Sunday, July 1, 2012

Home Birth after HIE

On 29th June, 2012, at 12:12am, we welcomed into the world Joshua's little sister, Amelie Jade Shepherd.  She was born at home in water, after less than 4 hours of labour.

Amelie Jade Shepherd
Born 29th June, 2012
12:12 am
4.195kg (9lbs 4oz)
51 cm (20.5 inches)
Head Circumference 38cm

If you haven't already read it, it would probably be best to start with my previous post about Birth Choices, where I talked about my decision to plan another Home Birth.

Unlike most HIE parents, I can honestly say that I worried very little about a re-occurance.  I recognised the situation with Joshua for what it was, a rare and random event that was bad luck, and I had no doubt that it would not happen again.  When I imagined Amelie's birth in my head while I was pregnant, I imagined everything going well.  The main point of difference for me, was that when I was pregnant with Joshua I was 100% confident that everything would be fine, I knew sometimes people could have bad outcomes but I never imagined that could happen to me.  After having Joshua, I knew that it could.  People would ask me "Are you having a home birth?" and I couldn't reply yes, because honestly, I didn't know if I was going to have a home birth, even though that was the plan.  I knew from experience that the plan can change, even at the last minute!

Before we could even get to the birth, I had to get through the pregnancy with everything going well.  This was a rather stressful point for me, because as it was with Joshua, my blood pressure was on the high side again this pregnancy.  This was potentially an obstacle to having my home birth, and resulted in me having weekly appointments with my midwife from 32 weeks into my pregnancy, including blood work every week to monitor for pre-eclampsia, and attending several appointments with the hospital to make sure all was ok.  I had no desire to have any additional monitoring during my pregnancy as a result of Joshua's HIE, but in the end I did agree to an extra ultrasound at 36 weeks to check on the growth of the baby and the blood flow through the cord.  Everything looked well at that scan.  But every week that I remained pregnant was another week that I needed my blood pressure to behave for.  Thankfully, although it was on the high side, it stayed pretty stable and never got to the "too high" point.  My blood work also showed no signs of pre-eclampsia.  What it did start showing though, was that my platelet levels were dropping.  Something that also had to remain above a certain level in order to be able to have a home birth.  So that was another worry for me.  All of these things are very stressful because honestly, the last thing that I wanted to hear was that I had to go to the hospital to have the baby.  I just wanted the baby to be born so that I no longer had to worry about any of these things, and once I reached 37 weeks, I wished every day that this baby would come out!!

In the weeks prior to my due date, I had a lot of signs that things were starting to happen, which also started to get a bit draining.  I was having quite a bit of pains, most days around dinner time I was having contractions for a few hours that would then fizzle out, for weeks I was losing globs of mucous, lots of signs that things were heading in the right direction, and yet, no baby.  With Joshua, I woke up one morning to a "bloody show" and was in labour that night...  so Imagine my frustration when I had passed my due date and had three days of having a bloody show and not going into labour.  So there I was, at 40w6d pregnant with no idea when this baby might decide to actually come.  I was quite amused at the thought I was about to hit 41 weeks pregnant, considering that most parents choose to have their post HIE babies early, either by C-section or induction, under the "better out than in" mentality...  and I wondered if maybe I was a wee bit crazy after all.  I was also really beginning to seriously consider a stretch and sweep to try and get things moving, even though it was not something I really wanted to do.  So, as I was sitting there pondering all of this, I was sitting on my ball and chatting on Facebook, as you do.  Miss Amelie had not engaged before labour, though I felt that she was going in and out of my pelvis all the time, she didn't ever stay there.  This can be pretty normal for a second baby but also seemed a bit annoying to me, when I really just wanted her down (and out).  So I was sitting on the ball while I was on the computer doing circles with my hips.  This is supposed to help jiggle the baby into the pelvis.  Maybe it worked.  Because one minute I was replying to someone who had said "Karissa, what are you doing on Facebook, you should be having a baby!" and I replied "Tell me about it!" still feeling like this show was NEVER going to get on the road, when all of a sudden, I was in pain.  A lot of pain.  I got up straight away because this was not "Keep Face Booking" kind of pain (as it was when I first went into labour with Joshua!)  I decided to go and have a warm bath and see what that did (and took my phone into the bath to text my midwife!).  Nothing changed after having a bath, and the pains were so bad that I had to stop and hold onto something and breath through them each time.  I had planned to pack a "just in case" hospital bag once I went into labour thinking I would have plenty of time to do so while in early labour, but I honestly couldn't do anything at this point.  With Joshua I walked around a lot, used my heat pack and we didn't start filling my pool until about 5 hours into my labour.  This time, I wanted the Pool ready and I wanted it ready now.  I was in it before it was even full, and didn't leave it until she was born.  My brand new heat pack I got for this labour is still in its packet!

