Our homebirth featuring Jason Bourne
In celebration of International Home Birth Day, I would love to share with you mine and my hubby's very different accounts of one of the best days of our lives.
'It was the early hours of Thursday morning and I was laying next to my two year old son. We were dozing on and off as he had a nasty cold...and I felt my first surge. Yep I thought, that's definitely something. I felt completely calm and a bit excited but I just carried on laying there until my son wanted to get up a few hours later, dozing and gently surging. Around 6am, my son woke my hubby up and I very casually explained I was in labour :) His face was priceless....'REALLY? Oh ok.' It was as if he knew to bring himself back down and stay calm, as hypnobirthers we wanted as much normality as possible in the early stages. So we just continued our morning, once we were up they were getting stronger and I found myself most comfortable on the fit ball in the corner of the room. Spud thought it would be fun to bounce on top of me, repeatedly and by about 9am I decided it was time for my little man to go off to his Nonna's.
While my husband was out, I had a lovely hot shower and did all my ablutions. I felt like I was getting ready for a really special event. I shaved my legs, painted my toes, just about and had a lovely quiet time pottering about. By the time hubby got home, I felt things had slowed down a bit and suggested a walk. By the time we got out it was late morning, beautiful sunshine and we decided to wander to my favourite deli and grab some lunch. I stayed outside as I wasn't really in the mood for chit chat and while i was outside next to the closing down shoe shop, I had a powerful surge. It felt like it was time to get back. We wandered back through the tree lined streets and everything was so calm and peaceful. On returning home I returned to my little space in the corner of the bedroom on my fit ball and ate my panini in between surges.
In my head I had hours to go yet so I hadn't even put my tens on yet but decided now it was time. I noticed though once on, it wasn't doing much which surprised me as I found it really helpful with my son's birth...anyway it was about 1.30pm by now and I was feeling a little sleepy, I text my lovely doula and explained things were feeling a bit stronger and I would keep her posted. I put my hypnobirth track on for the first time and rested my head on a massage ball and dozed off briefly. I was awoken by a powerful force that literally threw me off the bed. I was amazed...wow, I must be in established labour, might need my doula for this bit! I went to the loo and before I could finish another force lifted me off the toilet seat and from somewhere deep inside me an animalistic noise released from me.
My hubby who had been oblivious to all this, came to the bathroom door and asked if I was ok...I wasn't sure...something was definitely happening and then without warning I could feel my baby's head trying to come out. I ran into the bedroom and instinctively got on all fours while my hubby frantically tried to take my trousers off as I was still dressed, we hadn't even laid out our sheets. In this moment just for a second I panicked...we were alone and baby was coming and then I realised this was exactly what I wanted and I had a deep belief everything would be ok. I started saying to my hubby, it's ok, we can do this. I calmed my breathing right down and with a pop of my waters, baby was crowning. Such an intense, powerful feeling and I tried to pant, very aware this was going to be quick. Hubby had a cursory hand on my butt while the other one was glued to the phone and I heard him say to the midwife, yep I can see the head. And what felt like seconds later (second stage was six minutes in total) my beautiful baby was lying on the floor in between my legs. We were both more shocked it was a precious baby girl than how she'd come into the world, as we had been convinced we were having a boy. I just stared at her, so tiny, so perfect.
With a bit of a slip and a slide baby girl was earthside and in my arms and I was glowing with love and pride. A few minutes later the doorbell went and the paramedics arrived to two slightly bewildered but beaming parents.'
And now for my hubby's experience...
'Time Literally Stood Still.
I’m not kidding, time literally stood still. All sound fell away into the distance like when you lie back in the bath and the water covers your ears. I could feel the hammer of my heartbeat in my chest...lub dup...lub dup...lub dup. I’d retreated out of the real world and was observing events documentary-style. I was just standing there. Mute. And I wasn’t a contestant on Dragons’ Den.
This had happened to me once before, 16 years ago, in the middle of the best man speech I was delivering at my brother’s wedding. On that day I had stood in front of 120 people, mouth open, eyes distant, slowly swaying in silence for about 15 seconds before snapping out of it. I got away with it then, with most of the guests thinking it was just really bad comic timing. They say it can be brought on by stressful situations. On a scale of 1 to 10 the situation I was in now was definitely an 11. My beautiful, amazing wife Jenna was on all fours on the bedroom floor of our flat in the middle of 2nd stage labour. Her mouth was moving but I couldn’t hear anything. It looked like she was shouting at me…that’s weird, she'd never do that. I triple-blink a few times in a desperate attempt to turn what I’m observing into a dream, a nightmare, anything but reality, because I’m not prepared for this, not by a long shot. No joy. Then, suddenly, whhhooooosh. I’m back in the room.
“RUTHERS!!! DO SOMETHING!! ITS F*&%ING COMING NOW!!! I CAN FEEL THE HEAD!!!! F”*$£%CKKKK!!!!”
I steal a quick look at the undercarriage, and she’s not kidding. That is definitely the top of a baby’s head protruding from my wife’s front bottom. Shit. This has escalated quickly. Things have just got very real. There’s just Jen and me in the house. No midwife, no doctor. I’m about to deliver my own baby.
