My Homebirth

Today my sweet baby boy turns 1. So I thought it was fitting to finally publish his birth story.

My son's birth proved to me once again that birth is an unpredictable force of nature. It can’t be controlled, it can’t be planned. All we can do is get our heads into the right place - knowing the outcome we want, focusing on it and using it as motivation to power through... But knowing that sometimes baby has other plans.

Before I begin - a bit of back-story. My first baby was born 2.5 years before her brother, on her due date. She was a planned homebirth, turned hospital birth, when we discovered at 34 weeks that she was breech and wouldn't budge for anything (you can read her birth story, HERE.) I had an amazing, empowering vaginal breech birth following a 12 hour labour under Dr Bisits in Sydney and walked away from it on a birthing high.

For this baby, I wanted to try for a homebirth again. My plan was to have a nice, 6-ish hour labour (enough time to relax and try to enjoy the process without it getting ridiculously long), spend early labour listening to music and using the shower, then use the birthing pool and hopefully have a waterbirth. Although I wasn't super attached to the idea of where in the house baby was born, the pool seemed like a lovely option.

Oh yes, and the final part of my plan was that this baby would be born at night.

It really was a great birth plan!

As my due date approached I began to get impatient. I had always felt baby would come on the 1st. It was more a "guess" date than a due date, and besides, my last baby had been born right on time. So why not this one too?

On the morning of the 1st I was annoyed that I hadn't gone into labour the night before, but I figured there was still time.

At 10.30am my husband and daughter went off to her swimming lesson and I decided to have a nap, listen to some music and talk to baby about how it was a good day to be born.

I snoozed for about an hour. Swimming lesson time was one of the only times I had to sleep without being interrupted and it was heaven.

Then, at 11.45, just as I thought I might like to get up to have a snack, I felt a lot of pressure on my bladder and… I wet the bed.

O M G! MORTIFYING!! As if being pregnant wasn’t sexy enough, now I would have to explain to my husband why we needed to get the sheep-skin dry cleaned…

I jumped up and as my feet touched the ground there was a huge gush. I ran into the bathroom and it kept coming. Clear… pink… Wait. Was that my waters?

I texted my best friend (also a midwife) to ask her opinion, but really, I already knew.

It was definitely waters. Slightly less mortifying than wetting the bed, but probably still necessary to dry-clean the sheepskin…

Anyway, that could wait. It was on! Baby had listened! I texted my midwife Bron and she told me to keep her posted.

Hubby came home with our daughter at 12.00pm and my mum came by shortly after to take her and the dog to her place. I know a lot of people have their toddlers around for their homebirth, but it just wasn’t something I wanted. For me, I felt that baby’s birth-day would be the only time it would ever be just baby, me and my husband. Baby would forever have to share us with our little girl, so I wanted to make sure that for this occasion, baby’s entry into the world, the attention was squarely on them.

Once our daughter and dog were gone, we started setting up the pool in the bedroom and organising everything. I even did some laundry. I said to hubby that maybe we could go for a walk or something, but I knew he just wanted to watch the football. This whole labour-approaching-thing was a great excuse for him to take the afternoon off from doing any work.

“I wonder how long it’s going to take to start…” hubby wondered out-loud as he settled down in front of the TV. I told him it probably wouldn’t start up until night time when I felt safe in the dark. Besides, we were having a night-time baby, remember?

At around 1.00pm I felt some irregular tightenings in my belly. They weren’t painful, more like strong Braxton Hicks.

I decided to watch some TV, but even with Foxtel, there’s never anything on. I figured I would just go into the bedroom, listen to some music, play on my phone and rest.

At 1.40pm I texted Bron, our midwife: “Irregular contractions. Mild-moderate. Can talk through. All good. Baby is moving.”

I lounged around as the contractions gradually got stronger and longer, but remained irregular and tolerable. I wondered when “real” labour would start. I was ready to get going!

At 2.30pm I texted Bron again: “pains getting stronger. Lasting nearly a minute. 5-ish mins apart but still kinda irregular…” l also told her we would call her when we were ready for her to head our way, keeping in mind she had a 30 minute drive. Hubby asked me when that would be, but I told him we were a long way off. He shrugged and asked me if I wanted him to stay with me. I told him no, and he went to watch a replay of the Rugby, leaving me me alone - which is exactly what I wanted.

Another hour passed and they were definitely getting more intense. It was very different to my labour with my daughter. Those pains were all in my back and bum. These were in my belly.

I leaned over the baby's cot (one side off, that we had pushed up against the cupboards so I could easily access the bed) and swaying through them. I had also grabbed a trusty plastic comb from the bathroom and squeezed it - a fantastic distraction and something I used during my first labour. Lavender oil on my pillow also helped. The smell took me to a calm place.

It was at this time I realised I wasn’t happy with one of the songs on my iPod. A song by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers kept cutting out mid-way through for some reason, which was insanely annoying, so I wandered into the living room to hook it up to my laptop and update it.

While I waited, I picked up my in my pregnancy diary that I had been keeping. I decided to write something, as I assumed it was going to be the last entry before baby came.

I wrote: “it’s 3.30pm and they hurt, I won’t lie, but I know it’s just the start! Will update when we have a baby!”

As soon as my iPod was updated I walked back into the bedroom and plugged it in. Hubby followed me.

“You okay?”

“Yeah. I might get in the shower though.”

I jumped into the shower in our ensuite and showed him how to use the contraction timer on my phone. The hot water was lovely. I remember wondering how long it would be before I was deep in labour-land. I knew I wasn’t there yet, my mind still felt very clear.

The contractions - and yes they were definitely contractions now - ramped up in the shower.

“They’re getting closer and longer” hubby observed.

“It’s just because I’m upright” I told him, smarty-pants midwife that I am.

I leaned against the wall and breathed heavily through them, moving my hips. They made my knees buckle slightly. I remember a small part of my brain thinking: "ah yeah, these are starting to really hurt!"

“Should we call Bron?”

“No, not yet.”

“Should we fill the pool?”

“No, just wait until we call Bron.”

I could understand why he wanted to call her, but I knew we could still be hours away. I didn’t want her to drive all this way and then have her sitting around forever, waiting for me to have a baby. I didn’t want that pressure. And I also didn’t want to be that woman (especially that midwife!) who called her midwife while she was still just in early labour.

I stayed in the shower for about 20-30 minutes before I was over it. They were pretty uncomfortable now and getting a lot closer together, and I wanted a break from them. I figured that if I got out and lay down, the contractions would slow down a bit. Makes perfect sense, right?!

I got out, dried myself, decided to put my undies and a pad back on so I didn’t leak amniotic fluid on the floor and walked over to the bed to lie down.

As soon as I was down I jumped up again and threw myself over the baby’s cot, moving my hips. I groaned loudly, the intensity of it stunning me and I felt the first flash of doubt go through my head: "oh god, I don't know if I can do this..."

The words left my lips before I could even think about them: “I think we should call Bron.”

This was music to hubby's ears. He grabbed his phone and called her. She said she would leave straight away and that she would be about half an hour. As soon as he hung up, hubby busied himself filling the pool.

While he was out of the room I had another contraction. This one was longer and stronger and I found myself crying out, almost sobbing, as it ripped through my belly and… WHOA… I felt a bit of pressure in my bum. Okay...