Our son Dylan aka ‘Diddy’ was born very quickly at 40+13 – just about having made the hospital in time. Birthing him felt so natural and went so according to ‘plan’ that the only thing we decided to do differently for number 2 was to miss out the ‘getting to hospital’ bit and to stay home… so here we were, planning a home water birth.
A lovely lady I met via a local homebirth group had given me an unused birth pool in a box a few months previously, on condition we ‘pay it forward’ and donate to another homebirth mama when we’re done with it. We’d had a trial run putting it up at 37 weeks, to check it would fit and see how long it took to inflate and fill – we estimated around 1.5 hours to set up and another hour to empty. Sorted! I needed to give the husband at least that much notice then.
As predicted, my ‘due date’ came and went without any sign of ‘homer’ planning an exit any time soon. I don’t feel Braxton Hicks and there was very little else happening except some backache each night. Strangely enough though on the Friday we’d gone to the garden centre to buy some fresh plants for the backyard (been giving it a bit of a makeover, nesting style as there was nothing left to do in the house!) and I had a real need to get them all re-potted the same day, even though it was absolutely chucking it down and husband thought I was crazy!
The night before Dylan arrived, when we’d exhausted every other avenue of natural eviction method, we just chilled outl and snuggled on the sofa with Disney films. For some reason, on Friday night I had an urge to do it again so we let Diddy stay up late and built a duvet den on the sofa, lit the fairy lights and had a Toy Story viewing marathon. My sister had sent me a text message earlier in the day asking if she might get a new niece or nephew for the weekend (she lives a couple of hours away and was wondering whether to come visit or not). I replied around midnight simply saying “who knows!? nothing happening but then it didn’t before Diddy arrived either” and so we all went to bed.
I woke up around 6am feeling contractions. I lay in bed just counting them and breathing through, realising they were pretty regular and getting painful. I counted 20 in an hour and a half. By 7.30am, I was struggling to lie down any longer and wanted to be up and about so went to the loo, brushed my teeth, put in my lenses, straightened my hair (giggling to myself at the déjà vu from my first labour). Woke up my husband Phil shortly after to let him know I thought we might be meeting Homer today – he rolled over and went back to sleep.
Came downstairs, sat on the fitball, posted a couple of messages online before realising we were at 4 (painful) contractions in 10 minutes. Diddy was stirring and I was nervous it might all stop with the distraction. I texted my mum to let her know things were happening and to see if she wanted to come get the boy (wasn’t sure initially if we’d want to keep him at home for the birth, but it was immediately evident that that wasn’t going to work). He was trying to ‘help’ daddy put the pool up by tipping his tools all over the floor! Turns out mum is in Liverpool & her car is at home, she’s in a hotel with friends panicking and waking up someone to drive her back so Dad comes round instead. I went back upstairs and resumed my position rocking while leaning on the banister rail whilst the husband called the midwife and started to inflate the pool. By now he was stressing with all the multitasking required! Midwife wasn’t answering her mobile so he called the labour ward who had someone ring us back. She ran through all the usual details and questions – contracting close together, waters still intact, no problems… she offered to come round now with the kit, or said we could call back when I felt I needed her. She had a couple of visits scheduled so I said to tell her we’d be fine and would let her know when to come. Typically right about then the pain shot up a notch and 10 minutes later she was summoned! Phil kept shouting upstairs for me to give him a sign I was alright. Every time he got chance, he’d dash upstairs, rub the bottom of my back, reassure me, bring me cold flannel/ice lolly/drink but I was just in my own little world, hoping the midwife wasn’t too far away and the pool would hurry up and fill. It all felt so familiar.
Community midwife Pat turned up around 9.30am with her gas and air. I had 2 contractions while she was introducing herself! She had a quick scan through my notes and birth plan and then asked me if I could get on the bed for a quick check over in between contractions. I didn’t want to be lying down so bless her she was quick. Felt baby was right down, heartbeat good, my pulse and blood pressure fine. She offered me an internal but I declined, feeling quite confident we were progressing just fine. When I stood up again the contractions were much stronger. I was still refusing any pain relief as, though I like the idea of Entonox, the surges were making me feel sick and light headed anyway and I needed to stay in control – plus, like last time – I thought it was going to get worse and should be saved for later.
