Double contractions & home birth glory: daughter no. 2 arrives
After a frustrating wait nine days past my due date we finally welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world. Just when we thought we knew what we needed to know about labour, we were taken completely surprise with our birth.
The day before I gave birth had my second bout of reflexology. I was trying everything and anything to bring on labour. I so desperately wanted my home birth. We had already opted to go for expectant management past the recommended 12 day threshold for induction. Whether I would have lasted to our planned 43 weeks is another matter. My body was tired & awkward plus stressed from being on tenterhooks for labour to come on. What I failed to work out, that if 1 in 5 women are induced then 4 in 5 must give birth before the deadline for inductions. But even after a midwife pointed this out, my hormones were playing havoc with my daily existence.
Thursday, 4 August and I wake up around 6am. My tummy was sore but it felt like bowel cramps. By 7am I realised that these ‘bowel cramps’ were actually 1 minute long and coming at regular intervals. Could they be contractions? Was I in labour? I sunk into warm bath in the hope it would soothe my belly, then I saw a smattering of blood – it was a show. I got my partner to call the midwife. What had thrown me was I having a major cramp which peaked, then I would have another one immediately afterwards. As I progressed deeper into labour, the midwife and I realised these were both contractions. She had arrived around 8.30am. Amazingly, she was the midwife who delivered my eldest daughter in hospital. There was no time for emotional reunions, these ‘double contractions’ meant we were in business and quick. She measured me after observing me through a few contractions, I was 8cm dilated. My heart was singing, my body on full alert. I had never laboured to 8cm on my own with my first. It was at that point I knew I could do it.
At around 9am (so I’m told) I scream to the house, ‘I need to push’. Although the midwife tried to dissuade me, it’s a common phenomena to feel that way before it’s actually time. But I knew it was time. I could feel the baby’s head between my legs. After another begging session, Mary turns to my husband and said, ‘we can’t give birth in the bath’. It was like an emergency military operation. Our prepared pack of home birth gear was assembled in the bedroom, I waddled there and squatted over the edge of the bed. The adrenaline & endorphins were doing their job, mother nature was taking over. I felt so positive at this point, even exclaiming, ‘that was great!’ after one contraction and pushing. I soon realised that pushing eased the pain of the contraction, the latter being much more painful than the legendary ‘ring of fire’ where the baby’s head is crowning. It must have taken about three pushes to get her head out. I started to relax before being sharply reminded by the midwife we needed one big movement to get the shoulders and body through. I heaved with all my might then looked down to the floor in disbelief, I had done it. The time was 9.15am.
I was so overwhelmed, I temporarily froze while staring at my baby daughter then came to by the sound of being urged to hold the gorgeous slimy creature below while the cord was still linked to my insides. My first instinct was to check that was definitely a girl and it was a huge relief to see it was so (my perfect family unit). I very nearly burst into tears but the endorphins plus oxytocin prevented them flowing, I was experiencing authentic, uncontrollable happiness. Not only because I was finally meeting my daughter but also proud to have pushed her out with little assistance. I felt I had achieved a rite of passage to womanhood. Such a contrast to the medicalised birth of my first, in hospital with epidurals and forceps.
I coasted through the next few hours of clean-up and stitching. I was completely focused on my girl, snuggling and feeding her. By midday the midwife was leaving me with her last snippets of advice and a big smile. She told me how she adored home births and working in the community. I was propped up in my own bed with a sleeping newborn on one side, a bacon sarnie on the other.
That was five weeks ago today. We’ve all been in a bubble of love, too selfish to share this much. But now I’m well into the adventures of newborn motherhood, there’s so much more to rave about. This is just the beginning.