I knew the things I didn’t want in my labour, and I was very firm about those. I had so many comments from people saying, “you can’t refuse x.” “if they advise y, you’ll just have to go along with it!” or “you will just have to have an induction if you’re two weeks late!” Says who?! I’ve got my baby’s health to think about which is more important than my comfort, or medical timetables. I wanted a natural labour as much as possible. I refused countless attempts by the consultant to have me in for an induction at 38 weeks due to my heart complaint. I believe babies come when babies are meant to come (trust me I wasn’t a very patient or happy person having to wait til 40 weeks plus 2 for my child to arrive despite this!), and after researching the effects the drugs could have on my both me and my child, the risks were far too great for me to even be tempted by an induction. They also told me I needed to be in hospital for constant monitoring ie being sat strapped to a machine for the duration of the labour. I told the consultant in no uncertain terms that the only way she’d see me in hospital would be if I came in an ambulance (we had been in and out of the labour ward multiple times with stuff during the pregnancy, and each time the fear of having to labour under the care-I use that term VERY loosely-of the midwives and consultants etc in there just grew). Home was where I felt safest and most relaxed and those two elements are extremely important for labour to progress well. In the end she agreed with me that I was right. We prayed hard and God removed my heart condition for the last 3 weeks of the pregnancy. I wasn’t bothered by the racing heart rate and fainting for those last weeks, and I can only give God the glory for that.
The morning of the birth arrived. I was stood up when my waters went. There was meconium in it….my husband and I chatted for a while about what to do. Should we call the hospital and tell them? Should we wait? As we knew meconium isn’t always a sign of stress in a baby, we took the decision that for both my sake and our child’s it was best for now to wait. I had breakfast and contractions started. I lay in the bath for about 3 hours breathing through them all, talking with my husband and just enjoying the last few moments of being “just us”. When I got out of the bath, I felt it was time to call the hospital to get the community midwife round as I was planning a homebirth and things seemed to be progressing. We omitted the information about my waters. When the midwife arrived and asked if my waters had gone we told her, and, of course, following protocal she wanted us to go right away to the hospital. We said no, and I praise the Lord for having a strong husband who fights my corner for me and protects me. I told her she was free to monitor my baby’s heart rate throughout the labour and unless there were any signs that baby was in distress, I would be staying put at home(the mere thought of having to go into hospital was already causing me to panic). And there we sat, in the bedroom. Me on the gymball, my husband by my side, and the midwife in a corner. It was a most silent affair really(boring is how my husband described it haha). With each contraction, I did breathing exerices, rocked on the gymball, prayed or repeated verses etc in my head to give me the strength to keep going and had a puff of entinox when needed. I felt the contractions were such a liberating experience; a chance to become very in tune with my body, going with the flow and using that contraction to aid me, not to overwhelm me. It was also an experience in which I learned a greater dependence on God and leaned in His grace and strength to carry me through. And, of course the baby’s heartrate was absolutely fine as I knew it would be 🙂
During the pregnancy my baby had been back to back. On the day before labour started, I had an appointment with my midwife and she said the baby had turned around again-yey!! Sadly, on the day of labour it was dicovered that the little monkey had flipped again. So after about 9 hours I started to feel the urge to push and I pushed for 2 hours. All that pushing was helping my baby to flip back the rigth way in the birth canal. Not a pleasant experience at all (the worst part of the whole process for me), but it was a time when I really felt connected to my baby. I got myself into a position to give as much room as possible for turning(unfortunately for my husband this meant leaning on his leg causing it to go numb), I pushed with each contraction, and I could feel my baby’s feet walking their way around my insides. Unfortunately, unknowingly, I was severely anaemic (this was discovered after birth), and I started to feel very weak. The midwife examined me and said it’d be a few hours yet as the baby had only turned sideways and still needed to complete its turning, and there was still some dilation that needed to take place. At this point in the evening after 11ish hours of labour with 2 of those hours spent pushing I felt that I needed to go to hospital and get some pethidine. I figured that if it was going to be a while I needed something to knock me out for a few hours so I could sleep and then carry on. I was so disappointed in myself, and I still didn’t really want the medication, but something told me I needed to go to hospital. An ambulance was arranged, and, before I got in, the midwife said she’d examine me again and if baby was ready to be born then we’d stay at home, but at that point there was no change. 😦 So off we set.
I had a 5 minute drive in the ambulance to the hospital. It was the most terrible journey I’ve had to endure. I had to lie down on this slippy gurney…at that point lying flat on my back was the LAST thing I wanted to do! I then had to try and keep myself on the gurney with 1 hand while holding the mask for the gas and air with the other while being flung around. For some reason you don’t need to be belted up when you’re in the back of an ambulance!! I was wheeled into a room, and after a quick examination for the new midwife to determine what pain relief I could have to help me sleep a bit, it was discovered that there was no need for anything as the baby had finished turning and was sat waiting to be born! Within 45 minutes at 8:45pm my baby was born, a healthy 7 lb 15!
I was sorely disappointed that I had made the decision to come to hospital and felt that I had cheated myself and my husband out of that glorious moment of welcoming my baby into the world in my own surroundings. However, I soon discovered that God had his hand on me and there was a reason why I needed to go to hospital. He allowed me to complete 11 hours and 20 minutes or so of my 12 hours and 20 minutes of labour all relaxed in my own surroundings. He got me through the whole labour with only the use of gas and air as I wished. He allowed me to stay active and mobile the whole way through instead of being strapped to a machine and lying on a hospital bed. He kept both my heart rate stable and protected my baby, who, despite the meconium, needed no medical treatment at all, not even a clearing of her airways! But He knew also that I was severely anaemic, was going to lose a lot of blood and that my heartrate would race again causing me to pass out twice in a very short space of time after the birth and that I would need a lot of medical care.
So, while the end might not have been quite as I had planned (I certainly didn’t expect to be so ill afterwards) I got all the major elements of my birth plan honoured (even if we did have to fight for a few and go against the medical tide). I am very fortunate to have had such great labour support from my husband. As well as protecting me and our child so well, he was also a great encourager, and a great carer for our baby which is just as well as I couldn’t do anything but feed her for the first day.
Despite the not so nice ending after the birth, I loved my labour and I say that honestly. I LOVED it, and I would do it all over again just as I did this time. Every decision I made before and during my labour was driven by love for the tiny life within, and there was nothing greater than seeing her little face for the first time. And, it no longer matters that she wasn’t welcomed into this world in her home (but I would still plan for a home birth every time). All that matters is that she arrived safely, I got the medical care I needed right when I needed it instead of the situation being even worse by having to rush to the hospital post birth, and we are both enjoying getting to know each other very much. 🙂
I’d be interested in hearing other people’s thoughts on their labour. How did you find the pain of contractions? What did you use/do to see you through them. Were there any unexpected twists along the way or did it all go smoothly? Did you have your baby at home or in the hospital? What are your thoughts on a home/hospital birth?