Buddy Arthur Keeping was born at 9:05pm (or thereabouts…) on Tuesday 24 September 2013 weighing 8lbs 5oz… in our bathroom. When I first found out I was pregnant with Buddy I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth, with as little intervention as possible. The reason being that I wasn’t planning on having more children after Buddy and wanted to experience labour fully and know what it felt like to birth a baby. My daughter Alabama, was born on 2 October 2011, 16 days after her “due date”. I had hoped for a water birth in the local midwife led birth centre but, at 14 days over I was admitted to hospital to be induced. To cut a very long and tedious story short, I ended up on a Syntocin drip, with an epidural but managed to narrowly avoid an emergency caesarean section after my cervix reached the mystical 10cm just in time and I demanded to be allowed to push. 25 minutes of pushing later and Bam was born. I went home later that day with a happy and healthy baby but left with a sense that my body had failed me and a longing to know what would have happened had nature been left to take its course…
Back to Buddy! So in the knowledge that I wanted a natural a birth as possible I thought I should probably opt to birth at the midwife led unit in Bournemouth as opposed to going to Poole. Then the anxiety kicked in and I soon realised that my main worry was leaving my daughter. Bam was 14 months old when I found out I was pregnant with Buddy and I had never spent a night away from her. With no family living close by my concern was that if I opted for a hospital birth it would mean me going on my own and my husband, Ryan, staying at home to care for Bam. I starting toying with the idea of a home birth. My younger sister had her second child at home so there was a part of me that was thinking “if she can do it, I can!” but then it just came down to the practicalities. Whether I was at home or at the midwife led unit in Bournemouth I would end up being transferred to Poole if a) anything went wrong or b) I had a sudden change of heart about wanting to “experience labour fully” and started screaming for an epidural so, with the full support of my husband, the decision was made to plan for a home water birth.
When the time came I was 6 days over my due date, I was happily bouncing up and down on my birthing ball whilst watching TV and started to notice a bit of a rhythm to the pains I had been experiencing. I didn’t say anything to Ryan as I wanted to be sure but yep, every 20 minutes. We went to bed and I was woken by a contraction at around 2 the next morning. I timed them for about an hour and I was contracting every 7 minutes.
By about 4pm the contractions were coming thick and fast, I phoned the delivery suite and they suggested that they should get a midwife out to assess me. Soon after, three midwives (including a student) descended on us. I was examined and told that I was only 2cm dilated. I felt deflated and a little panicked that my body was failing me…again, and that my cervix just wasn’t going to dilate and I would end up having to be induced in hospital. The midwives offered to stay but made it pretty clear that they didn’t think I would be having my baby any time soon…
So, the evening carried on like any other. After putting Bam to bed at 7:30pm I took two paracetamol and decided to have a bath. Ryan lit a candle and turned the lights off for me. I asked to be left alone and found myself laying in the warm water on my side, using the hand rail to slowly pull my body back and fro through the water. An hour or so later I suggested to Ryan that it might be time to start filling the birthing pool that was waiting for me in the living room and phone the delivery suite. I was fairly certain that I was about to have a baby… I instinctively found myself wanting to stand up, I started trying to pull myself up to standing position from the bath but my legs started to give way. I experienced three very strong contractions in quick succession, my waters broke and I felt an urgent need to go to the toilet. Ryan helped me to get out of the bath and as I stood I was overwhelmed with the urge to push.
Ryan was still on the phone to the delivery suite at this point. The midwives were on their way but it seemed very unlikely that they were going to get to me in time so the midwife on the end of the phone called for an ambulance. If I remember rightly I think I started shouting “Help me!!!” as I got just a little worried that I was about to start pushing this baby out when maybe I shouldn’t… Funny as it sounds I found myself trying to cross my legs but gravity was definitely getting the better of me…Ryan was telling me to “breath” and trying to reassure me that the baby wasn’t coming yet. Two pushes later and baby’s head made an appearance, Ryan grabbed a towel and got ready to catch. One last push and Buddy was born. The midwives arrived soon after. Amazingly, Bam had slept through the whole event and only woke when Buddy stirred at around 2am for a feed, “My baby brother’s here!” she exclaimed before jumping in to bed with us for a cuddle and then falling back asleep. And there we were, four in a bed, just perfect.
Zoe Keeping - Artist/Owner of Rock the Bump pregnant belly casting, mum to three happy little hooligans, lucky to live with hubby and best friend Ryan in sunny, sunny Bournemouth. Love music, food, festivals, tattoos, real ale, camping, wildlife, flowers, birds, baking and art.