Is home delivery just for pizza?
I had a ridiculously fast labour with my first baby. About three hours start to finish. When I arrived at the hospital I was ten centimeters dilated and I very nearly had her in the car park. Which wouldn’t have been ideal. I mean, I’d asked for a water birth in my plan, not a puddle birth.
So, armed with the knowledge that my second baby could be even quicker, I thought it might be best to have her at home to avoid any Eastenders – giving birth with your tights on – moments.
Having a homebirth was a strange, wonderful and terrifying experience.
Labour started in the early hours and the midwife arrived about 7ish. A lovely, curly haired, fifty-something Welsh woman called Angela. My husband Jim made her tea and she perched on my bed making chit chat about the fact her sons were coming home for Christmas, and that she really needed to make a start on her chutneys.
It was kinda awks. Really awks. I mean here was this stranger, in my bedroom, sitting on my bed (please god I hope those sheets are clean) talking about spiced pear chutneys.
Now, it’s important I tell you at this point that I had put on a fair bit of pork during this pregnancy. This meant that every time Angela examined me she was quite non-committal about the position of the baby or any sign of an engaged head. This was not her fault. She literally could not feel a thing through my thick layer of – I haven’t been able to drink for nine months and so I’m gonna eat everything in sight – flab.
Things were very slow in the beginning stages. It felt like I was 3cm dilated for at least four cups of tea. I wondered how much longer we could talk about chutneys. I walked up and down the stairs. A lot. I bounced on my fit ball and did hip opener stretches for what felt like hours. I listened to my hypnobirthing podcast in the bath whilst sniffing my flannel (anyone else go potty over the smell of wet flannels whilst pregnant? Nope? Just me then).
Then all of a sudden, it started happening.
‘I better call the second midwife.’ Said Angela and promptly called the other one. The one with the forceps and the gas and air.
Oh yes. It really was happening now. I paced up and down. The contractions were coming thick and fast. I leaned on the chest of drawers in our bay window in total agony.
‘Where’s the gas and air?’ I groaned.
‘It’s coming.’ Angela reassured me. ‘She’s on her way.’
‘Because I could really do with it now.’
I ran to the toilet to vomit up the paracetamol I’d just taken.
Back in my bedroom I suddenly became conscious that I was about to give birth in full view of our neighbours – Kevin and Sally who live opposite (yes that is their real names, and no, I don’t live on Coronation Street).
‘Should we shut the curtains?’ I asked as my husband appeared.
‘I’ll do it.’ he said and flung them together in his usual messy way.
Why does he never get them to hang tidy? I remember thinking. My OCD in full swing, even during labour.
By this point I was on my knees, grasping at the back of our ‘not clean, not dirty’ clothes pile chair. The midwife ripped the cellophane off my cheap, Asda plastic shower curtain and spread it out on the carpet behind me.
The pain of the contractions was now excruciating. I knew the baby was coming.
‘I can’t do this.’ I wailed ‘I need some gas and air…please?!’
My manners were still fully intact, however my inner monologue went a little something like this…
Where is midwife number FUCKING two with my gas and air? The bitch. I can’t do this. I just can’t. I think I might be dying. I wish I had a gun right now. If I had a gun I would shoot myself in the head rather than go through another contraction. I WANT TO DIE!
Yes my friends, that’s an actual thought, which entered my head at that moment in time. Suicide.
‘The baby’s coming…’ said Angela fishing around inside me with her fingers. ‘I think I can see her back…’
Her back? I remember thinking? I thought it was the head that came first? Something felt different. Something didn’t feel right.
Angela fell silent.
I felt very scared.
‘Should I push?’
‘Do whatever you feel is right?’ She finally said.
Do whatever you feel is right? WTAF!? What does she mean? I need guidance. I need instructions. I need her to tell me what to do. I’d watched enough One Born Every Minute to know that the midwife should always be giving instructions, right? Push, don’t push, breathe, chin to chest…etc… but now…
What was going on?
All of a sudden, Jim piped up…
‘Just push! Push! Come on, you can do it. Just keep pushing!’
Hang on, since when did my husband qualify as a midwife? Where’s Angela? Should I be listening to him? I was on all fours now. I turned my head to try and see what was happening in the full-length mirror behind me, but he gently shoved it forward again. What doesn’t he want me to see I thought?
