I'm writing this post at 930 on the 22nd August 2011, this time last year I was not even in labour, but my beautiful baby girl was born 10 hours later.
I am devoting this week to all things Baby H, starting with my birth story.
My Homebirth Story
When I found out I was pregnant with baby number three, I cried. Not out of happiness, but because I was terrified of giving birth again. Baby number one spent three days being lazy and not wanting to be born, but keeping me in agony throughout, and baby number two was in a huge rush, leaving me feeling like an animal had clawed its way out of me. On both occasions I had begged for an epidural and been left wanting, only being offered the frankly poor substitute of pethadine.
At my eight week midwife appointment I was in floods of tears begging for a C-section as I couldn’t bear the thought of giving birth a third time. The midwife consoled me by writing in permanent marker in huge letters ‘ very anxious, wants epidural’ in four different places over my notes. At the time there was nothing further from my mind than a home birth.
As time went on my fear of giving birth was replaced by worries about someone else looking after children one and two while I was in labour, so I mused the idea of a homebirth to the shocked midwife. ‘What about your epidural?’ she said. I muttered something about probably not being able to get one anyway, and she said we should take small baby steps. She was clearly wondering how the gibbering wreck she’d seen just ten weeks ago would cope with a homebirth.
A homebirth is not a decision to take lightly, if there are complications there is only so much that can be done without transferring to hospital. Ventouses and forceps cannot be used in the home. I made the mistake of reading somewhere that if a baby gets stuck the midwife has to push it back in till you can get extra help. I had nightmares about being rushed to hospital with a midwife holding a baby inside me! I was also concerned about my older children seeing me in pain, or worst case seeing me rushed to hospital.
As time went on we decided I was the perfect candidate for a homebirth. I’d had two straightforward births, with no history of high blood pressure or other complications. I’d have to manage without pethadine, but it hadn’t made a jot of difference when the baby number two was being born anyway.
Once we’d made the decision we had some planning to do. I had an old mattress that we planned to have in the living room, and bought some waterproof mats for the mattress and the floor. Six canisters of gas and air were delivered and stored under the bed, and the drugs that would be needed kept in the fridge.
My labour started late one Sunday night, I sat on my birthing ball watching EastEnders till about 3 am when we called the midwife out. In hindsight it was too early to call her, but it was actually quite scary being in labour at home, with no medical professionals on hand. I knew it would take the midwife about half an hour to get to me so didn’t want to leave it too late. The upshot was she came and went saying maybe she’d see me Tuesday night when she was on call again!
By 530am I was crying and in a lot of pain. We couldn’t start the gas and air without the midwife so I had to call her out again.
By 7am I had two midwives and my gas and air, so was a lot happier until they told me I was only 4 cm. I was distraught, thinking it’d be hours more of horrendous pain. We had a baby monitor in the living room and I could hear that the children had woken up and were playing in their rooms. Luckily Monday was nursery day for them both, so the plan was for hubby to get them to nursery and come home as fast as he could. Little did we know that baby H would be born just 20 minutes later.
I went from 4cm to 10 almost instantly and Baby H was born in just a couple of pushes but not before I’d got the midwife to shut the windows so the neighbours couldn’t hear me. I stayed on the gas and air throughout which meant I didn’t make any noise so the children didn’t hear a thing. My poor husband spent 20 minutes running between me, and the children, but luckily he was there as H was born. She had the cord round her neck unbeknown to me, which meant the midwife had to twist her head a little to untangle her. As this was going on I was panicking (on my gas and air ) thinking my nightmare was coming true and she was pushing the baby back up.
The midwife was brilliant. She cleaned up all the mess, so 20 minutes after giving birth there was no sign anything had happened apart from the tiny baby happily feeding from her mummy. It was all very calm and peaceful, I got to use my own bath and shower, eat my own food and sleep in my own bed. Hubby went to Morrison’s and bought me fillet steak for lunch!
We didn’t let the children see the baby before going to nursery as I had a lot of after pains and wasn’t really up to seeing them, they had no idea anything had happened.
Looking back I feel like I was much calmer at home, once I got the gas and air working that is. It was lovely to be in my own environment where I knew everything was clean. For me Hannah’s birth was perfect, I think my husband found it all a bit stressful.