I was asked recently to write about my birth experiences for other people who were considering homebirths and it was quite well received so ai have decided to add it to my blog for myself to be able to look back on as well. It was written on my phone with a squirmy Poppy in one arms trying to grab it from me so please excuse the lack of punctuation and/or typos! 🙂
I have had two beautiful baby girls at home and would (and often do!) recommend homebirths to anyone who is in good health. Our first daughter was born in 2010 – as soon as I knew I was pregnant I wanted homebirth after watching my youngest brother come into the world at home. My husband was less keen to begin with though respected my decision – then at 27weeks we had a false alarm which landed us in the labour ward at hospital. It was during that long wait that my husband fell in love with the idea of homebirths as he witnessed couple after couple being sent home after waiting for initial assessments, heard the groans of labouring women and watched the one midwife running like Mo Farrah from room to room (even delivering one baby solo). Happily our daughter thought better of an early entry and indeed opted to be fashionably late! At 40wks plus 10 days with an induction booked for the following week the twinges started. And twinges grew steadily until finally at just under five minutes apart I agreed to call the midwife who arrived and decided that although she didn’t think I was in labour due to being able to talk the hind legs off a donkey with only short pauses for contractions before continuing she agreed to have “a look”… “Crikey!” Was her verdict. 7cms dilated – it was showtime! During the following 14hrs my husband and I took leisurely strolls up and down the street until eventually the contractions would stop me in my tracks and it was decided it would be safer to stay inside. “How about a bath?” Said Becky, our midwife as I began to find the contractions more painful. So we took our gas and air into the bathroom and settled into the most comforting cocoon of warm water. “You are doing great” soothed my husband Darren. “You’re nearly there” soothed Becky. “I need a poo!” Howled my good self! Becky glanced at Darren and said to me “you can sit on the toilet for one minute but I don’t think you need to poo sweetheart, I think baby is on the way”. To this day Darren says he knew she was right only by the fact that his usually very bashful wife said he could stay in the room while I attempted to go! It turned out she was right… one minute later I was crawling from the toilet to the living room as the second midwife arrived and thirty minutes of pushing later a baby girls head arrived, eyes wide open checking out the room before her body even emerged. To the sound of a quietly cheering husband and in the light of an electic fire and the rising sun, Isabella May sucked in her first lungful of air and let the world know she had arrived! The second homebirth was far less relaxed but just as memorable hehe! It was midnight, December 14th 2012, the day after due date, and I had been in bed for an hour. Isabella was asleep in bed and I got up for a wee (not unusual hehe!) and returned to bed. Immediately after laying down I sat back up… not due to pain or even waters at that point but because I felt odd. Even odder was that Darren sat up at exactly the same time despite having been sound asleep. We looked at each other and he asked if I was ok when suddenly a gushing feeling began and I told him either I was wetting myself or my waters had broken so we stood up to find everything bone dry – which I may have commented on had I not suddenly been speared with the most painful contraction I had ever experienced (up to that point!). Darren began helping me to the bathroom as I was certain there must be some water somewhere but we didn’t even get to the door before I was wracked with another pain which had me howling “oh no no no no no no nooooo!” (Honestly I sounded like Jim from Vicar of Dibley!). Darren wanted to get the midwife and I said I would be fine as we would have hours yet but at half past midnight he called her anyway as I could no longer argue! “Can I speak to your wife?” Asked the midwife as he calmly told her he thought I was in labour. He handed the phone to me with a grin on his face knowing what would happen next… “hi Nikki how are we….” “Oh No NO NO NO NO NO NO OWWWWWWW… fine thank you but… OWOWOWOWWWWW”… Very brief pause from the midwife before she replied “could you pass me back to your husband please?”. Apparently she told him if I said in the next couple of minutes that I felt like pushing don’t hesitate to call the ambulance but she was on her way! She arrived in record time, at 12:50am and though it took ten minutes to get my trousers off to examine me (the contractions kept stopping me dead) she finally examined me at 1am. “Well you are only 7cms dilated but she is back to back so it could be a while yet” she said, surprised. Oh my god no! I had been in labour for hours from 7cms with Isabella (somehow still asleep in the next room of our bungalow) I couldn’t take this pain for that long! “If you need the toilet now is the time to go and would you like me to get the gas out of the car?” She asked. At that stage I would have taken anything so I nodded eagerly through the following pain as she and Darren helped me to the toilet and she accepted his offer of a cup of tea before going out the front door. The kettle hadn’t even boiled when I had to scream “Darren get the midwife, I’m pushing, I’m pushing NOW!”