My one claim to fame is that this birth story was published in an NCT book, in 2000, I think. So I’ve left it long and unedited!
During the last five weeks of the pregnancy I thought I’d gone into labour at least once a week, with really strong, regular contractions. My due date was mid-December, and I desperately wanted the baby to arrive before Christmas, but by 39 weeks I’d resigned myself to being pregnant well into the New Year.
Several curries and long walks later, one morning two days before the due date, I woke up in a puddle at 2.30 am, hissing at Steve to grab a towel (unprepared as usual, I didn’t think it would happen to me, and hadn’t covered the bed!). My waters had broken, and I was quite excited that labour was finally starting, but there were no contractions so we tried to get some more sleep.
About an hour later contractions started, but they were fairly few and far between. Eventually I got up and wandered round the house to try and get things going. It worked, and an hour and a half later, when contractions were coming about every 2 – 3 minutes, I woke Steve and rang the midwife.
We had planned a second home birth without hesitation, as our first experience had been so relaxed and stress free. We were both quite looking forward to doing it all over again!
The midwife arrived around 5.30 am and we set up in the lounge. This included putting a plastic sheet over the sofa and floor, then covering it with an old bedspread. The midwife unpacked her equipment and made sure we had everything we needed. At this point, everything seemed to slow down completely, my contractions were further apart and not very strong at all, and I felt really silly for having called the midwife out too early. Anyway, I carried on pacing the floor, and finally the contractions started to be a bit stronger.
When our 2 year old, Anna, woke up at 6.30 am Steve dressed her and she came downstairs and surveyed the scene. She didn’t quite know what to make of it all, but enjoyed the fuss that was made of her, I think! I was still coping fairly well with the contractions at this point but during the next hour the contractions became even stronger and more intense. I needed to concentrate more and have Steve’s help too, so a friend took Anna off to have breakfast, then sat with her in front of a video upstairs!
Around 8.30 am the contractions were getting on top of me a bit, I remember it suddenly dawning on me that I was going to have to push the baby out soon, and recalling the incredible pain of it the last time! However, by then there was no going back!
I started to use some gas and air which I found helped enormously, even just having something else to concentrate on was really useful. Steve was sitting on the sofa, and I was kneeling on the floor, leaning on him while he supported me. After twenty minutes of very long, strong contractions, I began to push.
My second midwife, who had also delivered Anna, arrived only minutes before Abbie was born, with a student, who very helpfully held the camera and took lots of photographs!
The second stage lasted just three minutes, and as the midwife talked me through the process, I vividly remember feeling every part of Abigail’s face being born, in great detail. I felt her head crown, followed by her nose, chin, and then the rest of her body followed very quickly! She weighed 8 lb 8 oz, a whole pound and a half heavier than Anna, so I was quite surprised that her birth had been so easy. I was very grateful to have no stitches or tears.
Abbie was born screaming the place down, so when Anna came down to meet her new sister only minutes later, she wasn’t very impressed, and soon went back to her video! However, we were really pleased that Anna had been able to be involved, and that we hadn’t had to disrupt her routine too much, or make her feel left out in any way.
I cut Abigail’s umbilical cord (it was my turn, as Steve did it last time) and delivered the placenta naturally. I then went straight upstairs to the shower and let everyone else clear up the mess! Our friend whisked Anna off to her toddler group to break the news of Abbie’s birth, and Steve made tea and toast.
Abigail’s birth was a wonderful experience, I even enjoyed it! I felt so well that the next day we were all down on the Quay in Exeter, feeding the ducks. Ten days later she slept through her first Christmas, with more presents than the rest of us put together!