An Unexpected Home Birth
The following is a guest post by Chris, republished with kind permission from his original post. It's an great story, and one that I hope would give any expectant father confidence in their ability to cope with the unexpected...
This took 3-years to write
I have been trying to sit down and write this story now for the best part of three years. This morning I woke up super-early with one thing on my mind, so with a bit of procrastination, here we go...
Nearly three years ago, Janette and I were expecting a baby (to be fair, Janette was doing all of the work, I was just expecting). Five weeks before Elizabeth was due to be born, I had an exhibition stand to run in Birmingham. On the Saturday evening as I was walking back to my car to drive home, Jet called me to ask when I would get home - slightly unusual as she doesn't normally do that sort of thing after a show - I said I would be back by about 6.30ish. She said that she had a pain, so once I got home we went straight to the hospital (Leicester General).
The hospital put a baby monitor on her, and after some time told her that she had a water infection, and things would be fine and to go home and rest. We went home, stopping off for a quick snack, and went straight to bed. Now timings go slightly awry at this point as it is a while ago, but bear with me! At about 6.30am Jet got up saying that the pain was still there, so went to the toilet. She came back quite quickly and tried to go back to sleep. A little while later she went back to the toilet (at which point I went back to sleep - generally you are shattered after an exhibition!!). I woke up about five minutes later and she still wasn't back, so I went to investigate. She was on the toilet in a lot of pain.
I asked whether she thought it was still a water infection, and she was pretty sure it was. I asked whether she wanted a couple of paracetamol (I won't tell you the response). In the end, I decided I had to call the hospital again to see what they thought. Luckily, the hospital were very good, they asked a few questions about the night before, and asked about how Janette was doing. I said that it seemed odd that the pain that Jet had was coming in waves, every few minutes when they only thought it was a water infection. Was it possible that she was in labour? At that point they asked me to take a look (!) and see if I could see anything. When I saw a head (!!!!) they then asked me whether I had phoned an ambulance! Worse still, I heard the lady on the other end of the phone pressing an alarm button and shouting for a midwife to get to the phone! At the same time as phoning the ambulance, I got Jet to get onto the bed - as she was still on the toilet - and then had to deal with slightly inane questions from the ambulance operator (They: "is your wife breathing?" Me: "can you not hear her?!").
From then, it all goes a bit blurry. I remember having to go out of the room twice, once to hear what the excellent midwife was saying to me, and second when I remembered that the front door was locked and even if the ambulance turned up in time, they wouldn't be able to get in! Both times, Jet thought I had run away! I remember shouting at the inane ambulance operator whether it was her or the midwife I should be listening to (I had two phones on the go and trying to hold a babies head with two hands and have two phones on the go is not the easiest of things especially as she kept asking whether Jet was breathing!!). She said the midwife, so I put the phone down on her. The midwife, on the other hand, was amazing. She was calm and controlled, and was excellent at explaining what to do. She told me to keep talking to Janette, to keep reassuring her that everything was okay. When things really started happening, she told me how to hold the head (at one point I remember saying the the midwife that I wasn't sure what was happening but I didn't think it was a baby coming out! To be fair, it isn't often that you see a baby at that angle, and don't really think that they eyes are a third the way down the head!). She was fantastic when I told her that Elizabeth's colour was odd - she was a bright purple, which seemed odd! She told me when the head was out to turn it clock-wise slightly to help the shoulders come out. After that, it was super quick; the body and legs made a break for it and were out in the blink of the eye. She then told me to put Elizabeth onto Jet and to keep her warm. Luckily, literally at the moment that I stood up from putting Elizabeth onto Janette, the ambulance turned up.
The midwife stayed on the phone for another few minutes after the ambulance crew turned up (to be honest, although lovely, asked very similar questions to the operator - and had no clue how to get to hospital!!). The ambulance lady asked me whether I wanted to cut the cord, which I did; Jet was given some gas and air, which although slightly late apparently was quite good! We found some clothes for Beth and Jet to take to hospital, and they went off to the General (the long way around, with Jet giving directions!). I left a few minutes later and phoned everyone I could think of on the way to the hospital - including Jet's mum who phoned me back ten minutes later to see if she had heard me correctly, and my Mum to go and start the clean-up operation! Miraculously, everything went well. Beth was fine (apparently purple isn't bad), she was breathing and although cold was absolutely fine; she was small, but not tiny. Jet was up and about quite quickly after getting to hospital - there were a few stitches needed; and got back into pre-pregnancy jeans immediately! We met the midwife who had talked me through the delivery, and she was absolutely lovely. In fact, I have to say that most of the staff at the hospital were incredibly attentive and caring. Jet and Beth were in hospital for a week, as Beth got jaundice.
The experience was amazing. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to repeat it for all the tea in China, all the way through, I worried for Jet and Beth, the speed that everything happened (she was born within half-an-hour of Jet getting up the second time!) didn't allow for nerves, you just did what you were told. A lot of people said at the time that it would be an experience that would make sure that Elizabeth and I had an amazing relationship. I don't know how you would tell whether that were true or not - Beth and I do have an amazing relationship, but would we have anyway? Jet was a star, I have no idea how she got through it the way she did, and to sit up and be moving around so soon after giving birth was admirable.
One thing I have taken away from the whole thing is this. That I am in an amazing and unusual position to have been able to do something that not many other people do. I have a wonderful and beautiful wife and daughter whom I love incredibly and make every day special. Thank you Jet for bringing such a gorgeous girl into the world!