I’ve been saying now for the last 20 months that I would write this post and I’ve not got round to doing so. So here I am now, ready to write about my precious memory of our birth and I guess in a way, rewrite Dylan’s birth story but focus it more on the fact we did it Homebirth style.
I decided that if I was ever going to have another baby after my first that it would be a Homebirth. I was naive before having him, and I wish I looked into my options or had them presented to me in a way which would have seen me know that babies didn’t just have to be born in a hospital. He was born in a hospital back in April 2009, it was a straightforward birth, and I arrived at the hospital that morning, and he was born by the afternoon. I was home the next day. Now I cannot fault the care I received during that labour, my baby arrived safely in the world which is all you want at the end of the day, but there are a few things that stick out in my mind to why I wanted a Homebirth next time around.
I remember being told that I couldn’t go up on to my knees, the Midwife wanted me to stay on my back. For me, I wanted to be in the crawling position. I felt confined to this hospital bed in this clinical room. Everything about it was the total opposite of what a birthing environment should be, well for me anyway. That not being in control of my positioning and feeling like I had to stay in that bed, that was not going to be the way I saw in any future babies. When you chuck in the fact I wasn’t allowed home that evening, the paediatrician had to ok things and they would just rather I stay for that night, you know split up this new family I had just created. Oh, I just knew I wouldn’t be going down that road again.
When we discovered we were expecting number 2, I knew from the get-go that I wanted a homebirth. The husband, he at first wasn’t sure how to feel about this. I knew for him that it was the whole having medical equipment not far away which was why he was nervous to the idea. I think for quite a lot of people, this is why a homebirth isn’t for them. Talking is what helped us much this decision together, we both talked about our hopes and fears. We moved during pregnancy and came back to a small community where we got to know the midwives, he got to know them, and he could see that we were in the best of hands. For me, reading lots of other peoples experiences was educational. It gave me those personal insights into what Homebirth was actually like. Luschka who was one of my rocks back with that Hyperemesis Gravidarum was someone who inspired me to have my birth the way I wanted. Reading all her childbirth posts and her first birth story was an insight into this birthing way.
Looking back to my last pregnancy I didn’t blog much about Homebirth leading up to the actual event; I would drop mentions of it in blog posts but didn’t do any specific posts about the day we had to sign all those forms or what was actually in our homebirth box. I regret this as it would have been lovely to of looked back and reminded myself of these moments, will make sure I do so this time around. The form filling in is a vague memory, but I remember a midwife coming round our house and going through all the ins and outs of homebirth and making sure we knew what we were getting into. We were giving sheets telling us what we would have to do and what best way to get ready. The only thing I really remember from this list was to make sure the light was bright, our light bulbs in the living room at the time were not that bright, so we made sure a trip to B&Q saw us getting in super bright lights. Receiving the box a few weeks before I was due to give birth made it all feel so real, made the excitement and the nerves of labour all kick in. We also received an Entonox canister (gas and air) ready for pain relief if I wanted it. Which was my only plan for pain relief along with the TENS machine?
The items we bought for the birth along with the TENs were shower curtains, Tesco value shower curtains to be precise – we grabbed two of those. A pack of maternity bed mats, I got these in some 2 for 3 deal when buying some maternity towels and nursing pads. Of course, we had a hospital bag packed with all those hospital bag essentials in case that was needed. Think everything else I needed and wanted was around us, which of course is the luxury to birthing at home.
Things started well when it came to the start of our labour, it all kicked off at 3 am on the 6th of May 2012. I went to the toilet and was suddenly overcome with pain which of course was the start of my contractions. I had been contracting the day before, now I look back but obviously, they weren’t painful or strong enough to bring on anything, and I was able to get several hours sleep before they woke me up. They were pretty intense straight away, and I was thankful that I didn’t have the hassle or stress of sitting in a car to make the trip to the hospital. While the poor man woke up and got dressed, I came downstairs and phoned the number which was on the front of my pregnancy notes and the one I was told to phone when it was all starting. I got through to ambulance control who took my details and told me they were going to page the on-call Midwife who would phone me.
