So here we are, nearly 6 months on and I’ve finally found time to write this up. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but kept putting off due to the huge feelings of failure I felt towards my labour and birth. For those who followed my pregnancy journey on my Instagram account you will know that I opted for a homebirth. Following 2 previous low risk pregnancies a homebirth seemed like the best option for a scared-of-hospitals-needle-phobic kinda girl. This decision made me feel much more at ease. Excited even. But once things started ramping up my plan had to change, I had to let go of a lot of my birth preferences and that made this whole thing a bit more difficult to process. But here I am, finally ready to share it with you all, fully accepting of my labour/birth and proud of what my body went through to deliver our baby boy. So grab yourself a cuppa, some biscuits and a nice comfy chair. This might be a long one!
It was a normal Monday night, kids were asleep upstairs and I was in my pj’s by 7pm when I decided to give up with bouncing on my birthing ball and start to accept the fact I might not go into spontaneous labour. Being 42 weeks pregnant (42+4 days to be precise) induction was at the forefront of every conversation I had with healthcare professionals, friends and family. I felt huge pressure to have this baby. I needed to have this baby soon otherwise my whole birth plan would go out the window and I would have to face something I really didn’t want to… INDUCTION (Don’t worry I will write another blog about that some day). So there I was, every twinge, every ache, everything I experienced, praying for it to be the start. But as the days went by and there was no baby I started to feel like my time was never coming. I was torn between wanting this baby out but also wanting my home birth. It was exhausting caring for two toddlers, being pregnant and dealing with the overwhelming pressure of having a ‘very late’ baby. But that Monday night I decided to have a night off from the worry to just enjoy the peaceful evening. Truly appreciating the moments, the kicks and the chill time! This picture was that exact Monday night on the sofa:
Fast forward to 1am. I had been asleep all of 2 hours when I woke to cramping and slight back pain. I didn’t want to wake Max as I wasn’t sure if it was the real deal or not. After being in slow early labour for almost a week prior with my cervix staying at 2cm for that week I just thought it would ease off like it had done all week. ‘Surely tonight isn’t the night?’ was what I kept telling myself. The only night I hadn’t been worrying about if my waters would go all over the bed or if I had done enough bouncing on the ball or even if *TMI WARNING* I would have my ‘show’ when I wiped. I’m certain thats what did it, suddenly relaxing! These tightening pains came on pretty thick and fast, nothing like my last two labours (both started with waters breaking and a long 27 hours each) It didn’t feel real as I was adamant I was going to have the same kind of labour. I started to time them as it felt like I wasn’t getting much of a break between them. They quickly progressed to every 3 minutes so I woke Max up and told him that it could be the start but I wasn’t sure. We’d been waiting for this to happen for what felt like forever, we had almost forgotten what to do when it did! Now usually we’d be calling the hospital at this point, but instead we had to call our Homebirth team who very quickly decided they needed to come out. This was around 2am and they turned up at around 3am. Max’s mum also came up, to stay here until the kids woke so that she could take them both to her house. She stayed with me whilst Max set up the room which was lovely! It felt so surreal, I thought at 42+5 that was it, no Homebirth, but here we were! I felt amazing!
Hours went by and things were progressing. The pain intensified but I felt I was coping well. Midwives suggested I should get into the bath to help ease my back pain, so thats what I did. Max sat with me the whole time. We laughed and joked, it was so relaxed which was my main reason for wanting a homebirth. The midwives stayed downstairs in the kitchen left us to it which was really nice. They came up to listen in to baby every 15 minutes due to me being so overdue (theres a few risks linked to this) but they kept assuring me he sounded very happy in there.
9am came. I had been labouring for 8 hours when my pains started to become very irregular. They were still painful but I was only getting about 2 every 10 minutes. The midwives then asked if I’d like to have an exam to see if I had dilated anymore to figure out what was happening. This was the moment everything changed, my mood went from feeling like a superhero that can cope with anything to ‘I don’t know how to do this’ in a matter of minutes. The midwife said I hadn’t dilated past 2cm. 8 hours of labouring and my cervix was still the same as it was a week ago. She said not to feel disheartened but we should have a little walk and get some air. We walked round the block, me looking like a mad woman, stopping every few minutes to have a contraction. It really helped to get out in the fresh air, just me and Max.
We got back home at 11am and my pains were still very irregular. The midwives suggested I travelled up to the hospital to get me onto a monitor to check if baby was ok. We agreed and then watched the Homebirth team, that we were so excited to have, pack up their stuff and leave before we even had our baby. It just felt so upsetting and I couldn’t help but feel like my body had failed me.
We finally got to the hospital after stopping for contractions too many times to count. I was nearly throwing up as I was very anxious about going to the hospital. It was the exact setting I didn’t want to be in due to past labour experiences and my fear of clinical environments. They hooked me up to the monitoring equipment, which took an hour to get accurate readings of baby movements, heart rate and my contractions. Laying on that bed strapped up to machines whilst having contractions was so difficult. Laying on your back makes it 10x harder too! After this, they decided it would need to be done again because the numbers weren’t consistent. By this time it was 3pm and my contractions had ramped up again and were almost back to back. Max had to wait in the corridor during all of this, until I begged them to let him in. I was left on my own throughout the monitoring and contractions, and felt like I just couldn’t do it anymore. After the additional monitoring we decided to have a chat with the consultant, where I told them I did not want to be induced. There was no need for intervention. Baby was happy, my placenta was checked with a scan, and I was having regular contractions.
