Henry - born 23rd Feb 2020
18 hours before my second child Henry was born and 2 weeks before his due date, my husband and I were picking up the birthing pool and my homebirth kit. I had a gut feeling that things were going to happen a bit earlier than they were supposed to so suggested we better get organized for our upcoming at home water birth.
We both thought it best to set up the birthing pool and leave it ready to go, as last time I was in labour we had not done this, and my husband took too long trying to get it set up that I ended up having my daughter in our bathtub (not a lot of space in there!). So, to avoid that happening again we got it all set up nicely and were relieved to know that should I go into labour all we need to do is fill the pool!
That evening we went about our normal routine, we had dinner and then around 6pm I started running the bath for our 4-year-old daughter. While the bath was running, I went to the bathroom to pee, after finishing I stood up and I felt a tiny little pop followed by a large amount of water leaking down my leg. After thinking perhaps I hadn’t quite finished peeing I quickly realised that my waters had just broken. The excitement set in.
My previous labour was pretty quick and simple, so we had been told to expect the same if not quicker the second time around. As I got my daughter bathed and dressed and ready for bed I waited for the contractions to start. Nothing. After what seemed like hours, at 7pm, water still leaking from my body, I got my first very mild contraction. Woohoo! Not as bad as I remember. I totally got this.
I sent a text to my parents, my best friend and my in laws to let them know what was going on as they all wanted to be present at the birth. My husband and I sat down to watch Married at First Sight (one of our favourites!) and my in laws joined us at 8.30pm and my mum at 9.30pm. During this time, my contractions were still very mild and irregular. My husband and his father decide to try and get some shut eye while things are still pretty relaxed.
In hindsight, I should have done this too, but I was very excited at the thought of meeting my little baby boy and I was feeling strong and confident, so I decided to stay up and wait with my mum & mother-in-law!
Midnight rolled around and while slightly more regular my contractions were still very mild. This is nowhere near as bad as I remember. We decided to get up from watching TV, have a cuppa and play a game of Phase 10. Within minutes of dealing the cards my contractions kicked up a notch. Ouch, that is a bit more like I remember. As I clutched my tummy through each contraction, we continued to play cards until both mums convinced me to wake my husband at 12.30am. He started filling the pool and we called the midwife.
By 1am our midwife had arrived, she assessed the situation and asked if she can do an examination. We head down to the bedroom where she examines me and advises I am only 3cms dilated. She does a bit of a stretch and sweep and tells us that she is going to go home for a bit of rest and she will return when the contractions intensify and are lasting longer. Um what? Intensify. How much worse can they get?! How much longer will this take?
My best friend arrives while we were all hanging out in the lounge – drinking tea, eating biscuits, Belgian Cremes to be exact and having a laugh mostly at my expense. My daughter was still tucked up in bed, sound asleep. I was using the swiss ball to lean against, this was working extremely well for my contractions. At this point I can still manage a smile and laugh, however with each contraction it was getting more painful and I was starting to wonder how much worse it had to get before the midwife came back and how long until I could get into the pool. My friend had a pen & paper and was timing and writing down the length of each contraction and how long in-between. When they started to last close to a minute and when I started struggling to keep a smile on my face, we all decided it was now time to call the midwife to come back.
She was back by 2.30am. I could finally get into the pool. I was immediately comforted and felt a lot more secure. However, that quickly changed when my contractions kick up another notch and with that came the urge to start pushing. Alright, now I need this boy out, this is so painful I feel nauseous. And then next came the vomit. My mum rushed to the kitchen to find a bowl. My husband rubbed my back, my best friend kept my hair out of my face, and someone had a cold flannel on my forehead while feeding me sips of water.
I found myself most comfortable leaning on the side of the pool, I had my midwife encouraging me to push with each contraction, I squeezed my mum’s hands, I pushed, I retched, I tried to catch my breath. This went on for about 40mins. I had nothing left to vomit; I was absolutely drained. The backup midwife force fed me honey on a spoon. I hate honey. She said it was essential, I needed it to keep my sugar levels up. I begrudgingly swallowed the honey.
By about 3am my midwife announced that she could see the head and that I really needed to push now, the baby was coming. Um what have I been doing the last 40mins?!. Mike was asked to get into the pool so he could catch Henry (our baby boy) when he came out. For the next hour and a bit, I continued to push with all I had, frequently using the F-word, crying in between contractions as I became weaker and weaker. I can’t handle much more of this pain, I’m so tired.
I could hear the midwives talking to my husband, they couldn’t see the head anymore, he’d gone back up. If they were unable to get him back down soon, they may have to call an ambulance to take me to Christchurch woman’s hospital. I start to feel pretty darn defeated.
I can feel and hear the sympathetic but encouraging voices of my husband, mum, best friend and mother-in-law. ‘you are doing so well Amy’ ‘don’t give up’.
My ever supportive midwife had another idea before giving me up to the hospital – I had to get out of the pool and try another position to see if we could get this baby to move down. Is this a joke? I can’t even open my eyes right now let alone move my huge, aching body out of this pool. With a lot of encouragement and some physical help I climbed out of the pool and crawled into the fetal position on the ground where I had my next couple of contractions. My midwife, family and friends created a space with cushions and towels on the floor, in the corner of our couch. They helped me get into position, I had my mum beside me holding my hand my husband on the other side trying to keep me awake and comforted, his supportive hand on my leg.
Its was time to push again. With the next contraction I push, I scream, my midwife advises she can see the head again. I push again and I can feel the burn, I know his head is right there!! This is just what I need to gather up any strength left and really give it my all. A few pushes later and my little man finally made his grand entrance! My husband being right there to catch him. There were big sighs of relief and cheers of joy followed by tears of pure delight.
I heard a slight change in tone as the midwives quickly took Henry from Mike, they had seen that his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck not once but twice. They quickly, calmly and effectively corrected this before handing me my little boy. All the pain, trauma, and stress dissipated as I held my baby close. He was perfect.
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