My Valentine’s Day surprise

I found out I was pregnant on my birthday, which was a wonderful birthday present. When I called my sister in the U.K. the first thing she said was “are you going to have a homebirth? “My sister had had 2 successful home births. I replied that I didn’t think so as it isn’t advised for first births (so I had read) and besides we were renting a place which didn’t really feel like home and who knows where we would be living at the time of the birth.

A few months later after having read more and more, I decided that I really would like to have a homebirth and went along to an evening run by the Nelson home birth group. After watching some inspiring footage of strong women having natural water births my heart was set on it. My midwife was keen too. We borrowed our birth pool, got our tarpaulin out, bought some second hand sheets, had the babies first outfit and some towels warming in our hot water cupboard and made sure that we had plenty of food in the pantry. Now it was time to wait for the arrival of our little boy.

My due date came and went and with every passing day I got a little more stressed. First babies are often late though so I was not too concerned except that my baby had not engaged and was presenting in a posterior position. I clung to the fact that I had 2 due dates and maybe my ‘Last Menstrual Period’ date was wrong but the scan date of 5 days later was more accurate. When I was 10 days overdue, or 5 past my preferred due date, my midwife suggested a scan and a non-stress test. These showed that our little boy was doing very well and there was nothing to be concerned about which was a relief; but despite this an induction was discussed. I was told that since he was not engaged and in a posterior position then the chances of my having a caesarean were greatly increased. I could barely control myself I went home and bawled my head off. I had been having a hassle free pregnancy and was in no hurry to end it. I had a firm belief that my little boy just needed a bit more time. I searched the internet and found stories of women who had gone to 43 weeks. Armed with this information I set about negotiating with my obstetrician and my midwife.

They agreed to give me a little longer and I was booked in for my induction on Sunday night. My midwife did one final stretch and sweep to see if we could get things going naturally and she said that I was nearly fully effaced and already about 2 centimetres dilated BUT since the baby was still not even in my pelvis and STILL in the posterior position then this didn’t necessarily count for much. My sister’s babies were both at least 12 days overdue so I tried one last bit of negotiating and managed to get my induction postponed to Monday morning instead of Sunday night. (17 days past my original due date or 12 past my preferred date)

That weekend I tried everything, pineapple, swimming, walks, going on a swing and finally a friend recommend acupuncture. I phoned around but no one seemed to be answering their phones at the weekend. I finally found David out in Richmond who agreed to see me at such short notice, and he was wonderful. He said to ring him again on Sunday morning if nothing had happened and he would give me a follow up treatment. Sunday arrived and I realized that I would have to pack my bags for the hospital as nothing was happening. I went to town to buy some nighties, magazines and snacks for the hospital and it was with a heavy heart that I put the birthing pool and my other home birth bits and pieces out of sight as they made me feel too sad. That afternoon I had another acupuncture treatment and that night my husband and I tried one final sperm treatment of prostaglandins on my cervix!!

At 11 o’clock that night I felt some twinges, but I had felt twinges the previous week for 2 hours which amounted to nothing, so I didn’t get my hopes up. I was restless and went to sleep in the other room. For the next few hours I dozed on and off. The baby was moving so much, I thought that maybe something was wrong. At 4 o’clock I got up to go to the toilet for what felt like the hundredth time that night and as I went, I heard a pop and there was a huge gush of water. I still wasn’t sure that this was anything, so I tried to go back to bed but it kept gushing out. I told my husband that I thought my waters had broken but made him smell it to make sure, apparently it shouldn’t really smell, whereas urine does. We decided that this was not urine and that maybe those twinges were labour, but I had no pain sensations and I realized that first births can take hours and hours, so I was still not getting excited. My husband Dave had a 4.30am shower as he knew that the birthing pool would drain the hot water cylinder. Then we both tried to carry on as normal eating breakfast and watching breakfast TV.

At 7am I decided I had better let my midwife know what was going on, so I got Dave to time the contractions. They were coming about 3 minutes apart, but the pain was bearable, so I still wasn’t sure how fast I was progressing. My midwife said to call her back when I needed her to come. Dave asked if he should fill the birthing pool. I still wasn’t sure if I was far along enough and knew that you were not meant to get in too soon, so I said no; let’s just wait until the midwife gets here. By 7.40 the contractions were less than 2 minutes apart and there seemed to be no break in between. Not even long enough to squirt more rescue remedy into the back of my throat, or long enough to call the midwife without groaning down the phone. So, I got Dave to call the midwife and she said she was on her way.

When the midwife arrived, I told her I had an uncontrollable urge to push. She checked and said that I was 9cms dilated and to try not to push yet. The next hour or so of trying NOT to push was so hard. Dave tried panting along with me and rubbing my sacrum until finally I was given the go ahead to push if I wanted to. I thought that not pushing was hard, but the pushing part truly was the “labour”, it was such hard work and I felt like I was making very little progress. We tried heaps of different positions, but a supported squat seemed to work best. Eventually with a little help from the midwives scissors our little boy slid out screaming. It was such a relief to hold him and so wonderful to go and lie down in my own bed.

It was not the serene water birth I had hoped for (we did not have time to fill the pool) but I am so glad that I had him at home. We were certainly glad to have that tarpaulin and it was lucky that we had bought second-hand sheets as I am not sure they would have gotten clean in the wash. My midwives were fantastic. I got chocolates popped into my mouth as I lay in bed with my baby and we got loads of photos taken too. The follow up support was incredible, having the midwife come each day to check up on baby and me was very reassuring and the advice on breastfeeding was invaluable.

I will never know what kick started my labour, if it was the acupuncture, making love, going for a walk, talking to baby or a prayer said by a friend. But as the three of us lay in bed later my husband and I agreed that this was the best Valentine’s Day gift we had ever given each other