Birth Story for Baby number Three
This is so amazing, yesterday I was pregnant, and today I am holding a little girl in my arms. She is in my arms now as I type. It is so miraculous; every time. Here she is – a whole new person. And such a sweet, tiny, delicate little person.
She arrived in a very special way. Just me and her. A short intense labour and then the two of us together, in the birthing pool. Jaimie arrived a short while later, and then the boys joined us from upstairs. Later we had the support of Julia and Val through the evening and into the night. Finally, in the early hours of the morning, Jaimie, Marcus, Callum, and I all snuggled up in one bed together with our new baby.
We had a couple of previews to this baby’s arrival. I first went into labour in the early hours of Monday 23rd May. This felt too soon, for her and for me. She would only have had 37 weeks in the womb and we had no birthing pool. Although my contractions were regular, and I felt the need to empty my bowel, I found that if I kept still and totally undisturbed I could calm them. Jaimie organised an emergency birthing pool from Amanda which was greatly reassuring, whilst I slipped in and out of sleep all day. I had a few more contractions the following night and then things settled down again. I spent the next few days finishing my preparations for our special day. I had no more hint of uterine activity until the evening of Sunday 29th May, which coincided with Val’s arrival in the area from her home in Wales. Again I felt clear about not wanting to catalyse anything by calling anyone. I continued my final birth preparations. Val came for a lovely long catch-up visit on Tuesday and that evening I told Jaimie that I felt ready.
Wednesday 1st June was an ordinary, enjoyable, and full day. Joanna, our mother’s help had been with us in the morning. We had workmen mending the shed roofs. Rose came for the afternoon with Louis and Ella. I went into labour just after feeding the boys their supper, around seven o’clock. I did not assume that this would lead to the birth, having had two previous bouts of strong contractions which had not progressed. I felt the need to go to the toilet, which unfortunately coincided with Callum needing to do the same. He had an accident in his pants whilst waiting which distressed him greatly. He needed lots of reassurance, and cleaning up, which was somewhat demanding as I was contracting fairly frequently. I asked Marcus to take Callum upstairs to play so that I could concentrate on what was happening and decide whether to alert people. Unlike the previous two times when I was resolute in not wanting to phone anyone, this time I knew that I needed to. I paced up and down from sunroom to sitting room, unable to focus enough to time the contractions. First I tried Jaimie on his mobile, but was diverted to the answerphone and left a message. Julia’s phone was unanswered also, and I left a message there too. Val picked up immediately and she suggested that I let her know in an hour how things were. I tried Jaimie again and he was just outside Sainsburys with my shopping list in his hand. Somehow I had the time confused and had thought that he would be about boarding the train in London, not yet in East Grinstead. It was a relief to discover that he was closer than I had thought. He asked whether he should still go shopping and I was quite clear that he needed to come straight home. The funny things people say: he was concerned that we would run out of toilet paper. Then I managed to talk to Julia on her mobile as she was on her way home with the children, and we agreed that she would call back on her arrival. Finally, I called Val back and said that I thought that things were already well on their way. I called up the stairs to Marcus, to impress on him the importance of his role in looking after Callum, as I thought that the baby might be starting to come. That was my communicating done and I slipped into another mode. I stood by the birthing pool, hands on the side, breathing through each contraction, which were surging through me in waves, one after another. In between I calmly drew the curtains, shut the doors, removed my necklace and watch and clothes, peed on the plastic and went for a tea towel to cover it, unclipped and pulled off the birthing pool cover, and climbed in. What a blessed sanctuary. Once in my pool, submerged in the warm water, safe in my own home, with the sound of Marcus reading to Callum above me, I felt such a sense of calm and well being. This is how I had always known it would be – just me and the baby, doing it alone together. I felt no fear, no need for aconite. I was quiet. It felt exciting to be doing it this way, and to know that I would be meeting our child soon. Just a few minutes later I reached down and felt the head between my legs and with one deep sound I pushed, but gently. I felt my waters pop and the head emerge. I waited. Knowing that this was fast enough, that I needed to wait for the body to turn. One more silent push and the body slipped out and there she was in my arms. (We guess it must have been around 7:40pm) She gave a reassuring cry and then fell into a deep sleep in my arms. We had some minutes like this together.