Despite this, I had an overwhelming feeling that I just couldn’t cope with the pain. I didn’t have this with the other 2 labours until moments before they entered the world (which I now know was me transitioning). These emotions made me feel so weak. To my knowledge I was only 2cm dilated. All I could think about was ‘Why am I not dilating? What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I cope with this?’ In the moment I had completely forgotten that I hadn’t actually been examined since 9am. It was now 4pm, and I had experienced 14 hours of contractions. I had another chat with the consultant where I then begged for a C-section as I felt completely done. I felt exhausted, emotional, and like I just couldn’t go on. In my very own words I told Max “If I can’t cope with these contractions how the hell am I supposed to push this baby out?” After some long discussions and some horrendous contractions, they reluctantly agreed to my requests. Looking back now I am so glad for what happened next, because my worst fear was a C-section. The mums who have Caesareans are bad-ass super heroes. Honestly I look up to them! I went round to the delivery suite to have another exam, the doctor wanting to check the position of baby’s head to determine the plan for delivery. To our pleasant surprise the midwife who walked into the room to conduct the exam was only the same midwife who was supposed to deliver our baby at home all those hours earlier! It suddenly felt like it was meant to be.
She gave me an examination and told me I was now 4cm dilated, my waters were bulging, and she could easily break them for me. This meant I could have this baby naturally. I went into a bit of shock here and I suddenly felt like I couldn’t do it, I was scared about my waters being broken and I felt I had already prepped myself for a C-section, crazy I know! After a chat with Max, I decided I was going to give it a shot. She got the equipment ready and I started on some gas and air. She then broke them at 5:30pm, and I can honestly say it DOES NOT hurt one bit. It just felt weird, like a huge gush of warm water and a lot of pressure relieved. My contractions instantly changed and felt more like what I had with my other two. I knew this was different. The midwife said she felt his head after popping my waters because he had dropped down a lot which was so exciting and the big motivational push I needed! I then went onto the monitor again for 30 minutes to check all was good whilst the midwife set the other room up which had a birth pool. Max then had the chance to capture this photo.
At around 6:30pm we walked round to the other room and the midwives started running the water for the birth pool. I was naked from the waist down by this point and just in my bralet. With our 1st baby, I would never of done that. 2nd baby, hmm maybe with a huge t-shirt. But third baby, well I didn’t care one bit! I was standing up leaning on the side of the bed breathing through contractions when I suddenly climbed up onto the bed for some reason. I just felt like I had to. Our lovely midwife (Emily) came back in and I remember telling her I needed something for the pain. I was also crying to Max, telling him I couldn’t do this. I now realise this was my transition phase. If you aren’t sure what that is, its basically the final stage of dilation but look it up for more detail because I’m not a professional! Emily said I could have pain relief and listed a few things. I decided to try some diamorphine from a syringe as it suited me to not have any needles etc. I can still remember how foul that tasted! After giving me that she then said she just had to pop out and grab something. As she left the room I suddenly felt different. Now I have had two children and I knew what was happening. This was it. It was just me and Max in the room, and I needed to push.
At this point we had only been in the new room for 15 minutes. I hadn’t even had time to get into the pool as it was still running! I was leaning over the bed, which was still in an upright sitting position, clinging onto Max’s arms. He couldn’t even move to pull the buzzer! I suddenly felt an overwhelming sensation of fear and excitement at the same time, my hands were shaking and I was struggling to talk in between the contractions. I tried so hard to tell Max what I was feeling, I knew this baby was coming soon but I was too in the moment to speak. I finally managed to force out one simple sentence. “He’s coming, I can’t!” My body started to naturally bear down and I couldn’t help but start pushing. Luckily the midwives came in and rushed to the end of the bed. The Diamorphine didn’t even have time to get fully into my system when I felt the dreaded ring of fire. I then fully focused on pushing, putting all my effort into breathing him out and listening to my body. Within minutes his head was out and with one final push our baby was born.
The midwife then passed him up through my legs and onto my chest, which was when me and Max both started to cry a little! It was a sudden rush of overwhelming love, mixed with a huge amount of relief and wholeness. It doesn’t matter if its your 1st or 3rd baby, in that exact moment you know your whole world will be changed forever. It just feels so surreal, like your delivery room is a bubble and nothing else matters. Like the world outside has just stopped for a moment. Theres nothing quite like it. Then the midwives talk about the next stage…the placenta. The very thing you forget about when holding your new little life in your arms.
I decided to have the injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta, which by the way is incredibly quick and painless (coming from someone who’s needle phobic!) Whilst we waited for that, we decided to announce his name to the midwives. This was when he felt like a real little person, our Reuben. I held him in my arms whilst I delivered the placenta which took minutes and was out in 3 pushes without any pain. Max then cut the cord and and the midwives had the discussion with me about checking for tears or grazes. Max held Reuben whilst the midwives did the check. They soon realised I had a 2nd degree tear that could do with some stitches. After a few discussions we settled on no stitches as they agreed it would heal just fine without them, it just might take a little longer. I had to have stitches with my first and I really didn’t want them again!
Reuben then had his first breastfeed, latching straight on. I had a lot of support from the student midwife who was brilliant as I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, third baby but first time breastfeeding! After that the midwives left us alone for a couple of hours to fully soak in those precious moments. We had lots of cuddles, a few feeds and that glorious first cup of tea and toast (if you know, you know).
So that concludes Reuben’s birth story. I’ve finally written it. I used to struggle with accepting my birth story as I felt disappointed in myself for not having my Homebirth. It was like I was grieving for the birth I wanted, but I also felt wrong for feeling this way as our baby was here and I should just be grateful for that.
But now I’ve had some time, a lot of support from family and a fair few appointments with the perinatal team, I’ve finally started to accept Reuben’s birth and feel proud to talk about it. I feel so blessed to have delivered our baby safely and to have had relatively smooth recovery.
I’m so glad I’ve finally shared this with you all and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it!
Lots of love,
Mumma of three x