My Uber parenting day
Got up, had irregular twinges through morning, had friend for brunch, put toddler down for nap, told friends coming to tea to come, continued twinging lying on the sofa, farmed toddler out to neighbours for tea, told friends coming for tea not to come, birthed baby, champagne and sausages for supper, in bed by 11pm.
We planned a home birth with an Independent Midwife and intended to rely on a birth pool and HypnoBirthing to see me through the experience. This pregnancy had been very different to my first and so it was possible the birth would be different too but I was torn in my mind between everything being very quick and mirroring my last experience of a long latent phase.
In my mind I had been ready to birth for a couple of weeks. I had been in denial about my preparations – understanding husband found me standing on the kitchen worktop cleaning the window and insisted this was nesting whilst I insisted this was taking an opportunity whilst he was on leave looking after the wee man to do something I had wanted to do for a while. The midwife later said this combined with a slightly raised blood pressure on her visit a few days before the birth suggested to her there was not long to go. I also felt the 3/5 engaged (unusual for a second baby) was a hint but my midwife said not. Mentally I felt the baby was half way out and my inability to find a comfortable sitting position and cowboy walk was all part of an imminent arrival.
Having said that we had purposefully kept the ‘due date’ vague to non-existent, telling people baby was due ‘end of August / early September’. In our minds we had come up with a date just a couple of weeks earlier so understanding husband could try and manage expectations at work. As it was baby decided to arrive at the beginning of our estimated 40th week, and at 8lb 12oz (4kg) she certainly wasn’t early.
The best home birth….ever!
On Sunday morning I woke around 6am with a twinge – a surge really but for some reason I didn’t think this could be it so since I didn’t want to scare labour off having been so looking forward to it and feeling ready for so long I somehow thought if I ignored it I might get more surges. Oh, the thinks you can think!
I got the wee man up and gave him breakfast, made Kedgeree for a friend coming for brunch who could not eat a huge range of wheat / sugar / dairy so it was kedgeree or starvation. Surged through brunch quite happily, gave wee man his lunch and in the early afternoon went to put him down for his nap. Normally I would nap with him but I decided I wasn’t going to sleep through these ‘twinges’ as I kept on thinking they were so pottered downstairs and lay on the sofa with a film. Friends planning to come for tea called and jokingly asked if I was in labour. When I replied ‘maybe’ they tried to cry off but I was adamant nothing was really happening so they should come for tea.
By 3pm I was making noises through the surges and they were coming regularly so this is when I acknowledged labour was going on and from when we (in retrospect) started the clock. By 3.30 I couldn’t lie on the sofa anymore and went for a walk around the garden. As soon as I stood up the surges started coming almost constantly and required much more focus to get through. Understanding Husband immediately jumped into action and by 4pm was calling the midwife and preparing the birth pool – whilst I remained adamant there was no rush. Surely this would take time.
Steam appeared metaphorically as Understanding Husband ran between me needing support during the surges and the birth pool and the stove where real steam was being created to get as much hot water into the pool as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, wee man woke from his nap and having had a few minutes to admire the ‘paddling pool’ which to his great excitement had suddenly appeared in the sitting room, he was sent next door for a play date and tea. The birth pool made it half full before the hot water tank ran out and I was climbing in, ready or not. I knew the water would help me relax.
It was by now around 5pm and I could feel the baby moving lower inside me. I was excited and fully aware of my body but needed Understanding Husband to keep talking to me, telling me to relax through each surge. We worked together as a team very well. At 6pm the midwife arrived and as I heard the door open the next surge took me into the birthing phase; I felt the head move lower feeling it in my back and my noises changed significantly to a low, long groan – lower sounds help relax and open the jaw and throat which in turn opens the pelvis.
My highly experienced midwife recognised the sounds I was making and moved fast, luckily. Membranes released at 6.10, 6.23 head born, 6.25 baby born, 6.35 cord stopped pulsing and cut, 6.50 placenta birthed in the pool, 7pm back on the sofa cuddling baby. 7.15pm champagne in hand all well.
What an experience! All very neat and tidy; no mess, everything was kept within the pool which Understanding Husband had emptied and packed away by 10pm. In good time we weighed (8lb 12oz / 4kg) and measured (55cm) our daughter. My checks showed no stitches required and after a feed my uterus was already well contracted.
Throughout the birth I had remained aware and in control, particularly between surges when I had been able to touch her head as it emerged and then receive her between my legs and into my arms as soon as she was born.
I had made a lot of noise during the surges (I only swore once and immediately apologised, apparently) but had got through them well and as no stitches testifies, my body coped well too. HypnoBirthing does not profess to be silent and pain free though some women do have this experience. For me, HypnoBirthing did make the birth exciting, smooth and incredibly rewarding. HypnoBirthing represented a holistic approach to birth preparation; calm mothers have calm babies. My baby does not cry, sleeps well, eats well, and appears to have no worries. I am happy, relaxed and was walking around the park by day 2. I believe HypnoBirthing is particularly complimented by water which is a great aid to relaxation and makes the baby’s transition from the womb as gentle as possible.
The whole home birth concept worked incredibly well for us. There was no break from our own surroundings, no going to a strange place for a life changing experience and then having to leave that ‘safe haven’ and return to our home. No disempowering feelings of ‘how will I cope on my own’. No risk of infection, sleepless nights due to other mothers and crying babies, no….oh, you know how it is.
Wee man returned at 8pm having had, so far as he was concerned, the high excitement of a play date, tea and bath with his friend next door to find mama lying on the sofa with a baby in her arms. Kisses and cuddles all round then off to bed for him. What could be more normal, more inclusive of family life than that. Equally the dog came in, had a sniff and curled up on the floor next to the sofa – and she has remained curled up near us with no bouncing, jumping or quick movements near the baby ever since.
There was no mess, it all stayed in the pool. There was no fuss – it was just our trusted and loving midwife and us. There was no drama – no shouting (a little by me), no sharp words or instructions, no rushed movements, no removal of the baby for checks and balances. Just home life, continuing peacefully. The pool was emptied and put away, sausages and potatoes joined the champagne for supper. I showered and went to the loo – which doesn’t hurt if you don’t have stitches, a joyful revelation!
I wanted to co-sleep so we tried that the first night at which point I immediately re-termed it co-dozing. The following morning I got up and cooked bacon and eggs and had a good chat with our midwife who had stayed the night whilst Understanding Husband had cuddles with our beautiful daughter. I felt fantastic, I felt mobile, I was not in pain, I felt on a complete high. Writing at day 10 all these feelings continue….there has been no dip. I put it down to an intervention-free home birth. As natural and empowering as it can be.
Co-dozing became co-sleeping by the third night which makes feeding a dream; I wake as soon as she smacks her lips, roll over and plug her on. No crying, no getting up and sitting in a cold chair, no real waking.
Day 10 and all is well. As the maternity notes say (a record of events, being the notes of an Independent Midwife, as opposed to a record purely of my biological statistics); much rejoicing.