Today is 10 days since baby Evan James was born and what a lovely 10 days it has been. I wanted to write a post about his birth while it was all fresh in my mind. So here we go…
Joe finished work on Friday and we met for lunch in Pizza Hut. Dylan had wanted to go to McDonald’s but I told him that they were all closed for Staff Training (I know, I am a genius). Anyway, we had a lunch buffet and I only ate pizza with chilli on, everything had a drizzle of chili oil and a side of chilis. Basically I ate a lot of chilis. Haha. I spent the afternoon chilling while Joe and Dylan went flying their drones and then shopping in town for bits that Bobby the hamster needed. The boys had a light dinner (I was still stuffed), we put Dylan to bed and after a few hours of gymball bouncing and crap tv we went to bed too. I managed zero sleep. I was just starting to drop off when a large group of young folk (nobbers) started to chatter loudly outside our house. And they didn’t shut up. FOR HOURS!!… I’ve since figured out that we have new across the road neighbours who like nothing better than smoking on their doorstep, talking loudly and partying into the early hours… So I lay in bed awake, seething but also too lazy to walk over the window and close it (and I was really warm too). I debated calling 101 and reporting them but I thought it would sound a bit stupid calling the Police because some kids were talking loudly and pissing off crazy preggo lady!!
I think I dozed a bit at about 4am but I was woken up at 4:40 by bad cramps. I had been having cramps on and off for a few weeks. The cramps I’d been having were constant and dull but the ones that woke me up were coming and going, Ooooh contractions! I started to time them on my pregnancy app. They were about 30secs long and between 6 – 7mins apart. I kept timing for a few hours until Joe woke up. I told Joe that I thought I was having contractions and then texted Lucy, my midwife to tell her. She was at the Just So festival for the weekend and had told me to give her plenty of notice if I thought the baby was on its way. Dylan then barreled into the room and launched himself at me! We had a few cuddles then Joe and Dyl went downstairs for breakfast. I tried to have some more sleep but Dylan was doing some very exuberant singing downstairs so I opted for breakfast instead.
The contractions continued through breakfast. They were bearable, I could talk through them and they were still quite erratic. The boys went out to town and I went back to bed for a bit. I managed a couple of hours sleep and then lay in bed for a bit timing contractions and listening to podcasts. Then my lovely MIL rang and I told her that I was having contractions. I then called my awesome Mum to tell her about the contractions (after she told me off for being in bed and giving me a warning about get a DVT) and I asked her to come over to watch Dylan. It was about 11:30am and I didn’t think the birth was going to be any time soon but wanted to give her the heads up. She said she would aim to get to mine for dinner time so my Dad could take my Gran shopping in the afternoon.
I dragged myself out of bed and made myself some lunch. I figured that while I could eat, I should eat. I watched Neighbours, munched on a sarnie and tried to relax a bit. My body had other ideas about the food and I ended up throwing up about 20mins after I finished it, not ideal. The contractions were still coming along every 7mins or so and they were getting more intense. I went for a bath. I tried to relax and chill out but it is tricky to relax during contractions! Dylan and Joe came home, Dylan was full of the joys of town and had bought me a cupcake, bless him! They had their lunch of pasties. There was a festival on at the local park that Dylan wanted to go to. I decided that I would go with them, I think I didn’t want to be left home alone and also I really wanted to have a walk. I got myself dressed and we all piled into the car.
I didn’t realise that the fair was also in town so as we pulled up into the car park a very excited Dylan started chattering about all the rides he wanted to go on… I was just after a quick walk around a craft festival, not a full on visit to the fair!! Anyway, we persuaded him to go to the craft fair first. We walked around the park, Dylan held some animals and went on a caterpillar rollercoaster and then we all went for a coffee/ice cream. My contractions were coming about every 2-3mins and lasting 30 seconds but I was still able to walk and talk so they weren’t too bad. Just as I thought they were regular, they’d slow down to every 10 minutes for a few or jump to every 7 minutes. We bumped into Dylan’s friend Charlie from preschool and they went around the fair together as me and Joe chatted to her parents. It was very cute. 2 curly haired cuties going on rides together. I don’t think Charlie’s parents had any idea that I was having contractions!! Like I said, the contractions weren’t too bad, I could still talk through them and walk quite normally (I hope!)
After Dylan had gone on 4 rides with Charlie we said goodbye and got into the car to drive home. I wanted to go to Aldi to grab some things from their “Baby Event” so I ran in, still contracting, a grabbed some baby towels and 2 packs of muslins. Looking back this all seems like crazy behaviour to undertake! Haha. I was wiped when I got home so I went back to bed for a little while. I took 2 paracetamol and tried to get some shut-eye. I had a little doze but the contractions were getting stronger, more intense and I was struggling to do anything during them. I thought it was about time I called my midwife. Lucy said to call her in an hour with how I was getting on. She was so calm and positive. She said she was getting childcare for her littles sorted. I tried to nap but I was in too much pain, I was writhing a little bit and after lying there for a while, maybe 45 mins, I decided to go and sort out the “birth room”.
