The birth of little Ryan was a planned home birth. My previous births were straight forward….Emma’s being a typical slow to progress first delivery and I felt I went to the hospital too soon. To cut a long (22 hours from start to finish) story short, I ended up with internal foetal monitoring, an epidural, IV fluids, and a catheter. Too many bits in me, but a healthy and beautiful little girl. (8lb 12oz – 3980gm) And stitches for me afterwards.
For Ben’s birth I decided it would be better to stay at home as long as possible to avoid any unnecessary interventions and because I felt more comfortable labouring at home. After about 6 hours of labour, (4 hours manageable, 2 hours getting really sore) I told D that I felt like we’d better go to the hospital. Thinking we still had hours to go, and knowing my wish to stay at home as long as possible, he got the car packed and ready rather slowly. I felt the urge to push after the walk from bedroom to lounge brought on a series of really strong contractions, and I found myself giving small involuntary pushes in the car on the way. D was on the phone to the hospital telling them we were on the way and “She’s pushing!” We were greeted outside by a midwife and a wheelchair and while she took me to the delivery ward D parked the car. Meanwhile I’ve gone up the lift and when getting gout of the chair onto the bed, the midwife is saying “Don’t push, just let me check you”. I couldn’t help it and my waters broke all over the floor. Her examination revealed a head crowning and D walked in right on cue for 2 pushes later head was out, then two further pushes and body was out too. My beautiful strong 10lb 3 oz (4660gm) boy. There had been no time for pain relief although I’d used a TENS machine at home. (Loved it: highly recommend). I did suck on gas for the stitches though.
So…..given the relatively ‘easy’ birth second time round I though a home birth made a lot of sense. The day he was due, my midwife performed a stretch and sweep. I’m still not sure if I’m glad we did this or not. I was fed up with being pregnant, and if I’d gone to 41 weeks I would not have been able to have a home birth. Anyway, it was our decision to do that. Later that day I started having niggly irregular contractions. This went on for sometime and I eventually went to bed, but got up at around 9pm because it was too uncomfortable in bed.
I slowly got the lounge ready with all the stuff. D joined me around 11pm and I think we put the TENS machine on around 1am. Things were progressing nicely and I was able to walk around which helped. I would have periods of lying in bed in between. Around 3:30am we decided to call the midwife who would be about 20 minutes away. She’d wanted to be there about an hour before the baby is born. (Difficult to predict of course so we erred on early) She arrived around 4am and our friend Jodi arrived around 4:30am.
Just after phoning the midwife however, things slowed down quite a bit and I was back to having contractions only 5 minutes apart and not more than 50 seconds long. I walked a bit to get things going and eventually the decision was made to check dilation and while she was at it she broke the waters. (around 5:30am) I remember feeling disappointed and violated because she didn’t tell me she was doing this. This increased the intensity of the labour and I was hopeful that this would get things going. My midwife suggested sitting on the toilet to open the pelvis and I had a few strong contractions there and woke the children with all the hustle and bustle outside their door at around 5:45am.
From then until the birth was very very hard. I was having very painful contractions yet it didn’t feel like we were getting any closer to delivery. I was quite discouraged and a bit scared because I felt something wasn’t quite right. Ben’s birth had gone so smoothly and quickly, and I’d expected the same. I was getting very tired. Several times I put my head down and said “I’m just going to sleep for a while”. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t believe me. I was convinced at the time it was possible and just what I needed to do to be able to carry on.
They kept telling me to try moving around a bit, but I felt so exhausted that to move my legs seemed nearly impossible. My pelvis felt weird and my legs didn’t want to move. I was getting annoyed with them (the midwife, her colleague and a student) telling me to move when I just couldn’t. I felt like they didn’t understand how hard I was working and how exhausted. In hindsight, I realise they did, and it was just transition talking. Not sure of the time but I started to panic with transition and kept saying to them that I just can’t do it anymore and I’d have to go to hospital and have a caeserean. D just kept on reassuring me and telling me I was doing a good job. I had to look right in his eyes and will myself to believe that he was in a better state to assess the situation than me and trust him. I’m so glad I had him there to trust because I felt quite out of control and scared that something was wrong.
Eventually I was given some IV fluids as I was dehydrating and quite exhausted. This made a big difference to my state of mind and suddenly I felt myself come out of a daze, become wide awake and a new resolve to carry one. It wasn’t long after that I started the pushing stage which lasted about half an hour I think. Again much harder than I expected and felt like it was never going to end.
Finally Ryan was born, just after 7am. I remember letting out a loud shout when he finally came out. It was surprise, relief and pain. The children got to see him being born. He was strong, pink and beautiful and slippery. I still remember Ben’s face as he approached me and saw him. I held him against me and we wrapped him up and kept him warm. When it was time to weigh, check and dress him, the children went with him over to the table and watched. I only vaguely remember the delivery of the placenta, but I do remember that the first feed was a bit tainted with pain because the were busy stitching me up. That was horrid.
It turns out he was posterior . This came as a surprise to me as at the previous days appointment he was ROA. (If you read this article, you will see the author explains the type of problems encountered in labour). This explains the difficulties and I think I’d have coped better if I’d known what was going on. I later discussed this with my midwife, as well as the breaking waters thing. She said she thought she’d told me/asked me about the water. It must have been an oversight, and I have no hard feelings. She said they had suspected a posterior presentation when things were taking so long
I do wonder if I had the best possible outcome though. I wonder if they’d waited on breaking waters, if he’d have turned. I wonder if they even knew he was posterior when they did that. I guess we’ll never know.
Anyway, he was safe throughout with a strong steady heartbeat and I knew that. In fact it was a reassurance to know that when I was scared, because I could hear that his heart was going strong and steady despite what I was feeling!
I am still so very glad I had a home birth. The rest of the day was lovely. It was so nice to be in my own home. The children carried on as normal. I got to rest in my own bed. D felt comfortable and in control, and didn’t have to leave us at the end of it.
In the days that followed, I remember feeling particularly euphoric. I was so happy to have delivered him at home. So happy to have had my family around me. The children were enjoying him. I was so glad not to be pregnant anymore! Having him at home was so much better than being in hospital. It meant a smoother adjustment for all of us particularly the children, and they fell in love with him straight away. So did we.
Edited to add: He was 9lb 11oz – 4400gm.