Home birth Part 2 – The Birth of our daughter – Ben’s Story
So, Part 1 was the considerations that Jen and I took before making the choice of a home birth with a birthing pool. In Part 2, I shall talk about the birth as Jen had a relatively simple pregnancy in regards to no medical issues or interventions. Under no circumstances will I ever say the whole pregnancy was ‘simple’ as I may want another child in the future. Also, I’ll let you know what other people said, what to prepare and what Dad will do throughout the labour.
What other people said about us having a home birth
People can’t help but react to anything that isn’t a hospital birth. These are some of the quotes we had to endure, some several times, and our thoughts rather than actual words spoken.
“Oh, you’re brave” (by far the most common response) – Shuddup
“Oh really…?” – P**s off
“But what if you need the hospital” – Do you seriously think we haven’t considered that!!!
“Don’t be silly, take the drugs” – Well how very supportive of you.
“That’s amazing! I wish I could have done that.” Huh….Well thank you very much!
Yes, we got a lot of directly negative or passive negative comments. Yes, they were annoying and actually quite disappointing considering how close some of the people are to us. But actually a home birth is not the norm and some things, if they’re not the norm, are simply not accepted by modern society. The percentage of women giving birth at home remained at 2.3% in 2013, unchanged from 2012 (1).
Our Home Birth Story
We woke up just after nine AM (little did we know for the very last time for however many years) with Jen complaining about some serious Braxton Hicks. Thinking not a lot about them as Jen had them persistently throughout the latter stages of pregnancy, we went about our morning.
With the Braxton Hicks rearing its ugly head around three times every ten minutes it was decided that we should call our midwife Sonia just after lunch. Jen also mentioned this to Practical Dad Ross’ wife who immediately told us she thought Jen was in actual real life labour. And she was right! Sonia spoke to Jen and it was decided as Jen was fairly comfortable she would wait a while until the actual real life contractions became a little more uncomfortable. As this conversation was going on I went to Ross’ house as they were happy to lend me their TENS machine his wife had used during labour only three days before. Not being sure if it was socially acceptable to use the same pads I quickly followed the cue from Ross as he said “you need to go and buy some more pads”.
Why does nobody sell TENS machine pads!
Off I went to Lloyds Pharmacy who had nothing, not a problem, there’s a few baby shops around town. I call Boots ‘Press 2 for the maternity department (Press 2) “Hello Boots beauty”. Huh? I asked them if they had any, got hung up on. Tried again, when I finally got through to the right department they didn’t have any either. Surely Mothercare?…nope. So I decided that the previously used pads would do for today as Jen was waiting.
Jen was doing really well for a while with the TENS machine slowly being turned up and boosting through contractions whilst changing positions on the pregnancy ball. She tells me she remembers we were watching ‘Can’t pay, we’ll take it away’ which I have no recollection of as I was racking my brain trying to remember where all the things were that might be needed for today.
Inflating the birthing pool
I decided to get the pool out to inflate. Now, two things I have found that really anger a pregnant lady are people moving around unnecessarily and noise. So as I was moving around unnecessarily flattening the tarpaulin which seemed to be made out of fireworks it was so noisy, I did get a few huffs and puffs from the way of the pregnancy ball. It was ok though, I only had to now fill the pool via the electric pump. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA went the pump for about ten minutes.
Sonia arrived just before two PM. Jen was still pretty comfortable at this point and was happy to hear she had got to five centimetres dilated with only the TENS and the ball. Sonia said it was probably time to fill the pool. And by the way, fill the pool means to fill it to the exact level needed and at exactly 37°C. No problem, the hose was ready, the attachment was on the tap, here we go. Now the hose could have played ball and filled the pool in the estimated forty five minutes in the manual. However, it went all 1990’s on me and decided to kink in at least three hundred and sixty five different places. BANG! Goes the attachment with the hose throwing more water around the kitchen than monsoon season. F******g brilliant. Try again. Same result. FML. This was not going well. Five tea towels and just over an later however, the pool was full.
