Katie and Ollie’s Homebirth, by Katie
Cast of Characters:
Kermit: Unborn wriggling baby
Ollie: Dad and sherpa
Katie: Mother Superior
Peggy: Lovely Parson’s Terrier & big ‘sister’
Rebecca: Doula and marmite-on-toast maker
Detta: Midwife extraordinaire
Debbie: Midwife and gas & air cavalry
Suzan: Other midwife (not present at birth) & Mrs Magic-Fingers
Rupert: Long awaited baby boy
We woke up on Monday morning feeling pretty resigned to the fact that we would be induced the following day at 42 weeks. We’d been given a bit of hope the previous day when Suzan came round to give me a second sweep. She said that Kermit’s head was well engaged, he was a nice size and not too big and that there was still plenty of water surrounding him. We thought something might happen that night, but when Monday morning came and nothing had happened we were a little bit low.
I went into Whipps Cross as usual at around 8.30am to be monitored. Everything was still fine with my blood pressure and with Kermit’s heartbeat and movement. I got home at around 10ish.
I’d had a couple of period-type cramps in the night and during the morning, but I’d had similar cramps with the previous sweep so didn’t really think anything of it. After I’d got back that Monday morning though, they started to become a little bit regular. This went on for about an hour and at 11am I started to make note of the times, just to try and work out whether they could be anything significant. We realised that they were coming around every 10 minutes, so we decided to phone Rebecca to see if she thought they could mean something.
Rebecca was her usual calm, reassuring self and told us that she felt sure they were the beginnings of something, but not to get too excited as often these feelings can subside. She suggested we went for a walk. So, off we went to Hollow Ponds with Peggy and walked around in the drizzle for about an hour, stopping quite regularly for me to have another ‘cramp’ and lean on Ollie.
By the time we got home, what we now were starting to think of as contractions were still coming regularly, but Ollie managed to cook sausage, mash and cabbage, which we ate at the dining table with a glass of red wine.
At this point we didn’t quite know what to do next. We were talking about watching something, but I didn’t really feel like it. Ollie washed up as we were pretty sure that we wouldn’t get much opportunity later. Fairly soon we realised the contractions were coming approx. every 5 minutes, so Ollie phoned Rebecca and asked her to come round. Ollie called Whipps Cross and after a fairly painful conversation with the duty nurse (where she couldn’t hear or even understand what he was saying), managed to get them to notify the midwife on call.
It was fantastic that Rebecca arrived when she did as by this point I wasn’t handling the contractions particularly well. They were making me feel a bit panicky. I found being on all fours the most comfortable position during contractions and sat and bounced on the birthing ball between them. Rebecca helped me establish a breathing pattern and noise and at this point Rebecca thought it was wise to try to reach the midwife (Detta) to explain what was happening. Pretty soon after Ollie started to clear a space for the birthing pool and Rebecca suggested that I had a bath to help relax, but also to stay upstairs where it was away from the hustle and bustle of the complete re-organisation of our living room.
I felt quite self-conscious at this point (which seems ridiculous in hindsight) and couldn’t decide to get naked or not in front of Rebecca. Eventually I did and was pretty quickly on all fours in the bath with Rebecca pouring water on my back, which I found soothing. In the meantime, back downstairs Ollie had dismantled the dining table, taken it and the chairs up to the loft room and had put the tarpaulin out ready for the pool. I was finding it uncomfortable in the bath because I was on all fours, so Rebecca helped me out and moved me into the bedroom where I knelt on the bed. Contractions were really, really strong and I almost felt like I needed to push. Rebecca came to swap jobs with Ollie.
Ollie helped relieve the pain of the contractions by visualizing a walk we had done in Devon on one of our favourite holidays. Step by step we walked up the hill, through the gorse, past the rocky corner up to the grassy top where we could see the sea.
Detta then arrived, unpacked and carried out some checks including my blood pressure and Kermit’s heartbeat, which were both fine. However, she felt that I was showing signs of anxiety and that my breathing would be helped with some gas and air. I actually wanted to get in the pool, but Detta advised against this. She thought that we should wait until I was 5cm dilated as sometimes labour goes backwards if you get in the pool too quickly. Thankfully, the gas and air helped with getting from 3cm-5cm as I found this couple of hours extremely challenging. I remember yelling ‘I can’t do this’ quite a few times!