My parents had arrived by about 6pm. Joe, Dylan and my parentals were having dinner downstairs. I started lighting my candles and turning my fairy lights on and I popped my labour playlist on my phone. I alternated between bouncing on my gymball, doing hip rolls on my gymball and leaning on my gymball. It all helped but the contractions were getting a lot worse. I was doing quite a lot of moaning and groaning at this point. I was still timing my contractions but they were still erratic, going between 6-7 minutes apart and 2-3 minutes and varying between 30 – 70 seconds long. My Mum came up to see me and we had a little, painful, chat. Dylan kept coming to give me kisses and cuddles which was lovely. My Dad popped up to see me to check that I was ok, he looked so worried!! Joe came up and stayed with me. He gave me a few back rubs and looked after me. At about 6:50pm I asked him to call Lucy, she said she would take about an hour to get to us which was fine. Joe started to fill the pool up about 30mins later. My parents were going to take Dylan back to the park to watch a firework display that started at 9:30. The contractions were getting really bad, to the point that nothing I could do was making them any better. I was starting to freak out a little bit as the pain was getting to me. I was convinced that I wasn’t in proper labour, that as my contractions were so erratic that it was going to be hours and hours until he was going to be here. I was trying to remember all the hypnobirthing techniques, trying to keep positive and, when I remembered to do it, the breathing techniques were really helping.
Lucy arrived at 20:15. Dylan and my parents left for the fireworks not long after. Lucy checked me over. She listened to the baby’s heartbeat, took my temperature and then asked me to remove my pants so she could check to see how I was getting along. During my “birth planning” midwife visit she said that she wouldn’t be doing any internal examinations unless I really wanted one (which I did not) saying that they weren’t very helpful as each mother will dilate at a different rate so telling a lady in labour that they were 1cm dilated didn’t necessarily mean that labour was hours away and likewise if a lady is 8cm it doesn’t guarantee that the baby was imminent. Lucy was looking to see if a purple line had appeared above my bum crack (…sorry tmi) to see how dilated I was. As the cervix dilates a purple line above the bum crack appears, the longer the line the more dilated. Clever, eh? No uncomfortable internals for me, yay! She said that the line was there, fairly long and quite dark. Yay!
I was so uncomfortable and the contractions were getting a lot closer together and a lot more intense. I was unable to think clearly during these surges. I asked Lucy if she thought that the baby was coming any time soon, she was quite vague and said that I was doing really well and that Joe should fill the pool up properly for me to get in. At about 20:30 I got in the pool. Oh my goodness, it felt so good. The contractions didn’t slow at all, in fact as soon as I got in I had a huge surge and I started to feel the urge to push. I was making some pretty odd, guttural noises. I was quite warm so I asked Joe to grab the fan from our room and we opened the window a crack which felt lovely. A few more contractions came and went and I felt more and more like I wanted to push. I was leaning my head on the edge of the pool, Joe rubbed my arms and back and Lucy just sat in the corner, leaving us to it. During the surges she would say positive things about breathing through the pain, which helped as I was screaming a bit at this point and being reminded to concentrate on breathing rather than wasting energy on screaming was what I needed. I made a lot of noise during labour U thought but Joe said that I really didn’t. I was quite worried that my neighbours (or passersby) might call the police thinking I was being assaulted or worse. It was at this point that I realised that I forgotten to tell our next door neighbour that I was having a home birth… Whoops! (Luckily he didn’t hear a thing!)
During the births of Dylan and Eilys I really did zone out as I delivered the baby, I managed to completely switch off everything around me so I really don’t remember very much of it and I kept my eyes closed through most if the pushing phase. Being at home and being in water seemed to help me stay present in the moment and I can remember a lot about the birth. I felt so comfortable and relaxed, it made the whole experience much more pleasant.
I could feel the head coming with each contraction. I started to push but Lucy encouraged me to just keep breathing, to breathe the baby out. In the end I think I half breathed him out and half pushed. As I started to actively push a bit more my waters broke, finally! It felt awful, like something exploded and I freaked a little bit and Lucy said “that’s just the waters” and “the baby has done a poo so there is some meconium in the water now”. Lucy encouraged me to see if I could feel the top of his head which I could and after each surge I would check his progress which was really lovely, if not a bit icky. As the next contraction came I felt that the top of the head came out but then in between the contractions it went back again. After the next one, in a rather stupid or genius move (you decide), I sort of kept the push going so that the head didn’t go back in again (luckily no one noticed). At some point I had requested (begged) for gas and air and I had a few pulls on it before the last 2 contractions. With Eilys’s labour I used gas and air and rather than easing the pain, it sort of centered me a little and cleared my head but it really didn’t this time. I think maybe I had left it too late! With the next contraction his head was out and here is the weirdest thing, I could actually feel him turn his head to get his shoulderd and body out. It felt really really odd. I had asked Joe to photograph the baby’s head once it was out, which he did but the photos were a bit rubbish due to the lighting and the swirly meconium poop in the water.