The Birth Pool getting filled up
My "bed" in the lounge room (a blow up mattress) 
In the pool while it was filling up
Checking the Baby's heart rate.  My Two Great midwives who were also there for Joshua's Birth!
It was really quite an amazing experience, especially after Joshua's birth.  Although most of my labour with him was spent at home, his actual birth was at the hospital, and due to the circumstances, he was born via vacuum extraction and I was given an episiotomy.  I really didn't "feel" him be born and it left me feeling quite detached afterwards.  Like one minute I was pregnant and the next minute I wasn't, but wasn't really sure how I got from one point to the other.
With Amelie, I felt everything, and just trusted my body to bring her out.  One minute I was having contractions, and then next thing I know, I am pushing.  I did think for a second "Should I be pushing now?!" but just went completely with what my body was telling me.  Before I knew it, I was pushing her out.  I was on my hands and knees, and when she came out behind me, my midwife pushed her through under my legs and I pulled her up out of the water.  

She was quite floppy when she came out, and they did put the oxygen on her for a little bit to start with (while she was in my arms in the pool) but it didn't take too long for her to start pinking up and have a bit of a cry.  I did it!  After everything, I had my baby, at home, and she was perfect!

Holding Amelie in the pool after she was born

Joshua slept through the labour and woke up right as she was born.  He was very emotional about coming out and finding me in a pool in the middle of the house holding a baby, with the midwives there!  He took one look at things and started crying.

Rod and the teary Joshua who had just woken up to find a baby in the house
I passed Amelie out of the pool while I delivered the placenta, and then got out of the pool and went and laid down on the bed we had set up.  I put Amelie on my chest and let her do the "breast crawl" to initiate our first breast feed.  This is where the baby is allowed to make their own way to the breast and latch on by themselves.  I had wanted to try this with Joshua but never got to, given the situation, so it was great to get the chance to try it out.

Joshua checking things out after Amelie had made her way to the breast
Amelie was weighed and measured and it revealed that she was indeed a good size baby.  700 grams heavier than Joshua had been!  And her head was 3cm bigger than his was at birth.  I joked saying that her head was already almost as big as his now!  It won't take long and it really will be!

On the scales
As I had the episiotomy with Joshua's birth, I ended up tearing along that scar when I had Amelie.  It is possible to repair minor tearing at home, but mine was considered too extensive to stitch at home and better to go into hospital to have the sutures done.  So that was a bit of a dampener, to have had my home birth but then still have to go into the hospital anyway.  We called my Dad and asked him to come and stay with Joshua, and then the rest of us headed into the hospital.  As I was getting into the car to go to the hospital, I started gushing some more blood.  I had a towel with me to sit on to soak things up (as well as wearing undies and a pad) but it was getting quite soaked.  We got to the hospital and my midwife wheeled me up to the delivery suite where the Doctor took a look at things.  If it was bad enough, they would want to do the suturing in theatre, but thankfully mine was ok and they were happy to do the stitches there in the delivery suite.  The Doctor was lovely and gentle compared to the Doctor I had at Joshua's birth and the whole experience of stitches (which I considered to be the worst part last time, pain wise!) was totally not that bad.  I was dreading it based on my past experience, but it turned out to be much better.  Unfortunately though, I was still losing a fair amount of blood and ended up passing out.  I've never fainted before, so that was quite an interesting experience and resulted in the room suddenly being full of people as a team was sent from the ICU.  Anyway, obviously I woke up and was pretty ok, but was then put on IV fluids and given some medications to help control the bleeding.  They estimated that I lost about 800mls of blood altogether.

So, we had a bit of a bump in the road there, and I stayed at the hospital until later that afternoon.  It was nothing like Joshua's birth though.  Although I ended up at the hospital, My baby was completely healthy, the problem was with me, and I was laying there with my baby on my chest and all was still right with the world.  It doesn't take away from the overall birth experience for me at all, because I did it, I stuck by what I wanted all along and even though it didn't seem like an easy road to stand up for what I wanted, in the end I got it.  A healthy baby, born at home, where I wanted to be!

Amelie is doing great, though I definitely feel a lot worse physically this time around, I am getting there too!  And Joshua is slowly warming up to his new role of Big Brother.

My little chubby girl while we were at the hospital
Joshua has kisses for his sister
A truck should make her happy!

Testing out some accessories!



  1. Congratulations Karissa, what a wonderful story to read. Thank you for sharing. Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses to you all x

  2. Amazing story. Enjoy the newborn bliss. Well done you did it! So inspiring for me :)

  3. Beautiful Karissa.
    Congrats on adding a little girl to your family and getting the birth you've wanted.