“I gave birth by myself at home while my husband and toddler were sleeping”

Posted in Birth.

When Rebecca Clark from Hobart, Tasmania, woke up with contractions she never imagined she would be delivering her own baby 45 minutes later in her lounge room while her partner and other child slept through it all. This is her incredible story as told to Babyology:

Smooth sailing first time

My first pregnancy with my son Korben was great. I had no issues, despite moving interstate to Queensland when I was six-and-a-half months along. After 14 hours of irregular contractions, my waters broke, and my partner Jake and I made our way into the hospital. Two hours later, I had my son in the shower of the birthing room with no drugs and no complications.

What happened with my next child, however, was very different.

High-risk pregnancy

I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes when pregnant with my daughter Maddison, who is now nine months old. I admit I was a bit scared given the complications it can bring, but I went from barely eating to having three meals and two snacks a day, which was good. And I didn’t gain any weight during my pregnancy.

At 36 weeks the hospital told me they would induce me at 38 or 39 weeks due to my condition and I was disappointed. I had kept the sugar levels under control, and my baby was average weight. I spoke to my midwives, and after talking with the doctors, they agreed to let me go to 40 weeks and four days, which is when I would have to go to the hospital and be induced. I was much happier.

Home labour starts

On the morning of my 40th week, I woke at about 1am with a slight pain across my abdomen. I went to the bathroom to pee, and when I realised they were contractions, I started timing them. I set up a picnic blanket in the lounge room in case my waters broke and persisted through a few intense labour pains, which were still a bit irregular at this stage.

As my first birth was such a long labour, I thought this one would be the same. Plus, I had previously been told by the hospital in Queensland that until my waters broke, I was to stay at home. It was the middle night. Jake and Korben were sound asleep, and I didn’t want to disturb either of them for what could be hours of irregular contractions. 

Jake and Maddison

Daddy Jake and Maddison

Ring ring ring

After about 40 minutes, I decided to ring my midwife. Having two contractions while on the phone, she advised me to get to the hospital. I tried to call Jake in the bedroom but his phone was on silent, and I couldn’t move to walk down the hall. I called my mum who was staying with my sister about 20 minutes away and they rushed to come and get me. 

Honestly, I never once thought about ringing an ambulance. I thought I had more time, but it turns out I didn’t.

She’s coming

While waiting for my mum and sister, I had a contraction and felt my baby move down. That’s when I started screaming out Jake’s name (he didn’t hear me). I wasn’t scared as I just thought I was in the process of contractions, but when I reached down and felt my daughter’s head I had a “what if something bad happens?” kind of thought. It passed quickly though, and I switched my focus to getting her out. Two contractions and pushes later, I ended up catching my daughter, Maddison, as she came out. I noted the time and sat on the lounge holding my new baby. All up, her birth only took 45 minutes to an hour.

I’ve had the baby

Maddison was great. She cried and snuggled against me but sitting there waiting I realised I needed to get my partner and son up. I managed to waddle down the hall, open the bedroom door and gently called Jake’s name. He woke and said, “Yeah?” I said: “I’ve had the baby.”

Naturally, he flew out of bed, flicked the light on and saw me standing there half naked, covered in blood and holding a little baby. He got dressed and asked me what he should do. I told him to grab my hospital bag.

Ambulance arrival

My mum had tried to call me several times, but it was difficult to answer the phone (I couldn’t swipe to answer from all the muck on my hands) When my mum hadn’t heard from me, she called an ambulance. My mum and sister came first – mum was freaking out (even though she home-birthed my sister and me with my dad’s help) – and the ambulance arrived ten minutes later. Jake cut the cord before Maddison and I were taken to the hospital, with the family following. 

Rebecca Clark kids

Little Maddison and big brother Korben

No regrets, but…

I don’t plan on having any more children, my daughter is my last one. However, if it were to happen somehow, I definitely wouldn’t give birth at home by myself again. Sure it ended up being a great experience but if something had gone wrong, it would have been nice to have someone there. I actually wanted a home birth with my son, but it was too costly. As I had gestational diabetes, it wasn’t a safe option with my daughter either. So no, giving birth at home wasn’t a planned thing, especially not by myself! 

Breathe and don’t wait

If you are pregnant and find yourself in a similar situation to me, giving birth at home or by yourself somewhere, my advice is to breathe, stay calm and don’t panic. Make the necessary phone calls early and don’t wait for things, like your waters breaking, to happen because they may not. I didn’t feel mine break which is why I didn’t call my midwife earlier.

And for heavens’ sake, make sure your partner’s phone isn’t on silent!

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