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I gave birth to my daughter when I was 25 years old. I’m not really a fan of doctors and hospitals, so a home birth seemed like the obvious choice for me. I was nervous throughout the pregnancy that I may not be able to have one, but luckily everything worked out ok and I was able to have my daughter at home. My mum gave birth to my younger sister at home, and even though it was unplanned she has always spoken very favourably of the experience.
After a frustrating day of pre-labour at home (lots of infuriatingly cold walks around the block, angrily bouncing on my birthing ball and eating spicy curries), I eventually accepted that labour wasn’t going to start and I went to bed at about 1:30am (Pro tip: if you’re in pre-labour, going to bed in the early hours is a terrible idea, you should go to bed early and get as much sleep as possible). Just an hour later I was woken up by a contraction that felt different. It felt stronger than the pre-labour ones. I decided to get into the bath and time my contractions. After an hour it became obvious that I was in labour so I woke my husband, Laurie, up. He rang the triage ward at the hospital who told us they would send a midwife out. The midwife rang us soon after to say she was setting off.
She arrived at about 4am and said I had been in active labour for about an hour. I can remember feeling relieved that I was in labour and it wasn’t just more pre-labour contractions. My midwife was lovely, really really lovely and I felt completely at ease in her company. I got back in the bath and continued to breathe through the contractions. Jo (my midwife) offered words of encouragement and instructed Laurie to go and fill the birthing pool.
Our living room wasn’t very big so furniture had to be shifted about to make room for the birthing pool. I don’t remember how long it took to fill because I was busy breathing upstairs in the bath, but sometime later they came to get me. I climbed into the pool and instantly felt amazing, though it soon became apparent that the pool was way too warm and I had to get out while they cooled it down. I went upstairs to cool down, the hallway was nice and cold with it being the early hours of a January day. Then I was able to get back into the pool and I didn’t get out again until I was a mother.
I felt like I was in a trance-like state throughout the birth. Jo had lit candles and turned off the lights, creating the perfect home birth environment. The water was warm and was helping with the pain in my back. Laurie was busy getting ice pops and cold flannels. I don’t really remember much, to be honest, but the room was calm and quiet. I concentrated on my breathing, taking deep breaths and releasing them slowly to stay calm.
At about 7:30am, a taxi arrived with some gas and air, and I remember feeling really relieved to have some. Though I don’t think I felt as calm with the gas and air as I had with my breathing, though I’m not sure if that’s because of the intensified contractions or because of the gas and air itself. Jo’s shift was due to finish at about 8am, I think. Two other midwives arrived at about 8:30am, and though they were just as lovely, I remember them being chatty and feeling a bit like the calm atmosphere had gone. Jo stayed with me until Ebony had been born, and I was so grateful that she did.
At about 8:45am, I was fully dilated and ready to start pushing. I can remember one of midwives telling me not to push yet, and feeling like there was absolutely no way I could not push. Your body just completely takes over, and I felt so relieved when another midwife told me to listen to my body and do what it was telling me. I don’t remember what it really felt like to push, only that it was a desperate urge that I simply couldn’t ignore. I remember the feeling of pressure building up. And I remember the burning sensation when the baby was crowning. And then, all of a sudden, my baby was out.
By this point, I was totally oblivious that I was giving birth. I had been so focused on pushing that everything else had gone out of my mind, so it was a real shock when they dumped a baby on my chest. She was clay-coloured, chubby and absolutely perfect. She had huge cloudy eyes that locked with mine and I immediately burst into happy tears. It was the most amazing moment of my life, holding my new baby to my chest as we sat in the birthing pool. One of the midwives moved the umbilical cord and we discovered the baby was a little girl. We named her Ebony. I held her close for twenty minutes until it was time to deliver the placenta, and then it was Laurie’s turn to cuddle his daughter.
Giving birth was truly the most empowering, amazing and life-changing experience of my life. I have never felt so much like a superhero, so strong or so invincible as I did those weeks after the birth. It’s an experience I remember fondly, and something I think about each year as I celebrate another birthday with my daughter. It’s hard to believe that this was all four years ago, it still feels like yesterday.
Thank you Fiona for sharing your special story with us today.
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