Ellie's home birth
For Isla’s birthday we gave her a term of Diddi Dance classes and Friday morning is when the session takes place. So off we go. I throw myself into the Bollywood moves (parent participation is encouraged), hoping that this might help to kick start things again. I have a couple of friends who had contractions come and go for a few days before their real labour and I really want to avoid this happening if at all possible. After lunch I snooze whilst Isla has her nap.
At 5.30pm the contractions begin again. I phone Kyle who is wrapping things up for the day. I ask him if he can order an Indian takeaway with one particularly spicy dish. I then raid the fridge for the leftover pineapple juice from Isla’s birthday party. Both spicy food and pineapples are supposedly meant to help encourage your uterus to soften and promote contractions. The contractions remain mild enough for us to enjoy an Indian feast (I eat well knowing how much energy labour takes) and successfully get Isla to bed.
Kyle then sets up the birthing pool. We spend the next few hours binge watching a new drama series whilst I walk around the room, sit on various chairs, timing my contractions and tweaking my nipples (again this is meant to help and quite frankly I’ll do anything to have her out this evening if I can). We phone the birthing centre and a midwife, lovely Sam who did the home visit, arrives about midnight. I’m only 2cm dilated but she’s certain that the contractions will develop into full labour. Kyle fills the birthing pool and we chat between contractions. They are still fairly regular but the lengths are variable and at 2.30am Sam leaves us and says that we should go to bed and get some sleep (something that sounds impossible). I’m to phone Sam when I’m having 3 contractions in a 10 minute period and each contraction lasts longer than a minute.
At 6am I can’t stay in bed any longer and go to have a shower, wash my hair and use some Weleda Lavender Body Wash to give myself a sense of calm. Kyle phones Sam at 7am, as I’m now finding it hard to talk through my contractions and I’m having 3 in a 10 minute period. She explains that there’s a midwife handover at 8am and therefore she’ll ring the birthing centre and have the new midwife come out to us. Isla wakes up and we have breakfast together. I manage a small bowl of cereal but I’m not really hungry. Isla goes over to our friends, Joe and Bex, so that Kyle can focus on me and the baby. I suddenly need to pop to the loo urgently - another sign that the baby is on her way.
The new midwife, Ellis, turns up at 9.30am, I’ve spent the past couple of hours wondering if we are going to deliver the baby ourselves. She examines me and says that I’m 4cm dilated now. After 30min of observing, she admits that she has no idea how long it might be until the baby arrives as I’m managing to stay so calm between each of my contractions. It helps that we are at home but I have also made a decision to try and be as relaxed as I can be.At about 10.40am I head upstairs to the loo again. There is a ‘bloody show’. I realise that instead of the urge to go to the loo, what I’m feeling is the sensation of wanting to push the baby out!
I come back down and get into the birthing pool (which has retained its heat overnight thanks to a combination of Kyle’s diligence and the fact we had purchased a pool cover). In the water, I kneel supporting my upper-body on the side of birthing pool, Kyle is sat at my head stroking my hair and telling me how well I’m doing. I didn’t want to get into the water too early on in case it actually slowed my labour down. The warmth of the water is amazing and just by transferring into the pool it’s as though my body knows what it’s meant to do next. With the next contraction I feel a huge urge to push and feel a pop as my waters burst. The second midwife has now arrived (homebirths, where possible, have two for the actual delivery) and I push again with each contraction. It’s understandably painful. I’m offered gas and air but I refuse it, mainly as I feel so close to the finishing line now and don’t want to distract my focus from pushing her out, but also because I’ve got a fairly stubborn nature and having got this far without pain relief I like the idea of being able to manage a completely natural birth. The midwives and Kyle are now able to see the baby’s head, using a mirror under the water. I try and push hard to birth the head and manage to get half of her head out, and then on the next contraction the other half. Almost there. With the following contraction I push through her shoulders and the rest of her body swiftly follows. At 11.14am Rona Clementine May is born.
At this stage I’m just so relieved that I don’t really remember it but Kyle tells me that for a few seconds following her delivery she looks peacefully up at the four of us from under the water - something he’ll never forget. I then lift her into my arms keeping her in the water, so she doesn’t get cold. She’s utterly beautiful, and covered in thick waxy vermix. After a minute or two I’m helped out of the pool, so that I can deliver the placenta. Kyle then cuts the umbilical cord and I help the baby to latch on and have her first feed, after a little encouragement she latches on only a few minutes later. After feeding, the midwives weigh and measure her, she’s 8lb 8oz (3.9kg)and 54cm long - a whopper in comparison to Isla who weighed 6lb14oz (3.1kg).I then take the opportunity to go upstairs to shower and change into something comfortable whilst Kyle enjoys some skin-to-skin time with Rona. The midwives then bid us farewell and Ellis reminds us that she’ll be back in a couple of hours to do some routine observations on Rona and I. We phone both of our parents to tell them the good news. I suddenly realise how hungry I am. So, we devour the remainder of the Indian takeaway! I load up the washing machine with towels and Kyle gets started on draining the birthing pool - the glamorous side of having a homebirth!
Once the midwife has checked back in on us, we phone Joe and Bex and they drop Isla and a generous bag of yummy food to our door. Rona is in the moses basket and Kyle takes Isla to meet her. Isla then comes for a cuddle with me on the sofa. Kyle and Rona join us and Isla has her first cuddle with her new baby sister. It’s a precious moment. We are now a family of four.