Have you heard the news yet? I'm sure many of you have, but just in case you are still unknowing, I would like to introduce you to the newest addition to the Classroom Free stable...
We haven't fully decided on a name yet, I know, we are useless - but our baby girl is very much loved and I want something special for her with meaning to us.
She was born here at home, and it was the most wonderful experience I could have hoped for. I couldn't have planned it to go any better - well ok, I could have reduced the amount of pain I guess, but other than that, it was bloomin' perfect for me :o)
Our baby girl was due to join us on November 3rd, but from the 28th October I was getting clear signals that things were starting to happen - it was just a matter of playing the waiting game. Strangely enough I was happy to wait. I was patient. Usually I'm like many expectant mothers, eager to hold their newborn in their arms, with the final few weeks seemingly dragging oh so slowly. Not this time though, not for me. I was savouring each special moment, just me and my girl. Each tiny hiccup and jerky kick, each little flutter and sharp twinge - I was relishing each and every precious second. Yes I desperately wanted to see her in the flesh, to hold her, and to smell her, to feel her skin against my own, her warmth - but I could wait until she was ready, until it felt perfect for her.
So, I didn't do the whole "get things moving routine". No long walks, no curries or scrubbing floors, no erm, you know what with darling husband, just lots of rest and time with my family, ensuring to make the very most of the children I was already blessed with.
On 31st October (Halloween here in the UK), I got lots of twinges - but by this stage that was nothing new. I had had soooooo many contractions over the past few days, so many tweaks and twinges, some rather painful it has to be said, so I didn't immediately recognise the signals as being "the time". I happily popped along to Asda in the morning and wandered around the aisles, whincing at times with uncomfortable tightenings, but continuing on our way. We came home and we watched a family film together. I glanced at Lee (husband) and nodded - enlightening him to the fact that something may well have been happening. He started watching the clock. Contractions every 8 minutes - that was 4pm. The start of things.
Having so many 'false starts' had made me nervous. There had been times when I could have easily have called the midwife things were progressing that strongly, but I held off and it turned out quite rightly so. This time though the contractions were definite. Strong and definite. Continuing closer in time, longer in length, and stronger in strength. At 5pm I called the delivery suite. Having had experienced an unassisted delivery with my last home-birth, where my husband had had to deliver Callum into the world due to midwife delays and the emergency ambulance no-show - neither of us really wanted to go through that experience again. The contractions were now approximately 5 minutes apart. The midwife at the delivery suite was lovely. Very understanding about previous experiences and happy to send someone out to check how things were going.
At just past 5.30pm the cavalry had arrived. The cavalry in the form of the very lovely lovely Sylvia. Although we had never met before, I just knew Sylvia was going to be perfect to assist in the delivery of my baby girl. She was the no-fuss, no worry type of lady. She didn't want to intefere, but was happy to go with the flow and just intevene if appropriate to do so. Immediately upon arrival we checked baby's heart rate, it was absolutely fine, I was relieved :) I was 6cm dilated at that point, things were going this time, they were really going! Sylvia enquired about the possibility of a second midwife attending, but none were available, so it was her flying solo.
Sylvia acquainted herself with my written birth plan. I wanted my baby girl's arrival to be as natural as possible. No pain relief offered, although gas and air on hand if I chose to use it. I have had two birth experiences with no pain relief - but that was down to circumstances rather than choice. The first time as there was no time for the midwife to get it from the car, the second time due to the midwife not arriving - to have it as an option would have been nice! I also wanted a natural 3rd stage, with baby given for skin to skin contact immediately, and the chance to latch on.
Well, what can I say? I got all of that which I asked for. I remained standing for most of the process. Sylvia and I chattered happily about home-educating, our children, and generally put the world to rights. Chelsea, Joseph, Tiegan and Callum, popped in the room (the main bedroom) from time to time to check up on things, they were so very excited. Tonight was going to be the night when they met their new baby sister for the first time.
Things progressed well. I breathed through every contraction, standing holding on to my side table for support each time, laughing as I had to break away from the conversation each time, then rejoin it where we had left off. My waters still hadn't completely broken by 7.15pm, trickles could be felt and seen, but that's all they were, just trickles. I did have quite a bloody show and felt as if I needed to lie down. My legs were aching - I'd been on my feet pacing up and down pretty much since 4.30pm. The contractions were getting to feel almost unbearable - little lady was making it pretty clear she was ready for the out. Tiny whispering voices of excited children could be heard from outside the bedroom door, their joy could be heard despite their efforts to keep hidden. So very special.
I lay on the bed and my waters broke, this was it. The midwife had a final check of baby's heartbeat - she was still a happy little bunny in there, it was ok to proceed.
I lay on the bed next to Lee and gripped his hand - tighter each time a contraction progressed. I had resisted the gas and air - I knew it was in the midwife's car, just a short walk away for her to reach it as it was parked on our drive - but I wanted to do without if possible, wanting to feel completely in control as I have done before. I remember feeling a little out of the situation for a short while, as if it wasn't happening to me. I remember it feeling so surreal, not feeling the pain. I remember knowing I was lay with Lee but not being with him in mind, holding his hand, but not feeling his touch...it doesn't make much sense now I think about it, but that's how I remember things. I remember asking the midwife how things were progressing and loving her reply of "Oooh, we've got a baby down at this end, did you know?" as the head had crowned almost without me knowing about it. I felt the pain, I knew something was happening, but it was just so surreal as if it wasn't me giving birth.
7.55pm - It was over. My baby girl was born. The cord was so short she could only just be lifted onto my tummy. She was perfect though, utterly perfect. We waited for the cord to stop pulsating - as per my birth plan - but to be fair to Sylvia, that seemed to be normal practice for her anyway which was nice to know. The cord was then cut and baby was lifted on to my chest for skin-to-skin contact and initial latch on. Blissful, just utterly blissful. I just couldn't believe I had done it. I had my baby girl, at home, as planned, and she was perfectly perfect. I think that I must have repeated "I can't believe we've got her" over and over again, my joy was overwhelming and the situation just didn't feel real.
Sylvia had been wonderful throughout, she was such a lovely lady with such a passion for her job and home-birthing. I felt completely calm and relaxed in her presence and knew that she would do her utmost to fulfill my birth plan to the letter - and she didn't let me down.
I had a natural 3rd stage, with the placenta being delivered without assistance. All was well, and no stitches needed - HURRAY!
Sylvia left our home around 9pm, knowing that I had plenty of people around me to ensure I was safe and cared for. Baby had been checked and weighed (just over 7lb 4oz), and the necessary paperwork completed. I had a lovely cuddle with my new little baby in bed for such a long while, then passed her over to her daddy who took her downstairs to meet her siblings for the very first time. Such smiles.
I had a lovely relaxing soak in the bath. MY bath. That's one thing I adore about homebirthing, being surrounded by my own environment, being able to soak in my own bath - no rushing, no busy midwives rushing around, just peace and quiet in my own home. Lee was wonderful as per usual, very supportive, very understanding, helping with everything from clearing up to providing me with food and drinks. I am very blessed to have such a husband.
The children stayed up until midnight with their new little sister, they didn't realise the time! Shortly afterwards Lee went to bed, leaving me and my little new lady together alone to get to know one another. Special, so very very special.