While we waited for this call and for the Midwife to turn up, we cleared up toys and anything on the floor. We made sure the space was how we wanted it, and the man got the homebirth box and Entonox canister out from under the stairs, where it had been waiting for us the last few weeks. I was pleased to hear a familiar voice when the Midwife who was on duty phoned me; she was someone we had met before and had got to know. She explained how she was waiting for me as the Midwife who had popped by the day before to do a sweep had told her I would probably be going into labour anytime soon. She only took 10 minutes to arrive, by this point I was ready to put the TENs machine on as the contractions increased in pain.
I chose downstairs to labour as we kept Oli sleeping in his room and I think I would have felt the need somehow to stay on my bed. Downstairs I had so much more room and the sofa if I needed that. For the next couple of hours, I was in that exact position I wanted to be in for my first labour. I was on my hands and knees labouring the way I wanted to. The husband had that support of 1 on 1 with the Midwife as well as me as it wasn’t just me who was getting her to myself, it was him as well. No coming and going like the first time around; we had a Midwife all to ourselves. Who sat and drank tea and laughed with us as we got ready to welcome our son, this was everything I wanted my birth to be. Those shower curtains were comfortable, something I couldn’t believe when I look back. I swore I was going to have to shove some old duvet covers underneath them to make them comfortable for me, but I didn’t bat an eyelid at the fact I was crawling around on shower curtains at the time.
We were thankful to ourselves for the maternity bed pads we bought; it seemed that I had a good ‘clear out’ in the next half hour. I don’t think it was helped by the amount of curry’s I consumed in the weeks leading up to my labour. It was something I had always been embarrassed about, though the man thinks it’s hilarious and has taken great pleasure in telling people about this detail. I’m not so embarrassed now, and it wasn’t something I included in my original birth story, but I’m happy to share this now much to your disgust. At the time both husband and midwife were horrified, there was me clearing out on my living room floor. Come the 5th time; she let me go to the toilet with husband accompanying me. He opened the window when we got downstairs. Thankfully the Midwife had a bag full of spare maternity bed pads with her.
I didn’t have a birth plan, I guess I had ideas on what I could do, and I remember planning on using the gym ball to position me. But I obviously had different plans when it came to the time, and I just went with the flow. Water had never been a pain relief option for me, wasn’t something I fancied and I remember trying to bath that morning when everything kicked off in my first labour, and I found it so incredibly uncomfortable. Guess that’s one reason why I didn’t think a pool would be for me so never hired or bought one. But that’s me, water just isn’t a pain relief that works, or I want. It is all about what works for you.
Was a total fool when it came to the TENs machine despite using it last time and knowing how it works I didn’t use it right, I was only turning one side up at a time instead of turning them both up. And then I was turning it off completely when the contractions were not coming instead of having it low to keep that numbing effect going. It also annoyed me in the fact the wire kept trailing down my back, down my bottom. The husband kept getting shouts of ‘get the wire out of my bottom’, it was annoying, and I had nothing to which I could attach it to. I stuck with the TENs for a few hours until it got too much and the gas & air came out. At this point, the Midwife phoned for the second Midwife to come out.
I agreed to any checks and examinations the midwife wanted to do; it was nice hearing how I was getting on. A couple of hours in I was at 5cm; I was annoyed by this because I had been at 4cm for the last couple of days. I remember begging the Midwife to break my waters, something I remember the Midwife doing in my first hospital birth with a hook that looked like a mini version of Shepherd’s crook. They reassured me that they would break soon and that there was no need for them to do it. Which they were right about, soon they were both sat either side of me popping the shower curtains over their knees as they waited for them to pop. I remember this moment out of the whole labour so clearly, especially when the husband told me to wait so he could rescue his Xbox which was on the floor nearby. He unplugged it and put it safely in the kitchen, well away from any breaking waters.
