Three weeks on and here we go… This is Tabby’s wonderful home birth story:
I’ll begin this post the day before she was born. I was 41+4 and had another sweep booked for that Thursday morning, after the midwife was unable to perform the sweep on Monday. I felt quite nervous about the appointment; worried that she wouldn’t be able to perform the procedure and that induction would be ‘encouraged’. I’d been doing a lot of research around conception dates, and I thought that my due date was probably around a week out due to the irregular periods I’d been having following our miscarriage.
However, I needn’t have worried! The midwife was very experienced and was SO lovely and positive! Nothing was pushed on us; we felt very supported in our decision to decline induction, and agreed to twice weekly monitoring if Bun wasn’t out by 42 weeks.
The midwife was able to perform the sweep, and said that Bun was now 3/5 engaged, but that my cervix still felt quite thick. She didn’t think Bun’s arrival would be too long though. I had a bit of blood when I went to the toilet after the sweep, but I tried not to get too excited!
I’d booked myself an acupuncture appointment for the afternoon (much to Nick’s surprise – I’m really not good with needles…) and I had high hopes that it would kick everything off after many recommendations! I had an extreme reaction to the acupuncture and the session left me feeling very sick and dizzy, which I was reassured was a good thing.
That night I had more of a show and cramping on and off. I had a bath and an early-ish night, keeping everything crossed that we would be meeting Bun soon.
I woke up at 4am with cramps and went to the toilet, trying not to get over-excited. I tried to go back to sleep, but the cramps ramped up into contractions, so I got out of bed as lying down was getting rather uncomfortable. I walked around our room for a bit, breathing through each surge.
At about 4.45am, Nick woke up to me looming over him and I told him that I thought things were happening. We went downstairs (and for some reason I took my Kindle with me – thinking I might get some reading done between contractions!?!) and Nick phoned the labour ward to let them know I was in labour.
Frustratingly, Nick was told that the labour ward had been very busy and that the community team had already been out, so there was no one to attend our home birth. We were told to come to hospital. We had discussed this in our hypnobirthing sessions and in the local home birth group, and had been advised to stand our ground; where you birth is a choice and they will always send someone out – even if it’s an ambulance… And that’s exactly what happened – two ambulances turned up! Nick asked them to stand down and said we’d call again when I was closer.
By this point I was getting quite stressed. Nick was trying to keep me in the zone by being spokesperson so I didn’t have to deal with it, but I decided that it would be good to have someone else around to help us. Especially as he still hadn’t started inflating the pool as I kept needing to lean on him during surges.
He called our amazing hypnobirthing teacher Sandra at 5.30am and (thankfully!) she very kindly came over. She arrived, Nick filled her in on what had been happening, and she told him to start getting the pool ready immediately – otherwise it wouldn’t be up in time! Sandra and I stayed in the living room, rocking through surges with Nick coming in to check on me every few minutes. Sandra also works for Weleda and I remember thinking that she smelt incredible! My lower back was very uncomfortable and she kept stroking and massaging it. I was also really hot and sweaty, so the two of them kept me cool with a cold flannel.
At 6.30am there was a knock on the door, and two midwives arrived! I was so grateful to see them as everything was ramping up by this point and although I was trying to stay in the zone, I was getting quite worried that baby might arrive without any health professionals around.
The midwives read through my birth plan and quietly set up their kit on the dining room table. They asked to listen into baby, which pre-labour I wasn’t going to agree to, but labour felt much more uncomfortable this time round and I wanted to make sure she was ok in there so I said yes. Her heartbeat was perfect, which helped me relax.
During one of my next surges I felt Bun move down, and the need to get in the water was really strong. The pool was finally full enough to get in just before 7am and the water felt amazing. I remember saying “I can do this!” over and over.
I was still finding it difficult to get comfortable, and I tried a few different positions in the water. Finally I found that being on my side with my right leg up felt the most comfortable (if a little bizarre!) and I felt the urge to push. My waters went and I exclaimed “There go my waters!” knowing that, as with H-Bear, she would be here soon. I heard the 7am news on the radio and thought “Now would be a good time to arrive!” I pushed and her head appeared, although her chin was a little bit stuck, but one last big push (and a roar!) and she was born in the water at 07.04am. One of the midwives scooped her up and placed her in my arms.
I burst into tears. “Is she ok?!” I sobbed. “She’s perfect!” was the reply.
I brought her onto my chest and held her. Unable to believe that our rainbow baby was actually here. I was so convinced that she wouldn’t ever arrive; that something would go wrong. But she was here safely. With fairy lights all around and Michael Bublé singing about Christmas – just how I had imagined it would be.
I knew the children were awake upstairs and I asked Nick to get them so they could meet their sister. Them meeting Tabby only 10 minutes after she arrived is a moment I will never forget and made having a home birth even more amazing. H-Bear’s first question was “why are you in a pool?!” utterly perplexed. Busby was very interested in everything and asked SO many questions… including pointing out the poo that no one else had noticed. Only a little bit mortified about that… One of the midwives dealt with it very discreetly though!
Tabby was trying to find food at this point and the cord was quite short, so we decided to cut it as it had stopped pulsing. Busby helped Nick cut it, which was all kinds of magical!
H-Bear’s placenta had taken just over an hour to arrive, so I fed T and chatted to the midwives in the pool while we waited for Tabby’s to come as I knew it might be a while. It was at this point that they told me Tabby had been back to back – and they couldn’t believe how calm I’d been! I did wonder why my lower back had ached and why everything was feeling more uncomfortable this time round.
They also said that she didn’t look 12 days overdue as she was covered in vernix, so I’m very glad I stuck to my guns regarding declining induction!
The water around me was getting darker and a rather large clot came out, so we decided it would be best to get out of the water and see whether my placenta would arrive after some gravity and a tummy rub. We set up the sofa with lots of shower curtains and plastic sheeting, but no amount of massage would get the placenta going, so I agreed that the managed third stage injection would be a good idea. The placenta arrived, and with it so did a lot of blood… The midwives were quite concerned by this point as they estimated I’d lost around 900ml of blood, so one of them called the labour ward, while the other continued to massage. I had an injection of syntometrine intravenously to try and get my uterus contracting to stop the blood, and that worked wonders. Both midwives were happy that everything was under control again, so we decided that a transfer to hospital wasn’t necessary.
After that the midwives handed over to our community team who had just clocked on. I had two grazes and needed a couple of small stitches on my perineum. I have to be honest – I was more worried about the local anaesthetic and these stitches than I was about giving birth! (I’ve never needed stitches after birth before.) I kept saying to the lovely student midwife holding my hand “This is ridiculous – I’ve just birthed a baby! Why am I worried about a couple of stitches?!” and giggled a lot that we were using one of my photography light boxes for the procedure.
Then, once Tabby was weighed (a lovely 7lb15oz) and the paperwork was all filled out, Nick and I were left to soak up our new family member (the children had been picked up and taken to school by this point). We went upstairs, I put on my pjs, had a mince pie and snuggled in bed. It was perfect.
So my final birth story is complete: Little Miss Tabitha, born in water at home on Friday 14th December 2018 after a back to back labour lasting only 3 hours from start to finish, with no pain relief. Hypnobirthing is the best!
A huge thank you to Sandra for coming out at 5.30am, and to the incredible midwives who attended Tabby’s birth, who were so supportive of my birth plan and wishes.
I still can’t believe she’s here. I feel so incredibly lucky every time I look at her; she’s a dream. And I’m so thankful that I achieved my second home birth – there really is nothing like giving birth at home, in your own safe, relaxed environment.