Birth of Miles Richard Leo, 24 August 2009 – a Home Waterbirth.
During the whole pregnancy I had been having fairly intense Braxton Hicks. I’d never had even one with Ollie, so this was a new experience. From about 36 weeks, I’d been experiencing ‘pre-labour’, and had many nights where I was kept awake with the sensations. Irrespective of this, I strongly suspected I would go overdue, as I just didn’t feel ready.
The night before my due date, we went out for dinner with friends – for curry, of course! Unfortunately, the only person who ended up feeling any effects from it was Evan… My Mum had also come over and cleaned our house thoroughly for me – I had considered the idea I might have a mental block about birthing in an untidy house, so she offered to come get it up to scratch.
On my due date, I went to an acupuncture appointment in the morning. I felt absolutely normal, and not at all like birth was imminent. Peter, my acupuncturist, had stimulated my oxytocin points, and had laughed away my suggestion that we make another appointment for later in the week.
I wandered around the city for a bit, feeling quite energised. On the drive home, I was overcome with a craving for a KFC Zinger Burger (yes, really!). Once home I sat on the couch, and surfed the net for a while, as I was suddenly tired. About 4pm I had a loose bowel motion, but figured it was the grease from my KFC fest, or last night’s curry. At 4.30, I had this urgent desire to have a deep bath, but once I was in there, it felt wrong. I had a couple more Braxton Hicks contractions, fairly pain free, and told Evan I was going to bed for a while. He went out to collect Ollie from daycare, and also to pick up the camera from his parents’ house for later in the week.
At this point I laid in bed, watching Friends on the laptop. I remembered that Terry (our Independent Midwife) had said she had another woman overdue quite a distance away, and that I should ring her if I even had an inkling of things happening. I also remembered that Sam (my friend who was being my Doula) had mentioned that a midwife at her work told her that cold fronts bring babies. Given that Monday night a cold front was meant to pass, I thought I’d ring Terry and let her know that it wouldn’t be anytime tonight or tomorrow. She must have had some kind of intuition, because when I rang she told me that regardless of how I felt, she’d have her mobile with her and to call her as soon as I felt like I needed her.
After that I rang Sam to say report what Terry had said, but that my pains were nothing, and virtually pain free. She said she’d sleep with her phone next to her bed tonight anyway, because of the cold front thing.
As all this was happening, I had been absentmindedly tapping ContractionMaster on the computer – a program that measures your contractions and gives you timings etc. When Evan and Ollie got home at 7pm, he was surprised when I said my tightenings were happening every 3 minutes, lasting up to 90 seconds, but that they weren’t really hurting. I wandered around the house, chatting with Ollie and just doing ‘stuff’. I also replied to a text from my Mum, saying that I ‘felt a bit funny, just BH again, but maybe by Wednesday’.
Once I realised I was starting to concentrate through the contractions, Evan made me ring Terry again. She’d no sooner answered, when she said she’d be over straightaway. I urged her to stay at her son’s house – I felt bad I’d interrupted their dinner! Clearly Terry could hear something in my voice that I didn’t recognise.
I then rang Sam again, and said Terry was coming over, and tonight would be a good time to meet her before the birth, like we’d been planning. Sam was putting the kids to bed, I told her not to rush, and just come over whenever.
Terry arrived at 7.35pm. As soon as she got here, I had a big contraction, but it still wasn’t painful, more just hard work. When she asked Evan to get the oxygen tank from her car, and to start setting up the birth pool, I laughed and said it would be great if the baby arrived before midnight, as then he’d be a due date baby. Terry just smiled at me (in hindsight, in a very knowing manner).
I continued to wander around the house, chatting and laughing, and quietly vocalizing through contractions. Evan was setting up the birth pool. I remember Ollie asking me during one contraction if I could please make him a cup of tea. He was happily sitting down at the computer, watching a show, and eating. We’d practiced ‘mooing like a cow’ when talking about when Miles would be born. Ollie did a couple of ‘moo cow’ noises with me during my contractions, which was fun and made me laugh.
