I had a midwife’s appointment on my due date on Friday and she predicted the baby would come on Monday. I was more than happy to wait and enjoy those last few ‘two in one’ moments.
Next evening I felt some twinges and niggles, but as I’ve had them before and my mind was programmed for Monday, didn’t think much of it. Just before midnight I decided to take a bath and see whether it would put things on hold. And it did!
I was soaking in the tub and it was so relaxing that I came to a conclusion that those were just the regular Braxton Hicks. Well, only till the point when I decided to get out and ‘strange sensations’ were immediately back again.
Still I wasn’t sure… Went to bed and tried to sleep, but couldn’t. That’s it! The labour had started for real, but although the contractions were close together, about 4 mins apart, they were very mild and short, lasting only about 30 seconds.
As I had planned to have a homebirth and was advised to call the midwives as soon as I go in labour, I gave them a ring at 2am. As expected, they said if I need anyone immediately, I need to get to hospital, but if I can wait and call back once the labour is established, they’ll try to send out someone. That was ok for me, I could manage on my own for a while.
I put on my Silver Lake music as I think it worked on a subconscious level after all I’ve done three rounds of Daisy Birthing classes and was slowly breathing through. All fours was a good position, but to make it even more comfortable, I climbed in bed and even took the birth ball with me to lean on in between.
I like to sleep in complete darkness with blackout blinds closed, but at one point my husband drew the blinds open and said: ‘Come to the window and see how beautiful the day dawns when our baby is going to be born!’ It was a really nice view indeed, but as my mind was still focused on Monday and knowing that it took me more than one day to deliver my second daughter, I wasn’t entirely convinced it would end that soon…
At 5.30am the contractions had become quite strong and I needed to concentrate fully on my ‘centred breathing’ when they came. So I called to ask for the midwife. Luckily, they had a midwife available and they asked whether to send out two midwives in case the birth is close. I replied that one is fine.
Around 6am, a midwife and a maternity support worker arrived. I was still very calm and we had a nice chat in between my contractions when I needed to get back to my breathing.
The midwife commented that she has a feeling that I’m just silently doing the job, so she checked the dilation and it was 6 cm! I was over the moon excited as previously I was struggling for hours to get to the point when they give you the green light to jump in the pool.
It was really unexpected, that’s why the pool wasn’t even inflated yet. So my hubby inflated the pool, then the ladies helped him to put the liner in and he started filling it up with warm water. Before getting in, I needed to go to the loo and pee on a stick so that they can check the urine. The protein level was slightly increased, but that was fine.
Turned out that they change shifts in the morning, so other two midwives were sent out. I also had arranged a doula, but with all the people already involved, decided that I don’t want anyone else present. In fact, I was so concentrated on ploughing through on my own and accepting only massage by Janis (my husband), that the idea of others touching or encouraging me seemed irritating. So when Janis left to the kitchen and another contraction came, the midwife offered me massage and I almost snapped that I’ll get through it by myself.
At some point my other two daughters woke up. They were well prepared to be present – we’ve had a lot of discussions about pregnancy, babies, birth and all the related things.
One day I discovered that my eldest one has even gone through not only her children books about birth, but also my collection of books meant for midwives or parents-to-be.
Surprisingly, after the first chuckle about the fact that ‘babies come from the bum’ she suggested things like: ‘Mummy, you should try slow dancing and climbing the stairs. After the initial introduction to new midwives and all the equipment they’ve brought with them in case of emergency, the little ones completely tuned in and became silent spectators and little helpers. Once I got in the pool it was a bliss!
My eldest daughter offered me something to drink and eat and put cold compresses on my forehead, the youngest one settled by the edge of the pool and stayed there caressing my arm and shoulder while I was leaning over the edge of the pool.
