5 weeks of motherhood has been a massive whirlwind of all the emotions. I have only just got round to writing my birth story. I am so pleased and thankful it’s a positive one. It’s a long post so grab a cuppa and make yourself comfortable.
A Planned Home Birth
At 35 weeks, Mark and I made the decision to try and have a home birth. We’d done a lot of research on it. We’d met the home birth team at our local hospital to talk through all of our worries/ questions. Standard protocol for the team in our area is that we would get two senior midwives with us throughout the entire labour. They would then stay for a couple of hours afterwards too. We only live 5 minutes away from the hospital which also helped us decide. If there were any complications then I would be blue lighted to the hospital down the road. In preparation for a home birth, we bought a La Bassine Birthing Pool and had a huge supply of towels at the ready. We had also practised hypnobirthing after taking a local course with The Parent Tribe which I think also gave us the confidence to go ahead with it.
The Day Before – A Normal Sunday
Sunday 19th August was like any normal Sunday. Mark and I had an exciting day of ‘to do’ bits to tick off. Three days before my official ‘due date’ I was still in full on nesting mode and had made a list of empty plant pots that were lying around the house that I wanted to fill. I didn’t feel like labour was coming any time soon and was actually full of energy.
We went to a garden centre that we’d never been to before before then headed on to Tesco to do a ‘big shop’ for the week. I’ll always remember passing the watermelons in the fruit and veg aisle and laughing to myself that it was the size of the baby I was so ready to meet.
Once home, Mark watched his football team (Brighton FC) play Manchester United on TV. I settled down on the sofa next to him writing and scheduling some blog posts. Brighton ended up winning 3-1 against Man U. With every goal they scored, Mark made an almighty shout of excitement (so loud that our neighbour text him!). I made a joke after each goal that he needed to calm down otherwise he was going to send me into labour… little did I know.
The day finished up and we headed to bed. One thing I had noticed was that I had been incredibly thirsty all day. I couldn’t get enough of ice cold water and actually thought that it could be a sign that things were starting to happen.
3:45am the next morning, Monday 20th August I woke up to some constant period like pain. I’d had it before in my late pregnancy. I just presumed the baby was sitting in a weird position. I went for a wee and headed back to sleep. 4:30am, I woke again and noticed that the pain was coming and going every 5 minutes or so. I went downstairs, popped on a funny DVD and sat on my birthing ball whilst timing how often the pains were spaced out. At that point they were ranging between 3 – 5 minutes apart and lasting between 40 – 50 seconds.
I think I was still in denial that this might be labour. I’d been told so many times that the latent stage for a first pregnancy can be expected to last a very long time. I felt like my contractions were happening so quickly that surely it wasn’t actual labour?
The Latent Phase
An hour later, at about 6am, I went back upstairs and woke Mark. We called the maternity triage to have a chat with them. The midwife on the phone said she thought this probably was the real deal! A midwife from the home birth team came out to check on me at about 8am. She confirmed that I was already dilated 3cm. I was happy for her to leave me to it. I was to call her once the contractions became so intense that I couldn’t talk through them. After she left I had a long bath with lavender oil to help me relax whilst I sniffed some Clary Sage oil on a hankerchief to help my uterus contract. Mark started to blow up the pool downstairs in our dining room at this point…
After the bath, we spent the time in our bedroom, me on the birth ball contracting away and focusing on my up breathing (a hypnobirthing technique) whilst Mark fed me snacks and water and read me scripts from the meditation tracks we’d practised with. In-between each surge we talked about how excited we were and how we definitely weren’t going to get to go out for a curry like we’d planned that evening!
Established Labour and a Tricky Tap
A couple of hours past by (although I had no concept of time and was surprised by how quickly I thought time went during labour). By 11am the contractions were feeling so intense and a little closer together so we called the midwife to come back. She ended up arriving at about 12pm and by that point I was on all fours on the bed making primal animal sounds and concentrating on my up breathing through each contraction. Mark was instructed to start filling the pool up and the midwife (Becky) just sat with me making notes and letting me do my thing.
