The birth of my first daughter was via an unplanned c section – you can read the birth story here.
I wanted a HBAC this time – (Home Birth After Caesarean Section)
Thursday 25th March, I was 35.6 weeks pregnant, Sarah our independent midwife, Ninette our second midwife and Erika our birth photographer came over in the evening. Sarah brought over the birthing pool, and we talked about my hopes for the birth and what photographs I would like. Ninette thought Oakley was breech and Sarah and myself thought she was head down, we agreed I would go to Frimley Park Hospital the next morning for a presentation scan. We had a lovely evening with lots of laughter. Sarah was supporting a family with a due date before mine and said to me “Jodie don’t go jumping the queue”
5:30am 26th March 2021 I dreamt that I had wet myself, when I got up I noticed I was leaking. My waters had broken! Karl messaged Sarah and she called him back, because I was 36 weeks pregnant, we agreed to go to Frimley Park hospital for the presentation scan and antibiotics because my waters had gone early. I was hoping my contractions wouldn’t start and then we could wait 5 days so I could have a home birth.
We slowly got up, showered, had breakfast, and started calling friends and family to see if they could have Willow. One friend wasn’t answering but we knew they were home, so we headed to their house.
6:30am Willow had been dropped off at our friend’s house. I started to get very mild cramps and they were coming regularly, I knew I was in labour. I had a little cry in the car, I was crying because I was scared Oakley would be poorly from being born 4 weeks early.
7:00am we arrive at Frimley Park Hospital, Karl waited in the corridor while I was in triage. I had the presentation scan, Oakley was head down, I had a vaginal examination, and I was 3cm dilated, I was put on continuous monitors. The surges were becoming a bit uncomfortable. Once I knew Oakley was happy, I took off the monitors and started walking around the bed.
8:30am Karl was allowed in, we were shown to our room on the labour ward. Introductions were made with our midwife and student midwife. The midwife that was handing us over, said that I was a VBAC and that I would need continuous monitoring and a cannula, I said I didn’t want this, but I was happy to have intermittent monitoring. They asked what my birth plan was, my reply was “Home Birth”, The midwife smiled and asked how would you like us to support you?, my reply was “leave me to it”.
We changed the environment of the room, turned off the lights, put battery candles around the room, sprayed lavender essential oil and put clary sage on a flannel, I requested a birthing ball. I put my headphones on, started listening to a chilled playlist while bouncing on the birthing ball.
*A consultant came in, she said I needed to be on the monitors, have a cannula and if my contractions didn’t start then I would need to have the oxytocin drip. She asked if I knew the risks if my scar ruptured, that my baby could die. The next surge came, I said “No thank you” then put my headphones back on, closed my eyes and focused on my breathing.
Once the consultant had left the room and I was in-between a surge, the midwife approached me and said “we are happy to support you the way you want to birth, and I can see you won’t need the oxytocin drip”
9:30am I was texting Sarah asking if I can still have a water birth, she said I could. I asked to use the birthing pool on the labour ward, it was broken, I asked to use the birth centre’s birthing pool, it was in use, I then asked can I use a bath. While bouncing on the birthing ball, I started to imagine meeting Oakley, in that moment I felt so overwhelmed with love I thought I was going to cry, then the next surge was so intense. I then thought, I don’t remember the surges being that intense.
10:00am our midwife said she was filling a bath and I could get in it soon. Even though I just experienced an intense surge, I thought I wasn’t in active labour yet but it would be nice to relax in the bath for a bit. We made our way to the new room, it was lovely, it was like a hotel room with an ensuite. The midwives set themselves up in the room while Karl and I were in the bathroom.
10:15am I started to get undressed and these surges were stronger, I needed to focus on my breathing more, I closed my eyes and swayed from side to side, I started to hum with each surge. Karl put the battery candles around the bath and closed the blinds. Getting into the bath felt incredible, it was warm, I felt comfortable and safe. I had a sudden urge to have a poo, I kicked Karl out of the room, had a poo and then got back in the bath.
10:50am my surges were coming fast, before one had finished another was starting, I wasn’t getting any breaks and then I started to push. I resisted the first push, the midwives came in and asked what I was feeling, I said “I needed a poo”, they said “that’s great”. Then I was sick and I said to Karl “I can’t do it”, Karl replied “you are doing it”. With the next push, I completely let go and let my body take over, I roared like a lioness, felt the ring of fire (not as bad as I thought it would be), then her head was out. The next surge came, another huge roar and her body was out, one of the midwives pushed Oakley between my legs and I picked her up. She was covered in vernix, I was in shock that she was here and how fast the labour was, I kept kissing her, I couldn’t believe I did it.
She was born at 10:59am
I noticed that there were 2 doctors and another midwife standing at the door watching. I got out of the bath and onto the bed, I declined the vitamin k injection for Oakley, I had delayed cord clamping and Karl cut the cord, the doctors took Oakley and did their checks, I was happy for this to happen straight away as she was late preterm, 10 minutes later they gave Oakley back to me and we did skin to skin, breastfed and then I delivered the placenta naturally.
Once I had delivered the placenta the midwives examined it, they said the pregnancy had started as a twin pregnancy and they also showed us that there was a big vein across the placenta. They then checked my perineum to see if I had any tears or grazes, OMG wiping the blood away was painful!!! I had 2 grazes and I declined stitches.
Oakley was fine, she was a little blue and was making some grunting noises, but the paediatrician was happy with her.
The birth was incredible, it was very intense, primal, powerful, I felt like a badass and I wanted to do it again. I was on a massive high, doctors were coming in congratulating me, the student midwife said she had never seen a birth like it. I was shocked because it was just a physiological birth, but apparently these are rare on the labour ward and especially for a late preterm VBAC.
From the moment my waters broke to when Oakley was born, was 5 ½ hours, with under 1 hour of active labour and less than 10 minutes of pushing.
*When I declined continuous monitoring, a cannula fitted and an induction, this was an informed decision I made. During my pregnancy I had read the AIMs VBAC book, the NICE guidelines, spoke with our independent midwife and had a consultant appointment at 26 weeks.
I did face some hurdles with Frimley Park Hospital regarding planning a VBAC but I’m not going to dampen my birth story, I’ll save them for another post.
Oakley Blu – 6.2lbs 26/03/2021
This video was seconds after Oakley was born.