The week leading to Mr H’s birth wasn’t quite as I had expected it to be. Due to my pre-eclampsia with Mr D my midwife asked to see me just before the 40 week mark. At that appointment my blood pressure (BP) was borderline high and my urine sample showed a trace of protein.
I was sent to the hospital for monitoring and thankfully an hour there and my BP was in an acceptable range and my urine sample was clear. I was sent home with an appointment for the community midwife to visit me on the Saturday, my official due date (although I thought my due date was more likely to be the Wednesday or Thursday).
The midwife came and my BP was borderline again but she was happy enough so agreed that they’d visit me again on Monday. By Monday I had got myself into a state. When the midwife arrived my BP was again slightly high and the urine sample showed 1 + of protein. I was given a sweep and sent to hospital for monitoring.
This time we were there for three hours. Around an hour on the monitors, urine sample and blood checks. All was fine and BP came back into an acceptable range. I was sent home with an appointment to see the midwife on the Wednesday. I was asked at this stage how I felt about being induced and my response was ‘not very happy….’
Wednesday came and the appointment was with my midwife that I had been seeing throughout my pregnancy. I went along to the clinic and my BP was still borderline but urine clear. She was content to send me home, and to see me the next day (which I believed to be my correct due date) on the understanding that if things were the same I’d be back off to hospital for monitoring,
By this stage I was increasingly worried that I would be induced, and was being advised to compromise and accept a birthing centre birth, on the basis that if I was transferred from home it would be to the delivery (Doctor led) ward. I was beginning to feel that I might have to concede that this was the best option.
Anyhow, I felt fine on the Wednesday and went to pick the children up who had been with my mum during my appointment. We came home and Miss E had a nap. I popped the TV on for Mr D hoping that I too could get a snooze, but with one thing and another I didn’t get to rest.
The children went to bed as normal and I can’t recall what we did in the evening – probably watched whatever football was on. I headed to bed around 9pm to read and read a chapter of my book before turning to twitter. I had a chat online with Fiona from Watching you Grow and said that I had a feeling things might start moving. Around 11pm I started feeling cramps on and off, but I had had these a few weeks previous and didn’t think much of it. Damian came to bed around 11:30/11:45 and I said that I thought things might start moving soon. We turned the lights out and Damian was soon asleep. Around midnight I felt a pop in my lower back and then thought I’d wet myself. I jumped out of bed to go to the loo and as I got onto the landing my waters gushed out. I shouted Damian and I have never ever seen him move so fast.
I am thankful that they didn’t go in bed as the mattress would have been wrecked! I began to panic a little as Miss E was born as my waters went, but as I stood there shaking I realised there was a complete absence of pain. I moved into the bathroom and there was more gushing of waters – there is a serious amount of water that leaves the body and it’s the strangest thing to have no control over it. I checked to make sure all was clear (it was) and headed to call the hospital.
The plan, originally, had been that if things happened overnight we would leave Mr D and Miss E and then reassess where things were as we got closer to their wake up time. However I knew that I didn’t want them there as the reality hit home.
I phone the hospital to advise my waters had gone and that I was booked for a Home Birth. They took my info and advised me to call back when I began to get pains etc. I then phoned my parents who promptly arrived to take Mr D and Miss E. There were still no pains and I was walking around with a towel between my legs as every movement saw more after gushing from me!
After the children had left I relaxed and knew that that had been the right decision. Damian began to clear the dining room and inflate the pool. Things were still not happening so I decided to get a bath and Damian was going to head back to bed. He came in to see me around 2am and I said that I felt I needed to call the hospital back as I was getting pains. They were erratic, not following a consistent pattern of time or length etc but I knew this was how things had happened with Miss E.
At 2:15am I called back the hospital and my pains were getting stronger by then. They said they had everything packed and someone would be with me shortly.
At this stage we were just waiting; I was sat in the dining room logging the contractions which were lasting around 25 seconds and coming every three – four minutes. The midwives arrived just after 3am and came in and introduced themselves as Lauren and Collette. They asked me how I was feeling etc and then asked if they could examine me. At this check (around 2:40am) I was found to be 2cm. We headed back into the dining room and they set up the various bits they needed, asked us where towels etc were and set about filling in the copious amounts of paperwork.
Due to my blood pressure problems in the week they set about checking that along with my temperature and regular doppler checks on the baby, My blood pressure was still hovering but not scary high. Things had slowed when the midwives arrived – it’s strange how the body responds to those changes and I was worried I was in for a stop/start labour.
The midwives had a chat and it emerged that neither had had a break since starting their shifts at 8pm, so after a cup of tea Collette headed to her car for a break. Lauren continued to monitor me and Damian began to fill the pool. I think it was around 4:30 by this time. I was asked to drink water and I recall having a glass of water and a digestive biscuit to nibble on. I was asked at various stages if I’d like to use the gas and air, but things were manageable so I declined.
