When I first started this Cooking Up Chaos series I never really allowed myself to believe that the little baby nestled away in my tummy would ever really become a reality. I think it was probably to protect myself a little after our miscarriage last year, I didn’t want to let myself get too attached just in case something went wrong. I worried about every little thing the whole way through and really found it hard to enjoy it or connect with the baby like I did when I was pregnant with Luca.
But I need not have worried. At 40+4, that baby wiggling around in my belly decided to grace us with his presence and make all the anxiety and delightful pregnancy symptoms I experienced worth it.
I’d like to introduce to you all, our little boy, Noah. Noah was born at home, a few weeks before Christmas weighing in at 8lb 11oz after a 6-hour labour.
I went for my 40-week midwife appointment on a Wednesday evening, and after a quick check of all the things they needed to, the midwife joked that she would let Jo, the home birth midwife on call that night, know to expect a phone call from me that night. I laughed and waved her farewell after booking my next appointment.
I hopped back in the car with my mum and told her what the midwife had said and again we laughed as I didn’t physically feel anywhere near ready to go into labour.
At 12:04am that night/early the next morning, I woke up to quite a strong contraction. I got out my phone and started to time them. The midwives had told me at previous appointments that because my last labour with Luca was so quick I needed to ring them when I was having contractions 1 in every 10 minutes, to give them time to get to us in case I laboured really quickly again. After about 5 contractions I realised I was already contracting 2 in every 10 minutes, but I lay in bed not really believing I was even in true labour never mind having them so close together so soon. After an hour I got up to have a wee and at that point, they ramped up a level. I decided it was probably a good idea to wake Ant up and let him know that I thought I might be in labour.
“Do you think I should not go to work tomorrow then?” was his reply, from his semi-conscious state. After waking him properly and explaining that he definitely wouldn’t be going to work in the morning he finally fell into his birth partner role, realising we needed more milk if he was to drink enough coffee to get him through the early hours of the morning with a labouring wife.
We made our way downstairs and Ant got me settled in the living room, on my birth ball, with my candle burning and my birthing playlist music on, and then he drove to the local petrol station to get milk! Luckily it’s only about a 5 minute round trip.
Once he got back home I gave in to the disbelief and decided I really probably should ring the home birth team as my contractions weren’t going anywhere or easing off at all and maybe I really was in labour.
As expected, Jo answered and asked me if I wanted her to come over. As I still was in denial that I was about to squeeze a small person from my body, and not wanting to waste her time, I said I thought I was fine for a while longer. She told me to try and go back to sleep for a bit as that sometimes helps ease the contractions but to ring back as soon as I wanted her to come over. 40 minutes later I decided I probably did need a midwife to come over soon and so I rang back and asked her to come out. Ant rang my mum to ask if she wanted to come over too as she was with us for Luca’s birth and was really hoping to be with us for Noah’s. It would also be helpful to have her there to sort out Luca if he woke up.
Ant was busy in the kitchen for most of the time getting the pool set up and filled, putting the fairy lights up and getting my area all ready. This meant I was totally in my own zone, it was actually quite nice to just go into my own space and work through everything we had learnt from our hypnobirthing instructor. I don’t really like being fussed over so having Ant busy elsewhere for the first stages, was probably a good thing for me.
By the time my mum and the midwives (one from the home birth team and one from the hospital labour ward) arrived, I’d got myself all comfy leaning on the sofa arm, sat on my ball, with my hypnobirthing tracks playing and breathing my way through each contraction. The midwives got set up and then came to introduce themselves and listen in to the baby. Which they then did every 15 minutes after that. I told them I didn’t want any internal examinations after a bad experience when I had Luca which in turn meant I really did have to listen to my body and all the signs for when baby was ready to arrive.
Not long after that I started to get really uncomfortable and needed Ant to put pressure on my back and pelvis during my contractions. I was also starting to ask how long until the pool would be ready. My biggest worry was that it wouldn’t be ready in time and I’d end up labouring on the living room floor. Ant reassured that he was on it and it wouldn’t be long at all. Not long after that, I went to the loo again (remembering to keep my bladder empty to help keep things moving along) and the walking made my contractions ramp up another level. As I made my way back through the kitchen I could see the pool and it looked so enticing so I asked if I could get in. I didn’t want to get in too early as I know the water can slow everything down but I also really wanted some extra relief from the warmth of the water and it just looked so inviting, surrounded by the fairy lights.
Jo told me I could do whatever I wanted to do and to just go with what felt right. So I jumped in.
The warmth of the water and the ease of being able to move around and float about was so good and once again I felt myself slide back into my zone. Ant brought my candle to the side of the pool and we played more of the hypnobirthing tracks we had been given and again I breathed my way through each contraction with Ant right by my side.
