On 26th February I officially went onto maternity leave and we moved house that day! What a stress, three weeks before my due date. 18th March came and went, still no sign… One week late, two weeks late, three weeks late… Everyone was getting fed up waiting, especially me!! It was exactly the same situation when I’d been heavily pregnant with Ellie.
It was difficult to stay confident with my decision not to get induced as there were no statistics for women post-dates, only anecdotal evidence. I attended hospital every 2-3 days to get the fluid, heartbeat, movement etc monitored. I tried everything to start naturally: homeopathy, reflexology, massage, curry, intimacy, pineapple, raspberry leaf tea, walk on the beach, walking up/down stairs etc.
On 10th April I had a fourth sweep by the midwife at Simpsons (the midwife said I was already 2cm dilated – great!). My tummy felt sore but Stevie, my husband, and I went off to the art gallery and had a wee picnic in the garden. Later that evening I felt slightly unwell and a bit shaky and I fell asleep upstairs. Daisy, my doula, called and woke me up – we chatted for half an hour. Stevie came home at 9.30pm (he’d been out visiting) and we spoke too. I felt shattered that night and went to bed just after 10pm.
At 1am I got up to the toilet then again at 2am. I started getting period pains then but I didn’t get too excited. When I timed the pain (it felt like a fireball touching my abdominal area) it was every five mins lasting approximately 30 seconds. My God, was this it or would it stop?!
I didn’t know how long my labour would last so I stayed quiet and left Stevie to sleep on – he needed as much energy as possible in order to support me and the baby. I thought about going downstairs but the thought freaked me out a little as it was too cold for me in the house. Best stay put and keep warm – that made me feel more secure and relaxed.
At 4am I went to the toilet a third time and I was chittering so loudly that it woke Stevie up! He was so excited and supportive towards me. It was lovely! I felt cold and he put his big warm arms around me. We lay in a spoons position and I melted into his big warm body. I felt so connected and loved; like we were both ready to receive this new life. It was a perfect moment that I’ll always cherish.
Stevie decided to call the midwife at 5am – I was in complete denial that my labour was progressing as I didn’t want any false alarms or to waste anyone’s time. Each contraction made me shiver with cold so I hid under the downy for warmth. I then felt too hot and came up for air in between the pain. This was the pattern that emerged throughout my (short) labour.
I remember having to say my birth date quickly in between contractions as Stevie was on the phone to triage and he had forgotten it! He had lots of practical tasks to attend to; calling the midwife, heating/hot water, filling the birthing pool, organising Ellie, our daughter, etc. I was aware that he was away for a long period of time and I wanted him beside me to give me support. At times I was on my own but coping well.
The midwife arrived 15 minutes later (she lived locally). I hoped that I wasn’t going to waste her time with a false start. By that point the contractions were very painful and lasting longer. I may have said a couple of ‘bad words’ at the time! I was also aware that Ellie had got up and was asking me questions. ‘I’m ok, the baby’s coming’ I said, as I tried to reassure her and myself too.
Stevie was still busy with things downstairs – I wanted him beside me. The midwife was fantastic! I was surprised that she did no internal examination on me but just did clinical observations and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. She read my birth plan and asked a few questions. She had two kids herself and knew what head space I was in, which helped loads. I forgot about using the TENS machine and it was the midwife (I think) who suggested putting it on. The tingling sensation took my mind away from the painful contractions and it really helped me. I also forgot all about using the homeopathic kit (although I don’t know that I really needed it as everything progressed so well).
Although I knew it was best to be in an upright position, I could barely move due to the painful contractions. I felt like I needed to poo. ‘It’s the baby coming’ the midwife told me. No way, not so quickly I thought. A second midwife was called. Again I thought that everyone around me was being optimistic as it would surely be a few more hours… I managed to hobble to the bathroom with help and it was good to lean over the sink – a much better position for labour. I was also partly aware that Ewen (my mum’s partner) came to collect Ellie at around this stage as I could hear voices in the background.
I then had an urge to push – second stage labour had commenced. Fantastic! I’d managed the first stage so well – I was actually expecting the pain to get worse! I was impressed with myself (so different to Ellie’s labour, which was utter agony all over my body) I was aware that I was circling my hips in a rotational way as I thought that it would help the baby journey through me.
It was interesting to me that it took three attempts to empty my bladder in between contractions. It’s amazing what the body can do! I did need a poo after all but the midwife was very discreet.
I tried to absorb and appreciate the experience of my body giving birth naturally and at home; just what I wanted! The midwife encouraged me to not push too quickly, which I listened to. I think this stopped me from tearing. Our baby was born in the amniotic bag (‘in the call’) at 6.26am. He was really white when he came out and his lips were massive. He was gorgeous! I cried with happiness, relief, love. My son was born. I wanted Stevie beside me again to hold his boy and connect as a family. He joined us in the bathroom and he took off his top for skin to skin contact (I had on my top but felt a bit inhibited to remove it plus I still had the placenta to consider). The baby peed and passed meconium on dad, and it stained the carpet too!
We waited until the cord stopped pulsating and Stevie cut us free. It still felt premature and rushed to me though, to cut the cord so quickly, and I wish we’d held off for longer. After the baby was born I had a mouthwash as I’d been conscious about my breath not smelling so good! The only downside to that was that I couldn’t take any homeopathy (Arnica) for a while.
We all went through to the bedroom then and Stevie held our son. I remember calling mum ‘I’ve just had a baby!’ I told her. Ewen and Ellie had only been in for about 10 minutes. I couldn’t chat long as I still had to deliver the placenta. I still had pain and the midwives encouraged me to return to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and gave birth, again, to the placenta (I was disappointed that no bowl was used to catch the placenta and it landed in the toilet, therefore the placenta ‘pictures’ were not as I’d hoped they would be). I felt so much better then. My body had performed perfectly. The whole labour had lasted for just five hours. I just wanted to cuddle up with my new baby, get feeding established and rest (which was a challenge due to demands with visitors).
I felt love in every part of my body and the house swelled with love during the first week – it was tangible! What a perfect start for our new addition to the family. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to use the birthing pool. So far I’ve had one (induced) natural birth in hospital and gave birth in a birthing pool, and one natural home birth. I would like a third chance to have a water birth at home!