7.15pm on the 11th October. I was reading a story book to our daughter, or maybe it was Josh reading and I was sat in the same room, but I definitely felt a twinge then. Perhaps it was something I ate again? This had been the case on Sunday night in which cramps had crippled me for fifteen minutes amounting to nothing than a trip to the loo later that evening. Damn you overdue pregnancy! Why couldn’t I get a break? I was already ten days overdue at this point. I thought to myself that I would quietly keep an eye on this twinge and consciously feel if anything else was amiss. Just to be sure I left story time and had a walk around the house. Who knew that just a short and incredibly painful and four hours later I would finally meet my beautiful, very overdue baby? For those that loved my first birth story, here’s an account of my home birth experience…
7.20 – So yeah that was a painful cramp and it took ages to go away. I sat on the loo looking at the timer on my phone as another one had started. Surely this couldn’t be constipation or something I ate this time? Surely this must it?? I was so desperate to go into labour as was so overdue and ready.
7.21 – I downloaded a contraction counter app just in case.
7.30 – Nothing much had happened after that. Well maybe a gentle cramp had been and gone. I wasn’t sure. It’s hard to focus when you want something so much in case it doesn’t happen. I go and sit myself in front of the TV.
7.35 – Josh joins me in the living room. I’ve had to move to sitting on the bouncy ball as I can feel another light cramp. Maybe THIS was it? I decided to stop internalise and voice my thoughts about the fact this could “be the one” to Josh. He looked panicked.
7.45 – I can hear our first-born chatting away in her room and calling for me so I head upstairs to see what reason she has for wanting to get out of bed this time. Wee? Drink? Cat in her room? It was the dummy. It had fallen down the side of the bed again. I go to move her bed out and another cramp tightens around my middle. I marvel at how this really must be it and that I’m at hime doing something really normal and physical while at the start of labour.
7.46 – I tell Josh, who still looks panicked. He starts to tidy and clean.
8.15 – A good half an hour has gone by and there are regular contractions now. They’re not too long and quite easy to deal with, ranging from 5-10 minutes apart. I feel smug and relaxed. I decide to leave it a little longer before calling the maternity dept at hospital as they’re always saying to only call when you’re closer in contraction times aren’t they?
8.30 – The birth pool has already been inflated for weeks and looks at me from the corner of the room. We were told to only start filling when a midwife is on their way as getting in without said midwife was not a good idea. Shame as the pool does look lonely. I decide to try and find the TENS machine.
8.40 – We’ve been trying to get the TENS machine to work but no joy. Josh has bleached and cleaned the kitchen in record time though.
8.41 – Hmm do I call the midwife yet? It’s starting to hurt a bit…I distract myself by putting the plastic sheeting down in the living room and some duvets over the top so that I can start to hang out on the living room floor as The Apprentice will be on the telly in a bit and will be a good distraction.
9.00 – The Apprentice has just started and I’m half laying on my bouncy ball. App says less than five minutes apart now. I call Triage. They tell that they’ll let the midwife know I have “niggles”. Assume midwife will call or be round soon then as looking forward to some gas and air.
9.15 – No midwife yet and the plot in The Apprentice is too confusing to follow when I have to keep breathing through the contractions. They really hurt now. Bearable but ouch!
9.30 – Josh has busied himself trying to find batteries for the TENS machine and then going out to buy some new ones as he’s concerned that I need pain relief. TENS machined definitely doesn’t work. Fuck.
10.00 – I’ve spent the last half an hour going up and down the stairs as feel the need to loosen my bowels but it’s just contractions and sitting on the loo feels more comfortable than anywhere in the house. It’s hot in there and I’m sweating and the pain hurts, like REALLY HURTS when I contract. Josh hovers outside the door and then inside the bathroom at points to make sure that I have support if I need it. I didn’t think I’d be doing a lot of my labour on the loo.
10.15 – We decide to move downstairs as the pain is now crippling and we’re concerned no call from the midwife yet. I ask Josh to call Triage again so I can get on with this painful bits. He speaks with someone who confesses that the Community Midwife is busy with another labour around the corner and they’ll need to send someone out from the hospital. Fuck. That’s OK though. I won’t have a midwife I may have already met but someone IS coming.
10.25 – Josh decides to start prepping the birth pool while I lay on the floor of the living room in front of the fan as I’m so hot. We know that we may not get a chance in the birth pool but organising it keeps Josh busy while I get on with dealing with the contractions as I follow the cool air from side to side on my hands and knees. It doesn’t occur to me to turn it off oscillate at this stage.
Here’s a pick I sent my pal Lydia at mumsrevolution.com while I was watching the telly as she didn’t believe I was finally in labour. Note the chilled cat in the background:
10.26 – Argh. Gas and air would be nice.
10.28 – ARRRRGH GAS AND AIR WOULD BE NICE.
10.30 – AAARARARARCH BLOODY WELL GAS AND BLOODY AIR WOULD BE LOVELY RIGHT NOW.
10.32 – I mean, seriously where is the gas and air?