I’m not sure how long I’d been in the pool, or even what time it was, but at one point I remember thinking to myself that I had an urge to bear down during one of my contractions. But once again, despite knowing I knew my body best, I didn’t want to believe that we were already at that point and so ignored it. After a few more contractions like that one, Jo came into the kitchen and asked if anything had changed. I told her it felt a bit different and she agreed that she thought we were probably heading into the final stages. She told Ant he needed to get the pool up to the right temperature for a baby to be born into and then they started to monitor us every 5 minutes. Despite all these signs that things really were happening and I would soon have a baby, I was in total denial that we were. I just couldn’t let myself believe it was happening. I think I was still worried something was going to go wrong.
Not long after that, I got really strong, uncontrollable urges to push. I’d really hoped I’d just be able to breathe the baby out but my body had other plans and so I had to just go with it.
A few pushes in and the hypnobirthing went out of the window slightly. My contractions and the urge to bear down was so strong that I couldn’t control or catch my breath. I told Ant a few times that I couldn’t do it, and he kept saying to me that I could and it was the transition, but what I was actually trying to say was that I couldn’t control my breathing. But because I couldn’t catch my breath I couldn’t get any more words out to explain and I was getting really pissed off.
Eventually, Ant put another hypnobirthing track on and without really knowing or realising it at the time, it really helped me to get back in the zone. I managed to catch my breath again between the contractions, although not perfectly and during them, I still wasn’t following “the plan” I’d had. I was much noisier during this bit than I was with Luca, and I swore A LOT! So much so that I woke Luca up who had been sleeping soundly upstairs. My mum went up to him and they went back to bed and read some stories together. Apparently, they also joked about me sounding like a monkey and all the naughty words I was saying too. Luca was understandably quite concerned about what was happening but my mum did a great job of making it not scary for him which I will be forever grateful to her for.
Again I have no idea how long it took but eventually, I felt our baby slowly start to emerge into the water. I managed to birth his head really slowly and feeling him coming into the world was very surreal. I don’t remember any of it with Luca so it was pretty magical to feel all this and be in a state of mind where I could actually process what was going on.
Once his head was born, the midwife told me I needed to do another big push. I wasn’t contracting at this point and feeling very confused I told her I didn’t need to push. She told me that she knew that but she needed me to. At this point, I knew something must be wrong as they had just let me do my own thing up until this point, so I asked her if he was stuck.
Jo was amazing and reassured me that he wasn’t stuck but he had his hand at the side of his face so he just needed a bit of help from me to get him out. I’ve since found out that this is called a compound presentation and occurs in around 1/1000 births. After a few big pushes, he wasn’t moving and Jo asked if she could help. After a good tug on his arm, I was able to do the rest myself and our gorgeous little superman baby was born in the water at exactly 6am.
He didn’t cry immediately and needed a bit of a rub to get him going, cue more panic from me, but he was absolutely fine and apparently, it was only about 30 seconds but it felt like a lifetime to me whilst he was laid there in my arms.
Once he had his first cry Luca crept down the stairs to “spy” on us and when I noticed him sat on the stairs I called him over to meet his little brother. Ronnie also decided at this point to get off his bed where he’d been the whole time, and have a look at the newest member of the pack. He leant over the side of the pool, gently sniffed his head and then gave my cheek a big lick.
It was the most perfect birth and I’m so happy that my dream became a reality. There were a few times I thought my home birth wasn’t going to happen, but it did. I got to bring my second child into the world, in my own home, surrounded by people I love and it was better than I could ever have imagined.
The midwives were fantastic and made the whole experience what it was. Apart from the help we needed when Noah came out like Superman, they never really interfered meaning I truly felt like I gave birth, on my own, in my own way with Ant being the one to help me through it. It was truly an incredible experience and I really feel like it’s helped me heal and move on from the traumatic birth I had with Luca.
Unfortunately, everything went a bit pear-shaped after the actual delivery, but again the midwives were fantastic and really looked after me. I had a very big haemorrhage and needed rushing to the hospital as I lost a lot of blood. The midwives accompanied us and the continuous care I received from them until the hospital midwives took over was second to none. Luckily I was fine and managed to avoid a blood transfusion but it meant that for the first 2.5hrs of his little life, I didn’t get to cuddle our little boy or get to try and feed him. Once I was stabilised in the hospital and starting to feel more conscious, Ant went back into birth partner mode and set up the room so we could start the whole process of getting my oxytocin levels back up and establishing breastfeeding. After a few minutes of skin to skin, our greedy monkey latched on and fed like a pro, and he hasn’t really stopped since.
Ant was absolutely the best birth partner thanks to all the prep we had from Hannah, our hypnobirthing instructor. He knew exactly what I needed even when I didn’t and I am so grateful that he really embraced his role and helped me to get the dream birth we both wanted this time around. Our little rainbow baby is here, safe and sound.