When I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, The Girl, I decided that by far the best place to give birth was at home.
She was a breech baby and was delivered in hospital by Caesarean section in December 2005. About as different a birth from the one I wanted that you could imagine.
Although many people told me that the most important outcome was a healthy mother and baby, I felt deprived of an experience that I desperately wanted.
Because many people told me that the most important outcome was a healthy mother and baby, I felt really guilty for feeling very upset and negative about my first birth experience.
I had quite a few problems with breastfeeding and healing after the Caesarean and all this made me really determined to have the birth that I wanted second time around.
When The Girl was just over a year old, The Husband and I were delighted to find out that I was pregnant again. Four months into the pregnancy, we dutifully trotted off to see the consultant at our very local small hospital to discuss the birth. I had spent a lot of the previous four months researching VBAC (vaginal birth after Caesarean) in its many forms (home birth, hospital birth, water birth, etc.) and had very quickly reached the conclusion that I was going to have a bit of a fight on my hands if I was going to get the birth I wanted this time round. What I wasn’t prepared for was the SHO not even listening to my request, and telling me in no uncertain terms that I would be having this baby in hospital, lying on my back with continuous electronic foetal monitoring, meaning that I wouldn’t be able to get up and that if I hadn’t given birth within six hours of being at the hospital in labor I would be having another Caesarean. Some of my research included the best way to labor and give birth—lying on my back unable to move didn’t feature strongly in this research except in the articles on what not to do when in labor.
I went away from that appointment very disheartened but soon rallied and dragged The Husband along to an NCT homebirth meeting to see if we could find out how best to proceed. In my highly emotional (hormonal!) state I wanted to go straight for an independent midwife but as they’re quite expensive The Husband, quite sensibly, wanted to explore other options first. The meeting was great—an opportunity to meet other people who wanted to give birth at home and didn’t look at me like I was suggesting murdering my unborn child when I expressed my desire! It was also very encouraging with a lovely birth story from our host and some suggestions on how I could proceed with the NHS. The Albany Midwives (a fairly local group of Midwives) were suggested but unfortunately couldn’t help me. It was also suggested that I speak to the Community Midwives at our local big hospital (slightly less local than the small hospital) where I’d be giving birth but they just put me back in touch with the Midwife attached to my doctors surgery and whilst she said she would support a home birth she attached an amazing number of caveats on exactly what situation I would be allowed to home birth in. I felt I didn’t really stand a chance of meeting her criteria and would very swiftly be transferred into hospital.
At this point we decided that if I stuck with the NHS I would certainly give birth in hospital and probably end up having another Caesarean so we decided to go ahead with hiring an Independent Midwife. Through the Web site for the Independent Midwives Association I got a short list of midwives who were prepared to work in my area and finally narrowed down the list to one (by speaking to several on the phone and then asking a couple to come to our house so I could meet them) Kay Hardie of the Kent Midwifery Practice.
Having an IM was fantastic during pregnancy. Kay came to our house for all of the appointments. They were very relaxed and informal events. We’d have a cup of tea and a chat about how I was feeling and all sorts of aspects of pregnancy, labor, and birth. Anything I was interested in she would provide reams of information on and being able to talk about myself at length was great!
After chatting about it with Kay and quite a few other people, I decided that a water birth seemed like a really good idea so off I went to do some more research. We decided that instead of hiring a rigid sided pool we would buy an inflatable pool (well, we could always use it for a paddling pool for The Girl and the new baby next summer!). We got the pool and inflated it when I was thirty-six weeks pregnant and The Girl had a lovely few weeks using it as a ball pit—we’d got some use out of it before I even went into labor!
At forty weeks pregnant we started chatting about strategies for if I went over my due date. At forty-one weeks I was trying very hard to remain calm but starting to get a bit worried about whether I was going to have the longest pregnancy in history. Last time round I’d had a confirmed date for having my baby—possibly the only good reason for having a Caesarean (especially if you like to be in control of things!). Kay told me not to worry and that when she came to see me the following week we’d talk about me having a sweep. The Husband and I tried all the usual methods for natural induction, long walks (tiring when your circumference is four feet—yes, really), hot curries (neither of us really likes anything much hotter than a korma) and of course the old failsafe which was neither a failsafe, or particularly easy given the shape I was!
Of course, even I couldn’t be pregnant forever but labor and childbirth is a whole other story to be told.