After a text book home birth for our first child I, of course, thought that our second child would enter the world much the same way. I had the midwives organized and the pool set up. The birth ‘room’ was all prepared and our 4yr old son was ready and eager to see his sibling join us. He even had his own camera. As my EDD date neared I was getting random Braxton hicks contractions and knew it should be soon.
When the 40week mark came and went I was a little surprised – I’d felt like I should have birthed already. A stretch and sweep at 41 weeks found me at 4-6cm dilated. I’d been in on-off again labour (spurious labour) for over a week and it was taking its toll. My immune system was taking a hammering and I’d caught a virus, chest infection and lost my voice all in 2 weeks. Every thing in my body was telling me he should have been born now, but for some reason labour wasn’t progressing to regular contractions. I was tired from have strong contractions all night every 20 minutes at night.
I felt my body was balanced on a cliff edge and needed a push. All the usual natural labour induction methods had been tried – marital relations, walking, bumpy roads, hot curries etc along with 3 stretch and sweeps failed to push me over the edge. At 41+5 weeks I had a biophysical that found all was well and healthy with baby and placenta and the Ob said I could go to 43 weeks (with further monitoring). With induction scheduled in for 42 weeks, I was told I could refuse and just have another biophysical on that day. I was nervous, but overwhelmingly tired and ready to meet this child. In the days leading up to the induction I tried more relaxation etc, but on the day of the scheduled induction I was ready to get this labour going. After a lot of messing around at the hospital, my home birth midwife joined us.
We were there as requested at 8am and finally the syntocin was started at 1pm. My midwife was wonderful, asking me how I was and protecting me from some of the hospital staff, who were quite gruff. My husband was always at my side – he had drinks, snacks and wet flannel at the ready. We’d done this before and he was prepared! My friend (there for support) later told me how my midwife would stop staff at the door so I was disturbed as little as possible. At one point the syntocin was turned up and the contractions changed from productive to a feeling of insane cramping. I began to fear the next contraction and had the feeling I couldn’t catch my breath. I was sucking the gas like it was a lifeline.
My midwife said 3 simple words ‘talk to me’. And I blurted out how the contractions were becoming unbearable. How I never feared the next contraction with my first birth and how this time I was struggling to stay open. I wanted to fight the contractions, rather than let them flow. I asked if we could turn it back down again, even for half an hour, so I could catch my breath. And with that, the syntocin was turned down, and I went back to feeling productive. I closed my eyes and let go to what was happening. I’m one of the strange people who like to lay on my back for birth. I tried the shower etc early on but even in my first home water birth I floated on my back, slightly reclined in the water. Being on my knees increases the discomfort and pain, for me. So I just lay there with my eyes closed surrendering to the amazing process my body was in.
Time was hazy and all that mattered was that next contraction that I could feel was bringing my baby closer. I could hear shuffling and feel the syntocin being disconnected. ‘Its all you now’ was an amazing sentence. I knew our baby was really close. I could reach down and feel the unfamiliar sensation of a crowning head exiting! The next part flashed by in a few more contractions frilled with excitement and the suddenly release of a slimy child being suddenly thrust onto my tummy. What joy! All my senses heightened and the room melted away to just me and my babe for a few magic moments.
My wonderful husband, who hadn’t left my side, blurted ‘hello!’ And this wise young face in wrinkled, vernixy skin lifted his head up and looked straight at him, as if to say ‘oh, THAT’S what you look like!’. Time? 5pm. Wow. REALLY? Only 4 hours. Amazing. I had been in my own world and I hadn’t glanced at the clock since we started. It wasn’t as blissful as the birth of my first child, but it was a close second.
The induction was an informed choice coupled with my gut instinct. Having my homebirth midwife as my carer in the hospital, without a doubt, was the reason why it was such a great experience. If my first birth was 11 out if 10, then this birth was 9 out of 10. Only that short time with the syntocin turned up and the attitude of some hospital staff marred the event, but they are easy to ignore and forget. My husband, friend and midwife kept me cocooned and safe.
The biggest downside was that our older boy wasn’t there to welcome his brother with us. Years later he still feels sad he wasn’t there, and so do I. But some things are beyond your control. But they are the best of friends and he is an amazing big brother. What more can you hope for?