A few days before Lorelei was born I started feeling a bit unsettled. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what was wrong but I was just really emotional and couldn’t sit still. I had this crazy urge to just clean! I was cleaning windows and dusting cobwebs from the ceiling in the days before she was born. I remember I’d planned to wash everyone’s sheets on the day I went into labour and I was really excited about that (crazy!!). I met with my midwife Jacqui on the Friday before Lorelei was born and we both thought that this ‘unsettledness’ might mean something was going to happen soon. Lorelei was also engaged and really low in my pelvis too and I was starting to feel really uncomfortable. At this stage I wasn’t even quite 39 weeks but my babies have all chosen completely different times of gestation to be born so it didn’t surprise me at all to get these ‘signs’ at this stage.
On the Saturday night before she came I had a bit of a cry with Chris, telling him that I wasn’t ready to have this baby. I was worried about the pain and of not coping. I was worried about throwing up during labour (which, ironically, I never have for any of the other kids!) He comforted me and told me that it would all be ok, that I was always amazing giving birth. I sat and read in bed for a while and then Chris came to bed. Me, being obsessed with having all things clean, asked him if he’d cleaned the kitchen ( I just had this ‘thing’ where I didn’t want to go into labour with the kitchen a mess – it was a huge mess when we had Gideon because he came so unexpectantly and I didn’t want it to happen again!) He hadn’t so I made him go and clean it (yeah, I feel kind of bad about that looking back at it now – the things my hubby puts up with from me!)
At about 2am that night I woke up. I lay there for a while wondering why I felt so wide awake all of a sudden and then I felt a pain. It was almost like an intense Braxton Hicks but there was something a little different about it. I decided to just lie there and see what happened. About 10 minutes later, I had another of the same pains and 10 minutes later, another. Something was definitely happening! For an hour they continued about every 10 minutes and then from 3 onwards they started happening every 5-10 minutes. Even though Gideon’s birth has been quite quick (three hours) I wasn’t concerned about waking Chris or calling my midwives yet. The pains were frequent but they weren’t intense yet and I could get through them lying down.
Just after 4, I had a pain that was a bit more intense. Then I realised that the ‘trickling’ feeling I was getting was possibly my hind waters breaking. It was a bit of a novel experience having my waters break before I got to the pushing stage – in four births this was the first time it had happened! Luckily, I had thought to put a waterproof sheet on my side of the bed still. I decided that it was time to wake up Chris and tell him that things were happening. He was awake pretty quickly and straight into organisational mode – filling birth pool, getting the urn on to boil, moving the car up the top so our midwives could fit in the driveway! I had a couple more intense pains but they seemed to slow down a bit once we were actually awake. We took the opportunity to get some last minute naked tummy photos – I wanted to remember the last few moments of my last pregnancy!
About 4:30 we thought we should probably ring our midwife, Jan and tell her what was going on – she wanted to know as soon as I went into labour in case things moved quickly. We rang her and had to leave a message on her mobile. After about half an hour with no call back (very unusual for Jan who always answers middle of the night calls very quickly!) we tried her pager. Still no response! That’s ok, we’ll try Jacqui instead. So we did and had to leave a message on her phone too. And still no phone calls back again! Chris and I had a little laugh about not being able to contact anyone. I wasn’t too worried about things moving quickly and besides which, I knew we’d be capable of doing this by ourselves in it came to that! At about 6, we got a frantic call from Jan. ‘What’s happening? I’m on my way right NOW.’ Apparently she’d left her pager in the car and didn’t hear her phone ring.
On her way Jan sent a text to Chris asking him what was happening. I told him to text her back and say that it was probably nothing (contractions were not as regular now and I was really questioning whether I should have called everyone!) Her reply: ‘So I should slow down then?’ Chris sent one back saying ‘yes, don’t get pulled over!’. Jan ended up arriving just after 7. It was reassuring to have her here and made everything seem a lot more real. She checked what was going on with me, by that stage contractions had slowed quite a bit with only the occasional intense one. The kids were starting to wake up now and came into the bedroom to see what was happening. They were excited to hear that the baby would be coming soon (although I think Esme expected it to come very soon, she’s not the most patient person!) Jacqui arrived shortly afterwards and then my Mum arrived a bit later to look after the kids (we’d left it to a civilised time to ring her!) I went downstairs to have some breakfast and to organise breakfast for the kids.
Once I was upright and moving the contractions started to have a bit more ‘bite’ to them. I had to stop and concentrate when they came. I laboured downstairs for awhile while my Mum read a million and one books to the kids. Jan and Jacqui were discussing whether they would go out to get some breakfast but in the end Jan decided that they would stay ‘just in case’ even though I tried to convince them to go, I still felt like there was ages to go until I had this baby. Jan suggested that Chris and I go upstairs by ourselves for a bit. So we did, it was nice just sitting together on the bed and talking with Chris supporting me when the contractions hit. I remember complaining about being bored during the gap between contractions and feeling like I needed something to do. The contractions had gone back to not being as regular and intense and I was in this weird headspace where I wanted them to get a lot stronger and painful so I knew that the baby would be born soon but also being a little fearful and apprehensive about what was to come.