I found out afterwards that Mark was going through something of a drama himself downstairs. Even though we’d practised blowing up the pool, we hadn’t practised filling it up. The adapter that came with it didn’t fit our taps properly. (Mark found this out the hard way and had managed to spray water all over our kitchen!). This meant that not only did he have to fill the pool up with buckets and a kettle but he had to do it quickly. I was already at 5cm and things were starting to really amp up!
The Pool, Transitioning and Feeling The Pressure
Once the pool was sorted I got in and the relief I instantly felt was incredible. It wasn’t long before I had my show shortly followed by a big pop – my waters had gone! It was after this that the contractions got really intense. I tried to stay in my zone focusing on my breathing and telling myself that each contraction meant I was closer to meeting my baby. Mark was incredible all the way through the labour. He was my absolute advocate. He would often tell me how well I was doing and reminded me of the positive affirmations we had pinned up all throughout our house. I did go through a brief ‘I can’t do this moment’ which I guess was me transitioning.
One thing I did experience was a really intense pain in my abdomen which had been there from early on. It seemed to be getting worse as I progressed. It was at this point that it was just so intense that Becky suggested I try and have a wee to empty my bladder. Both of my toilets are upstairs in my house and there was no way I would’ve been able to get up there. I couldn’t bring myself to do it in the pool either so I got out and had a catheter put in. This did help with the pain but was not ideal whilst I was contracting!
Pushing and a baby!
Back in the pool, Becky’s colleague Emma arrived and at that time everything that happened was a blur. I started feeling the need to push but this was something I hadn’t practised that much of. All of the pain came out through me screaming through my throat. I have to admit that I did come out of my zone and had to be coached in how to push by Becky and Emma. They were absolutely incredible.
I was on my knees in the pool leaning over the side when the pressure in my abdomen started building again. Emma suggested I change positions so I lay back on to my left side. That must’ve done it and all of a sudden with my next push the baby’s head was crowning. I was asked if I wanted to reach down to feel it. I briefly reached down and could feel this little cone shaped hairy thing! My next contraction and the head was out. In between that one and the following one I could feel the baby’s head turning, it was the oddest thing I have ever felt and I remember thinking it was like a little alien! My next push I went hell for leather and all of a sudden she was here!
Hello Little One
At 17:23, Peggy was born and changed our lives forever. The midwives both brought her up out of the water, unwrapping the cord that was wrapped twice around her neck. Mark and I were then able to both look to find out that we had the most beautiful baby girl. She was so calm and didn’t make a sound, just calmly rested on my chest. She was covered in thick vernex all over and had a big head of hair. All I remember saying was how tiny she was! We were instantly in love.
The feelings I had were (and still are) indescribable and so overwhelming. After about 5 minutes, the placenta followed (with no injection) and then we got out of the pool and got to rest on the sofa. It wasn’t long before Peggy managed to find her way onto my boob and started to feed. Such an incredible feeling! I had to have a couple of internal stitches as she came so quickly (23 minutes of pushing) but I was cuddling my brand new daughter so I didn’t have a care in the world.
The Most Incredible Feeling
The midwives helped Mark to clean up and got me some toast which tasted so good. After a couple of hours the 3 of us were upstairs on our bed. We just chilled out together with the adrenaline still pumping. Mark ordered a Dominos and we called our families to tell them the news which was so much fun. Peggy slept soundly that night… we, however didn’t. Feeling exhausted but absolutely elated at what just happened. We felt so utterly blessed to not only have our daughter here safely and soundly but also to have had the birth we both wanted.
Looking back now, I still can’t quite believe I managed to give birth with no pain relief. It’s just testament to how hypnobirthing really works! I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel any pain. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but I am so proud of myself for doing it. I would definitely do it all over again if I had to.
We cannot thank the home birth midwives from East Surrey Hospital enough. We could not have done it without them. It was most incredible experience that I’m so happy to share with you.