Born Before Arrival

Ella - Born 40w1d - 4 hour labour - Weight 3770g
accidental homebirth

Nikki & Andrew started working with me really close to their due date. Nikki has birthed two children already &, while almost ready to birth her third, she realized that she just needed a bit more support to help her navigate the last few weeks. Turns out, it would only be a few days! This birth was really special for me. I met a lovely family & was able to experience the most amazing birth “accidentally” in her bedroom. It will stick with me forever like my smile did for days after this baby was born. Enjoy reading about Nikki’s first two pregnancies & she describes how her last was so different…

Meet Nikki…

fourth trimesterI’m now a Mum-of-three. My children are 7 years old, 4 years old and 5 weeks old. For all 3 pregnancies, I have gone through GP Shared Care with the same local hospital. My first two were born after being induced just prior to reaching term (40 weeks) due to gestational diabetes and my third was born at home, after going into spontaneous labour.

When my son was born 7 years ago, a routine appointment at the end of my pregnancy turned into day-stay monitoring. From there I was admitted to hospital to be induced, which involved gels to kick start the labour process and possibly a drip (it’s been a while). The next morning, I called my husband urgently to come to the hospital when they told me they were going to break my waters and I wanted him to be with me. 

I went to the delivery ward, joined by my husband Andrew. I remember being checked by the lovely midwife and asked if I felt the urge to push. I didn’t, but also didn’t know what I should be feeling so gave it a go. I pushed and pushed, trying different positions but getting nowhere. My little one had a wire connected to his head to monitor for signs of distress, and I was offered gas for pain relief which I gratefully accepted. This made me really drowsy and I had to stop the gas as the contractions were becoming slower and bub appeared to be getting distressed. I was exhausted and anxious, and asked my husband to leave the room so I could focus. It wasn’t happening fast enough and I ended up birthing my son with the help of the ventose (vacuum like contraption) and an episiotomy. His little head was misshapen and bruised, but he was safe and healthy and I was a proud first time Mum. 

For the birth of my daughter, now 4, I knew a little more and prepared differently to have the kind of birth I wanted. I had acupuncture in preparation for birth and accepted the stretch and sweep. I hired a TENS machine with a labour boost option and read the Birth Skills book. I visualised and breathed my way through the contractions. I’d even prepared a birthing playlist for my iPhone. This time, only gels were used for my induction. My husband was by my side the whole time as I munched on apples and snickers bars.

The hospital was really busy at that time and I had been placed in the postnatal ward for monitoring. As thenatural birth contractions intensified I kept buzzing the midwives to be checked and for pain relief only to be told it was a long journey ahead and to try and sleep or take a shower. They’d expected me to birth the following day. Eventually, I demanded to be checked, and by the time an OB came around to do so I was 8cm dilated with contractions running on top of each other. I was wheeled down to the delivery ward in a wheelchair and told them I needed to use the toilet. I sat down and my waters broke, then my midwife urged me to move away from the toilet and to the bed. I’m pretty sure a catheter was attached at some point, but my daughter was born quickly on the hospital bed after a few pushes. I stayed awake for 48 hours or so after the induction to after delivery, wired but happy with the experience.

I’d been classified ‘high risk’ getting extra monitoring and clinic appointments for all 3 pregnancies. However, this time I was told I could hold out for a spontaneous birth until 41 weeks, which was music to my ears after being induced before 40 weeks for both previous births.

Things took a turn in the week 39 appointment at the hospital when I saw an OB I’d never met before. She recommended I stick around for day stay monitoring after a brief check and I felt helpless.

I had questions, and wasn’t getting answers. Anxiety from the birth of my son 7 years ago surfaced. I was exhausted and not in a position energy wise to be advocating for myself as strongly as I’d been doing previously.

born at homeThe hospital appointment was on the Friday. when I was 39+4. That weekend, I decided that I absolutely needed a birth doula and remembered where weeks earlier, I’d sent a request for more information and received a great info pack. I skimmed through it and texted Jade. We arranged a call for that afternoon and I felt at ease straight away. I committed straight away, and we met the following day in person.

