Freya's Positive Home Birth Story {Part Two}

August 16, 2019

Carried on from part one here;

Around forty, longggg, minutes later they arrived and I was rocking back and forward gripping the doorframe between our kitchen and utility room. The midwifes saw the state that I was in and the intensity of the contractions.
They got me into the lounge to examine me for the first time {since the sweep a few days before where I'd been 2cm}, I said I was unsure about knowing the measurement as could feel so demoralised if it had been still only 2 or 3cm and I would have gone into hospital at that point I think as mentally would have been hard. They were shocked I was 5cm already. Ben saw the midwife flash a 5 with her hand to the other midwife with a surprised face and they said we’re not going anywhere now and told Ben to start filling the pool. I felt relieved at this point, but still a bit worried about how the next 5cm might go. I remember saying 'but that's still another 5 to go' but Vicky reassuring me that I'd done the hard part now. 

Vicky created a nest on the sofa for me with the cushions piled up so I was on all fours with my head resting down on the cushions and got me set up on the gas and air. Ben put the hypnobirthing tracks on and this was the part of labour that I loved the most. It was the first time I could properly relax and rest for a bit, the gas and air helping immensely once I worked out the best way to use it and the hypnobirthing tracks {the relaxation audio we’d listened to throughout pregnancy as well as the labour companion which I'd never heard before {and LOVED}} made me completely drift away. I was still feeling the surges and gripping the sofa/cushions with all my might but it was more bearable now. 
I didn’t want to move from this spot but after I think an hour and a half, maybe 2, the hours just blur into one, Vicky encouraged me to change position for a while and take a walk up the stairs to get things moving. My body had started pushing involuntary at this point, like completely screwing itself up? I didn't even realise that this would or could happen. Ben carried the gas and air for me and reluctantly I walked upstairs, stopping at the bottom and I distinctively remember smelling rain outside the front door. It was getting dark and there was that summer smell of rain, all my senses completely heightened. We made it up the stairs just in time for another surge, I had to grip the banisters at the top and started crying and completely shaking that I couldn’t do this anymore. I don’t really remember this part. But we later found out the midwife recognised this as my transition stage. 

The midwives knew to get me to the pool so we slowly went back downstairs and I couldn’t wait to get in the water. It was heaven and instantly made me relax again. One funny part I remember was that the bikini top I’d packed didn’t do up anymore {my ribs/boobs had expanded in pregnancy} so Ben had to run upstairs and find another one. This was probably the blurriest part of labour for me where I just went onto another planet, my head was resting on the side of the pool with the gas & air in my mouth, my body swaying beneath me in the water. Ben lit the candles and put our birth playlist on, I hadn't wanted any music before this point. The lights were dimmed and it was getting dark outside, there was just candlelight illuminating the room. 

It felt really calm and special, I remember hearing a couple of the songs {Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac one of my favourites throughout pregnancy with Freya} and kind of singing in between sucking on the entinox but then shouting out to skip some and in the end it had me more frustrated so I asked for the hypnobirthing tracks to be put on repeat instead. I have no concept of time at this part, I know at some point another midwife was called as they felt like it was imminent. I was just in my own little world, breathing through it and just staying focused without taking anything around me - unaware of Ben and the midwife behind me sorting the temperature of the pool out and running back and forth with a kettle of water a couple of times as I'd been in there for so long and the baby was now imminent. Although Ben was the best labour companion I could ask for, it was Vicky who really helped keep me calm - I think having a health professional guide you through it makes you feel really safe? And Ben was busy at times sorting out the pool etc whereas Vicky was with me throughout. And she had trained in hypnobirthing so knew exactly the right things to say to me and to keep me really relaxed.

