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After Liam was born we decided that we would have no more children! However after a few more months I started to feel that I could have another. I was well recovered and felt that I didn’t want to leave things too long before having another.

Convincing Will took a while but when we were both ready we looked forward to trying again. I thought it would take time like with Liam. I was planning to be due in mid January 2004 but it happened the first month of trying. I was due in Nov 2003.

The pregnancy went well apart from unexplained bleeding at 18 weeks. I rang Dolores at about 6 weeks and her visits started at 16 weeks. I booked in at the hospital again and was questioned about not having a scan. It was so annoying. As it happened I did have a scan when I started to bleed as we needed the reassurance that all was well - and it was! Will reckoned he could see it was a boy but I didn’t want to look.

Things continued on and I got bigger and so uncomfortable. Luckily Liam started walking when I was about 4-5 months pregnant as he is such a big child. He was also sleeping in the day still and Aaron was at school so getting a rest most days was easy. Visits from Dolores were wonderful and so relaxed. From 36 weeks I started taking Raspberry leaf tea again which is not nice but hopefully worth the hassle, and I took Floradix and liquid Calcium. I was walking as much as possible although it was painful at times - I think the same Symphisis Pubis pain as I had with Aaron and Liam. I had arranged to hire a pool again, this time from Pam in Donabate and we went up one day at about 37 weeks to get it. I had a Tens from work again and borrowed a homeopathy kit from a friend, Aoife. So all set and very anxious to get going as I was getting so uncomfortable.

Aaron’s 6th birthday was the 24th of October and I was glad to get by that, as we had 18 kids in the Jungle Zone in Bettystown on the 25th - a crazy 2 hours but better than a party in the house. The following weekend was Halloween and I had a bad head cold and was feeling so miserable. I was feeling so big that I knew the waters could go anytime. On the Sunday night I was having niggly tightenings like I had for days previously but now I was so fed up I thought I’d take the Caulophyllum to see what would happen. It only works if your body is ready for labour so I was happy that I wasn’t interfering or inducing myself into labour.

I went to bed, with Will in the spare room for the first time in this pregnancy as he hadn’t been sleeping with me moving about so much. I slept on and off but nothing was happening so I figured I wasn’t ready. I woke around 7am and got up as Will was getting up for work. As I stood out of the bed I felt the familiar pop of the waters and the warm gush of water. I was so surprised and excited that this was it. Will arrived in and we discussed what to do.

He would stay home, obviously! And we decided to keep Aaron home from school too as we didn’t want him to miss anything. So we went and got breakfast and I started to feel some mild cramps every so often. I figured it would be all done by lunchtime!!

I rang Dolores at about 9am and she said “good job” as she was about to go to Offaly to do a visit there so she stayed home instead and said to ring again in an hour to tell her how the pains were progressing. I then rang Sinead who was going to be here for the birth and to mind the boys.

She arrived soon afterwards and we chatted for a while. I was getting mild, irregular pains mostly, although a few needed some concentration. Lots of fluid drained out over the morning leaving damp patches around the carpet. I rang Dolores again at 10.30 to say no change, and at 12.00 to say the same. It was getting a bit disappointing. She said she would have lunch and get over to us for about 2pm. Around 1.30 Will and I decided to go for a walk to have something positive to report, so Dolores wouldn’t think we weren’t trying!

We got back with still no change and when Dolores arrived I felt a bit silly that she had changed her plans and come all the way over with no real labour. We sat and chatted for awhile, and had tea and scones - very civilised. I remember Dolores keeping me talking through a contraction and thinking she’s checking to see just how strong they were. And I was able to keep talking! After a while she suggested that Will and I go upstairs for a rest, and I think that was the best advice ever. On the way up I took another Caulophyllum and when I lay down on the bed I had the strongest pain yet. I lay through a few more and did a little bit of nipple stimulation. Then had to get up again, couldn’t possibly cope lying down. I think now that it was the distraction downstairs of the other kids and chatting that was stopping things taking off. Within an hour or so of going upstairs I was breathing fairly heavily through the pains. I stayed up there then, on my own for a while, and at about 4.30 or so, Dolores asked could she examine me, the 1st and only examination. It was disappointing. She said she couldn’t really feel the cervix too well, but said about 2-3cms.

