Sophie’s home birth story 12th September 2014.
We started our hypnobirthing journey in July 2012 when pregnant with our second daughter, Emily. The impact it had on Emily’s birth, and our experience as a family was amazing. So when we discovered we were pregnant again in January 2014 I was already excited thinking ahead to the birth of our third child. I couldn’t wait to do it all over again!
Everything through this pregnancy went really smoothly, and we started to think about home birth quite early on, getting excited about the prospect of not needing to trek to hospital, and to be in the comfort and familiarity of our own space. Our previous two births were both really lovely experiences at Macclesfield, but this time we felt ready to try something different, and staying at home felt like the icing on the cake to what we already knew could be a wonderful experience. By 36 weeks we had the pool ordered and delivered, and our two girls (nearly 2 and nearly 4) were loving playing and bouncing in the pool which was blown up ready in the dining room. I’d been out to buy my favourite candles, bought some new PJs, and we were ready to go, although thought we had ages as I was induced at 41+5 with Emily, our second. Martin had to go away with work to Paris as I turned 38 weeks, but other than me being a bit grumpy at being left alone heavily pregnant with two little people to look after we weren’t too bothered. On the Thursday of that week, our two year old Emily was poorly at nursery – cue a tearful and uncomfortable waddle to pick her up, a few texts to Martin, a few more tears, thankfully he managed to catch the last flight home to Manchester, arriving at 11pm.
I slept better that night than I had in a while, happy to have us all back together, but the next morning (Friday) just couldn’t get comfortable. Every position I sat in felt ‘odd’ but I couldn’t put a finger on it. Every Friday morning we take our two girls to a music group in Knutsford, and in the car on the way there I got a couple of very mild “twinges”, just odd crampy feelings across the bottom of my bump. Didn’t think much of it but mentioned it to Martin and remember saying “wouldn’t it be funny if something happened today now that you’re back”. Well as I sat through the session I felt a couple more twinges, and another one as we were dancing with hoola hoops and singing ‘here we go round the mulberry bush’ (I will never hear that song again without remembering this day!). As we got in the car to come home at about 11am there was another twinge, and I texted Jane (my midwife friend who would play a doula role) to let her know (I think deep down, although these were so so mild, I probably knew something was happening). Another couple of twinges on the way home, now only 6 or 7 minutes apart, and I was convinced something was on its way and could feel excitement setting in. Once we’d got home and got the girls some lunch and arranged for them to spend a few hours with my parents “just in case” I felt this strange feeling of calm. Jane had suggested we ring Macclesfield to let them know things were happening and we were booked in for a home birth. When I finally got through to the ward, the answer came back very quickly that they were too busy and wouldn’t be able to staff a home birth and that as soon as I felt I needed to we should head in. Looking back now, I would have expected this to really throw us off course, but it didn’t phase me at all. I think we were already feeling so positive about the birth and what was to come that nothing at all could spoil the excitement and anticipation we were already feeling. I calmly put the phone down and texted Jane to let her know. Half an hour later by about 1pm, and our two older girls safely off to play with grandparents, things started to feel more real and the twinges were changing to recognisable surges. Exciting! Just as the girls left, Jane got in touch to say she was on her way and that Emily (midwife) was coming out too. We had the ‘dream team’! At that point I think I knew I was safe and things stepped up a gear again. I pottered upstairs to strip the bed (thinking ahead to lovely fresh sheets to snuggle under after the birth) and put some comfy PJs on. We both then got downstairs tidied up and Martin got the liner onto the pool and we decided to start filling it up as Emily had said at our last ante natal appointment it would keep warm for a while. I think we both knew it wouldn’t be long! I left Martin to busy about with the pool, lit my candle, set Riverdawn going on my phone, got the curtains closed and got comfy rocking on my birth ball. By 1.45pm I’d had a bit of a show, and was trying to time the surges which were getting noticeably more powerful. I’d assumed they were still about 5-6 mins apart and really short, but checked after three or four and they were only 4 mins apart, lasting well over a minute. I had no idea! The minute I sat on the ball and got the music playing, I was straight into my happy place – the colour and calmness ‘warm pool’ with the multi-coloured fish, and the water gently carrying me to and fro. The sensation of warmth and happiness was so strong. A couple more surges, and I felt a warm trickly…. Waters! It was really happening! And then almost as soon as they went, the doorbell rang and the dream team arrived. We had become really good friends with Jane after our second daughter was born in 2012, and the sense of safety and warmth I felt as soon as I saw her was just overwhelming. And to have Emily there as our midwife too – perfect! My husband was home, we were close to meeting our third child, we had an amazing wonderful friend here for one of the most amazing days in our lives, and things honestly couldn’t have felt better. After a couple of jokes about Jane and Emily turning up in matching outfits, and Martin boiling pans dry on the cooker trying to get enough hot water to fill the pool, Jane left the relative chaos of the hallway/kitchen and came in to see me just as another surge was starting. By this point they were pretty strong and she knelt down to give me a hug as one started, saying ‘relax, relax, relax’ – all the practice and listening to the hypnobirthing tracks, and our previous birth experience came flooding back and I will never ever forget that moment. I felt so strong and safe and happy and warm, visualising the fish swimming to and fro in the wonderful warm water and seeing bubbles floating up to the surface with each up breath. Beautiful. I felt so ‘in the zone’ at the end of each surge that it almost felt as if I’d been using gas and air. Powerful stuff. Then a shout from the hallway “we’ve got a leak”. I was so far into the relaxation at this point that I didn’t really realise what was happening and think I probably just said something like “oh dear” whilst leaving Jane and Emily, and our second midwife who had now arrived to investigate. In a rush to get the pool filled, Martin had turned the taps onto full, and water pressure meant the hosepipe had shot out of the pool and literally filled our dining room with a good inch of water. Good job I had all the towels down ready in the dining room! Soggy was an understatement. But I hardly noticed. Another surge came pretty quickly, and another big gush of waters – the timing was quite comical on reflection! And then, almost as quickly as the flood had happened, the pool was ready to get in to.
