The Story of the Birth of Gabriel
Gabriel’s birth story
My first baby was born in hospital after an eight hour labour and at the time the midwives advised me that if I was to have another baby I should come to hospital at the first twinge as a second baby was likely to arrive even more quickly. So when I was pregnant again two years later I started looking into the possibility of not bothering with the worry of getting to hospital in time and having a planned home birth instead.
At my booking appointment I told the community midwife I was considering a home birth and she was very supportive. Having had a straight-forward pregnancy and birth previously and not having any other medical issues I was considered low risk and an ideal candidate for home birth.
However, at my 20 week scan it was discovered that I had a low-lying placenta. Unless the placenta moved away from my cervix during the course of my pregnancy then I would have no choice but to have a planned caesarean section. So I put my plans for a home birth onto the back burner as we waited for another scan at 32 weeks to see if the placenta had moved. In the meantime I tried (unsuccessfully) to convince myself that I would be OK with having a section.
Thankfully at 32 weeks it was confirmed that the placenta was now clear of the cervix so the home birth was back on! I still wasn’t sure if it was what I really wanted. I wasn’t too bothered about actually having the baby in hospital but I like the idea that if I had him at home I would then be at home after the birth with all my family and my own things around me. I still wasn’t sure until it actually happened whether I was going to go through with it but we put all the plans in place and at 37 weeks I had a home birth kit delivered and my parents came up from Blackpool to set up camp in their caravan nearby so they would be on hand to look after my toddler son if we needed them too.
Having had my first son at 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant I was convinced that this baby was going to be early too, so when I got to 40 weeks with still no sign of a baby I was getting well and truly fed up. At 40 weeks and 2 days we decided to take the toddler to the beach and I don’t know if the fresh air and a walk helped but when we got home around lunchtime I had a ‘show’.
Throughout the afternoon I was having some cramps but nothing I would call a contraction. About 10 pm I decided we should go to bed and try to get some sleep because I didn’t think anything was going to happen that night. But as I lay in bed I became aware that the ‘cramps’ were now coming quite regularly so I started to time them. When I realised I was actually having contractions about 8 minutes apart I decided to get up and call the hospital. This was at about 10:40 pm. By the time the hospital had phoned the on call midwife and she had rung me back it was almost 11:30 pm and the contractions were 5-6 minutes apart.
With my history of a quick labour the midwife decided she better come over to check me out and she arrived around midnight. She examined me and declared I was only 1-2 cm dilated but I knew this time that that didn’t really mean much. She then listened to the baby’s heartbeat and was concerned that it was a little slow. She advised us that if it didn’t pick up in the next 5-10 minutes that she would have to recommend we went to hospital.
I called my mum and dad and got them to come over just in case we needed them to look after Toby (who at this point was still fast asleep in bed). Of course as soon as I had spoken to them the baby’s heartrate picked up and was fine for the rest of my labour!
My parents arrived about 1:30 am and headed up to our spare room to bed – although my mum didn’t sleep at all, my dad managed to sleep through the whole thing. By this point my contractions were ramping up and I had the TENS machine on while I bounced on my birthing ball, wandered about the room a bit, and tried to distract myself by watching a Star Wars documentary.
Not long after that my husband put down the waterproof sheets and towels on the floor and I took up position on my knees on the floor, leaning forward onto the sofa. I was still just using the TENS machine and doing my yoga breathing to manage the pain at this point and the midwife decided she should call for the second midwife who arrived about 45 minutes later.
I think at about 2:30 I decided I couldn’t manage just breathing through the contractions any more and got the gas and air. I also got my husband to come and sit next to me so I could squeeze his hand, and I put him in charge of pressing the boost button on the TENS machine as it was starting to annoy me trying to find it every time. He was also in charge of dispensing Jelly Babies! I started to relax with the effects of the gas and air – I remember saying to Barry ‘I didn’t tell you this last time but it is like being drunk’ to which he replied ‘yeah, you told me that last time’. I also found it funny at this point that because I was leaning over in quite a short night shirt everyone could see my bum! I actually got quite chatty at this point, in between the contractions which were coming thick and fast, sometimes without a break in between them at all. I was moaning a bit at the height of the contractions but I did try and remember a couple of things I’d read in Ina May Gaskin’s ‘A Guide to Childbirth’; firstly that keeping an open and relaxed mouth would help the cervix open and relax too, and that low pitched noises would help me do this. A couple of times I caught myself clamping my teeth down on the gas and air mouth piece so I made a conscious effort to relax my jaw.
Some time after 3 am I started to really feel my cervix opening up. I think this was the point during my first labour that I heard myself saying ‘I can’t do this!’ This time in my determination to be more positive I was saying ‘I can do this’. I was still on my knees, leaning on my arms on the sofa. I remember the midwife asking if I was feeling ‘pushy’ and I said no but on the next contraction I started pushing. The midwives were getting together all the things they would need once the baby was born, and they put some of those absorbent mats underneath me. After a few more contractions the midwife said she could see my waters bulging and then I think on the next contraction they went, splashing below me. According to Barry it was quite dramatic. Another couple of pushes (and some pretty loud screaming from me – how Toby didn’t wake up I will never know!) saw the head come out and one more and the body followed. At 3:43 am, after about 6 hours of active labour, our second son, Gabriel, was born. He was a healthy 6lb 13oz and he looked exactly like his brother.
My mum came downstairs to say hello, she had been listening to the whole thing from the spare room. By 6 am the midwives had left and my dad and older son Toby had both got upand met the new arrival. It was brilliant being at home after the birth and I honestly think it helped me recover more quickly. I would definitely recommend a home birth to anyone!