Part 2 - A Father's Day tale continues... Friday...
Written by Kaz Layton.
Friday morning. Even with all the training we’d gone through I had a feeling it was going to be a quick birth. I’m pretty impatient at the best of times so I couldn’t wait to meet our son or daughter. I’m the type of person who reads the Wiki page of a film I’m watching to speed ahead to the ending (to Nicki’s annoyance).
We knew that movement was a good way to keep things ticking along in the early stages so we decided to go for a walk around our local town. We knew, worst case scenario, we’d be able to get back pretty quickly and we knew from our teachings that it’s best to keep things as normal as possible as our baby already recognised a general routine. We occasionally had to pause for a second or two as Nicki went through a stronger surge but otherwise it was just a pleasant stroll around the town. We stopped by an art shop as Nicki noticed a nice one in the window. We thought it’d be quite funny to buy it as it would always remind us of the day she gave birth. The woman in the shop asked how far along we were and was really shocked when we said she was literally in labour. Part amazed at how calm she was and possibly part worried she’d make a mess of the shop floor so she sped things up and off we popped.
We’d been out for about an hour and I think by this point it was around lunch time so we came back as the surges were starting to increase (See! It was going to be a quick birth!).
So we got home, I made us some lunch, then set the pool up and our doula (Jane) made her way over to us. Nicki got excited when she saw Jane which (in hindsight) gave her an adrenaline boost so her surges slowed right back down going from 5 mins apart back up to 12 mins... (a key point in confirming that staying calm and relaxed is crucial for progressing labour! Even happy, excited feelings can slow things down a bit...)
One thing that started to concern Nicki was whether our baby was in the right position. We weren’t far along enough yet to worry about whether we’d need to abandon the home birth but it was definitely in the back of her mind and so was a big red flashing light in mine! The midwife came over in the afternoon for a chat and check up. She was brilliant, I have nothing but the utmost respect for midwives and especially the community midwives who specialise in homebirthing. I know some of the concerns around home births are: What if we need to go into hospital and don’t make it in time? What if something goes wrong and we won’t have the right people nearby etc?
That said we felt at ease knowing that, if anything, you get more one on one attention than if you were in hospital and the bar for any problems is set a bit lower. Any sign of distress or problems and the home birth midwives aren’t going to take any chances. They have the knowledge and experience to help you make your decisions.
Nicki was clear from the start she wanted minimal intervention with the birth. I knew this and as the guardian of our birth preferences it was my job to make sure this was adhered to. That said the breach question was starting to play on her mind as our baby had the hiccups and Nicki thought she could feel them at the top of her bump rather than below and I could tell that if we answered it one way or the other it might help settle things down a little. Our midwife offered to check which would take the form of a sweep. She was incredibly sensitive in the way she asked as she understood Nicki’s wants to have as little intervention as possible and we spoke about it as a couple and decided it would be a good idea to check.
Now at that stage we could have gotten downhearted at the fact the birthing plan had changed so early on in labour but one of the things we’d learned from the course was how adapting to the situation did not mean we had failed.
The good news, the baby wasn’t breached! Although, the sweep had shown us that we still were pretty early on in the process, by now I was thinking “oh we might be 5-6-7 cms… maybe 8!” given how fast the surges were coming by now. I don’t remember what the number was exactly but it was certainly under 4 and that was pretty disappointing, not that I’d shown that to Nicki! Positive vibes and a relaxing atmosphere were all that was needed and that’s what we were going to do! (The 10cm thing is only a guide by the way (I was shocked to learn that too!) but it’s a good enough guide in the early stages… more on that later!)
Things really slowed down again after the sweep and it felt a bit like we’d gone backwards. Our doula recommended that we put on some comedy TV (so smart – we now realise that laughter is a great way to increase endorphins and get the surges going again – excellently placed comedy plan!) so we stuck an episode of “Taskmaster” – genius show (side note). Low and behold Nicki’s surges picked right back up again so much so that she needed to get up and felt the need to walk upstairs. We kept timing the surges and making sure Nicki ate and drank lots but soon it turned to evening and we decided it was time to go to bed. Jane left to teach a hypnobirthing class, then after checking in she went home to bed to be refreshed for the next day.
18 hours in I suddenly realised “maybe this wasn’t going to be a quick birth after all?”… settle in for the long haul … and get ready to make some more decisions…
Part 3 next week...