I was invited by MAMA + MAX to share my birth story/ies after commenting on their post on Instagram. When I was pregnant I used to love reading other people’s birth stories, so I hope that the experiences I share with you may be enjoyable for you to read.
I am Rachel, a Mum to four children age 12, 11, 9 and 6. I run Gooseberry Fool, a small business selling baby clothing and accessories designed and made by me.
I was overdue by 10 days with my first daughter when I was advised that I should be induced, I had planned a home birth so was beyond disappointed at the thought of not having the birth we had planned. After three sweeps, over the following days nothing was happening and I was booked in for induction on the 14th day. I had three lots of pessaries over the next 24 hours but nothing was happening so I was told that I would need a C-section, something I desperately wanted to avoid. I remember ringing my Mum to tell her, I felt so disappointed. Within two hours I was ringing my parents to tell them that they had a grand-daughter! My labour started very suddenly and I gave birth naturally. The hospital birth may not have been what we planned, but equally it was not as bad as I anticipated despite a second degree tear requiring stitches!
20 months later my son was due, and again we planned a home birth. At five days overdue I went into labour naturally at home at about 1am, I contracted for a couple of hours on my own before my husband rang a midwife who was the most lovely lady. My labour progressed well and I was able to be active, using my birthing ball throughout, indeed, all four of my children were birthed on all fours over the birthing ball. My son arrived into the world at 7:15 that morning, I sat on my sofa, eating crumpets and drinking tea and it was wonderful. Again I required a few stitches which the midwife was able to do at home albeit with my husband hovering over us with a torch…something he was possibly traumatised by until my next birth! The midwife helped me to get into bed where she left me and my husband enjoying that new born bubble. Despite finding my hospital experience ok, there really is nothing like being in your own bed.
Fast forward another 20 months and I was planning another home birth. At 10 days overdue I had several sweeps over the following days, I recall being told on one of those occasions that I was 5 cm dilated but yet had not felt any contractions, which seemed strange to me. I was determined I wanted another home birth and unbelievably they agreed that they would let me go 21 days overdue provided I attended daily check-ups which I did. At 15 days overdue, I had had enough and reluctantly made the decision that I would go in to be induced. My Mum drove the two hours up to visit me knowing how fed up I was feeling, Mum’s just know these things don’t they. She had not long arrived and suggested taking the other two children to the park, the door had barely shut when I felt contractions starting. They weren’t just mild contractions but very intense and within a couple of minutes I was telling my husband that I needed to push. The look of horror on his face as he rang the hospital explaining the urgency with which we needed a midwife whilst quickly putting sheeting and towels down on our new bedroom carpet! I remember our conversation so vividly… ‘I need to push’… ‘Are you sure?’ looking down… ‘Oh gosh, yes you are sure!!’ How we laugh now when we look back at photos to see the irony of him wearing a ‘keep calm and carry on’ t-shirt! Within 20 minutes of my first contraction, our daughter literally flew out in one push into my husband’s hands, and also in her sack which she burst with her elbows. I’m in awe of how calm he was about it whilst remaining on the phone to the hospital. We had to wait 45 minutes for the midwife to arrive and that time, just the three of us was so very special. Sadly we then ended up being transferred to hospital as they were concerned about the grunting noise she was making, and she later suffered an apnoea attack which was so frightening, apparently due to her airways not being cleared properly as she had come out so quickly. So on this occasion a home birth followed by admittance to hospital.
I sadly suffered a miscarriage with my fourth pregnancy when I was 10 weeks pregnant, but 33 months after my third birth I was planning a home birth for baby number four. I was really quite worried and frightened about the labour this time, concerned about if she came quicker than my daughter and I was on my own with the other three children. As it happened it was a Saturday, the Queen’s diamond jubilee. I was again 15 days overdue and went into labour naturally at about 10:30, the other three children were collected and taken to Grandparents. The midwife arrived quickly given my last experience and thankfully she vowed to stay with me throughout. After a couple of hours of watching the Jubilee and drinking tea, my contractions subsided so I did lots of walking up the stairs to try and encourage them again, it wasn’t until they broke my waters that they started again and then my daughter arrived very quickly afterwards in our bedroom again. We got straight into bed with a cuppa and plenty of Jaffa cakes! This was my best home birth, maybe because of the relief I felt at being so well supported and cared for, I recall getting annoyed that the labour was going on for too long but at four hours I know I can’t complain! Lying in bed the three of us afterwards was just so wonderful, soaking up our new baby girl, then seeing the looks on the faces of her siblings as they arrived home to see her. I will always treasure that memory.
So there we are, I hope I haven’t bored you, and I hope that I have helped you to see that each birth is unique and different. Whatever decision you make, and whether that decision is taken out of your hands or not, I hope you have a positive birth experience. I can honestly hand on heart say that when I look back, I enjoyed giving birth, I felt strong, empowered, supported and me….A woman and a Mum.
We'd like to say a huge thank you to Rachel for sharing her story and you can see more of Rachel's beautiful handmade products on her website www.gooseberryfool.me.uk. If you have a positive birth story and would like to be featured, then please get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.