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James's birth story, by Terri Eaton

James Oskar Eaton
Born on 18th July 2006 at 10.11am
Weighed 9lb1oz

Since the start of my pregnancy I knew I wanted a water birth this time around. I also knew the hospital would probably make it quite difficult for me to have one so I decided on a home birth. The midwives kept saying "We'll see nearer the end once a consultant OKs it" ... I kept saying "ok, but I'm having a home birth anyway"..!

Had a pretty much problem-free pregnancy apart from a problem with my heart I kept having issues with an extremely high heart rate (at one point it was 199bpm) so was talked into taking mild beta-blockers to carry on with my home birth plans.

At 5am on the 18th July I was 40+5 & I woke feeling uncomfortable. I kept thinking it was gas pains and feeling like I was a bit constipated. It was very sharp pain very low down. I went for a wee then tried to go back to bed but couldn't get comfy so I went downstairs to bounce around on my birth ball & have a cup of tea.

Was watching BBC news; they kept saying to expect 'exceptional heat' that day. I thought, yep today it will be then! I went upstairs around 6am to tell my husband I wasn't sure what was happening but I was having mild contractions ever 5mins or so. He came down to watch me bounce around. The contractions got slightly more obvious during the next half an hour, by 6 40am I was on my knees in the kitchen! So I called the hospital to inform them of my situation & they said they would call the midwife.

My husband started to fill the pool while I took a duvet into the lounge & put it over my daughter's beanbag, I knelt over it with my arms flat down by my side & just tried to relax & breathe like my natal hypnotherapy cd told me to do. I managed to drift into a slight trance where I was coping with the contractions really well. The midwife arrived around 7.15am I think. She walked in & realized I was in pretty advanced labour so went to collect some things from the car.

When she came back she wanted to feel my bump & take my bp (blood pressure). I know it wasn't much for her to ask for but all that faffing around made me feel so much more pain; lying on my back for her to have a feel was awful. Then she took my bp & made a little 'hmmmm' sound with a funny face. I looked up at her & said ‘NO' very firmly! I knew what she was going to say & I didn't want to hear it. She said my bp was 150/110, which was very high. I started to stress out a little & was in agony now. She waited a little longer & took it another couple of times but it didn't move so she said she wanted to transfer to hospital. Panicked my husband & Mum out by saying I could fit or have a stroke so my husband made me agree to calling the ambulance.

From this moment I was in a terrible mood; I didn't want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to run & jump (well maybe not run and jump, more like shuffle & flop!) into my birth pool & ignore everyone. The ambulance arrived at 8.10am so all my neighbours were at the windows as I live on a small cul-de-sac with 8 houses on it. My contractions were back-to-back at this point & I was so pissed off I was saying 'if I'm going to hospital I'm having some drugs!'.

Got some G&A (gas and air) in the ambulance which was pretty lovely actually, I quite like that in labour. Had to have flashing lights & sirens all the way as had to clear traffic as it was rush hour & we had to go down the A6 which is a pretty busy road. As we neared the hospital I started to cry as I was really upset about it & I didn't want to go in. Everyone was trying to console me. We all got out & there was a pregnant woman sat waiting at the café looking very scared once she saw me!!

Got to delivery suite at around 8.30am & I let them examine me. I was 7cm & I asked for pethidine (don't know where that came from, I knew I didn't want it but I was just in so much pain from all the faffing about) so I had a small dose of that. I actually wanted it to knock me out a bit & take me away from it all but it didn't, all it did was shortened the length of my contractions slightly. So I just bounced vigorously on a birth ball with my G&A in one hand & arm-wrestling my husband with the other. I remember thinking that I was in just as much pain as being induced which shocked me, I always thought it would hurt less doing natural labour. So I also asked for an epidural but was told I had to wait as the anaesthetist was busy.

