Birth of Clementine (08-07-2019)
Our choice to home birth came from my first birth, it was not the way nature intended; a very long labour with minimal support, bright lights, clinical, examinations, doctors, intervention, lack of intimacy and privacy, nothing like what I had hoped or dreamed it would be. Vincent was a Shoulder dystocia delivery, the doctor said it was because he was a "big baby" 9p 1oz - 4095g, I never believed that, women birth big babies naturally all the time, it was the environment we were in. Two doses of morphine, an episiotomy and ventouse later, my son was delivered, I felt I didn't birth my baby, he was pulled from me, I failed him, I failed myself, the hospital system failed me the most! I couldn't allow any of that happen again. I went into Vincent's birth positive and left crushed, I knew I should have done more for myself to ensure I had the birth I had hoped for. So of course when we decided to have another beautiful baby I reached out to Jasmijn and Jenny, and it was the best thing I could have EVER done!
Sunday 7/7/19, I had asked Grant to stay home from work. I was 40+5, exhausted, mentally and physically. With 4yr old son Vincent he was wearing me out easily at this late stage. I just needed to rest and be calm knowing bub would be here any day. We had a nice slow day, afternoon came and decided to go for a family walk along the Mersey river to the playground. We got back to the car about 6pm and on the drive home Vincent fell asleep a very rare early night for him. Grant and I had a wonderful quiet night together we enjoyed dinner, we sat and chatted into the evening. We went to bed about 10:30 - way too late really. They were both sleeping peacefully while I tossed and turned through the night. Between 3-4am Monday the 8/7/19 I woke to some gentle surges, unsure of what I felt in my sleepy state was the beginnings of labour or not- I got up for the toilet and a drink. Going to the toilet I found my mucus plug had started to come away. I did a little happy dance to myself! Yay it's happening, smiling ear to ear! I popped a pad on, had a glass of water and got back into bed! Looking at my watch every so often I was having the most wonderful waves every 10 - 15 minutes. About 6am and Grant rolled over and I whispered, "I don't think you'll be going back to work" he asked "why...?" ...really you couldn't guess?! I smiled "Tiny is on the way"
I got up and sent Jasmijn a message to let her know things had started but knowing we had a while ahead of us yet. I felt so content. Vincent woke up and we started our day with oats and a snuggle on the couch. Jenny popped in home on her way to work about 8:30, Good morning, what a beautiful day for a baby, heart beat was perfect, hugs, kisses and see you soon.
It was a glorious sunny day, I had a relaxing shower, we got dressed and walked around our street for some fresh air. Surges were still regular around 8 minutes and comfortable. Keeping in touch with Jasmijn throughout the day, she called to check in. My eyes became heavy, my body was telling me to rest, Grant took Vincent to the playground and I got into bed, contractions slowed to 15 minutes and so gentle. About 3pm Mum came over, asking where everyone was and I explained, so she got into bed with me so I could keep resting. But by 3:30pm I needed the toilet again and a drink so up we got. Mum washed my dished while I swayed around the house. Sometime around 4pm everything changed in an instant. Went into the lounge where I had a mattress on the floor with a birth ball. Knealing and leaning on the ball. Every 3-4 minutes, stronger, we rang Grant to come home ASAP. Vincent was so excited! I messaged Jasmijn at 4:40pm, 20 minutes and she was at our house. Just as she bought her first load of gear in, she checked in with me and said she was just going to get changed. She was no more than five minutes. I looked at her as she came back in the door and said "I've had 3 since you left" my body knew I was safe, I was comfortable, I was ready. Her face lit up, and said something but I just remember the "WOW". Jasmijn contacted Jenny - you better come now. Shortly after, i messaged Flick (photographer) the house was buzzing but also calm I remember hearing Jenny call the ambulance (just so they are aware there is a homebirth in progress), Mum and Vincent in the kitchen painting, Jenny and Grant filled the pool as Jasmijn helped me through contractions which were becoming mighty strong! The pool was full in what felt like no time at all to me and I was straight in, the water was bliss contraction felt so much softer, the water took away so much of the pressure. Mum and Vincent popped out briefly to get themselves dinner.
I was full of joy. Everything was as I had hoped. The house was softly lit, Jasmijn hung fairy lights, a salt lamp on the desk and we had diffusers going. A gentle knock at the door and Flick came in and started her magic. They got a few candles for the desk where the papers were to document birth. I kept moving through the waves holding Grants hands and drinking icy cold water. I got hot so we opened the window for some fresh air. I loved the feeling of everyone floating around the house doing everything they needed while my body did everything it needed to do.
They were holding chilled cloths to my forehead, Flick would go to the fridge and swap them for fresh ones, Grant was holding my hands and Jenny and Jasmijn were helping me breathe through each contraction, hitting some acupressure points. I needed some energy, something sweet, I asked mum to get me some juice, she bought it in, I had a sip. Spitting saying "what the hell, no" she gave me a paper straw! I remember everyone laughing at my reaction (of all things for me to care about really) out came the paper straw and in went a steel one!
