I had never desired nor intended to have a home birth.
The background to this tale is explained in the previous post “Birth Number One (a.k.a. The Slowest Birth Of All Time)
I could not possibly share the story of the Accidental Home Birth without first putting it into context with the story of Birth Number One.
Unfortunately the telling of that tale turned out to be surprisingly long – much like the labour itself.
Birth Number One is an amusing enough story in its own right, although significantly less dramatic.
Therefore for the benefit of anyone who wants to cut straight to the chase and get down to the blue flashing lights, the reluctant paramedic and the baby falling out on the bedroom floor, I have removed the introductory tale of Birth Number One and placed it in a separate post.
Do click the on the link above and read it before continuing if you, like me, prefer the full story.
If not, let’s proceed directly onwards.
(But don’t blame me if you cheat and enjoy it less without doing your background reading first)
In summary: If nothing else, Birth Number One (a.k.a. The Slowest Birth Of All Time) had left me feeling extremely relaxed about having plenty of time get to the hospital.
My prime concern as I approached the due date for Baby Number Two had been what I was going to do with Baby Number One.
I made multiple impractical contingency plans for who would look after him if I went into labour, then breathed a sigh of relief when I made it to 39 weeks and my Mother arrived to stay.
Saturday: Due Date
My mother was helping with toddler childcare and long-suffering husband had the weekend off work. In the evening a few gentle contractions started.
I thought it would be wise to get an early night in case things progressed.
I went to bed at 9pm, handed over the baby monitor, and managed to sleep for more than twelve hours. That has certainly not happened in the two years since.
Sunday: Due Date plus One
I woke up late morning time with no contractions.
I felt incredible after all that sleep.
Life was good.
I was entertaining my son in the kitchen whilst helping my husband cook a roast dinner. I felt a sudden sharp twinge.
I sloped off quietly to hide in our en suite bathroom, timing the contractions on my phone. I was surprised to see they were only two minutes apart.
They must be Braxton-Hicks.
Real contractions surely start slowly and build up,…they don’t suddenly appear out of nowhere at that speed?
Long-suffering husband popped his head around the door looking annoyed.
“I am trying to cook this roast dinner and you have just walked off and left me with a child. Are you coming back?”
“Are you having contractions?”
He had spotted me deep breathing.
“I think I will just run a bath.”
I ran a bath and got in.
I was surprised by how painful these contractions were, given that they had only just begun. I took two paracetamol.
At this rate I would be needing an epidural in about an hour, never mind in five days’ time.
I kept timing the contractions:
- Still very regular
- Still two minutes apart
I was confused.
Long-suffering husband returned to check in on me.
“I wonder….maybe we should go to the hospital? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time when it’s so early on, and they must be fake contractions as they started two minutes apart, but…”
“You don’t look like you’re having fake contractions. The look like they hurt.”
I considered this observation.
“Yes you’re right. They do.”
Silence for a minute.
“Okay, let’s go to the hospital. Do you mind taking my bag to the car?”
He sprang into action and ran to the car.
I had a reassuring talk to myself.
- Stay calm.
- This is perfect timing.
- It is 3.30pm on a Sunday afternoon.
- Your husband is at home and can drive you to the hospital, and your Mother is here to look after the toddler.
- You could not have planned this any better.
Despite my pep talk I felt quite uneasy at the speed with which things were progressing.
I managed to get out of the bath onto the bathroom floor, feeling quite out of breath as I crawled towards the toilet.
Strangely there was fluid pouring out of me.
Aha. My waters had broken.
I looked at the clock. 3.35pm.
Surely this couldn’t be right?
At 3pm I had been helping to cook a roast dinner, contraction-free.
I dried myself repeatedly with a towel and discovered that I could not get dry. I realised it was because sweat was pouring off my body.
I managed to put a tee-shirt on.
Long-suffering husband reappeared.
“Okay the bag is in the car. Are you ready to….”
