Lucy Estherby on why she chose to have a homebirth.
My homebirth story comes packed with comparisons. I think that’s the beauty of having already done something once, you get to make more informed choices and do things differently if you wish; and I really did. Eden, my first, was an assisted delivery and it left me in a state of shock. The birth had been going well until we had a midwife change over, I lost my flow, baby was just NOT coming out, I ran out of steam and I was moved to theatre. The forceps were quite tough on us both. This was all pretty rough but nowhere near as terrifying as some births come, I knew that. But it was the after birth environment that was the hardest part. The morning after the night before, me and three other women were rushed out of our ward as the woman in the bed opposite me decided to have a cigarette. YES. A CIGARETTE, behind her curtain. Now, I’m not one to judge and I’d never publicly shame anyone. Except this woman, because to smoke on a maternity ward with newborn babies, you’ve got to be some kind of div. All I wanted was to be at home, with my husband but I had to wait until 10am for him to arrive.
I digress, but it’s for a reason. This time round I knew I wanted a homebirth. I knew I needed to give birth in my own environment, my own surroundings.
I was finding getting my head around birth number two quite tricky as we’d just moved house (a relocation and renovation job), I had a toddler and also a business to run. So finding any sort of headspace was impossible! Plus, I have the propensity to just wing things. Not in the sloganesque sort of way of ‘just winging it’; I sometimes have a genuine inability to plan things properly. I tend to hope for the best! (My nickname at school was ‘Hasty Haslam’). This sometimes goes in my favour but sometimes it all falls apart and then I slap myself on the wrist and tell myself to do better next time!
Birth number two was imminent and at my 36 week appointment, my midwife ran through what a homebirth was like and, apart from being anxious, I was ready to commit. ‘YEP, I’ll do it all from home. Sign me up’.
My midwife was extremely supportive and gave me the encouragement to essentially design my own birth. However, all the time I was under no illusion and I knew that it might not happen and I’d have to go to hospital and that was fine, as long as I’d given it a go. Come on kid – we can do it!
As 40 weeks approached, every day came and went and I was thinking that today had to be the day. But at 40+5 I was feeling unusually energetic (I cleared out the loft, made a stew and wrote a blog piece) and I was actually filming some IG stories when I felt my first twinges. Isn’t it weird how your body knows that it needs some serious strength for labour so does what it needs to do to prepare? As the hour passed, things really picked up and I was frantically Googling ‘Am I in labour?’ Yeah – great one.
Going in to labour second time round felt oddly familiar but each sensation was still so unfamiliar. The contractions came and went. The only affirmation from my hypnobirthing course, that I’d done some three years previous, that I could remember was ‘with each contraction you are one step closer to meeting your baby’. Phew, another one done, another one done. I could do this.
As a typical introvert, I top up my energy levels by being on my own. I love being around people but I refill when I’m on my own. Giving birth in a dark, quiet room was exactly how I needed to do it. Oh and a pool would be nice too. We had the pool set up and that was part of my ‘plan’. That was my husband’s job, to fill the pool with warm water. As I was in the throes of some serious contractions, I could hear him on the phone to my parents asking them how to connect a hose to a tap which would then fill up a pool. All the emojis! I think baby brain had hit him too. I knew he just wanted to say to me “Luce, you just don’t understand how hard this is!”. No words.
I finally got into the pool (he used pots and pans I think, or did the hose start working? No idea). The pool was so heavenly on my body, I hadn’t realised how much pain I was in until a slice of it was taken away by the water.
My contractions slowed as I was in the water but they were so intense at this point. I could feel baby coming and I was also aware that at this point in labour, transition, that you reach a very intense mental state. I was there! I’d not naturally experienced this part of labour before and my god, it was like nothing I could ever have imagined. Maybe that’s why you lose your head a bit during this part, Mother Nature’s way of protecting its gals. Thankfully, it happens quickly.
Dear human body, I’m in awe.
Baby arrived at 11.39pm, 10 hours after it all began. At home, in a pool, and it was a boy. 9lb 8oz. Gosh he was big and he was all mine. I felt like a flipping hero (a hero who couldn’t feel her legs, arms and I was incredibly thirsty).
Well done kid – we did it.