This is the story of Matilda’s birth. An unassisted home birth thanks to my rapid labour.
I knew, even before I was pregnant again, that I’d choose to have a home birth because of the circumstances of Rosalie’s birth. I delivered Rosalie at home, with assistance from an ambulance crew due to a fast labour. As I knew the chances of me having a rapid labour again were pretty high, and the risk of giving birth on route to the hospital was too great, I decided a planned home birth was the best way forward, and thankfully my midwife agreed.
Aside from the baby remaining transverse until 36 weeks, and me struggling with pelvic pain, my pregnancy was straightforward and I was given the all-clear for the home birth at my 36 week appointment. At this same appointment the midwife told me that there wasn’t actually a dedicated home birth team, and that I might still have to go into hospital, depending on the community midwives’ commitments. I did remind her of my concerns about giving birth on the A4 into Reading and was told if I was in labour and no midwife could attend me at home then I should call an ambulance to take me into hospital. My midwife also told me she would write ‘precipitate labour‘ all over my notes so that the maternity unit would take me seriously when I rang in.
Fine, good, great I thought. So then it was all systems go, preparing the nursery as my home birth area, putting together a home birth box, making a list of things Jim needed to do when I went into labour (like turning up the heating) and packing hospital bags ‘just in case’.
Then all that was left to do was wash baby clothes, and wait. And wait. And wait some more.
During this period of waiting I was having a lot of Braxton Hicks, during the day but most strongly in the evenings and the middle of the night. After a few weeks they were becoming pretty tiresome and I was starting to panic that I might find it harder to know when it was the real deal, and on a few occasions I woke in the night convinced they were real contractions so got up to focus on them and time them, but they never increased in intensity.
My due date came and went and to be honest I was getting pretty fed up, especially as the midwife was unable to perform a sweep so induction and a hospital birth was becoming ever more likely.
And that brings us to 41+3 weeks…
10am Braxton Hicks, or not?
I had been having the usual Braxton Hicks through the small hours, but by around 10am I’d decided these were actually a bit more ‘crampy’, and perhaps I should start timing them to see what was going on.
I timed the contractions for an hour, but they weren’t painful or long, and weren’t getting stronger or closer together. But as my midwife had instructed me to call the unit as soon as I thought I was in labour, I decided to call to let them know what was happening, and to find out if there was a midwife available to attend a home birth.
11 am “contractions must be painful and regular”
So I called the hospital and the not particularly helpful woman told me that my contractions had to be painful and regular before they could send out a midwife, but that the unit was fairly quiet so there should be someone available to attend a home birth.
I did draw her attention to the fact that I have precipitate labours but she was adamant that I needed to be in pain for them to do anything. So I just had to wait.
I let my friend Anna know that I’d started timing my contractions and checked that she was still OK to look after Rosalie during the birth.
We also thought it was a good time to take the last bump shot – so here I am, 41+3 weeks pregnant, two hours before the birth.
First and Second Stages of Labour
12pm we’ll have lunch then…
We had our lunch as usual at midday. I still wasn’t in any pain, but my contractions were becoming more regular – between five and six minutes apart and lasting between 30-40 seconds.
1pm maternity unit AWOL
I tried calling the hospital to update them and request a midwife, but the line was engaged and the recorded message told me to call back in a few minutes! I tried several times to get through to no avail…
1.10pm a midwife is on her way
After a few more attempts to get through to the hospital I gave up and called my midwife, but she wasn’t working so her phone went straight to voicemail. I was beginning to panic now as my contractions had gone from being completely manageable ones I really had to stop and breathe through in a matter of minutes.
I decided to get some paracetamol and call the hospital back again, and this time I got through. After six minutes of faffing and being on hold whilst they ascertained where the nearest midwife was I was told she was on her way but they couldn’t give any time estimate.
My contractions were now coming every three minutes and lasting 50 seconds.
1.17pm get Rosalie out of here!
