Birth Story: Homebirth Unexpected

A bright orange Gazania flower in full bloom.

Image via Wikipedia

Since the natural hospital delivery of my daughter nearly three years ago, I’d always wanted to go one better. I wanted a homebirth with my second, but after much research and participation one of the monthly meet ups at our local newly established homebirth support the hubby and I concluded that in our current circumstances this could be rather a stressful option.

So we eventually agreed upon the plan to be successful in having a water birth in hospital and to labour at home as long as possible (see blog post here). What we didn’t bank on was a very sudden speeding up of labour at home. We got to a point very suddenly were there was a risk of me actually giving birth in the car. Medically it became advisable that we stay home.

Opting for the homebirth
When the midwife and hubby were indecisive about what to do, after a particularly excruciating contraction I huskily bellowed “we are staying home”. No one was going to mess with me, I was in one of those lioness primal moments. Don’t cross me or I’ll eat you alive! I’d done putting other people’s feelings first, this was what I wanted and there was no way I was leaving that room let alone getting in the car, even for the short journey.

Nothing more was said, they both jumped to their action stations scouring the house for suitable waterproof floor coverings and old towels etc. Out came the waterproof backed picnic blanket (which is now sacred), the bed wetting mat and all our old towels.

The thought of staying at home and pursuing the birth I’d always wanted immediately relaxed me and in turn labour started to slow down a bit.

What?! I thought. I should relax and labour should get faster surely?
But the midwife reassured me later that it was my body’s way of saying “rest and be thankful”, to prepare for the super quick progression ahead. Quicker than any of us thought, with not enough time to even get the pre-warned second midwife present for the birth.

After things had slowed down a bit, I started to feel a little despondent and told myself that this was not allowed, we needed to get this show back on the road. Then it did, I clearly saw the finishing line and was hell-bent on getting to it as quickly as possible. Contractions increased in intensity. You know you’re going full pelt when you think you’re at the end of your tether, sucking as hard as possible on the gas and air and are leaving bite marks on the nozzle. When your efforts to contain noise goes out the window (sorry neighbours). When your birth partner is squeezed so hard they have to swear (he had the bruise to prove it). When you’re legs give way from underneath you, and finally when all you want to do is push!

Hubby clearly didn’t realise how far along we were when he explained that I have a few more gears in me yet. I not so calmly explained that I was going full throttle at that point, I knew I was at transition.

Than a slight fear kicked in
What if I was going to be pushing for four plus hours like my last labour? I didn’t feel like I had it in me, I knew I did really if needed, but I couldn’t bear the thought. My mother Teresa midwife (yes she was called Teresa), reassured me this was definitely NOT going to be the case. Little did I know that an hour later it would all be over and I would be holding my baby.

When I had the urge to push, I honestly thought I was going to have a number two, right there stood up dangling from my husband’s neck on the living room floor. The midwife calmly suggested that after the next contraction I get down on the floor and lean over my birth ball. Then full on pushing commenced. Much to my relief the 20-30 mins pushing felt more like five minutes. And then all of a sudden the intensity, and then the relief as he was born. Wow, it’s over already was all I could think.

From my husband getting home till baby Boyo arriving, it was just over an hour and a half. From being just 3cms to the arrival of the baby it was just under three hours. From the midwife arriving to the birth it was just over four and a half hours.

Born in the caul
My waters never broke, in fact baby Boyo’s head came out still in the amniotic sack of fluid. According to this website, this is very rare, one in 80,000 kind of rare. But slightly more common in homebirths which are much less likely to have any intervention. The midwife had to immediately break open the sack and unwrap the cord from around baby’s neck.

As this was a fast birth and my waters had not broken it would have been a bit of a shock to the baby, so it took about a minute for him to start crying. His agpar score at one minute was only 6 out of 10, but a minute later this jumped up to 9. During this minute hubby held his breath, for me I was too busy breathing a very long sigh of relief that the worst bit of labour was over.

Straight after he cried my little boy was wrapped up in an old towel and handed to me. It was beautiful, one of the most joyful moments of my life. Corny, but so true.

