In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Meg Hill shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home births really aren’t as scary as some people make out. And that’s coming from someone who had one, was transferred to hospital a few hours later, and ended up staying there for five days. It was my third baby, and I wouldn’t have changed that birth for the world.
The pregnancy was fairly long-winded, though. I had pelvic girdle pain from 10 weeks, which is where the pelvis starts to separate more than it should – it put me on crutches. And from 33 weeks, I had early onset labour, meaning I was getting mild contractions on and off until the end of my pregnancy.
I was due on 14 December. By New Year’s Eve, I’d decided enough was enough. During one of my monitoring visits, I requested a C-section and was booked in for the following Monday. I had been adamant I wasn’t going to be induced – I’d had a traumatic first birth so wanted to skip the entire induction process and just have a section. But, after discussing with a trusted supervisor of midwives, I agreed to have the first stage of induction and accepted a sweep.
I had mild contractions when I got home that evening after booking the section, but nothing worth bothering about. At 10pm, they started again so I contacted my birth photographer to give her a heads up. At half 10, they stopped so I encouraged Hazel, the photographer, to have a New Year’s drink. And then, at five to midnight (it was still New Year’s Eve), they started up again. This time I knew this was it – and I knew it was going to be quick.
I felt it all so much. I felt the change between the types of contractions. I felt myself going into transition – adrenaline rising, heart pumping, recognising that my body needed to work. I was about to meet her, and it was amazing. I knew this baby was going to come before my C-section on the Monday.
To give the midwife an opportunity to say Happy New Year to her nearest and dearest, I held off phoning her until after midnight – then promptly told her she needed to come. She arrived swiftly, not long after the photographer, around half 12. I was already upstairs pacing at this point, in my room where we’d had a birthing pool set up for weeks. They set up while I climbed in the pool... and it felt like only minutes later I needed to breathe the baby out.
It was incredible. At 1.15am my daughter was born and it couldn’t have gone better. It was the perfect birth. The placenta took an hour to come and we spent that hour in the pool together.
Once we got out, she was checked over and weighed, then we snuggled into bed together. The midwife was slightly concerned about my daughter’s temperature – they couldn’t seem to get it up initially. But she just about managed to and they were happy with her health, so they left.
A few hours later, though, the community midwife came around and again, my daughter couldn’t keep her temperature up. Her breathing had also become noisy, so the midwife called for ambulance to take us into hospital. My daughter was taken straight to NICU, where she was put onto oxygen and tested for an infection – sepsis and meningitis (we didn’t actually find that out until a couple of days later. My husband’s sister died of meningitis so it was an added worry on top of the concern we already felt).
I tried hard not to panic – my two older children were there with us when we were told to go to hospital. We needed to look calm, even if we weren’t. I just remember thinking, “I’ve got to be strong. My baby needs me more than anything else.” I guess I just tried to keep a lid on what was happening for me, and think about her needs.
She was nil by mouth, and the best thing I could do for her was express milk. It was the only practical thing I could offer. I wanted to be the person caring for her. She was 9lbs 5oz, so looked big and healthy compared to other babies in the ward, but she had to be kept monitored to check she could keep her temperature up on her own. She came out of the high dependency unit after that first day and went into special care, where we were able to be more hands on with her.
After that, she was given a cot where we could share a room together. She was in there about five days – and we were so happy to bring her home to us. I just knew she would come out in the best way.
My birth advice?
You are the person responsible for your decisions, so be happy and confident in the decisions you’re making and don’t be afraid to ask questions to get the information you need.