As I stood back and held my baby girl in my hands for the first time I couldn’t help but think to myself...
Did that just happen? Did I just help deliver my baby?
We could have never predicted the chain of events that lead up to us having an unplanned home birth without any help or assistance. Every single birth story is unique and they all have their inherent dangers. But as I sat down thinking about all the possibilities of what could have happened, I felt blessed to know that despite the birth not going to plan at all, my wife still gave birth to a healthy baby girl and I was of great help.
We had discussed having a home birth before plenty of times, but thought for us the best conditions would be in the hospital with professionals around. My wife suffered from a very rare sickness that led her to have morning sickness day and night for almost the entirety of her pregnancy. I watched her go through the highs and lows of an emotional and painful pregnancy and felt so helpless to come to her aid.
Just Before Dawn
My wife had started feeling smaller contractions a few days in a row, so we knew that the baby was likely to come soon. This was our 2nd child and in her first, she gave birth 10 days before her due date so we figured the same might happen.
We tried to be as prepared as we could. I remembered many of the basic things to pack to go to the hospital and we tried to get all our bags ready weeks in advance. I even had a few different routes to the hospital planned out and, all things in order, we were ready for baby number two.
My wife had been very active at night for the past few nights so I was well aware of her sporadic patterns. But for some reasons on this night I didn’t quite catch when she got up to start roaming around distracting herself from the discomfort of being heavily pregnant.
By the time I had realized she was up, around 2 hours had past and she was already going through mild contractions. At that point, I simply assisted in any way I could, but in the back of my mind was slowly beginning to get things ready to leave.
I started to time the contractions, 15 minutes apart, 12 minutes apart, 8 minutes apart. They were getting closer and closer together so we decided to get ready and I called the hospital to inform them we were coming in.
Previously, the hospital had urged us to only call and come in when contractions were very close together and after they had done a verbal assessment on mum.
But before I could get connected to the hospital my wife let out a shriek of pain. She stood there, half on her feet and a half on the ground, in complete shock.
I didn’t need to ask what happened, it was clear and obvious to see. Her waters had broken completely and she looked at herself in complete disbelief.
What are we going to do now I thought?
Seeing her anguish and realizing that it would be very difficult to get us all in the car promptly, I decided to call an ambulance. I was halfway getting ready and so was my wife, not to mention our 2 year old son sleeping next door that needed assistance. It would have been very rushed and in retrospect, proved to be the best decision I could have made.
As she crouched down in shock and fear, still going through painful contractions I spoke with the emergency operator on the phone.
I explained the situation and she assured me an ambulance had been dispatched and it was very close.
Everything was happening so fast and by this point, we both knew that we were having this baby at home, one way or another.
We were in the middle of the living room and we couldn’t move an inch.
It was all going to take place right here, so I tried to make the atmosphere more relaxing. I quickly dimmed the lights, gentled put down some pillows and shouted across the room to my Google Home system to “Play Waterfall Sounds”
It wasn’t the gentle, soothing birthing pool atmosphere we had planned, but it would have to do!
As my wife bear down going through what seemed like more contractions the operator asked me to check mummy and baby. As my wife reluctantly opened her legs I could see CLEAR AS DAY the baby was crowning.
Luckily I had “read the baby books” so understood what was happening. Although i knew the baby was very close to being born I kept asking when the paramedics would get here. I was assured they were close, but as the operator calmly asked me to get a few items, I started to get that feeling in the pit my stomach like something wasn't quite right.
I scrambled next door to get pillows and towels, but when she mentioned to find a shoelace and a peg that's when I realized something was wrong.
I remember thinking to myself, Why did I need these seemly random items and where was the DAMN AMBULANCE! I could see my wife was holding back, but as she grunted loudly and painfully I could see that she was ready.
Just as the operator started to hand out final preparation instructions the living room door BURST open. Our toddler, hearing all the noise and commotion, ran in looking worried and concerned. He took one look at mummy and another at me and shouted JUICE JUICE…. (that’s his way of asking for milk) I quickly flew to the kitchen, grabbed his Sippy cup and placed him firmly on the opposite side of the room. It was the WORST possible timing!
Baby isn’t waiting!
My wife had gone through active labour so fast that she was ready to push the baby out before the ambulance could arrive.
As she took my hand I listened out to the operator's instructions carefully and tried to keep mummy as calm as possible, while at the same time layering the pillows and blankets around her legs to prepare for baby.
It was all happening so fast. I felt like I was having this mild out of body experience where I was just watching myself help to deliver my baby. It didn't feel like I was in control. I felt like I was acting on complete autopilot.
A few times the operator had to repeat herself to make sure I was listening to important instructions. I could heard and understand everything she was saying, but it was like everything had slowed down and I was taking that much longer to process everything.
As my wife started to push there's was no stopping baby. Almost instantly out popped baby’s head and I saw my daughters face for the first time.
It was a culminating feeling of complete elation, followed by extreme fear. It’s a feeling I will never forget and I don’t think can be explained. I was so happy but so scared simultaneously.
As my wife squeezed down on my hand and the operator directed instructions my way I had a hard time keeping up. So much was going on it was difficult to catch my breath.
My wife continued to push and out popped both shoulders. I held my daughter gently but securely making sure she was safe. One more push and out came baby’s body and legs and I quickly wiped her down and wrapped her up.
As baby let out her first cry, I immediately congratulated my wife and was so proud of her. She had done all of this without any pain relief and I couldn't stop praising her for what she'd been through. I told her she is the strongest woman I know and that I loved her very much.
A few moments later I heard a knock on the door and the paramedics finally arrived. As they walked into the living room and visually checked on my wife, they saw our baby wrapped up and one of them jokingly remarked… “Oh great, you’ve done all the hard work for us!”
I couldn’t help but be confused and annoyed at them for taking so long. Anything could have happened and my wife and I had just been through this intense rollercoaster ride of extreme highs and fearful lows by ourselves.
As they gave the baby a quick check over, I realized it probably wasn’t their fault. My wife had gone through active labour so fast that they just couldn’t get there in time. Plus what felt like several minutes to me was probably only a few seconds as I stood up waiting for help that never came.
I scrambled around the house to pick up a few last-minute items as we headed off to the hospital for a more thorough check-up.
I remember thinking to myself “Did that just happen”, Did we just give birth at home?",Did I just help deliver my baby?
I was proud of myself for staying calm whilst under extreme pressure. Things could have turned out a lot worse and I’m glad we listen to our instincts and resisted the urge to rush into the hospital too soon.
Our Baby weighed in at 6 pounds and 2 ounces and was healthy and perfectly normal.
I often relive the experience in my head and smile from ear to ear. It’s a beautiful feeling to know that despite all the stories you hear there are examples of mum’s being able to deliver a baby at home by themselves with no medical interference and with no pain relief.
As a father, my main fear was not getting to the hospital in time and this fear almost came true. Too often parents worry about things they have no control over. Childbirth is unpredictable and everyone’s experience is unique.
I hope this extreme example can provide some solace to the fact that even in unplanned and emergency conditions you can still manage expectations and work positively with what you have.
Lastly, I'd like to say a quick heads up to all you soon to be dads out there. Please Read The BABY BOOKS! The depth of information you can learn is incredible and if my story is anything to go by, you just never know what life will throw your way!
Mo Mulla is a stay at home dad who loves spending time with his family, reading books and keeping fit. Check out his childcare blog for more ways to get involved. Parental Questions