The journey to this birth story has been a long one, involving an unnecessary c-section, birth trauma, recurrent miscarriage, infertility, and unsuccessful IVF. Which makes the incredible joy this home water birth after c-section has brought us all the more special.
I started having occasional twinges on Monday, but from my experience last time I knew that the longer I could carry on and not label this as ‘something starting’, the better. So we did everything as normal. By Wednesday morning I was still having irregular twinges, but started to feel like trying to drive if I did get one would be a bad idea, so my partner came with me and our son to our home education groups and did the driving. The baby has been OP for most of the last few months, so on wednesday afternoon I had an osteopath appointment to try to encourage him to turn. By that time the twinges were getting stronger, and not letting on that something is happening when someone is twisting your back is pretty tricky!
Once we got got home, around 4.30pm, things started to get going more, and I was sure I was having contractions rather than just head-butting-into-cervix or something. They were about 1 in every 5 minutes, lasting about a minute, but I still thought we were in for a long haul, and might have a baby at the weekend as I felt very lucid in between them. But at the end of each contraction I felt ‘pushy’, which was a bit worrying as I knew I was far too early on for that. I tried a bath, which helped, and had half a sandwich, but my son kicked me out of the bath, and the dog stole the other half of the sandwich while I was distracted during a contraction. I phoned my independent midwife, who said it was probably the baby’s OP position just meaning my body needed to do really strong contractions to turn the baby, and suggested a few different positions to try. She offered to come over, but having had everyone there masses too early last time, and thinking there were still days to go, I said no. I tried the positions, found some insane (she’s about a foot taller than me and suggested putting one foot on the third stair up – I tried it and screamed through the contraction ‘Who’s stupid idea was this?’). Standing against the wall squatting while lifting my belly was good, but I was needing to rest in between contractions, and running from the sofa to the wall for each contraction didn’t work.
At about 8pm we called our doula and asked her to come over, and maybe try some rebozo to turn the babe. I was sure birth was a long way off, probably a few days, so I was thinking she might try that, then go back home. When she came over she sat watching what was going on for 10 minutes, then turned some of the lights off to make the room even darker than it was, told me and OH to stop making chitchat, told me to stop overthinking, and got me on all fours resting on the sofa, and told me not to worry about the pushy feeling, as being on all fours would help the position. Within half an hour contractions were hotting up rapidly, and I just had to go with the pushy feelings as they were so strong and felt so satisfying. I started having lots of show, and was making lots of loud noises, but still felt too ‘with it’ to be anywhere near birth. I was still able to make rude jokes with our doula, and say to my other half ‘This is amazing’ between contractions.
About 10 I asked my partner to finish filling the pool. I didn’t want to risk getting in too early, but it had a heatproof cover, so I figured if they got it really hot now it would stay warm till I wanted it in the morning. Then about 10.30 I started to really want to get in, and a bit later felt like I’d quite like the midwife to come out and see what was going on, though I felt really bad for getting her out so early as I was convinced this baby would not be arriving till Friday at the earliest.
The midwife arrived at around 11pm, and came in really quietly and just put her stuff ready in a corner. I opened one eye to say hello, then she went to talk to my partner and our doula about the pool (there was a problem with the cold tap not working, and they were running up and down stairs with buckets of water). Our midwife took my pulse and palpated my tummy at my request while I was still on my knees over the sofa. At some point he had swung round so his back was at the front -hurrah! Around 11.30 the pool was finally ok to get in, and it was bliss. I could now feel the head descending, and our midwife offered me a VE, knowing I’d been worried my early pushing had made a cervical lip. She found no lip, and his head was really low. I had a feel, and could feel the waters still round his head! About 11.45 my partner went and got our son up, and he came and laid on the sofa, waiting for the baby to be born. Our midwife used a mirror and torch and could see the head, and showed our doula and my partner, but I was really happy with my eyes closed and didn’t want to look.
As the head came out it kept getting stuck by the pubic bone, and I couldn’t feel how to move to make space, so at the end of each contraction it went back inside. That was not nice! Our midwife and doula suggested lots of things, like standing up a bit, but they felt too impossible to try. (I later realised I was sitting back with the contractions, almost on the baby’s head, which probably didn’t help!) I managed to wiggle my hips a little, and finally the head came out beautifully. I felt the shoulders come out too, and he made a sort of swimming motion so I assumed that was the whole body, so sat back to catch the baby and lift him up. As I picked him up I realised his legs were still inside, and that I was pulling him out – very weird!
He was amazing! All covered in vernix, and his membranes only burst as his body came out. He felt tiny (he was 8lb 1, but my first was 10lb 10), and he started breathing and whimpering as soon as he was clear of the water. His cord was wrapped round him a little, so our midwife unhooked it, and then I just cuddled him. I couldn’t quite believe he was here. I hadn’t noticed a change between contractions and pushing, I hadn’t gotten abusive, or really screamed out of control as I thought I might, the closest I’d got to transition panic was probably asking my partner to call the midwife and fill the pool. It was 12.01, the doula had been there for 3.5 hours, the midwife for less than an hour, I’d been in the pool around 30 minutes, and I still felt like I’d called everyone too early!
I thought I might want to do a partial lotus birth, but the cord was a bit short, and I really didn’t like how it felt (tugging inside). After about 15 minutes it had stopped pulsing, so I asked our midwife to cut it, and gave the baby to my partner while I delivered the placenta. Sitting in the pool didn’t work, standing didn’t work, so I hobbled upstairs to sit on the loo. Our midwife suggested nipple twiddling, but it wasn’t coming out, so I asked to her to get my partner to bring the baby, so I could feed him. He didn’t really latch on, but it worked anyway, and the placenta came out. A quick check later found a second degree tear (probably where I’d pulled his feet out of me!), but it was quite short and not bleeding, so didn’t need stitches. By 1am I was showered and tucked up in bed with the baby, my parter was bringing me hot cider, our son was bringing me and our doula chocolate biscuits (and snaffling a lot for himself), our doula was making placenta smoothie and tidying the birth pool away, and our midwife was cleaning up all the bloody inco pads and writing everything down. I felt on top of the world, and completely waited on and queen like – it was amazing! By 2am we were all in bed, our lovely doula and fantastic midwife had gone, and we were a family of four.
Given the chance, I’d do it all again tomorrow.
You can read Jill’s story here.