On Friday the 24th of Feb, my doula had come over to be with me for my midwife home visit after spending 3 nights in early labour which seemed to be going nowhere. I wanted my cervix checked to see if I had progressed any, but without a previous VE we had nothing to compare to anyway.
My Midwife reluctantly checked my cervix and found me to be 2-3cm’s with a very “ripe” soft and stretchy cervix.. I was going to have this baby sometime this decade.
After she left, my doula came out for dinner with the family to an Italian place called Stallions. I went straight to the toilet while the others were being seated at a table. After my pee, I stood up, pulled up my undies and then I felt a gush.. followed by 2 more gushes…
I was so excited to finally feel my waters break spontaneously at the right time of pregnancy for a healthy birth. I was sure this was my for-waters rather than hind-waters, because unlike 2 weeks beforehand, I was feeling gushes rather than trickles.
I was overcome with excitement and for the first time in months, I craved a cigarette. Obviously I didn’t smoke one, but I do remember saying I wish I could and wondering why I suddenly wanted something I hate so much.
So the wait started..
With all the others my waters were broken and promptly followed by a baby, so after waiting hours expecting to push a baby out at any moment, I was very surprised that contractions hadn’t even started. My Doula, Athena lives an hour away and doesn’t drive, so I was reluctant to send her home, believing that if she left, I would go into labour and she wouldn’t make it back in time. Athena felt the same so decided to stay until a baby was born no matter how long it took.
Over the weekend, I suffered the same early labour contractions as the previous nights.. mild contractions every few minutes with the odd strong one, always between midnight and 5am and then fizzling out. I had finally decided to accept that these contractions were all just a nightly event which wasn’t to lead to anything significant. On Saturday the 25th I went and saw a Chinese herbalist who gave me acupuncture to get things going. I had a few strong contractions that morning but nothing regular. The acupuncture didn’t work and the next day when I phoned her to book another session, she told me not only was she tied up with a sick horse, but after 2 days of no labour and ROM, I should go to the hospital and get a c-section.. the baby was obviously stuck and not coming. I rolled my eyes and found her comment ridiculous. My midwife’s biggest concern was infection and she wasn’t even really worried about that unless I showed symptoms.. which we were checking constantly.
Sunday the 26th was a scorcher and it was the day the spa pump was finally fixed.. great timing as Athena’s husband and 4 year old daughter had come to spend the day with us. The children loved splashing in the cool spa. Athena and I had made a red velvet birthday cake to “entice” the baby out (I was craving red velvet cake, but we joked that the only thing to entice the baby out would be a breastmilk filled menstrual pad in my pants).
The cake was delicious and scoffed off within minutes of finishing dinner.
Monday the 27th there was a local sling meet organised which I didn’t intend on going to at first as it was 3 days past my EDD, but for some reason, I had an urge to keep myself busy and felt fine to go to it. The meet went well and afterwards, Athena and I (and baby Nell) went to Eastlands shopping mall for a while and then to Spotlight. I was pretty tired when I got back, but I still managed to go grocery shopping.
After the kids went to bed Athena and I sat down and watched a movie. There was a girl in the movie who reminded Athena of her daughter and she suddenly felt very down and had a strong urge to be back home with her family. It was decided that first thing in the morning I would get her home and if she is meant to be at the birth it will happen somehow.
At around midnight I went to bed. I was laying there thinking.. I should go to the hospital tonight.. I didn’t know why, but I just felt I needed to go there. I kind of brushed the thought off as something to do with rushing labour so Athena could be there before going home. I rolled over to get comfy and doze.
Within minutes I had a really powerful contraction. It was so strong that I felt this pop, like something was “breaking” inside me on the left above my hip. I laid there wondering what on Earth it was.. there was no gush of fluid but I had a sudden urge to poo and wondered if I had broken my intestines lol So I got up and went to the toilet and did the biggest poo of my life. I went back to bed and was hit by another strong contraction and decided this was finally IT!!!!
I phoned Athena because I didn’t know if she was upstairs or down stairs and I felt that if I went looking for her I may end up not making it into the pool. I wanted her to fill it before I got moving. I then phoned my midwife and she was at another birth saying she wouldn’t be able to make it for at least a couple of hours. She offered to send her back up but I was reluctant to have a midwife who I haven’t met, attend my homebirth. I told her I would just freebirth unless she arrived before baby was born.
Being that I was freebirthing now, I decided that it would be best to not call any of my other support people including my mother as they may feel forced into a situation they didn’t intent to be in. I didn’t want people at my birth who were afraid of the process without a midwife.