Having mum around was amazing, she was present for Vincent's birth also, seeing him be born was distressing for more than just me I'm sure, our choice of home birth was a surprise on the day for her as we had kept it quiet for many reasons but knowing she would be there as I went through my healing birth was wonderful, she was able to talk Vincent through what was happening whilst Grant supported me. We were all so excited to meet Tiny. Between contractions we chatted and Vincent would come and talk to me, constantly looking down into the water to see if Tiny was out yet, he asked about the thermometer floating in the pool wanting to know what it was and we explained, he took his hand and rubbed my arm and said "you are a good mummy, just keep breathing" I burst into tears and within moments my strongest contraction yet, it hit like a storm. My body was amazing. It took over!
I cried. Guilt, sadness, pain, grief. Why didn't this happen with Vincent's birth. I can't birth this baby on my own because I couldn't do it on my own last time. I had to believe this was different and with beautiful encouraging words from those around me I knew I wasn't alone, I was surrounded by so much love and I could do this. Once labour reached it's strongest I went within mentally, I had thoughts but I couldn't vocalise it. I remember Jas asking me, do you mind where you give birth because she'll be here soon. No happy to stay here. Jenny asked if I wanted to get out of the pool and into the lounge so she could help with compression to prevent tearing. I just shook my head and said no. But I was thinking to myself. "What? Really? No, I don't care if I tear, how on earth does she think I'm getting out of here now, while this is happening! The water is my pain relief how would I cope out there?." I pushed with contractions I felt her head coming down but unable to hold it she would pop back up, it happened a several times, feeling it was wonderful though as I didn't experience it with Vincent, I tried to feel her head between contractions but couldn't. The self doubt was stronger than the pain, I couldn't do it. Next contraction Jenny gently gave a gentle touch with her hand towards Tiny's head whilst I had pushed and I felt it, it was all it took, I knew she was right there, I didn't want to feel her go back up again, my body could do it! Next contraction and so much push her head was born, breathe! I dove my hand down with excitement, I felt her head. So happy. A rest and few minutes later my next contraction and push, her shoulders came through, I went to turn but she wasn't completely out, another push and the rest of her body followed. I turned and Jenny lifted my beautiful baby girl to my chest, I cried so many tears. 7:20pm on the 8/7/2019 I proudly pronounced, I DID IT!!!! Mum crying she replied 'Of course you did", I cried even more. We were all crying beautiful happy tears. I thanked Jenny and Jasmijn for helping me birth my baby. Vincent saw his baby sister being born, he so gently touched her head, Grant gave me a kiss and welcomed his daughter to the world, This was what birth is meant to be! The smile was not leaving my face.
Everyone meet Clementine Ellen Ayton.
Jasmijn got everything ready to cut the cord, we asked Vincent if he would like to, he declined but was happy watching dad do it! 15 minutes after her birth I held my baby with one and my kitchen bowl with the other as Jenny helped deliver my placenta. Clementine was lifted from me and went with her daddy and brother to the lounge. Mum, Jenny and Jas helped me out of the pool, midwife either side. The pool was rather tall and my body just birthed a baby, "mum grab my leg and lift it out" laughing, I was on such a high. I was guided to the mattress in the lounge, Jasmijn came in with my placenta and Flick came to capture its beauty. We sat on the floor discussing how wonderful it is and Vincent got to learn all about it! (We did paper prints and had it encapsulated).
Weighing Clementine. We had a growth scan at 37 weeks (just to make the doctor happy really) it came back as the 76th percentile. Seemed I wasn't having such a big baby this time so that was a positive, with my choice of home birth and my history. Putting her on the scale she weighed in at 9p 1oz - 4095g! The exact same weight as her big brother! I couldn't stop laughing I was so amazed and so extremely proud of my body! I did it! I proved them wrong. I proved to myself I was strong. It was meant to be, it was perfection!
She was bought to me for skin to skin and her first breastfeed. Grant and Vincent came for a cuddle and Flick got our first picture as a family. Everyone cleaning up, Grant feeding himself. Off to the toilet and to get dressed with my big afterbirth pants on, I ended up with a mild tear but what a small price to pay for a beautiful water birth. Jasmijn dressed Clementine, the night was calming Vincent was becoming tired. We said thank you, I love you and good-nights to all the amazing people who were by my side and by 10:30pm we were going to bed as a family of four. Our home was full of love in every way imaginable.
Clementines birth was so much more than meeting my daughter, it was healing, empowering, I am proud of myself. My love for my husband grew and he supported my ever step of the way. I am so happy Vincent was a big part in welcoming his sister earth side and for my mum being there to share the experience. I will be forever grateful to Jasmijn and Jenny for all they have given me. And to Flick for capturing the most amazing experience of my life.
Clementine - merciful, mild.
Ellen - bright, shining light.
She is this and so much more.
Birth photographer: Flick (www.flickplusdavephotography.com)