Planned hospital water birth – second baby.

I was super excited about the birth of our second baby. Our daughter, Mensie, arrived after a 36-hour labour. While it was long and tiring and we had to transfer to hospital after planning to birth at home in a pool, it was still an incredibly special time and resulted in a beautiful natural hospital birth. Needless to say, I held high hopes for a shorter birth second time round! 

I became quite obsessed with Ina May Gaskin, watched her films, Youtubed her, read her books; I was determined to have the water birth I missed with Mensie, and felt more empowered this time round. I also listened to Natal Hypnotherapy/HypnoBirthing tracks most nights in bed, usually falling asleep and waking with the earbuds embedded in my face on the pillow. But it got me through a long first labour and always helped me to relax, so naturally I fell back into the habit of listening about half way through my pregnancy.

Four days before due date, on a Saturday morning in August, we woke as usual to the sound of Mensie chattering to herself in bed. It was just after 7am, I went to the bathroom then got back in to bed for a lie in. Within minutes I started having regular cramps, I couldn’t get comfortable so decided to get up and have breakfast with Mensie. I mentioned the cramps to Pascal when he got out of the shower, could this be it, they were so frequent and seemed to be quite strong already. I had to take moments between mouthfuls of cornies, all the while Mensie asking, “Are you OK Mumma?” and explaining to her that this might be the day she meets ‘her’ baby.

Not long after I went to the toilet again and noticed some fresh blood when I wiped. It was time to call my midwife, Meredith. I also decided now was a good time to download a contraction timer to my phone (go figure!), they seemed so frequent and after a few cramps noted they were every two minutes at around a minute long. I spoke with Meredith on the phone around 9am who reassured me the fresh blood was fine given the small amount, but to continue to monitor it. I would call back in 30 and update her.

I got into the shower and decided it was a good time for Pascal to call and notify Sarah. Sarah and I met at a Birth Wise Antenatal Course three years earlier; it was love at first sight. Our daughters have become besties and we now consider the Rennies as family. As our families live far from us I wanted Sarah there and she had also offered to take Mensie for a sleepover (Mensie had been amping to stay at her bestie’s house overnight for months). The Rennies arrived, the girls played, and I continued to labour in and out of the shower and pacing the hallway with contractions continuing every 1-2 minutes. Both Sarah and Pascal took turns rubbing my back and squeezing my hand. We made jokes, they gave me strength (and took the piss!), they reassured me… and the girls played happily in the background with Tom. Everything was perfect.

By 10am contractions had intensified, Meredith suggested we start making moves for the hospital. Sarah drove us in. I recall cheekily berating her for parking so far down the road from our house. With such regular contractions it was a long walk from the front door, the knowing nods and smirks from neighbours as I lent on power poles and parked cars. We arrived at the hospital at 11am, many contractions later and after a slow drive through Newtown’s Saturday morning traffic. Meredith had scored us Room 10, a nice large private space off the main corridor… and a big bath – yus. I was 8cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. It had taken me over 30 hours to get to this stage with Mensie, and I had barely laboured three. Time to fill the pool.

I had spent the weeks leading up to the birth taking every opportunity to go to the hydrotherapy pool in Kilbirnie. I love the water and have always dreamed of birthing my babies in water. I hoped to water birth at home with Mensie but was transferred to hospital after failing to progress, so this was my chance again. I laid back in the bath, so relaxed; only leaning forward during contractions, Pascal applying cold flannels to my face and offering me iced water and words of encouragement. I was fully dilated within an hour and couldn’t wait to start pushing. I will never forget the feeling of satisfaction that pushing brings; it comes as such a relief after the transition phase and you know that you are soon going to meet your baby. 

I spent most of this stage laying back, holding on to the bar above my head for resistance. Meredith suggested I change position and I got on to my knees. By the next contraction and after one big push, baby’s head was born. Amazingly the bag was still intact. With the next contraction my waters broke and at 12:45pm our baby was born. Meredith pushed baby forward under the water, I caught him between my legs and lifted him to my chest. All I remember thinking was “I did it, I did it!”, I was buzzing. Pascal couldn’t stop beaming, “I’m so proud of you!”. After a few minutes, tears and shaky blurry photos, we lifted our baby – a beautiful boy.

Pascal and Meredith assisted me to get out of the pool, baby was so slippery and my legs like jelly, I was so worried I would drop him. As I stood up and stepped over the edge, I immediately felt a heavy weight on my cervix. Holding a pan between my legs, Meredith asked me to give a little push. With the most ungraceful ‘schlop’, the placenta practically fell out of me and in to the pan. I cracked up laughing; it was so sudden and undignified. Then I panicked – was that OK? Yes, perfectly fine. I managed to shuffle my way assisted across the room and got up on the bed to be checked. Our hungry boy immediately bobbing about searching out the breast while Pascal cut his cord.

I couldn’t stop buzzing, I was in that awesome hormonal crazy love haze and so excited to tell our families, that I didn’t hear Meredith explain that she would need to get a doctor to examine me. Unfortunately the tearing was bad. I was lucky with my first birth, I got away with a nick in comparison, but this birth had been quick. Just 20 minutes of pushing. Our boy was also a good size for me – 3.8kg – almost a kilo heavier than his sister! Two doctors and an anaesthetist later, I was being prepped for surgery. I had 3rd degree tearing. Pascal stripped off, taking our deliciously squidgy pink baby for skin-to-skin while I was away in theatre. Time seemed to pass incredibly slowly and I couldn’t help but think of the irony of it all; my amazing natural water birth followed by a spinal block and surgery. But I couldn’t have been happier, I had a healthy baby boy, a beautiful son and a little brother for Mensie. Three months on I have healed well and our little man, Perry, is the cheekiest, smiley boy. I feel so lucky and proud to have made the most beautiful (sometimes crazy. Ok, often crazy!), little Saker family.

Birth Wise