Alison Bundy, 37, from Crystal Palace, had an unplanned home birth with her husband Matt acting as midwife (in between looking after their two-year-old!) when their second baby arrived in a hurry.
What kind of birth were you hoping for?
I was intending to have the baby at hospital. I had a natural birth at hospital with our first baby, Elvis, and was expecting a similar experience second time round.
When I was in labour with Elvis we went to hospital too soon and they wanted to send us home but I begged to be allowed to stay. Luckily they ran me a bath and let me stay at the hospital but because of that I didn't want to risk being sent home again. So this time we were determined to stay at home for as long as possible and I hired a TENS machine - something I hadn't used during my labour with Elvis - to help me cope at home.
How and when did your labour start?
I was four days past my due date. I woke up at 6am on Monday morning, the day before I was due to go to hospital for a membrane sweep, and I just knew I was in labour. I had the same period-type pains that I had experienced when I went into labour with Elvis.
How did you react when you realised you were in labour?
I said to my husband "You're not going to work today" and then ran myself a bath and set up the TENS machine. I felt quite calm. Elvis, who was a week shy of his second birthday, woke up at about 7.30am just as the contractions were getting a bit more painful, but I just turned up the TENS machine and kept hopping in and out of the bath to ease the contractions.
My parents, who live about 40 minutes away, had agreed to look after Elvis for us once I went into labour so I asked Matt to give them a call. It was still early in the morning and he didn't want to call them too soon - he thought it would be better for them to come over when we were actually ready to go to hospital. My labour with Elvis lasted 10 hours so I was expecting to be in labour for at least 8 or 9 hours. He called them at around 8.30am and told them not to hurry as we both thought we might have a long day ahead of us.
Where was your son while you were in labour?
I was on the floor having a contraction and I just felt very strongly that I didn't want Elvis to see me like that so I asked Matt to keep him out of my way. Matt took Elvis outside to play in the garden and tried to keep him distracted from what was going on with me.
So you were labouring on your own?
Yes! Matt kept popping in to check on me and I was letting him know how it was going but he was mainly focused on Elvis, which meant he wasn't monitoring my contractions. I was being sick in between contractions too, which is exactly what had happened during my labour with Elvis, so I just really wanted to be on my own.
When did you call the hospital?
At about 9.30am I said to Matt "I think you'd better call the midwife" as I thought we should let her know that labour was in full swing and that the contractions were getting closer together. Matt was following Elvis outside into the garden at the time and he didn't have the midwife's number on his phone so he didn't call her right away. And then suddenly my waters broke!
What happened next?
My waters broke at 10am while I was in the bathroom and I was instantly overwhelmed with the urge to push. I crawled along the floor from the bathroom to the hallway to try to get to the phone. I could hear Matt in the garden with Elvis and I was shouting out to him but he couldn't hear me, so I was going to call him on his mobile or phone the ambulance myself.
When did you realise you weren't going to make it to hospital?
The moment my waters broke, because I needed to push immediately. Earlier on, before my waters broke, I did reach the point of feeling like it was time to go to hospital but I think Matt thought it might have been too soon and he was reluctant to get things going earlier than necessary. Of course, he regretted that later because he had to deal with the consequences of that decision! But once my waters broke everything happened so quickly.
Matt was talking to a neighbour and then he came inside to check on me and I said "I need to push - quick, call an ambulance!" My parents still hadn't arrived and by this stage Elvis was running around like crazy so I told Matt to put Elvis in the cot, which he did. I screamed as I started pushing and Elvis promptly leapt out of the cot and came to see what was happening. He had never climbed out of the cot before and he's never done it since! He saw the whole thing.
Who phoned 999?
Matt did. The 999 operator asked how far apart the contractions were and I said "I'm pushing, the baby is already on its way." Matt said "I can see the baby coming now." The operator told Matt to find some towels and a safety pin and to make sure I didn't move. I was absolutely desperate to get off the cream bedroom carpet but I stayed put.
What was the safety pin for?
We have no idea! Amazingly Matt managed to find one. I don't know how he did that because he can't usually find anything - he can't find a jumper at the end of the bed! But we didn't use it and we never did find out what it was for!
When did the baby arrive?
At 10.20am after ten minutes of pushing. As baby Leo's head emerged Matt told the 999 operator that the baby was blue and the cord was wrapped round his neck. As soon as I heard that I pushed as hard as I possibly could and he came out straight away.
Was the baby ok?
Leo was absolutely fine. In hindsight I think perhaps I shouldn't have delivered him so quickly because pushing when the cord is around the baby's neck can be problematic but instinct took over and I just felt I had to get him out as quickly as I could. Matt gave the baby a gentle smack on the bottom and he instantly started crying and everything was fine.
How soon after the birth did the ambulance arrive?
Eight paramedics turned up five minutes later, followed by the midwife right behind them and then my parents. All of a sudden there were an awful lot of people in our hallway - and there I was on the floor in the bedroom doorway with my legs wide open and a baby in my arms!
The paramedics were absolutely brilliant. They cut the cord and sorted everything out and when the midwife arrived she weighed him - 7lbs 12 1/2 ounces - and delivered the placenta.
Was it a traumatic experience?
No, not at all, it was absolutely fine. The actual birth was so straightforward. I suppose it was a little bit traumatic that Matt was the one delivering the baby but he'd watched Elvis being born so at least he had a good idea of what to expect.
I felt fine throughout. I didn't feel panicky at all except for when I heard Matt say the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck. I did panic then but other than that I was actually quite calm and it was so much easier than Elvis' labour. With Elvis I was begging for an epidural because I couldn't cope with the pain but with Leo the TENS machine made an enormous difference.
Were you annoyed with Matt for not getting you to hospital earlier?
No, not at all. I didn't blame him because it was very difficult for him with Elvis around and it was early in the morning. He just hadn't realised quite how quickly my labour was going to progress, and neither had I. It took us both by complete surprise and he was brilliant with Elvis which was a real help.
How did Elvis react to the sudden arrival of his baby brother?
It was a bit of a shame that Elvis had to see the whole thing and he was a bit traumatised afterwards. He kept running around saying 'Baby coming, baby coming!' but I think that was just his reaction to seeing me in pain. He was thrown by hearing me screaming, I think.
Four months later Elvis is still adjusting. He's just going through the terrible twos as well so it's quite tough. He realises that the baby is around for the long haul now. He'll give him a kiss good night but he doesn't cuddle him or anything. He's not really interested in him at the moment but hopefully that'll change once Leo's old enough to be his playmate. I don't want to wish Leo's baby days away but I am looking forward to the time when they can run around together and be friends.
How did you feel once the baby was born?
Matt was a bit traumatised I think but I felt brilliant - I didn't need any stitches and we didn't have to go to hospital so it felt lovely to be at home. If I had to do it all again I would definitely opt for a home birth, and the midwife advised me that I'll need to have a home birth if I decide to have another baby. I would definitely recommend a home birth and would have no qualms about doing it again. It's just so wonderful to be at home and able to recover in your own space.
What did you do for the rest of the day?
It was quite strange. The midwife stuck around for a few hours and then eventually Elvis went to bed, Leo was sleeping and everyone went home, leaving Matt and I sitting in the living room saying 'This is so weird!' It was quite alien to suddenly be at home as a family of four as I'd been in hospital for two nights with Elvis - but it was lovely.
Did the cream bedroom carpet survive?!
Let's put it this way, the carpet will never be the same again!
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