On the original due date Owen had just taken a couple of days off work to get some last minute things sorted around the house. I was expecting the baby to make an appearance in a couple of weeks, so when contractions started at 10am I was taken by surprise! I was relieved when they tapered off after a couple of hours of regular but mild contractions.
The weekend was quiet, and we had a meeting with our midwives, Juliet and Petra, at home on Monday morning. We were still waiting on getting a birthing pool, but I wasn't too worried. Despite the practice labour I was still expecting a late baby and thought that the chance of a caesarian was pretty high anyway. We arranged to meet the midwives again the following Monday, hoping that we'd have a pool by then as well.
That evening I was feeling restless and uncomfortable, and I did start wondering if we'd be meeting our baby sooner than we thought. I wasn't that surprised when I woke up at 1am with contractions! After timing them for an hour I decided to try and go back to sleep, but at 3am I heard the immediately familiar sound of my waters breaking. I leaped out of bed (which luckily kept the bedding dry) and the contractions started to feel more intense almost immediately.
I woke up Owen, called Mum (who had a couple of hours driving to get to our house to look after Shae) then Owen rang our midwife Juliet and we decided it was best for her to head over straight away. I jumped in the shower for some pain relief, and when the midwives arrived at 4am I was kneeling on the birthing mat in the middle of the living room waiting for hot towels (also known as the home birth epidural). Labour was progressing really quickly and contractions were intense but manageable.
I spent the next couple of hours with my eyes closed, leaning on the birthing ball, breathing through contractions, and demanding hot towels. I tried to focus on surrendering to the process, sinking in to contractions and feeling my body opening. Shae came into the living room a couple of times to check out what was happening, Mum arrived around 5.30am, but I was absolutely in the zone and had no attention for anything else.
About 30 minutes later I started feeling the urge to push. After focussing on surrender for the first part of the labour it was good to feel active and in control again. Up until then I'd been quietly breathing through contractions, but pretty soon started to get very loud! Apparently Shae wasn't worried at all and we didn't have any concerned neighbours coming to the door, but I was certainly making a lot of noise!
The pushing stage felt like it was lasting forever. Juliet was regularly checking the baby's heart rate, which was reassuringly strong and steady, but after an hour of pushing I was starting to wonder if we'd ever meet him! Although I was a little worried by the slow progress, the absolute worst part was getting cramp in my leg between contractions from being in the same kneeling position for hours. It was way more painful than the labour!
After a while Juliet could see the baby's head, but it still felt like things were going so slowly.
Then finally the end was in sight and the searing pain of crowning was enough to make me forget about everything else. I breathed through the last few contractions as his head slowly emerged, then all of a sudden with a last push his body slithered out and our second sweet baby was born at 9.17am, after about 8 hours of labour (30 less than last time!)
The first moments after the birth were so different this time around. Instead of lying on an operating table surrounded by hospital staff and waiting long minutes for my baby to be brought over to me, I was helped on to the sofa in my living room and my baby was immediately placed on my chest. Within a couple of minutes Shae came out to meet his new little brother and an hour later we were surrounded by family and eating celebratory chocolate biscuits while the midwives saw to all the practical details.
I loved having a home birth and was so glad everything worked out as I'd hoped. As the haze of those first newborn days has faded I can really appreciate the experience: intense and empowering!