When the pool was filled Athena called me down. I think it was around 12:30am. I had a few more contractions and was a bit worried about them fizzling out again. I was worried the water may slow things down so I held off hopping in for another 15 minutes or so.
Once in the water, I was happily surprised to find that not only did the contractions not slow, but they picked up!!! Baby Nell (Athena’s 13 month old daughter) woke up and Athena put her in a sling. Nell became a teeny doula. Skye woke up also and came in to take photos with Jon. At around 1am I asked Jon and Skye to leave the room and chill until it was time to push. I believed that being baby number 5 and having so much pre labour etc, that it wasn’t going to be long at all until I started pushing.
At around 2am after breathing through contractions in the pool, I felt the urge to push. The contractions were very powerful and the bearing down urge was something I couldn’t stop. I pulled off my bather bottoms and Athena went and called Jon and Skye in. Aiden woke up to the call too and joined them both in my birth space. Well the pushing continued.. and continued and continued.
Every contraction felt like it was going to bring baby down.. it would come, I would push and my bladder would empty. I was waiting to feel him in my vagina but he wasn’t moving down. I was even asking him where he was during each contraction and calling him down. COME DOWN BABY COME DOWN BABY!!!
I moved around in the pool splashing, changing positions, kicking, swaying breathing, pushing…
Athena would apply counter pressure on my sacrum during each contraction and it felt sooo good. It took the edge off the pain and really helped me to slow down the pushing urge and to increase the breathing. Whenever she had to attend to Nell, she would get Jon or Aiden to take over. I have the most beautiful photos of Aiden and Jon sharing counter pressure duties.
As the hours passed, the pushing urges and pain became unbearable. It felt like transition. I felt as though if the baby didn’t come with the next contraction, then I could possibly die. It was with these thoughts that I decided that Jon could phone my Mum as baby would be here by the time she arrived. She only lives 20 minutes away. It was around 5am at this time and already a much longer labour than any of us anticipated.
Sometime before my Mum arrived I felt inside my vagina to check where baby was. I wasn’t sure what I was feeling.. it wasn’t what I should have been feeling for someone minutes off having a baby. It felt like a big hard lump cm’s in, but it was covered with thick soft flesh. It felt like my bladder was in front of the baby and it was being pushed into my vagina, collapsing my vaginal wall with it. It was then that I desperately wanted a midwife to check me and tell me what was going on. I was not comfortable freebirthing now. Things were NOT feeling as they should have been. I asked Athena to call my midwife back and ask her to send the back up if she couldn’t come right away. It took what seems like hours (but only around 20 minutes) for her to reply saying the back up would be an hour.
My mother then arrived and I thought I would try to hold out for the back up midwife and I would try my best to not push until I felt a baby in my vagina without a doubt. I didn’t know what to do with myself when the contractions hit. I would moan and scream through some.. pant through others, thrash around in the water.. cry, moan more..yell more…
I became desperate, I needed to know what was happening.. I couldn’t wait any longer.. it was around 6:30am by now and there was no midwife in sight. I asked Jon to phone an ambulance. He thought for sure the next contraction would bring me a baby so he held off.. a few more contractions and I asked him if he had called.. Athena kept asking if I was sure.. she reminded me of the fact that I really wanted a homebirth. I decided I didn’t want a freebirth, so if that means transferring then that’s what I wanted. I told her I didn’t want to be home anymore. If I birthed the baby before transferring then great, but I didn’t want to wait any longer to call them.
Another 2 contractions hit and I asked if Jon had called and when he said no I lost it. I called him a f*** ignorant d***head and asked if he wanted a dead wife and baby!!! It was then that he and Athena both sensed that something was seriously wrong and that I had picked up on it. They believed finally that I had to transfer now.
Jon phoned the ambulance and they arrived around 10 minutes later. I was screaming for the green stick or any pain relief. They transferred me to the ambulance naked with just my wet black bra on. I didn’t care.. I just wanted to be at the hospital to know what the heck was going on.
We arrived at around 7am and my B/P was checked first. It was 170/120 there was some panic about that.. they said I had Eclampsia.. they gave me medication to lower my B/P and handed me the happy gas… which really didn’t help at all. The pain was far too strong for anything to help now. Each contraction was pushing my bladder into my pubic bone. I was in absolute agony… nothing I had ever felt before.