Janis was applying counter pressure on my lower back during each contraction and that was a great relief too. Midwives were a bit surprised that I didn’t even want to try ‘gas and air’, but I was in control with my breathing and didn’t want any distractions. Although twice my Silver Lake music ended and suddenly switched to Learn Italian with Michael Thomas! Gradually, without thinking, I’ve adjusted my breathing from ‘centred breaths’ to ‘escalated breathing’. The midwife would occasionally check the baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler and check my pulse too. All was good and I was managing really well.
Surprisingly, I was very well aware of tensing up – my jaw was always relaxed because of those deep breaths, but I tend to raise my shoulders. I immediately noticed it and lowered them back again. Although, the feelings were really intense, I didn’t feel the baby’s head descending at all and that gave me an impression that I’ll be in that pool forever. At one point I had the notorious ‘rest and be thankful’ phase I’ve never experienced before – I was just swaying almost weightless in the middle of the pool with my arms crossed behind my back and that seemed to last for so long and it was so good. After that the contractions were really intense and I was doing my ‘escalated breathing’ quite loudly, but still there was no slightest desire to push.
And then suddenly here it came – I literally felt the baby’s head coming down through the bones and instead of having unbearable burning sensation, the baby almost jumped through that ring of fire and I ‘outed’ her in one long and strong contraction – head and body straight away.
It felt like an instant and later I checked my birth notes, yes, it was an instant – the second stage of pushing lasted two minutes! Unreal, yet a fact. She just slithered out while I was leaning on the edge of the pool and Janis caught her. He passed her through my legs so that I can lift her out of the water.
And here she was! Born at 9:48 am. I was absolutely amazed. I sat down in the pool with her in my arms (not even knowing yet whether she’s a boy or a girl, but that seemed so irrelevant).
She was so peaceful that almost made me worried. She didn’t scream, didn’t even give out a silent cry. She just wasn’t aware that she’s already been born. That’s what the midwife said and that’s exactly how it looked like… She opened one eye to look at me and then just dozed off again.
I was so nervous not to get water in her mouth that I held her too high up – her upper body was outside the water and that’s not pleasant when you’re warm only from waist down. Then I took a peek between her legs and found out that she’s another little girl. Our Petra! So good – we didn’t even have any boy name we loved as much. I also noticed that her head is nicely round as if she’d been born by C-section. Midwife replied: ‘Well, she didn’t spend too much time in the birth canal…’
I didn’t want to deliver the placenta in the water, so got out of the pool to cuddle with my little baby girl. I leaned over the sofa with Petra lying in front of me (still attached to the placenta) and once the placenta plopped out, Janis cut the cord.
As the second stage was so fast, had a little tear in the same place as before, but needed only one stitch – the sailor’s knot, as midwives said. Following their suggestion I didn’t take anaesthesia as that would mean even more needle pricks than actually needed to stitch it without. Fine, bit a towel, but it was over in an instant anyway.
By this time we were quite hungry and, as always on Sunday mornings, my hubby made pancakes for everyone – we started with the savoury ones with cheese and pastrami and moved to the sweet ones afterwards.
Before the midwives could leave, I had to pass the urine and then we were left to enjoy our new status of completed family.
My six-year-old Alise later said that I had roared like a dinosaur at the end, but she’d like to become a midwife when she grows up, so no traumatic experience.
To sum up – there were some important things that helped me: first of all, definitely the breathing techniques learned in Daisy Birthing classes. My husband was simply amazed how efficiently I dealt with every contraction compared to both previous times. I also got a lot of inspiration from books by Ina May Gaskin, Elizabeth Davis’s ‘Orgasmic Birth’ (there is also a film with the same title available to watch on Youtube), Sheila Kitzinger’s ‘Homebirth: The Essential Guide to Give Birth Outside of the Hospital’ and probably even eating 6 dates a day during the last month of pregnancy.
Dace Petersone lives in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, and is a full time mum to three daughters, aged nine, seven and two. The story above relates to her youngest daughter born at their previous home in Whiteley, Hampshire, in April 2016. In a few months Dace is going back to her daily work as office administrator and personal assistant.