alexandra's birth story
For those that don't know yet I finally gave birth at 40+6 just before the New Year to my second son, Eden, at home in my living room with my husband, my son, my youngest sister, my doula, my birth photographer, the midwives, my cat and my dog around! (To be fair the latter two made themselves scarce when it came to crunch time!)
At around 3am on Boxing Day morning I got up to go to the loo, ten minutes later I was doing the same. By 4am I realised my waters must be leaking as it was impossible to need the loo that often in one hour! I decided to go back to bed and just monitor things. Around 10am I called the midwives and let them know that my waters were leaking but that I wasn't having any contractions yet, they sent someone out to check and shortly after they left, agreeing that it was best to monitor for the time being. My husband, Christian, decided to put up the birth pool in preparation as although things were clearly going to progress slowly, being in rural Somerset and on a bore hole for our water, it takes HOURS to fill our bath up let alone a birth pool.
Around 3am on the 27th I woke up to my first contractions, they were coming sporadically every 15-30mins so again I decided to just go back to bed and get the rest while I could. Around 10am that day I called the midwives to let them know as they had already been talking about induction (I was declining all intervention until I felt it was necessary - being a birth worker I know my stats and my body inside out). The contractions then tapered off again around lunch time and I took the chance to watch a film with Rufus and to chill before labour really started.
The following morning again around 3am (there's a pattern here!) the contractions really ramped up and felt more intense, I left Chris sleeping and snuck downstairs to sit on my birth ball, meditate and get the oxytocin flowing before it could be scared away by a boisterous toddler coming down for breakfast! Things started to progress quite quickly at this point, and I called my doula Lucy to come out (I'll do a whole other post on doulas, and Lucy in particular at a later date). I also gave a heads up to Danni who was photographing the birth for us. By 7am the contractions were consistently coming every 4/5mins.
A little while later the midwives were called out and here not too long after.My birth plan was very hands off and the midwives that attended were so respectful of my choices and not once offered me a vaginal examination or pain relief. They very much left me to it and only checked his heart rate every now and then when I felt like checking in.
My sister happened to be staying with us for Christmas and it was so lovely to have her around and she was a great distraction for Rufus. That said we had done a lot to prepare him for the birth. We read some great stories on babies, birth, water births and home births. He very much knew what to expect and was the most caring and thoughtful mini birth partner ever. He's since told us" when I'm older I want to be a midwife and play with my toys."
Around lunchtime things had slowed down again and it began to feel like a bit of a party with everyone in the family room chatting, laughing and the excitement and calmness was all encompassing and everything I'd hoped for. The midwives popped off for a bit and asked us to call them when we thought we needed them. I had a shower and then Lucy did some lovely massage and relaxation with me which ramped the contractions up again pretty quickly!
By now I was in the living room and feeling cold, I was assured it wasn't but I insisted that everyone endure tropical temperatures and had the fire and heating going. Not long after I got in to the birth pool (that had only just been finished filling up two days later!) and the relief and the feeling of weightlessness was amazing. Up until then I had only been relying on my relaxation techniques with Lucy and my own Wise Hippo techniques alongside the TENS machine.
I was in active labour for around 5hrs (harder to tell without VEs) and soon the contractions were coming back to back and feeling more and more intense, I had gone from calm and serene to roaring lioness. It's funny as with Rufus I was pretty quiet but this time I was LOUD. I've since been told that all the neighbours heard me when walking past! I was leaning over the birth pool and felt like I couldn't move. I was so focused on the sensations of what I was feeling and going through that apart from Rufus coming in to kiss my forehead and tell me that I can do it, I had no idea what was going on around me. Turns out everyone was stripping off because of the heat!
I was pushing for a very long time and there was a rather long point where I panicked and suddenly thought I couldn't do it and that I was going to die. Sadly the remnants of the PTSD I suffered from my first birth were waiting to come out on transition. After a long time leaning over the side of the birth pool and me scalding Chris for bruising my arm he was squeezing it so tight, the midwives suggested I tried a new position. I tried going to the loo and eventually it was agreed that I'd squat against Lucy and see if we could get things moving in a new position. Wow is all I can say, within a contraction or two the membranes were bulging and I could feel his head emerging. Having had an emergency c-section last time, I was feeling a bit of fear around crowning and due to this I was aware I was almost holding on and tightening as opposed to allowing myself to be open, this caused crowning to be extremely intense and the sensations were extremely strong. His head emerged on one contraction and his body slipped right out on the second.
I think I was a little in shock. The emotion and happiness radiating round the room was beautiful and I had my new 7.2lb baby boy in my arms. We did delayed cord clamping and used a gorgeous cord tie that my friend Charlotte has crocheted for me. I ended up having the injection for the placenta after around 20minutes as I was so exhausted from 2 days of labour that I just wanted to curl up in bed with my family. I had a second degree tear but chose to not have it stitched up - thankfully it's healed nicely!
Slowly everyone left, but not before one of the midwives and Lucy had showered me and got us all in to bed with tea and toast. We had a great first night and Danni came back the next morning to catch a few more shots of us, amazed that I was up at 8:30am showered and dressed!
I've been storing up thousands of topics to write about now I'm being continually reminded what it's like to have a baby, so watch this space to see how we get on!
Alex is a parenting specialist, for more information, visit her website:
*birth story and photos kindly shared with consent*