So delighted to be sharing my own positive birth story with you!
At about 8.45pm on 2 January I started having gentle contractions, whilst bouncing on my birth ball in front of the TV. I was so excited! It was time! Earlier that day we'd gone for a walk and then I'd taken a long warm bath, as I was so achey. What I hadn't realised was that my body was already getting ready.
This was my second baby and my first birth had been pretty full on from the start so it was surprising for us that this birth was a bit of a slow starter. I had planned a home birth so I called the midwife to say things had started but I was doing fine, no need to come yet. Soon after, we packed our 3 year old off to his grandparents as I knew I would be having my baby soon. After watching him go, my husband and I got a bit emotional - we knew it was no longer just the 3 of us and things were changing. My surges slowed down a bit, I suspect due to the emotion, and so we decided to go to bed and get some rest.
I slept until 3am with my surges still bubbling along. Then I woke up and felt the need to be upright. I was awake for a couple of hours, bouncing on my ball and watching some comedy on my phone whilst my husband slept. I thoroughly recommend Michael McIntye as an early labour birth partner - great at keeping the endorphins flowing!
After a while I went back to bed for a bit more sleep. I called the midwife again at 8am and said things were really getting going now. She could hear that I could no longer speak through my surges and needed to pause and breathe. She said she'd make a call and send someone over ASAP.
From this point on things really sped up. I was on all fours on my bed, with an eye mask on, swaying through each contraction. My husband had woken at about 7am and had a shower and was now quietly in the background making sure I had everything I wanted, but I was happy being left to do my thing, breathing and rocking back and forth. I really welcomed the increasing intensity from each contraction and couldn't wait to hold my baby.
My midwife arrived at 9.20am and amazingly it was the midwife I'd seen throughout most of my pregnancy! I was so happy to see a familiar face, and to have a midwife I knew I had a rapport with! She already knew my birth plan and what my wishes were. I chose not to have vaginal examinations and so she said she'd see how I was going over the next hour before considering whether to call a second midwife (it's normal to have 2 midwives at a home birth - one for you and one for your baby). I knew she wouldn't be waiting that long though! My body was ready to go, but I figured she'd work that out soon enough!
Sure enough, three contractions later she made the call for a second midwife! We then had two midwives arrive together and so for a short time I had three midwives all to myself!
As my waters hadn't yet released, we moved downstairs to the lounge to try and save the mattress on our bed! The shutters in the lounge were closed so the lighting was dim, and I got down on all fours on the floor leaning over the sofa, with a fleecey blanket pulled over me. I really felt the need to be warm and covered. Whilst I rocked and swayed I stayed in this position throughout as it instinctively felt most natural to me. My husband put my chosen music on and it was the most intimate atmosphere.
Gas and air arrived shortly after we came downstairs and by this time I really wanted it! My contractions were really intense and I now realise that it was around this time that I reached transition. By about 10.45am my body started naturally pushing. It was an overwhelming urge and I just went with it. I had specified in my birth plan that I did not want coached pushing, I would be following my body's lead. My midwives remained quiet and just watched without commenting. I was completely left to do my thing, as I'd wanted.
There were a few twitchy minutes when my midwives detected that my baby's heart rate kept dropping and so they called for an ambulance, just in case. They realised however that the cause was positional and they thought my baby would be born before the ambulance arrived a few minutes later. I have to say that at no point did I panic throughout all of this. I felt instinctively that my baby was safe and that he would be born very soon.
And he was! At 11.09am our baby boy was born - as not one but two ambulances turned up outside! Thankfully they were both sent away as we were both happy and well. To scoop my baby up into my arms was just amazing.
In my first (hospital) birth, I had a retained placenta which required surgical removal and so throughout my second pregnancy my caregivers had been concerned about that happening again. I had done my research and was sure that my environment had impacted on my body's ability to birth my placenta first time around, and so I had wanted to be at home for my second birth to ensure I was as relaxed as possible, to try and avoid having a retained placenta again. By birthing at home I went against hospital guidelines, but was fully supported by my midwives. Thankfully, after my second birth my placenta came and we were all delighted. We also had delayed cord clamping.
The next couple of hours were just magical - we will remember them forever. My husband and I cuddled up on our sofa with our baby, feeding and getting to know him. We had skin to skin contact for a couple of hours - there was no rush to get dressed and we were snuggled up under a blanket. Toby (as he was later named) was a natural at breastfeeding and latched straight away.
Baby number 2 was 2lb bigger than baby number 1 which was pretty big for me as I'm only 5ft1! I did tear and had stitches, but these were on the sofa whilst wrapped in a blanket and with gas and air. After the wonderful experience we'd just had it really didn't matter.
Our midwives stayed in our kitchen for a couple of hours, ensuring that we were both well whilst they completed their notes. The respect and care that we received from our midwives blew me away. The dynamics are so different when you birth in your own home, it was truly special. I was so listened to and they did everything they could to give me the birth that I wanted. For that I shall be eternally grateful. Our son had the most wonderful entry to the world and our family - and we have such beautiful memories of that day.