I’d been having strong ‘Braxton Hicks’ for 2 weeks, and despite our midwife telling us labour probably wouldn’t start for another few weeks as this was our first baby, I knew he was on the way out. On Bonfire night we skipped the fireworks parties and I was tucked up in bed by 10:15, suspecting I had indigestion, but by 1am I was wide awake and knew the surges had started and our baby was on the way. Thinking we had hours to wait as labour eased it’s way in I busied about the house leaving Crispin asleep. I wanted to make a cake for our homebirth team but there was no chance – I soon had to stop as I was already having 3 surges lasting a minute or more in every 10 minutes (quite an intense start).
Crispin and I paced the flat from then on in and our homebirth midwife Cate arrived to see us at 7am as we were convinced I was in ‘established’ labour as there was no break between surges but Cate reliably informed us that this was just the beginning. She stayed for a while, meticulously reading our birth plan, chatting and drinking tea then she left, leaving us to spend the next hours pacing the stairs as I focused on my upwards breathing and visualisations (bubbles and clouds!)
From then on throughout the day Cate came and went, and phoned at regular intervals to check in. I was totally focused on my breathing and repeating affirmations round and round in my head so time started to blur. It was an intense time and I had to really concentrate on every surge, remembering to go with the ebb and flow, but I really enjoyed the experience. Sometime later in the afternoon Cate arrived again with her homebirth equipment at the same time as our new downstairs neighbours were unloading their possessions, and had an awkward conversation on the doorstep about who she was (they presumed she lived upstairs and had no idea we were having a baby above their heads – tho that would soon become obvious!)
As soon as it got to 5pm Crispin phoned my best friend Anna who came over. Having them both with me felt like the ultimate support team and we all paced the stairs practising upward breathing and focusing on the positive work the surges were doing. Then suddenly things changed. I felt like I was losing control of my focus on my breathing and couldn’t pull myself back into my hypno-bubble (I realise now that this was the beginning of the transition phase but at the time I was convinced that I had hours if not days ahead of me before I’d even be close to birth and I had a very definite wobble).
We weren’t even close to filling up the birth pool when I felt an overwhelming urge to push and realised that the baby wasn’t going to take hours or days to appear – it was ready to be born. We got on the phone to Cate and I told her she needed to ‘get here now the baby’s coming out’. Crispin filled the pool (luckily we have high water pressure so it didn’t take too long) and a paramedic arrived as back up as we waited for the homebirth team to arrive (which took longer than they hoped as they got stopped for speeding on the way!) I was absolutely determined I would not be transferring to hospital to have my baby and remember telling Anna to make sure the paramedic knew there was no way I was going to hospital with him (not that he’d even suggested it!)
I got into the pool pronto and LOVED it (wish I’d got in sooner). The rest is a bit of a blur. I felt totally safe and supported by Crispin, Anna and the homebirth team and contrary to hypnobirthing stories I’d read about women wanting to be on their own in a quiet room I was really pleased to have a humorous husband, chatty best friend and homebirth team with me that I felt like I’d known forever even though I’d only met them that day. I remember dim lights and I had an overwhelming feeling of excitement and anticipation. Everything was absolutely perfect and just how I wanted it to be (though that’s not to say the second stage wasn’t hard work – it was). I think I was in the pool for about an hour but I don’t really remember and it honestly felt like minutes, no longer. Then hey presto, our baby was born under the water – ‘it’s a boy’ – I caught him as he came to the top of the pool. It was undoubtedly the MOST AMAZING MOMENT OF MY LIFE (every time I remember it I have a tears in my eyes). I have never experienced euphoria like bringing him out of the water and looking into his tiny little eyes – I couldn’t believe that we’d done it and he had arrived just how we wanted him to, with ease at home surrounded by love and without any medical intervention or drugs to cloud his entry to the world.
Thanks a million to Crispin & Anna for being the ultimate birth partners, Kat for my hypnobirthing coaching and the Hackney Homebirth Team for their absolute dedication and care throughout my pregnancy and labour. You were all outstanding xxx