Jan would come in sporadically and see how we were going and do some checks on me. She watched me go through some contractions and suggested that it was probably pre labour and that I needed to do something to get it started properly. The first thing she suggested was nipple stimulation. Apparently Chris wasn’t aware that this could be useful and he thought the idea was quite a novel one. Before the words were even hallway out of Jan’s mouth I said to her, ‘don’t tell him that’. Needless to say, I was not in the mood! Jan’s other suggestion was for me to go for a walk outside. She felt that I was distracted by the noise of the kids downstairs (who were playing very nicely – but loudly! – with Mum and Jacqui). Esme had also been in and out of the room. I think she was feeling a bit anxious about the noises I was making and what was happening. For all her bravado, she’s actually quite tuned into our moods and emotions and is very sensitive. She insisted that she wanted to come for a walk with us (not part of Jan’s original idea!) but eventually we convinced all of them to go outside in the cubby with my Mum to give us a bit of peace and quiet.
Chris and I went downstairs and I started to walk around the kitchen. By this stage it was around 9 or a bit later. Contractions ramped up a lot now. Chris was filling buckets from the urn and taking them to the pool upstairs but he kept having to stop and support me through another contraction. It got to the point where he couldn’t even get a bucket filled between each contraction. They were really intense now and I was having to vocalise during each one. We made the decision to move upstairs to the bedroom and get the bed set up for the birth. Jan, Jacqui and the student midwife came up too.
I started on the bed, kneeling , with Chris in front to support me during contraction. Then I moved to standing by the side of the bed. That’s when I started getting the urge to push. We stripped off my pants in preparation. Standing up just felt wrong though, my legs were shaking and I didn’t feel like I had the strength to keep standing. Jan asked me where I wanted to be. She told me that if I was going to get in the pool now was the time. We had talked previously about using the pool. With my other two homebirths I had a pool but didn’t end up using it. Even though, I love the idea of a water birth for some reason it never felt right to me with the other two births. The thought did cross my mind to get in the pool but for some reason I thought it might slow the labour and I think there was a fair bit of denial on my part that this baby would actually be born sooner rather than later. I said to Jan ‘you know I can’t make decisions when I’m in labour’ – she has been with through enough births to know how I ‘do’ them!! In her usual style, she said to me that she thought that I would birth this baby in the same position that I had birthed my other three babies, that once I was in that position my body would know what to do. That was when I abandoned any attempts to get in the water and I got up on the bed, kneeling, with Chris (as always) in front to support me.
As soon as I was in that position, as Jan predicted, my body just took over. I had a couple of really strong urges to push and as I did, I felt the baby move down. The kids had come in a little earlier and now Gideon and Esme were standing to the side with Jacqui and Jacob was standing by the door (he was adamant that he didn’t want to come too close) to watch the baby being born. The pushing seemed to take forever to me but in actual fact she was out pretty quickly. During one of the contractions, I remember this overwhelming feeling of not being able to do it. I actually cried and said to Chris, ‘I can’t do this’. I physically felt like I couldn’t push the baby out. I don’t remember saying that during any of the other kids’ births!! It just all felt so intense. But Chris was great as usual, reassuring me that I could do it.
Not long after, her head was out and her body followed pretty quickly. The feeling of that little body sliding out and that sense of relief of getting her out was so incredibly amazing. Jan told me to reach down and pick the baby up. The feel of her little, warm body was so powerful. I discovered as soon as I picked her up that she was a girl. I had felt that this baby was a girl during my pregnancy and I had secretly hoped she would be, but to have her here with us was incredible. I feel so blessed by the arrival of our little girl and to have shared this journey with such an amazing support team, my beautiful midwives, my husband and my mum. Lorelei’s birth would not have been the same without them!
|My midwives play with the kids while I labour upstairs with Chris!|
|Chris, supporting me through contractions.|
|Getting through another tough contraction!|
|A bit of a break between contractions, they were getting more intense by this stage!|
|Esme and Gideon stand with Jacqui as they wait for the baby being born.|
|Jacqui hard at work!|
|Baby Lorelei is born! Because of my position while birthing, Chris and I were the first to see her (my midwife Jan was standing behind me)|
|Picking up my baby for the first time!|
|A precious baby girl.|
|Family of six!|
|All together with our support team - both my midwives and my Mum.|
|Skin to skin time with Daddy.|
|Daddy with all the kids!|
|Pregnant with Lorelei|
|Now she is here!|