My plans were to have an unassisted home birth and to not have any prenatal care. But plans don’t always work out.
So at 36 weeks pregnant, after eating dinner, I feel water down my legs and freak out completely thinking oh crap my water broke, here I am with no house (living at the in laws between houses) got no baby stuff ready and this baby could be a preemie! So I called my husband who carted me off to the hospital. Turns out I had a hind water leak and I should just go home and come back if I had any concerns.
But a hospital visit isn’t that simple.
I was lectured how my baby and I were going to die leaving my husband and my other 2 kids because my baby was going to have shoulder dystocia like my daughter did and I was going to bleed to death. Basically trying to scare me the hell away from my home birth plans.
I went home remembering that I knew what I was doing and what they were saying was just to scare me. I also went home after being assigned a midwife. So this midwife gets me to come see her. I don’t particularly like her, but she states if I have the baby in the hospital that she will “allow” me to have a delayed cord clamping, my husband to catch the baby, so on. So I was happy to have some kind of support if I landed up in hospital for some reason.
I never saw her for another prenatal because she was very set on me having ultrasound testing and that’s not something I agree with. At 39 weeks, we moved houses. I was getting sick of being pregnant and my kids were traumatised from living with my in laws as our parenting is very different, so I was trying to get them to settle back down (poor kids) and unpack the house.
During a conversation with a friend it occurred to me that a homebirth at this time just wasn’t going to work. So I made the choice to labour at home and birth at the hospital.
As the days pass, I’m having contractions every day and wondering where they’re going. I get to 41 weeks and I am OVER the contractions and very over being pregnant. This midwife lady (let’s call her R) is calling me asking me to come in because I’m “overdue”. I continue to decline.
On Friday, 29th October, at 41+3 weeks, I was in the shower and I said to myself, “Now would be a really great time for my water to break”. My kids were up and could go to a baby sitter easily, my Mum was coming to Canberra the next day so wouldn’t miss the birth, my husband had Saturday off…couldn’t get more perfect right? I get out of the shower and I’m standing in the hallway getting dry while chatting to my kids and I feel a trickle down my leg. I froze. I looked down and thought maybe it’s just water from the shower? Another trickle. Did I seriously just ask my water to break and it’s broken? Another trickle.
“BRAD, I THINK MY WATER BROKE!”
My husband comes out of the study with a big smile on his face. I’m standing there naked with amniotic fluid trickling down my legs with a dorky smile on my face too. FINALLY this kid was going to come.
So I get dressed and start calling people. I’m on a high, I’m in labour yes! I call R, but someone else answers and says I can go get checked out if I like, but otherwise stay home and labour till I need go in. I figured I’d stay home and get some rest. We dropped the kids off at a lovely friend of ours place and went home. I filled a pad while dropping them off and when I checked it I guessed there was some meconium in the fluid. I called the MW back and she said to come in if I’m really worried. So to be safe I ducked in to the hospital.
This midwife who was covering for R (let’s name her M) told me she wasn’t sure if it was meconium or not, but she wasn’t worried about it. I had a chat with Brad and we decided it was best to have an internal to see how dilated I was, if I was only a little bit we would go get the kids and go home. I was 2-3cm. So we went and got the toddlers and went home. I fell asleep as soon as I got home and slept mostly through the night, waking to pee, etc. Woke up fully at 4am and lay there timing contractions for a few hours till everyone else woke up. They were 9-15 minutes apart for 50 seconds.
Around 8am, R calls me and says she will be at the hospital at 10am. I was like ‘OK…C-ya’. I had no intentions of going anywhere. I woke my husband and asked him to come and lay down with me because I was sore and wanted a hug. When we were finally ready to start the day properly, Brad got up and made the kids breakfast and I rang my Mum and talked to her about the worries of us not having a baby sitter available that day. She called my brother for me and he ended up saving the day.
I then got a text from R saying she was going home and to call M if I need to. I was SO very luck to have that happen. My brother got to my place at about 2pm. I had been sleeping most of the day and was still really tired, but I was sick of the random contractions and just wanted to get out of bed. I called M and she was already headed in so we met her there and I was obviously in some early labour, but I told her I wasn’t leaving till I had the baby. I had seriously had enough.
My lovely friend who took photos during the birth was at work that afternoon. I wanted her there and I wanted my Mum. Next thing I know Brad gets a phone call from Mum asking where to park! She was coming! I was thrilled. Mum and her lovely wife (MJ) arrived and I hugged them tight. I felt so damn lucky.
My contractions were all over the place. Sometimes they were 5 minutes apart sometimes an hour! I was starting to get impatient. I asked M if she could please check to see how dilated I was. I was 3-4cm. I started crying. I felt like my body was failing me. M also said she wasn’t sure if my waters had really broken or not. I ended up asking for them to try and break them. Brad asked me if I really wanted it done. I told him I’d had enough and I was buggered. So they tried to break the sac, but turns out it was already broken so there was nothing they could do.
We decided that MJ and Brad were going to pop home to check on the kids. Nothing was happening so figured may as well. After they left, Mum and I paced the hallway, contractions were frequent when I was walking. I held onto Mum and swayed through them. I loved having her there.
