Seven months ago my twins were born. During my pregnancy I was adamant that the birth would be as low-intervention as possible, although I agreed that it would take place in a hospital because of the additional risks of having twins, especially considering that the second baby presented as breech throughout the pregnancy.
At thirty-eight weeks I was measuring the equivalent of forty-seven weeks pregnant with a singleton and after developing obstetric cholestasis, was convinced to have an induction.
The state of the ward was such that twenty-four hours in I demanded an emergency caesarean and was given one. I was devastated that my birth didn’t go as planned, a trauma made worse by the fear and uncertainty of it happening on a ward where the mothers and babies were seriously neglected. I was angry with myself for not demanding my home birth, for not waiting for nature to take its course rather than inducing. For deciding that a caesarean section was the only option, rather than walking out of the hospital. I still am. It’s easier to be angry with the NHS than myself but in truth I’m furious with both of us. They invalidated my choices and pushed a frightening situation on to me (and the other women giving birth that day) but I allowed it to happen.
Having had a caesarean section I am at enhanced risk of life-threatening conditions during subsequent pregnancies and births, such as placenta accreta and uterine rupture. I will have to fight to have my home birth and fight against constant fetal monitoring, knowing that whilst my choices mean a birth that feels safer to me, in reality it’s riskier to the both of us.
I’ve been discussing birth a lot recently because one of my closest friends is nearing the end of her pregnancy. It’s brought back a lot of memories. I’m not pregnant but I do want to have more children in the future and so I thought it might be cathartic to write my birth plan for subsequent children. I got a little carried away and so here is my list of birth ideals for hypothetical baby #3.
A Perfect Birth for Baby #3
Baby #3 is born on the cusp of Summer, when the blossoms are still pink on the trees but the weather is pleasantly warm.
During early pregnancy we find an independent midwife close to the coast that who is willing to supervise VBACs (vaginal births after caesareans) from home. We meet with this midwife and realise that we like and trust her. She is empathetic and caring, relatable and funny. Somehow we’re able to afford herservices and so we book her to attend our birth.
We also book to stay at a local dog-and-child friendly serviced apartment from 36 weeks pregnant, in order to spend quality time together before the new addition is born. It is lovely to soak up each other’s company and to watch the twins play with their buckets and spades whilst the dog digs holes in the sand beside them. Kirsty and I have many deep conversations about ourselves, our hopes and dreams and plans for the future and we feel so connected. We sleep snuggled together every night.
Labour with baby #3 begins right on term at forty weeks. We spend early labour on the beach with the twins and the dog, who are happily oblivious to their mother breathing through contractions and swearing under her breath occasionally.
Established labour coincides with bed time. As we kiss the boys and tuck them up in their bed, we can barely contain our nerves and excitement that this will be our last evening as a family of five.
With the twins safely asleep and out of the way, contractions pick up and we decide that it’s time to call in the expert. She arrives promptly and is just as lovely as we remember – perfect for navigating us through this difficult time. We acquiesce to fifteen minutes of monitoring to reassure all of us that baby is doing great and are unsuprised to hear that he or she is just fine.
We banish the midwife to the living room with a stack of magazines and some snacks. I hate having even my nearest and dearest around when I’m in pain and the thought of a near stranger, even one as trusted and personable as our midwife, is too much. Still, we’re comforted in the knowledge that she is there should we need her.
Toward dawn, our precious baby #3 is born in water. With our midwife’s assistance I manage to catch the baby myself and Kirsty cuts the cord. We stay in the water snuggling the new baby for a while, exclaiming over the tiny fingers and toes and stroking the tiny face. Our baby seems to be a pro at nursing already and latches on with greed. It all feels so much easier than the twins’ birth and we are relaxed, peaceful and happy. Our midwife laughs about how easy it was, how we barely needed her at all – but we know that’s not true, that it’s important to have medical assistance at even the most straightforward birth. Having our midwife there gave us confidence.
The twins wake up! They’re still a little young to really understand how our lives have changed, but we take the new baby in to meet them and snuggle on their bed in our dressing gowns. The dog rests her head on my legs as I stroke her fur, drinking in every moment of our first babies’ introduction to our third baby. We are spectacularly happy.
Our midwife makes us tea and toast to munch on in bed and brings it through to us. We thank her profusely for sharing this amazing event with us, for being the perfect mixture of supportive and unobtrusive. She snaps a photograph of all of us tucked up in bed for her testimonials page on her website and promises to send us a copy. She lets herself out, and we spend a little more time together before the twins – and the dog! – demand to get up and out.
We spend another couple of weeks at the coast to cram in time together and get to know our new baby, before returning home.
Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? I don’t think that we would ever be able to afford to rent a serviced apartment for six weeks whilst also renting our home here in London, much less afford the independent midwife, but if I had unlimited funds this is exactly what I would do.
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