On the morning of the 5th of December at 5am I woke up to realise my waters had broken. I was a bit surprised as my waters had only broken during labour with Wilf and I was very much not in labour at that moment. I woke Tom and went to the bathroom to sort myself out, by this time it was around 5.30am and I wondered if I should just make the community midwives aware that things might start happening soon. In hindsight I should have just gone back to bed and to sleep and not called anyone until my labour started but at the time I felt like I should do 'something'.
The community midwives number said no one was available and to call my local hospital which I did. I was advised to call them back after 5 hours if I wasn't in labour but to go back to bed although I was feeling to excited to sleep. I lay next to Wilf thinking about how life was about to change for us all so monumentally.
After we had all got up and Wilf was settled down in front of Paw Patrol I realised that there was no way I was going to go into labour comfortably with him around to look after too. I had this great urge to draw the curtains turn off the TV and get focussed, with a four year old around it just wasn't going to be possible to do, so we enlisted the help of my SIL (thank you) and by midday Wilf was off for a sleepover with his cousins.
By this time my contractions had started and were around 15/20 minutes apart but very mild and manageable. We decided to go for a little walk to get things going and grab a bite to eat too. I kept thinking about the fact I needed to check in with the midwives as it had been over 5 hours and so when we got home around 1pm I gave the hospital number a call as they were who I'd promised to check in with.
I was really surprised to be told that they had been awaiting my call and wanted me to come into the hospital for observations. I thought maybe they weren't aware I was having a home birth but the community number only directed me to my local hospital reception so I didn't know who else to call. I'm not sure if it was due to being a weekend, lack of staff or maybe different policies since I had Wilf four years ago but I had expected a midwife to come out to me as I was not intending a hospital birth. After making the midwife promise me that unless anything was wrong I would be 'allowed' to come straight back to labour and birth at home I resigned to the fact we would have to leave the house. I was still pretty confused and starting to feel quite anxious about the idea but decided if I went in now before I was properly in labour it reduced the risks of me getting there and having to have my baby there (lots of scenarios popped into my head about reasons I wouldn't be able to leave). Whilst we were waiting for a taxi I had a bit of a cry because I felt out of control and unsure of how the rest of my labour would pan out. My contractions were now about 15 minutes apart and increasing in intensity but very much still manageable.
As soon as we arrived at the hospital I felt nervous and scared, birth is such a personal thing but for me the hospital environment is the very last place I could envision having my baby unless necessary. I knew I would struggle to feel relaxed or in control and I started to feel even more anxious about what we were doing there. In fact so much so that my body completely stopped my labour, my contractions disappeared entirely during the hour and a half we were there! After having a few tests (and not an internal examination as I clearly wasn't in labour at this point) I was told that if I hadn't gone into labour by 4am in the morning I would need to come in to be induced. I felt crushed to hear those words and like everything was going wrong but I couldn't really understand why or for what reason.
We left the hospital and as soon as I stepped into our own home a contraction started that was strong enough for me to have to pause. I was so relieved but I felt an immense pressure to get things going so that I wouldn't need to be induced. Actually in hindsight had it got to that point I could have refused (you actually have 72 not 24 hours in which to start labour once your waters have broken). I really resented the time limit I felt had been put upon me and it took me a good hour or two to really calm down and feel relaxed again.
By the point I'd finally managed to get back into the zone it was around 4pm and Tom was able to time my contractions which were about 8-10 mins apart. I alternated between the birth ball & shower as support during these moments & also had my hypnobirth playlist & aromatherapy oils burning. By 6pm these had become about 5 minutes apart & were feeling very intense, much more so than my previous labour with Wilf. I did a lot of leaning against the wall rocking & leaning against Tom. I also started randomly chanting which was quite hilarious! Tom tried to join in with the chanting..I told him to stop.
By 7pm things were really intensifying & I wondered if I should get into the pool so asked Tom to start filling it. I had no idea how far along I was but with my previous birth the first time I was examined I was 9.5cm & the intensity of my contractions felt quite similar to this. We agreed to call the midwives & so Tom got through on the community number (which is a paging service so someone answers & pages the midwife on call). We were told the message had been sent & someone would call us back & Tom gave him his number. After about half an hour with no response he tried the hospital number, the person at the desk said she'd try & get in touch with the community midwife & was given my number to call back (we never had a call back on this one).
After an hour had passed I was starting to feel worried, I thought if they couldn't get it touch with them they'd make me go into hospital. I got into the pool in the hope of slowing things down & also because it felt amazing. I don't think I had really realised how intense the contractions had been feeling until I got into the water and was surprised at how much stronger they felt in comparison with my previous labour. Tom called the paging service again & after ten minutes or so we finally got a call back (the first page had never gone through).
My lovely midwife arrived around 9pm and I got out the pool to be examined for the first time. I lay down on my back on the sofa & cried out 'well that is painful!!'. It was amazing the difference it felt to have to lie on my back even for a few minutes & something I'm so glad I didn't have to do during any of my labour because frankly it would have been excruciating. I was so sure I was at 10cm so when she said I was 6cm I couldn't help but feel disappointed. She also told me the baby was back to back which explains why I was finding things so much more intense this time round.
Within about 15 minutes a second midwife arrived & I started to feel like things completely stepped up a notch. I was finding the contractions quite hard to manage & thought if I was only 6cm I might have hours & hours ahead of me. I starting thinking I couldn't do it which made me wonder if I was 'transitioning' as I remember this feeling just before wanting to push with Wilf. The midwife's shifts swap over at 9pm so a third midwife arrived about ten minutes later although the first midwife also stayed. I think it must have been about 9.30 by now and I felt like there was nothing I could do but let me body push. I was sure I shouldn't be pushing as I thought I must only be about 7cm but my midwife said if that's what I feel like doing I should do it. I think I must have gone from 6cm to 10cm in about half an hour!
I have to say that last hour was extremely intense, much more than anything I'd experienced in my previous labour and I made some very loud noises during this time! Mabli was born in water at 9.57pm after four hours of active labour. I had been quite worried I would have issues delivering the placenta like last time but one push and that was out too (thankfully!). Mabli didn't make a sound for a good couple of hours and was just very peaceful, we breastfed fine and Tom was able to have some newborn snuggles as I went upstairs for a hot shower before tea and mince pies on our sofa. The first midwife had stayed an hour passed her shift to deliver the baby so she headed off whilst the second and third did our checks and wrote up their notes.
After everyone had left we tucked ourselves up in bed and Mabli up in the Snuzpod and I proceeded to get no sleep but just stare at her perfect little face whilst she slept ;)
The midwives who attended her birth will always be remembered by me and Tom just like the wonderful midwife who delivered Wilf. Such amazing people doing amazing work, helping to bring life into the world! It's incredible how these people will always have an impact on my life, how I'll always be so thankful of their care.
I'm so glad I was able to birth at home again despite the confusion earlier in the day. I did find this experience a lot more intense than Wilf's and whilst I would consider his birth pretty much pain free (apart from the pushing out bit) I didn't find that the case this time round. I think maybe because she was back to back but also how quick my labour was once it started (4 hours) I certainly felt the power of the contractions. That being said, comparing the one contraction I had on back compared to the ones I had in water the difference was crazy! Also although I can say this labour was much harder work I also was able to feel relaxed and in control. I didn't feel panicked or scared (just frustrated and knackered towards the end!).
The feeling of euphoria seeing your baby for the first time, holding them in your arms and counting all their tiny fingers and toes. Words can't describe it! I'm so thankful for my two healthy beautiful children and for my experience bringing them into this world.
You can read Wilf's birth story here