We went back to the room at 9pm. (I remember the time cuz one of the hallway doors shuts at 9pm) M came in and said if I wanted her at the actual birth she was going to go home and rest while another lady took over and she would come back when things picked up. She left and was replaced by this other midwife E. I didn’t like E.
I called Brad to see what was going on at home. He had gotten the kids to sleep and was planning coming back (yay). Mum and I decided to walk again as the contractions backed right off again. We walked the hallway maybe once and the contractions suddenly hit me like a bus. I pushed away from my Mum and I remember wondering when the pain was going to stop so I could keep walking, but it just kept coming. I remember Mum saying she needed to hang onto me to keep me safe.
Then suddenly there were two midwifes there and one of them had a red shirt on. She led me back to my room and put me on the bed on my hands and knees, bless her. I was in transition and I wasn’t pleasant. I knew the baby was coming soon and I was questioning where the eff Brad was. He suddenly was there and I told him I needed to go to the toilet. I used my bowels a few times sitting there being a bitch in full on transition. It was too hot and Brad kept moving when I wanted him to stay the hell still. I got up and halfway to the bed I wanted to go back to the toilet. And there I stayed. I refused to get up.
E was bugging me to move, because I couldn’t have the baby on the toilet. I kept looking at Brad in my ‘breaks’ as if to say to make them stop telling me what to do. I remember my Mum saying that I was acting like a 3 year old. I look back now and I so was. Finally M is back. She told me later on that E had called and said ‘Rachel has changed. You need to get back here now.’ I looked at her and felt much better, she was with me, my birth will be awesome.
Then I was back to bitchy. M was using the doppler throughout and I slapped her hand away once. Brad asked me later if I was okay with the amount of doppler use. I am okay with it, because the entire pregnancy I had nothing and if that’s what it took to get the birth I wanted then go for it.
I saw Anna turn up. I thought, yes my team is all here. I waved at her at one point. She started taking photos and every time I heard her voice it was like the calm in the storm. She thinks like I think and I respect her a lot. She convinced me to get off the toilet. So, I stood up and got to the bed. It was nicer standing up and being out of the hot bathroom. They asked me what I wanted to do and I said lay on the bed. I was so tired. But I couldn’t do it. I wanted all fours.
I slumped my body over the top of the bed and when I had a contraction I would push my body into it. Man I was loud! I recall screaming. I was thinking that I didn’t want to be loud, but I needed to be. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t have been able to do it. My thoughts were all over the place. I was blank during my ‘breaks’, but during a contraction I would think ‘come on baby, crown’ and stuff like that. I was impatient and tired. I wanted him the hell out of me.
I kept asking for someone to push on my tail bone and I really didn’t like my back being massaged. I just wanted someone to rub my back. I think I got annoyed when people tried to massage my back, but I don’t remember all that clearly. Someone, who I learned later was Brad, was at my ankles, I remember feeling them being held.
Then finally, finally I felt the ring of fire. I embraced it! My brain went ‘finally’ and my body was ready. I had been working hard this entire time to feel that pain and I was so glad it had arrived (and woohoo for not being checked to see if I was “ready to push” instinct for the win!). As I was pushing I would bring my body right low. Someone told me to feel the baby’s head. I was surprised when I reached down and felt an entire head! I thought there would just be a little crowning. I poked bub in the face! Wow the whole head was out! This baby was coming NOW! I was ecstatic in my head.
My birth team reading this will probably just remember me being super loud, but my thoughts were crazy happy. I wasn’t too concerned about meeting the baby, I was really tired and wanted to rest. A few more massive pushes and out bubby came. I don’t know how I found out ‘he’s a boy’, but sure enough, as my brain had told me only about 2 weeks ago, it’s a boy!
Brad passed him through my legs and I sat up on my legs so I was kneeling. I held him up to me and thought ‘finally it’s done’. Someone asked his name and I couldn’t get it out of my mouth. Brad filled the gap for me and said ‘Lewis’.
He didn’t cry really at all. I blew in his face a few times, he wasn’t suctioned or anything. I think he was just really quite content. MJ said later she saw him take a huge breath.
I then needed to move, I was aching all over. Someone held bub while I somehow rolled over with the baby still attached to me. I don’t recall how that happened exactly. I was on my back with Lewis on my chest and I was not interested in him one bit. I started freaking out that there was another baby (remember I hadn’t had an ultrasound so I didn’t know). A reassured me that it was just the placenta. I was shaking like crazy. A was squeezing my hand and reassuring me. I think M told me to push if I had a contraction.
I pushed the placenta out after 13 minutes. I’m glad it wasn’t in me longer, because it was stressing me out, Just the feeling that there was another baby to come out and I was so tired I didn’t wanna do it again.
After about half an hour of laying there, A trying to get me to look at Lewis. I just wanted to move. I didn’t like being on my back. I asked if the cord had stopped pulsating and if it had to go ahead and cut it. My back was killing me. So Brad cut the cord and I went to have a shower. After a shower I felt tons better and was able to finally pay attention to bub. I tried nursing him, but he wasn’t latching, he just wanted to poke around. He didn’t have a good feed until about 5 hours later, he just was sleeping. No problems here I wanted sleep too! Haha!
He weighed in at 3.7kilo and 47cm long. Lewis Walter James.
*Sent in by Rachel B.