At around 10pm, Detta examined me again and thankfully I had reached 5cm so we made the journey downstairs and I got in the pool. It was incredibly soothing to be in the water and also to be kneeling and leaning on a nice squishy surface rather than the carpet or bed cover. Ollie continued to help me talk through the contractions (climbing the same Devonshire coastal path again and again!) and Rebecca helped me to focus inbetween the contractions and getting me to breathe down towards my bottom where I was feeling all of the pain. She also poured water over my back, which was lovely.
The supply of Entinox that Detta had brought finally gave out whilst I was in the pool. Thankfully, she’d put in a phone call some time earlier and eventually Debbie arrived with more canisters. After lots of extremely fierce contractions where I was feeling the urge to push quite strongly, Detta asked me to get out to be examined again. The 1m journey to the sofa was agonizing but thankfully there was good news. I was fully dilated after less than 2 hours in the pool.
Everyone asked if I wanted to get back in the pool, but I couldn’t bear the thought of those few steps back to it, so I got back on all fours on the living room rug. After a few more contractions like this, Rebecca came through with a bucket which she’d lined with towels and pads and suggested that I sit on it like a birthing stool so that gravity could help push Kermit down. I found this extremely uncomfortable and difficult as the pain intensified as the bucket did its job.
Somewhere in my mind I recognized that gravity was really going to help me out, so I actually got up from the bucket and stood upright. Ollie sat on the sofa and I leaned on his thighs. With each contraction, I squatted a little bit. Detta, Debbie and Rebecca sorted out pillows for the floor beneath me (presumably incase Kermit decided to suddenly shoot out!), covered with pads. Eventually someone said that they could see his head and the next few contractions were so sore with the crowning head just sitting there.
Detta kept trying to show Ollie and I Kermit’s head in a mirror, but we couldn’t quite get the right angle. Eventually, however, we managed to see. What an extraordinary sight! Ollie thought it looked like a giant walnut and I was quite alarmed to see my body stretched in such a way. Seeing the head really helped though and with the next contraction, Kermit was out! What a relief! My first feeling was just one of overwhelming relief that I didn’t have that head burning between my legs anymore!
Detta passed Kermit between my legs straight away and they all helped Ollie and I sit down on the sofa, which they’d covered with a plastic sheet and towels in preparation. Ollie had taken his top off and we had some blissful moments of skin to skin, all covered in blood, sweat and tears and all absolutely elated. At this point, we told them all that Kermit was going to be known in the real world as Rupert Arlo.
Rebecca then asked if we would like some tea and toast as a way of celebrating Rupert’s arrival. This was a wonderful suggestion as I’d not eaten anything since lunchtime the day before. We sat on the sofa, eating our first meal as a family, letting the cord pulse for about 10 minutes. Eventually, Detta thought that it had finished pulsing and got Ollie to cut it. He said it was a bit like cutting uncooked squid! After another half an hour of sitting on the sofa, I had another contraction and delivered the placenta.
Debbie examined the placenta in a little blue plastic bowl. She looked like a witch with her cauldron. They asked if we wanted to bury it or eat it (which we had considered previously) but by that point we were past caring. It was great to be able to see it though and see the place that Kermit had lived in for nine months. Detta examined me again to see if I needed stitches, but thankfully, although I did tear, it was very neat and straight and we decided to let it heal naturally.
Detta then weighed Rupert, who was a very respectable 7lb 6.5oz. She was a little bit concerned that he was rather cold, so we quickly dressed him in some enormous newborn baby clothes and wrapped him in some warm towels. Ollie and I then cuddled him to warm him up. Rebecca had been busying away in the meantime, running me another bath and sorting out our bedroom and it was at this time that Debbie left, after asking what football team Rupert would support! Ollie answered that it would be a local one, most probably Tottenham or Leyton Orient depending on the style of football he preferred. I left Ollie and Rupert downstairs for Detta to do the vitamin K injection and let Rebecca help me upstairs and into the bath. She then helped wash me and get me into my pyjamas and eventually Ollie brought Rupert upstairs. Rupert was swaddled in a blanket and placed gently in the Moses basket next to the bed.
Ollie then returned downstairs to help finish the last of the tidying up before saying goodbye to both Detta and Rebecca. It was then around 4am and he came upstairs and got into bed next to me. Our first night together as a family! Not that we were to get much sleep – we were far to nervous to go to sleep and leave Rupert ‘unwatched’, so we took it in turns. Ollie had the first sleep and I just sat there, looking over our lovely, strange new baby.
To find out more about the new homebirth team at Whipps Cross, click here!Tweet