On Friday, June 18th, not many hours after my last blog post, after a big walk, some sex and feeling much more relaxed about whatever will be will be, I woke up at about 1am with some fairly strong contractions. 5 days after my due date. I brushed them off as Braxton Hicks and snoozed for a while. When I woke up 40 minutes later they were still going and I was beginning to feel like I couldn’t lie down through them, so I got up and started timing them and wandered around, just in case this was it. They were 5 minutes apart and quite intense. I woke Steven at about 2, saying that I thought this was it. He didn’t quite believe me, as my waters hadn’t broken(they broke first with Erin) and he was sure they were Braxton Hicks, but when he saw me have a few contractions he began to believe me.
We called the midwife who said she’d be on her way, and we set about doing what prep was needed. Steven was lighting the rayburn to heat the water, pumping up the birthing pool and lighting the fire in the lounge, while I was putting music on, lighting candles, moving my birthing altar in, lighting the oil burner with soothing, calming lavender oil and leaning forward and breathing through contractions. I remembered the Rescue Remedy and Steven and I had a few sprays which really helped to keep us chilled.
Our amazing friend, Julie, who we live with had heard the commotion and was up making tea and snacks, helping with the fires and helping to fill the pool by the bucket load, and making sure we all had what we needed. She had to leave at 5am for France, so sadly missed the birth. Thankfully the lovely Spike, who lives in the mobile home, was around to keep an ear open for Erin(who was still fast asleep) and continue where Julie left off. The pool got filled up and I got in.
By the time my midwife, Lynne, arrived at around 4am my contractions were much closer together and pretty intense. She did an internal examination to discover I was 5cm dilated. Yay! She asked me where I’d like to give birth if the birthing pool never got filled up in time and I found a spot close to the birthing pool where I’d still be able to go onto all fours and lean against the pool, and Steven could still massage my back.
Steven was a superstar and let me boss him around telling him exactly how much pressure I felt I needed on my sacrum (his bodyweight a lot of the time!). He also reminded me to breathe slowly and deeply and held me really tight so I could put all my bodyweight on him every now and then. He was my calm, my rock – as always.
The pool got filled up and we got in. The warmth and weightlessness was comforting and made the contractions feel less intense. In fact I think it may have slowed things down because my contractions slowed right down. Erin woke up at around 6.30 and she popped in to say hi and then went on a wander with Spike. She came back in every now and then and was not at all bothered by the animal-like sounds I was making, and came up to me and stroked my hair and gave me little kisses. I had not planned to have her there, but she seemed so comfortable that it seemed wrong to chase her away. This would only have made her feel left out. And because she was comfortable, I was comfortable.
By 8ish, I was truly pooped and even thought how nice it would be to go back to bed and try again another day, but on examination I was 9cm dilated. My waters had still not broken and the midwives (a second one had arrived earlier – they’re meant to have two there for the birth) did say that, while completely my choice, they could just prick a hole in the membrane( breaking my waters) and this would speed things up. I tried walking around for a while and going to the toilet, but this didn’t seem to do a whole lot. Contractions were further apart and less intense. Were I still 5 cm and had lots of energy and contractions were going strong, I’d have refused having my waters broken – but being so close but with things seeming as if they were coming to a standstill I decided to go ahead and have my waters broken. It is a completely painless procedure and just involves them using something that looks like a long crotchet hook and breaking the bag that holds the water around the baby.
When the midwife broke the waters there was a bit of merconium (baby poo) in it. Lynne was not concerned as she said it looked fresh. The second midwife, however, was talking about sending me to hospital – as if baby swallows merconium it can be dangerous, and it can be a sign that baby is in distress. However baby’s heart rate was great and Lynne, thankfully, put her foot down and insisted that I was having baby at home and there was no need for concern. She said that the only thing the hospital would do was monitor me, and they could do that right there in the birthing pool. I felt like there was no need for concern and knew that I was probably too close to the birth for them to send me to hospital anyway. It just shows you though, if Lynne were not on I may have been sent to hospital completely unnecessarily, so thank you Lynne!
I’d been nibbling breakfast bar, bananas and weetabix throughout and having sips of juice and tea and Lynne had a hand held doppler/heart monitor that she could use in the water to listen to baby’s heartbeat whenever she needed to.
Breaking the waters meant that babies head came right down onto the cervix, getting the last of it out of the way so that babies head could move down the birth canal. I got back in the birthing pool and contractions suddenly became very intense and painful, but I had the midwives and Steven there to help me to stay strong, stay calm and breathe. I refused gas and air this time, as although they say it has no effect on baby, it is under researched and nobody knows for sure. I was also feeling a bit nauseous and didn’t want to risk gas & air making me be sick.
I don’t know how to explain how I was feeling at this time. I switched off to everything around me, and felt really internally focused and safe, but almost out of my body at the same time. In a good way. Before I knew it I could feel Beanie’s head moving down and after a biiiig push, and a stinging feeling (the ring of fire) as baby’s head crowned, I felt down in the water and I could feel her head. The hardest part was over. I waited for the next contraction to push her body out. I waited for more than 5 minutes but didn’t have a contraction. I was calm though and ready. The midwives suggested Steven rub my nipples, which he did, and this brought on a strong contraction. I was on my knees leaning forward against the side of the pool. Her little body came shooting out between my legs and I reached down and lifted my gorgeous little grey bundle out of the water for her first breath ever. Welcome to the world, little Bean!
Erin was apparently there for the birth although I was completely oblivious to this. Soon after, she jumped into the water with Steven and I, and we all marveled at the little miracle who was slowly turning from grey to pink. We stayed in the birthing pool for probably 30 minutes or so, Erin was overjoyed to be swimming, and ended up under the water a few times probably drinking mouthfuls of blood, membrane, etc! But she loved it. Baby had her first feed, latching on just as easily as Erin did. No breastfeeding problems apparent here! Steven and Erin went for a shower, while I got out of the pool and delivered the placenta naturally in a squatting position (I chose not to have the injection). Baby was still attached to the cord and when Steven and Erin got back, Steven cut the cord. We put the placenta in the freezer as we plan to bury it and plant a tree on top of it. And I only had a tiny, skin deep tear on my perineum that didn’t need stitching and healed within the first day – thank you perineum massage!
It was an incredible experience and although painful and tiring at the time, it was exhilarating and empowering, I would do it again in a heartbeat for the same result. Our daughter is gorgeous and we are loving falling in love with her! Erin is a fantastic big sister and just wants to help and cuddle her little sister all the time. We’ve decided to call baby Ayla!
A few people have said how brave I am to have baby at home, but for me it would have taken much more courage to go to hospital and have interventions, so I feel very blessed to have had the birth of my dreams, once again. I was also blessed with wonderful midwives who really did talk me through those final stages, reminding me to trust my instincts and that my body knew what it was doing and that I was strong. I know that the midwife who wanted to send me to hospital only wanted to do so out of fear of things goings wrong, and she redeemed herself by being wonderfully calming and gentle and I felt really safe around her.
I do believe that my natural pregnancy – my diet, exercise, the products I have used, books I have read, and my determination to stay positive and believe in my body – have helped me to achieve this wonderful result.