I had planned a home birth for my first child. I am not entirely sure why that sounded like a good idea when I mentioned it to the midwife at an early appointment. She was delighted as apparently had wanted home births with her 3 children and never managed it. She was very supportive and this helped enormously. I think I have always associated hospitals with illness and as I don’t think having a baby is an illness I guess that was my overriding driver. Also I had read about Davina McCall who had had home births with all her children, saying how nice it was to get into her own bed after the birth and basically stay there for about a fortnight cuddling her newborn.
Anyway, fate had other plans and after a great pregnancy and 12 days overdue baby still didn’t look to be making an appearance. I went into hospital for an induction and about 12 hours later came out with a gorgeous, perfect baby boy (despite forceps delivery because his heart rate dropped and stitches) called Ethan James who weighed in at 6lb 7oz. I must point out that my birth plan for baby number 1 was very detailed along the lines of natural birth, don’t cut the cord till it has stopped pulsating, no drugs etc.. (totally ignored by the hospital so don’t know why I bothered!)
Anyway 2 years later I was pregnant again and definitely spurred on by the 1st birth experience (not necessarily bad but not ideal), planning a home birth again. Again this little fellow decided to keep me waiting and I found myself yet again being booked in for induction. Ethan had gone along to stay with my mum 60 miles away on Tuesday when I was booked in for a sweep. Nothing had happened by Wednesday eve and I was feeling very emotional. The induction was planned for Friday so my mum agreed to keep him with her till baby had arrived. I was thinking that I was doomed for another induction.
Thursday dawned and I was wandering around the house in tears unable to sleep and generally feeling sorry for myself. Gary booked the day off to keep me company. A friend, Sadie, had had her little boy at home on the Tuesday and she texted me to ask if I would like her pool as it was all cleaned and doing nothing. So, we popped round to see their baby and hear her story. Sadie showed me where some accupressure points were on her hand that she felt helped her get started in labour. I was prodding away hoping it would help me. She also gave me lots of information about positions to sit in labour etc. There was no way I would be reading these but ho hum! Anyway her husband brought the pool back to our house and set it all up in the conservatory. Things then started to get a bit surreal and I felt like I was on autopilot in my own world. I decided to start adjusting some blackout blinds in Ethan’s bedroom. It seemed like a good idea to keep myself busy and needless to say I cocked it up by cutting too much off and not in a straight line. Nevermind! I was starting to feel jiggly and niggly, and getting a few period pains. OMG it was starting! It was just after 5.30 pm so I rang the midwife on call. She was across the other side of Nottingham in Carlton but said she would come over and see how I was, have a cup of tea, and then go if it didn’t progress. I was able to laugh about it all and have a conversation so I don’t think she thought it was really going anywhere. By the time she got over the pains were more regular and lasting longer but nothing too bad.
Earlier on in the pregnancy I had met up with a student midwife, who was working with my midwife, who had taken down all my details of what I would like for the home birth. At the time it had felt like it wouldn’t happen so there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary in there although I had learnt that you can’t burn candles if you are using Entonox. Anyway, as it happened the midwife had looked in the home birth folder and wasn’t able to find my details so it was a bit pointless anyway. I told her I didn’t have any special requests (very low expectations!). Anyway, she had a look at the pool and we deliberated over whether I should eat or not (we had been planning curry!). I think I had something like cheese on toast but I really wasn’t hungry.. too excited!
Gary was packed off to Tesco to get a thermometer to test the water temp as it has to be at body temperature when the baby is actually born and also some Pampers bed mats for protecting surfaces. Things were starting to intensify and eventually she said I was in early labour. Yipppppeee! I was bouncing on the gym ball and hooked myself up to the TENS machine to see how that went (distraction if nothing else). The TV was on “Kirstie’s homemade home” but I have no idea what they were making. Around this time the midwife examined me but I don’t think I was very dilated – 4cm or something but she said it was a good sign. When I told her Ethan’s weight she said “Well this baby is bigger than that!” which was funny as I knew he felt bigger but everyone up to that point had thought he would be about the same size. She quickly added “But not much bigger” when she saw my face! Around 9pm Gary started to fill the pool and we drew the blinds in the conservatory! There has to be two midwives present for a home birth in case anything goes wrong so the midwife around this time rang her colleague. She arrived about 10pm at which point I was in the pool and on the gas and air! The pool was lovely although I was finding it difficult to get into a position that was completely comfortable I knew that unless I was dragged out there was no way I would be moving before I had had the baby.
The next couple of hours was a bit of a blur… the water was topped up when it cooled down, there was lots of chatter between Gary and midwives (and occasionally me) and the gas and air was my best friend. I felt very in control of everything though and was very sensible with the G&A only using it when I had a contraction but I was starting to think (and say) “Why, why, why… I should be in hospital having all the drugs going!” The midwives were great and very encouraging saying “you will be proud of yourself in the morning” oh yeah! I really wanted to push but my cervix wasn’t fully dilated so it was a bit of a struggle at this point where I was “going for it” on the G&A just to get through the contractions. Once I got into the rhythm of it though I actually was starting to enjoy myself, in a sadistic way! Eventually the midwives were happy I could push and Noah Sidney Lewis swam into the world at 1.40am a bouncing 8lb 14oz perfect little boy. Yes just slightly bigger than my firstborn! The cord was cut when it had stopped pulsating and I climbed out of the pool. I then had to deliver the placenta on my own, because it was too late for the injection to help it out, which was an experience but one I am glad I had. Eventually after lots of cuddles with our new tiny tot we collapsed into own bed and my home birth dream had become a reality!