He stopped, catching sight of me sprawled on the bathroom floor, pouring with sweat and wearing nothing but a tee-shirt.
“Why aren’t you dressed?”
I tried to explain.
“I keep trying to get dressed. Then I get another contraction and I have to stop, and then I am wet again…”
“I think you should call an ambulance.”
He looked confused.
I was quite certain I was not going to make it to the car.
“I really need to push.”
This was a new sensation to me.
Thanks to the lovely epidural put in by that talented twelve-year-old masquerading as an anaesthetist in Birth Number One, I had never felt this urge to push before.
How to describe it…
Like having the worst case of diarrhoea of your life with all-consuming abdominal cramps, feeling tempted to walk away from the toilet but knowing that if you do, you will definitely poo your pants.
I REALLY wanted to walk away from the bathroom and go to the hospital.
However, my body was telling me that there was something inside that was going to be pushed out very soon and I would have no ability to stop it.
I was going nowhere.
Long-suffering husband dialled 999.
I could only hear his end of the conversation.
“What can I see?”
He bent down to inspect.
By this point I was kneeling, leaning onto a blanket box at the bottom of our bed.
“I can see a head.”
A few instructions were passed onwards to me via my husband.
- Try not to push until the paramedics arrive
- Stay calm
- Could my husband put his hand on the baby’s head to support it to stop it coming any further out?
He could and he did.
It was an odd manoeuvre but felt strangely comforting.
The hardest part at this point was trying not to push. It was like trying to hold in an enormous bout of explosive diarrhoea.
NOT pushing was actually very painful.
So… this would be fine, right?
People have babies every day and an ambulance was on the way.
Luckily I had extensive experience of hypnobirthing techniques.
(See earlier post – My Vagina Is a Rosebud).
I am afraid I jest.
Visualising my vagina as a rosebud did not come into its own here after all.
Strangely, however, a wave of incredible calm did wash over me.
I had driven myself mad in pregnancy number one with my neurotic compulsion to read everything I could about labour in a desire to be well informed and make the best choices for my baby and I.
Despite this proving to be an utterly futile exercise, I still worried about what choices to make in Birth Number Two.
- What if I made a wrong decision?
- What if a bad choice of mine affected my baby’s health?
- How would I ever live with myself?
And so on.
The usual maternal guilt-trip thoughts would dance merrily around in my head.
(For a great description of this phenomenon, see “The Shitty Guilt Fairy” by Hurrah For Gin at the link below)
Strangely, at that moment of finding myself panting half-naked in my bedroom, I felt the blissful release of being absolved of all maternal guilt.
I was squatting on my bedroom floor with a head popping out of my vagina whilst waiting for an ambulance, yet feeling blissfully serene because there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING I COULD DO ABOUT IT and there was NO WAY THAT THIS COULD BE MY FAULT.
- At 3pm I had been helping to cook a roast dinner.
- It was not yet 4pm and a baby was falling out of me.
- Even The Shitty Guilt Fairy had to concede that I could not have seen this coming.
That Shitty Little Guilt fairy could basically piss right off.
I felt positively chipper.
- No facts to consider
- No pros and cons to weigh up
- No difficult decisions to make
- Absolved of all responsibility if anything went wrong
In fact, there was absolutely nothing I could do other than just get on with it and have a baby.
The doorbell rang.
It was an unfortunate man known as a first responder. His job was to make sure things were okay until the ambulance with the two paramedics arrived.
He took one look at me and saw I wasn’t dying. His work was therefore done.
He promptly retreated to the other side of our bedroom, averted his gaze, and embarked upon a spot of light banter with my husband.
Something along the lines of why wasn’t I screaming? Surely I should be shouting or swearing at him like his wife did. I must be managing terribly well to be so quiet.
(I like to think his intention was to be reassuring and to keep us calm by lightening the mood)
He casually mentioned not having delivered any babies before and expressed his intention to stay well away from me as I was doing fine.
Between contractions I enquired had he brought any drugs?
