My pregnancy and labour with Celina was definitely my most challenging though as with most things, looking back it doesn't seem so bad, and she was certainly worth the wait! We had just been starting to think about another baby (we already had two boys) and had stopped being quite so careful and were thrilled to discover I was pregnant again.
From the beginning the whole pregnancy was very different to my previous two and I felt very nauseous in the first few weeks. A scan at 18 weeks showed 'probably' a girl so we were very excited. One concern was that the placenta was low and partially 'previa' but we were assured the chances of it not moving were less than 3%. We decided to have another scan at 32 weeks to be certain especially with my history of fast labours. The next scan showed the placenta had moved up enough and once again showed a girl. This time we got excited, and we started thinking of 'her'.
It sure seemed to be a long pregnancy. I guess by the time you get to #3 the novelty has worn off a bit! By 37 weeks I was starting to show signs of being 'ready' and even my midwife felt this baby would be early so we got organised!
At 39 weeks I woke in the middle of the night about 3 am with light cramps. Though mild they were 5 - 10 minutes apart so given my history I decided I'd better let everyone know. I was especially concerned about my husband David getting home in time as he works night shift as a fitter in an underground coal mine and would take 1 1/2 hours minimum to get out of the tunnel, showered and home. I was able to get a message to him and also phoned my sister who was only half hour drive away. The contractions continued steady but still very mild and I pottered around getting the birth pool filled, towels out etc. But by early morning the contractions had almost petered out. Then after a few hours break, they were suddenly back and this time they had some more kick. Remembering Shaun's birth, I set off walking to try and help things along. They continued for about two hours and just when we thought some action was about to begin, they suddenly stopped completely! I just couldn't work out what was going on!
My midwife called in that afternoon, and we decided to do an internal (my first ever in pregnancy & labour!) and found I was 3 cm dilated so that was at least some progress. Everyone went home assuring me they'd be back in the night! Well they were not and for another week we waited. Everyone had a theory on when it would happen but day by day the dates went past and suddenly I was past my due date for the first time ever!
At two days past dates (Monday) I had a non-stress test done (another first! - 20 minutes on a fetal heart monitor) and of course she was fine. I could have told them it was me that was stressed, not her! I also had another quick two minute scan to definitely rule out the low placenta as the cause of the head not dropping right down and labour stalling but this time we could see it had moved up even higher so that was a relief! Another internal showed I was now 5 cm and my cervix more thinned so at least some progress was being made! My midwife stretched my cervix (ouch) and again we hoped that would start something but still nothing! I began to feel really stressed - the waiting, constant phone calls and enquires if I'd 'had the baby yet' had me in tears more than a few times and I was letting the answer machine do a lot of 'screening'!!
Another worry was that we knew that when it did happen it was likely to be quite fast so I couldn't go far and I felt very 'housebound'. While I knew it was normal to go to 42 or even 43 weeks, that had never happened to me before with both boys being either early or on-time and this had all been made worse by the pre-labour and expectation that I would be early.
On Wednesday I had a small show in the morning and then late in the afternoon a heavy one - yippee, I thought, this is it - but still we waited and nothing! I was given the option of seeing a specialist who'd be able to authorise an induction (which would just mean breaking my waters as I was so well dilated already) but the big catch with this was it would have to be done at the local birth centre - not a bad place but not the wonderful homebirth I'd planned. In fact I just couldn't visualise labouring in a hospital as I'd never done it before and I knew I wouldn't be as relaxed and happy as I would be at home so we decided to give her a few more days. I was like a yoyo - one minute worrying and thinking I want this over and the next thinking I would wait it out! I decided to try and just take things one day at a time and keep as busy as possible - I was mowing lawns, digging gardens, anything to keep me busy!
Early on Sunday morning I was woken by my son Shaun who was having a bad dream and stood up feeling quite funny and then felt a gush of waters and realised something was finally happening and I was so excited! Soon after, some contractions started up but they had no pattern and could be five minutes apart and then two hours! We called my midwife in the morning and she arranged to come at 2 PM if nothing happened before. We tried to carry on as normal but it was hard to not be caught between excitement and fear that it would all stop again! By the time she arrived, there was really no progress and I was feeling very teary and uptight. She said she'd check me again and I was now at 7 cm with my cervix totally thinned - pretty good for still not being in real labour!! She could still feel a bag of waters bulging and guessed that it was my hindwaters that had broken. She said that the way things were she thought the rest of my waters would break very soon and then things would happen very fast.