10 minutes ago it was all going so well…I’ve just got myself settled in on the sofa in the lounge. Bourne trilogy blu-ray loaded? Check. Beer in hand? Check. Midwife phone number ready? Check. I’m relaxed. In control. This home birth business is the nuts. Jen's in the bedroom sitting on her fit ball with her headphones on, listening to her hypnobirthing mp3. To use her doula terminology, she’s ‘owning’ this labour, ‘embracing each surge as she gets ever closer to seeing her baby’. In fact, she’s so quiet I’m wondering whether she is actually sleeping though the contractions. She’s been at it for a couple of hours now. She’s definitely a ‘warrior woman’ my wife. Hard as nails. I love her so much. I've got ages till I need to call the midwives.
With our first baby, Edward, we were stuck in a ward in St. George's Hospital, Tooting for 4 days. It was horrific. But that's another story. Suffice it to say it made the decision to go for a home birth for number 2 an easy one. A safe, warm, comforting space for Jen to build her nest and labour in her own time at her own pace. And when the big moment arrives the medical professionals are 5 minutes away.
I've checked on her a few times already of course, but she's in the zone. She doesn't want me to time the contractions. We've got hours, days even. Chill out Ruthers, I think to myself. Enjoy the peace and quiet. Besides, Bourne is kicking ass. Wow he really is... and that surround sound is awesome! It sounds like a lion is roaring in the bathroom! Incredible! Hold up. I’m pretty sure there’re no lions in this movie. I rush to the bathroom. Jen is doubled over, her hands against the wall. She’s making some more weird animal noises…blue whale? Maybe. I have a flash in the back of my mind of ‘transition’ and ‘women can quite literally go animal’, but it goes just as quickly as it arrives. Her ‘surge’ passes and she eventually calms down and returns to her Zen-like state. Maybe it was just a tough one. In my relief I briefly think about offering paracetamol as a joke but don’t take the risk. She pads back to the bedroom and I return to Bourne.
5 minutes later all hell breaks loose. I don’t even question the surround sound when I hear this one. I fly into the bedroom to see her semi-naked, on all fours, howling. “IT’S COMING NOW! NOW! HELP ME! HELP ME!” …It’s at this point I have my ‘Dragons' Den’ moment and then I’m present. Shit. Shit. Shit. Okay call the midwife. Where’s my phone? Shit. Lounge. Get it. Call the number. Hand shaking. Drop the number. Shit. Pick up the number. Dial it. Jens going ballistic. Shit, hurry, hurry...ringing… answered, phew… posh voice, ”Sorry there’s no one available to take your call at the moment. If your call is urg…” Hang up. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!” Okay, calm. Back to Jen. She’s howling louder now. Wolf? Probably. I rub her back, trying to sound calm and in control, “You can do this babe…just relax…everything is going to be fine. I’m here, breathe…” She swears at me. I’m briefly shocked at the content and imagery, but I know she doesn’t mean it… Try the phone again, it answers, I put it on speaker. She’s super calm this midwife, like it’s an everyday thing to talk to panicking husbands in the process of delivering their own babies. “Go and get some warm towels” she says. “Eh? Now? How?” I say, whilst quickly thinking, hmmm..microwave? … “Who for?” I say. “To wrap the baby in” she says calmly. She politely omits the “you f*&%king idiot” that would have been appropriate at that point. I’m flapping. Trying to think of all eventualities. What if the baby is blue, what if it doesn’t breathe straight away, what if the cord is round the neck….
I get the towels, our best ones, because I forgot that we deliberately put a pile of old ones in the bedroom for this eventuality, and put them, un-microwaved, under Jen, who is still on all fours. Then she has another powerful surge and the baby’s head drops down in front of my eyes. I have a brief flash in my brain of the John Hurt scene in Alien and then I’m back to reality and staring into the upside down eyes of my gorgeous beautiful baby, who’s face is perfectly pink, and who now fills her lungs and screams in my face, and who’s cord is not around her perfect little neck. The midwife is on speaker saying something about “in the next few minutes when the next contraction comes you may see baby’s shoulder start to come through…” but my little one is not waiting for anything, she’s seen her daddy and she wants cuddles…probably. She drops straight out into my hands and I see that she’s a girl and I tell Jen “it’s a girl!”, and she’s so slippery with blood and stuff that I drop her into the towels and Jen says “have you got her” and I say “yes” and I don’t tell her that I’ve just dropped her and then I wrap her up and then I remember about skin to skin with her mummy and pull her towards me through Jen’s legs and up and over Jen’s back to the top of her shoulders to give her to her and then the cord stops us in our tracks and then Jen says something like “what are you doing?”, but with more colourful language, and then I bring her back towards me and down underneath Jen’s body and into her arms and she holds her and bonds with her in 0.004 nano seconds.
2 minutes later and now Jen is sat upright with our tiny, apricot-coloured bundle wrapped up and attached and feeding. I can hear the siren of an ambulance on its way. Bless those midwives. I lean back against the bed and look at my two beautiful girls and breathe. And after another minute or so, when I’ve eventually lowered my pulse to a vaguely normal level, I hear the TV in the lounge and smile to myself and give my old mate Bourne a mental fist-bump.'