Into the Pool
The time was just after three PM when Jen got into the pool in search of that ‘Ahhhh’ moment. Jen enjoyed being in the pool, but she said it was more the heat as she felt very little pain relief from it. Two hours later, the pain relief wasn’t as much as she had initially hoped for and it was time to upgrade from to gas and air at five PM. The first few breathes that get the gas into your system were very amusing, a cheeky giggle gave Jen a momentary release from the situation.
Jen would then breathe just before the next contraction and through it. For the last two hours of Jen repeating the cycle of gas in, contraction on, relax, I was doing the utmost to keep her relaxed. I would breathe four in and eight out next to her ear during contractions to remind her without telling her, it’s amazing how she would copy just from hearing. I would pour the pool water over her back to keep her warm or put a wet flannel on her neck or forehead to keep her cool. I would gently massage her shoulders and arms and change position to apply pressure to her sacrum during contractions. I would offer her water through a straw as the gas will dry your lips out. I gave Jen Jelly Babies to keep her sugar levels up. This was going well until the end where Jen decided she didn’t want the last red one I gave her as a fairly large contraction hit which meant the Jelly Baby came dribbling out over the side of the pool.
The hours tick by
It’s now seven PM. Another midwife had arrived to help Sonia with the latter stages of the home birth, which is standard. Jen was asked to get out of the pool for an examination (one of only three Jen had throughout labour) as things had slowed a little. The examination was done whilst Jen was sitting on the toilet as this position is fantastic for birthing. Jen was at nine centimetres now, the end was in sight but our baby was having issues and was deemed to be stuck. Jen was back in the pool for another fifty ish minutes, but nothing had progressed. By now Jen was exhausted, she said she didn’t want to carry on and to be honest I didn’t want her to either. Seeing the woman you love struggle through the final hours of labour really isn’t much fun. It started to get a little scary around the house too with Jen now out of the pool again with Sonia in the toilet and the other midwife on the phone to the paramedics. Words such as episiotomy and fetaldistress were overheard (as baby’s heart rate has risen as I rushed around gathering the hospital bags that we had prepared for this type of situation.
One final push
19:47. It was really now or never for the home birth. Jen was still in the toilet. One massive contraction, a giant push and a head! “Jen the head is out, you need to give me a big push during the next contraction”. At this time it is all hands on deck as I straddle the toilet to hold Jen up under her arms as Sonia is on her knees. One final push…. “The baby’s out Jen”. Jen was handed our baby at eight PM on the dot as Sonia asked me to tell her we have a baby girl. I just managed this through bleary eyes as I wiped away the tears. Jen sat down on the toilet as Sonia wrapped her and our baby girl up.
Baby is here
The cord was cut after it had stopped pulsing (after a few minutes) and baby was surprisingly pink and happy considering she had been stuck for a while. I took baby for skin to skin contact whilst Jen delivered the placenta and then taken into the lounge to lie down on the sofa to start recovery with her brand new daughter. As I got my head around things (having a home birth and now understanding there is another human in the house) and Jen was pooped on for the first time, Sonia was whizzing around the house tidying up and checking the pizza I had put in the oven. Five hours after her shift had finished, Sonia left. What an amazing woman. Talking about amazing women, my Jen was…this is really difficult to out into words…incredible. The effort and dedication shown, the pain barriers she had to break through, the hours of just not knowing. All for the love of someone you have only just met. If I show half the commitment and focus she showed over the 23rd April 2016 in all the years of my life I will be a happy man. I have well and truly found a very pure person who hides nothing and I love with all my heart.
So yes we got our home birth albeit in the downstairs cloakroom but Jen was beaming afterwards despite her exhaustion. It was a very surreal moment to finally be alone with the two girls in my life. But to know it was over, they were both safe and the despite the room of birth the end result was a beautiful healthy baby girl. That ladies and gentleman is the only thing that matters.