Planned home birth – second baby.
I rose in the morning at 6:20am and went to the loo and noticed a show. I had a period pain lasting about three minutes when I returned to bed and felt the sensation of mucus coming down. As my first baby was 10 days early I felt sure this baby would be early too and this was six days before my due date of December 10th, 2002.
Although I wasn’t having typical contraction pain I called my support person to let her know the status. I also called our midwife, the same midwife as for my first baby’s birth, and talked her through what was happening. She said she would be at work from 8:30am and to call all her numbers to contact her if I needed to.
From 9:00am until midday I had the odd twinge/Braxton Hicks/period pain but nothing felt established. I was nervously excited and knew that everything was ready. My most anxious thoughts were for my son’s care and I had written a very comprehensive list of everything a carer needed to know. I was concerned mostly that this labour would turn into the marathon effort it was with my son and that both Richard and I would have to leave our little boy (22 months) in someone else’s care – never having left him with anyone before. There was also a possibility that Sarah’s (my support person) baby would come at the same time (but she thankfully held on for another ten days!).
At 12:15pm our midwife called. We discussed progress and she felt the baby would arrive tomorrow as things weren’t kicking into gear. I felt pleased about that because I didn’t like the date ‘December 4th’ but I really liked ‘December 5th’... At 2:30pm I took a Gelsemium 200 (homoeopathic remedy) for anticipatory anxiety/posterior baby/slow to progress. I also taped some mung beans to the soles of my feet to make use of the calming acupressure point. I felt these helped.
I had a lovely afternoon with Maxwell and Richard. We did some grocery shopping and went to Café L’Affare for a decaf mochaccino. While we were there I couldn’t sit down and had to lean over a table for a good three minutes with the most intense Braxton Hicks pain yet. I wanted to make the most of my time with just Maxwell knowing that from tomorrow (?) onwards our lives would totally change.
I made dinner at 6:00pm to keep myself busy and had lots of contractions as close as three minutes apart. I phoned our midwife and she still felt the baby would arrive tomorrow so recommended that I have a bath and an early night to relax. So I had a lovely lavender bath and went to bed at 9:15pm, wondering what tomorrow would hold and whether I would get a full night’s sleep.
Richard spent some of the evening studying up on the acupressure notes and on my specially prepared homoeopathic remedies.
From about midnight onwards I felt some strong period pains and although I didn’t wake fully I was aware of having to breathe deeply and slowly through them. At 6:30am, feeling thankful that I had had a pretty good uninterrupted sleep, I went to the loo and had lots of squittery poos and mild bleeding. From then on I was having good strong contractions and lots of pain. Mentally and emotionally I felt good and ready and mildly excited.
I had some breakfast but was aware that my appetite wasn’t great. At 9:00am I did more squittery poos and continued having good strong pains although they weren’t regular.
At 10:15am I spoke with our midwife. She thought the baby might be posterior, but I was having good prostaglandin action with the contractions and poos and that the poos were often an indication that the body was trying to get the baby in the right position. She suggested I try the ankle acupressure points to help the cervix dilate and to get the contractions more regular. She encouraged me to be patient, but to get hold of her promptly when I felt I needed to because things would happen quickly once labour was established. I felt very encouraged by this.
At this time also we phoned Nana Alison and asked her to come around. I phoned Sarah and said I would phone her as soon as I needed her. Both of her children were being cared for so she was free to race around.
I was starting to feel a little nauseous so put the homemade sea bands onto my wrists (elastic with a button sewn onto them) and these worked immediately. I felt the edge go off the nausea and I felt my head clear a little. I think I was taking drops of Emergency Essence quite a lot. I also held the ankle acupressure point for 60 seconds. I continued having contractions that were good, but irregular. At 10:44am I tried the ankle point again for 60 seconds.
At 11:00am Richard and I took Maxwell for a walk in the buggy to get him to sleep. I pushed the buggy so that I had something to hold on to. Nana arrived around this time so Richard went back down to see her. I continued walking. I walked extremely slowly and used the hand acupressure points to establish labour. It was lovely being outside on such a gorgeous sunny day and the fresh air was delightful. I rather felt that things were picking up soon after this. I managed about an hour’s walk and got home to find Nana in the lounge with Maxwell and Richard having just finished re-assembling the cot as a ‘viewing seat’ in the birth room downstairs. I took an Arnica 200 and used the ankle point again.
I called Sarah at 12:10pm and our midwife shortly after and asked them to come around now. Our midwife asked if I what my thoughts were on having the student midwife along. I said she could be a useful pair of hands but needed her to keep quiet and be respectful of the atmosphere we were trying to create. Maxwell woke around now and Nana tried to get him but he wanted me. We sat in front of the TV watching a video and he asked for booby which we did. I thought that this would be the last breastfeed for just Maxwell and also that it may help establish my contractions. I was fine sitting breastfeeding but when I got up I felt the contractions kick in again.
