Jennymay and Lawrence’s homebirth by Lawrence
You can read Jennymay, Lawrence’s wife’s, account of their baby’s birth here.
It all started with my wife saying to me “when we have a baby I want to have a caesarean. I am scared of birthing!”
This made me uncomfortable but she is my wife and I would stand by her decision to have our baby in what ever way she wanted.
It’s amazing how quickly something can change. A tour, a chat with some Americans from an artistic group and suddenly I am collecting parcels from the post office containing books by a lady called Ina May Gaskin (some crazy hippy I initially thoughtand now a complete genius in my mind!) After much reading and researching of natural births Jenny had made a complete U-turn in her ideals – from wanting a planned caesarean to trying to work out how to hang a rope in our living room to help her adopt an ideal birth position!
After finally deciding to have a home birth Jenny told me that she wanted to get a doula to help her with her birth. My initial reaction was “Doola….? What a ridiculous word – it sounds like a childrens character!” I was also unsure as to why we needed anyone to help us when surely midwives would provide all the support we needed. Looking back now, getting a doula was one of the best decisions we have made.
On hearing that we wanted to have a home birth most peoples reactions were “A first time baby at home – you are brave” or “what happens if something goes wrong” or even “I really don’t think that you will end up having your baby at home” . All told withknowing looks from mothers who have had battle scars and scare stories from their own births.
Having a home birth did look like it would be a problem but not from our end. We were told that the homebirth service would be cancelled for exactly the period from a month before to a week after we were due to have our baby. This threw Jenny into a spin! All her wonderful plans had come crashing down and now she was unsure and scared. Rebecca was fantastic and we spent an evening with her discussing our plans and options. We still wanted a homebirth but it seemed that the fight to try and get one would end up being more stressful than conceeding and transferring to Homerton. Also the creation of a birth plan which could be implemented wherever we were – home, car,hospital, Mars – was very useful.
An exciting call from Rebecca! She had been in touch with a barrister who had threatened to take Whipps Cross hospital to court on behalf of another client who had been denied a home birth. Whipps Cross had backed down and were now offering independant midwives to all mums wanting to have home births. After many phone calls we had confirmation that this would be happening for us too! Fantastic. This would never have happened without Rebecca keeping her ear to the ground for us and telling us who to talk to to make things happen!
Now the most nerve racking bit of the whole experience….finding a hose pipe and attachment which would pipe water into the birthing pool in our living room without leaking or breaking! On succeeding with this complex task (and testing it far too many times) it was then just a matter of Jenny pushing the baby out……….
Sunday 1 am “I think my waters have broken… ” Ring Midwife – 5 contractions 10 mins apart then nothing
Sunday pm Midwife visits “I think my waters have broken” “I am not sure they have” “Well lots of liquid came out” ” but I can’t see any more” “maybe I am holding it in?” “maybe…but never seen it done before” A real mystery!
Monday 1 am – Contractions start every 10 mins – I am oblivious and asleep. Jenny infront room trying to sleep and having wierd waking dreams.
Monday 5 am – Get woken up. Jenny contracting every 10 mins still but quite strongly.
This continues for a while! She dive bombs into a beanbag head first whenever onecomes. I try some back massages but they don’t help so I sit with her to help her throughin other ways.
Monday 10am – Still every 10 mins. Jen and I cuddle on the floor in the sun comingthrough the lounge window. A beautiful moment.
Monday 12pm the contractions become 3 in every 10. Midwife warns us this could go onfor a long long time.
Jenny says “I can’t do this” for her first and only time and takes 2 paracetamol and never says it again.
Start moaning with Jenny to 1) Get her to make low relaxed noises and 2) Feel less selfconcious and 3)To relax myself by doing what I do best – making loud noises!
1pm Call Rebecca and start putting up birth pool.
2pm Rebecca arrives and comes into the front room – we do some contractions with the three of us moaning together until she suggests that we could try having a bath.
Get Jenny into bath while Rebecca puts up rest of the pool and starts filling it. Jenny doing amazingly! I fish about in the pool for tiny bits of birth which look like twisting and turning creatures…. barely manage to catch any!
Jenny asks for a drink. I put a straw into a carton and proceed to squirt a good 1/4 of itall over her face….glad she is in the bath!
Jenny feels the urge to push – Rebecca comes into the bathroom and rings midwife and asks them to get a move on.
Manage to get Jenny to birthing pool between contractions. I think for her that journey was one of the hardest she has ever made – but she did it!
This is where I got into a strange zone with Jenny, sitting by the pool, holding her hands and moaning and breathing with her. Barely notice what is going on outside of this zone.
5pm Midwives arrive and ask if they can examine Jenny. Her answer to this question throughout the whole birth was generally NO. “Do you want an internal examination?” “No” “Can I listen to the babies heart beat?” “No” (although we persuaded her twice to check all was well.)
At one point during a lull in contractions I look around the room. It is dim, night having fallen, the only light coming from fairy lights and a single lamp in the corner. The room was beautifully quiet with 2 midwives sitting on the floor; one writing a report on somepaper and the other gently coming over to check things were ok before returning to sitdown. Rebecca was quietly in and out – performing several miracles that I did not even discover till days later (mainly involving our poor abandoned mental cat!)
6pm Jenny starts to get tired. One of the midwives pours water over her back with a jug and Rebecca suggests that Jen has a spoonful of honey to give her some energy. This seems to work wonders and she gets back into the zone.
Pushing, moaning, hand holding, stroking, splashing.
Then “the head is out” I did not see – holding Jennys hand. Apparently he looks upthrough the water for a good minute before the final contraction – screwing his little faceup.
I feel that I cannot justify it in words. I suppose only those who have been through a birth can relate to how it feels!
“Take your baby” the midwife says. Jenny sits back – puts her hands down through the water and guides this tiny creature out of her and into her arms. I am almost overcome with emotion (as am I even writing this now!) My son! There he is! So peaceful, so calm. No crying but asleep in his rightful place on his mum in warm water!
Time stands still as we are left alone to look at our beautiful creation. The earth stops turning, the universe pauses….
Then, as if in a film sped up, placenta, checks, bacon sandwiches, champagne and finally that night we are all tucked up into bed together for our first night as a family.
It was the most intense, amazing, incredible experience of my life! It makes my head want to explode thinking about it!
I am so proud of my wife! She was amazing! She did the greatest thing there is to do in life with calmness and focus and without fuss or bother. My love and respect for her has reached an even higher level than I thought possible. After 9 months pregnancy I am glad now that I can finally hold my beautiful son.