At some point, it might have been just before I started to push or after the head was out (who knows!), I had a little music based panic. I asked Joe to put on my calmer “birth” playlist rather than my more aggressive, rocky “labour” playlist but after “All you need is love” –skip-, “All the young dudes” –skip- and then something depressing by Embrace, I told Joe to put the “Labour” playlist back on.
With his head out I waited for the next contraction, eager to meet me new little man. I asked Lucy what to do when he came out and she said that I should just lift him to the surface and put him on my chest. As he came out I reached for him and carefully lifted him out of the water but as I went to put him to my chest Lucy stopped me “Emma, the cord is round his neck”. She was really calm. Me not so much. I was paralysed by panic. But Lucy careful looped his umbilical cord off him and then I held him. He screamed. A lot but that might have been due to him making his appearance in the world to “Being a Girl” by Mansun, poor kid. It was so amazing and surreal to have him in my arms. It was still slightly twilit outside and in the candle light everything had a magical glow about it. I just remember beaming with happiness and pride. After a while we could hear the fireworks that Dylan was watching but otherwise everything was really calm and quiet. Me and Joe talked about whether he looked like a Jack or an Evan, deciding that he definitely looked like an Evan. Evan James Hartley was born at 20:49 on 19th August 2017 weighing 8lb 6oz.
I had opted for a natural third stage of labour, for reasons that now escape me, so we waited for the contractions to return to expel the placenta. While we waited Joe had a tethered cuddle with his new son and Evan had a bit of a feed. After a while I had some more contractions, which were bloody painful! I had gas and air to get the placenta out and gently tugged on the umbilical cord to help it on its way. The placenta was born at 21:41. Lucy floated a plastic tub in the pool with me and popped the placenta in it as we had to do a spot of “Lotus birthing” as we waited for Dylan to return home to cut the cord.
As soon as Dylan and my parents arrived home Dylan shouted “Mummy I have something really exciting to show you!!”… Ditto dude!! He came running up the stairs and into the room holding his winnings from the fair and then stopped at the doorway, taking in the scene. His face then lit up and he rushed over. It was beautiful. Behind him came my parents with shocked, awed expressions on their faces. It must have looked a bit of a scary scene. Naked daughter in a bloody pool!! (I was well covered with a towel!) We introduced them to Evan and then asked Dylan if he wanted to cut the cord, which he did. Dylan asked a lot of questions and was really worried that he was going to hurt Evan but Lucy was brilliant with him and talked him through all the different bits of the cord and the placenta. Lucy was having a few issues with the cord tie that I had bought so that we didn’t need to use those ridiculously huge clip things (I used these and they were brilliant!!) Dylan cut the cord and then him and Joe were able to give Evan some cuddles as I prepared to get my ass out of the pool.
Lucy checked me over and then I had a quick shower. I cleaned myself up and put some clothes on. Lucy made me my placenta smoothie (but that is another tale!) and then I went to kiss Dylan goodnight. On entering his room I was greeted by the most wonderful sight. Both my parents and both of my sons were having a bedtime story from Joe (a paw patrol book… no accounting for taste!!). It was lovely. Lucy popped in and asked if she could weigh Evan, which Dylan helped with.
My Dad helped Lucy pack away all the stuff, Joe emptied the pool and I sat in bed feeding Evan and staring at him in wonder. Being at home for his birth was the best decision. It was so calm and chilled. There was no being held in hospital against my will until I had done 350ml of wee. There was no looming threat of Joe being sent away. It was just relaxed. Lucy was great throughout. She made me feel empowered and comfortable, she wasn’t pushy or overbearing, she allowed me to make all the decisions. Hypnobirthing helped too. I didn’t use it all but the breathing was so helpful and Lucy used a lot of the positive language and affirmations which made me feel very able to get through the harder bits. I am so happy that I finally got the birth that I have been planning since my first pregnancy. Dylan and Eilys’s births were not how I planned to have my babies but they both ended with a beautiful baby and that is all that really matters. But with Evan’s birth I was able to do it on my terms and that feels pretty bloody incredible.
Anyway, I am really sorry that I have rambled on for 3000+ words but I wanted to do Evan’s birth story justice. Thank you so much for reading and well done for getting to the end!!