My HBAC birth after a preemie!

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Originally Posted by Sarah on her blog

I’m absolutely over the moon to be able to share with you my birth story for my second baby, beautiful Freddie, who was born on a beautiful and warm Thursday evening in June. A month ago to be exact: Thursday 9th June 2016 @ 8:32pm.

According to my dating scan, I was 42+1 when my surges began early in the morning. I woke up at around six, with that common crampy feeling I’d been experiencing through the night for the past couple of weeks. Unlike the other nights though, I’d finally got my show. I knew that it was the day we’d been waiting for. I felt sick, and I wasn’t sure if it was the hormones or the excitement!

Chris had some pretty important meetings to attend at work, so I sent him off with a stern warning that he was to be firmly attached to his mobile at all times! He joked that I’d said for the past few days that “today might be the day”, but he knew that on that morning, something was different. So as he went off to work, the excitement I’d been feeling for months was bubbling up inside me, ready to spew out, as I realised that we would soon be meeting our baby.

I was having surges frequently, but lasting only a short period of time, and in no sort of pattern. Although my second baby, this was my first labour, and so I had been pre-warned to let the midwives know what was happening before I thought I needed them, just in case things progressed faster than I realised. I texted the midwives, and carried on dancing around the kitchen with George in between. At around 10am, a pattern had started to develop.

I had thrown up the banana I’d eaten, and I was struggling to give George the attention he needed, so I contacted Chris and asked him to come home. I also asked Sharyn (my main midwife) to come and see me so that I could check in. While she made her way over to me, Chris got home with a beautiful big bouquet of flowers and was a buzz of frantic energy. He busied himself around me, cleaning the kitchen and tidying the house. His nervous energy was massively upsetting my mojo, so after I had a go at him for disrupting my flow, he banished me to the bedroom with my hypnobirthing MP3s while he set up the birth pool in the lounge. I had The Calm Birth School Birth Rehearsal and Affirmations audio on repeat as I swayed around the room.

Sharyn arrived before long, and given that she was happy I was in the earlier stages, she wanted to leave us to progress in peace. She went off to a coffee shop while Chris, George and I danced and swayed to my pre-planned playlist of cheesy love songs (the same playlist we used for massages and romantic meals during the pregnancy).

When my surges came, I found myself leaning forward over the bannister to provide relief, while Chris used a light touch that Sharyn had shown him over my back. It seemed to miraculously dissipate the uncomfortable sensations and it felt amazing to be so connected as we worked through each surge together.

As things progressed, I wanted to get into the pool. It wasn’t long before I was feeling the power rise up, and the surges intensify with it. At one point I decided to get out of the pool for a cool down, but one surge out of the water was the equivalent to about 10 in it, and I soon jumped back in!

IMG_5292-300x200Before long I felt the urge to start pushing. The urge went as soon as it had come, but things were definitely changing. It was a totally relaxed atmosphere as Chris stroked my back and I closed my eyes and rested my body in between surges. Resting my head on Chris, I could hear George giggling as he played outside with my mum, totally oblivious to this imminent new life making its way through my body.
My most comfortable position was on all fours, either with my hands on the pool floor, or resting on my forearms on the side. My shoulders and arms were having a pretty intense workout and I needed food. The problem was that I couldn’t even keep water down. As the surges grew closer together, I was dozing off in the 30 seconds in between. With my head rested on the side of the pool, I would begin to slip backwards into the water, which soon woke me with a jolt. The small burst of energy that was afforded by my 30second naps was enough to propel me through each surge as it came.

As things were getting more uncomfortable, I decided to change from love songs to my Calm Birth School Powerball MP3, which I had listened to religiously throughout my pregnancy from about 20 weeks. I’d been using my breathing techniques up to this point in my labour and they’d served me well, and so decided that it made sense to ramp things up a notch on the hypnobirthing front.

In under a minute, I realised it was totally the wrong thing for me to be listening to and I shouted at Chris to turn it off! I felt different. I didn’t want to be relaxed. I felt powerful and wanted to match that. I had discovered a forceful energy – I was heeding my animal roots like never before. Getting excited knowing my baby was coming meant that Suzy’s dulcet tones just didn’t seem to fit this new energy, so I switched it up for a loud, upbeat grime/hip hop/r&b playlist – the type I’d bounce around to when I was having dance offs with George in my pregnancy!

Music that made me feel powerful and sexy. Perfect!

I felt the head coming, but it was just a tease. It was beginning to venture out and then retreating back inside, like dipping a toe in the cold sea and pulling it out just as quickly. After a few of these excited and optimistic “it’s really coming” moments I had a deep, very real and very disappointing, sense that it wasn’t coming at all. I said out loud “I can’t do this” to which Sharyn very softly, but matter of factly, replied through a big knowing smile, “you are doing this”.

Chris & Sharyn (and Claire, surreptitiously in the corner of the room) continued guiding me through my breathing and reminding me how amazing I was. Then, all of a sudden, I felt like a goddess. I realised my body was doing this. This incredible experience that I had dreamed about – this was my dream coming true!

I was having my baby at home, in a pool, with no drugs, no interventions, no stress and surrounded by people I love.

After what seemed like forever, the head was finally out, and I felt this little body squirming around inside me, choosing the best position from which to push out into the world.

And just like that… I did it!

My baby was in the pool. Sharyn told me to reach down and grab my baby. In total shock, and after nearly sitting straight on him, I did. I couldn’t believe it. I was overwhelmed with emotion. Our beautiful, amazing baby had entered the world, in the exact way I had visualised over and over.

Sharyn realised the cord was wrapped around the arm, waist and neck, so after a little dance and unwind under the water, I was able to lift my baby up onto my chest for my first cuddle. I was totally elated. On cloud nine!

That feeling was short lived though. There was no cry, no gasp for air, and within seconds, both Sharyn and Claire were jumping on us rubbing my beautiful new baby with towels to stimulate breathing. I was told to get out of the pool to sit on the floor as my baby was resuscitated. I had that horribly familiar sinking feeling that my baby wasn’t going to make it.

Thankfully, I was wrong. It took a while, but no sooner had he took his first breath, than he began to root and latch a little clumsily! Being a chiropractor, I immediately checked his spine and skull for signs of nerve interference (which we know can affect the ability to nurse in babies). Following a gentle fingertip-pressure adjustment, along came the latch – this time, like a boss! Literally, he was breathing unassisted at 8 minutes and breastfeeding at 12!

IMG_5309-300x200My uterus was contracting as I fed, and I eventually felt the need to go to the bathroom to birth the placenta. The midwives had it all set up so my precious placenta wouldn’t fall down the toilet and I sat there with my gorgeous baby boy at my breast. After 73 minutes (you read it right – 1hr 13 minutes!), my cord was white, stopped pulsing and my placenta came out with a plop. Chris cut the cord and was able to enjoy some skin on skin cuddles with baby while I moved over to the bed, and laid down, ready for my post-birth check.

Freddie David Keen was born as a home VBAC (against the advice of many midwives and a GP) at 42+1 weeks, weighing 9lb 6oz with no interventions, no painkillers and no tearing. I’m confident that this is the result of creating a real dream team around me, and I will be forever grateful to all those who have given me the information to be able to have such an amazing and empowering experience.

With love,
Sarah x