On the morning of Friday 14th November 2014, I woke up feeling uncomfortable but excited. I was 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant with twins and I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for many weeks. The night before, I hadn’t slept well because I’d felt a lot of cramping and kept having to go to the loo. I asked my husband to work from home because I felt like something might finally be happening. I had been cleared for home birth the week before by my One-to-One midwife, Sarah, and I was desperate to meet our twins!
I had a difficult pregnancy and had been advised to take it very easy from around August, when I started getting strong Braxton Hicks contractions. I’d suffered with anaemia, dehydration, hyperemesis gravidarium, and extreme exhaustion so I had not really enjoyed my pregnancy. What kept me going was visualising our home birth and how calm and relaxed we wanted it to be – the opposite of our first son’s birth in hospital.
On that Friday morning, my husband took my son to playschool while I slowly got ready, breathing through the surges which were still quite irregular. They got stronger and more regular during the morning, which was funny because I had booked a reflexology treatment that I decided to go through with!
At lunchtime, the surges started to become quite uncomfortable, so I asked my husband to help me to keep focus. I struggled to eat although I nibbled on some toast, as I thought I might need energy later on. Around this time, the One-to-One Midwives arrived – Debbie, who was covering for our named midwife; a second Debbie, who was shadowing the first; Lisa; and Katie, the consultant midwife. I was bouncing on my ball in between surges and still able to breathe through them, with the help of my husband. I was listening to my hypnobirthing relaxation and affirmation tracks, which really helped me to cope with the surges.
I asked Debbie to examine me, as I wanted to see whether this was another false alarm or whether I could start to get excited about meeting our babies! My cervix was still posterior, although Debbie could feel Twin 1’s head very low in my pelvis. She advised me to keep bouncing on my ball to try and move things along. At this point, we all decided that the two Debbies should get on with their afternoon visits while Lisa and Katie stayed to observe me, as it did not seem like my labour was moving very quickly.
Shortly after they left, I suddenly started feeling very different – the surges became very difficult to cope with and I began shouting during them, partially due to fright I think! I decided that I wanted to get into the birth pool, so my husband, Lisa and Katie started to fill it – luckily, we had already inflated it! I was still listening to my hypnobirthing tracks, but was finding it very difficult not to focus on how much pain I was in. I told Lisa and my husband, “It’s not going to be long now,” as I remembered feeling the same way when in labour with my son two-and-a-half years ago. I kept asking if the pool was ready; I was desperate to get in as I believed I’d feel some relief when I did!
At about 3.30pm, the pool was full and I couldn’t get in fast enough! I stripped off and practically dived in and the relief was instant. Unfortunately it didn’t last long – only about two surges – and I began vomiting and feeling the urge to push. I felt scared at this point, because things were moving very quickly and I was worried it meant something was wrong. I started to panic, saying I needed to push, that I wanted to get out of the pool, that I needed pain relief, that I couldn’t do this. Katie, Lisa, and my husband were so supportive at this point, telling me to calm down and focus on my breathing, to listen to my body and push if I needed to. I begged for gas and air but Katie told me she didn’t think she had time to get it from the car!
All of a sudden, my body took over and my mind quieted. I was able to focus on my breathing and didn’t make a sound during the next few surges, while my daughter’s head was born. It was amazing and so empowering! Once her head was out, it felt like forever until her body was born and I got a bit agitated again, then there she was. She was born with her membranes intact and Lisa and Katie kept telling me to pick her up and I said “I can’t see her! Someone get her!” (My husband told me afterwards that he was afraid I would sit on her…!) She was passed to me and I sat back in the pool with her on my chest.
I immediately began to feel surges again and felt like I needed to push. I felt panicked and asked someone to take the baby, so Lisa and my husband quickly clamped and cut the cord. I leaned forward to focus on my breathing again and suddenly our son was born, with his membranes also intact and the babies’ placentas on his head! I will never forget how beautiful my babies looked in their membranes and I feel incredibly lucky that I got to see them as they were in my womb. There were only three minutes between our babies’ births! It was so fast that the two Debbies did not get to us in time – we had planned that there would be at least three midwives at the birth, so I imagine Lisa and Katie must have felt quite stressed! They did an amazing job and I never felt unsafe in their hands – completely the opposite.
Our son was born white and unresponsive, and he needed some assistance breathing so an ambulance was called. This was very scary but the midwives handled it very professionally and kept talking to my husband and I to let us know what was happening. He recovered relatively quickly and had skin-to-skin with me while our daughter had skin-to-skin with her dad. The two Debbies arrived just after the paramedics and were gutted to have missed it all!
When I was ready, I got out of the pool and lay on our sofa with the babies. Lisa and Katie completed all the checks (the babies were 5lbs 13oz and 5lbs 14oz respectively) while Debbie and Debbie made us cups of tea. It was amazing being at home and I felt so relaxed, yet so empowered! After a couple of hours, my husband’s parents brought our son home to meet the babies. My husband made our son dinner and put him to bed; it was great to be able to maintain his normal routine. During the evening we all chatted, I had a bath, I gave the babies their first breastfeeds (and expressed some colostrum to syringe-feed our son as he was struggling to latch), we ate pizza and salad, and I did FaceTime with my parents to ‘introduce’ the babies. I felt so relaxed and happy to be in my own surroundings, and so well cared-for by the midwives.
My friend Sarah came round to make me two placenta smoothies and to begin the process of encapsulating the babies’ placentas (which were fused and quite small, especially our son’s). The smoothies were amazing and really helped me to get through the first night on no sleep at all!
I feel so happy, empowered and positive whenever I think about the babies’ birth – totally different to how traumatised I felt after my son’s birth. I would highly recommend home birth to anyone considering it – even in cases where it might sound unusual, for example with twins. It is possible, and in most cases it isn’t any more dangerous or risky than hospital birth. Know your options and remember – it’s your body, your baby/ies, and your choice.
Eliie – Davenport, Stockport