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This story starts further back in 1997 when we had our first child, Aaron. He was born by Caesarean Section as he was in a breech position when my waters broke at 36 weeks pregnant. I don’t remember it as being a really awful experience, I had nothing to compare it with and had never even thought of having a homebirth, let alone consider one. I had planned on an active, unmedicated birth - the thought of an epidural scared me. But I ended up having a spinal for the operation so that I would at least get to see the baby at birth. He was admitted to Special Care on his 3rd day, and kept there until he was 9 days old and that was very tough. After getting over his birth I felt I didn’t want to go through the whole thing ever again.

I began midwifery training when Aaron was nearly 1 year old, and it was during this time that Monica O’Connor came to talk to our group about homebirths. She mentioned that she had a baby by section and went on to have homebirths and the idea was planted in my mind. I began to discuss it with Will, but he wasn’t too keen! He humoured me though, thinking I’d soon forget about it. We started trying to get pregnant again in June 2000, as I was nearly finished the course. But nothing happened for another 13 months. I finally got a positive in July 2001 after trying an ovulation kit as a last resort before going to the doctor.

I waited a week or two before ringing the midwife Monica had mentioned and she said she would come to see us. That meeting was the changing point for Will - talking to her and seeing her professionalism and competence made him feel much more at ease with the whole thing. So we booked Dolores and waited until her visits started at 16 weeks. I booked into the hospital where I work and got my bloods done there. I didn’t want an early scan as I was sure of my dates. (That was one thing from the 1st pregnancy that I was adamant I would avoid - Aaron had 7 scans done in total). I was thinking I’d have one done towards the end to check the placental site but Dolores mentioned if there was a problem I would have bleeding, so in the end I had no scans at all. The pregnancy went very well, apart from the usual minor things and quite bad symphysis pubis pain which I’d had before as well.

The baby was due early April and I was anxious to get past the 36 week mark, thinking that early births might be a pattern. I did get there and beyond and eventually on Monday the 25th March something started. I was home with Aaron all day and feeling a bit off, and a bit narky. Will rang to say he was going to work a bit later but I asked him to come home. Then I started to realise that I was getting some pains, mild and irregular only. We had to go to Blanchardstown as we had arranged to get a pool from Pádraicin, so we set off at about 6.30. I took a TENS with me that I had borrowed from work. When we got there the pains were a bit closer so I put on the TENS and Pádraicin gave us a loan of a book to show Aaron about having a homebirth.

We got home at about 9pm and got Aaron to bed and Will set up the pool. I had borrowed a homeopathy kit too, and took a remedy Caulophyllum to strengthen contractions. Then I rang Sinead, a friend, to ask her would she sit with Aaron so we could go for a walk, the pains had lessened and I thought walking might bring them back. We walked for about an hour and I got a few only. Back home we sat talking until 12ish, then Sinead went home and we went to bed. I had the TENS on still and didn’t sleep. At 1am I went to the toilet and had a small show. Back in bed suddenly the waters went with a pop. At last some action! I told Will to get some more sleep and I went downstairs and pottered about for awhile. I lit some candles and played some music and noticed the pains were getting closer and stronger. At about 2am I was finding it a bit hard to cope on my own, so called Will. He started filling the pool and we got through the next hour with me sitting on the radiator between pains and shouting for him to come when one started so I could put my arms around his neck, hang out of him and rock forwards and backwards. They were getting fairly strong now and suddenly I felt annoyed with all the candles and darkness and wanted the lights on. Then I noticed the waters were lightly tinged with meconium. Time to call Dolores. She left straight away.

She got to us just after 4am, and the first thing she said was how we were managing very well and didn’t look like we needed her at all. This was a good boost for me, amazing how she knew the exact right things to say. She brought in her stuff and checked me out. Baby’s heartbeat was fine and to my immense surprise I was dilated to 8cms. She felt that things were going fine and no need to transfer in as there was only a very small amount of meconium, and labour was progressing well. She suggested going into the pool which was great as the TENS was starting to annoy me too. The absolute heavenly feeling of the water took me by surprise. I never thought something could feel so good. It really helped me get through the next while until I felt the need to push. This happened at about 5am, and I got out of the water to let Dolores check dilation again. I got on all fours holding onto the legs of a chair to push, and it felt like I was never going to get that baby out. I had lost all comprehension that I was pushing out a baby anyway, I was just pushing because my body was making me do it. I tried pushing on my side on the floor and that was even harder (can’t understand how so many women choose to lie down to give birth - its torture!). That’s when Aaron woke up and came down to check it all out. I have an everlasting memory of me lying on my side, holding up my leg and him at the end of the mattress looking in to see if the baby was coming!

I soon got back into an all-fours position which felt infinitely better. Aaron had some breakfast with Will and then headed off to the other room to watch a video, it was all a bit slow for him. After what seemed like an eternity and Dolores giving me some stern encouragement to make me get that bit further, the baby started to crown. And then finally he slithered out and was behind me on a towel. I couldn’t move or think until I heard that first cry, then it hit me that I had given birth to an actual baby. I looked and we all saw that it was a boy, Aaron came in too and we spent some wonderful minutes just looking and holding and touching him. He sucked a little at my breast, as I lay back on the mattress. Aaron took a few photos which I could never show to anyone - mascara running and bare boobs!! Then after about 20 minutes I felt a bad backache and Dolores clamped the cord and Will cut it. I stood up and immediately the placenta just plopped out, a very healing and cleansing sensation.

I hopped back into the pool then to wash off and Aaron ran upstairs and came back with a boat to float with me! Then it was into a warm nightie and up to the wonderful comfort of my own bed. So Liam was born at about 6.10am on the 26th March 2002, only 5 hours after the waters broke. I was very impressed with the short labour especially as I had not laboured before. I was expecting days of pains. He weighed 9 pounds too, which we were very surprised with as Aaron was only 6-11. The feeding got off to a fairly good start, and I expected to feed for months as I knew a good bit more about breastfeeding now. But he had a tendency to vomit after most feeds and I don’t cope well with lack of sleep. Also I got mastitis which knocked me for six. I weaned him off by 5 weeks, which I was disappointed about but was the best for me at the time.

I had very bad labial lacerations from the birth which put a big damper on the first few weeks. It was excruciatingly sore to go to the toilet. My perineum didn’t tear at all, but it might have been easier to cope with if it had. Dolores kept coming to visit up to the 8th week just to be happy that it healed up ok. It was hard to sit for at least 2 weeks and I thought I would never be right again. But I did heal with no lasting side effects at all. And the experience of having my whole pregnancy, labour and postnatal care with Dolores more than made up for any discomfort. I could talk forever about what a wonderful, caring, knowledgeable and professional person she is. It was hard to say goodbye at the end of it all. And for awhile I thought no more babies, but that didn’t last long, as I became pregnant with No. 3 when Liam was only 10 months. And that’s another story!!

Subsequent baby but first home birth, Midwife Dolores, Home birth after C Section