I called Anna to tell her to come and get Rosalie. I was having a contraction when I spoke to her and she came straight away, with her husband, so that if I needed her to stay he could take Rosalie back to their house.
I went to the toilet and had some bleeding – fresh red watery blood, nothing like the show I had with Rosalie. I was then worrying that the baby wasn’t going to be ok.
1.25pm call an ambulance then
We phoned the hospital back to tell them about the bleeding and ask when the midwife might arrive. They had no further news on the ETA of the midwife and after another seven minutes of faffing and being put on hold they told me I had to come into the unit. I informed them I wouldn’t make it to the unit and I didn’t plan on having my baby by the side of the road. We were instructed to call an ambulance, so Jim did.
1.30pm transition and panic
I was in transition and panicking – panicking that no one was going to be there to deliver my baby, and panicking that due to the bleeding there might be something wrong.
Jim was on the phone to the ambulance dispatcher, but it was all getting a bit fraught at this point and he still seemed to think we wanted transport to hospital despite Jim telling him he could see the head…
1.40pm “I can’t do this!”
The midwife called to say she had to stop off to get supplies (why don’t they carry home birth supplies in their cars?)
I was on all fours leaning over the CUB (thank you Jenna), hadn’t even really managed to get my clothes off and definitely yelling by this point. I don’t remember being in such a panic with Rosalie, which is strange since she was my first and I was on my own pushing until the ambulance crew arrived. I know the bleeding had me really worried and I was definitely concerned about the health of my baby given we had no medical professionals.
1.45pm hello beautiful baby
Our beautiful rainbow baby was born at 1.45pm. My waters broke as her head was born, and the cord was around her neck once, but Anna dealt with it. She didn’t cry straight away and I remember asking “is she ok?” and Anna telling me she was, but those few seconds waiting for her to cry seemed like a lifetime.
Somehow Jim and Anna managed to get her between my legs (I was still wearing my leggings albeit around my ankles) and I got that precious skin-to-skin that I never had with Rosalie. The sun was streaming through the nursery window and in that moment I felt amazing, I finally had my rainbow baby in my arms.
1.55pm hello ambulance crew, meet my baby
The ambulance crew arrived about 10 minutes after Matilda was born. They cut the cord (without asking, so Jim yet again missed out on cutting his daughter’s cord) and took some observations, but apart from that I have no idea what they did!
Third stage of labour
2pm a midwife, finally!
About 15 minutes after Matilda was born the midwife arrived. Despite not arriving in time for the birth she was wonderful, and my after birth care was much much better than I received with Rosalie.
I tried to deliver the placenta naturally but it was taking a long time & the contractions were very painful, so I had the injection. When the placenta came away I felt a crazy rush of emotions – relief, gratitude, happiness, and also emptiness, I felt overwhelmingly empty inside as it came out and burst into tears. Hormones, ay?
I had to wait for a second opinion and assessment of my tearing by a senior midwife. The attending midwife was unsure if my tears were 2nd or 3rd degree; if they were 3rd degree I would have to go into hospital for stitches.
I had the early breastfeed I never got to have with Rosalie. Matilda was clearly hungry and she had a really long feed. No one told me how bad the after pains would be with a second baby – they were like proper contractions and I was getting them at every breastfeed for about two days.
4pm 2nd or 3rd degree?
More than two hours after the birth a senior midwife arrived and confirmed that she would be able to suture me at home. It was such a relief, as having had Matilda at home, having to go into hospital was less than ideal. The stitches took around 20 minutes and a lot of gas & air!
Daddy and Matilda got to hang out whilst the midwife stitched me up.
5pm and relax…!
Matilda and I were both well so we were able to stay at home, hooray! No trip to A&E like last time.
The midwife went downstairs to fill in all her paperwork, and we got to enjoy a little alone time with our beautiful baby girl. So precious.
7pm a family of four now
Rosalie came back to meet her new little sister…
Matilda Alice, 8 pounds 9 ounces