Baby Lily May
By now I was groaning with every contraction, feeling very heavy pressure, still leaning over the banister and thinking my waters must surely go any minute (and probably soak the stairs!). As I got more vocal, the pool was finally at the minimum level and a comfy 36 degrees so the three of us went downstairs, I stripped off and climbed in. Phil had dimmed the lights and put on the same music we birthed Diddy to. Pat asked me to tell her when I felt the need to push – the first contraction in the water was very different, very pushy. I’d literally just got in in time. She grabbed her gloves and called Stacey, our second midwife, to come quick. I suddenly needed to move. I had to not be sat down but leaning on all fours over the side. With the next contraction came the most immense pressure, I was shouting “Ow! ow! ow! ow!” I wasn’t sure if this was the head coming or waters about to go – turns out it was both. Ouch, sudden flashback to that heaviness/ring of fire moment! Pat was telling me to get ready to receive baby while Phil reminded me to breathe and out flew our baby all in one big push. I opened my eyes and saw her looking up at me through the water, holding her as her body left mine. Amazingly surreal feeling! Lily May was born at 10.18am, 14th July 2012 (EDD 11th July). Second stage recorded as 2 minutes. We had a quick peek and discovered she was a litle girl! One of each! Just perfect. She was very alert, very calm – just looking around, didn’t cry at all but was clearly unperturbed by the experience. Apgar score 10 at 1 minute.
I opted for delayed cord clamping and a physiological third stage so stayed in the pool having attached skin to skin. She latched on right away, clearly a pro! Had a good long feed while Pat let Stacey in and filled her in on the birth she’d just missed. I couldn’t get over how much vernix there was. She had such a thick layer, it was like lard. Phil put some under his eyes this time!
Relaxing on the sofa while baby Lily feeds
By now the pool was getting rather red and murky and I was feeling a bit hot and wobbly. Since it’s harder to monitor blood loss in the water we felt it was probably time to get out of the pool. I lay down on a nest of towels on the sofa, while baby had another feed. Cord was cut after 40 minutes but I had to kneel up and use gravity to get the placenta out. It finally released at 55 minutes post birth. They both had a good look at it, fascinated by my plans to eat smoothie and encapsulate. Turns out the cord was a bit unusual, it had extra blood vessels that didn’t go anywhere and a few random air bubbles in the gristly bits. They said it was probably a very good thing I hadn’t had the syntometrin as there was a strong chance the cord would have snapped with pulling and I’d have needed to transfer for surgical placenta removal. Phew! Placenta was small, about one third the size of Diddy’s mega placenta. Stuck it in a box in the fridge for my mum to deal with later. Stacey checked me over, just a little graze and small 1st degree tear needing no stitches – same as last time but definitely not as sore. Lily was weighed (3.75kg = 8lb4oz), measured (37cm head) and checked over then both ladies left around 12, having taken my blood (and left enormous bruises!), had a cuppa, helped clear up and made sure we were ok.
Phil ran me a bath but every time I tried to get upstairs I almost fainted so we gave up on that idea and he carried me to the sofa where I had a wash, then snuggled up in my jamas with our baby girl while we let everyone know she’d arrived. We cracked open the bubbly and birthday cake and Mum brought Diddy round to meet his sister after lunch. He did a grand job of ignoring the elephant in the room, but was very happy with the new bike she bought him! Mum made me a placenta smoothie which really perked me up (and tasted really good!) then took the rest away with her to dry out and stick in pills for me. They were done within 24 hours and my placenta made 110 capsules. Seem to be working – we have milk within 48 hours.
Lily May is a dream child. A natural feeder, she just seems to instinctively know what she’s doing. Everything is just lovely. Dylan has started asking for boob when he sees his sister feeding, but tandem nursing is helping him to accept her so we’re going with it. It’s the only time he gets close and will stroke her arm, play with her feet etc. and ask me about her. It’s been worth every bit of the feeding journey to get here.
Homebirthing is just fantastic, recommend it to everyone! I feel so blessed to have had 2 easy pregnancies and births, not to mention 2 gorgeous babies. Might have a little rest now though…
Helen – Rochdale