Iris’ birth story….
As planned Home Births had been suspended at the beginning of January I knew that the quiet, calm home birth of my dreams was unlikely… I’d previously had a fast labour with my first born though and half expected it might have been an ‘unplanned’ home birth! I hear they are back on again, so pleased for all those due in the next few weeks and months! However that wasn’t what happened for us and thankfully being in hospital ended up being the right place for me on this occasion… My waters broke unexpectedly at 6.30am. I’d had an unsuccessful sweep the day before, baby’s head was down but not engaged and my cervix had been still quite closed, so it was quite a surprise that my waters broke. I rang the RSCH pregnancy line and headed up to St Catherine’s ward, with no other signs of labour but the speedy birth from last time in the back of my mind.
“The Royal Surrey Midwife knew I’d wanted a home birth and also knew about my previous speedy birth, she was really respectful and aware of these wishes“
When I arrived the Royal Surrey Midwife who was looking after me knew I’d wanted a home birth and also knew about my previous speedy birth, she was really respectful and aware of these wishes/issues and made the initial care plan for me with this in mind. She would just have a feel of the baby and agreed no other interventions and to let me stay rather than send me away to start labour at home. However when she felt baby, she realised that she was in a strange position and so things changed quite quickly… baby was actually transverse, she had flipped round at some point in the hours since the sweep the day before and they think this was how my waters had broken. A doctor came and scanned me to check she really was transverse and confirmed this was the case. This meant that they advised me to have a c-section as there was no guarantee she would move again and birthing transverse babies vaginally can be quite dangerous, there are also risks around the umbilical cord moving and presenting risk to the baby. So they began the process of prepping me for surgery. I was sad, a bit shocked but pragmatic about the decision, I just wanted my baby delivered safely after all. At this point my husband was allowed to come and join me, (having just sent him home!) I was put on nil by mouth and told not to move out of the bed I was in. Definitely not the preparation I was planning! They got me to surgery relatively quickly and at 10.30am I was just being prepped for a spinal block when the Senior Midwife came in and it became apparent there was another more urgent case, so I was taken to a delivery room to wait for the next surgery ‘slot’.
“It was lovey to be joined by a member of the homebirth team I’d been with even if I couldn’t be at home!”
The wait began and my husband and I got comfy… which for me meant lying still, having a catheter (they didn’t even want me to move for a wee!) and using my hypnobirthing techniques to stay calm, not terribly comfortable! Two emergencies came and went whilst we waited, all the time our baby was being monitored and was calm. Also one of the home birth midwives had started her shift on the delivery ward and as no other home birth mums were in she was dedicated to looking after me! It was lovey to be joined by a member of the team I’d been with even if I couldn’t be at home! Around 2.30pm I finally had my first surge, which changed the landscape again… as I said my first labour had been speedy so when I got this first sign of labour I knew things were going to get ‘messy’ quite quickly! The senior midwife came to see me, another mum was bleeding and she had to decide which of us was going to surgery first. Not the news I wanted at this stage, and for the first time that day I began to worry 😢.
Within a few minutes though I was surging strongly and she wanted to do an internal examination to see how ‘urgent’ I was, compared to this other mum. Her face was a picture when she found I was fully dilated after just a handful of surges and baby’s feet were basically right there to be tickled… she’d moved again! At this point I became the priority and I was keen to get going!! The senior midwife and doctor were debating with me whether to go with a c-section or try for a vaginal birth, I had not fully understood the change in babies position and as I had been told earlier in the day that I should have a c-section for safety reasons and was now in the headspace for a c-section, vaginal labour seemed a step too far for my brain, which was by now pretty consumed in dealing with the surges. In hindsight if I had understood she was now breech not transverse I would have answered differently. Although as she had not been breech until that morning I was not fully appraised of what that really meant either! So we stuck with the c-section plan and they began to prep me for surgery again. However in the forty minutes or so it took from the first contraction to getting me into theatre and onto the theatre table, baby had decided she didn’t want to wait any longer (!) and just as the anesthetist was about to do the spinal tap (for the second time that day!) my surges became so strong I could not stop the push… I think I literally said (well maybe shouted!) ‘I can’t not push any longer’ and the team were amazing and we shifted from a c-section to a set up for a vaginal birth in a matter of seconds, they had a big wedge behind me so I was in a more upright position and got my legs up in some stirrups I could push against. The doctor was able to adjust baby’s position slightly with my surges and as her limbs and stomach came out they announced their arrival… ‘one chubby leg out’ being the first announcement 😂 within about 15 minutes of pushing we finally safely got her head out, it did take a few minutes to get her breathing independently but they got her to me for skin to skin as soon as they were happy with her progress. Those moments were the worst, but the team in the room and especially the anaesthetist, who was giving us information about what the Drs were doing with her, were amazing at supporting both myself and my husband through a rollercoaster of a birth.
“The team in the room and especially the anaesthetist, who was giving us information about what the Drs were doing with her, were amazing at supporting both myself and my husband through a rollercoaster of a birth. “
Later the doctor came to see me and congratulated me on my ‘pushing skills’ as it made it much safer not having to use any kind of intervention to get her out! It also means her face and head weren’t squished or bruised at all 😆 I’m a big fan of hypnobirthing and I honestly believe without these skills I’d have found the whole experience stressful and upsetting, but using the techniques kept me calm and in control of what I could be!! Iris was born 6lbs 10oz, 3.35pm after 58 minutes of surges!
I’m so grateful to the team up at RSCH and the Surrey Hills Home Birth Team for looking after me from start to finish, it was an adventure of unexpected twists and turns and far from the pool birth I had imagined when I first planned a home-birth. However I felt safe and supported throughout, Iris and I stayed in for one night to get over the shock and the care we received throughout was fantastic. I was also lucky enough to see our midwife Becky, at one of our postnatal appointments, one of the great benefits of being with the home-birth team is the continuity of care. We were able to discuss some of the things I didn’t quite remember or understand which gave me closure on the whole episode. I’m so grateful I didn’t end up with a c-section and to the women who had to have one on that day, whom I’ll never know, I send my love and thanks!!
“I’m so grateful to the team up at RSCH and the Surrey Hills Home Birth Team for looking after me from start to finish”
Iris has completed our family of four after a challenging journey to get pregnant and an adventure of a birth story, I’m kind of sad not to be doing it again…. never say never though right 😂🤣 don’t tell her dad I said that 😉😉 Her sister absolutely adores her and I can’t wait to see the little girl she turns in to!!
Take care of yourselves in these strange times… the end is in sight and somehow that makes it all a bit harder to deal with. Having to stay home and not seeing our close friends and family is hard but I’m happy how my story ended up and with my gorgeous rainbow baby!