Initially it was fairly relaxed and the pain relief of the warm water kicked in but after perhaps an hour, it got more intense. Vicky kept asking if I wanted any food to keep my strength up, but I didn't want to eat anything. Ben in the end posted a couple of those mini percy pig sweets into my mouth just to give me a bit of a sugar boost but I practically swallowed them down whole, not wanting to not be able to put the gas and air mouthpiece in as I knew I'd need it again any second. That gas & air was my saviour and I couldn't have got through without it. 
I could tell that it was getting late at this point, it was quiet and properly dark outside now from the window that I could see out. The third midwife arrived, although I barely took this in or could even say hi to her or realised that she was there behind me as I was still over the one side of the pool. At times, I was encouraged to move around the pool a bit but I was a firm lover of having my head resting on the side. My body had started involuntary pushing more and midwives looked with their torch and mirror. They could see the head and they started coaching me on how to get three pushes per contraction, telling me to push more with all my might at the right time. This was the worst part of labour for me, although I was glad the sensation of the contractions had stopped, they'd changed into this new feeling which overtook my body more than ever before. I wanted this over, like now. Everytime I pushed, I felt like I was about to be sick. There were times where Freya's head came down but then went back up at the end of a contraction. I felt like I was pushing with all my might, my body screwed up completely, but realised it wasn’t enough so had to push even more. It was the hardest thing I've ever done and it was at this point where I was shouting and swearing that I’m having a c section next time - much to amusement of Ben and midwives although I didn’t know it at the time it was all so blurry. But it was all just so intense and couldn’t wait for it to be over. That feeling, of just wanting, and needing it to be over already took over - {I really just motivated myself to push through the pain as much as I could - I kind of lost sight of the end goal and forgot that there would be a baby to meet at the end of it!}. Vicky coached me through the biology of the birth canal, telling me why I'd need to push harder to get past the curve {I AM PUSHING HARDER! I shouted back}. But soon enough, with a couple more pushes with all of my might - sweat dripping down my forehead with the effort, her head started crowning, and burning {which I didn't think would happen in the water?}. It was all so fast at this point though. Ben didn’t even know it was so imminent as he was up near me keeping me calm and telling me that I could do this.
Once the head was out, after what felt like forever, the midwives told me that her eyes were open under water and it refocused me - our baby that we'd been waiting to meet for the past 9 months, was almost here. Once her head was out it was a huge relief and with one more push, I thought about her body twisting and following and then out she came her body came and the midwives lifted her up and onto my chest. At 11.36 at night she was born, just scraping into the 6th July as her birthday.

I think I was in shock to think about catching her! And the umbilical cord was quite short so had to be careful not to yank it. I panicked, asking them if she was ok and if the cord was around her neck at all - one of my fears from the very beginning of pregnancy. But then I realised what had just happened and the sheer amazement kicked in. I couldn’t stop saying 'hi baby, it’s ok, we’re here' and just couldn't stop staring and kissing her little head. I cry just thinking about this moment now, replaying it all. Ben and I just looked at each other and her in amazement and kissed each other, we’d done it!
She was here, she was ours, she was ok. We had a baby! The pain was over! She was safe. Gah, all of that, just replaying it in my mind, it's still so vivid but I wish we had it on film {although I'll be forever grateful for Rachel the third midwife capturing these photos for us that are so special, the photos that mean the most in the whole wide world to me}. It was just the most incredible experience of my life. Her head was above the water on my chest but I had to keep the rest of the body, right up to under her chin, underwater to keep her warm. We wanted to wait as long as possible to delay cutting the cord, but had to leave a little blood in there as had to test it as I’m rhesus negative {although they’d tested in pregnancy, it’s the cord blood which is definitive}. Ben cut the cord, it was thick but short, by torchlight. For me that was kind of a bittersweet moment as we were detached for the first time. I didn't really want her to leave me, this tiny babe I'd grown from the size of a poppy seed and carried for all that time.
'Does she have a name?' they asked, Freya we replied. Freya Elizabeth Sterling.

The room was kept really calm and she didn't even cry. After some time, the midwives decided that we should get out as I'd lost a fair amount of blood at this point and so they took her from me and rubbed her down and checked her all over. This was the first time we heard her cry. They wrapped her in towels and gave her to Ben to have skin to skin whilst I got out of the pool. Shakily, I was led to the sofa to deliver the placenta and get checked myself. I'd been undecided throughout pregnancy about whether to have the physiological {natural} or managed third stage of delivering the placenta {with a synthetic oxytocin injection to speed it up} and decided that I'd wait until labour to decide on how I felt. But because I'd lost quite a lot of blood and was exhausted, I just wanted it all over by this point so wanted {practically begged them to give it to me already} to have the injection to speed up the placenta, which they agreed was the right choice and would help prevent more blood loss. I kept saying how much longer until it comes out, expecting it to be instant. 

Then Freya was passed to me to have on my chest whilst the placenta was delivered {I’d always had this weird fear about having to deliver that but it was totally fine} and we latched her on to feed. 
I was examined and needed to be stitched for a small tear so kept Freya on my chest {and needed some more gas and air - everyone reminding me to breathe fresh air in as I was feeling really spaced out - more so than in labour}. I was amazed by the pain I had still, the after contractions I guess? And I was really shaking. I kept asking if that was all normal, getting a bit panicked that something was wrong but they reminded me I’d only just had a baby and this was all to be expected with the adrenaline and everything I'd been through. The stitching seemed to go on forever, it was in a bit of a tricky place, I still don’t quite know or even want to know, much about that part but having Freya on my chest was just the best ever. Ben was on the other sofa and the other midwives were processing everything note wise. 
We suddenly remembered that I was keeping my placenta as I was getting it encapsulated, so Ben got the special storage bag to and put it our fridge. 
The midwife said that I’d technically lost 500ml of blood and I *should* go into hospital to get checked but she was more than happy for me not to because she could tell it had stopped and I was looking well {and my blood pressure was ok etc}. I would have hated to have had to gone into hospital after doing it all at home. 