. So out he ran shouting (the least calm I had ever seen him) and I limped back to the living room with my hand over my bits thinking she would just fall out otherwise. “My love you can’t push yet, let me see how you are getting on” so she sat me against the sofa and bent her head to have a look… “Christ!” She yelped. I had breathed out as I sat back and as I continued to exhale so baby slid out in one corkscrew motion. She and Darren said to me “keep pushing” but honestly I wasn’t pushing. In that moment I had my eyes closed, my head leaned back in the most restful position against our sofa cushions and was simply breathing out. It was the most relaxing part of the labour! At 1:10am, after 1hr and ten minutes of excrutiating pain and with my two year old daughter still asleep in the next room, baby Poppy Rose emerged into a room which was suddenly calm and still as Darren saw for the first time a baby’s entrance into the world (I had been kneeling against him for Izzy so he couldn’t see her until she was held up). She did two full rotations apparently, genuinely corkscrewing out of me and there was silence. I always thought I would panic if I heard nothing after giving birth but sitting there with my eyes closed and head back sprawled in the most unladylike yet most womanly position there ever was, I was totally aware that all was right. Sure enough as I opened my eyes and looked down so she bellowed for the first time. “Hellooo oh! I missed all the fun then!” Chuckled the second midwife as she arrived a couple of minutes later. She got relegated to making tea! By 3am I was escorted back to my own bed with baby Poppy sleeping in her moses basket next to me. Darren and I chatted quietly for a few minutes about how surreal it was to get up, have a baby and go back to bed, before we fell asleep too. At 8am Izzy woke us up and Darren picked her up and said “guess who’s here?”. She noticed the basket next to me and gasped “Is it my baby sister?!”. Her first glimpse of Poppy was with Darren holding her above the moses basket to peer in at the sleepy head as I watched her face go from curious to amazed. “Look, she is tiny!” She whispered. At 9lbs 3oz I begged to differ hehe! But I will always remember the amazement of the two year old girl who went to bed an only child and woke up to find out she was a big sister without having heard a thing. I think that is what always leaned me towards homebirth – knowing that family life began the instant baby arrived rather than waiting to be discharged from hospital. Both were totally different but totally amazing experiences, both enhanced by the comforts of home being all around us. The first was long and being at home made that bearable. The second was painful but being at home made it less scary than it could have been. And both were amazing afterwards in the tranquility of our living room and bedroom. It felt like nothing had changed though everything had – my husband is a total convert, advising everyone to have babies at home and I have not wavered in my opinion that there’s no place like home! 🙂
In movies we see them dragging dead legs and staring listlessly ahead, grunting and moaning and the reality is no different in that respect… however they are not the flesh devouring creatures from beyond the grave that we are all familiar with. Oh no, on the contrary if they had the energy to smile they would look permanently delirious with happiness! Why this strange contradiction? A simple difference in interpretation. You see, what Hollywood has depicted as zombies are in fact known to the real world by a far less threatening monika – parents.
Yes the joys are parenthood are well known and even better documented but despite this I feel the need to add my tuppence worth… you see I joined this not so exclusive club three years ago and in that time I have experienced joy and fatigue in equal measure… just as the end of the interrupted nights was in sight and our little girl, despite sleeping in our bed still, was at least SLEEPING, we began the rigmarole again as our second daughter arrived in the world. Yes, seven months ago a seemingly very HUNGRY baby joined our family and has fed her way through every night ever since :). Since then I have become the proud owner of a genuine diagnosis of exhaustion, pulled the cartilage around my sternum (coz she is a heavy little fidget bum and her three year old sister enjoys using me and daddy as climbing frames) and struggled to peel my eyes open some mornings – hence the hunched, limping, grunting mummy-zombie who exists before you today.
However also in the last three years I have cried with laughter more times than I could count (though never more than I care to remember), played with Barbie (did you know her boobs have shrunk?!), slid down slides (and sometimes got stuck), painted faces (including my own), rediscovered Scooby Doo, planned play dates and played with paint and glitter and pens (seriously my husband has actually stuck one of my own pieces of artwork up in our kitchen – and notably I have not taken it down as I am quite proud of it!) and run up and down the garden with the energy of a hyperactive… well, toddler, actually. I have not slept but I have played. I have not sat down but I have danced. I have not read a grown up book for months but I have listened to the musical sound of an enthusiastic three year old repeat the sentences I have read from Meg and Mog books and squeal with laughter as her baby sister literally tries to eat the book. I have not had a quiet day but I have experienced the sound of happy children and that beats every quiet day I have ever had hands down. 🙂