Richard got the ironing board out for me and we set it up in the kitchen and then he went to set up the birth pool in the birth room downstairs. I managed to iron only about three shirts but at least I was doing something and could lean on the ironing board and kitchen bench when the contractions came. They were certainly stronger now and our midwife had indicated that when I couldn’t manage to talk through them then it was time to call her. They were getting that way now. Maxwell and Nana were playing very happily together which calmed me a lot. Sarah arrived at 1:15pm as I finished the last shirt I could manage and we packed the ironing board away. She suggested I drink some spirulina but I couldn’t manage much. I showed her (and Alison earlier) the list for Maxwell and we got some goodies out for his lunch and tea. I took another Gelsemium 200.
Our midwife arrived at 1:10pm. I felt it was time to move downstairs so I went and put something more comfortable on. I wandered inside for a while and then out onto the deck. Someone was engaged in some pretty intense weed-eating nearby so it wasn’t particularly peaceful but it was nice to get the fresh air. We also discovered that new people were moving in to the townhouse attached to ours and that there was a big moving truck blocking our driveway. We decided that Richard should let them know that we were having a baby here just in case they needed to move the truck so that we could get out. They expressed stunned disbelief but I’m sure they got the point when the screaming started later.
I recall the first foetal heartbeat our midwife took with her monitor as baby girl had hiccups and they were registering extremely loudly! I was labouring in the birth room when the student midwife arrived. She was talking quite a bit at times and I recall ‘sssshhhing’ her at one point. I also remember starting to answer a question Robyn had asked me and finishing it after a contraction. At 1:55pm I started asking for acupressure which Richard applied to the sacral points. However, I don’t think we got the right points and although they transferred the pain they didn’t relieve the pain. The birth pool was still filling (the califont was great) and I wanted to delay getting into the pool for as long as possible as I didn’t want to slow the contractions down with the relieving effect of the water. At 2:00pm I did more poos while the student midwife and the midwife went through their gear and sorted stuff out. My contractions were reasonably regular now.
I still had my head about me but was wondering all the time just how long this would take. I moved back into the birthing room and laboured some more, leaning against the pool and on all fours at times. At 2:15pm our midwife’s notes record that my contractions were strengthening with 3-4:10 ratio. I started feeling nauseous after this and took some arsenicum. I was so pleased I wasn’t throwing up though! I was also holding combs in both hands for the acupressure points – for the natural release of endorphins. At 2:50pm I started getting a little tearful as the contractions were increasing in strength. I asked for the swiss ball and used that to lean over whilst I contracted. I started to really have to concentrate now.
At times Richard would do the acupressure and at other times the student did. I think she was pleased to be involved and to learn to do something new and to be useful. I was certainly pleased to have her there as it meant that Richard could do other things as he needed to. The pool had been filled and a heater put into it to keep the temperature nice and warm. The contractions were definitely in my lower tummy – still manageable. I started at that time (3:00pm) to get the feeling of wanting to push although it wasn’t all consuming – it was just a hint of bowel pressure. At that stage I started thinking about getting into the pool. I recall thinking as I disrobed that I didn’t actually feel like being naked in front of these people just yet!
At 3:05pm I hopped into the water and it felt wonderful. I squatted in the water initially on both feet then kneeling on one knee. The position felt good but I didn’t feel yet that I was close to giving birth. I was feeling lots of bowel pressure though and my contractions seem to change their ‘sound’ with me doing a lot more grunting and lower moaning. Robyn was strategically positioned with her torch and mirror to check what was going on under me! We turned our beautiful music on to keep the mood nice and calm but I actually found it surprisingly distracting and preferred silence. Interestingly the CD switched off after a couple of tracks anyway. Maxwell came down with Sarah at one stage to see me. Sarah thought to take his t-shirt off because he put his arms in the pool and she didn’t want him getting too wet. He took that as a sign that he would be hopping in the pool with me and got a bit upset that he wasn’t. He stayed for a short time and I loved seeing him. I was glad though when Sarah took him away as I needed to concentrate. Richard was leaning into the pool doing acupressure even though this still wasn’t feeling terribly effective.
Some time around now our back-up midwife. She was very discreet and stayed quietly in the background.
At 3:35pm I was pushing but nothing much felt like it was happening. I stayed contracting in the pool for just over half an hour at which point I suddenly felt I needed to stand up. Just as I was about to voice that, our midwife said, “Sara, I think it might help if you get up and move around; perhaps you could go to the bathroom.” I said that I had been thinking exactly the same thing and that I would do that. I was pleased that we seemed to be on the same wavelength as that increased my trust in her and in what I was experiencing. At 3:50pm I moved to the bathroom and had a wee. I had a contraction and leaned against the bath once I was standing up again. The contractions were much more painful out of the water but I felt I was doing the right thing and laboured here for a bit.
Around this time our midwife suggested that I lie on the bed and that she perform a vaginal examination to check my dilation. I agreed although I didn’t want to lie down as I didn’t think I would be able to manage my contractions and the pain as well. At 4:15pm she tucked lots of towels and birthing mats underneath me as I lay on the bed. The vaginal examination showed that my cervix was nearly fully effaced (7-8 cm) but that there was a small anterior lip. She said that she was going to ‘stay inside’ me for my next contraction to see what was happening to my cervix. She noted that my membranes were bulging out but that I had a small anterior lip that she could push back during the contraction but that it wasn’t quite dilated. She also noted that baby’s head was slightly off centre.