Delayed cord cutting
I’d read a lot about the benefits of delaying the cutting of the cord and daddy didn’t actually cut it for a good hour or so later, after I had naturally birthed the placenta. I was so pleased to both delay the cutting of the cord and to have been able to deliver the placenta totally naturally.

The whole experience can only be described as utterly amazing, I only wish every labouring woman could go through this experience.

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Going For The Water Birth

Impact of a drop of water on a water-surface.

Image via Wikipedia

After extensive discussions and research I’ve settled for aiming to have a natural waterbirth in hospital. If I’m honest, it’s not my first choice, a homebirth is, but with our current circumstances its not something we can realistically consider. Although we do have some emergency supplies just in case things should escalate before we get to the hospital.

I wanted a waterbirth with Babe, but her position was such, that I needed to get out the tub and try other positions. So I part laboured in the water and gave birth on the bed – not ideal, but it was natural and we had tried every other natural birthing position. So this time, I’m aiming to actually deliver in the water.

I’m lucky, we have a good maternity facility at my local hospital with three roomy birth pool suites, complete with CD player and ensuite. The labour care from the midwives is great and they are very good at promoting breastfeeding. The downside is the post natal care, but as they like to kick you out straight away when it’s not your first born, I’m not dwelling on this issue as it’s unlikely to affect me. If I do need to stay overnight I doubt they will bundle me in a room with others because of my sleep apnea and loud snoring. Last time there was no question, I got a room of my own. I’d not want to inflict that on an exhausted new mother and her baby. I made sure to note this in my birth plan just in case. That’s the cool thing, my babies know nothing different than me snorting away in my sleep.

So now I’ve banished those pictures you might of had in your mind of peaceful sleeping mother and baby… there is no peace in my house what ever the time of day.

My TENS machine is ready to go for early labour pain relief, and I was going to pursue the aromatherapy option, with lavender. I heard Jasmine was good, but upon nearly purchasing a bottle, found out how pricey it was – about £17, ouchie ouch! I quickly told them to put it back.

As for other pain relief, I confess, don’t brandish me too hard with the hippy stick, but I’ve always been a fan of creative visualisation. So I’ve been working hard on some great places to go visit, or things to picture in my mind during contractions. One lady in my active birth class explained that during her last labour she imaged being on a nice caribbean beach with a wonderful caring round faced caribbean lady tending to her. I kind of like that one, might take a trip there myself yet.

Right, so plans are in place, all I need is labour to start.

“I’m ready Boyo, all ready, please finish up in the bathroom and make yourself presentable.”

39 Weeks Pregnant – Stamina Found

I’ve had a little change of heart, I’m no longer thinking ‘oh my, just get this baby out’.

Maybe I’ve found some patience? Mmm, somehow I doubt that, I am very much of a ‘now’ person.

I think it’s more to do with feeling more comfortable. The desire to throw up at bedtime has gone and the eating is going better. The fat huge belly thing is no longer getting to me as I’ve become accustomed to being huge, and have less incidents of accidental bump scraping. Plus baby Boyo is no longer beating me up as the lack of space is starting to restrict his movements.

Doesn’t this make a change, I’m not moaning again? It was getting rather boring wasn’t it?

Toddler Update
I’ve got more good news, Babe is less clingy and has been an absolute joy over the last few days. Apart from hacking at the kitchen wall with my hair slide.

She was even proud of her wall art efforts shouting, “mummy come and look at this“. Bless her, she clearly didn’t realise that it was wrong, but after some explaining cutely said to the wall, “so sorry wall, so sorry”. I couldn’t be angry, she didn’t understand. In my view, this was not the time for ‘discipline’. Ok, if she knew it was wrong and had been bloody minded, but she showed immediate remorse when I’d explained how bad it was and it was the first time.

I myself recall an incident when I was a toddler, of toffee hammering the hall wall and painting the dots in. I don’t recall if this was done intentionally to be naughty or just to experiment. I was subsequently locked in my room, where I proceeded with the biggest of tantrums by pulling all the clothes out of my drawers and showering them around the room. While wailing at the top of my voice.