I knew something was wrong.
Had Angela gone home to start her chutneys? Where was she? I couldn’t hear her anymore.
‘Push. Just keep pushing!’ My husband shouted.
So I did.
What choice did I have?
I felt the baby coming out of me, but it felt so different to the first time. I longed for the – big relief when the head is out moment. But there was no relief. It didn’t come. Something felt stuck. I needed to see in that mirror but I didn’t dare look.
In an instant, Angela was metaphorically back in the room. I felt her once again, rummaging around inside me. I remember hearing the word ‘breech’ but was so disorientated, and in so much agony, I couldn’t for the life of me fathom what that word actually meant.
‘PUSH. Just keep pushing!’ Jim bellowed.
Somewhere behind me, I could hear some faint words of encouragement from the now ghostly white midwife.
So I kept pushing. And pushing. I pushed with all my might and finally… the relief came.
And she was out.
And she was crying.
Our lovely little Magi Moo was born on my bedroom floor, on an Asda shower curtain on a cloudy November morning weighing 6lb 10oz.
As they handed me my baby I turned for the first time to see the startled faces of Angela and Jim. They looked relieved yet shaken.
‘You did so well.’ Said Angela. ‘She was actually breech.’
There’s that familiar word again, I remember thinking.
‘What does that mean?’
‘It means she was the wrong way round.’
Cue the second midwife ringing the doorbell with her gas and feckin air (too late babes) and a student midwife in tow. They’d been stuck in traffic.
I didn’t realise how serious the breech situation had been until I saw the look between those midwives. An undetected, breech home birth, natural delivery.
Turns out what Angela had thought was the nape of her neck was actually the small of her back, and she actually came into the world the wrong way round.
Afterwards my husband described the birth from his end…
Apparently the bum had appeared first, and because of the sheer pressure on that little anus, a tiny black poo was simultaneously being squeezed out of it. It makes sense I suppose. I mean could you give birth to a baby sized, full tube of toothpaste without squeezing any of the contents out?
So that was his first glimpse of our beautiful baby girl – a black, slug like poo, inside a red raw baby’s bum, inside my stretched vagina. A bit like Christmas at Aldi when you get that bird, within a bird, within a bird.
Jim said at that point he and the midwife had shared a panicked look, and that’s when she fell silent. God knows what was going through that poor woman’s mind. On her own. No forceps or tools. No doctors. No hospital. Just her, a forty-something-year-old skateboarder and an Asda shower curtain. She wasn’t so worried about chutneys at that point let me tell you.
Angela told me she’d never delivered a breech baby naturally before, which I guess was the reason for her clamming up. Poor thing must have had a hundred scenarios and possible solutions running through her head at a million miles an hour, right?
Just for the record, for her first time, I thought Angela did pretty good.
Jim said after the poo and bum had come into view, the next things to appear were the legs. One at a time. Like a foal being born. One slimy leg…
Then another leg…
We’re now talking a full on raw Christmas turkey complete with legs dangling out of me.
It was at this point Angela started frantically rummaging around. I’m still not sure why. Maybe she was desperately trying to determine whether the cord was stuck around the baby’s neck? Or just trying to make sure the head wasn’t stuck?
Whatever the case everything was fine because one more push, and she was out.
Easy peasy, poopy squeezy.
That little sticky poop didn’t half get everywhere by the way. There’s nothing like being handed your newborn baby, only for it to be covered in it’s own faeces. Totes magical let me tell you.
So there we have it, my exhilarating and terrifying home birth experience.
The midwives and young student scooped everything up in an extremely efficient, Mr. Wolf from Reservoir Dogs type way, and helped me into the bath. They made sure all was well before wishing us a happy Christmas and leaving me tucked up, wide-eyed and snuggled tight with my beautiful, new baby girl. In my very own bed. A bowl of Cheerios to the left, and a glass of Prosecco to the right.
I loved my home birth. But would I do it that way again? I’m not so sure. I mean it could have gone so wrong. We were so very lucky.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the brilliant book – This Is Going To Hurt, which maybe answers the question…
‘Home Delivery is for pizzas.’ – Adam Kay
You can follow Rhiannon on Instagram @greatmum_shitmum and read her hilarious blog here