I went into this pregnancy as a big ball of anxiety and stress. I had a traumatic hospital birth with my first that left me feeling like a failure, then suffered a miscarriage before finding out I was pregnant again. I was adamant that this time I would remain in control and not let myself be bossed about.
I joined several Whatsapp groups relating to positive pregnancy, found a lovely doula Ruth to support me, and researched the evidence behind the various procedures advised by doctors.
At first I wanted a birth centre birth but slowly my confidence grew and I realised the thought of moving somewhere once labour started was incredibly unappealing. The idea of a homebirth was so much nicer!
My husband was not so sure at first but after we looked into it and he was reassured that it was safe we went for it. It meant we would be in control, would feel safe and my toddler could be involved…perfect for us!
The pregnancy itself was uneventful but things got a bit wobbly at 37 weeks when I had quite strong surges. Ruth advised me to get off my feet which helped but I did become acutely aware of every twinge. By 38 / 39 weeks I was getting surges in the evening which I was so excited for! I thought my baby was getting ready to join us but he made us wait.
Baby’s due date was on a Saturday and nothing was happening. The midwives had ‘only’ mentioned having the sweep twice (why are people obsessed with forcing babies out?!) so I was dreading having to field off calls for induction.
I was going for long walks on the canal and on Sunday surges became more noticeable again.
We started timing surges Monday evening and Ruth came to see me as well. I remember feeling so giddy. I had a burst of energy and needed to clean, to tidy, to organise! My husband found it all hilarious, but less so when I decided I had to stop running around and instead made him a giant list of things I wanted done.
Ruth being there made it feel very real, she took over timing my surges and we all settled into a rhythm. Unfortunately, they didn’t pick up so I went to sleep with my toddler. I didn’t think I’d be able to, but it turned out to be alright in the end.
I woke up half past five and I knew this was it. I woke my husband and paced around my house, bounced on the ball, and amazingly enjoyed feeling each surge coming.
I felt my restlessness increase and soon I wanted to be in the pool. Ruth came back and her and hubby sat by the side of the pool. My older daughter came in with me for a while and we have some very cute photos of our last moments snuggling as a family of three. Soon the intensity increased and I had to moan through my surges and sway my hips. I remember telling my husband he has to feed our sourdough starter as I was planning on making bread!
At 9am I was chatting with Ruth about whether to call the midwives or not and we decided to wait as surges were not quite regular yet. Surges became intense soon after this. I was clinging to Ruth, just chanting over and over again ‘I can do it’. She soon handed over to my husband so Ruth could apply pressure on my lower back to ease discomfort, it worked like a charm!
I felt sorry for my hubby as I knew he would be scared as I was getting loud… for him it would all seem so similar to the first time around, I thought. He couldn’t know what I was feeling, that this time my noises were not shrieks of terror but made me feel strong and focused. I could feel baby getting lower, his little kicks and turns, we were doing it together!
Ruth finally called the midwives after I started pushing properly, I could tell by her voice that baby would come soon. She was trying to be calm on the phone not to scare me, but also trying to impart urgency to the midwives as they wanted to stop by the hospital first.
Well, they got here about 20 mins before I had my son. They tried checking me which I refused, listening to baby which annoyed me in the moment and I snapped at them to leave me alone.
Soon I felt a burning pain and I felt my son’s head come down. I remember the difference between the gentle lapping water on my back and the searing pressure of him. A couple more pushes and baby was here! Hubby was crying, my eldest was silent… I felt so relieved and happy and proud of my little family for having done this together, the way we wanted!
I don’t know how to end this as for me it hasn’t ended… it all has flowed into the next few days, now the first two weeks almost! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have gone from epidural, forceps, pain and fear to no pain relief, no interventions, feeling confident and strong!
The ladies on the groups I joined helped so much, more than they’ll ever probably realise. And then my family and Ruth were amazing on the day. I can only hope everyone has the support they need to go into birth experience with a positive frame of mind, feeling empowered to choose what is best for them.
Sandra lives in Mile End, Tower Hamlets. Her eldest daughter is almost three and her baby boy was born at home in July 2018. Sandra used to work in advertising and now being a mum has taken a priority in her life. She also plans to home educate her children.