Sophie’s birth story

I had hoped for a home waterbirth when I was expecting my first daughter, Jessica, in 2011 but when she was diagnosed antenatally with a complex heart condition, our plans changed and I chose to birth her in hospital as she needed heart surgery very soon after birth. Although Jessica’s birth (with the help of forceps) was much more medicalised than I would have originally hoped for, it was still a very positive experience and I am hugely grateful to all the team at Southampton – without the wonderful care Jessica received there, she would not be here today.

After two heart scans showed all was well with baby’s heart second time around, I knew I wanted to try again for a home waterbirth.   Two of my lovely midwife friends, Carole and Tracy (Phoenix Independent Midwives) agreed to be my midwives (having previously supported me through my pregnancy with Jessica). I hired a heated birth pool from Birth Pools Online which was set up ready in our dining room. We had a little hiccup when we first filled it due to a faulty part which meant we almost flooded our dining room but thankfully a replacement part was sent out quickly and the pool was set up successfully the second time.

Waiting for Sophie's arrivalI had gone into labour at 38 weeks with Jessica but this baby seemed to be much more comfy inside the big mamma house and waited for a few days after the due date before deciding it was time to be evicted. My labour started on the night the clocks went back – the first contraction starting just a few minutes after the clock changed. It was an hour or so before I came to the conclusion that this time it was the real thing and not another bout of Braxton Hicks contractions (as I’d been having over the previous few weeks). I woke Michael to help me put on the TENS machine but after a few more contractions, I felt it was time to phone Carole and Tracy.

Michael also phoned my mum and my twin sister so that they could head over to be with us and to look after Jessica who was fast asleep in her cot. By the time Tracy arrived, I was in the pool downstairs. The water was so warm and soothing and whilst the contractions felt intense, I could focus and breathe through them. Michael had put my relaxing birth music on and was kneeling by the side of the pool, holding my hands during the contractions and giving me hugs in between.

My wonderful hubby helping support me through labourMy mum and twin sister arrived a little while later and Jessica woke up shortly after their arrival so Mum went upstairs to see to her and then brought her downstairs a little while later. She wasn’t at all bothered by Mummy being in labour – she came over to me saying “Mummy” and gave me a big kiss. Then she went into the lounge with Nanny where she could play with her toys. Every so often Jessica would come to the gate between the lounge and dining room and look at me and say “Mummy!” and then go back and play. She wasn’t fazed by it at all.

As the contractions got stronger and more frequent, I felt myself retreating further inward, really needing to concentrate on getting through them. Michael continued to be there for me to cuddle and hold his hands as I needed and my twin occasionally offered a few words of reassurance but mostly was just there being quietly supportive which was exactly what I needed her to be doing.

As it started to get light outside, I was beginning to feel scared and overwhelmed, feeling like I couldn’t do it. Carole had now arrived and she and Tracy reassured me that I was doing well. The contractions were starting to space out a little though and Carole suggested that perhaps it might be a good idea if my mum took Jessica (who was still playing in the lounge) upstairs for a bit. I hoped that this was a good sign that everyone thought baby’s arrival might be imminent! Jessica came over to give me and Michael a big kiss before Nanny took her upstairs.

I was beginning to feel much more ‘pushy’ now and the sensation was overwhelming me, frightening me. I didn’t want to do this anymore. I was scared of tearing, scared of something going wrong. I wanted it all to stop and go away for a bit, to give me a breather but I knew that if it stopped, I would never want it to start again!

The pushing stage felt so long. I had thought second time around the pushing stage would be quick but this seemed so slow – taking three steps forward and two back every time. And then –

“Little pushes now.”

Nearly there. I felt a little pop and knew baby’s head was out. One more contraction, another big push, and relief as I felt my baby’s body emerge from me into the water. Somebody was telling me to lift my baby out of the water and then suddenly there were two beautiful dark eyes blinking up at me. Joy flooded over me as I looked at this precious little bundle in my arms. I looked down.

Holding baby Sophie for the first time“It’s a girl!” I said jubilantly. Michael was crying and I was dimly aware of my sister, Tracy and Carole saying “congratulations” and “well done” but I was mostly focused on my beautiful new daughter, my little Sophie.

She wasn’t crying yet though. I blew in her face and rubbed her little arms to encourage her to take that big first breath. And then she screwed up her little face and gave a big cry, much to my relief. I couldn’t move her very much, it was all I could do just to keep her little face above the water as her cord felt quite short.

Mum brought Jessica downstairs. “Baby!” Jessica exclaimed when she saw Sophie. She was fascinated as she stood on the step next to the pool with Michael holding her, looking down at her new sister and giving me a big kiss.

Jessica meets her baby sister for the first time

After a few minutes, I asked Carole if we could cut the cord as it had stopped pulsating and I felt so restricted by it being short. Carole clamped it and then Michael cut it. I cuddled Sophie for a while longer hoping that the placenta would come out naturally. After an hour though, it still hadn’t emerged and I was finding the sensation of having it still inside quite uncomfortable so opted for the injection to help deliver it.

[If you’re squeamish, skip to the next paragraph because I have to confess to trying a placenta smoothie – mostly out of curiosity. It tasted mostly of the chocolate and the strawberries which had been added to it.]

