I had been planning a homebirth for our third child. In order to do so, I needed to get to 37 weeks. This might seem like no problem to most people, but my babies tend to show up right around that mark. The deadline was Saturday February 25th. The Saturday before I started having contractions and was devastated I would end up in the hospital. After speaking with the midwife and having a few glasses of wine things slowed down and I made it through to Thursday, which was still two days before the magic 37 week mark. Contractions started in earnest and at 4am we decided to ring the midwife to come out. She didn’t think things were progressing much and went home when I was 2cm. It was devastating, the pool was filled and everything. This pattern continued for almost two weeks. Hubby had finished work because we were sure things were imminent. I felt like such a failure. Contractions, bloody show, the whole lot and then nothing.
Eventually I stalled at 4cm and stalled for several days. On Wednesday the midwife came to see me and did some acupuncture. I noticed things picked up a bit that night and I was awoken a few times with strong contractions. At 6:30am I woke up when my body decided to clear itself out, after which I went back to bed. At 7:43am, two minutes before my alarm was due to go off, I was awoken with a pop and a gush as my hind waters broke. Talk about a shock! We were so excited as it meant FINALLY things were kicking off.
I texted the midwife and my Mom and let them know what was going on. I was also keenly aware that due to the ridiculous laws surrounding homebirth in Ireland, this would put me on a clock and if I hadn’t gone into labour within 24 hours I’d be sent to Mullingar to argue my way out of unfounded procedures. By the afternoon contractions were present but highly irregular. The midwife came out to check on me around 3pm and reassured me that I would go into labour before the deadline. She did some more accupuncture and gave me some homeopathy. She thought that when the girls went to bed things would kick off and she was right.
Around seven, contractions started to get stronger and once the kids were in bed my parents came and things really started to kick off. I had been listening to my Gentlebirth tracks which had been keeping me quite calm and composed. I called the midwife and asked if I could get into the pool and she agreed and said she’d be on her way. The pool was literally bliss, but it did slow things down a bit. When Aisling arrived she checked me with my permission and asked me to get out of the pool. I was 5cm and once I was out she asked me to go lie down upstairs without anyone watching me as she thought I would progress more.
I put on the hypnobirth tracks again and things picked up a bit. I came back downstairs around midnight and asked to get back in the pool. Things were picking up but still manageable. My forewaters broke at this stage and I felt crazy leaking everywhere. She called another midwife to come out which I knew meant things were imminent. I decided I wanted my Mom there and Paul rang her to come. I was in the pool when they arrived and I was getting quite vocal according to my notes. I kept expecting to hit that wall I had hit in previous births where I gave in and wanted every drug on the planet. (I never did give in, but I sure wanted to!) I don’t know if it was the fact that I knew that wasn’t an option or if the Gentlebirth had helped me or if I was just older and wiser, but it never happened. There were a few moments where I thought I couldn’t do it but I just reminded myself of how lucky we were and how much I had to be grateful for and it got me through.
Contractions were coming quickly and intensely and I evidently woke up my 7 year old who came downstairs. Her Grandad kept her entertained as I continued to labour. I began to feel some pressure and Aisling asked me to get out of the pool as it was now too cold for the baby. Getting out was torture, I thought he was going to come any minute, but it turns out I had plenty of time. Baby was still posterior as we entered the pushing stage. His posterior position was responsible for the lengthy labour, the stopping and starting and the SRM. Having had severe tears on my daughters I was determined to try and avoid a repeat performance this time, so I really took my time with the pushing stage.
Aisling was amazing, there was no yelling at me or telling me what to do. She said once or twice to listen to my body and I felt so respected and listened to throughout. They would check the fetal heartbeat between contractions but otherwise I was left to my own devices. On the girls births as soon as I felt the need to push I just let loose and pushed until they were out, damned if I was going to drag things out. This time I just let my body do the work. It meant letting him go back in between contractions but the relief between them was so worth it.
Paul and my Mom were amazing at this stage, wiping my brow with a cold cloth and draping my neck with one; they were both so encouraging. Towards the end I remember thinking it had to be the last push, I could feel him crowning and then the contraction stopped. The midwife told me he went back in and I called him a bastard which made everyone laugh. I was kneeling and leaning over the couch at this point. I could feel the head mostly out and could feel his face coming, it was amazing being so present during this stage, (I had entonox (gas and air) on my previous birth and felt stoned and stupid and out of control)) I could appreciate every sensation and really listen to my body. I felt his face come and someone asked me to give a tiny push and the next thing I knew I felt his whole body slither out and the relief and love was instant at a precise 3am.
He didn’t cry for a few seconds but when he did my heart sang. Paul was crying and I asked if it was definitely a boy and was assured he was. The cord was short so we had to fenagle me around to hold him and when I did it was love at first sight, he was just gorgeous. I sat there on the floor with him for what seemed like a blissful eternity. He nursed like a champ and both Paul and I had plenty of skin-to-skin time with him. His sisters got to meet him right away and were besotted.
It was an incredible experience that everyone involved with couldn’t get over. I felt so respected and well taken care of throughout my pregnancy and birth and afterwards. If I were to do it again (and that’s a big if, mostly dependent on himself!) I would go no other way. I feel so empowered as a woman. Mark Russell weighed in at 9 pounds 6 ounces and I didn’t need any stitches. The recovery so far was night and day from my other births. I had very little pain other than the usual afterpains when nursing and I feel very energetic. Mark is a little dote, feeds well and is very contented.
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