after just getting into bed!) and asked him to fill the birth pool with warm water as I was around 70% sure I was in labour.

Around 12:15am I was around 80% sure I was in labour, but as everything was still very, very mild and I wasn't having to do anything special to "get through it" (I was actually sitting on my birthing ball watching a Graham Norton re-run!) I dithered for a bit about phoning for a midwife. My surges seemed to be every 3minutes apart and quite long and regular but they were incredibly mild (just tightenings like Braxton hicks) and I didn't want to look a fool if it was all a false alarm and everything stopped, or worse, we ended up with a midwife sitting in our living room observing me for the next 8hrs. On the other hand though, I didn't want to panic Ian by not having a midwife present at the birth (although I would have quite liked it! The idea of an unassisted birth has always slightly appealed to me) so I asked Ian to call the hospital to tell them I thought I was in labour and wanted a midwife to come out. A midwife called us back five minutes later to say she'd be leaving in ten minutes and would be with us 10 minutes or so after that.

At 12:30am I was left in no doubt I was in labour as the intensity suddenly really picked up and my surges were coming thick and fast every two minutes. I was still coping really well with just my "birth breathing" rocking on my birth ball, but the pool was really calling to my big achy pregnant body so I got in, despite the midwife not having arrived, and put my CD of HypnoBirthing music on. I did have a brief fleeting moment of worry that I had four or five more hours to get through (as per previous births or around 5 hours after I realised I was in labour) and wondered why I was shivering so violently! In hindsight it was obvious the birth was imminent but I just couldn't believe that it was, as fifteen minutes previously I wasn't even sure I was in labour!

At 12:45am I started mooing loudly (I *still* hadn't clicked that the baby was about to arrive, despite my obvious second stage noises!) and much to Ian's relief the doorbell sounded and the midwife arrived; she quickly assessed the situation and asked me if my waters had broken (they hadn't). The midwife and Ian then start to sort her equipment out and Ian decided at this moment to try to persuade me to drink some water! I think I hit him to make him go away. Still completely unaware of how imminent the birth was, I decided I absolutely couldn't do this for another 4hrs and in my mind decided to ask for the gas and air to be brought in for me to try, even though the only time I've ever had it it made me vomit copiously (though apparently I didn't actually manage to vocalise this thought anyway).

At 12:50am: my waters broke, closely followed by the whole of my baby's head (complete with a hand on it amazingly though for the first time I required no stitches!) and a loop of umbilical cord. I manage to loudly chant the word "head" over repeatedly like a complete imbecile whilst Ian looked stunned and asked me if I was sure (nobody could see anything under the water as Ian added so much milk to disperse the aromatherapy oils meaning the pool water was an opaque murky white and nobody could find the torch either). I reached down at this point and felt a big hard peacy soft wrinkly head between my legs and gently held and stroked my daughter's head until the next surge came.

At 12:54am I vaguely recalled that it would be best to get on all fours in order to get the body out ( I tend to have big babies and being on all fours gives them the most room to get out easily) but instead found I was rooted to the spot in a very uncomfortable squat. I very briefly panicked about the shoulders coming out in that position but no sooner had I started to worry I was immediately reassured as I feel the delicious feeling of the whole of the baby's body slithering out and baby Violet Rosalynde was born into my own waiting hands on April 16th 2007, weighing 11lbs 1oz.

I lifted my new baby up and freaked out at the amount of vernix on her (I've never had a baby with any vernix before weird stuff isn't it?), and like holding a wet bar of slippery soap, I promptly dropped the whole of the slimy little body back in water and the midwife fished her out for me. At his moment I had a bizarre vision of a scene from "Pretty Woman" with Julia Roberts trying to eat Oysters saying "slippy little buggers" and wet myself (literally, pelvic floor having suffered a bit thankfully still in the pool!) laughing. The midwife and Ian obviously not being in on my own private joke didn't think it very funny I was laughing at my newly-born drowning daughter. I tried to hold her for next 10 mins but really couldn't get to grips with vernix and slippiness in the water and since the cord had long since stopped pulsating Ian cut it (eventually scissors way too blunt yack!) and somebody with much safer hands took the baby off me so I could climb out and gave her back when we were safely on the sofa out of drowning danger! Once the placenta was safely delivered, everything was packed away and the midwife went home. Our eldest son woke excited to meet his new little sister and the four of us tucked ourselves up in our own comfy bed, just as we do any other night - bliss!

Sarah Ockwell-Smith Sarah Ockwell-Smith
BSc(hons), HBCE, Dip Hom(ACH), RSHom

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Related pages:

Home Birth Stories

Hypnotherapy for childbirth

Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?

Pain relief - what are your options at home?

Waterbirth at home

Big babies and homebirth

Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?


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