A waterbirth at home for a second time mum

It’s hard to believe it’s 3 weeks to the day (now just over 4 as it’s taken me a week to finish this!) since Lorcan arrived – just like with Aoife it’s almost like he was never not here, yet I can’t quite figure out where he came from! Every now and then I find myself looking at him thinking “where did you come from!” Funny, how we have 9 months to prepare and it still seems to take us
unawares.

This pregnancy was pretty uneventful, with the exception of actually having morning sickness, or rather afternoon sickness as opposed to morning queasiness, and also the issue of having had a previous “big baby” of 4.0kg hence being subjected to a glucose tolerance test and an extra sizing scan. All was fine and towards the end I had been quietly hoping I might “go early” or at least not as long “over” as with Aoife. I was also very much looking forward to using the birth pool, certainly to labour in – the trial run had convinced me of its merits, it was just bliss to float at 9 months pregnant. And being my second planned home birth I was looking forward to the experience with less nervousness than the first time round.

I was a little disappointed about the false alarm; it felt a little
like having started a marathon and about half way through being told it was a false start, go back to the beginning. I think I was wondering if I’d have enough energy left for the real thing. But at least we all agreed that something was beginning which was positive.

For at least a week before the “due date” I had been waiting for any familiar twinges or cramps, and had been listening daily to the Gentlebirth track to start labour. Of course, due date came and went, and I cracked open the clary sage and was almost ready to brave a curry, but no need. On Saturday evening, 13th November (40+2) I started having “twinges”, very mild and what I presumed were Braxton Hicks, which I hadn’t had with Aoife. These twinges were very mild, but every 30 minutes, so certainly not nothing. I didn’t mention them to my
husband Alun though as I really didn’t want him to start fretting way too early.

They seemed to die down that night, and I think I got a relatively good night’s sleep! The next morning Alun went to Wicklow to do some work on the field, and I went for a walk along the canal with my almost 2 year old daughter and a good friend. All along I was managing to not let the “twinges” (which were most definitely getting stronger) interfere or be noticeable, it was great having the buggy to push and moreover the handlebars to grip every 20-30 minutes! It was such a beautiful blue fresh morning. That afternoon I started doing some ironing – definitely a sign something was up, I NEVER iron, and I found that the ironing board was absolutely amazing to lean on and over, just the right height. At this stage I let Alun know something was up, couldn’t really keep things to myself for much longer, and we started thinking about getting things ready. I still wasn’t convinced things were going to move very quickly, but had heard that second babies could come very very quickly. Ha!

I think I put on the TENS machine about ten or eleven that night – and things seemed to be moving along. This time I actually got some relief from the TENS, probably because I did put it on sooner rather than later. By about 3am we decided to start filling the pool, and call our midwife, Philomena, when it was ready. Contractions were less than 5 minutes apart at this stage, but then – as soon as the pool was ready – things slowed down dramatically. We put off calling Philomena and I tried to get some sleep, with surges only every 30 minutes or so… Next morning we had our scheduled midwife visit, and everything was as it should be. I was a little disappointed about the false alarm; it felt a little like having started a marathon and about half way through being told it was a false start, go back to the beginning. I think I was wondering if I’d have enough energy left for the real thing. But at least we all agreed that something was beginning which was positive.

Things didn’t really change throughout Monday, I visited a neighbour and still had quiet surges every 30 minutes or so – extremely manageable and just a reminder that things might be happening soon. I remember being quite glad of having Aoife around that day, she was in good form and was a nice distraction from things (she’s in crèche 3 days a week). That night things picked up again, and to get any sort of relief I had the TENS back on. I think I had a bath at about 3 or 4am, and another one later that morning. Was very glad the water pumps in the apartment complex were back in action after a fault the previous week! In the morning we were back at less than every 5 minutes between contractions, but I felt things were much more intense this time. After Alun had brought Aoife to crèche, we agreed it was time to call the midwife. The pool had been left full, as the cover kept everything so well insulated, and it just needed topping up to get the temperature back again from the previous morning.

I found that I could almost encourage contractions by being in a certain position, for example if I moved to a deep squat it would bring on an intense one. It struck me as strange as to how in control I was of this, and realised it was up to me now.