Sam arrived at 7.50pm. When she arrived I remember having a huge contraction, which seemed to last forever. Straightaway I needed to go to the toilet. When I got into the bathroom, it was cold and dark, and I lost my focus. The next contraction really hurt, and I felt a bit out of control. When I came back out, I told Terry that I thought I might have hit transition. Of course, I said this laughingly, as I still fully believed I wasn’t in properly in labour, and things were only just starting off. I continued chatting away to everyone, laughing and joking, broken only by the times I concentrated on my contractions.
Around 8.30, Terry suggested after the next contraction I should go to the loo and then get in the birth pool. I protested, saying that I hadn’t yet used any of my birth skills, and that I wanted to save my best form of pain relief (the pool) for when I really needed it. Terry said ‘if you don’t get in now, you won’t be getting in’.
So I got in the pool. Sam was sitting outside the pool, right next to my head. I whinged to her about ‘using up my good pain relief now, and I’d probably have to go to the bloody hospital because I was only about 3cms at the most and I’d need an epidural’. Sam wondered out loud how Terry knew how far along I was, as she hadn’t done any internals. I thought we were both whispering, but it would appear that we weren’t, and every word was audible. Oops.
Once in the pool, everything seemed to slow down. It felt awesome to relax in there, and bob about in the warm water. Terry suggested that if I wanted Nina, our student midwife to attend the birth, someone should call her now. Sam did that for me, and I can remember hearing Terry say ‘tell her if she’s coming, she better come NOW’. Again, I couldn’t understand the urgency, as I though Miles would still be hours away. Evan was putting Oliver to bed.
From this point things are hazy. I floated in the water with my forehead on the side of the pool, Sam putting cold cloth nappies on my head to cool me down, and Evan returned, to place pressure on my lower back and give me sometime to work against. Nina arrived, and I remember her cold hands on my arm, and me growling ‘no’ at her and moving away.
Evan came around to my head, and held my hands. Terry’s hand were on my back, and then with a contraction I felt my waters go. I had another couple of contractions, and then I had this primal urge to gutturally roar ‘yeeeeeessssssss’. With that, the rest of my waters exploded, and I felt them come rushing out between my thighs. Lots of vernix floated up to the surface, and looking back I’m glad I didn’t realise how much there was, as it would have icked me out completely. I was still talking between contractions, and I remember saying at one point ‘whose bloody stupid idea was this homebirth thing anyway’.
I felt Miles’ head move down, and turn slightly as well. It was an odd feeling, but a welcome one, and not unpleasant. Just before he crowned I remember still thinking he’d be ages away. Once I realised his head was right there, I wanted to stop pushing because I was scared of the crowning pain. My body took over and pushed him out for me, only seconds later. There was no pain from crowning, and he stayed there, underwater with his head out for a little bit. Sam moved around to catch him, as Evan and I both wanted her to do this. I remember every single millimetre of his shoulders coming out, and even before I’d seen him I knew he’d inherited the extremely broad chest and shoulders of my brothers, rather than from his Father’s side.
Sam passed Miles up to me, and I think I was still in shock. This intensified when I looked at the clock and realised it was only 9.10pm. Only 40 minutes ago I had been sure I was only in the very early stages of labour, if at all. I’m glad we weren’t having a hospital birth, because I genuinely wouldn’t have made it, based on the low pain level of the contractions. It had been an 8 minute pushing stage this time.
Evan tried to wake Ollie up, but he was in a deep sleep (he was very annoyed the next day when he realised he missed – in his words – ‘the blood and the baby coming out’!). The placenta was delivered soon after, and we let it float besides Miles in the pool until the cord stopped pulsating.
Once I was out of the pool and sitting comfortably on our couch, I rang Mum. She asked why was Oliver crying, and when I explained it was actually her new grandson Miles, she dropped the phone in shock. Evan’s parents were equally as surprised to hear the news, considering Evan and Oliver had been over there just 2 hours earlier, with no sign anything was going to happen.
Miles Richard Leo was welcomed into our loving arms at 9.10pm on Monday 24th August 2009, his due date, in a birth that far exceeded our wildest expectations.