I do not remember Jaimie arriving home, just him being there beside me. I felt so proud and joyous and happy to see him. We gazed at our new baby in awe. I cradled her in my arms. She was very still and I could feel some wateriness in her breathing. I expressed my anxiety about this and Jaimie phoned Val who talked him through using the suction tube to clear her airway. At long distance, Val tried to assess whether the baby’s slumber was a failure to thrive, and also expressed concern for me due to my history of significant blood loss with Marcus. She was still half an hour away and so, doing her job, she advised Jaimie to call an ambulance. I refused; I did not want the intrusion. I was certain that the baby was fine, despite only half-hearted attempts to suction out her mouth. I determined to hold onto the placenta until Val arrived. The baby was pink and breathing, and now squirming a little. The umbilical cord was short which limited our movements somewhat.
I heard Marcus coming down the stairs. Then I think he disappeared again. Then two boys tiptoed down and stood in the doorway, waiting to be invited in. Their sense of awe and excitement and delight was lovely. They came to the edge of the pool and gazed at their new sibling. We discovered that she was a girl. There we were, the whole family, adoring our new arrival.
Julia arrived, and was amazed to find us already delivered. The boys jumped up and down and wanted to share their bounty. In preparing Callum for the birth the two pieces of information that he seemed to hold on to were that Mummy would make a lot of noise and that Julia would come and read him stories. With this expectation firmly in mind, he kept asking her when she would do this. After a while, this is all a bit hazy for me, she took both boys upstairs. Apparently Callum was as eager to tell her of a new light in the kitchen as he was to tell of the new baby. Marcus, however, was absolutely captivated by the arrival of his baby sister.
Val arrived quietly. She sat by us. Her presence is so unobtrusive that I cannot really recall what she did; yet she still does her job, that is her art. I am sure that she checked the baby and me, and we chatted, and she gave me a remedy to help me to birth the placenta, and she involved Marcus by explaining what she was doing. She allows us our own rhythm.
I felt that the placenta was overdue, and yet I also felt a resistance to birthing it. Although I was still having contractions there was no longer any urge to push it out. When Val’s homeopathic remedy and the baby’s suckling seemed to have no effect I determined to make it happen myself. I had to work really hard and it took several huge pushes. As soon as it slipped into the pool the baby cried for the first time. She sensed the change and was clearly disconcerted. Val placed the placenta gently on the baby’s stomach and whispered to her that she was safe. We whispered words of welcome. She calmed. It felt right to leave the cord uncut for a good while.
Julia returned with Marcus some time later; it seemed to me like a moment since they had all gone upstairs, but Callum was tucked up asleep and she had read a whole book to Marcus, so it must have been a good while. Despite having eaten an enormous supper, Marcus was keen for cornflakes. Julia also cooked up pasta and Anna’s bolognaise sauce for Jaimie and her. Jaimie cracked open a bottle of champagne. Val and I chatted in the sitting room. Marcus was absolutely taken by his little sister. He kept calling her a sweetie pie and saying that she was the sweetest thing he had ever seen. He stayed with us all for the rest of evening, well past midnight, unable to tear himself away from the poolside and his sister. Eventually it felt like time to cut the cord. Val tied off the umbilicus with a little cotton ribbon and Jaimie separated her from her placenta. Marcus had kept himself awake for this, and after examining the placenta in the kitchen with Val, promptly fell asleep on the sofa; but not before exacting a promise that he could sleep with us. I took a little time longer to feel ready to leave the sanctuary of the pool. Jaimie held our little girl, wrapped in towels, while Val helped me to have a quick bath. She then gently examined and weighed our baby. She is a wee thing: 5lb12oz. Only twenty minutes – from the first whisper of a contraction to her birth.
We dressed her in Callum’s woollen vest, leggings, and bonnet, added a cardigan, cotton sheet and blanket and we all went upstairs to bed. Marcus slept in our bed by the wall, beside Jaimie. Our baby lay between Jaimie and me. We carried Callum through to sleep on the baby bed extension beside me. Val slept in the bed above us in the loft conversion. I gazed and gazed at our little girl in wonder. In the night Callum awoke and we had an hour together cuddling and marvelling at our new arrival. I had time alone with Marcus too in the early morning. Both boys are absolutely besotted. We all are. A new life has begun….
7:16pm Jaimie’s mobile answerphone
7:17pm Julia’s home answerphone
7:18pm Val alerted in Eastbourne
7:21pm Jaimie answered mobile outside Sainsburys
7:27pm Julia answered mobile driving home
7:30pm Val asked to come
7:48pm Val’s mobile called after the birth
7:52pm Val asked about watery breathing
8:00pm Val told of decision not to call ambulance
8:56pm Val telephoned Crowborough Birthing Centre to notify of birth
(from telephone records)