Annie's story - Ellis' birth at home

First things first, we've named our boy, he's Ellis. He's lovely and he's doing really well. I put it down a lot to Ellis' good birth and easy start.
Ellis was born about 3 in the afternoon so he kind of took me by surprise - for some reason I was convinced he was going to be born in the night. Between that and trying not to get ahead of myself, we had a pretty normal day and then when it happened it happened pretty quickly. Andrew was only home an hour before Ellis was born and the midwives got here 45 mins before.
I woke up with contractions (although I was just calling it a 'bit crampy' at that point) about 1 am and stayed in bed sleeping between them until about 4 am when I got up and made two hot water bottles - amazing - and meant I could go back to bed and get some more sleep. I said I thought it was happening but probably not for a while so Andrew went to work. In hindsight that perhaps wasn't a great decision, Andrew's work was a good hour's drive across a notorious bit of the M62 so if there'd been a hold up he'd have missed it all. 
My parents were coming over anyway, so I got on with the morning with Rhys until they arrived. The plan was just to be me, Andrew and Rhys, plus midwives. Butt in the event it was great that tthey came as they played with Rhys,while I made soup for lunch for everyone, stopping to lean over the worktop and breathe through contractions. My mum asked if I was ok and I still said, 'just a bit crampy.' 
Interestingly, Rhys was really clingy with me that day and the day before - crying if I left the room, even though he was with Andrew or my mum so I think he knew something was coming. The day before I'd cleaned the bathroom and baked two loaves of bread, so I should have known too really! When I told Rhys a bit later that I thought our baby was going to be born today he was much calmer - a reminder that it's always best to talk. 
By the time soup was ready I couldn't sit down or eat so everyone else had lunch. I went for a bath and messaged Andrew to come home. As the bath was running I really felt things were getting more intense and rang the midwives. I ended up doing quite a few things alone which I hadn't expected to, like running the bath and calling the midwives. I remember being in the bath with contractions coming fairly quickly and saying to her I thought I still probably had a little while but at the end of the conversation the relief when she said she was sending the midwives out to me and I thought, 'yes, thanks!' 
I was in the bath on my own wishing Andrew would get home. Fortunately my parents were looking after Rhys downstairs. They were great and I was so grateful it was a Thursday after all. I remembered you saying some advice you had been given that you'll reach a point where you think you can't do it but you can. This came for me in the bath on my own, which wasn't really part of the plan, but I recognised it and thought, I know what you are and if I wasn't in the bath on my own I'd sniff some frankincense! I wasn't quite that cocky at the time, but you know what I mean. 
All the lovely things I'd prepared like essential oils, frozen grapes, ice, flannels etc (pool!) didn't get used, apart from a bit of lavender at the end when Andrew was here and got it for me. But it didn't matter, they were all part of the process of me feeling ready and prepared so they had served a really important function. The frozen grapes were amazing for after the birth though. I lay in bed with Ellis on my chest and ate frozen grapes to soothe my hoarse throat (from roaring!) and it was wonderful. 
I was so glad to see Andrew when he arrived and told him to get my parents to take Rhys to theirs and fill the pool, although I was doubting I'd get to use it. I'm amazed by how much I remember of the birth and labour. I can't help but make comparisons with Rhys' birth which is lacking so much detail in my memory and yet went on for such a long time. 
When it came to Ellis actually being born, it was so physical, like you said it would be. My body took over and I just had to go with it. It was not a cognitive process at all, although I did have cognitive thoughts during it, a bit like observations. I could feel his head moving down and crowning and then back up again and thinking once his head's out we're there. I also really felt the stretch and thought I might tear (I didn't) but didn't even really care. Andrew reminded me to do 'gaa' breathing at the end which was definitely a good thing. 
In one of your classes you asked us to think about where we would labour at home. This was so helpful and I'm really grateful to you for it. I had been planning the pool and thinking through the living room where it would be but your question made me think about where I could nest in the house. I didn't get in the pool so this ended up being essential. I'd got lots of pillows and cushions and duvets ready in the bedroom and that's where I went after the bath. Kneeling on the floor, leaning on the edge of the bed, fairy lights and lots of soft stuff on the floor and it's where I stayed and gave birth. 
I had done a hypnobirthing course during my first pregnancy and while I learnt a lot about how women's bodies give birth and how well designed we are for it, which was brilliant, I didn't really relate well to the practice - the breathing techniques, visualisations, scripts etc. So I suppose I took a lot theoretically but not practically into myself. Through a yoga class I attended, I went about it in a different way which worked from and I  felt like I absorbed so much confidence and knowledge into myself and it was there when I needed it. I had thought that hypnobirthing was probably the only way to have a calm and not too painful birth so I felt guilty not practicing the techniques. But through my yogabirth class I realised you actually don't need to be special or do anything special, your body will take over when it's ready. So when I joined the yoga and breathing groups, I just listened to what I felt, and I stopped worrying about whether I was doing this or that and feeling bad because I wasn't. I just started to trust myself instead.
After Ellis was born, a friend sent a message saying she hoped I was recovering well and, while I appreciated her care, I thought, I'm not recovering. I haven't had an injury, I've had a baby and I feel good. After Rhys' birth I felt battered. I had an episiotomy and I was trying to learn to breastfeed a baby with a tongue tie and I couldn't sit down. This time, I had a couple of small grazes and no stitches and I felt really good. I wasn't frightened of going to the toilet like first time. I just trusted my body knew what it was doing postnatally as well as during the birth. 
There is so much that got me ready for birth. There are lots of practical things I could list, like gaa breathing, hot water bottles, frozen grapes, open fingers, the yoga itself which helped keep my body feeling good and active ready for birth, but the best thing has been the steady drip drip of wisdom and confidence which I could soak up over the weeks from the class, as well as being part of something collective and caring.