As soon as I realized I was pregnant again, I set about making sure I had the best birth team on my side I could.
I sought out a very experienced home birth midwife to look after us; one who trusted wholeheartedly in the process of birth; in women’s ability to carry and birth babies safely and healthily; and who fully supported the ethos of informed consent. Alongside her, we also had the assistance of a first-year student midwife who went out of her way to help us. With these two lovely ladies walking at our side, we began the journey to baby number two in safe hands.
A lot of the decisions we made along the way were far from conventional but, believing that they were the right ones for us, and they paid off dividends when the time came to birth our baby. The entire pregnancy could be summed up in two words: ‘faith’ and ‘trust’.
Faith and trust
- We skipped ultrasound scans altogether, instead trusting in the amazing design of the human body and its ability to bring forth life into this world.
- No dopplers – just the old-fashioned stethoscope or fetoscope to hear the heart.
- Minimal testing beyond basic blood, urine and blood pressure. Even after a heavy bleed at 13 weeks (in which things weren’t looking too good), we chose to just trust that things were fine - going by instinct despite appearances – and just continue as normal, skipping the ultrasound diagnostics to find out ‘what was wrong’ and focusing on doing everything possible to keep things as optimal as possible nutritionally instead.
- Speaking affirming words of life and hope and love over our darling baby while trusting that everything would work out and that we would welcome our baby - happy and healthy in November as anticipated.
- And of course, it would be a birth at home.
The rest of the pregnancy went without incident. At 41 weeks and a few days, I was starting to wonder if this was going to be another super long pregnancy. My first born was 42+5 and I was prepared to wait however long it took, but hoped it would be soon, and felt like the time was drawing close. That evening, after an early start and busy day, I felt a twinge that was stronger than a normal Braxton Hicks contraction. I looked at the time, shrugged and ignored it… until there it was again, seven minutes later. And seven after that. Hmm.
I decided to make dinner and get things a bit more organized, timing the surges that just kept coming with regularity but no major increase in speed. My husband arrived home from work, we ate and, after ninety minutes of timing, I told him my suspicions. Feeling like a walk might help, the three of us went for a wander around our cul-de-sac closely followed by our cat. As we walked I felt a few more contractions that were a bit stronger and longer and closer together. We made our way home, put our son to bed and by the time he was settled, night was drawing in.
We lit a couple of candles in the lounge, put on some fairy lights in the other room, moved the touch lamp into the bathroom too to ensure only dim light there for optimal oxytocin, and set the scene for a beautiful birth. The lounge was warm with the heat pump going, dark except for the candles, and felt so safe and so soothing. Almost womb-like, I suppose, in hindsight! I labored there in silence for hours through the night, pacing constantly to keep things moving and breathing quietly through the virtually painless contractions while focusing on the feeling of muscles moving to allow baby to emerge. Sometimes I had company, sometimes I kicked them out for some time alone. Our student midwife arrived at midnight providing soothing support for us both through the long night. We called our midwife around 3am after my waters broke, and she provided a calm, reassuring presence, just hovering and observing in the background or the other end of the house, respecting the process and the importance of not interfering, not disturbing things, just letting birth unfold in its own time and its own way.
The long night
And so things kept going. I was really tired from our early start that morning and no sleep, just pacing constantly – if I sat or lay down, contractions would stop – with my feet growing very weary (they hurt more than anything else!). I had a couple of ten-minute naps on the sofa to help raise my energy levels, and which I felt my body was telling me I needed desperately. After the second short sleep, things suddenly began to pick up pace once more. Everything had been virtually painless until now. But, being close to transition, I could feel the oxytocin giving way to adrenaline with an increased sense of urgency and more sensations of pain and simultaneous "clarity and fog". Time was hazy and I lost all concept of minutes, hours, anything except what my body was doing at that moment. I was vaguely aware of people moving in the background to prepare some warm towels for baby, a scramble for the cord tie, and our son being up and coming in and out of the room. At one point he was sitting in his noisy red car toy with its silly songs playing, which was both totally normal and utterly surreal - given what was happening in front of him!
And then the second stage really hit, and I won’t lie, it hurt. But those hormones – oh, those hormones! I was on another planet, completely out to it yet acutely aware of just my body and my baby embarking on her descent, hearing noises and people around me as I roared, coming apart at the seams, but then coming together again a whole new person. I feel like this birth tore away any remnants of the trauma that my son and I went through (during his birth) and made us whole again somehow. He sat in the background, watching it unfold. And after what felt like an eternity of her stalling with her head slightly skewed, I changed position, Matt supporting our entire weight, and pushed her out in one enormous rush, into my fumbling, shaking hands in the middle of our lounge.
Isobel is born
And there she was. Our beautiful little girl. She snuggled to my chest as I sat there in awe, watching her change color as her placenta slowly stopped supporting her and her lungs took over, cord turning from fat and blue to thin and white. Within a few minutes, she was latching on and feeding well. She has barely stopped since!
The rest of the day was a bit of a haze of cuddles, rest and getting to know our lovely girl. The joy of being at home and having your own food, your own shower - and your own bed - cannot be overstated. And delicious steak for dinner…