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My third birth, second homebirth with Remi Rue

I made a real effort with this pregnancy to forget the expiry date the NHS put on my pregnancy and instead focused on a period of time in which I was expecting my baby "by the end of March" is what I told everyone. I had set a date in my head; on the weekend, close to my brother's birthday (as my other 2 arrived next to a close family members birthday), both of my pregnancies extended by a week (39+3, 40+2) so I was anticipating reaching week 41... and these three things aligned so my due date really was meaningless.

As I turned 40 weeks I finished work and enjoyed a really lovely weekend, I spent Saturday finally pulling everything together for the birth and baby - I even recorded some videos to share on my page! I put the all important birth wine in the fridge and made sure everything else was where it needed to be. On Sunday we went for a really lovely beach "walk" with my family and all the dogs. The walk mainly consisted of lying in a restorative feet up the wall (against the groyne!) pose, whilst listening to the kids playing, the waves swooshing, smelling the fresh spring air, feeling the sand between my fingers and enjoying the beautiful blue sky and bright spring sunshine. Later that afternoon I took Maeve to a school friends party and finished the day with a takeaway away Indian, only because I fancied it (and I rarely do!) not because I was trying to make labour happen. I have never been so content that my baby will come, when my baby is ready.

The next day I had a midwife appointment, with the incredible midwife who had supported me so amazingly well throughout my pregnancy. She did all my usual checks which were all fine, She asked whether I was thinking about a stretch and sweep which I declined and then we had a quick chat about the on-call rota for the week and how my friend & midwife from Fearne's birth was looking to see if she was able to come as my second midwife as well as my midwife who was also planning to be there. I said not to worry till at least Friday as I've had no signs other than perhaps an increase in tightenings which I'd been having for weeks. Fearne and I headed to Reeves for cake and also picked up a cake for the Midwives then to Aldi for a few bits we needed for the week. We got back & Fearne wanted to go out for a bike ride which resulted in me walking back home with a 12kg toddler on my shoulders and a balance bike hanging off my arm - at this point I'm surprised my very unstable pelvis didn't shatter!!! We picked Maeve up from school and despite not telling anyone my due date everyone was suddenly very interested asking when I'm due or how much longer I've got. As always, without focussing on that guess date I told them by Wednesday I'd be the most pregnant I've ever been.

Tuesday came and it was a day to myself, I usually go to a beautiful zen Pregnancy Yoga class on a Tuesday but I just wasn't feeling it. Nesting mode was most definitely activated and I spent the day getting everything neat, tidy and clean. I

went to B&M for a new throw for the sofa and ordered some new cushions online having thrown the last ones out, I tied up lots of loose ends that day, took the girls to their swimming lesson and then my husband and I went through all his work emails, quotes and invoices and got everything up together - I finally felt like I was really able to chill for the rest of the week. I took myself off to bed and caught up with some some messages, I was chatting to my friend till 10:40, only to be woken by Fearne at 11pm. As I always do I nipped for a wee on my way to see her and once I finished my wee I felt a pop and then it felt like I carried on weeing... Oh, shit, that'll be my waters - but it's not the weekend yet!! I nudged Matt to go and settle Fearne whilst I went back to bed.

Immediately my mind took me to the worst case scenario where my contractions wouldn't start and I'd be battling with induction due to risk of infection but I knew this wouldn't be helping labour get started so instead, I practiced some relaxation to switch off that busy brain and within 20 minutes I started to feel some period pain type sensations, within another 10 minutes I felt another one a little stronger and they kept coming closer and stronger. Given my past history of very fast established labours I went and woke my husband up (who had obviously fallen asleep with the toddler) and he suggested calling the the Midwives already. I was reluctant as I was worried it would be the same stop/start labour I experienced with Fearne but my intuition told me it would be best to call them sooner rather than later.

As if by magic the midwife who had offered me such amazing continuity of care during my pregnancy happened to be on call that night. She arrived at about 12:15 just as we were getting the birth pool set up. I was stood trying to untangle the fairy lights to go under the pool and it was starting to wind me up so I delegated that to Matt on the grounds that it "wasn't good for the oxytocin" I was contracting regularly with fairly intense surges that I needed to breathe through although I was definitely still in the early stages of labour at this point, making and engaging in conversation and still moving about. I got my trusty giant purple ball and sat on there for a while on top of an inco pad after I gave up wearing the pad and pants which were saturated by my waters which were still releasing regularly (I'm always asked what to wear during labour and always reassure people it doesn't matter what you wear because at some point youre gonna end up naked from the waist down at least so it's important to pinpoint at which point this happens in my story!!) The Midwives did their initial obs and were regularly but subtly checking in on baby but didn't offer any vaginal examination as per my birth preferences. The surges were coming frequently, but still a little sporadic and I was still well aware of my surroundings and the people in it.

I was waiting as patiently as I could for the pool to be filled however Matt had done the thing we all dread and run the hot tap for so long that it had run cold. He dipped his hand in the pool and declared "it's not very warm" I asked "how warm is not very warm" and the midwife dipped her hand in and said "yeah, it's cold" so the immersion went on, the kettle went on, we then ended up with too much water in the pool so had to pump some out and then refill.