 7lb 15oz <3

After Freya had fed for a good amount of time - she'd latched on well which just blew my mind about the fact she was feeding! I'd wanted this more than anything, that precious skin to skin and her latching on to feed with those golden drops of colostrum. Once the midwives were happy she'd had enough, she got checked over for her APGAR test and the midwife spotted that she had a tongue tie {or was this before she started feeding? I wished we'd taken photos of the postnatal notes before they got taken away}. Anyway, at some point after this, she was given back to Ben for skin to skin and I was taken upstairs for a shower - something that felt so kind and caring of the midwives - they wanted to check I could stand up ok. They laughed as I squeeged down the shower afterwards {in hindsight WHY did I do this?! haha}. 
I cleaned myself up and went back downstairs to Ben and baby Freya, the midwives finishing up with all their paperwork. We called my parents, they’d insisted that whatever time of night it was that they wouldn’t be able to sleep until they knew she was here safely and they were thrilled - it was one of the best conversations I've ever had telling them that they had a granddaughter, announcing her name and that she was here safely. {side note - our neighbours across the road are good family friends and had seen when shutting their curtains around 11 that another car had turned up and we still had lights on in our lounge so assumed that I must be in labour!}.
We were both just sat staring at her by this point, buzzing that it had all gone to plan and talking everything through with the midwives. I think they were totally buzzing too, it was Vicky's first proper homebirth experience and they said they always feel so proud of the system/team when somebody has a successful homebirth. They showed us how to put her nappy on but then it was 2am and we were left with a baby to dress! She had a swollen head from birth so trying to put a hat on and vest over her head was tricky. We didn't want them to leave! And definitely had that surreal moment of looking at each other, Ben and I, about the fact we now had a baby to look after! 

We left the lounge in carnage and went upstairs to bed, laying her down to sleep in her crib {after birth and a good first feed they told us that babies can sleep up to 6 hours} and we went to bed. Just hugging each other, buzzing and not quite able to compute what had just happened. But then the exhaustion of the past 24 hours kicked in and we did then sleep for a few hours}.
When I woke up, the sheer rush of love kicked in and I couldn’t stop crying at how she was here and how perfect she was and never wanting to let her go. It suddenly hit me, I don't think I'd really had that huge rush of love at the time she was born from the shock of everything.

That first morning, taking her all in - and how much hair she had at the back!

Oh sweet, baby Freya. She looks so different here, I think all babies are born a little scrunched up and she had a really swollen elongated head from a thing called caput during labour}

It was surreal and incredible to be waking up in our own bed early on that Sunday morning, waiting until it was a sensible hour to call the rest of our family - we were on such a high and didn't want to go back to sleep, we just wanted to stare at her and announce her to the world, to shout about her from the rooftops. We called our parents, text our brothers and friends and just soaked her all up. I fed her, and couldn't stop crying - realising that it was her who had been in my tummy all along. I think the emotions of the last 9 months, and the fear we had with those reduced movements at times, the way she had been born, it all just hit me. She was really, really here.

I can't thank our local midwives enough for enabling this whole experience and for keeping us safe. Geraldine, the midwife that we saw for every appointment, Carley who delivered her with so much care and helped me immensely with breastfeeding the next day saving our whole feeding journey, Vicky who I couldn't have done it without - you will make the most incredible midwife, the NHS are SO lucky that you decided to switch your jobs and train as a midwife and Rachel who turned up as extra support at the crucial time and who took the photos I'll treasure forever - I'm sorry I was so out of it by this point to even talk to you properly. We're forever grateful and feel so lucky with everything. How can you ever thank a team of women like that who have enabled your daughter to be bought safely into the world in the comfort of your own home? And Em, our hypnobirthing teacher to whom we'd have never even considered a homebirth nor had the toolkit of knowledge or self belief to have got through labour like we did, likewise the Yes Mum Hollie De Cruz's Hypnobirthing course that Em teaches and her book. But also my husband, who without none of this would be possible or as well supported. One incredible team right there. - and of course I'm crying again....

R <3 xx 

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  1. Oh my ... it’s saturday morning in Australia and I’ve read this crying my eyes out. So beautiful Rebecca so absolutely beautiful xxx

  2. Love love loved reading your birth story! I am currently 16wks and this gave me all the feels! Thank you so much for sharing!!

    Mel x || Loads of Lifestyle

  3. So lovely to read and so emotional. I’m 24 weeks today and not sure what birth/hospitals are going to look like in July - whatever happens I’m sure it will be magical. Have been reading some of your other baby blogs too, really useful, thanks xxx


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