Our second daughter, Carrie, was born at 8.30pm on 21st November (for the geeks a great date of birth 21/11/12- a palindrome!), at our home in North Shields.
The choice to plan for a home birth was a pragmatic one from my perspective, my 3 year old daughter, Lois, was born at the QE in Gateshead and whilst the care was excellent the part of labour that I found most stressful were the journeys to and from hospital only to be examined and sent home. With my first I was fearful of having an unplanned home delivery, at least in planning to have a baby at home I didn’t need to go anywhere, and more importantly didn’t have to face treks
up and down the coast road to the RVI, in labour, which I know would have caused me stress. The care available to me as a home birthing mother was the same as that available at North Tyneside hospital, so it seemed like a no brainer. I had an open mind though, and was prepared for the prospect of transfer if that was what was needed.
I finished work at the start of November with 4 weeks to go until my due date, the midwives had delivered the birthing kit, the gas and air was there, we had plans for our 3 year old to be looked after by her grandparents and we’d hired a birth pool and tens- we were all set!
At 8.30am on the 21st my contractions began, very mild and slowly at first and I didn’t really think it was labour as it was 9 days until my due date. My husband was due to go to Yorkshire for 2 photography projects that day and so he headed off, taking Lois to nursery on the way.
The contractions continued, but were mild and whilst they were frequent I was sometimes having gaps of 15 minutes between them and could handle the pain. By 10.30am I knew it was definitely labour so texted Steve to tell him to come back, and texted my mum to put her on alert- my plan was for her to be there at the birth and they live 3 hours away in Lincoln. I then got on with an online food shop- given I expected we’d have visitors!
Steve arrived home at lunchtime then headed into town to finish a job he had on, I was still slightly disbelieving that this was proper labour! At 4.30 I decided to have a sleep, I dozed for an hour with only 1 or 2 contractions during that time. When I woke at 5.30 Steve had fetched Lois from nursery and things then started to hot up!
At 6.30 Steve gave Lois a bath and started her bedtime routine as I phoned North Tyneside Hospital to inform them I thought I was in labour- the midwife on the phone said it sounded like early labour and gave me the mobile number of the midwife on call. I then phoned my mum and said they should come.
At 7 I phoned the midwife and she talked me through 2 contractions and said to phone again when they were more intense and that if I’d not been in touch she’d call back at 10 anyway. At this point there was no birth pool set up, just a shower curtain in the middle of the lounge floor ready for Steve to inflate and fill the pool after Lois was asleep. I had the tens on and very quickly things moved on, at 7.30 I phoned the midwife back, all I could say was my name and “you need to come”.
Steve came down from having put Lois to bed as I was sitting on the downstairs loo “mooing” when suddenly I had a show and my waters broke. I waddled back to the lounge got on all 4s and continued to moo until the first midwife arrived, I felt like I needed to push but was scared in case I wasn’t very far on. Steve tells me she just came in, threw her coat down and came straight to me.
She was amazing (they all are aren’t they?), so calming and helped me focus. She examined me and confirmed I was fully dilated then checked the baby’s heart rate which was fine. The second midwife arrived shortly after and cracked open the gas and air- a huge relief, my first words once I’d had a few puffs “hello my friend, where have you been for 3 years”.
The midwife was concerned I wasn’t in a very good position for birth so helped me get onto the edge of the sofa, within a matter of minutes I heard her shout Steve (who was browsing for a snack in the kitchen) and he leapt onto the sofa next to me as they said “Liz, stop the gas, you need to look” and as I looked down I saw Carrie’s head being born, another push and she was out and I lifted her straight onto my chest. It was the most incredible thing. She was born at 8.30pm- 12 hours after my first twinge but only 2 hours since I’d called the unit. Waters breaking to birth was 45 minutes. We were so unprepared, I had no blankets or anything ready so Steve fetched a load of towels! I still can’t believe how fast it all was or that Lois had slept through my wailing!
Carrie’s cord snapped as she was delivered but the midwives clamped it quickly (not before it covered one in blood) they had no immediate concerns about it but we had to take Carrie into the hospital the following morning just to check all was well, which it was.
My parents arrived at 10pm, I heard mum ask Steve if I was really in labour as they arrived, he said “just come and see” and they came in to find me sitting on the sofa feeding our new daughter.
None of us got much sleep that night, besides cuddling and feeding my newborn girl I was so excited about Lois meeting her sister. Lois coming in that morning to find that her baby sister had arrived in the night is one of the most precious moments of my life.
[Everyone tells you there’ll be no mess with a homebirth, but given everything happened so fast we did end up with a big blood stain on our carpet but I’m happy to report our contents insurance accidental damage covered it!]