The birth of Alice
My first baby was born almost 12 years ago. I had a great pregnancy, with an amazing and supportive community midwife who answered all my questions and helped me feel empowered and able to birth my baby.
I have never liked the idea of being in hospital to have a baby and, as a friend had recently had a really positive homebirth experience, this really appealed to me as well. I read ALOT, I attended some great antenatal classes and I started preparing for my homebirth.
We booked our pool, which was this huge fibreglass thing which my husband spent a delightful weekend putting together. We had our TENS and we were ready to go from 37 weeks. I had a strong sense that this baby wouldn’t be hanging around and I was right – at 38 weeks my waters broke at about 9am on a Thursday, just as I was having my morning cuppa. My community midwife called in to see how I was. I didn’t have any contractions yet so I was told to chill, go for a walk, potter, watch some TV and carry on as normal until those contractions started.
By late afternoon I was experiencing some mild contractions but nothing that took my breath away. My wonderful midwife called in again, issued the same advice, and told me to call her if the contractions picked up their pace. So we went to the supermarket to do our shop! The contractions picked up for a while, which caused me to hold on the shelves in Asda, but then they eased off again.
Back at home I went to bed but a mixture of frustration and fear took over, I was definitely having contractions now but they were mild. My midwife came out at about midnight to give me some support, to see if making me feel calmer would help these contractions kick in. By 2am I was having strong contractions, they were getting closer together and I experienced a mixture of “wow, look at what my body is doing!” and “bloody hell, can I do this!”
Timings are all very blurred but I now I continued on with gas and air for a while, it seemed like an age until I was ready to get into the pool and then it felt like the most instinctive and perfect thing to do to make me feel comfortable. I simply cannot describe the bliss of stepping into that water. I was still contracting strongly but the water was heavenly.
At about 9ish on the Friday morning my midwife had to go so I had someone else from her team. Looking back I regret calling my midwife out before I was in real labour, even though I needed that support so it helped me feel supported, because she might have been able to stay with me for longer. And this did affect how I managed – my husband was bossed about a little bit more and I didn’t feel as safe because I didn’t know her.
I remember being in transition, with contractions that were so close together I had to count through them to keep myself calm. I was exhausted and in so much pain that I couldn’t communicate very well and I really wanted to know timings. Instead I turned my attention to the midwife calling for the second midwife, which was needed for the birth, and that gave me the boost I needed to keep going.
I pushed for what felt like an age and then I decided to climb out – I had really wanted to birth in the pool but I didn’t know my midwife so it no longer felt right. It all went a bit mad at this point – climbing out of the pool meant I was out of my protective, safe place and the water was obviously giving me a lot of pain relief because, very quickly, it felt unmanageable. I really panicked and kept pushing when my body wasn’t asking me too. All too soon my beautiful baby girl was here – which was a surprise because I was convinced I was having a boy!
Meeting her was amazing and I remember clearly just wanting to hold her. Next came a ride in an ambulance! Because I panicked and continued to push when I didn’t an urge to, I tore which had to be stitched in hospital. But as soon as I was all fixed, we drove home and curled up in bed with our new little creature.
It was so much harder than I thought it was going to be and the pain so much more intense but, apart from the last few minutes, it was incredibly positive and I was in awe of what my body was doing to bring me my baby. I was glad I was at home; it was the right place for me to be. I remember this as an amazing experience.