During all of this chaos I felt like I needed to move down to all fours so sent Matt up to my cupboard to fetch some yoga mats (the bonus of being a yoga teacher!) I got down on my knees and leant over the ball - you will know if you've ever been to a birth ball class with me just what affect this has on me, I was super chilled. At this point I really turned inwards and could tell labour was progressing. I couldn't tell you where I was or who was in the room at this point, it was just me and my ball, I also have no idea how frequent the surges were but I do know they were pretty intense and I was using my balloon and bubble breathing and really focusing on that relaxation in between using my body and breath recover and re-energise. I did have a couple of quiet thoughts to myself that I couldn't do this anymore but recognised it as transition and soon enough I started to feel the contractions shift in power and began to feel a lot of pressure in my bum.

I really felt I needed to use the water at this point - amazingly the pool was finally up to temperature. I got myself in and with that swift opening of the pelvis baby started to make their entrance. Matt got so invested in the sieving of the pool (if you know, you know) that he was completely unaware that my groaning (and the fact he was scooping my poop) meant baby was almost there - one biiiig contraction and a lot of breathing down in to my bum and her head was born and with just one more her body was out. 03:18 - 4 hours almost to the minute since my first sensation!

These downwards surges were so intense I was a little overwhelmed when she was born and the midwife had to nudge me to pick baby up, I scooped baby up all tangled in her cord, where she'd done some gymnastics on arrival and so my midwife helped unravel her before returning her to my chest. We had no idea who this baby was and so finding out she was another girl was a lovely suprise (for me, Matt wasn't so positive!)

I made the most of finally being able to use the pool and sat in there for a while, Matt went up to go and wake up our older two who came down to meet their baby sister, baby found the boob before long and due to her short cord (third baby, third short cord!) and lack of placenta I was starting to get a bit uncomfortable so got out of the pool and headed to the toilet where I knew my placenta would show up - my uterus is very efficient at birthing babies but needs a bit of encouragement to birth the placenta! Our entire 5 person family and a Midwife were in our tiny little downstairs toilet cutting the cord and then the second Midwife joined us as well to help tie the cord tie! Being at home during that immediate period post birth is probably my favourite bit of a homebirth; there's nothing quite like your kids meeting their new sibling 10 minutes fresh out of the womb and nothing better than your home comforts when you're feeling the most delicate and vulnerable you've ever felt. We all (including the kids!) had a good look over babies (tiny!) placenta the snuggled up on the sofa. There was absolutely no rush to move on with anything and everything was done at our own pace. It was almost 5am before we popped her in the scales she weighed in at a petite 2.9kg/6lb 7.5oz which hilariously plots her as 1.8th centile. (Third baby, third <5th centile baby), the Midwife also noticed that she had quite a significant tongue tie, which didn't surprise us (third baby, third tongue tie)

Everything was perfect and we were looking forward to heading up to bed to spend the day as a brand new family of 5 snuggled up together but baby girl was struggling to get her temp up, we tried everything; skin to skin, warm towels, even a hot water bottle and whilst it was increasing it just wouldn't go over the threshold so after a conversation with the Paed it was recommended we transfer in. It was the last thing I wanted to do but when I tired to Matt and said "what are we gonna do then" and he responded by saying "what do you mean, we're going to take her in" I knew I had to separate my idyllic success screen from the reality. I called my Mum who was able to come and pick the girls up and look after them for the day - given they'd been awake since 03:30 they were in no state to go to school/nursery. We were able to travel to hospital in our car and were greeted by one of our homebirth midwives who got us settled in to our side room on postnatal ward, we had some really amazing care and baby was responding really well to the treatment (treatment sounds a bit much, she literally spent 24 hours on a heated waterbed living the dream!) due to an unexpected overnight stay (we were a bit hopeful that we'd be home in time for dinner!) we were also able to get a tongue tie division done and a newborn check so it meant once we were ready to leave we were good to go. 36 hours after arriving we were finally able to leave hospital as a family of 5, my hormones couldn't cope with being apart any longer so Mum dropped the girls off after school! It meant getting home at 8pm and putting the girls straight to bed but it was almost worth that short stay in hospital to get that buzz of being at home with my girl tribe!

I had a tiny graze on my perineum and minimal blood loss (the midwives were amazed, they'd never seen a pool so clear, minus the poo!!) so if it wasn't for the insane afterpains and grazed tongue-tie-nips postnatal recovery would have been an absolute breeze. I also can't explain just how incredible it felt to not feel any pain in my pelvis or lower back for the first time in 6 months.

Remi is totally thriving. She was 20g+ on her birth weight by day 5 and a whole pound heavier by 14 days. My antenatal, birth and postnatal appointments were with the same midwife, I am so incredibly lucky to have experienced true continuity of care and will be an even bigger advocate for it now. I have had a really great relationship with my Midwife, I could talk to her about anything and trusted her professional opinion - she knew just how gutted I was to be transferring in to postnatal ward and made a huge effort (and lots of phone calls!) to ensure I was well looked after. Thank you for going above and beyond - I know you'll be reading this!!

Remi has slotted in perfectly with two big sisters who are besotted with her and months later are still fighting over who's going to hold her.

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