Did it teach me that lesson? Honestly (sorry mum) but I’m not sure it did. I was just isolated and lonely and thinking about that, and less about the terrible wall art I’d just created.

Filling Time
The nice thing about being 39 weeks pregnant is that I’ve got most of the big jobs done and I’m able to focus on what I fancy doing when it comes to cleaning and life organisation. I’ve learnt the lesson of not staying in all day with a toddler and it’s working so much better for he both of us.

As my due date crawls nearer I’m also being sure to schedule activities in advance to look forward to and potentially cancel (wishful thinking). It’s also my birthday next week, so I’m starting to hope that maybe he will come late, like a week late so that he doesn’t rain on my parade. It’s my birthday, MINE. I’m sure in the future he too will appreciate my perspective on this.

At the same time, if he wanted to arrive like now, I’d be cool with that. Our birthdays would still be a week apart. I’ve also refreshed myself on the optimum active birthing positions thanks to going to the local Active Birth class last week. And should labour progress super quick and I accidentally end up having a homebirth I have vitamin K in my fridge ready for the ambulance team to administer to it to baby Boyo. Plus that drug for helping deliver the placenta should I need it, although my plan is for a physiological third stage of labour (to naturally deliver it without stimulation from drugs). I might add, at the other end of the spectrum I’ve also prepared my emergency cesarean birth plan, so every avenue is covered. The plan A though is to labour at home as long as possible and then drive to the low risk birth unit at the local hospital and give birth in the birthing pool.

So keep watching this space.

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My natural almost water birth story

backstage

Image by girlguyed via Flickr

With just 11 weeks to go till the due date of baby Boyo, I’ve been reflecting on my previous birth experience with Babe (now two and a half) and thinking forward towards my next natural birth experience. Being me, I want to do it even better this time around…details to cover another day. But today I’m going to share with you my birth story that casts back to December 2008.

There is something about bringing a baby into the world, how ever you do it, that earns you some respect. The other week my optician told me this story of when he was about eight, and the sudden realisation that he would never have to give birth – he was over the moon, never more glad to be the one planting the seed over growing it. That moment seems to stick very clearly in his mind, but there is part of me that wanted to share with him that it is the most amazing thing to be able to do – yes painful, but still the best day of my life.

Once I’d gone through labor and successfully naturally brought my little girl into the world over two and a half years ago I felt that I have deservedly earned my way into ‘the club’ and had gained a supreme amount of respect from my awe-struck husband (and I in return had been pleasantly surprised by his amazing part in the labor process too). I was totally impressed by what my body was capable of and my strength of mind (I thought I had it in me, but wasn’t totally sure).

Water birth but not quite
I wanted a water birth, for many reasons. Primarily because it is a more gentle way of bringing your little one into the world. Transition from the peacefulness of the womb, to water and then to nursing in mama’s arms. Not straight out into the bright lights of a hospital room.

That part of the plan didn’t work out because Babe was in an odd position, they seemed to think the shoulder was twisted a bit, so we need to try other options and positions ie sitting on the commode (lovely I know, not the serene vision of labor I had in mind). But I got to spend a good couple of hours in the pool during the final part of my first stage of labor, through transition and into the early stages of the second part of labor. It was a great distraction and definitely a good pain reliever.

No drugs
If you had asked me before being pregnant if I wanted to labor without drugs I would have said…

No way, I want all the drugs they can give me!

I thought all people who embarked on labor without drugs were out of their mind, on some masochistic trip.

But then I started reading and realised that a drugged up labor is not all it’s cracked up to be. So I decided on a natural birth, except for gas and air. And as it happened I had a great time on gas and air, should have some of that stuff at home. I even had a bit too much at one point and took myself on one amazing oxygen deprived elated trip, thinking delusionally that I had given birth to Babe. Instead I had passed something else that daddy had to scoop out the pool with a net (I am saying no more).

It was not my precious child…I had to do another four and a half hours of pushing for that. Yes it was a very long second stage of labor and I was so lucky to have a totaly awesome midwife that didn’t ship me off to theatre after an hour. Even when Babe’s heart beat began to slow down, not to a risky level (but enough to concern hubby), we carried on.

