When my husband, Tim and I first planned to move from the UK to the USA in the summer of 2008 with our two little girls, Autumn (8) and Midnight (5) we didn’t plan on someone else coming along for the ride!
It was a relief to find someone I felt I could trust and who was so able to answer our questions (even third time round we had a few and I was feeling anxious!)
December 23rd I woke up with a tightening in my stomach. 15 minutes later, there was another one. The contractions stayed about 10-15 minutes apart all day. Karly brought along two fabulous women – Minette and Sherill.
Their presence was fantastic. Karly set her equipment out and stroked my hair. I remember her saying I looked beautiful and just being so reassuring. Although I’m not sure I felt so beautiful in my nightie, mooing into the sofa!
After a couple of hours of watching me like this, Karly offered to examine me. It was the middle of the night, I was starting to get tired out and it turned out I was only 4cms dilated. This was disheartening and visions of Autumn’s birth started to appear in my mind. The déjà vu seemed like too much.
We tried exercise, lunges, walking up and downstairs, but I was getting exhausted. It was early morning and I’d been up since 5 the previous day.
The contractions started to tail off and everything stalled. Karly sat with me alone, upstairs in the bedroom and we talked. My confidence was disappearing and I started to think a dreaded trip in an ambulance, a stay in hospital over Christmas Day and horrendous medical bills were inevitable. But Karly said she was convinced I could do it. And I trusted her. I think it was the best pep talk I’ve ever had. She also reassured me that the baby was fine – she checked him with the Doppler and we could hear his heartbeat.
We thought it through – whether we should try and get the contractions going again or whether I should get some rest. Rest seemed essential. And then she had the best suggestion I’ve ever heard in my life! Have a drink and go to bed. Brilliant! So Tim poured me a large gin and tonic. It tasted fantastic and I flopped into bed with him and fell asleep with only the odd contraction.
A few hours later, I woke up. It was still early but I had an amazingly refreshed, positive feeling, full of confidence and energy.
I joined Karly, Minette and Sherill in the living room. Karly helped me direct the pain, focussing it downwards, trying to open everything up and encourage the baby to move down. Sherill sat with me and held my hand. She talked me through each contraction and kept me deeply focussed and concentrated – and gently ignored my occasional swearing! I don’t remember what she said to me, but her presence was so powerful, stopping me from panicking as transition hit and things started to get serious.
Although I didn’t really feel an urge to push as I had during Midnight’s birth, I had a sudden instinct that the baby was coming and began to push. Karly was fantastic and so encouraging. I remember her telling me, “You know your body. Push when you need to, as you want to.” The room felt so energized with everyone quietly urging things on.
The pushing stage was only a few minutes – things moved very quickly and Tim was ready to catch the baby! Baby Sid slithered out into the water very easily at 9:43am on Christmas Eve morning. As I felt him arrive, I yelled for the children.
Everyone came running as Sid was lifted out of the water and onto me. I staggered out of the pool and onto the sofa, lifting him straight up onto my chest to feed. He latched on immediately.
I’m still in awe of that day. Managing without any drugs seemed like a crazy option and I didn’t think I’d cope without gas and air, but somehow it didn’t matter as home felt so safe and I had water and TENS. I did miss the g&a but in fact, I felt clearheaded and able to concentrate, focus and really visualise how Sid was moving down and out – like I actually had an amount of control in the process. Waterbirth is a wonderfully unstressful process. Sid arrived looking beautiful and relaxed and ready to feed immediately. And amazingly, despite him being 8lb 3oz, almost the same size as Autumn had been when she had got stuck, I was in great shape afterwards. Midnight was much smaller and I had second degree tearing and stitches. After Sid’s birth, I had barely a graze. I definitely recommend it!
And the best bit? Sid smiled at us, just moments after he was born.
K.H. – La Jolla