10.34 – It was the idea of gas and air that got me through the past hour.
10.36 – It’s not occurred to me how dilated I could be right now but the midwife will be here soon right?
10.38 – Josh oversees my progress and doesn’t leave the room. He’s in a good organised flap thank god. Someone needs to be as the pain is intense. I count through the pain.
10.40 – IT STILL REALLY HURTS.
10.41 – BREATH AND COUNT: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30…
10.42 – ARRRRGH
10.43 – BREATH AND COUNT: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18…
SOMETIME AFTER 11.00 – I’m on all fours on the living room floor. Another contraction comes and I start to breath through it, arching my back into a cat stretch. At this point my waters EXPLODE out of my body and onto the floor with a get splash. The relief is amazing but short lived. I tell Josh to call Triage back straight away and let them know my waters have broken. On the phone and he tells me that they say the midwife is on their way and that the nurse is saying not to push. They keep him on the phone giving him instructions for stuff to get ready and I can’t deal with the pain. It’s ripping through me but I’m not in control of what my body is doing. I arch my back again and my body shifts my legs apart further and brings a knee up to a half crouch. I feel motion. It’s the head. I start to feel it bear down. I scream to Josh “THE HEAD! I can feel it…you need to come here RIGHT NOW.” He throws the phone to the floor and sits behind me explaining that he can see the top of the head and that the baby is definitely on her way. My body takes over and pushes her out with the help of gravity. The head and a shoulder push POP and Josh catches the body as it follows.
11.15 – I feel the relief of the past 42 weeks of pressure disappear. Then I hear her cry. I look down in between my legs and see a scrunched up face with a dark head of hair and I all I am thinking is “she’s alive!” This happens all in a split second. There’s something wrong through as my eyes focus and I see that her umbilical cord is detached. There’s blood on the end like it has broken. Nothing gushing from the end. Josh picks up the phone and tells the nurse (who is still on the line) that the baby is here and she congratulates him! He wraps her up in towels and hands her to me. I clutch her close to my chest and Josh instructs me to lay down as I still have the placenta in me. He is told to call 999 and so hangs up straight away and does so.
11.16 – I can’t stop looking at her. She’s so tiny.
Here’s a selfie I took while we waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Sending it quickly to the several people eagerly waiting for news meant I didn’t have to write anything in the message!
(I still manage to pout even with a birth selfie. Sorry…it’s a problem I have…)
11.17 – The paramedics arrive.
11.18 – The midwifes arrive next and they take control of the room and get everything sorted. The baby is dried and dressed. They check her cord and make a decision to go to hospital.
11.20 – First they deliver my placenta. Josh then runs and packs a bag for us.
11.30 – We leave for the hospital in the ambulance to get the baby’s cord looked at and make sure she hasn’t lost any blood.
11.31 – I stare at her some more. She’s so beautiful.
11.40 – We arrive at hospital and I’m taken to the maternity ward and we’re given our own room so that she can be warmed up and checked and I can be stitched and given NHS tea and toast.
She was monitored overnight and it was decided that there was no issue to her cord breaking. The doctor thought that it may have been a combination of the cord being short, the way she was born and the force at which she came out that did it. There should be no lasting consequences. Josh joined us after an hour or so and had said that the cleanup was as simple of putting the sheets and plastic in the living room into a bin bag. When my mum arrived to come and babysit our other daughter she couldn’t believe that a baby had been born in the living room that night.
Despite the hospital trip, I am so grateful that I got to do the labour the way that I needed at home. If you had told me that it would have been most comfortable to sit on the toilet for a lot of it I wouldn’t have believed you and the thought would have horrified me. However I got to it at home in my own bathroom which was warm and cosy and also roomy so it didn’t feel claustrophobic. I got to move around and shift shapes and poses to what I needed without being strapped down to a bed being monitored. This was one of the main reasons that I wanted to have home birth this time around. I mean, I got to lay on the warm living room floor, covered in duvets listening to Four Tet eating crisps and sat in front of a fan. It’s not a trip to the spa for sure but it was what I wanted. Getting stitched up at the hospital and getting her monitored was a fine compromise to the evening’s events. The pool birth pool never even got a look-in.
NO one told it me it would be THIS QUICK though!
Would I have done it all the same way again? You bet! I could have rung Triage sooner but then there was always going to be another birth happening around the corner and a shortage of the Community Midwife. Josh and I knew what to expect and we never felt out of control. Had the midwifes not arrived as quickly as they did then I’m sure we would have been looked after by the paramedics who would have taken us straight to the hospital anyway so there’s was always a safety net to not having the midwife around when the baby arrived. We were back home by 12pm the next day and had the umbilical cord not need assessing them we might not have had to go to hospital at all.
It’s eight weeks later and I’m still can’t stop looking at her <3
Thanks for reading my some birth story. Is the second one always this traumatising? Would love to hear your own home birth or second born birth stories below. I’ll leave you with the Four Tet track that was playing when she was born. It was a fluke that it’s called ‘Daughter’.