So this is how the story goes

At a week overdue my midwife came by my house and gave me a sweep (not the supermarket kind with Dale Winton, the membrane parting thing, I’m not going into the details here as I’m trying to stay away from the gory details stuff). That was a Friday, come the Sunday morning I was unsure if my waters had broken, no big flooding but signs, so we trundled off to the hospital. The doctor concluded that he thought my hind waters had broken. This was the first I’d heard of hind waters, I thought there was one big bag of water and that was that. With that I was informed that if I didn’t go into labor over the next 24 hours I was going to need to be induced….argh induced.

I did not want to be induced
Apart from the horrible sudden arrival of painful labor, it meant that I would need to be plugged up to monitoring equipment. Electricity and water don’t mix, so this was going to put an end to my chances of a water birth. So at midday we went home and I thought positive labor thoughts…ie come on you little sod, you need to start making your way now or they are going to evict you. Baby you have been evicted, please leave the big mama house.

Labour starts at 3pm
I was on the phone to my friend and suspected that contractions may have started, these were more intense than the  Braxton Hicks I’d been experiencing to date. By 6pm I was fairly confident that this was early labor – yay! By 9pm I was totally sure this was labor – double yay, bring it on. No pain no gain! Daddy went off to bed at about 10.30pm and I paced around the living room trying furiously to finish off the baby jumper I was knitting.

By around midnight I called the hospital and they explained that I should try to lie down and get some rest. I didn’t want rest, I wanted to walk this baby out of me. But they warned me it could be a long time yet, so I heeded their advice. But lying down the contractions seemed so much more painful and less frequent, and I didn’t want them to slow down, I wanted them to speed up. For the next few hours I swapped between lying down and walking around trying to conserve my energy – I had no idea what a marathon was in store for me.

Bath time
At around 2am/3am I decided to have a bath. I’d been holding this back until I really needed it – trying to pace myself through the pain relieving options so I didn’t end up in the early stages of labor insisting on an epidural. Around this time daddy got up and started timing and logging the contractions. In his true style these were timed precisely on his phone and logged on an Excel spreadsheet.

TENS machine
So I’d done the bath option, finished the jumper and decided it was time to move onto the next level of pain relief – the TENS machine. This was around 4am/5am. After the sticking and testing was complete and I was in a better pain relieved place I called the hospital again. Much to my joy they said now was the time to come in.

Off to the hospital we go
We got there about 6am, although its only about 10 minutes away it took me a while to get myself together and actually maneuvered into the car. Things weren’t progressing quickly so I lay on a bed waiting for time to pass listening to the radio – this was to be a long four hours of waiting. Finally at 10am they said they would break my waters, (the main one this time) and recommended I go and walk around to get labor going, or I might need to be induced. The threat of eviction seemed to do it every time. While hanging out by the cafe BIG contractions started and I hobbled back with daddy back to the labor ward. Once there I was much relieved to find out the single birth pool and room was available and I was getting it. I wanted to get in that pool NOW. So the midwife filled the pool and daddy put on some music from my choice collection. It was Adele’s first album and it turned out that album would run on loop for the whole day. Listening to that CD is now always very special for me.

At noon the main midwife was called back from her lunch early as the lesser experienced midwife thought things were escalating and the baby was on its way. I had to endure a good four and a half hours plus of full on pushing until she appeared at 5.04pm. In the end I gave birth on a bed on my back. Not at all want I had envisioned and hoped for, but I’d not had any intervention so that was good enough for me.

Clear the room it’s our time
I’d made this clear in my birthplan that after the basics had been done, cord cut, placenta delivered etc, I wanted everyone to leave the room so daddy, mummy and baby could have some quiet time together. Then I had the dreaded hour of stitches, the less said about that the better. It’s just not gracious and altogether horrible. But I had my baby and that’s all that mattered.

Yes labor was the most painful thing I’ve ever had to endure, but at the same time it’s one of the most wonderful natural and beautiful things, definitely the best day of my life.

Finally I left hospital the next morning – and so the story of Babe begins.