This moment was so vivid for me because I remember watching as I heard and saw them pop, I looked in between my legs where I saw a waterfall just drop down. I knew the instant I saw them that he had pooed because of the colour of them, I instantly thought I would be transferred to hospital but was reassured that baby wasn’t far away and that it would be safer to carry on, they carried on with all those checks and baby’s heartbeat was all well. I felt and knew I was in the best hands, such a comforting fact at a time where the unknown is happening. Remember the Midwife we knew well saying if my waters had broken all those hours ago then a trip to the hospital could have happened.
Things were a blur after this, the Midwives had cleared up my waters, and a fresh shower curtain popped down for me to wiggle around on. I remember at this point just collapsing to the ground; I didn’t want to be on all fours. I just wanted to lie down and curl up into a ball. I did the whole screaming for an epidural which I remember doing just before Oli was born and I cursed myself for not being in a hospital where I could get one of these. I expect this saying to be a tradition of mine each time before I give birth. I was still going on the gas & air at this point and was put back on my all fours u the midwives as baby didn’t seem to like me being on my back.
Around this point Oli had woken, he’s well behaved in the fact he doesn’t leave his bedroom in the morning unless prompted to do so by us. It was comforting for me to hear his little footsteps pottering around. We had someone on standby to come and collect him, Daddy went and got him dressed and bought him down the stairs. He was not phased at all by the fact I was on all fours with two women next to me. I had to shout out for a kiss as he was running out the door, he came back and gave me one and then was gone.
Everything kicked off after this; it seemed I was both high on gas and air and was ready to start pushing. With the help of the husband, the midwives put me against the sofa, and my knees were bent, and I was ready in a position to give labour in. I remember this and how I was sat, I only wish I had photos of this, but then we were all wrapped up in what was happening to give this a thought. The husband was sat behind me, over my left shoulder. He later told me that this was a perfect position for him to see everything that was going on plus comfort me at the same time. I remember seeing the head appear on that first push, I was then told/screamed at to pant by both the Midwife and the husband, so I would avoid getting a tear. Of course, that bought me back to reality, and I panted like crazy, anything to help avoid a tear. They told me on the next push he would be out, I didn’t want to but of course, knowing it’s very almost over gives you that extra urge to go ahead and push. He was indeed born on the next push.
Dylan was born at 7.20am, weighing 7lb 13oz. Daddy cut the cord after it had finished pulsating.
Afterwards, I remember being in shock, trying to come back down to earth after this mind-blowing experience. Dylan was handed to me as soon as he was born and we then had skin to skin contact before being passed to Daddy for cuddles. While one Midwife sat with me to fill in the necessary paperwork, the other went upstairs to start running me a bath. This would of all been bliss and would have been the perfect end to a perfect birth, but Dylan had other ideas, he was grunting and not interested in feeding at all. The midwives made the call that he should be taken to the hospital. What arrived next was a paramedic on a motorbike, followed then by a car with a paramedic and then common sense came along, and an actual ambulance came along.
Though I would have rather took the car option with my newborn going in his car seat, watching my newborn being strapped into this ambulance bed was horrifying. New rules had just been introduced where babies were not allowed to sit on parents laps but had to be strapped in themselves. Looking back I know this is a sensible option but at the time was an unpleasant experience for me. Especially when they had only recently been trained in this, and my baby was the first time these paramedics had done this. They strapped him in as the other paramedics stood and watched in fascination. I sat on the chair next to him, still in shock about all of this and not believing I had given birth and my baby was now in the world.
We stayed in the hospital together for a week; he had an infection in which he needed antibiotics for. I’ve written more about the infection here and have included some photos of Dylan being strapped into the ambulance here. Did the fact we had to go to the hospital after effect my actual homebirth or make me think twice about giving birth at home? Not at all. I’m just so glad I got our birth exactly how I wanted it. I gave birth at home, in the environment I wanted to, and I laboured exactly how I wanted to.