Express Delivery: Rufus’ birth story

I’ve always quite liked the idea of a home birth, ever since our NCT teacher mentioned the idea during my first pregnancy. Prior to that, my assumption had always been that that was the kind of labour reserved for the olden days, hippies and people who simply couldn’t get to hospital in time. I just figured that, if you were having a baby, you went to hospital. Which is exactly what I opted to do with Daisy. As tempting as a home birth sounded, labour was uncharted waters for me and I felt like hospital would be the safest place. As it turned out, it was. My little Daisy Duke was breech, but that little nugget of info wasn’t discovered until 6cm in, when they swiftly whipped her out of the sunroof. This added a “high risk” label to my file and to any subsequent births. So when I decided to attempt a vaginal delivery with Ralph, all thoughts of a home birth were gone from my mind. It was no longer an option. And it remained that way right up until a routine appointment when I was 34 weeks pregnant with Rufus. A midwife, whom I’d never met before, asked me if I’d considered a home birth. Of course. But I couldn’t, could I? She gave me the contact details of my local home birth team and I self referred that very same day.

My due date came and went. The consultant at the hospital became very keen to induce and I fended off several calls from the delivery suite, trying to coerce me in.

41 weeks came and went. The hospital stopped calling and my community midwife text to congratulate me on the birth that I hadn’t yet had. Clearly I’d fallen off the induction radar. It bought me some time. I decided I’d give it until 42 weeks. If I hadn’t gone into labour by then, I’d give in, give up on my home birth and let them induce me.

I spent the next few mornings, waking up bitterly disappointed that I hadn’t gone into labour overnight. My days were spent walking and bouncing and twiddling my nipples whilst eating chillied pineapples (sort of), but nothing happened.

Then, one morning, 12 days overdue, I woke up with a slight stirring in my belly. Could this be it?? I’d wrongly assumed that, by my third go, I’d know exactly when labour had begun. But apparently I was still clueless.

The Spouse deposited the offspring at school/preschool and we decided to call our in-case-of-labour-emergency-childcare (otherwise known as the Mother-in-Law) so she could start to make the long journey up from Hertfordshire, just in case this really was happening. Thirty unanswered calls later and it became apparent that we might have to wait until she was finished on the golf course… šŸ˜³

The twinges were still very irregular and no amount of birth ball action seemed to encourage them along. We pottered about the house, trying to pass the time. Someone came to quote for shutters. I cooked breakfast. We watched Grey’s Anatomy reruns. And still, no baby. In lieu of anything better to do, we pumped up and filled the birth pool. I packed a hospital bag. I shaved my legs (and butchered my bikini line – again). By lunchtime, the twinges were more uncomfortable. More like period cramps, coming every 15-20 minutes or so. I put the TENs machine on. Predominantly just because I’d paid to hire the thing and I had to return it the following day so wanted to get some use out of it. By 1pm I began to believe that this could really be happening. When it reached a level of discomfort that meant I couldn’t look at the Spouse without feeling the urge to punch him in his smug little pain-free face, I decided it was time to get into the pool…. where all the pains promptly stopped. In frustration, I asked him to call the home birth team to see if someone could come over that afternoon to see where I was up to. They were all out on deliveries (gah!) and we were told to call an ambulance if it was an emergency. It wasn’t. Meh.

Just as the Spouse hung up the phone, I felt a pop. “I think my waters just broke”. It was hard to tell, what with the fact that I was splashing aroundĀ in water. He completely lost his sh*t and frantically dialled 999. The call handler offered to dispatch an ambulance, but I assured them there was no hurry. “I feel fi- oh my god, I’m going to die”. That was basically my thought process. In under a minute I’d gone from swimming happily about a birth pool, to experiencing a pain, so intense, I honestly thought it might kill me. The baby was coming out, whether I wanted it to or not.

The Spouse, who was probably (definitely) more panicked than I was, began trying to drag me out of the pool, at the call handler’s insistence. I resisted. Not because I had a baby trying to push its way out of me, but because I was worried about getting the carpet wet. Despite what was happening to my body; the pain, the fear, the panic; I refused to move until the shower curtain on the floor had been adjusted. I discarded my soggy bra and found myself standing, in all my naked glory, directly in front of the curtains that were wide open – for ambulance viewing purposes. (When our elderly neighbour text us later, asking if we needed someone to collect the kids from school, I really hoped it was because he’d seen the blue lights and not my vagina.)

It was completely unlike my previous labours. There were no contractions. Just a constant pain. My body pushing without even giving me a choice. I was honestly terrified. This was our rainbow and I was terrified we might lose this one too. Doing this solo, with the assistance of a fraught Spouse, was absolutely not what I’d had in mind.

The head was on its way out when we spotted the ambulance drive down our street and then take a turn in the wrong direction. Without so much as a backward glance, the Spouse ran out of the house and chased it, barefoot, down the street. Meanwhile, I found myself alone, on all fours, naked, on the floor or my living room, screaming in pain. Not quite the calm & zen experience I’d envisaged. The dulcet tones of the call handler drifted towards me from my phone, which had been left on the windowsill. “Do you feel the urge to push?” Is she for real??Ā “ITS COMING OUT!!!!”

The paramedics eventually ambled in. I clutched at one of their legs and pleaded for them to help me. This seemed to cause everyone a little chuckle. Including the Spouse, who was now behaving like he hadn’t just spent the last 10 minutes screaming at the call handler about how he could haveĀ cycledĀ from the hospital quicker. One paramedic took position down at the business end, where he no doubt had a delightful view, and beckoned the Spouse to come and see the head. In his typical caring fashion, he leant over me to get a better look, placing his hand (and weight) onto my back in the process; sending me sprawling face first into the carpet. And then, with one almighty push, he was out. A vague “it’s a boy” emanated from somewhere behind me and the distant wail of a healthy newborn entered my ears. A boy. And then he was in my arms. There I was, limp and naked on the floor of my living room, laughing and crying into the face of my newborn son, whilst three paramedics and the Spouse sat around me, chatting and drinking tea.
The Spouse went off on the school run and enthusiastically regaled all the mums with the story of how he’d just single handedly delivered our baby. Seriously. Idiot.

The offspring left their home and their pregnant Mum that morning; and returned, 6 hours later, to their baby brother. This was the moment that made it all worth it. The drama and the chaos and the hysteria and the blood that somehow managed to get onto a sofa cushion. It was all worth it to have been at home. To have been at home to welcome my children back from school and introduce them to their brand new sibling. To have them both there within hours of his birth. To spend the rest of the afternoon, holding all three of them. To be able to tuck them into bed that night. To be able to shower and climb into my own bed with my newborn son and watch trash tv. It was perfection.

So, that was it. Rufus Conrad Eades Walker was born.

And I am NEVER doing that again.

There’s even a little video, for your viewing pleasure.Ā (I promise there’s no vagina in it).


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