This week’s birth story comes our very own Gwen Lassey from Mamas Mission (Gwen teaches hypnobirthing in London, UK covering Barnet and the surrounding areas).We spent Monday at home with Ezra, playing, and I wondered why all things early labour felt like they had come to a stop. The week prior I had had lots of tightening sensations and a few on and off start and stop contractions; usually around 17:00 in the evening – which seemed to coincide with when daddy was getting home from work.
On the Tuesday, I woke up, went for a long walk to the hospital for a late scan – there had been talk of you being a ‘big baby’ and so a last scan to check all was OK was ordered. Needless to say, that once scanned, we got the all clear.
I finished the walk home; by now having walked nearly 3 miles – I was eager for labour to get going so that Ezra would be able to keep his usual routine – he was due to be off on half term the week after! And on arrival home, I sat in the living room, bouncing and rolling on the birth ball.
After 40 mins of bouncing and no stirrings, my mum (Nanna) arrived to go for another long walk with me. We went up a relatively steep hill and sat down at the top to catch our breath before walking back down home. Whilst baby felt lower and lower, I wasn’t having any tightening at all.
We got home and shortly afterwards Ezra and daddy both arrived home from work/ childminders. Whilst Nanna got ready to pack up and leave, I had a few contractions in the kitchen and kept being asked ‘is this it?’ I didn’t feel that these were any different to the early contractions I had had the week before, when I’d lost most of my mucous plug.
So off Nanna went home, and we carried on with our usual evening routine – dinner for us all; bath and bed for Ezra. I had a hot shower and got to bed.
At around half past midnight I woke from sleep with contractions that felt more concentrated than earlier in the day, but I was able to get back to sleep.
At 0300 I woke up with much more intense contractions and had to get up onto all fours, breathing through each surge as they came. By 0330, daddy had woken up with the noise I was making in bed next to him and asked if all was OK. Yes, it was, I was just having some contractions. But they still felt very much manageable, breathing through them. I responded that all was fine, and Conrad asked if now was the time to call Nanna to come and pick Ezra up. From past experience, I didn’t want to pre-empt a false labour and so I asked if we could wait until the contractions were much closer and more intense – I was guessing they were 15- 20 mins apart and only lasting a few seconds. However, Conrad responded that they were already 1 minute long every 6 minutes and so it was probably time for mum to come and collect Ezra – I had completely underestimated how far along we were and was happy that he had been discretely timing contractions as we had talked about before.
Whilst Conrad called Nanna to come and collect Ezra, I got up out of bed and started pacing our bedroom. Conrad lit lots of candles around the bedroom.
I wanted to be upright and mobile, and found that walking up and down the room helped me manage my noise making as I didn’t want to wake Ezra before Nanna arrived.
Conrad then put a call in to the Edgware home birth team midwives and they started sending someone out to us.
In what felt like a flash, mum was at the door and together she and Conrad got Ezra and his pre packed overnight bag into her car – off they went into the dark early hours of the morning.
Once Ezra had left, it was all systems go. I gave in to the contractions and mooed my way through each surge whilst Conrad ran the bath for me to sink into. Once filled, he helped me in, and I went back to focusing my breathing and felt really soothed by the warm water as the sun started rising and the bathroom started getting lighter. I remember thinking that things may slow down now that we weren’t operating in the dark and so I asked Conrad to fetch me the bottle of Clary Sage oil to sniff and help keep my contractions going.
There was a moment that I know we both wondered whether the midwives would make it on time and Conrad checked how long it had been since he had called them out. I think the sun coming up was distorting our recollection of time even more so than usual in labour.
Not too much later, the door went, and Conrad went downstairs to answer it and let the midwife in, I tried to bring myself back to my breath. Picturing our little girl making her way down with each surge. I want my daughter to be headstrong and determined – full of her own sense of identity (watch me eat my words as she grows up!). And so with each contraction, I pictured her, imagined her being determined to make her way out no matter what. I heard Conrad pass the midwife a copy of our birth plan as we hadn’t met her before – the final decision to home birth was only made a week earlier but that’s a story for another time) And she sat quietly on the floor of our bedroom – just next to the bathroom where I was labouring and read it; not disturbing our peace even an iota.