My worry though was David was due to go back to work that night and not only was I not keen on being left alone but also if nothing happened before then, he was almost sure to not make it home in time. So I asked if she could break the rest of my waters and she said yes if I asked her to. I quickly said yes please! We were ready for this baby so she popped them and with a gush we knew we'd have our baby by the end of the night! I said thank you to her and then joked that in a few hours I'd probably not be thanking her!
I called my Sister, Mum, Sister-in-law and Mother-in-law to tell them it was time to head over. After about half an hour the first real contractions started and within another half an hour they were ten minutes apart and I was most comfortable standing. My midwife said she would go to do some shopping to give us some peace and would be back in around an hour. Just before she got back, the contractions started to get really intense and I had to start working through them. She arrived back in the middle of a particularly big one and said, "well it looks like we are going to have a baby soon," and called the student midwife to come.
I found the contractions with this labour required quite a lot of mental effort to work through. Unlike my other labours, they were not all similar and would vary in strength and type from one to the next. Sometimes I wanted David to rub my back, etc. and others I just wanted to be on my own. As the contractions became more pushy, I was sick. This is I think one of the most miserable experiences - retching at one end and cramping at the other! Realising how close things were getting, the discussion turned to where I wanted to be to deliver. I had the birth pool all set up but, with the weather being quite warm, I was feeling the heat and it just didn't look as inviting as it might have in cooler weather or at night. Also, she was still lying posterior and being upright felt more comfy than lying back or squatting in the pool. I had made a birth mat, so I ended up standing on that holding onto the side of the pool.
I found it very hard to relax into this labour. With Shaun's homebirth I'd been totally in control and it all 'flowed' but this time, with all the drama in the weeks before, I think I was just waiting for something to go wrong again so was more tense and had to work really hard at not losing control. My legs started to shake from standing so I moved onto my hands and knees and rested my head on some pillows on the couch. Between contractions I didn't want to move at all just stay totally still. It was like I had to conserve every ounce of energy!
To me, the pushing didn't seem very productive and I found myself beginning to wonder how much longer. Then I had a really unusual contraction which I now realise was her turning anterior. With the next contraction, I felt the head and a productive push and then with the next contraction, I felt the head crown, and then suddenly, in a gush, she was here! Celina Rosalie Maree, weighing 8 lbs, 13 oz. I was so surprised, as I had though we still had a way to go.
My midwife wrapped her in a towel and passed her to David. Everyone was ooing and ahhing, and I sat back feeling very stunned. Then I said, "What is it; is it a girl"? David was all smiles and saying 'you beauty' and I had to say again, "Is it a girl" The second time more loudly and after what seemed like hours, but was probably seconds, he replied, "yes." He passed her to me, and we had our first cuddles. The midwife offered David the chance to cut the cord, but he was too engrossed in his new daughter and had done it twice before so his sister ended up doing it, which was nice as she'd arrived feeling very apprehensive about the whole birth/pain thing and ended up totally in awe of the whole experience.
Dylan and Shaun had been around for most of the labour and most of the time I'd been pushing, they'd been just metres away eating their dinner without showing any amount of concern! At one stage, Dylan had come in and had a good look and asked if the baby was coming yet, but when he was told not yet, ran back outside to play with Granddad who was keeping out of the way! They missed the actual birth but when they heard she was here, they ran inside and the looks on their faces were magic! Everyone else in the room was buzzing too, and it felt so neat to have all the excitement surrounding us.
The next few hours were just fabulous - the best part of the home birth experience in my opinion. It was like a big birthday party. My father-in-law turned up and also my brother-in-law who'd been scuba diving for the day and had got some crayfish (lobster) and scallops so the men took over the kitchen and cooked them up, and we washed them down with a glass of champagne. Later after I'd had a shower, Celina was passed around and cuddled by everyone while I made some phone calls and e-mails announcing her arrival!! It was amazing how good I felt - even within the first hour, it was as if I'd hardly had a baby. No stitches is definitely the key to that!
Later after everyone was gone (having cleaned up, tidied up and put the boys to bed for us) David and I cuddled down in our own bed and lay talking about all that had happened and our plans for the future. For us there could be no other way - homebirth is the best!