In mid-contraction and bounce my waters literally exploded out of me; kind of felt like a relief but also made me feel a little bit sick?! It was a very intense moment. They wanted to do a quick vaginal examination which was excruciating & all you could see was the baby wriggling around my tummy like it was shrink-wrapped. My husband had to ask if that was normal as it really freaked him out.

There was some meconium in the waters & I was about 8cm dilated. I wrestled myself off the bed (they wanted me to stay there for monitoring but I wasn't having any of it)  back onto my ball as that was where I wanted to be. The mw was behind me trying to strap on a monitor but I wasn't really staying still for her. Eventually she managed to pick up a heart rate, then asked my husband to press the emergency button on the wall. About 6 people came rushing in & got me on the bed, told me the baby's heart rate was only 40bpm & I had to get it out now. I was fully dilated & needed to push anyway as I was starting to poo!! I remember the consultant telling me to forget breathing my baby out, it was urgent that I had to get it out as quickly as possible as baby was very distressed (they really know how to push your buttons!!)

About 5/6 pushes later he came out onto my chest. He was quite floppy & I remember rubbing him lots to stimulate him before he was whisked away to the corner, surrounded by people. He started to cry a minute or so later & was brought back to me. I promptly unwrapped him & lay him on my chest. So no waiting for the cord to stop pulsing unfortunately; my husband didn't even get to cut it! I had an injection & my placenta was delivered.

He fed straight away & stayed there wide awake staring at me for an hour while everyone left us alone. I felt a bit nasty 'downstairs' & peeped under the sheet and saw quite a lot of blood. The mw came in & looked; I had a 2nd degree tear (not too surprising) which she recommended to be stitched so out came the G&A again to deal with the injections & stitches I had. Cleaned me up a bit & I cuddled James again. I kept bleeding quite heavily so they recommended putting a drip in to carry on making me contract (even though I was breastfeeding). So I was stuck to the bed for an hour or 2 whilst that was all done. My husband went to pick up my daughter & my mum to come & say hello, even though Chloe just sat in the corner playing with the taps & scowling at me!

I got up after my drip was done as I wanted to shower & change (didn't feel too comfy being naked just wrapped in a sheet around all these people I didn't know) so I did that. My mum & Chloe went back to my house while I had some tea & toast. Still kept bleeding though & then started passing huge tennis ball-sized clots so they kept me there (still in my delivery room). My bp had gone back up again too.

So this basically went on till about 11pm, I felt ok & wanted to go home but this crappy consultant came in & told me if I went home & I started to bleed I could bleed to death before getting back to the hospital & they would prefer to keep an eye on me. I could feel my husband's eyes boring into me & I knew he wanted me to stay as they had scared him (even though I had got ready & packed my things to leave!)

So it was off up to a ward at 11.30pm, quietly ushered in to a 4 bed ward with all the curtains shut, it was just so damn depressing! Then I was basically left; I had to call for a nurse to come & remove the painful drip line out my hand which they wanted to leave in 'just in case' but it was getting in the way of me getting James latched on & he kept knocking & tugging it so I had to call twice to get it removed. They were supposed to keep an eye on me hourly & take my bp, but needless to say it wasn't done once. The only time I saw anyone was when I called to get my line removed so personally I think I would've been safer at home where my husband could've looked after me in my own bed.

I got no sleep due to 3 other babies crying all night & the midwives coming in to see if the women wanted them to take the babies to the nursery & give them a bottle (to which 2 agreed!!). So while James slept off the birth (which is what I should've been doing) I was wide awake listening to all this.  Was up & ready to leave at 9am the following morning!

So I didn't get my home birth unfortunately; I think if I was better informed regarding the bp issue & my husband wasn't so scared we would've stayed at home & not gone through all the hospital crap. We aren't planning any more children but if it does happen again, I will get my home water birth!

Terri Eaton

Related pages:

Home Birth Stories

Transferring to hospital - why it may be advised, and experiences from women who've done it.

What if...your baby needs resuscitation at a homebirth?

The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?

Meconium - what does it mean if your baby passes meconium? Should you transfer to hospital?

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