After a few minutes, she knocked on the bathroom door which was ajar and introduced herself to me – Saskia- and she asked if she could please check the baby’s heart rate. Of course! And for that nervous moment whilst she found it, I felt Conrad hold his breath. But once she found it beating strong Saskia returned to the bedroom floor, leaving us back to our labour.
I soon felt the need to use the loo and asked Conrad to help me out of the bath. Once on the loo, he passed me a little sick bucket and I asked him to leave the room. I transitioned from early to active labour then; vomiting and having a poop as I had with my first labour and I knew it would soon be time.
I stood and moaned a new moan – I felt different than I had before and Conrad came back in the bathroom to help me. We rocked there in the bathroom; the swaying helping me through increasingly intense sensations. I buried my head into his chest and focussed; my knees started dipping with each contraction – again familiar from the final moments of my first labour and Saskia re-entered the room, asking to check the baby’s heart rate once more. As she confirmed that baby was very happy, I declared I needed the loo again! Saskia let me know that the likelihood was its was baby as she could sense from my noises that the time was drawing close. All the same I said – I need to use the loo! This time Conrad did not leave – I guess this is the moment inhibition leaves the birthplace!
As I sat down on the toilet, I knew it was time. We quickly got back up and went into the bedroom. Which had been laid with some splash proof covering and lots of towels on the floor and bed. The front door went again, and Saskia went down to let the second midwife in.
I instinctively got down onto all fours on the floor at the foot of the bed and Conrad sat down in front of me. I gripped his hands and allowed by body to ‘flop’. I felt my pelvic floor completely relax – SPLASH- my waters released in a dramatic gush all at once – again, reminiscent of my first labour.
Conrad shouted down the stairs – her waters have gone! – and up came Saskia. Without a word, Saskia sat back down in her spot at the back of our bedroom – now directly behind me and – I cried to Conrad – I can’t do it I need gas and air! Are you sure? He asked me. I just need it close by, just in case I said. Saskia responded to reassure me that it was ‘just downstairs’ but that she didn’t think I would need it …. TRANSITION – I also doubted myself in this transition into the pushing phase in Ezras labour. Fear and enormity briefly set in.
In the next breath I remember looking up at Conrad and realising that very shortly we would have a DAUGHTER. A little girl, half him; half me. And with that rush of love; my body started bearing down all by itself.
With each surge fear and enormity was pushed aside and more determination set in. Whilst the sensations were deeply deeply intense, I breathed down through each surge, helping our baby make her way out down and round the final hurdle.
Saskia asked me to come up just a little to give baby enough room to come out – I was a bit too low to floor but aside from that did not utter a word, she did not coach or manage labour in any way; but read all the lines between the birth plan and let us birth our baby in peace.
As Serena crowned and then was born within 15 minutes, Saskia caught her and passed her to me between my legs.
Conrad helped me up onto the bed with our little girl in my arms. And I laid back staring down at her while she made her way to the boob for the first time and we waited for the placenta.
Once the placenta had been birthed, Saskia asked if I wanted to see it – I did this time; it was a regret I had from my first birth that I had never been brave enough to look – it was a magical moment for me, seeing the placenta and the sack that had just been home to our little human for nearly 10 months.
I’ve been asked so many times what happens to the ‘mess’ after a home birth and I know it’s something that really plays on the minds of people contemplating one. I can HONESTLY say there wasn’t any! All the amniotic fluid was caught in the towels on the floor – the midwives picked those up and any other fabrics and put them in the washing machine for us.
Then any rubbish with them in a black bag and the placenta was whisked away as medical waste.
No blood or bodily fluids remained anywhere!
We spent the golden hour cuddling, after which I passed Serena to her dad whilst I went and showered in our own shower. The midwife weighed her, and Conrad dressed her and by the time I was out of the shower and dressed myself, the midwives were ready to leave.
08:00 and we were at home with our daughter like nothing had ever happened and she had always been home, part of our lives! All that was left was for her to meet her big brother later that day.
` If you want to create your own positive birth you can start today!