WARNING! YOU MAY FEEL EXTREME BIRTH ENVY AFTER READING THIS STORY
I have to admit that I am one of the lucky ones. My first pregnancy had been about as text book as you could hope for. The birth of Florence was remarkably quick. In fact, it is safe to say that I was able to stick to my birth plan from start to finish. Florence was born at my chosen Birthing centre (the only woman there), in the pool listening to radio 2 after about 6 hours of labour. Perfect.
Of course the only problem with this is the more I spoke to my friends who had subsequently had their babies, I realised that I was just that – LUCKY. I know everyone tells you the horror stories, but I really started to feel ashamed of my ‘perfect’ birth. So when I became pregnant not long after (there is 19 months between my two) I was actually more worried than I was the first time round. Surely, I couldn’t be that lucky twice…
Well, turns out you can! Aside from some pretty horrific varicose veins (I came home in tears when my midwife was so shocked at seeing my swollen and purple veins that she actually told me they were the worst she had ever seen – yeah thanks!!), my pregnancy was uncomfortable but otherwise uneventful.
My plan had always been to have this baby in the same Birthing centre, in the same pool. What I didn’t know was that funding had been cut so the centre was only open in the day and the pool was out of action with no plans to fix it before my due date. Another trip home in tears. I was point blank refusing to go to the local ‘monster’ of a hospital unless I had to, so when I asked my midwife about options for a home birth , expecting her to give me a big thumbs up, she remained indifferent and gave me little information about where I could buy/hire a pool (I was told to ‘goggle it’) or even how this thing would work. Again, panic set in.
I quickly emailed the lovely Clemmie, who I know through school friends. Thankfully, she gave me all the information and reassurance that I needed, so much so that my husband wanted her number on speed dial ‘just in case!’ With this I found my ‘birth pool in a box’ on gumtree and told my midwife I wanted a home birth. Decision made!
I finished work on the Wednesday with exactly a week to go before my due date. On the Saturday I was walking around Sainsbury’s with my toddler thinking, hmmmmm, this hurts a tad. I put Florence to bed as normal, with a few intervals during the bedtime story as the ‘waves’ came and went. I still hadn’t mentioned anything to my husband – God knows why. He was cooking me a nice dinner and I didn’t want to ruin it, so again I ate my tea, getting up a couple of times to make myself a drink (not normal behaviour). We had had a particularly tiring night with Florence the night before, so when I got up off the sofa halfway through ‘Take me Out’, the hubby asked if I was off to bed? I told him no, but it’s time to call your mum. I have never seen him looked so shocked!!
I’m not sure what made me leave it so long to get the ball rolling. I guess I was sort of in denial, but things soon got moving. Darrell put up the pool and started filling it after my mother in law came to collect Florence, all the while I was hugging the walls with my TENS machine electrocuting me. The midwife arrived (after a very tense conversation with the coordinator who told me there were staffing issues and she wasn’t sure if anyone could come to me – another tearful moment in this story). She took one look at me and called for the 2nd midwife to come right away. She hadn’t even examined me – I guess I had that ‘fully dilated’ look about me!
I got in the pool, which was just as amazing as I remember, with my favourite Yankee candle burning and the ipod playing, all the while hubby made everyone tea and toast. Very civilised. That was until the midwife piped up to say that there was no mouth piece for the gas and air, and could I do this without it? At first I felt brave and said yes. However, 10 minutes later the husband was looking around the house for something that could be used instead of the mouth piece. Another 10 minutes into the story, I was so desperate that I was sucking on the tube direct from the tank!! Who needs a sterile mouthpiece when you are minutes away from giving birth??
And after a remarkably short time, I caught our second daughter, Mabel. A beautifully purple Winston Churchill lookalike. What an amazing feeling to get out of the pool in your living room, feed your new born daughter while the midwives drink tea and tell you how amazing you are.
I guess I know how lucky I am to have such straight forward births – but to anyone who is considering a home birth, if you can, “please do it”. I promise it’s not as scary or as messy as you think it is going to be.