I got pregnant with Fergus when Adam was about 17 months old. We had just finished breastfeeding, and life had settled back down into some sort of semi-predictable pattern. My husband and I spoke about adding to our family, and agreed it was “now or never” as we both knew that the easier the boys became, the less willing we would be to countenance a return to nappies and sleepless nights! So we decided to adopt the “not not trying” approach again, and 13 days later we were staring in slight shock at a positive pregnancy test.
This time, there was absolutely no question about our plans for care – it was going to be with Carrie and it was going to be at home. The difference that the correct care and a good birth had made to us as a whole family was massive, and both Angus and I had come to a strong conviction that home births were the right (only) choice for us.
Unexpectedly, I went past my “guess date” by over a week. Having been induced with Lewis at exactly 40 weeks, and gone into labour with Adam at just over 38 weeks, this came as a bit of a surprise – my first experience of going post-dates! However, I was enjoying what I knew would be my last pregnancy, and was feeling a lot more comfortable than I remember feeling with either of the previous two, so it wasn’t too stressful. I did think, however, that this third baby was likely to be bigger than either of the other two, as I was bigger myself and had been pregnant longer than ever before. My money was on over 7 pounds.
Very helpfully, I started to go into labour on the Tuesday that I turned 41 weeks – this was great news as our cleaner comes on a Tuesday morning, so the house was lovely and clean! All that day I was having pretty strong surges, and knew that it would happen soon. The kids spent the day with their grandparents, who very kindly gave them their dinner and brought them back home at bedtime so that I could relax without having to worry about them; they even brought me a fish supper which I scoffed completely, despite having had no room in my baby-filled torso for weeks now. Things were definitely happening…
I went to bed, determined to do the sensible thing for once, after pacing the floors for hours in early labour with Lewis to absolutely no effect. I slept reasonably well despite the contractions, which were coming pretty regularly every few minutes, until at about 2am I woke up properly and decided I couldn’t lie down through them any more. I nipped off to the bathroom had a massive contraction and lost what looked like a huge blob of show down the loo, so decided it was time to ask Angus to fill the birth pool.
We sneaked downstairs, hoping not to wake Lewis and Adam, and I rang Carrie to tell her things were happening. I was hoping she’d say she would come straight away, but when I described my contractions to her, she told me to give it an hour and ring back if I needed her. After another ten or fifteen minutes of increasingly strong labour, I told Angus to ring back and ask her to come now – of course Carrie’s midwife spidey-sense had already kicked in and I was relieved to be told she was on her way already.
I was still pacing the floors in the kitchen, leaning over the work surfaces and breathing heavily. This was SO much easier than my previous labours – with Lewis I had been hampered by monitors and then an epidural, with Adam I had been mostly paralysed by the Gullain-Barre Syndrome. Active birth was definitely the way forward, I decided. Carrie arrived, and I decided I wanted the patio doors open, as I was starting to get very hot. I’ll never forget hanging off the patio door frame watching the midsummer dawn starting to lighten the sky, it was quite magical!
Things were obviously moving very fast, and just as I started to think I wanted to get into the pool (which was nearly ready, Gus had been working hard to get it full quickly) I felt an unmistakeable pop and knew that my waters had broken. Confusingly, instead of an immediate gush and a spreading pool of liquid on the floor like I had with the other two, there was nothing there – it must have been because Fergus’ head was already so far down, and I was upright; he plugged me immediately! The next contraction felt a bit “pushy” towards the end, and I got the giggles. I nipped to the loo to check the colour of any fluid, and what little I could see was nice and clear, which was good news.
By this time, I was really keen to get into the pool, which – thankfully – was now ready. I sank into the warm water and relaxed instantly; bliss! The contractions slowed down quite a bit, and I had a good rest, enjoying the pool and the change of pace – then suddenly another huge contraction came. I was starting to find it a bit much, and after a few more like that, I found myself saying “Oh I don’t know how many more of those I can handle…” – aha, that would be transition!
Second stage was hard this time. Transition had been a lot less painful than I remember the last two times, but once my body started pushing I really struggled. Adam and Lewis had both been fairly petite for boy babies; neither of them over 7 pounds. Fergus felt enormous, and with this being my first birth without gas and air, I was feeling everything properly for the first time. I really felt like my body was going to break, and when Angus reminded me that we had canisters of Entonox available, I was gasping “Yes please!!” Carrie told me that we didn’t have time to set it up, this baby was coming now, and with that my body gave a couple of huge pushes, and I felt Fergus’ head come out. Even his body coming out felt harder than the last two, and it all seemed to take an awful lot more effort, but out he came finally, and I scooped him up out of the water and cuddled him on to my chest. Amazing!
He took a wee minute to start breathing by himself, and Carrie had to give him a bit of a rub down – I think he was a bit stunned by the speed of his exit, it was only just after 4am so just two hours of labour altogether, of which I’m pretty sure I was only pushing for 15 minutes or so. Once he got going, though, he started screeching and didn’t stop for about half an hour when I finally managed to get him latched on to my breast – by this time I had delivered the placenta with virtually no bleeding, and had cuddled up on the couch with my new baby. I had a good cuddle, a good feed, then Angus cut the cord a good hour after it had stopped pulsing. I handed Fergus over for some Daddy cuddles, and got into the fresh jammies that I had packed into my postnatal bag – all of us were absolutely buzzing. Carrie had weighed him, and it turned out he was all of 8.5 pounds – by far my biggest baby!
Eventually, I got settled back down on the couch in the living room, and got Fergus (now sleeping) back from Angus. We heard stirrings from upstairs, and the two bigger boys came downstairs to meet their new baby brother. As Lewis and Adam walked into the room, and our wee family was all together, I felt a funny click and the thought “we’re all here now” went through my head. We all had huge cuddles, then bacon sandwiches, banana bread, cups of tea and glasses of Prosecco (not the kids, obvs). So that was how we completed our family, and how baby Fergus entered the world. It was an amazing experienced, so relaxed and comfortable despite its intensity, and I am so glad that Carrie was there to look after us again.