Updated: Oct 22, 2018
A homebirth story from Editor Eleanor. The birth of her second child, Reuben, was a little unconventional and unplanned!
Reuben is nearly two. A dynamo of a kid, he's got temper we're yet to tame and a sweetness we adore. His arrival was as turbulent as he is, but we wouldn't change a thing!
“Looking at you now, you would never know.”
My life has been relatively hospital free. No real illnesses, broken bones or concerns that landed me in the NHS' finest establishments. Until Reuben.
The pregnancy was easy, as my one before. I carried on with life, albeit a little more tired and a lot more round. My labour was, in contrast, entirely different. The cramping pains started late into the evening, so I heaved myself to the bathroom and had a bath, mentally preparing myself for the days of on/off contractions that I had had with Tabitha. I listed a few items on a 'For Sale' site, scrolled Facebook and chatted with my two sisters before getting out of the bath. I had some tightenings, so I went downstairs to wait them out. I remember dozing on the sofa and waking with the pain but dozing off again. They say when you call the labour ward, if you can talk, you're not in full blown labour (which I know to be true from my first) so I didn't bother anyone, not even Oliver.
But then I felt like I needed a poo. Oh man, it's 4 am in January, so it's cold and bloody dark, but off I waddle to the downstairs loo. I dropped my PJ bottoms, annoyed that the cat is weaving about my ankles meowing for food, but as I started to sit...GUSH...my waters went everywhere (including on the cat). FAAACK. I yelled for Oliver, who was sleeping alongside our two-year-old, and he came stumbling down the stairs clutching Tabby, who had woken in all the commotion.
'The baby is coming' I squeaked, looking at his panic-stricken face. 'Wh...?! Shall I call an ambulance?' was his confused reply. With shaking hands, he dialled 999 and, at my instruction, he put the phone on loudspeaker. We were told to get me to the bed, of which there was no flippin' chance 'or the sofa?' came the operator's next suggestion. Also not happening. I got as far as the kitchen cabinet when the overwhelming urge to push came; 'STOP PUSHING' said Oliver, 'PUUUSH' said the operator and in a moment, I felt my son's head arrive. Oliver had put Tabby down so he could go and grab our duvet, and he got back in the room to see me pulling the baby out. He wrapped the duvet around me and helped me sit down, while the operator gave instructions on tying off the cord. I laughed because Oliver had always said he didn't want to cut it hahaha.
Once we had done that, I beckoned Tabitha over, as she was standing looking bewildered in the doorway. I knew we had to make everything as normal as possible, so I said 'come and meet your brother!'. I also grabbed my Kindle and took a quick photo to send to my group chat with my sisters; Isobel was on a waking night shift, so saw it right away and man, did she rally the troops! My brother in law was over in a flash, just moments after the paramedics then came my friend and her boyfriend, mum and youngest sister and then finally the homebirth midwife. It was a full house!
The paramedics were with us in minutes, and saw to me, cut the cord and got me to the living room. They wanted to be sure I was well following the birth, and once they established that, they helped my BIL clean the kitchen! At this point, they reminded me about the placenta, so I had to let that come naturally rather than expedite it with the injection. This was when I felt that the midwife REALLY didn't get paid enough since she had to recover it from the loo once I'd delivered it. Ick.
Anyway, once the paramedics had gone, I went up to my bedroom while my little sister and brother in law built the bedside crib I was meant to receive at my surprise baby shower, which as it turns out, was later that day. Once the baby was settled in his new crib, I slept (so did he!) and woke an hour before the baby shower and felt well enough to go! So I took my hours-old infant and headed off for tea and cake.
The baby shower was enormous fun. I was still pretty shell-shocked, and if it weren't for a close friend who had her four-day-old baby with her, I'd have forgotten to feed mine, since he hadn't cried or woken much. I gave feeding a go, but he wasn't interested, so I figured he was tired from the birth ordeal.
That evening we ordered a takeaway, I must have tried to feed him again, but I don't remember much until I went to bed. Climbing into the clean sheets, I looked at the tiny little guy and thought it was time to name him. Except there was a niggle...he was puffing air out of his mouth when he breathed out. I called my sister (who is my go-to for EVERYTHING), and we both agreed that it was strange enough to warrant a call to the hospital. I called Postnatal, who said I technically under the home-birth team, but once they heard his breathing (it was loud enough they could hear down the phone) they agreed that I should come in.
I grabbed my hospital bag as I left, thinking it was probably me being an over-cautious mum. Little did I know.
I arrived at the maternity ward and parked in the pay and display outside, and didn't bother with a ticket since I'd be gone by the time the relevant hours started at 8am the next day. Little did I know.
They saw us right away. I was jovial about my unexpected home birth, laughing with the nurses about how Oliver was squeamish with the cord. Until they tried to pass a nasogastric (NG) tube through his nose and it wouldn't go. My less-than-24-hours-old baby was highly distressed, and I was just as bad. They took his bloods, and I could tell by the nurse's fast pace and sombre look when she returned that this wasn't nothing. Picking the baby up and placing him in a plastic crib on wheels, they asked me to follow them. We walked quickly out of post-natal and down a corridor, pausing at a doorway, as they waited to be buzzed in. It was only as I passed through I saw the sign on the door. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Read Eleanor's next blog to find out about her time in NICU.