Planned home birth, first baby.
When I told my husband that I wanted to have a home birth he said that it sounded messy and dangerous. Fortunately, over the course of my pregnancy, and particularly by coming along to our Birth Wise course, we learned lots about our birth options and about preparation for home birth. By the end of the course he was totally on board with the idea and was looking forward to being in charge of the pool.
I’d had a cruisy pregnancy so it was a shock to find out at 38 weeks that my blood pressure was rising and that our midwife said I’d need to birth in hospital just in case it became pre-eclampsia. I was distraught but safety is the most important thing so I agreed. I know this was hard on her too as we’d spent months planning the most magic birth-day with a pool, fairy lights, the works. Happily, she said I was perfectly fine to labour at home and just go to hospital for the birth, and that I could still have an active birth and possibly a water birth at hospital, so we were looking forward to that.
Two nights later I awoke to mild tightenings at about 2am. They weren’t overly painful, more like period pain, and they weren’t regular so I went back to sleep thinking that it was probably nothing, but if it was labour I should conserve my energy. I slept a couple of hours but by 5am I wasn’t comfortable lying down anymore so I snuck out to the lounge and had a quiet hour to myself swaying and repeating my affirmations – particularly the one about everything happening exactly as it was supposed to, though, knowing a hospital birth ahead of me, I was having my doubts. At six my husband got up and we contacted our midwife to let her know things were happening but that it was early days and I was comfortable. She came over at 7:30am to check my blood pressure which was a little high but not too bad. She also checked me and said I was fully effaced and about 3cm dilated but that baby was high in my pelvis so this was going to be an all-day affair. She said I should go for a long walk and maybe climb some stairs to bring baby down and that I should contact her if I needed her but that she’d check back in at lunchtime. She also wrote ‘Happy Birthday Baby’ in my notes which I thought was optimistic as I was only 3cm and it was already 8am. I had heard of lots of people being in early labour for 24 hours or more and was trying to prepare myself for this.
By 9am I was pretty uncomfortable. I had such a sore back. Acupressure and a wheat pack were helping but I really didn’t feel like climbing stairs! My birth team were adamant though. We negotiated that I’d get in our spa for 10 minutes to ease my backache, then we’d all go for a walk around the neighbourhood to get this baby moving. The warm water was lovely and pretty soon I had a massive contraction and my waters broke. I got out and moved to the birth mat in the lounge and we texted our midwife to update her at around 9:20am.
By 9:30 things were getting serious and I was getting scared. There was so much downward pressure on my pelvis. Labour was hard! I hoped I was dilating. I thought if this is 5 or 6cm, how am I going to cope with transition?! I definitely doubted myself. I think I cried. My husband and mum kept telling me to just focus on the current contraction and not worry about the next one. I told them that we had to go to the hospital now because if my labour got much stronger I didn’t think I could cope with the car trip. They were really great telling me to relax and breathe between contractions which were coming really quickly now. A few minutes later, my mum had a peek and said we were having a home birth after all as she could see our baby, and that she had a full head of hair! Things were much further along than any of us thought. I was past transition. She was almost here. We called our midwife and said “get here now!”.
Our midwife arrived at 9:50am and I heard her urgently page her back up. I thought gosh, the baby must be coming soon but didn’t realise how close things actually were as I was so busy concentrating on not pushing! Then, under expert guidance from our midwife I pushed our girl Caroline out in just two contractions and she was born at 10:01am. I picked her up and held her to my chest. She was so tiny and so perfect. My placenta came nine minutes later so everything was just in a hurry that day.
I had some bleeding afterwards so Caroline went to her dad for skin-to-skin while the midwives sorted things out. They then helped me to the couch where Caroline had her very first breast feed.
After about an hour the midwives helped me to the shower (glorious!) and I put on PJs and got into bed with my husband and our new baby. It was surreal to have gone to bed pregnant the night before and by midday the next day be tucked up in my bed with a newborn.
I was overjoyed to get my home birth after all and my blood pressure was fortunately never an issue. My birth team were amazing and we were all so well prepared that even though things progressed rapidly, everyone kept calm and relaxed. It was definitely hard work but was so amazing at the same time. I was high on the oxytocin for weeks after. Ten months later I still relive that day. I am awed with the ability our bodies have to birth babies. Next time we’ll try to give our poor midwife a little more warning though!
Caroline Lilah Jane Ross
10:01am 03/11/15 (38w2d)