So up I got and breathed through them for another while and chatted to Dolores between them. I found another really good position this time - holding on to the bedpost and rocking from side to side, starting slowly at the start of a pain, and getting faster as the pain increased and then as it subsided I changed to moving forwards and backwards. That really helped me so much. At one point Will was there and I tried holding onto his shoulders which had been so good at Liam’s birth, but this time I couldn’t bear it!

So a few hours passed by, pleasantly enough but the pains were getting much, much stronger. I was sort of in a world of my own really, even though Dolores was there and I was talking to her, I don’t remember thinking when will it be over or noticing time passing. I was in such a good rhythm coping with it, that she surprised me by saying “I think its time you got in the pool.”

So we headed down, and I caught a glimpse of the time, just after 7.30. I got in the water and once again the blissful feeling of the hot water made a big difference to how I could manage the pains. It felt a bit too hot though so Will got busy getting some cold water. Aaron and Liam were both there and watched as I tried to relax, then Liam wanted to get in. Sinead and Will tried distracting him for awhile but eventually I asked if someone would put him to bed. I think Will was a bit disappointed then but I felt I just couldn’t concentrate properly with him there crying and looking for my attention. After he left Sinead and Aaron stayed in a corner of the room and observed quietly, she would explain things to him now and then. I never felt that he was anxious or worried, although to be honest I didn’t give him much thought. Dolores and Will stayed close by and encouraged me. I was in a sort of trance I think and got another rhythm going in the pool. Dolores asked if I wanted my back rubbed and did an up and down motion which felt totally wrong. Then she changed to just a strong constant pressure on my sacral area and that was brilliant, like counter pressure on the babies head. I remember she asked a few times do I not feel like pushing yet and seeming surprised that I was saying no. I don’t think I could have hid the fact that there was an urge, and when it did come after about 45 mins in the pool I let her know straight away.

I started to push with the next few pains and then she asked could I feel the head. It wasn’t very close, I had to reach in a little, but when I said I could I think she thought he was closer than he was. She asked if I would push resting back in the water, which I didn’t want to do, and then if I would do it standing, which I couldn’t do. So I decided to get out of the water and get onto all fours like with Liam. It felt right and familiar, and having gotten out of the water I then realised that it was really too hot. I felt back in control again and starting pushing in earnest. It took about 20 minutes to get the baby out this time, all a bit of a daze now, but such relief to finally feel the terrible “ring of fire” easing. I could feel immense pressure around the labial area where I had such bad tearing before and I did think it was as badly torn this time. But first we concentrated on the fact that another beautiful baby was born into our family. And another boy! He was born at about 8.40 pm, 3/11/03. We decided fairly quickly that he would be David, even though we hadn’t any boys names previ-ously picked. He was fine, cried quickly, nice and pink. I held him close but he didn’t feed. After a while Aaron was able to cut the cord which we got on video, and the placenta came out (there was a true knot in the cord!). Then I started to shake uncontrollably. I don’t think I bled too much, I didn’t need an injection, but Dolores became very business-like and got me lying down, and had mountains of blankets and duvets and the two hot water bottles on me. It took awhile for that to subside, but eventually I was able to clean up and get into bed upstairs and give David his first good feed.

It took awhile to get it all sorted downstairs and Dolores was getting ready to go home. We asked her if she wanted to stay, and she told us of a time when she nearly fell asleep at the wheel, so then we insisted she stay. She went into the spare bed in Liam’s room and we cuddled up in our bed and slept most of the night. The next few days passed with regular visits from Dolores and family and friends. I had a much smaller tear, a graze only, this time. No problem at all going to the loo. Breastfeeding got off to a good start and I fed him longer than the other two which really surprised me. I felt the usual sadness when I realised I definitely wouldn’t have another child or experience the wonderful care that Dolores gives. But now, as with the others, I find I’m saying, “Never say never”!!!

Subsequent birth and subsequent home birth, Midwife Dolores, Home birth after C Section