On the 9th of February I found out that I was pregnant with my second baby. It was about 2am as I couldn't sleep and was up with my son in the night. I saw the faint line and then obviously couldn't go back to sleep after that! I was already emotional on this day as it was to be my last breastfeed with my 15 month old. He only fed for 1/2 minutes and was distracted the whole time so he'd already decided and I was ready to give it up that day. At least I knew it wouldn't be long until I was doing it again.
I told close family and friends early as I can't keep a secret, but Theo broke the news to our friends and family in April when we'd had our scan. We hadn't found out what gender we were having with Theo and so didn't this time round either.
Even though we were trying for a baby I couldn't quite believe it and did loads of tests. I did this the first time round too!
My first labour was relatively quick and I arrived at hospital being 9cm dilated. It was 13 hrs from the first twinge when watching a film to him being in my arms. It was pretty straightforward and it was the midwife then who said I'd be a good candidate for home birth next time. This is where the first seed for the idea was sown. One to One Midwives is a service in my local area and they are all for whatever birth you want. They promote Home birth and all the things I'd researched into i.e. delayed cord clamping,skin-to-skin immediately (not after any weighing or anything), breastfeeding straightaway and these all seemed to be their standard ideals. They are case loaded so that ideally you should have the same midwife for all antenatal checks and they will be there for the birth too. I'd found the perfect service and right until the time came, they'd always left my birth wishes open and said if on the day I felt like I needed to go to hospital then I could. Not only that, but the bit that totally won me over was that you get 6 weeks postpartum checks. This was important for me as I feel that I was dangerously close to having PND the first time round. I'd taken a private test for GBSS in my first pregnancy and it came back positive and so I had IV antibiotics during labour. My firstborn had sepsis at 13 days old and we were very lucky - I count my lucky stars every day!
Anyway - I got One to One on board from early on and they helped me research GBSS and IV antibiotics to make up my own mind whether I needed to be consultant led again. I decided not to be and carried on planning for my home birth. I tried to keep a lot more active this time as I felt like I'd given up too quickly in my last pregnancy. We went on holiday and I was still doing 4/5 mile hikes and felt good. Despite all of this my bump was measuring big. I wasn't too worried though as I'd not got back to my normal pre-pregnancy weight as I knew I wanted babies close together, and also I'd measured big last time and my firstborn was 7lbs 6oz. Together with my midwife, who was also not worried, I decided to get checked for Gestational Diabetes, but thankfully this came back negative.
I had a lovely second pregnancy really and so I feel very lucky. My midwife did actually have to be changed at 39 weeks which was scary as I'd grown close to my midwife, but there were legitimate reasons so I couldn't do anything about it. I was then assigned a new midwife, Georgia, and I actually feel that it was meant to be .
A couple of days before my due date I had a hormonal cry at my husband wondering how I was going to cope with two under two. I think that I was forgetting that the bump would be gone and I'd be a little bit more flexible and less achy than I was feeling right that second!
My surges started at 05:17 on my due date, the 17th of October. I texted my midwife at 06:30 and she called to say that she'd check on me later but to call if I needed (as I was worried I might be even quicker this time). My Mum travelled from Nottingham to come and look after my toddler. Despite me telling her not to rush on my text at 6am, she'd completed the 2 hour journey and was at our house by 9am! We had a semi-normal day and my husband nipped into work to tie up some loose ends. Once he was back my Mum took Theo to the park and I tried to keep things progressing but calm. My son was really good and wasn't too concerned when I was having contractions and even for a couple he tried to breathe with me.Having his fun Nan-Nan there to keep him busy was enough distraction for him to not get upset.Eventually it was bedtime and I was breathing through contractions whilst the bedtime story was a team effort. I still managed to put my 'baby' to bed for the last time as an only child. I'm not going to lie...I cried a little bit when I was outside of his room.
Once downstairs I composed myself and it was like my body knew. I must've been subconsciously waiting for him to go to bed and then my body just let me go. It was like it knew we had a job to do and might as well get on with it now before morning comes and it'd be harder to do with a toddler around! Theo went to bed at 19:00 and I had my husband inflating the pool and calling the midwife at 20:30. I was staying mobile using my birthing ball and my tens machine and I felt like I needed some medical support to accompany the emotional support coming from my Mum and Husband.
My husband was amazing like last time. He got the music on (highly recommend Sigur Ros for anyone who doesn't want distracting music with lyrics!), sorted the pool and kept me hydrated.
My midwife Georgia arrived at 20:50 and they don't do any examinations so I didn't know how far I was, but she just checked the position and heartbeat of baby and left me to it. I was having contractions that made me lower to the floor so I knew I was getting there. I must've been putting calm vibes across as Georgia asked if I was always this calm as she was having real trouble deciding when to contact the second midwife to come. I reluctantly took off the tens and got in the pool at around 21:30 and asked for Gas and Air not long after. This helped me take control of the situation again. I think this is when she called for my second midwife Sheridan and also Liv as she was a newly qualified midwife and this was her first home birth. They arrived at 22:30 but I was already in the pushing stage so said a quick 'hello' and then got back in the zone, my Mum had also gone upstairs to make sure Theo was okay and so she was close if he did wake up at all.