And that feeling. Wow. Amazing. The warmth of the water and support it gave – and moving from visualising being in the water with the fish, to really being in the water and feeling the warmth ripple up your body. And relax. I could feel my shoulders drop as I leant forward against the side of the pool. Then another surge comes pretty quickly, and by now they really are powerful. A strange feeling, almost as if now I was in the pool my body had just accepted that everything was ready and we could get on with the last part of the journey. Decided to use the gas and air from that point as things were happening pretty fast. I think I had one surge breathing on the gas, still thinking of the coloured fish, and quickly had my ‘I can’t do this!’ moment. I remember getting very little sympathy from Martin who just said “I’m not buying that, you’ve done it twice before!” (he was trying to be helpful, I know!!) and Jane quickly stepping in saying ‘relax, you are doing it, you’re amazing, remember, best day of your life’ and suddenly believing it. Another surge pretty quickly after that and I could feel myself getting quite vocal towards the end of the surge. Things were changing. And that waterfall visualisation that I remembered being so powerful from our second birth was right there in my head again, and I’d started the downbreathing without even realising it. At this point we knew it really wouldn’t be long. As soon as that surge had finished, quick chat with Martin to check we were still agreed on the names we’d chosen for a boy or girl – nothing like leaving it until the last minute! Then another surge came and wow that pressure – I remember Jane reminding me to breathe it slow and suddenly calming rather than panicking and trying to push – I knew the down breathing could and would work on its own, I just needed someone to remind me. One more surge with that pressure, some definite vocal sounds, and then ahhh, the release, the head was born, catching both midwives by surprise. I remember instinctively leaning back as the surge passed and looking down through the crystal clear water seeing the baby’s head there, and ever so slowly turning, and saying ‘that’s just beautiful’. It truly was the most amazing sight I think I have ever seen. And that moment seemed to last forever, feeling like time stood still. And then another surge, and more noise, and more downbreathing and feeling that sensation as the body wriggles and slips out. Incredible. And Martin leant forward and caught baby – the first hands to touch. Pretty special. He handed baby over pretty quickly and I had a look to see what we had – another girl – Sophie Imogen Seddon! I had to check twice just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything as I’d been so convinced this one was a boy. She was just perfect. Amazingly pink and healthy looking and just perfect.
We had about 10 minutes of lovely cuddles in the pool, then Martin cut the cord as planned and I decided to get out and get comfy and warm on the sofa. I’d decided I wanted a natural third stage, as with my first I had been convinced the injection had made me feel really sick. We had a good half hour of skin to skin on the sofa (which was wonderful and very special) but nothing seemed to be moving. A few changes of position and still nothing, so decided to have the injection after all. But still nothing. Every magic trick possible was tried to get the placenta to move, but it just wasn’t coming. Our second midwife made the call to transfer to hospital. I wasn’t particularly stressed by this as we’d had such positive experiences at Macclesfield in the past, and within about 15 minutes the ambulance had arrived and Sophie and I were bundled up onto the bed for a rather bumpy journey.
Thankfully my placenta was removed without any complications, and after an overnight stay for me and Sophie we were able to go home the next day, and begin the chaos that is life as a family of five! It was a shame we didn’t get to do the full home birth thing of snuggling in your own clean bed after tea and bacon butties with our superstar midwives, but I wouldn’t change our choice at all. Being able to almost drift into labour uninterrupted in our own surroundings was just lovely and magical. And my placenta has paid its dues for being awkward – three smoothies and some magic pills have seen me through the first few sleep deprived (and at times emotional) weeks!
We did it. We had an amazing, powerful and beautiful birth and I am so proud of myself and my body for doing it all. No examinations, no interventions, nothing, just the power of nature and my body doing exactly what it was meant to do. And being able to do that all at home, happy and smiling, in our own surroundings. Hypnobirthing was amazing. Again.
Jo – Wilmslow, Cheshire