I signed up to 121 midwives very late on in my pregnancy, around 36 weeks pregnant, I didn’t hesitate to sign up! I had negotiated a water birth at my local birth centre, I had a previous caesarean and so this was not an easy thing to negotiate. I met Lisa for the first time and it felt a relief to have my visits at home!

Lisa mentioned home birth and I instantly said no, however when Lisa left I started to think about it. I had looked into research and knew the safety angle around VBAC’s. However, there was another barrier I had a breech oblique baby.

So the next few weeks were a haze within a heat wave of seeing chiropractors, doing inversions from spinning babies and once I had a cephalic baby keeping him there with tape and a support belt!! Over the period of 4 weeks I felt comfortable enough to have a home birth, I had wanted one before so I could feel my dream could be realised!! Lisa inspired me to reach a dream I had always wanted!

I had nearly 2 weeks of slow labour, contractions starting around 5pm and ending at around 11pm each night. Then finally at around 2.30am I had a contraction that woke me up and I knew that this contraction was going to be the real thing. I got out of bed and started to time them; I went downstairs and tried to distract myself by emptying the dishwasher. I listened to the Natal Hypnotherapy CD for birth in the dark and this was good for a while.

I woke my husband to help with the contractions, I asked him to run the shower on my back and this helped for a few contractions. I became very restless with each contraction and didn’t know what to do with myself as they were increasing in intensity and were every two minutes. I called Lisa and she suggested calling her when the intensity was too much. I texted my friend Joanne who was my birth partner, and even though I hadn’t been in labour long I felt my progress was far on and she made arrangements to come over very quickly.

The contractions seemed very intense quite early on and they were every two minutes but not as intense with each contraction, I later realised this is called coupling with small contractions imbetween the proper contractions. With each contraction I felt I needed to go to the toilet to poo and did at the beginning but then I had to work with the renal contractions as they were becoming more intense but I didn’t actually needed to go to the toilet.

I tried to relieve the contractions with heat pad; this worked well for a few contractions and then didn’t seem to be helpful more an annoyance. Once Joanne arrived I felt better, My husband could get on with the practical stuff like filling the pool which I felt very desperate to get into. Joanne thought I didn’t look very far on as I was very here with her and not in a labour zone at all, she helped me work with the contractions which were increasingly becoming very rectal and uncomfortable. Joanne rang Lisa and Lisa said that it may be my waters about to break. I felt very unable to consider what might help relieve my contractions as they were coming every two minutes so it was great having Joanne she could suggest things to help. I remember trying smells/ music/ different positions but nothing seemed to ease this rectal pain with each contraction so much that I didn’t feel contractions in my back or my womb they were all just rectal. I recall laughing with Joanne that I needed to open up but couldn’t because I just felt tense in my cervix region!!!

The pool was finally ready and the relief was amazing once I was in. Joanne put the Natal Hypnotherapy CD on and I had a lavender wheat bag and everything for the first time just felt like a big relief. Joanne helped with words, or light touch and I had a pint of Vimto with a straw all these combinations of my senses felt reached for once in the labour!! My contractions were for the first time manageable and I was able to sink into them. I recall our youngest daughter coming in and looking at me with a beautifully innocent questioning face imbetween contractions, our eldest daughter shut the door in the other room and watched TV.

The period of time is very hazy but around 7am my waters then did break with force in the pool and then everything ramped up to another level and my contractions felt unmanageable again. Joanne rang Lisa concerned that my labour was much further on now after my waters broke; Lisa said she was on her way. I thought that the relieving feeling from my waters breaking would be great but the rectal feeling continued but with far more intensity. I felt unable to relieve them, the smell of the lavender wheat bag was suddenly vile and I could feel adrenaline in my body. Being at home in a pool and Joanne helping me through the contractions helped this rectal feeling from each of the contractions.

I recall Lisa arriving and I saw the gas and air and I wanted it!! I liked the feeling of the gas and air being able to help me breathe through the contractions. Lisa did some baby heartbeat checks and checks on me and as I had already been in the pool for a while she couldn’t do a vaginal examination but she was very confident in my progress and that I was quite far on in my labour. Lisa was so fantastic that I forgot that there was any risk at all in the fact that this was a VBAC. I, my husband and Joanne felt so confident in everything she did.

I recall our daughters coming to say goodbye, my husband was taking our eldest to school and taking our youngest daughter with him. My husband and I used to joke about him coming home and me giving birth to the baby in the meantime only for him to walk through the door and see the baby!!!

I was still finding the labour very rectal; I couldn’t feel any contractions in my womb at all. I recall asking Lisa and Joanne if I was in second stage and they both laughed, I felt relieved but confused that I hadn’t felt the pushing contractions take over just the same rectal feeling! I started to feel pressure of a head and Lisa asked me to see if I could feel the head, I could so I knew the baby was about to be born, wow!! I still continued to use the gas and air and it helped so I was able to breathe rhythmically to assist baby being born. It felt like quite a few pushes before baby was born but I didn’t feel I needed to put much effort into the pushing my body did just push from my bum of course not from my womb!!! Baby was born into the water I had dreamed of him being born into. Baby was born at 9.17am. It was beautiful to hold him in water at home. Lisa encouraged me to hold his umbilical cord whilst it was pulsating, she encouraged me to hold it again after half an hour and the difference was remarkable, I was so pleased I had managed to do delayed cord clamping and also to deliver the placenta normally too.

My husband and younger daughter walked through the door and I was holding our son in the water, Joanne managed to capture a picture of him as he walked through the door, what a picture to treasure!!

I had my home birth in water, delayed cord clamping, delivered the placenta normally with my friend assisting me as a birth partner with the most amazing midwife Lisa helping me each step of the way! All of that after a previous caesarean! To have the confidence of Lisa at my birth was what helped me through without doubt.

I could not have done any of this without Lisa and 121 midwives, this is what midwifery used to be and should be now, my home birth experience has been transformative, including the post natal care which I highly recommend indeed.