It all started on a Monday night. After my pregnancy yoga class, I headed home very relaxed, ready for sleep. Sofia, our 1.5-year-old daughter, who had been sleeping through nights for a long time, woke up screaming at around 11:30 pm. My husband, Warren, went to her room to put her back to sleep, but she grew very upset. We thought that perhaps she had had a nightmare. There seemed no way to settle her down so Warren brought her to bed and I started breastfeeding her as she loved to be comforted. She hadn’t been breastfeeding for a few days, but that night, it was the only thing she wanted.
As soon as she started feeding, I began feeling twinges in my tummy. When she finally fell asleep, I decided to go and lie down in the guest room as I felt like getting up and walking around every time I felt the tightening in my tummy. I put some relaxing music and listened to some of the guided relaxation tapes I had been listening during pregnancy.
In the morning the “tummy pain” was quite regular and after breakfast we decided to go to hospital. So, Warren and I called office to say we won’t be going to work, dropped Sofia to nursery and headed to hospital. I was only 35 weeks pregnant and because labour with Sofia was very quick, I just wanted to get to hospital on time and check what was going on.
What I felt wasn’t the same as I did when I was in labour with Sofia. With Sofia I started feeling contractions after my waters broke. Here my waters hadn’t broken and I could feel regular “mild pain” but it wasn’t as bad as contractions.
Once in hospital I was monitored for 30 min, followed by an internal examination. The outcome was, that I was informed, I wasn’t in labour; so, whatever I was feeling wasn’t contraction, it could be Braxton hicks that sometimes happen weeks before giving birth.
I was a bit happier after hearing that, as I wanted the baby to be born full term (at least after 37 weeks). On the way home, we stopped at the local supermarket to get a few things and as it was lunch time and I fancied a filling lunch, we ate in the cafe. I could still feel the “contractions” but I thought they were slowing down.
Once home Warren and I started clearing and organising a few boxes with books and other stuff that had been stored in the garage for ages.
At around 5pm Warren walked to nursery with the dog to pick up Sofia. I called my Mum and explained what happened but told her not to worry as the pain seemed to have almost gone and so I will probably still have to wait another week or so to meet the new baby. I was on the phone with her for around 20 minutes.
After that I started feeling the pains again, now coming a bit sharper. I decided to go upstairs and lie down. That didn’t help and I didn’t feel comfortable and decided to have a bath to see if the warm water helped. The water seemed to reduce the sharp pain for a bit, but then I suddenly felt the need to go out of the bath. By then Warren and Sofia were back home and Sofia was eating her dinner. I called Warren to help me out and told him perhaps we should go back to hospital as I was having sharp pains and was worried if something was wrong with the baby.
I came out of the bath and felt like I needed to sit in the toilet, but then I realised I was ready to push. Sofia was downstairs starting to get upset. I told Warren to call 999, the midwife and an ambulance. I went down in all fours and tried to go to the resting position (yoga pose) to gain some time but it didn’t feel comfortable. After the first push my waters broke. By then Warren was on the phone with 999. As Sofia was crying, he very quickly went to the neighbour’s house banging on their door and asking them to come and pick up Sofia. He left the front door open and by the time he came back upstairs, I told him I had the baby in my arms (it was around 18:18 in the evening). It had been only a few seconds for him to go down and up again, but the baby was even quicker. Warren missed the birth of his little boy just for those seconds.
While Warren was attending to Sofia, I went back to the bathroom when the waters broke and I felt like pushing again; almost immediately, I could feel the head out. I don’t think I pushed again but the whole body came out and landed on my arms. I quickly put baby on my skin and wrapped us both with some towels to keep us warm.
Once Warren was with me again, my placenta came out and he was told by 999 to wait 3 minutes, then get a shoe lace and tie the umbilical cord around 4 cm below baby’s belly button. When the midwife was with us 20 min later, the baby was already on my breast feeding. She was rushing as she was expecting me to be in shock and didn’t know how baby would be as he was born premature. But she was very impressed we had done everything by ourselves and were still very happy and relaxed.
After Nolan finished his feed, he was weighed, and the midwife did a quick assessment on him. Nolan seemed very healthy but because it was premature, she recommended that we go to hospital to have his sugars tested and monitored for a few hours.
Then the midwife passed baby Nolan to daddy (Warren) and asked him to get Nolan dressed. Then I had a shower. The midwife stayed with me in the bathroom, cleaning and finishing some paperwork while I showered. With the steam she got a bit dizzy and I helped her sitting down. I said I would go downstairs to the kitchen and bring her some water (after all I was feeling very well, as if I hadn’t given birth minutes ago) The midwife got very upset because she was looking after me and there was no way she was going to let me look after her.
The ambulance arrived 40 minutes later; they checked on me but I was fine. They were very impressed with how relaxed I was (heart rate and blood pressure apparently showed that). It was a man driving the ambulance and a young lady. The young lady had recently started working on the ambulance and was looking forward to help giving birth as she had never done so before. The man had experience and told her she could do it following his advice. But when they arrived it was all done and she was a bit disappointed (but happy because we were all fine) Then we headed to hospital to get Nolan checked up. His sugars were monitored for a few feeds and they were stable, so we were able to go home and enjoy our new life as a happy family of 4.
My first birth was quick too (but no so much). Before Sofia was born, I had called the hospital to be told that I was fine and that I should go have a bath. Warren was going to prepare it but I said I didn’t fancy it and he brought me to hospital; thanks to that we had our first child in hospital (she was born 10 minutes after arriving in hospital). This time, as with second babies, it was quicker. I had thought of doing a home birth and I had an appointment with my midwife 2 days after Nolan’s birth (obviously he was not expected 5 weeks early) to talk about having a home birth and how it all works. I also visited a group of doulas (a woman, typically without formal obstetric training, who is employed to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during labour) for advice on what to do if my labour started in the street, supermarket, at work, in the car or if I was home alone. They said: “Don’t worry, that won’t happen, the nearest midwife will be with you” but I insisted and they told me what to do: call 999, an ambulance and my midwife, leave the front door open and just relax, push whenever you feel like pushing and once the baby is born wrap him in your arms and wrap both warm with towels/blankets. And just wait till someone comes to help you.
I suppose I had a gut feeling something like this was going to happen as I had asked the question to the doulas in the birth choices group. I was so happy I asked and knew what to do. That helped me stay calm and relaxed and I am glad everything went well.
For a fraction of a second when I realised, I was ready to push, a few things came to my head: How am I going to do this without pain relieve??? Baby is going to be premature, is he going to be alright once is out? But I managed to do it in a calm and relaxed way and it was absolutely painless. It was truly amazing!!! It is difficult to explain how it felt, but it was the best thing I have ever done, and even though I was on my own (not ideal) I think it only made it more special and empowering.
My Mum was very confused when an hour after speaking to her on the phone I sent her a photo of Warren and me with the baby.
My Dad always told me I’d be fine giving birth as ladies in his bloodline always had given birth at home very easily: “They were having a coffee and a chat at the table and suddenly gave birth” he used to say. He knew this was going to happen to me too and I think because he told me with so much of confidence, it made it easier for me to feel relaxed in the belief that everything would be fine.
I felt very privileged to be the first person Nolan saw. My first words to him (even before I stopped to find out his gender) was “Happy birthday baby, I love you.” I fell in love with him instantly and the way we met each other was amazing and we will never forget.
Maria Jesus Bataller Vidal lives in Cambourne