Cherona, Ian and Rudy's birth story
I supported Cherona and Ian as a Doula for the birth of their second baby, which was a planned HBAC (homebirth after Caesarean).
My daughter was born by Cat 1 Caesarean under general anaesthetic in 2017. Spontaneous labour, first stage less than 4hours. Arrived at the hospital at 10cm dilated and starting to push, but she was undiagnosed footling breech & there was Meconium in my waters.
I was very clear right from the first booking appointment that I was planning a homebirth this time around.
SO, THIS BIRTH…
I got into bed late on Saturday 17.07, after spending a wonderful (& boiling hot!) day celebrating a close friends birthday…needless to say the good company and good food certainly got the oxytocin flowing because not long after midnight I felt the first surge.
I tried to ignore it and sleep but after a few more it was clear things were getting started and after a pretty fast labour with my first I knew things could progress quite quickly.
I told my husband I thought it could be happening so he busied himself prepping the pool and birth space with everything I needed, whilst I stayed upstairs. I went to the toilet and saw my mucus plug had started coming away and things were definitely beginning to feel like last time so I contacted my doula,Meg and my parents to make their way over.
I kept gently walking and moving around as I continued to feel surges but still felt able to breath and talk easily through them so I called the birth Center just to give them a heads up that I’d be needing a midwife to come out to me in not too long if things picked up pace.
That’s when the night began to take an unexpected turn…the call was redirected straight to the labour ward & I was told that due to staffing issues they weren’t able to attend a homebirth and had even had to close the birth Center in order to staff the labour ward so they asked me to go in. It was exactly what I hadn’t wanted and I wasn’t ready to let the birth I’d planned for and knew I deserved slip away.
I’m aware this is sometimes used as a tactic to encourage people into the hospital, so I stood my ground and told them that I absolutely wouldn’t be going in. Really hoped a midwife could be found as I know from others experiences, that this has happened even after being told no-one was available. I was told that they’d phone me back after speaking with the on call manager…but that call never came.
The stress of that call had caused things to slow down. After speaking to Ian and then Meg on the phone, I knew that no matter what I decided the most important thing at that moment was to focus on getting back into my zone. We couldn’t go anywhere until my parents arrived anyway because our 3yr old was sleeping upstairs. So, we put on my birth play list and I tried to lose myself to the surges once again. Pretty soon things were feeling stronger and I needed more hands on support and massage from Ian to help get through each surge.
I got into the birth pool and felt an instant relief from the water. Not long afterwards Meg arrived and joined us. We chatted and laughed between surges and with each one I felt myself needing to focus on their support and my breath to work through them. The sensations were beginning to feel a bit more ‘pushy’ so Meg called the labour ward again to get an update on the situation from them as we still hadn’t heard back. They confirmed there were still no midwives available and my choice was to either go in or stay home & call the paramedics.
My mum and dad arrived and were filled in on what was happening. Understandably they were worried, but still respected my space & didn’t project their concerns onto me and there presence was yet another comfort to me. But, it was time for me to start making decisions which would impact my entire experience. Should I go to the hospital or stay where I felt most comfortable & undisturbed?
I can’t deny that there were some huge moments of doubt, of worry and I felt completely torn. Ultimately I think my instincts took over. I trusted the process. I felt calm, in control and I trusted my body was doing exactly what it needed to do. I was headed too deep into labour land to mentally or physically bring myself to leave that bubble by getting out of the pool and into a car when I could feel the urge to push was taking over.
With no midwives it also meant no pain relief and pushing was becoming extremely intense. As physically demanding as it was, it was more about mentally overcoming each surge. Digging deep and leaning into all of the hypnobirthing techniques I preach about!
My birth team provided so much during those moments – they worked together to offer physical and emotional support; knowing exactly what I needed from them. Their words of encouragement and affirmation were like anchors when things felt overwhelming and they reminded me that I could do it.
One of my favourite photos from the night is the one where I’m in the pool with my eyes closed. I’m so glad that Meg caught this moment because I remember it so vividly. Going inward, giving myself a pep talk and connecting with my baby in order to fully surrender. ‘I can do this, we can do it together. I’ll be meeting you soon’…
There was so much pressure because my waters hadn’t broken. I felt inside and I could feel the bulge of the sack inside as it descended but then retracted after each surge. I moved around as much as felt comfortable or instinctive to try and create more space in my pelvis for baby to descend – leaning forward onto the side of the birth pool, swaying my hips, KICO & side lunging and gradually I could feel the head beginning to emerge…and the sac remained intact!
Paramedics had been called but still hadn’t arrived…and this baby was coming! The head was out and surrounded by a bulging sac of fluid which I supported with one hand and waited for the next surge. A short pause and with the next push the body followed. I reached down & had to slip a nuchal cord from around the back of his neck before bringing him onto my chest and rubbing his back. Waiting for that first cry felt like a lifetime but he was finally in my arms.
At 5.21am our boy, Rudy Michael Sylvester, completed our family whilst his big sister slept upstairs
I DID IT!!! It required more of me than I’d ever imagined, but I did it! In our home, surrounded by all the love & support I needed!
It was totally overwhelming and empowering to have done that! It was so special to me to have that moment of catching my own baby and bringing them skin to skin, when I’d missed out of that during my first birth.
***AFTER BIRTH TRANSFER
The paramedics arrived shortly after he was born. They checked his heart rate as well as helping my husband to clamp & cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing and turned completely white. They were really respectful of our space and tried to leave us to it for the placenta to be delivered but I’d lost a bit of blood and almost an hour had passed without any sign of the placenta coming. I agreed to transfer into the hospital, which I’d hoped to avoid but I was on such a high from what I’d just achieved that it didn’t matter at that point.
I was checked by a midwife when I arrived and I’d had a small tear, which she was borderline 2nd degree but decided against having stitches and letting it heal naturally.
My placenta was still high and I’d been unable to empty my bladder so had an in an out catheter inserted to empty it. I used gas & air as this all felt far more uncomfortable than the birth itself!! (No lovely hormones to help!)
The midwives then applied a bit of pressure & the placenta was delivered.
It wasn’t clear how much blood I’d lost overall and I felt ok, but my heart rate was on the high side and taking a while to come back down. My iron levels has been borderline low so they tested them again whilst I was there and they’d dropped again. A consultant said they weren’t 100% certain that my placenta had been completely intact & wanted me to have an ultrasound to confirm – but that it couldn’t be arranged until the next day at the Very earliest. They wanted me to stay in overnight for observations but after speaking with a midwife about my options I agreed to have iron tablets and prophylactic antibiotics prescribed to take home instead and signed to say I was leaving against medical advice.
It wasn’t entirely the ending I’d hoped for but I am absolutely blown away by the birth that I achieved. It was so empowering and I felt immensely proud and powerful.
The support of my birth team was amazing. My husband was a rock and completely trusted me to follow my instincts at all times; he didn’t doubt my decision. I’m also beyond grateful to my doula who was invaluable both with antenatal support & guidance & on the night. Really helped that shes also a hypnobirthing teacher and she guided me through my breathing and mindset work in the moments I was feeling overwhelmed. Knowing that they both had absolute faith in me gave me so much confidence and she was such a calming presence to hold space for whatever I needed. I really think without her there my birth could have ended up being a completely different experience.”