Aine's story - Orla's birth

My first birth wasn’t traumatic but I didn't feel in control. He arrived at 41+6 after thirty hours of labour. I pushed for three hours in stirrups, purple pushing they call it don't they - and bonding took some time as a result of the epidural that I'd had. I also ended up in hospital for a couple of nights. 

So this time, as I soon as I found out I was pregnant, I decided I wanted to do it differently and  started talking to my husband about home birth. He was on board straight away as we both felt that the hospital setting first time had meant we couldn't feel confident in our own authority. We also decided to get a doula to support us both and build on that confidence. Our doula was worth her weight in gold and I would honestly recommend to everybody. 

This time around we found out we were having a little girl and everybody in my family was telling me she would be early, as all the girls in our family are early. But forty weeks came and went and the texts started and the stress climbed. 

I had tried to mentally prepare for being post dates this time as I kind felt it was how my pregnancies went. Most days I was fine, but some days I had wobbles and got emotional. But my doula was always on hand for an understanding chat and that really helped.

At my 41-week appointment, the usual talk of induction started and I declined. The decision was to book me in and if I decided to decline on the day, I could do so.  Unfortunately the midwife at that appointment charted my growth incorrectly so ended up calling the next day to book a reduced growth scan. I also had the covid testing team on the phone wanting to book me in for a testing before my “declined” induction. 

Both those things together pushed me into major stress mode. I could feel my home birth slipping away and had a good cry. My lovely friend gave me some good advice and said that although there was still time for my home birth it might be time to make peace with an alternative option. So I did I finally packed a hospital bag and thought about ways we could make a hospital birth as positive as possible. That evening I put on all my candles in my birth space, listened to relaxing music and read a trashy fiction book. 

I had been getting period cramps for weeks and had been losing my mucus plug for the last 4/5 days.  But that evening, Wednesday around 9:30, I had some  bloody show and mild irregular surges.  These had been going on for weeks so I didn’t pay much notice and knew labour could still be 2/3 days away. I texted my doula to let her know of the changes and said I’d keep her posted. I then stayed in my birth space listening to my

calm music, bouncing on a ball and went to bed around 11 as nothing was changing. 

I woke at 12:30am with surges about 10 mins apart. I couldn’t sleep through them properly but some were gentler than others so I stayed in bed napping and then by 1:30 decided got up, as I wasn’t comfortable lying down anymore and was conscious of waking Harrison who I co sleep with. 

I went into James, my husband and must have made a big of a racket breathing as he woke. I told him to stay in bed and I’d call him when I thought it was time to set up pool.  Downstairs I went, practising my 

up breathing and pacing through the surges. I texted my doula to let her know and at 2:30 told her to make her way over. 

My husband started setting up the pool soon after that, and by now I was using the tens machine, as it was a helpful distraction. I had to stay upright moving and wouldn’t let my husband touch me. 

I called the midwife the 3am and while on phone, the surges changed to a pushing sensation . I could hear these guttural noises coming from me. I was still a bit in denial that things were progressing quickly and told them we probably had ages. But the midwife said, no and that the baby will be arriving very soon and she'd come over. Siobhán my doula arrived around 3:30ish and the midwives ten minutes or so after that. 

I got in the water and it felt great.  By now, I had abandoned timing surges  as they were mega intense and really bringing out the primal side of me. I tried gas and air but it doesn’t really do anything for me just a bit of a distraction really so didn’t bother with it. Up to this point I didn’t want anybody near me but now I was holding onto James hands and squeezing the daylights out of them through the surges. I was also starting to panic a bit with the intensity (transition) and didn’t think I would be able to do it. But everyone reassured me I WAS doing it.

I couldn’t feel my baby move down like I'd expected, just a huge amount of pressure. And then I realised my waters hadn’t gone so I wondered if they would have to break them. My midwife was a little concerned the baby’s heart beat was up and down a little and was thinking of getting me out of the pool but I wouldn’t have been able to even if she wanted as the pressure was insane . Everybody was telling me to breath slowly through surges rather then push which I was doing to the best of my ability as my body was pushing whether I liked it or not. 

I felt the perineum stretch much wider and knew we were nearly there so through the next surge I panted and roared out her head and oh my god the relief was amazing. 

She was still in her waters so I couldn’t feel the head just a big rubbery surface but knew she was here and that with the next surge I would be holding her. We had a lovely minute rest between 2 worlds and

at 4:37 she came earth side rupturing her sac herself and covered in vernix . The cord was wrapped around neck once midwife immediately undid this. 

She was not as responsive as midwives would have liked so the cord clamped and cut and the baby's  taken to see if oxygen but it wasn't so with everything ok, she was given straight back to me. 

The midwife wanted to use the injection as the cord had now been clamped. I questioned this but in the end agreed, as I was done. 

I handed the baby to daddy for skin to skin cuddles and I got out of the poo. The placenta came away very easy. I had one minor tear, which required no stitches so got the baby back for a cuddle and she immediately latched .

Orla's big brother woke up then and came down to meet his sister . It was wonderful as I was able to tandem feed them both straight away. 

The midwives did a couple of baby checks weight (8lbs) etc then said goodbye.  My doula stayed to help tidy up. I had shower and got comfy in bed with baby feeling on cloud 9 .. 

It was the best most empowering experience of my life and even days later, I could hardly believe it had happened.