I was very keen not to "get stuck" this time, as this happened with the birth of my daughter, who seven years earlier also arrived on her due date but had to be delivered by Cesarean section , after I stopped dilating at 6cm.
In fact this time we had opted for a homebirth, avoiding the hospital altogether, hopefully.
Well, going back to the curry place, the starters arrived and I had another contraction, followed by another and another…’ Oh boy’ I think ‘this is a really slow restaurant, perhaps we should ask for a take away’? But as they were 15 ish minutes apart I sat through the mains, sort of grim-faced and not very talkative. I declined a desert for my daughter and we rushed home. There the contractions continued at the same pace. I decided to go to bed!
At around 4am I woke up because the pain was pretty intense and lying down became very uncomfortable.
I went into our living-room, which had already been emptied of most furniture, just leaving the birth pool, a chair and many cushions and a gym ball. I made same strange contraption sitting on the lotus chair and leaning onto the gymball covered in a duvet and tried to get back to sleep.
I didn’t manage any sleep but somehow all this building killed some time and I was distracted from the pain. I didn’t time the contractions but I had a guess that they were about 8 minutes apart now. At about 7am Max, my husband, got up and sorted out the tense machine for me. Another welcome distraction! I actually think it helped a little bit, certainly useful at this stage. He rang Viv, our midwife who was due for a scheduled visit at 9.30am; she said she would come as soon as possible which was just when my husband and daughter left for school, before 9am.
I managed to say good-bye and explain that I was in pain, - I hobbled about sort of half slumped over, pressing the tense button somewhat manically..—and she seemed to understand and left for school. This was my moment of anxiety over, I didn’t want our daughter to be confronted with me suffering, but the timing was immaculate so far. Viv asked me how I was and seemed to be happy with what I was doing and encouraged me to carry on with the breathing and the tense machine.
Max let the pool in, we had done a test run and knew it took a long time to fill up.
I sort of walked around our flat, using the door frame of my office, the railing in the bath room and the ledge of the sitting room cupboard as "leaning –on-implements" . I found standing and leaning and pushing into something suited me best to cope with the pain. Lots of golden thread breaths. I also wanted to stay upright to keep things moving. Max put on some music, gentle ragas, the atmosphere was calm and relaxed. It was a really sunny day and with the hot water getting into the pool the room steamed up and became quite sauna like.
After midday things got more intense, the pain got worse and the contractions closer, I did see Viv looking at her watch at some point, guessing she may time the contractions. I was really looking forward to getting into the pool; I remembered from my daughter’s birth really enjoying the water as a pain relief.
I did finally get in and it was pleasant but I also felt strangely trapped in the pool. I did have a pushing sensation already before I got in and then in the water the urge to push continued. I was in the pool what seemed liked an eternity but can’t have been more than two hours. I realise in hindsight that this was the transition phase and second stage, which with my first birth I hadn’t experienced, so no wonder it was more intense this time. I was offered gas and air at this point which I happily accepted. I didn’t let go of the gas and air until the birth!. At some point Marijn arrived, midwife and Viv’s partner. I knew that her arrival would mean baby comes soon as the second midwife is present at birth. These little bits of logic really helped me in this river of the unknown. I so far didn’t have any internals, now was the time it was suggested to back up the visual assessment. I had to get out of the pool which sounds easy but wasn’t, as the contractions were very fast now. After the internal on dry land I didn’t make it back into the water. I stayed next to the pool in cat pose, pushing and pushing, I would have liked to still stand up, but my legs couldn’t do it anymore, I felt exhausted. Eventually my arms also gave way and I held on to my husband, knees still on the floor. At this point I really started to loose faith, it just took too long and I felt so weak. Viv said, its like a marathon and you are in the end bit with all the people cheering. My husband said, stay in the moment. I couldn’t let the team down, who had been cool as cucumbers all the way and very very positive and encouraging. They helped me to simply carry on. And carry on… I saw at some point Marijn getting her little resuscitation corner set up. Again I knew from the outer signs birth must be imminent! and then I did- feel the much talked about head- oh my god! What an extraordinarily strange sensation. But despite the pain very comforting because at least I felt its happening. I cant remember for how much longer but suddenly everyone saw the hair (I didn’t but I didn’t care at this point) and then the head crowned and after a some more pushing his body slithered out - to my utter disbelief- and he was born! Wow.
After I was over the initial awe and wonder at the beautiful boy in front of me, it dawned on me that there was a third stage! I was determined not to do anything anymore for a very long time let alone do any more pushing- My wish was granted- after about 15 minutes Marejn gave the umbilical cord a gentle tug and one contraction and out it came, the placenta all in one piece. Phew.
We sat for a long time, Max was holding us, me and baby who some weeks later was named Arwin.
Marijn and Viv made tea and took notes and cleared up the flat with the help of Max (He watered the roses with the birth pool water) and by the time our daughter arrived from her after school swim everything was spotless and me and Arwin were tucked up in bed, ready for her to greet her new brother. Max made a fantastic meal and I fell asleep sometime later a very happy new mother.