I had a completely trouble-free pregnancy. Never felt any different to usual. No symptoms - tiredness, morning sickness, heartburn etc. Bump didn't start to appear until about 28 weeks, when it came and went every so often, before it decided to stick around at about 32 weeks. People started noticing I looked pregnant then. Although, not everyone. My next-door neighbours didn't catch on until Lucinda was six days old!
20 week scan
I took after my mum pregnancy-wise. She always had tiny bumps and no symptoms. My mum is my inspiration for a lot of my birth and parenting choices. So it is for this reason that I only ever considered home birth. My elder brother and I were born at hospital. My middle brother should have been born at home but he was breech and the midwife had never assisted the delivery of a breech at home so she insisted my mum go to hospital. My younger brother and sister were born at home - and although I didn't witness these births I still felt part of them and was "listening in" on the events! I loved how my dad came to get me within minutes of the births so I could go meet my new brother and sister - particularly my sister as I really didn't want a 4th brother! I love the thought that a baby born at home has only ever been at home until you decide to take them out. But the thing that has always stuck in my mind is what my mum has said about home births. In her words "Home births don't hurt". So, with that thought engrained in my mind since being 5 years old, home birth was my only option!
So, at my booking appointment with the midwife she asked me where I would be having my baby. I said "At home". I could see her face light up. She was so pleased. She must have got so fed up of people saying "Dewsbury" or "Pontefract"! Only thing she said was that I needed to get to 37 weeks for a homebirth. That was my biggest worry at the time. My mum's pregnancies averaged 37 weeks, so if I was to take after my mum with short pregnancies, my baby might come too soon.
38 week bump
Well, 37 weeks came and went. As did 38, 39 and 40 weeks. Then 41 weeks. I couldn't believe I was having to worry about being hassled for induction! At 40+10 it was recommended I go to an appointment at the hospital to be monitored. They also pencilled in an induction (which I was never going to go through with!). They said, because I was planning a home birth, they would put the induction date forward from the usual 40+10 to 42 weeks. Giving me an extra 4 days to have my homebirth. As long as I went in for monitoring every day until then. The monitoring was a waste of time. I went for the first two evenings, everything was fine. When I turned up for the third appointment they said it didn't matter and sent me home again! So, I got to 42 weeks - and this is the good bit - they were two days off with my dating scan (I know when I conceived, my husband works away!) so when I went into labour naturally at 42+1 they thought I was only 41+6!
Labour started at 2.00am on Sunday morning. I decided I was in labour at 4.30am. I was unsure before then as I had had cramps at 2.00am for the two previous nights, which had lasted a couple of hours and then gone off again. But by 4.30am I realised I was probably in labour this time. I woke my husband to tell him which, in typical husband fashion, he wasn't very impressed with and kept whinging "Did you have to wake me up?"! I ran a bath but I didn't stay in long because there wasn't enough hot water, so I got out and whinging husband stuck a TENS machine on my back. We tried the whole timing the contractions thing but I was having one after another and they were merging together so other than there being 3 in about 10 minutes we couldn't be more specific. I told my husband to phone my mum. This was just after 5.00am. My mum arrived at about 5.30am and could tell I was in the later stages of labour, so she phoned the labour ward to tell them to call the midwives to come out. The two midwives arrived at about 6.30am and after a quick check, told me I was 10cm dilated. This surprised me as although the contractions were one after another, they only felt like a moderate period pain and a bit of back ache. The midwives also asked me when my waters had broken, to which I replied "I didn't know they had". So assumed they must have gone when I was in the bath.
So, the midwives told me to try pushing. I didn't actually have the urge to push though. But I pushed on each contraction for over an hour. Nothing seemed to be happening. I'd been upright, on my knees or on all fours throughout labour. I'd deliberately avoided laying on my back or reclining because I knew these were the worst possible positions and also because it was very uncomfortable to lay on my back because I was labouring in my back. Because I had back ache I thought my baby was posterior and thought that must be the reason why it was proving difficult to push out. I got up and went for a walk to the bathroom, then came back and tried again. The midwives recommended we call an ambulance and transfer to hospital, which I reluctantly agreed to. I really didn't want to go to hospital, it had never been part of my plan, but I didn't know why my baby wasn't coming and I got the feeling the midwives didn't either - which made me slightly uncomfortable.