The OB came in to check the position of the baby. He said the baby had to come out right away but he didn’t know how to proceed until he knew which position he was dealing with. He put his hand in and felt my cervix.. a contraction started and I tensed up.. he pulled his fingers out and pulled his gloves off throwing them in the bin saying how I wouldn’t let him check properly. I told him me tensing up was from the contraction and involuntary and that I was happy for him to check between contractions. He asked me why I decided to homebirth.. while I was writhing in agony and screaming and thrashing around on the hospital bed.
Athena asked him if that question was appropriate right now.. he said no and then said he would get the ultrasound machine to check the position. Turns out the baby was in an oblique transverse lie. Basically his head was in my left hip (where I felt the pop and something breaking) and his shoulder was being forced into my bladder. First thing was to empty my bladder to see if it helped give him more room to reposition himself. They put in a catheter and 500 mils came out… 3 times more than the average. I felt some relief during the contractions now but he wasn’t moving. The next plan was to give me an epidural in surgery and break my waters. There was a very high risk of cord prolapse so they wanted me prepped for a c-section for just in case. I was skeptical and asked Athena to contact my midwife. She agreed that the risk of cord prolapse was high and they weren’t just being knife happy.
I asked for a pethidine as it was now around 8:30am and I was ready to allow them to just cut him out to end my misery. The Pethidine did take the edge off and helped the gas to work a bit better.. but I was still moaning and occasionally screaming during contractions.
I was taken down to the waiting bay in surgery. I now had no gas to suck on and the peth was wearing off. I began screaming in pain again and begging for the epidural which seemed to be taking for ever. The nurse there kept telling me they were busy with another patient and I had to just wait another few minutes… of course they kept saying that every 10 minutes for hours.
The anaesthetist walked in and I swore asking her when she was going to do the f*** epidural. The nurse called out from the next cubicle.. well there’s no epidural at a homebirth is there!?!?! Athena said, there no transverse babies at a homebirth either and that I had been in transition waiting for an epidural for hours. Another nurse came to me and supported me.. I was screaming for them to just cut him out now and she kept reminding me that I wanted to birth as naturally a possible as the healing time would be shorter.. if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have sat through 2 epidural attempts which both failed.
While laying on the operating table, after being shaved, another catheter inserted, liquid poured onto my belly and a thick heavy mask forced onto my face, I burst into tears. Athena was next to me crying also.. I was about to have my first c-section.. 5th child, failed homebirth. I wasn’t even going to be awake. I was going to miss his birth altogether. I wouldn’t see him covered in vernix.. I wouldn’t hear his first cry.. I wouldn’t feel him come out.. I wouldn’t feel the emotions a mother gets when they first lay eyes on their baby…
I went to sleep sobbing
I woke up in recovery and asked to see my baby. He wasn’t there. They said I was very sick and had a seizure while under.. or just waking (not sure). They said he was big and beautiful.. but had breathing problems and was in NICU in an incubator. There wasn’t even a photo for me to look at. I was crying and just asking for him over and over. When they took me out of recovery, I was told I was too sick to go and see him. Jon showed me a photo. Athena had been the first to hold him and she told me how beautiful he was. I was crying.. I wanted to see my baby. Hours passed and a shift change happened. The next midwife took me in my bed to the NICU to see him. He was in a box.. I could hardly get my arm in to touch him because it was bandaged up too thick to fit through the hole. They wanted to give him formula because he had low blood sugar. I refused..
I wanted to feed him but they said it would keep him in the humidicrib longer. They gave him glucose for his blood sugar through an IV. It was 12 hours before he was brought to me for his first cuddle. I didn’t want it to end. I fed him and smelled him and cuddled him… I cried when they took him away again 20 minutes later. I cried until Wednesday afternoon when he was finally allowed to stay in my room with me.
I developed a chest infection and every cough was agony. I was exhausted and falling asleep almost dropping Oscar each time. The nurses claimed he had lost too much weight.. they didn’t counter in the fact he wasn’t fed for the first 12 hours of his life. I took him home Friday morning.. 2 days before they recommended.. we won’t look back now.
Oscar was born at 11:01am on the 28th of Feb.. sharing his birthday with his big sister. He weighed 8Ibs 10 oz’s . I didn’t get to keep his placenta and make placenta pills. I didn’t get to use the sweet red cord tie I had made him weeks before he was born. I didn’t get to smell his newborn smell because he was cleaned and suctioned before I saw him.
I want to be pregnant still.. I want to reverse time and do things differently.. I have no idea what I would need to change for a better outcome.. but when I was pregnant I still had dreams of a homebirth.. those dreams are now gone forever. I will enjoy every moment with my precious little man for the rest of my life. If he wasn’t here to distract me, I think the trauma would be too hard to survive.
6 months ago