(This is the birth of the second baby of my good friends, Sarah and Lee. I had the privilege of being their birth partner for the wonderful birth of baby Jonathan.)
My guessing date was 19th September. From the 9th, I’d started having slight twinges on and off every few days – nothing major – then on the 21st cramping started on and off. On 23rd I started having period pain cramps throughout the night every 10mins, stopping by mid-morning. I’d let the midwives know that I’d started to give them the heads up. On the 24th, the surges started strong and quite regular but then eased off, starting again quite intense at teatime and throughout the night.
Lee got the birth pool up and I got the tens machine on, I was having one every 10mins lasting 30secs. Morning of 25th they eased off a bit but I’d had a bloody show and my waters were trickling too. I’d had the tens machine on all night and I’d managed to sleep between surges propped up on the sofa as that was the most comfortable place for me. Lee was in bed with our son Henry, getting as much sleep as possible. There was no point in us all tired and Lee needed to be on top form to look after Henry and myself.
By 5am they had become strong again. I messaged Rebecca, my birthing partner, to try get here for 8am. My surges were 2 in 10 mins now lasting about 30secs. I’d also rung the midwives again to say things were progressing.
Rebecca was on our hypnobirthing course at the same time. We have become great friends and she is such a calm, positive person so we couldn’t have thought of anyone better to support us both.
Late morning they eased off slightly. It seemed to be when Henry was around, so Lee took him out to the park and got a bit of shopping. Rebecca kept an eye on my surges and we did the stroking techniques from the course, plus the calm breathing together too while I bounced on the ball. I didn’t like any other position – I had so much pressure but the ball helped with that so much.
I was a bit reluctant to get in the pool as I didn’t really want to take the tens machine off as it was helping so much through my surges and using my breathing too.
Lee and Henry arrived back so Lee got Henry’s dinner ready and I decided to have a bath and see how I felt then about getting the pool filled up. Rebecca took our two dogs for a quick walk and I climbed in the bath. It was so nice, I just struggled to get comfy. Lee decided to get the pool filled up so it was ready.
Henry was happy having his lunch and watching his favourite film so I had a bit to eat and thought I’d get a bit of fresh air in the garden. It was lovely and sunny, just a little chilly with the wind blowing. Rebecca fetched my ball out for me to keep bouncing on, she kept an eye on my surges. They had slowed down a little from being outside – I started to get a bit too chilly so we went back in. The pool was ready so I climbed in. It was lovely, my surges had become regular again, still only two in 10 but lasting a good 40secs to a minute.
Henry kept coming to give me cuddles between my surges while I was in the pool. He was very calm and happy playing with his toys. Lee and Rebecca took it in turns to help me with my breathing and the stroking technique.
By 4pm we decided that it would be best if Henry wasn’t present. Things kept slowing down slightly with him around and I was needing more support through some of the surges. I rang my sister Kelly who was on standby for Henry, Lee got him ready and took him down, he gave me a big kiss and said bye. Little did he know that there would be an extra little person when he got back! I struggled to say bye and not having Henry around was hard but it was the best decision for all of us. He was still in the back of my mind but I tried to get focused on myself and our new baby that was on the way.
Things started to progress, I was still having two in 10 but they were very intense, the midwives were here and pottering around. My pulse was very fast which is normal for me as I do suffer from a bit of anxiety, but the midwife wanted to keep a close eye on me. Baby’s heart rate didn’t change one bit: baby was nice and calm.
I was snacking and drinking regularly to keep my strength up. The calm breathing now wasn’t doing anything, so I started birth breathing which helped massively. I kept losing my breathing but Lee and Rebecca got me back on track. Rebecca counted which helped a lot with my breathing. Lee kept telling me that I needed to do it faster like how we were taught so he got shouted at as I needed to breathe deeper for longer – we laugh about it now!
I have no recognition of time just that this baby didn’t seem to want to come out. I remember the midwives changing over at 8pm that’s it.
I kept saying to Lee ‘how long now?’, I was getting really tired and nothing seemed to be happening, so we decided to start standing and squatting through my surges. Gravity played a massive part in my first labour so I needed to use all my strength that I had left to do this. Lee and Rebecca gave me loads of encouragement. Lee just needed to take my weight to get through these big surges. After another hour of hard strong birth breathing and a massive push, baby’s head literally fired out. I did panic and my body just started shaking. Lee calmed me down as quickly as he could, the midwives were saying don’t push, I remember Rebecca saying ‘pant, Sarah, pant’. It was such a surreal feeling – I’d gone from baby not crowning to head out, all I could think of was, ‘well that’s it, I’m going to hospital because I’ve tore really bad.’ This was the one thing that played on my mind so much was tearing. I tore the first time, only a 2nd degree tear but I knew this time if it was the same I wasn’t having stitches.
It seemed ages before my next surge, trying to keep in a squatting position with baby’s head out and feeling exhausted was hard. I could feel baby’s head moving around it was a good feeling but strange. Lee kept me strong and kept saying you can do this. My next surge was here one big one and baby was out! 21:15, our baby boy born at home in the water. He was perfect, he looked just like Henry, He had loads of vernix all over his tiny body too.
We climbed out of the pool to get warm. I was fed up of the water after been in it for nearly 8hrs. We had skin to skin and delayed cord clamping. We were more than happy for Rebecca to clamp the cord of our beautiful baby boy, then Lee cut it. Placenta was delivered naturally and, good news, I had no tear just a little grazing.
I wanted photos of my placenta this time round so Lee took some photos while I snuggled our little boy. Rebecca put a load of towels in the wash and let the dogs out for us. Lee empty the pool too and then went to pick Henry up. His little face when he met his little brother, it was priceless, we had our two beautiful boys.
Rebecca was great support for us all and we can’t thank her enough. Everyone left us to get settled for the night, we all got cozy and went to bed all four of us together, it was perfect.
After being told we only had 10% change of conceiving naturally, multiple miscarriages, two failed IVF cycles, we have our two beautiful baby boys both naturally.
Our final piece of our jigsaw is complete, Jonathan George William Fretter born 21.15 at home in the pool with no pain relief weighing 7lb 6oz.
Hypnobirthing got me through my 36hr on and off labour that was intense and very empowering but so worth it. One thing I’ve learned from both my boys labours is that each one is so different. Most people told me that your second baby is bigger and a much quicker labour, this was not the case at all.
Both mine were worlds apart.