The ambulance arrived at about 8.30am. I got in and I was fastened onto a stretcher. But because it was too uncomfortable to lay on my back, I laid on my side. Well, reclined on my side, leaning on one elbow and holding the gas and air in the other hand. I loved it, it was so funny clinging on while the ambulance went around roundabouts at great speed! When we got to the hospital, I was pushed up to the labour ward on the stretcher. They pushed the stretcher up to the side of a bed and asked me to climb onto the bed. Which I tried to do before saying "It'd help if you unfastened me!". So, I climbed onto the bed and they told me I'd need to lay on my back. But I couldn't tolerate laying on my back at all. It wasn't painful. I can't describe it. It was a strange feeling. But I just couldn't lay on my back. So I asked for meptid. I remembered that at parentcraft class my midwife had recommended meptid as it didn't make mother or baby drowsy like pethidine, but had a similar analgesic effects. So, after the shot of meptid I could lay on my back. A doctor came then, stuck a ventouse up me, pulled on it, it came unsuctioned and splattered her with blood - hahaha! So she had another go and suddenly, totally unexpected, my baby was placed on my tummy.... at 9.11am on the 21st December 2008.
My mum said "Are you going to have a look and see what it is?" (I thought it was a baby but she meant is it a boy or a girl?!) So I had a look and said "Bloody hell!". I couldn't believe she was a girl. I'd been convinced she was a boy. But I was very very happy. I had a little girl. She had her first breastfeed while the doctor was sewing me up - I assumed that it was standard procedure to cut before performing a ventouse delivery, unfortunately.
After she had been delivered I started to think about her positioning. The mark from the ventouse was on the side of her head. I imagined that she had been trying to come out with her head turned sideways and that must have been why I didn't have the urge to push - she couldn't have been fully engaged or wasn't putting any pressure on. About a year later I read about asynclitism. I had never heard of it at the time, but I am now convinced that she was asynclitic. I wish I had heard of it before but even then, I don't know whether I would have recognised it, because although something didn't feel quite right, it didn't hurt. It didn't feel like she was "stuck" as I imagine that to be painful. Maybe if it were to happen again I would realise and be able to try out some of the positions I've read about that can help baby engage properly. As it is, I never got my much looked forward to home birth with Lucinda.
But, after a bath and a couple of breastfeeds, we were on our way home. I was discharged after four hours as they knew I didn't want to be there. Oh, I forgot to mention that the husband sat in the corner reading a Haynes manual while I was giving birth, so he doesn't get much of a mention in my birth story! When we got home, we just had time for bacon sandwiches, and then after another breastfeed and a nappy change we went to my mum and dad's for tea. So it was a very eventful and busy day!
I'm sad that I didn't get the home birth I'd always imagined. I lay in bed and think about how Lucinda should have been born there. I imagine what it would have been like to have my family come to the house to see her that morning, instead of them going to the hospital. Every time I see the photo of Lucinda laid on an NHS towel I want to Photoshop the NHS logo out of the photo (must get around to that one day). It nags me that it says "Place of birth - Pontefract" on her birth certificate and passport, when it should say "Wakefield".
Less than two hours old. That NHS towel, grrr!
Hospital wasn't a particularly bad experience. I can't say that I'm traumatised by it. But it wasn't the experience I wanted. If I ever have another baby I really hope that everything goes to plan and I get the home birth I've always imagined. I don't feel like my life is complete without the experience of home birth. When my friends have a home birth I am so happy for them. Of course I'm happy when anyone has any kind of birth, but there's something about home birth that moves me. Next time....