By Annah Johnstone
Not long after midnight on Good Friday I felt the urge to get out of bed. At 41 weeks pregnant, this was nothing new, so I got up and parked myself on the couch with the laptop. I had had lots of Braxton Hicks over the last few weeks, but I soon realised things felt a bit different. I paid a bit more attention to them and realised they were coming regularly, every five minutes.
I let Jock sleep a bit longer, but I couldn’t resist waking him up at 2:30am to start the pool filling. We faffed about getting the pool set up, lighting candles, and generally getting things tidied and organised. The atmosphere was great and we were so excited about meeting our new baby. Vander (3 years) woke up at about 4am, and when he realised the baby was on the way there was no chance of him going back to sleep. Vander and Jock filled the pool, and I got in not long afterwards, followed closely by Vander. I was using hypnobirthing techniques and quietly breathing through surges. I called Donna at 7am to fill her in and she arrived half an hour later. She suggested some different positions to help move baby down. Jock called Maree, a good friend and my LLL leader, to come at 8:30am. She was to be Vander’s support person, and did an amazing job keeping Vander busy and out of the way when he wanted to get back in the pool!!
For the next few hours I moved around a lot. Donna was great at suggesting different positions to try. She recognised that I needed to be really upright. Unfortunately, I couldn’t achieve a good position in the water. It just slowed things down, so the waterbirth plan went out the window. I hated getting out of the water as my surges got more intense. Being naturally lazy, it was tempting to stay in the pool and put it all off until another day, but deep down I was very keen to just get it all over with.
By lunchtime I didn’t feel like things were really moving on so asked Donna to do an examination so we could see how things were progressing. I felt like I couldn’t cope much longer and declared I was ready for some drugs. Donna produced the trusty rescue remedy, which was a great help.
Earlier on, we had thought my waters had gone in the pool, but it turned out they were intact. We decided to ramp things up by rupturing them. Things were suddenly a million times more intense, and soon after I was feeling pushy. We set up in the bathroom, I was leaning on the side of the bath, Jock ended up in the bath supporting me. Donna suggested a squatting position to open my pelvis right up. It must have looked pretty hilarious, thinking back on it. After 40 minutes of pushing our beautiful baby girl Maeve was born. Oh, the relief of that final push! She looked just like her brother and I was in love.
Maree had convinced Vander to have a nap, so he was woken up right away. The plan was for him to announce the gender but he was a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing and refused to look at Maeve or me, preferring a cuddle with his Dad before he checked out the new arrival.
Maeve had skin to skin with me for a while and was soon enjoying her first feed. Her placenta wasn’t birthed until an hour later, thanks to me putting it off, but I felt great once it was out and my abdomen felt strangely empty.
To be at home was so peaceful. We sat around and enjoyed a piece of Maeve’s birthday cake that Van and I had made a couple of days earlier, lit a slow burning candle and sung to her. Nothing was rushed. We did everything at our own pace.
A couple of stitches for me, and I was soon tucked up in bed feeding my beautiful baby.
Jock and I really appreciated having a home birth, being free to move around the house as we wanted, access to our own pantry, fridge, bathrooms and bed were all lovely. As well as having Vander nearby and involved. I really appreciated the restfulness of being at home afterwards and felt amazingly energised. Three months later and I am still on a high.
Donna did an amazing job, right through Maeve’s pregnancy and birth, and we would like to thank her for her excellent care. She helped us make informed decisions and we felt empowered to do so.