After Nookie’s birth I vowed next time would be different: this time I would be prepared. I would have a home birth, and I would be in control! I did my research… boy did I do my research. I read book after book, article after article, devouring information on natural pain relief methods, coping with contractions, etc. I don’t think I could have been more prepared.
As my due date came and went I started to get impatient. I knew enough about induction to know I wasn’t being induced, and would just have to be patient. Thankfully my midwife respected my wishes. I was tortured by twinge after twinge: night after night of Braxton-Hicks contractions that would build and build and then slow down and stop. But I waited…
Finally on the morning of 26th October, at about 1.30am, a week after my due date, I awoke to the sensation of leaking waters. I knew this was it. I leapt out of bed, into the bathroom, and proceeded to stand there while my waters gushed. I couldn’t get out the bathroom for about ten minutes! Finally I woke my partner and he started to get things ready: filling the pool, laying tarpaulin, etc. I called my best friend, who would be attending to take care of Nookie as she wanted to see her sister born, and then called the midwives, who advised me to ring again in an hour when I started having contractions. Two minutes after I got off the phone my contractions started in earnest: about five minutes apart. I rung them back and they set off straight away.
In the meantime I ate a cereal bar, started drinking isotonic drinks, and walked about. When a contraction came I would lean over a chair and breathe through it. They were no where near as painful as I remembered from having Nookie! I felt calm and in control. It never even occurred to me to ask for pain relief when the midwives arrived. I’d been determined to do without it anyway, but even if I hadn’t I really didn’t feel it was necessary.
When the midwives arrived I was examined and said to be 3cm dilated. By now the contractions were about three minutes apart and building in intensity. My friend Tanya woke Nookie and she came down to watch the action with interest, in between watching cartoons. I continued to walk about, leaning on the chair when I needed to. Unfortunately the birthing pool ended up not being used. Because the water pressure from the hot tap wasn’t very strong, Hedgehog had filled it from the cold water tap and was topping it up with boiling water from the kettle to bring the temperature up. It never got high enough for me to get in! Three hours after my waters had broken I started getting a lot of pressure and the urge to push, but I was kind of in denial. I took myself off to the shower to cool down, but almost immediately I had another huge contraction with a strong pushing urge and knew this was it! I got straight back out of the shower, told the midwives the baby was coming, and we set up on the sofa so my baby could be born.
I was on my hands and knees, leaning over the chair arm. Hedgehog sat in front of me and held my hands. As the contractions came I bore down, followed my instincts, and went with the rushes. I wouldn’t say I really strained or pushed as such at first, but more tried to relax my body and let the contractions do their work. Nookie and Tanya watched the whole thing. Nookie was fascinated. I don’t remember hitting transition or anything like that. I had no doubts in my mind that I could do this. I just relaxed, stayed calm, and kept reassuring myself that I could do this… that my body could do it’s work.
It hurt of course. But I knew this bit would be over soon and I would have my baby in my arms. Again, it never occurred to me to ask for pain relief. I couldn’t really ask for anything at this point. I was very focused… in a world of my own, not really taking notice of what was going on around me. In between contractions I kept drinking, and letting my body rest. Finally I couldn’t help but push and with just a handful of really strong contractions and pushes, I welcomed my daughter into the world. She was born at exactly 5am: the second stage had lasted thirty minutes. She appeared there in front of me, and I lifted her myself and hugged her tightly. I’d done it! Me. I’ve never been so proud in my life.
We delayed cord clamping, and forty-five minutes later I pushed out the placenta with a little bit of assistance from the midwife. I laid there the whole time with my daughter in my arms, and breastfed her as much as she would take. She looked around at the world. Her beautiful eyes. Nookie was absorbed by her.
When Nookie was born I distinctly remember an immediate fierce love for her, like my whole life suddenly had meaning. I didn’t get that this time. It was a softer, gentler type of knowing that I loved this little person, just as much as I love Nookie. There was no momentous change in perspective: just the knowledge that I had my baby and I loved her.
Smushface was 9lb 2 ounces. I had no tears or damage to my perineum at all, despite her big size. This birth couldn’t have been more different to Nookie’s, and I’m so glad I did it my way. I feel like I could conquer the world now!