The ambulance arrived along with two paramedics.
The first, a man who was the less experienced of the two, joined the first responder in the jovial banter. They discussed how neither of them had delivered a baby before.
The second paramedic appeared to be a Blonde Angel sent straight from heaven in a dark green uniform.
She strode purposefully across our bedroom and squatted down next to me to introduce herself.
“Am I alright to use these towels?”
Sure enough, there stood a tall pile of freshly laundered towels on the blanket box.
In a strange fit of middle-aged OCD, my father had decided he wanted all the towels in their house to be white. My mother had arrived home one day to discover every other colour of towel piled up for throwing out. Tutting at such wastefulness, she bagged them all up and handed them over to me in case I could make use of them. I was certain I could.
On getting them home I discovered that I had very little storage space for this giant pile of thick fluffy towels. Uncertain where to put them, I had left them in a pile at the bottom of my bed where they had remained ever since.
The Blonde Angel Paramedic was still inexplicably pointing at the towels.
“Yes, of course.”
She promptly laid them down on the (cream-coloured) carpet all around me and looked at her two male colleagues.
“Shall I go and get the stretcher?”
One of them asked helpfully.
she said firmly.
“We are not going anywhere. She is having the baby right now.”
“I have done this before and you are going to be fine. Do you want to push?”
OH. MY. GOD. YES.
It was such a relief to be allowed to push.
Baby Number Two’s head shot out.
Blonde Angel Paramedic’s voice could be heard somewhere above my head talking calmly to Long-Suffering Husband about how she was just unwrapping the cord from around my baby’s neck.
I looked at the two male paramedics who were having a pleasant chat.
“Where are the drugs?”
They looked surprised at my question.
“In the ambulance.”
They were sitting there watching me push out a baby in my bedroom with an ambulance full of drugs outside and they still hadn’t thought to bring me any in?
I must stop giving the impression that I was managing really well and be more clear that drugs would be a good thing.
“I want some!”
One ran off to find some gas and air.
Another contraction, another giant push.
Such a strange, unfamiliar sensation.
This incredibly slippery wriggling object shot out of me speed and whooshed off towards the (well-protected with towels) bedroom floor.
Blonde Angel Paramedic caught the baby and Long-Suffering Husband was saying something about it being a boy.
I could barely hear them.
The sound of their voices was being drowned out by the soundtrack suddenly blaring in my head – Born Slippy By Underworld.
“Drive Boy Dog Boy Dirty Numb Angel Boy…”
I was as high as a kite, kneeling there, feeling as though I had experienced some great epiphany, understanding the true meaning of that strange song being named “Born Slippy.”
“Aaaaah…” I thought, “Because we really ARE born slippy. So, SO slippy.”
The paramedic returned triumphantly clutching the Gas and Air.
“Too late…she’s had the baby already.”
I had just had a baby in my bedroom with nothing more than two paracetamol taken an hour ago.
“I’ll have the gas and air thanks.”
I snatched it from him.
Yes, the baby was already out, but it couldn’t possibly hurt to have some of the good stuff.
Blonde Angel Paramedic gave me some scissors so I could cut his umbilical cord.
Apparently an on-call Midwife had been contacted and the paramedics had to stay with me until she arrived.
Blonde Angel Paramedic suggested we may as well deliver the placenta. She pulled gently and out it came.
No sign of the midwife.
I asked if it was okay to get back in my abandoned bath from 45 minutes and a lifetime earlier.
I shut the door on the strange scene in my bedroom and relaxed for ten minutes before getting dressed.
The midwife turned up and found me dressed and eating a roast dinner. She pronounced all was well – nothing had torn and there was no need to go to hospital.
So that was it.
Two hours after my first contraction, we bode farewell to our paramedic visitors and carried on with our evening as though nothing had ever happened.
And thanks to the quick thinking of Blonde Angel Paramedic, even the cream-coloured bedroom carpet remained unblemished.