Welcome to the World Lennox
Updated: Apr 10
Background: Baby number two. High risk pregnancy (I had a large bleed after my first was born). Gender unknown. Planned home waterbirth with my partner, daughter and doula present if we wanted her on the day. Homebirth was against medical recommendation for the second time, but it was an informed decision which I was confident in making. You can read my first birth story here.
After about a week of on-off early surges keeping me guessing, on Thursday 22nd March 2018 I was woken around 5am by 2 fairly close surges in much the same way my labour with Florence started almost exactly 3 years earlier, I was even 40+2 weeks pregnancy just like I was when I woke up in labour with her too! I felt excited, hopeful that today was the day. I dropped Florence off at preschool letting her know that if things ramped up someone would collect her so she wouldn’t miss out – she’d been looking forward to his birth for months!
(I know it’s unusual for an almost 3 year old to be welcome at a birth but we knew that it was right for our family. I’ll do a blog another day with more on this – how we decided, prepared and involved her!)
I sent Matt off to work knowing he wasn’t far away, then took our dog for a walk around the local park where I was having mild surges every 5-6 minutes. I enjoyed walking on my own with her with the sun shining before heading home at lunchtime. I asked matt to come home and we went for another walk with the dog after eating – I found walking helpful in both labours.
Matt collected Florence at 3.30 as I didn’t want to venture out in the car, when he told her we thought the baby was coming she asked to stop and buy me some of her favourite flowers – daffodils! When she got home, excited but tired out from her busy day, my surges started to tail off. Something inside told me this was still ‘it’ though and once she was tucked up in bed, they ramped back up in frequency, but still not intensity and by about 8.30pm they were around 3 mins apart. On Matts request I called the hospital to say we hoped we would need someone during the night due to the frequency, but that we were coping fine at home alone for now. I was listening to calm music, utilising the birth ball, walking, light touch massage and sniffing clary sage on a tissue to help encourage surges.
By about 10pm my surges were coming every 2-2.5mins and we called back as after our last labour, Matt was worried staffing issues may affect someone reaching us before baby arrived if we left it too late. My midwife happened to be on call, so she came out to see us. Despite being a familiar face, I still felt the observation change my mood / surges slightly, and that combined with tiredness seemed to be easing things off again.
I kept finding myself upstairs in our bathroom using the warm towel rail to lean on and breathe through surges, which were much more frequent when up there on my own in the dark. By around 12.30am the midwife could see things weren’t progressing fast so she suggested I try and get some sleep. By this point Matt had started to fill the pool and I really didn’t want to waste the water so I decided to ask for a vaginal exam, telling myself ‘4cm and under: go and rest, any more: keep going’.
I found the VE really painful and asked the midwife to stop. She said she had started to do a sweep which I hadn’t been asked about, and wouldn’t have agreed to if I had of been. Unfortunately, Matt had been out of the room at the time and I felt too shocked to say anything, which I now wish I had, as although my labour was extremely positive overall, this was definitely not a positive moment for me. The experience spiked my adrenaline, my surges came to a stop, and I was suddenly experiencing very sharp pains in my cervix which I hadn’t experienced before in this labour or my last.
Realising that I had slipped into the fear-tension-pain cycle and that my surges had tailed off, it made sense to stick to my plan of heading to bed especially as the VE showed I was around 3cm, not quite the 4 to ‘push on’. Once upstairs I was sure I wouldn’t be able to sleep given the sharp pains in my cervix and the mixed emotions about having asked for an exam which, despite helping me answer the ‘sleep or not?’ question, had left me feeling in pain, upset and annoyed at myself for not trusting my body more to make a decision without it! The midwife also went home to rest letting us know she would be back if things ramped up before 8am.
I did actually fall asleep, some time after 1am listening to my fear release audio, before waking with a start at 3.15am. I wasn’t having surges, I wasn’t in any pain, but I leapt out of bed desperate to meet my baby, hoping things would start up again if I got moving. I wandered around downstairs with the soothing light of my Himalayan salt lamp, reading the affirmations my friends wrote on my birth bunting, smelling clary sage on a tissue and moving on my birth ball.
