I woke up at 5am with vague crampy feelings, and decided to try to get some more sleep, which I managed until 6.30 when my daughter, Abi, woke up. I fetched her milk, got back into bed until she came through, then had a cuddle in bed with her while I took notice of the cramps. At 7.15 I woke my mum to say that I was probably in labour. Went downstairs to phone the midwives and started my contraction timing app up on my phone. Made toast. A midwife phoned back to say she’d be there in an hour or half an hour. DH ran me a bath, I got in while DH and mum set up our bedroom and my sister took care of Abi downstairs. The midwife arrived – she was a lovely lady called Annie, I had never met her before but I couldn’t have asked for a better midwife. I got out of the bath and came through to bounce on my birthing ball. I explained to Annie that I didn’t want to be examined to find out how far along I was, and that it wouldn’t make any difference anyway as my labours progress very quickly! Annie was happy to agree to that, and phoned a second midwife, Katy to come from Ipswich! By about 9.30am, this was us!
I was using the contraction timer on my phone, and between contractions, going online, chatting and laughing. We put on the Bach cello suites. The beads around my wrist are labour beads; the online community I am a part of had all sent me a bead each. I was breathing through each contraction by holding each bead in turn tight for a breath in and a breath out, then moving to the next bead.
At 10.10am (says my app!) the contractions were strong and felt pushy, so I gave up on the timer and moved to kneel down on the mattress at the foot of the bed, and started using the Entonox. At that point, my body took over. Just as I had requested, I wasn’t examined or directed pushing, so I used each contraction more or less as it came. DH came and sat on the bed to support me on my knees, and I was kind of hanging backwards off him for each push. In between contractions I was able to put my head down on his lap and tune out.
At 10:50 I had one contraction that just seemed to last for ever, I felt extreme sensations but had no idea how much of the baby was out until DH told me to turn around and look! Jeremy Alexander John was born still in his caul (it ruptured as his head was born).
As I’d requested, they let the cord stop pulsating before cutting it, and the placenta followed very quickly, before I had even changed position.
As soon as I saw Jeremy, I knew what his name ought to be, so my first words after saying “Hello” to Jeremy were to DH: “Can I name him?” Then I told everybody his name. We had a go at feeding straight away, but he wasn’t very interested. He was very peaceful and sleepy for the rest of the day.
It was such a lovely labour. Until I stopped using the timer, my app shows that no contraction lasted longer than a minute, and I had an average of three minutes to recover between each one. At one point between contractions, I was explaining to midwife Katy how much worse period pains are than labour! Compared with how much pain I was in after Abi’s birth, needing help to even get out of bed, I felt on top of the world – I could walk around, get myself to the toilet and into my lovely lavender bath, and that evening I was downstairs eating a takeaway Chinese meal with my family! (I needed three stitches apparently, and I made good use of the gas to have them. It’s amazing stuff.)
Abi had been downstairs almost the whole time; my sister, without knowing that we were in the final stages of labour (I wasn’t making any noise) took her out to pick me some flowers, and when she came back they heard Jeremy crying! Abi came straight up to give me the flowers and meet her baby brother.
Meanwhile, my brave husband took the placenta and a bottle of sherry and shut himself in the kitchen, emerging later with a delicious smoothie and a large dish of pate. The sherry was intended for the pate, but I think most of it ended up in the husband…
The only downside of my perfect homebirth was that, since I am rhesus negative, I needed to be given the injection of immune globulin – and since that’s a blood product, apparently it can’t be given at home. So within 72 hours I had to present myself at the hospital, 45 minutes’ drive away, for a single injection! I left Jeremy with my mum, not wanting him to come into contact with the outside world yet, and raced back in time to feed him. He was a week old before he even left the house to go for a walk.