It was so refreshing not having any intrusive examinations, not one person said 'push' at any time and I was just left to go along with what my body was feeling. The birthing pools aren't usually heated and so to give me the best possible time in there, my husband was using an old traditional wooden fan as he thought the electric one would cool the water down constantly and I only got hot and bothered when I was actually having a surge. Bless him! Weirdly, it was my legs that felt it the most in this birth. Eventually I realised that I got a sensation in my legs before a contraction was coming so I had time to get on the Entonox before the surge reached its highest point of the wave. It gave me a little head start on the pain relief and I feel that it was the time and space I'd been given that helped me to figure this out.
I wasn't pushing for very long and our son arrived at 22:57 on his due date and was almost born in his amniotic sac! I picked him up from the bottom of the pool and held and rubbed him to get him to take his first breath and make some noise! I will never forget that feeling of picking him up from the floor of the pool along with the (really, really long) cord and what felt like a bundle of floppy limbs. I dreamt about it for a few nights after until my brain processed it fully.
The midwives did their checks while I held him, they had done the 'hands off' approach the whole time and this was the time that anyone had touched either of us. I held him and I fed him straightaway, still in the pool, still with everything intact. They all left us to do the first feed in peace (and for them to brief each other on what had happened and what they were going to do next). My Mum popped down at this point to come and meet her newest grandchild, but again she scurried off into the kitchen to offer drinks etc. I'd not birthed the placenta yet and the cord was still intact. My original birth wish was to birth the placenta so that everything was out before we cut the cord - this was not to be as we were getting a bit cold and so I called everyone back in and I was going to try and attempt to get out of the pool. My legs did not work and I couldn't lift them over the sides of the pool. I asked for the cord to be cut early and meanwhile the pool was deflated enough for me to get out (all the while I was still holding baby).
It was only then that the midwives suggested that Daddy took over skin-to-skin whilst they did baby weighing (9lbs 1oz by the way!) and I delivered the placenta. I was asked to squat over a bucket (oh how glamorous) and then when that didn't work they put a sheet over the toilet bowl in order to catch everything and asked me to sit there a minute. My midwife came with me and asked if I wanted a drink, I said 'yes please' and she ran to grab me one, in the minute (or probably under!) that she was out of the room it all happened. I was in shock when she came back and i just looked at her and went 'I've done it!' and she couldn't quite believe it.
After that I was helped back to the sofa as I was still experiencing jelly legs and for the first time in the whole experience I was examined below. I had a second degree tear and was given the option of stitches if I'd like, but didn't have to - so I declined. This turned out to be one of the best decisions for me and made recovery so much quicker.
After this there was a flurry of activity involving the midwives, my mum and my husband of emptying the pool, deflating the pool, paperwork...but I was oblivious I think... just staring at these new tiny hands and tiny feet.
It's funny as one of the things I'd said to my husband when deciding on a home birth was that I wouldn't get the amazing toast they do in hospital!
It was now about 2am and they asked if I wanted them to stay whilst I had a shower and got in bed. As my Mum and Husband were there and I felt fine I said they could all go as they would be coming back to me the later that day anyway for my 'next day' checks. It was so strange when they left as it was just how it was before they'd arrived and it was now us plus this new tiny bundle.
My Mum came with me whilst I had a shower and my Husband had some lovely one on one time with baby. I then fed again and put him in the moses basket and went to bed myself. My Mum and Husband carried on sorting things a little while longer and apparently they came up to bed after 3am but I was fast off!
was up feeding around 6:30am and my toddler must've known something was going on as he woke up just after and shouted for us. My Mum came in and My Husband went to get Theo. He explained on the way down the hall that he had a little brother that had arrived in the night and that he was now a big brother. He didn't really know how to react and was quite shy with him.
It was so lovely though that I hadn't had to go anywhere and there wasn't having to be an explanation as to where Mummy was or waiting for us to come home with baby. In his mind he went to sleep, then Kit was here and he woke up a big brother - as easy as that!
I obviously felt the benefit of not being on a noisy ward and got some decent rest in my own bed. I hadn't realised just how great having my home comforts around me during and after birth would make me feel. It was an amazing experience and even though my first labour in hospital was absolutely fine too and straightforward, I never thought I would say that labour was 'amazing' and 'empowering' and with this one I'd go as far as saying 'comfortable'.
Kit is a really chilled, relaxed, smiley baby so far (touch wood!) and I honestly think that some of that is down to the way I felt during the birth and the way he entered the World.
I would really love to do another home birth but I think I've got some convincing to do with my husband for the 3rd one!