We’d had a bit of a weird festive season of not doing much because we didn’t want to travel far or make plans for people to visit us. So New Year’s Eve felt like any other day. We’d had breakfast and I remember going back down to the kitchen at about 10am to announce to my husband that I felt weird. ‘What kind of weird?’ he said, ‘I don’t know, just weird’ I replied. I think I knew I was in labour but was in denial. I’d had weeks of ‘symptoms’ and so just wanted to wait and see what happened. Labour definitely wasn’t what I expected! I spent all morning being sick and having diarrhoea at the same time (nice!), kneeling on the floor of the spare bedroom in between times. I closed the curtains and put the hood of my jumper up, and just leant over the bed swaying around on my knees. At about 2pm, I guess when things intensified, I moved to the bathroom where I held onto the sink and swayed, still with my hood up. So there was no hanging out in my zen twinkly fairy light birth space for me!
I found visualising what my body was doing really helpful. I also used the app to time my surges and found the calm counting really helpful, but as I was also using a TENS machine I remember getting annoyed with having to press so many buttons (2 buttons is a lot, right!?!) when I just wanted to go inwards. Eventually my husband pointed out that I didn’t need to time my surges anymore because the midwives were definitely coming, so I delightedly chucked my phone away!
I found the TENS machine really helpful, mainly just as something to focus on during surges rather than it particularly being about pain relief. It was probably doing something useful on the pain front though because I remember being very keen for the time between taking the TENS pads off and getting in the pool to be as short as possible!
I got in the pool at 5.30pm and it was the most delicious feeling! My husband commented on how much water had splashed onto the floor, so I must have got in with gusto! Once in the pool, things ramped up. I wasn’t doing up breathing anymore, more kind of writhing around and doing something else breath-wise, I think kind of long blows out. I still wanted my husband to do the calm up breathing counting though and to just place a hand on my arm, as it helped keep me centred when my body was going a bit wild. But he kept disappearing to do jobs and I had to keep calling him back!
At one point I saw my tummy do two big convulsions, and I thought blimey this is happening with or without a midwife!
I knew my husband was getting a bit panicky that no-one had arrived yet, but I think I was too far gone to care!
Fortunately, the midwife arrived shortly after 6.30pm. She wanted me to get out the pool as she said it was crucial to check if I was fully dilated before I started pushing because it could cause problems otherwise. Despite having done loads of prep, this was something I knew nothing about and so I decided to get out the pool even though it was incredibly difficult. In retrospect I wish I hadn’t, but I don’t regret my choice in the moment. The midwife said I was fully dilated, and seemed very keen that the baby came fairly quickly as she thought I’d been holding back, so she didn’t think getting back in the pool was a good idea and suggested I kneeled next it. My thinking brain wasn’t really available, so I just did as I was told. When I was pushing, I heard the midwife say that she thought baby was still in his sac, and I remember telling my husband to take photos so I could see. Talk about priorities!
With a few pushes our baby arrived at 7.30pm. I scooped him up and felt completely overwhelmed as I held him against my chest. The midwife helped me onto the sofa, and I breastfed him straight away which felt lovely but also really weird. After the cord had gone white, my husband cut it.
So the birth had been relatively easy and straightforward, but the difficulty came with the placenta. I hadn’t passed it naturally after an hour, so I had the injection but was still unable to push it out and the midwife was unable to pull it out either. It was looking like I would need a hospital transfer because my cervix had closed tightly around the placenta, but fortunately the 2nd midwife had arrived and with a mighty tug from her it came out! I will be forever grateful that her determination meant that I could stay at home, because I was able to get back in the pool to enjoy the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, then breastfeed my baby again while I was in there, and after that we all got tucked up in bed and the midwife left.