Slow but sure.

By Sara Bailey

My midwife told me third babies are usually unpredictable. Boy was she right! Our wee boy was due in early January, but I expected him at Christmas (my second baby having come almost 3 weeks early). Christmas came and went; New Year came and went, and I was still waiting and getting more impatient by the day. In my mind I expected him to come while my husband was on Christmas holiday and when the time came for him to go back to work, I was miserable. I was heavily pregnant in the heat of summer, struggling to take care of my two older children Jackson (4) and Honor (almost 3). I knew people were starting to feel sorry for me when I started getting flowers and meals dropped off to me and I hadn’t even had the baby!

Often, I would get really strong Braxton Hicks and would walk around willing them to get stronger and turn into labour. After many days and nights of wondering if ‘this was the beginning’ I told myself I would ignore all possible labour signs and that when I was really truly in labour, I would know. Early on Monday morning I started having regular Braxton Hicks and noticed they were quite regular and increasingly uncomfortable. They got to the point where I rang my husband at work and asked him to come home because I was struggling to take care of the children. He came home and as I progressed, we decided it would be a good idea to send the kids to their grandparent’s house to play for the day so I could have some space. I had an antenatal appointment due that afternoon with my midwife and so I text her and told her I might really need her by then. My husband and I took a walk around the block and then on to the local mall to try and keep the contractions going. It was quite a novelty being there together on our own, we could not remember the last time that had happened! It was rather amusing watching people’s faces as I hobbled through the mall breathing through contractions!

When my midwife and her student arrived that afternoon, I asked her to check me to see if I was progressing. She did and told me I was at basically the same stage I had been a week prior and that I must have just been having Braxton Hicks. I wanted to cry then and there. I was in pain and uncomfortable, how could it have been nothing?! I sent my mother home (she had been at my house keeping me company) and told her nothing was going to happen for a while. Eventually the kids came home, and we read them books and tucked them into bed (all the while still having contractions). By 11pm I was ready for some pain relief and my husband started hot towels. My mum text me saying she was unable to sleep so I told her she might as well come over. My contractions were irregular but uncomfortable. The hot towels kept me going.

Around 2am I contacted my midwife and asked her to come. She came straight over and then contacted the student midwife to come also. I asked her to check me and she obliged – I was about 7cm. Yay! Finally, some progress. I quickly text our birth photographer and she let me know she was on her way. Time passed and I laboured with the support of my husband, mother, midwife, student midwife and our birth photographer quietly snapping away in the background. Hot towels were my friend and calming and encouraging words from everyone got me through. In the background music from one of our wedding playlists played quietly. Around 4am I started getting anxious that baby would not arrive before morning (I really wanted him here before the kids awoke). My contractions were still irregular, but my midwife assured me that she didn’t think my labour was stalling. She asked if there was anything I was worried about and I simply replied that ‘baby will never come’.

I was exhausted physically and mentally from labouring all day and night. I knew my state of mind would influence my labour hugely, but I just could not shake the grumpiness hanging over me. I had been waiting to have this baby for what seemed like forever and I just could not summon any more energy. I asked my midwife to break my waters to get things moving and after discussing the possible risks she did as I had asked. The liquid drained beautiful and clear and I hopped into the shower to continue progressing. My husband sat with me in the bathroom and we talked and laughed, brushed our teeth, and took selfies. At some point I had a bloody show and Luke went to get our midwife. She came in and asked if I was pushing. I said yes and she asked if I wanted to birth in the shower. I didn’t so out I got and went out to the lounge where the early morning sun was starting to stream through the windows.

As I pushed my baby out, I felt it like I had never felt it before, as if my bones were really moving apart. I had not felt this with my previous two births. It was painful but soon enough he was out and into my arms. I held him against my chest and marvelled at him as he gurgled and cried. When the cord stopped pulsing we cut it and I handed him to my husband so I could sit up to deliver the placenta. Afterwards I got cleaned up and snuggled up on the couch to give baby his first breastfeed.

Jackson was the first to wake up and come in to meet his new baby brother, Alexander. He gave us both a cuddle and then went to make toast with Dad. Honor came in shortly after and cuddled with me on the couch and then went about her normal morning routine with a bottle of milk and a trip to the potty. My birth team enjoyed coffee and puff pastries and chatted happily. We weighed Alexander who came in at a beautiful 9lb 3oz, a whole pound heavier than my son Jackson and almost 2 pounds heavier than Honor. After finalising the paperwork, the midwives left, as did everyone else. We were on our own and life went on as usual, except now we had three kids!

Immediately after the birth I told anyone who asked that the birth was long and hard, and I never wanted to do it again. But as the photos from our birth photographer started coming through, I started realising that actually it was fine, more than fine. Looking through the photos and looking at everyone’s relaxed and happy faces made me realise how much my state of mind had been clouding my memories of it. The birth had been slower than my previous two and also been irregular which had been confusing but at the same time it had also been peaceful, complication free and a natural, beautiful homebirth which is just what we had planned. What more could I ask for?