After the examination, baby’s heartbeat was 130. During the examination I felt some waters gush out. Our midwife then suggested rupturing my membranes to keep things moving (or to speed them up). I didn’t like the sound of that and mentioned that I felt some fluid gush out while she was inside me. So I stayed on the bed for a bit. She then asked whether I would like to get back into the pool to which I replied that I would. The next contraction hit me harder than any of the previous ones and I quickly changed my mind realising that I couldn’t actually move. I also voiced that I thought I would like to be on all fours but on thinking about actually achieving that position I realised that was impossible at this stage too.
So I lay semi-reclined on the bed. I started feeling quite nauseous so Richard stood next to me pressing my wrist bands hard at the nausea point. My contractions were really hotting up and getting exceedingly painful. I was starting to lose my focus and no longer knew what to do during each contraction – I didn’t know what to aim for. My legs were thrashing about a lot with the pain and I was shaking my head from side to side saying, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it, help me, I want gas!”. Richard took this as a good sign, more so when I screamed, “I’m never doing this again!” – he said he smiled to himself and thought, “Hmmm, transition...“. As for me I was terrified and only just coping with the, by now, utterly and absolutely unbearable pain that was wrenching my body in pieces and in different directions. I had no idea where I was in the birthing process: whether I had a few minutes or a few hours to go. In between each contraction I was completely exhausted and would lay back on the pillows, drenched with sweat and pleading for someone to tell me I could do this and could cope with the next one. I didn’t feel I got the reassurance I needed though. Our midwife helpfully guided me with the student holding one of my legs against her hip, and our midwife the other.
At around 4:40pm our midwife told me to push into my bottom which really helped me direct the pain. However I could feel a poo coming out and felt very embarrassed about this so I was given a hot cloth for my perineum which, when I held it against me, felt wonderful. I could then also direct my contraction and started pushing (and also cover up any exiting excretia which helped me retain some dignity!). Through the contractions at this time I was SCREAMING with the pain. I was distantly aware of the neighbours and wondered what they might be thinking but thought %^&* them all, I’m going to scream all I like, and anyway I can’t help it!
At this time I was pushing hard and in the right direction – things seemed to be making more sense for me. When I got the second hot cloth I started feeling a bulging in to my hand. My god I thought, it’s the head! I daren’t say anything or think too much hoping that it really was true. I was push, push, pushing just slowly and in grunts and our midwife nudged Richard, who was gazing at the wall, to show him the head. She helped my pushing by verbally guiding each one. My body wasn’t pushing by itself, I was directing the pushing so it felt like quite hard work. I wanted to stop and rest for a while but realised I couldn’t – I was so close and thought I’ve at least got to get the whole head out. After a good few pushes, suddenly I had to pull my hand away because out popped the head. Thank god I thought, only a little bit left to do and it’s over. I didn’t wait for the next contraction, I just pushed a little bit more when whoosh, out came my baby girl who was placed directly on to my tummy at 4:55pm! I held her and sobbed. She was warm and alive and screaming! I couldn’t open my eyes to look at her: I was crying, crying, crying and saying, “I did it! I did it! Baby girl! Baby girl! I did it!” Finally I was able to look at her. She was pink and just beautiful and I had done it all by myself, with no pain relief, at home, with wonderful support, so quickly, and with no horrible transfers or intervention. Oh the relief!!!!!!! I said, “This is our beautiful baby girl, Amelia.”
I soon called out for Sarah and Maxwell to come down. Maxwell came and sat right next to me and gave baby Amelia a kiss and Sarah leaned over and gave me a kiss saying,“well done, well done!”. Soon after that I asked for Nana to come down. I was pleased she could be there and share the moment. She left soon after.
I then realised that I still had to birth the placenta and I didn’t want any more contractions so I asked our midwife (a little anxiously I recall) to “get it out”. She said she thought the cord had stopped pulsing so Richard cut the cord under her guidance. She then applied downward pressure on to my tummy while she directed me to push. I no longer knew where to push and didn’t really want to but out came the placenta without too much effort. I was so relieved again. I remember Sarah, Maxwell, Nana, Richard, our midwife, our back-up midwife and the student midwife all being in our bedroom, plus our brand new baby girl, and at that point I felt like there were too many people in one small space! Sarah brought down some strawberries and I polished off the lot along with the next bowl she brought down – they tasted so good.
Amelia wasn’t very settled when I tried to breastfeed her. After some effort and lots of crying, our midwife suggested a deep warm bath for Amelia to try and calm her. We did that in the green basin on our bed having given her a few drops of rescue remedy as well. She did calm a little and after she was wrapped up in a towel and I started breastfeeding her. It was wonderful to have her so close to me and so alive, and to feel her feeding from me. I was also so pleased to have had her at home and not to have to move anywhere or have anyone interrupt me. How wonderful!