Philomena arrived about 10:30am or so, and I was so delighted to hear I was at 6cm! This time wasn’t a false start. I was more delighted to be able to get into my pool, and it was so so so gorgeous. Not only the water providing buoyancy and warmth and letting me turn any way I needed to without effort, but also having the handles and bouncy inflated walls to brace myself against during intense contractions. The hours passed, and everything was holding steady. I did begin to think maybe this was going to be a little like with Aoife, and that it would need a change in strategy to get things going. Seems Philomena and Alun thought so too – I think about 2 o’clock it was suggested I get out of the pool and maybe try to get a little sleep. I consciously remember telling myself that after that rest I would need to focus very hard on getting on with things. I actually got about half an hour rest but woke to a “big one” and it was time to as I said “get on with it”. Baby needed to turn just a little more than he had, so moved around by walking up and down the hall, putting one leg onto a stool and holding onto Alun “slow dancing” just like with Aoife to get my hips moving. Not long later I wanted to get back in the pool as I think I knew it was time.

I found that I could almost encourage contractions by being in a certain position, for example if I moved to a deep squat it would bring on an intense one. It struck me as strange as to how in control I was of this, and realised it was up to me now. I think if I had been in hospital I would probably have given into some form of pain relief as I was so so tired, but Alun was so encouraging and I knew that we must be close to having our baby.

My waters broke with a very strange “pop” like sensation as I was having a contraction on all fours in the pool and after that I just wanted to push with every opportunity. 5 minutes later, and not without some effort I might add (I was so afraid I would tear, I knew it wasn’t a small baby) “little” Lorcan was born in the pool and brought into our world at 3:25pm, 16th November. I remember holding him and just amazed that it was a baby! I had to ask if he was a boy or a girl, the others had seen all his glory as he was lifted out of the water, but I hadn’t, so it was confirmed that I had a little boy. He floated in my arms and I tickled or gently rubbed his feet, which seemed so perfect.

Waiting on the placenta to be delivered, Alun rang his parents and shared our news, overjoyed. 5 minutes later the placenta was delivered, and we started thinking about getting us out of the pool. Lorcan was checked and weighed 4.57kg (10lbs 1 oz!) and 9 & 10 Apgar and I had a delicious shower. After the obligatory toast and jam Lorcan and I snuggled up in bed together, and Alun went to collect Aoife from crèche. There was no need for her to overnight at grandparents or neighbours which was an added bonus, and she was very accepting of her new little brother. Philomena packed her things and left us for the evening to return the next morning and check on us.

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Since then it’s now been 4 weeks, and as I mentioned when I started I can’t figure out where the time has gone. We had a few issues with Lorcan’s weight gain in the beginning (in that it dropped, went up as normal, but then went down again) but with a little bit of topping up with expressed milk we’re at 11lbs 7½ozs a month later. I didn’t need any stitching (with Aoife I had had only a small tear, this time not even that) and I think the water birth had a lot to do with that. The afterpains this time round were most unpleasant – every time Lorcan fed it was like intense period pain, and so glad when that stopped after about 3 or 4 days!

It’s been much more busy as Aoife needs as much attention as before he arrived, so at times it feels like Lorcan is not being cuddled quite as much as she was at the same age, but that’s just the way it is when there’s other smallies around. He gets 100% of Mammy’s attention when she’s at crèche, and I’m so lucky to have Alun around full time at the moment – there are some advantages to this economic crisis and recessionary times.

I’m looking forward to getting to know my little man, he’s already such a little trooper (getting over his first chest infection thanks to the cold weather, don’t even ask about the Mammy guilt having to give him antibiotics at only 4 weeks….) Being honest, I have found the first few weeks with him harder than with my first baby – I think due to a combination of things, a much longer labour than expected, the issue with his weight and getting the breastfeeding established, and dealing with his sisters “terrible two” tantrums, but it is so worth it!

All birth stories and images featured in 42 weeks have been generously shared by members of the public in Ireland. If you would like to take part and share your story, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch through the website http://www.42weeks.ie, through Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/42weeks or follow us on Twitter at @42_weeks.

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