My surges quickly came back and after almost an hour downstairs on my own, I realised I was really having to focus and breathe through each surge whilst leaning over the ball, and that I was even starting to feel a downward pressure during them… I was still in denial that I could be getting close but I called up to Matt and asked him to come down as I felt I wasn’t coping given that just 2 hours ago I was ‘only’ 3cm dilated. He really wasn’t expecting to see me so ‘in labour’ and immediately snapped out of his sleepy state and asked if I wanted to get in the pool, which I did. I didn’t realise it at the time but he also began to try and contact the hospital again around now (4..15am). As soon as the pool was warm enough again, Matt helped me climb in between surges. They were by now incredibly frequent and the warm water was such a relief… for a few seconds before I felt the next surge take things up a notch!
Deep down I knew this was the start of transition, but I was in total denial that I could be progressing so quickly! I told Matt I needed to get out to do a wee (just like transition last time), he started to help me out but I had to sink back into the water as 2 or three strong surges one after another took over (just like transition last time!), then I insisted I HAD to get out, so with help I started to head up the stairs. By then I was beginning to shiver but did a wee trying to tell myself I was just chilly, even when I started to really shake, head to toe (JUST LIKE TRANSITION LAST TIME!!).
I actually find denial a really helpful coping tool but looking back it’s amusing to think how hard I tried to tell myself I was still hours away from meeting our baby!
We went back downstairs and I got back into the pool and almost immediately my surges started to slowly move baby down. Getting on for 5am I suggested we get a midwife back, then Matt admitted that he’d been calling for 45mins but there was no answer from any of the contact numbers in our notes. By then, he was worried baby would come before we had any support, so we decided to contact our ‘just in case’ doula Lynsey. Matt got through to the hospital just after speaking to Lynsey. They said someone would call us back to arrange coming out, but Lynsey arrived quickly, quietly and unobtrusively before we heard back from the midwives.
We decided it was time to get Florence up as by now the foetal ejection reflex was causing me to bear down and growl increasingly loudly! Matt woke her and told her baby was close, they waited upstairs for another surge to let her get used to the sounds I was making, and make sure she was happy to come down. My waters broke during this surge and I felt our baby drop down lower. Lynsey was sat opposite me and calmly reassured me my waters were clear, at some point she also raised the question of if I wanted paramedics called if the midwives didn’t arrive soon, as it was looking like baby would soon be here. I decided that I’d like them called, but said that they could wait outside unless they were medically needed, so as not to change the atmosphere in the room.
When Matt and Florence came into the room it was a little surreal to see my not quite three year old daughter sleepily coming towards me with a look on her face like nothing I’ve seen before: excitement, love, anticipation, joy, and a little bewilderment all beaming out!
She reached out and we had the biggest cuddle over the edge of the pool as she told me the baby would be here soon. She was so lovely – at some points stroking me gently, offering me drinks of my Capri-Sun, telling me I was doing great and then she came in for another cuddle just as a strong surge began. I pulled her in close before realising I was starting to hold her a little too tightly due to the intensity of the surge, so I guided her to Matt not wanting to squeeze here too hard or worry her! She then sat on a chair in front of me watching with a look of awe on her face (whilst eating an Elsa cake bar!).
At some point during this there had been a knock and two midwives had arrived (without the call back to let us know, which would have saved Matt a lot of stress but at least they were there!), as they came in, I demanded the gas and air! I don’t really know why, I think I was shocked by how fast things had progressed and still trying to convince myself I had way to go despite the foetal ejection reflex having taken over! They set it up for me and I took 2 or 3 breaths, before realising it was doing nothing at all for me other than distracting me from my breathing and focus, so I dropped the mouthpiece and returned to my zone.
