Annabelle’s birth story October 2011

Our eldest Izzy 8lbs 12oz was a planned hospital birth at 40weeks+5days. Our labour lasted 36 hours, for the most part on gas and air, with a quick dip in the pool then into theatre for a spinal and rotational forceps delivery as she was back to back. This was a very traumatic birth experience that we did not want to repeat.

Two years later came James 9lbs 12oz a planned NHS homebirth at 40 weeks + 8days. This labour lasted less than 5 hours assisted by paramedics as his arrival was speedier than we and the midwife expected. The level of care we received did not meet our expectations. I did not feel cared for or treated as an individual throughout the pregnancy or when the midwives visited at the start of my labour. We needed to look for a more personal experience.

Two years later came William 10lbs 9oz a planned homebirth with independent midwife Lynn at 40weeks+10days. Another long one at 27 hours but this time we used breathing and movement instead of gas and air. I felt safe, listened to and cared for by Lynn.

Lynn had moved away so when five years later we were expecting baby number four we searched for another independent midwife and found Eleanor.

The children all wanted our new baby to be a girl so we decided to find out at the 20 week scan but our baby had other ideas and had its legs firmly crossed and tucked under its bum! We then had no choice but to wait and see what came along :)

Our due date of the 2nd of October came and went. The morning of the 10th of October I had the first hint that baby may be on the way sometime soon, a show. Eleanor came at 11.30 for a routine appointment and all was fine with baby in a very good position.

Having sent my husband (Brett) out to work he came home at lunchtime with my Dad to do a few of the finishing off jobs in our bathroom (Brett had been off the whole of the previous week re-fitting the bathroom). Note to Dads there may be a better time than when your wife is 40 weeks pregnant to re-fit a bathroom :)

It was around 1.30pm when I started to get a few twinges but nothing specific. Unfortunately around 2pm one of our cats became very unwell and Brett rushed him off to the vets but at 15 years old and already being poorly we did not hold out much hope. My twinges, still nothing specific continued and I just hoped Brett would be back for the school run at 3pm as I did not feel like walking to school. Brett came home just in time but with the bad news that our cat had had to be put to sleep. It was at 4pm when we were telling the children about the cat and all crying that the twinges turned into contractions. The children calmed down, I cooked dinner and we sat down at 5.30pm while having contractions here and there which were not strong, regular or getting closer together.

Brett thought it was time to call my mum so the children could be settled at her house for the night. I still felt it was too soon as the contractions were irregular and did not require my full attention. At 7.30pm mum came and the children left wildly excited to be sleeping over at Grandmas and Granddads on a school night. Izzy shouted out of the car keep breathing mum!

I kept needing to go to the toilet so knew labour was moving along. We watched TV until 8.30pm with me sitting on my ball and then Brett suggested a walk to keep things moving but we only managed to get round the block as I needed the toilet again.

At 9pm Brett wanted to fill the pool and phone Eleanor but the contractions were still all over the place anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes apart. We compromised on texting Eleanor and she called back us straight back and we agreed that I should try and get some rest and call back if my waters went or the contractions got to 45 seconds long. Brett decided to fill the pool but I was convinced it would be cold by the time I was ready to get in.

Upstairs we went and laid lots of towels on the bed just in case and at 9.30 I lay down, turned to talk to Brett and had a big contraction and my waters broke. I sprang out of bed (as far as a 41 week pregnant woman can spring) and stood in the bathroom (tiled floor) while Brett and I had a bit of a what’s going on here moment as both the boys had arrived very quickly after my waters broke but I could not feel the baby coming. Brett rang Eleanor to say come now and my contractions got more intense but still not long only around 30 seconds.

We went back downstairs and laid out a shower curtain with old duvet on top and I sat on this with a towel over my ball as with every contraction more water came out. The contractions were around every 10 minutes still only around 30 seconds but were taking most of my attention. I used a breathing method that involved imagining your breath flowing over a path made by the sun setting over the sea, this really helped.

Eleanor arrived at 10.15 with all her bags, rushing in ready to catch the baby! I said it’s not coming yet. She unpacked, checked my blood pressure and the babies heart rate. As the pool was half full Eleanor asked if I wanted to get in. I went to the toilet first and while I was out of the room Eleanor unpacked and checked her gas and air (not that I had time to ask for it), resuscitation equipment and her other bits and bobs. As I came back she said she was just going to call Sharon the second midwife to come (2nd midwife comes when the baby is nearly ready to be born). I felt Brett and Eleanor were getting everything ready too quick as I did not feel like the baby was coming.

10.45 I got in the pool, it was lovely. It was nice moving about in the warm water chatting to Brett and Eleanor in my lounge. It was then that my hips started to hurt with each contraction. This felt just the same as when I had William. At 11pm Sharon arrived and took over note taking and Eleanor and Brett were focused on me. The contractions increased to 3 every 10 minutes lasting 30 to 40 seconds and would have taken all my focus if it weren’t for the pain in my hips, (which was eased a bit by Brett squeezing them) and the really bad cramp in my leg during a contraction. I had to get out of the pool at 11.10pm to walk to stop the cramp.

11.15pm I then needed to be on my knees. The next contraction was around 40 seconds and really strong; taking all my effort to breathe through with Brett really squeezing my hips then to my absolute surprise Eleanor said the baby has lots of hair! I could not believe she could see the head already.

The next contraction came and baby came out too her cheeks and Eleanor asked me to push to get the whole head out and out came baby at 11.32pm, it’s a girl :)

Eleanor and Sharon made a nest on the sofa so baby and I could relax for some skin to skin and her first feed. Eleanor and Sharon emptied the pool and cleared away while Brett and I said hello to our baby girl. When everything was tidy Eleanor got out the scales and weighed our little girl she then took her back off the scales moved them, reset them and tried again and said it’s the same. She was a very healthy 11lb 3oz.

Eleanor and Sharon went home, I had a shower and we then sat in bed looking at our new baby. My mum brought the children round before school to meet their sister. The children had brought one blue and one pink hat so they would know straight away if they had a brother or sister and they never even noticed the pink hat they were just excited that the baby had arrived.