‘I did things my way this time’
After two ‘overdue’ babies, I know not to view the medical due date as the be all and end all. In my case, a flexible due month is more appropriate! I was persuaded to be induced with my first baby, and lots of medical intervention followed. With my second, I refused induction and had a much calmer hospital birth 18 days past my ‘due date’. Third time round, my confidence had soared and I felt sure my body was capable of birthing a baby naturally when – and only when – it was ready. And when I told my midwife I wanted to have my baby at home, she was very positive. My husband, Robin, was apprehensive at first, but the home-birth team answered his questions and put his mind at rest. It helped that my younger sister, Emily, had flown back from Australia a few weeks earlier – she had been at both my previous births, and Mum had also been at Henry’s, so it was great knowing they’d both be there supporting me again. When my due date came and went, I wasn’t surprised, even though I was big and getting bigger! I was 16 days ‘overdue’ when I felt some tightenings. It was 4pm, and I began bouncing on my birthing ball to try and ease my backache. As the evening went by, I noticed more of a dull pain than the usual
Braxton Hicks tightenings, so I phoned my midwife, feeling relieved when she picked up and told me she was on duty. ‘Call back if anything develops,’ she advised.
The contractions were uncomfortable, but I managed to put the children to bed. As I tucked them in, I realised that this was the last time it’d be just the two of them together. Their world was about to change; it was so exciting. Back downstairs, my contractions ramped up. I’m not sure whether it was a rush of hormones but, at around half nine, I began to feel shaky and leaned over the sofa, breathing through each contraction. Despite my worries, it felt great to have Robin, Emily and Mum around me. It felt like the team was back together, and I was all set to go!
But my body, it seemed, had other ideas: the contractions began to tail off, and I decided to try and get some sleep. As I tucked myself into bed, I felt the pain disappearing and soon drifted off to sleep. The next thing I knew it was 2am, and the house was quiet. I lay silent as an enormous contraction swept through my bump – this was more intense than anything I’d felt before. For the next hour I lay next to Robin, breathing through the tightenings. But, by 4.30am, I was up, along with everyone else, chatting between contractions as they got the pool ready. A sense of calm washed over me as I lowered myself into its warmth. The water didn’t take away the pain, but being able to float made me feel free.
My midwife arrived at five and Mum and Emily wiped my forehead with a cold flannel and offered me water, while Robin held my hand. I was totally in the zone, on my knees, leaning over the side of the pool and breathing through each contraction. I hardly registered when the midwife took my blood pressure and handed me the gas-andair mouthpiece. It felt natural to let out low groans as each intense contraction started. It must have been some kind of primal urge, and felt like the only way to let the pain out. I can’t believe the children slept through the noise!
Without being told, I could just feel that the baby was about to be born. And, before long, the midwife dipped a long-handled mirror into the water underneath me. I started bearing down and let my body do all the work. Everything I did was instinctive; there was nothing forced about it. For the next half-hour I kept bearing down and breathing through each contraction.
It was only at the very end that it felt natural to give a little push, as it felt like there was an enormous melon between my legs! I put my hands down and felt the baby’s head. In the next huge urge to bear down, I felt the torso coming out, and I somehow registered that she was a big baby. As the mass of my baby’s body eased out of me, I lifted her up from the water, and into my arms. And she looked so peaceful! I was buzzing though – achieving my home birth at last felt amazing. Mum and Emily burst into tears!
After the cord had stopped pulsating and had been cut, I carefully climbed out of the pool and got comfy on the sofa. ‘Mummy’s big girl,’ Robin whispered to baby Winter in my arms. My other children had both been over 9lbs, and Winter didn’t seem much bigger, but when my midwife placed her on the scales, she told us she was 5.03 kilos. ‘My conversion table doesn’t go up that high,’ she laughed, and Emily had to Google how many pounds Winter was on her phone!
And she weighed 11lbs 1oz! ‘No way!’ I laughed, as Robin put his hands on his head in surprise, and Mum and Emily gasped. Even the midwife looked shocked! But it only added to my pride: not only had I given birth exactly as I wanted, 17 days ‘late’, I’d delivered a huge baby. I’m convinced it all went so well because I didn’t push and instead let my body do its job slowly and calmly. I stayed strong and believed in myself.
Louise with Winter an hour-and-a-half after the birth Winter, at six hours old LOUISE HILL, 31, A STAY-AT-HOME MUM, LIVES IN DORSET WITH HUSBAND ROBIN, WINTER, EIGHT MONTHS, WILLOW, THREE, AND HENRY, FOUR
In the pool, seconds after birth Meeting big sister Willow