The story of the birth of Olivia Isla Evans
The birth I wanted
I knew from the start that I wanted to have my baby at home. I had wanted to have my son at home too but due to lack of staff, I was sent to hospital at the last minute. This time however, I was determined for it to be different.
I planned to give birth in a birth pool because I had heard really good things about how giving birth in water worked to reduce the pain, made it easier to move about and made it less likely for you to tear. All good things, I thought, why not!? I was very fortunate to have a straight forward pregnancy and I felt really fit and healthy right up until the end. I had been having braxton hicks (practice contractions) from 26 weeks and as time drew on, they got stronger and stronger but not painful really. They used to come every evening, about 4 minutes apart and it was really difficult to tell sometimes if it wasn’t the start of labour!! So during the last two weeks, I constantly felt, ‘ooh!? maybe this is it?!’
We moved 2 months before the baby was due so there was not much continuity of care until the last 3 weeks when finally my home birth was booked in with the NHS and I started seeing the same midwife for 3 weeks running. I also made the decision to have a Doula. Mel was a great support for me and I knew that it didn’t matter that I had no idea who was going to attend me from the team of midwives because I had Mel.
She knew exactly what I wanted and she believed in me. She gave me advice and exercises prior to the birth to help me get the baby into an optimal position. My baby seemed to have plenty of room though because I could feel her move from back to front numerous times a day so it was tricky keeping her in one spot. I had resigned myself in the end to just let it be. I would have the baby either way.
I was also very nervous that a certain midwife would attend my birth. At our meetings she seemed to be very negative, full of complaints, not very confident in birth and not happy at all with my birth plan! She objected to my request for no vaginal exams (VE), reduced monitoring, bringing the baby up to my chest myself and insisted that an induction at 42 weeks was the only way, should I reach that point. She was full of doom and gloom about all the things that could go wrong…what about the fact that the chances of success far outweigh the chances of failure?
By the end of some of my meetings with her, I had gone from overly confident to worried and insecure! Thankfully, Mel was able to assuage my doubt with sound reason and references to great factual sources to confirm for me that I could do it. It was such a reassurance knowing that Mel would be there and that should this particular midwife arrive on the day, I would not have to worry or fight my corner, I could just sit back and have my baby. Mel would do her best for me and support my husband in being my voice and giving him the confidence to do so at a time when I was vulnerable and I didn’t want the midwife scaring my husband unnecessarily!
In addition to wishes regarding VE’s, monitoring and catching my baby myself, I also did not want any suggestions of pain relief unless I requested them myself. I found that in my first labour, I was very open to suggestion even if it was not something that I was actually thinking about at the time, so Mel was there to ensure that my wishes were respected within reason.
Finally at 40+4 weeks (the same number of days I was pregnant the first time!) I woke up at 5.30am with stronger than usual braxton hicks that were somewhat painful and came regularly for over an hour. We called the midwife and Mel because I was certain this was it. Chris went about filling up the pool and preparing everything. I was SO excited!
The midwife and Mel arrived and things calmed down a notch, the contractions were still regular but not that bad, I could talk and laugh through them and it was almost as if it was all going away… I felt a little silly to be honest. It was good to meet the midwife and chat to her and I was so relieved to see it wasn’t the one I dreaded someone who seemed supportive of all my birth plan choices and happy to let them ‘be the plan’ as long as things were going well…and they were. After a while I decided that I just felt too observed. I needed a little a little privacy and needed to take some steps to get these contractions back on track. I asked my midwife to leave and told her I would call her when things picked up again.
I was dying to get out of the hot house (warmed up for the baby’s arrival). I went for a nice brisk (as brisk as a pregnant waddle goes!) walk with Mel. We laughed and chatted and walked for a good 40 minutes and I was really tired by the end of it but I could feel that things were picking up again but still not significantly so. Having tired myself out a bit, I decided to have some lunch to give me energy while the contractions were not too bad and then have a sleep just in case I was going to be up late that night.
I slept for an hour during which the contractions spread further apart to every 15 minutes but grew in intensity each time. I slept so deeply inbetween the contractions, like my body knew it needed all the rest it could get. After that hour I couldn’t take the contractions any more. I got up and went downstairs and noticed that they were a lot closer together (3 mins) and longer. It was now 2.30pm. We called the midwife to come back and she said she would be 40 mins.
I wanted to climb in the water right then but I also wanted to wait for the midwife so that I didn’t climb in too quickly and slow things down. I stood in the kitchen and listened to the radio finding my own space away from my Mel and Chris. Both of them gave me my space. We chatted between contractions and I did some deep breathing through the contractions. It was lovely! I even had a bit of chocolate and was ecstatic that this was finally it! Finally I was going to meet my baby and find out if it was a boy or a girl. I was delighted at the intensity because I was sure it was going to happen soon and that this wasn’t going to go on all night as I had feared after the stopping and starting that morning.
The midwife arrived just before 3pm and observed me through 2 contractions and agreed I was definitely in active labour and that I could get into the pool after a quick blood pressure and temperature check. She didn’t do any vaginal exam as requested. I sat down to have my temperature taken and my waters broke suddenly….and the intensity and pain made it clear that this was a whole new ball game. I suddenly felt a little anxious to get in that pool soon as there was not much time and I just wanted to relax after all this waiting!
I hopped in the water and tried to keep as relaxed as possible and listen to my body. Things seemed to have slowed a little, I think my body was adjusting to the new sensations and the arrival of the midwife and the talking had got me thinking too much and I needed to quiet down and let my body take over from my head. The midwife was so unobtrusive, she told me to communicate with her as to when my first few contractions were so that she could keep a close eye on me and then only came and monitored me every now and then giving me my space as requested.
I could feel that I could probably start pushing but the pain in my back was incredibly intense…the baby was not optimally positioned so I was experiencing back labour. It wasn’t unbearable, just intense and I was reminded of the saying that the contractions cannot be greater than me, because they are me. I just kept breathing through it and shaking my head to relax my jaw hoping that my body would do the pushing for me as the thought of pushing against that back labour was a thought more than I could bear!
After a while, the midwife suggested that I should push a little and see what happens. I was so hesitant because this labour felt so different to the last. The water was amazing and allowed me to stretch my legs out behind me while on all fours so that I could make more room in my pelvis – I could never have done that out of the water! I gave small pushes as much as felt comfortable and thankfully, it did actually feel good to push but not too much, it did feel like it really had to go very slowly. But an hour after getting in the pool, I was blowing little breathes out for all I was worth as my little baby was coming out and I was determined not to tear this time.
Slowly, slowly out it came. The midwife guided me through reaching down to pull it up and out of the water and onto my chest for some skin-to-skin contact at 5pm. I unwrapped the cord that was looped over her shoulder. She was so quiet, her big eyes staring at me. My little GIRL! I gently rubbed her back and with two small squeaks and coughs, she pinked up instantly. She was so alert and gazed into my eyes. I was in love, tears in my eyes, so, so, so grateful to everyone for helping me do what I knew in my heart I could do. Olivia bob, bob, bobbed her head…she was hungry, that’s my girl!!
We waited until the cord pulsed out and then Chris cut the cord. It was truly an amazing day. I felt refreshed after the birth, elated that I had my little girl and I was all in one piece. And I was at home, so once the midwives were satisfied that all was well, they left and we made ourselves a lovely big dinner and collapsed in our own bed for the night. Wonderful!