I was asked to do a urine sample which I did and that showed a trace of protein. My blood pressure at this stage had increased and I knew things weren’t great when Lauren said she was just going to make a call. At this point I could feel the baby lowering down and beginning to gently push and I couldn’t imagine anything worse than moving at this stage. Lauren came back and advised about the protein and that she wanted to catheterize me to get a clean sample – apparently when waters have gone the sample can be contaminated. I panicked at this stage and protested but knew it was a bit in vain.
Collette came back in and the next bit is a bit of a blur. I knew I was moving into the ‘transition’ stage as I was calling for Damian to come back – up until this point I was able to cope without him holding my hand or rubbing my back etc but the contractions were coming much stronger. Collette and Lauren walked with me into the living room so they could examine me again to assess how far I was. This was the single most excruciating thing ever – lying on your back is the absolute worse thing for a contraction and I am sure at this point I was begging them to let me stand up. At this point I was 6cm.
I recall the midwives talking about moving me and I begged them not to, saying I’d go once the baby born but not now – Collette (who was older and therefore I guess more experienced) sensed that things were going to move quickly and I recall her saying 6cm is nothing with her history and a third baby. It was agreed to leave the second urine sample. I remember at this point Collette rubbing my back whilst the contractions were in process and I can honestly say this lady deserves a medal – It was the most amazing pain relief – she somehow managed to hit the perfect spot to ease things for me and she was a star continuing this for me as things rapidly moved along.
They helped me up and back into the dining room and it was clear that the pool wasn’t going to be full enough in time so they asked me if I’d find it easier to lean against a chair. I think we ended up in the smallest space in the room against the pool!
I remember at this point wondering how I was going to cope and was beginning to panic, but recognizing these were all normal parts of the transition stage. They got some of the mats and towels and things down and got a cushion on the floor for me to kneel on and loads of towels. Not long after, that overwhelming urge to push happened and I remember feeling more in control than I had done with Mr D and Miss E – although I’m sure it didn’t seem it to Damian!. I remember trying to concentrate to listen to what the midwife (I think Lauren) was telling me to do – I’m not sure I managed it and I think Damian said I was holding my breath – which is obviously the wrong thing to do! This stage is recorded as eight minutes and I remember holding onto Damian’s hand for dear life and them telling me the baby was coming – I could feel the head and then that relief as the shoulders and body come down.
The baby was born at 05:48 and handed to Collette and I recall hearing the loud cry – something I don’t remember with Mr D and Miss E took a few minutes to cry. I remember them asking if Damian wanted to cut the cord – finally as he hadn’t been able to with the previous two and then me asking what we had had.
I was still at this point knelt over the chair with my back to everyone and Damian told me it was a boy and they brought him for me to see.
During the labour there had been some discussion about the injection for the placenta delivery – there was a particular mix they wanted to give me because of my blood pressure so they gave me that injection and got me onto the chair.
Damian took the baby off for cuddles and once the placenta was delivered I realised that the dining room was resembling a murder scene – it was grim. I was advised that I had a second degree tear and they moved me to the sofa in the living room for the stitches etc. This stage is horrible and I was asked if I wanted gas and air for this! I declined and just asked them to do what they needed to without telling me – I can’t bear this stage and really don’t need to know the details.
Once I was stitched up and given a quick clean up of my legs I went for a quick trip to the loo – I think I cried at the prospect of walking upstairs but Lauren was lovely and helped me up. I changed out of my t-shirt – the same one I’d worn for Mr D’s birth and I enjoyed some skin to skin and that first feed with the baby – who had been enjoying skin to skin upstairs with daddy whilst I was sorted out. The baby was weighed (8lb 1!) and the paperwork completed. My labour was recorded as 2 hours 33 minutes.
At some point in all this the two midwives headed off to clean up the dining room and what they did was absolutely amazing and beyond what Damian and I expected – Damian had made tea and toast for me and they gave him a bag of towels for the wash and said he’d probably just want to give the room a mop – you wouldn’t have known what had happened only an hour or so before.
I remember telling Lauren she needed to have her break and she laughed saying she knew what she’d rather be doing!
The midwife who had visited me on Monday at home came to relieve the other midwives and they were all sat around enjoying a cup of tea and some toast whilst Damian and I enjoyed our new baby.
Lauren and Collette headed off back to the hospital and Julie stayed with us to do the observations on the baby and to just check my blood pressure was coming down as it should do. I think she left around 10:30am.
I’m so pleased that I managed the home birth. I felt more in control than I had done with Mr D and Miss E and it felt nicer for Damian and I to be together the entire time to enjoy our new addition – with Mr D and Miss E once I was settled back onto the ward Damian has headed off for his breakfast, returning later to see where things were up to etc.
This time we were able to enjoy our time just the three of us. My parents had Mr D and Miss E all day, bringing them back just before bedtime and Damian and I managed a short nap in the afternoon whilst Mr H had a nap. Introducing their new brother to the children was lovely and Miss E in particular is very taken with him, wanting to hold him and she enjoys touching and kissing him. Mr D is more reserved, but that’s fine and he joins in at his own pace.
Whilst I didn’t get the pool birth I had hoped for I am pleased that, despite how things looked in the final week of the pregnancy, I managed to get that home birth which, for me, was the absolute right choice.