After a nice warm bath it was lovely to be able to get into my own bed and snuggle with my new baby. I did enjoy my ‘babymoon’, pretty much staying in bed for a week (on my midwives’ advice) whilst Michael looked after us all. It was wonderful to feel cocooned in my home for that first week – we didn’t leave the house until we took Sophie to church for the first time when she was a week old.
Cuddling baby Sophie moments after her birth

Baby Sophie wrapped in towelAnd now that tiny (or not so tiny – at 8lb 10oz Sophie weighed 3lb more than her sister had at birth!) baby is turning one. How fast that year has flown. Happy 1st birthday beautiful Sophie – Mummy and Daddy love you millions.

Sophie just before her first birthday

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35 thoughts on “Sophie’s birth story

    1. Louise Post author

      Thanks Sara – it helped that I wrote a very detailed birth story down fairly soon after Sophie was born otherwise I think my memories may have been more blurred. Love the photos too – my midwife friend Tracy took them and she did an amazing job x

      Reply
  1. mummytries

    Wow Louise, what a beautiful birth story! Amazing that it all went to plan and was such a positive experience 🙂 happy birthday to Sophie, bet you’re sitting there thinking ‘how on earth has a whole year disappeared already’?! xxx

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thank you Renee – was so glad I was able to have Sophie at home just the way I wanted too. She had a lovely birthday and yes I can’t quite believe a whole year has passed already! x

      Reply
  2. Dean of Little Steps

    What a lovely birth story! You’re so lucky you finally had the kind of birth you’ve always wanted 🙂 I had an emergency CS with my first (and only) daughter, after two days of labour! Sadly, I don’t have much recollection about it, because they had to put me out. I woke up feeling groggy and she was with me! That’s about it. Still special I guess, but nothing like yours. PS. Your baby looks absolutely precious! 🙂 #whatsthestory.

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thank you – so sorry to hear that your birth experience was not as you hoped – thank goodness though for having access to things like caesareans when needed – sounds like your daughter needed to be born quite quickly at that point if you had to be put out. Hope you were both ok – and yes, still a special moment when that little one arrives x

      Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thank you – was really pleased that my midwives managed to take such lovely photos – it was such an amazing experience and felt very lucky to be able to birth Sophie at home 🙂

      Reply
  3. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)

    Awww this is so amazing! I have envy that you remember every moments. When I gave birth they gave me drugs as my water broke and I am not having contractions at all. By the time I gave birth I am already asleep and woke up with a wee bit less tummy. I didnt saw my son till the next day. I am happy of course that him and me are both safe but it would be mice if I remember things like you. #whatsthestory

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thank you – so sorry to hear that your birth experience was so different though and it was a day before you were able to see your son. Glad both of you were ok though x

      Reply
  4. Cara

    such a lovely story, so pleased that you got to experience the sort of birth that you have enabled so many women to have.
    Lots of love
    Cara

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thank you Cara – was such a lovely birth experience and was so glad I got to have the home birth I wanted second time around x

      Reply
  5. Sophie Lovett

    What a gorgeous story. I had my son at home, and I really hope to be able to have a home birth again when we’re ready for a second. It’s great to read about it going so smoothly with a curious toddler around 🙂 Happy birthday Sophie ! xx

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thanks Sophie – glad you managed to have your home birth first time – loved being at home and not having to take Jessica anywhere. We had a lovely day celebrating Sophie’s birthday yesterday too x

      Reply
  6. Rachel Bitmead

    Wow you remember so much for you labour, that’s great! I don’t remember much at all which is a little disappointing. Both of mine where so quick! I am glad you managed to get your home birth. Not every mum get’s that opportunity x

    Reply
  7. Sam

    What a lovely birth story Louise! I had a water birth the second time round too but I had it in hospital as I didn’t really fancy doing it at home. I have to say that I’d recommend a water birth to anyone as I’m sure you would too. My first birth had involved pethadine, the syntocin drip and an epidural and many hours spent pacing the length of a small hospital room. With EJ I had the luxury of going to hospital at 9cm dilated and getting straight in the pool with my music playing. I feel so grateful to have experienced a completely natural birth and the high afterwards was like no other! Happy Birthday to your gorgeous Sophie X #sharewithme

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thanks Sam – your first birth sounds more similar to mine with Jessica, so glad you got to have a natural birth second time around. Can completely understand feeling more comfortable in hospital although I loved being able to be at home when Sophie was born. She had a lovely first birthday, thank you – can’t believe she is 1 already! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Jenny

    WOW you remember so clearly and so much that’s fantastic. I absolutely love birth stories. So lovely to look back. She is gorgeous!!! Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thanks Jenny – think it helped writing it down in quite a lot of detail very soon after Sophie’s birth. It was a wonderful experience – can’t believe she is 1 already though! Lovely to link up with #sharewithme again 🙂

      Reply
  9. Caroline (Becoming a SAHM)

    Wow what a wonderful experience. You’re so brave having the birth at home but it must have been wonderful. I would have loved a water birth but alas it was not to be! Thank you so much for linking with #MaternityMondays and sorry for the delayed response! X

    Reply
  10. Pingback: #MaternityMondays week 3 | Becoming a Stay at Home Mum

  11. Lucy at occupation: (m)other

    Oh Louise, this is beautiful. Brought a tear to my eye, the pictures are gorgeous and the way you share, both through them and your written words, this special experience with us is really lovely. Well done for the week in bed this time…that’s absolutely my plan with this baby, I put myself under such pressure to be up and about last time I could kick myself. No, a week in bed and a week on the sofa then maybe, maybe I’ll leave the house! Thank you very much for sharing x

    Reply
    1. Louise Post author

      Thank you Lucy – the week in bed is certainly something I would recommend if you can do it – it made such a difference and that feeling of being in our little cocoon together was utterly blissful 🙂

      Reply

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