As baby started to crown, I naturally reached down to support the head emerging, feeling my body stretching to accommodate what I could feel was a larger baby than Florence had been. I was so conscious to go as slow as I could, despite also wanting to just get the head out at that point! Once the head had been born Matt had a look at the baby’s face and Lynsey lifted Florence over to the pool so she could see too. The excitement in her voice as she announced she could see the baby’s head spurred me on so much! I reached back down and supported baby’s head, feeling the cord around his neck and him wriggle as he helped his journey out. It was completely surreal!
On the next surge at just after 6am on Friday 23rd March, I was able to lift baby through my legs and to the surface, the cord was still around his neck and with a little help, I unlooped it. I was staring at his face soaking him in when someone asked about the gender, I don’t know if she had seen by then or was just feeling hopeful, but Florence shouted with glee ‘it’s a bruddah!!’ and as I lifted him to check, I could see she was right. We had a baby boy, I was strangely unsurprised by the news. One daughter, one son, so perfect. She immediately asked to cuddle and kiss him so I moved closer to the edge of the pool where her and Matt were able to lean in and touch/hold us both. Within a minute of being born our son soon began to search for the breast, very different to Florence who had little interest initially.
I was feeling the smaller surges helping bring the placenta out, and when he latched on they intensified. After 30/45mins I decided to get out of the pool to birth the placenta, and after trying a few positions did so squatting over a bowl holding baby close. I then spent about an hour laid on the sofa with my baby boy connected to his former life source, the placenta.
Around 2 hours after his birth (and a shift change for the midwives) we decided to cut the cord so Matt tied on the avocado cord tie I had made, and Florence proudly helped cut the cord with him. We had a look at the placenta before letting the midwife weigh our baby. After some worry from the hospital that he would be small again (Florence was 6lb 3 but perfect) I’d been saying for weeks ‘this is an 8lb baby’. I was right – he was 7lb 15oz of pure perfection.
We drank tea, ate the birthday cake Florence had helped me bake on the Wednesday evening, and enjoyed watching Florence fall as in love with her brother as we were.
I then showered whilst Matt snuggled our newborn skin to skin, before Lynsey helped me settle into bed, brought our baby up, helped put his first tiny cloth nappy on, and left us to cuddle up for skin to skin and feeding. Matt then continued his hard work clearning up, emptying the pool and getting Florence fed. The day continued to be a blur of cuddles, breastfeeds, runs of Frozen and a few short visits from grandparents!
There is so much more I could say, but I would be here all day, so I’ll wrap it up!
I’m hugely proud of myself for what I achieved; that despite a few hiccups during the pregnancy and labour, I felt mostly calm, confident, positive and excited about meeting my baby. I’m grateful I could choose my birthing space and create an ideal environment for myself and that I was able to utilise all the tools I know help hugely during labour. I’m also glad I tuned into the inner voice reassuring me that that things would work out well at home, despite hospital policy advising I should have a much more medicalised birth after my previous minor PPH.
I ran on an absolute high for days and would absolutely do it all again tomorrow if I could, the experience felt so beautiful and powerful. I definitely found it trickier to lean into my own calm and instincts during this birth as we experienced a stressful few weeks as a family before his arrival, I was definitely not as chilled as I’d have liked to have been when labour started and in hindsight see that finding a relaxation class would have been really helpful! That said, if we have a third (it's still 50/50!) the only thing I'd do differently is not to let anyone put their hands in my vagina and use my own judgement of how things are progressing.
I’m also grateful for Lynsey’s support – she seemed to ensure the perfect environment was maintained with minimal effort, that Florence, Matt and I received the full amount of support we needed throughout, and for the early breastfeeding support which has helped us get off to a much better start than last time. If you would like to hear more about how she could support you during your birth, drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd like to be armed with information to help navigate your pregnancy and birth, to get back on track if something sends you in a spin, or just want tools to help you manage the sensations of labour, then you can book a Supernova Hypnobirthing Course here. If you're in need of some TLC and support with relaxing ahead of birth then you can join Pregnancy Relaxation - just £25 per month whilst we are running on Zoom!