A couple of days later, at 40+1, I woke around quarter to three in the morning with pains that could no longer be mistaken for Braxton Hicks. I tried to get comfortable in bed for some more sleep, but couldn’t find the right position. I downloaded an app to monitor contractions, then got up and poured myself a bath. My husband, noticing I was up, followed and sat with me, helping to monitor contractions as I curse away. 

Realising that the contractions were fairly frequent, albeit short, Andrew called my Dad to come look after the kids as they were still sleeping and our doula Jade, who we’d met just a couple of days prior. They both arrived whilst I was in the bath.

Moving out of the bath and into my bedroom to continue labouring, Jade gave support by putting pressure on my hips to ease the pain, talked me through the contractions and made me a cup of herbal tea. It’s cozy and warm here, so different to my labours previously with the bright lights and sterile equipment.

I remember feeling like we should make a move, and asking my husband to pack the car. We calculated that it would be around 7 minutes drive to the hospital at that time. I felt like he’d been packing for ages, as I got into a different position on the bed to continue labouring.

I remember saying that we needed to go soon, then realised I might end up giving birth on the side of the road, which I didn’t want to do. I said I think we should call an ambulance instead. My husband was on the phone to them straight away whilst Jade was with me.

I remember the urge to push coming and saying that to Jade. Andrew was on the phone to Emergency at that point, getting instructions. Someone grabbed clean towels and pillows. At this point my eyes are closed and I’m on all fours on my bed. I actually have no idea what else is happening other than I feel the contractions and urge to bear down.

With the first push my waters broke over the freshly made white quilt on the bed. Jade relays that the waters are tinged light green to Andrew to pass on to Emergency. She’s so calm and reassuring with both Andrew and I, which keeps us calm too. I’m feeling the desperate need for energy so I ask Andrew to grab some lemonade, which he does. It feels like she arrives on the third or fourth push at 6:48am. A few seconds feels like an eternity before she screams, but she’s born safe pink and very healthy. When I turn around, there’s 4 Paramedics in the room as well as my husband and Jade. 

The cord is cut and I have a cuddle with my fresh bubba. My 7 year old son, who is usually the first to wake in our family, comes in to meet his littlest sister whilst I’m still on the bed. He’s now a big-big brother and I’m so proud. Everyone clears out of the room, and I pop into the shower where I deliver the placenta. It’s bigger than I thought it would be – I’ve never actually seen it before. 

After I’m dressed, I go to the kitchen to grab a couple of Anzac biscuits that I made the other day, as I’m starving. My Dad and son are there. My son pops over to ask for an Anzac biscuit, too.

Following a quick congratulations exchange with Dad, Jade snaps some quick photos of Andrew and I with bub at the front door. We’re in disbelief that our daughter was just born at home. It feels surreal; we’re all elated.

golden hourOne of the Paramedics asks if I used to work at a place, and it turns out we worked together a decade ago. It’s such a small world. I leave in the ambulance to be transferred to the hospital. We chat briefly along the way, whilst bub feeds.

At the hospital, I’m straight into the delivery ward for the usual checks and monitoring. It still feels very surreal and I’m full of happy hormones. At the end of the day, my husband and I head home. Jade’s washed the sheets and cleaned the bathroom for us. We’ve decided to call the newest member of our family Ella. The three of us stay in our little newborn bubble for a couple of days. It’s bliss. We could not be happier (and we give ourselves high fives for engaging Jade as our doula).

 

Her 5 Points to Positive

What is she most proud of?

The whole darn thing, really.

What was her OMG moment?

When I visualized giving birth on the side of the road in the dark, realising that we probably weren’t going to make it to the hospital in time.

What was the best thing her partner did?

Calling Dad and Jade to come over when he did. I was hesitant as it was in the wee hours of the morning and I knew they’d be asleep.

What does she want YOU to know?

A doula is like a professional best friend who just happens to see a lot of births. They’ll advocate for you, support your wishes and cheer you on when you need it.

Best thing about having a doula?

Feeling calm and supported when I needed it most.

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