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My unplanned homebirth: 'You can’t help but think "what if?"'

I will never forget the sound of my waters breaking, writes Jessica O’Neill.

Jessica O'Neill 26-year-old mama

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6. I was 39 weeks pregnant and waddling in to the clinic for my check up. Everything was good.

Off I went to finish the last of the Christmas shopping. Then home to my 18-month-old Max. It was a typical day in our house: loading and unloading the washing machine too many times for my liking, ironing and cleaning. We were in bed by 10.30pm.

My waters break

11.01pm. Pop. I will never forget the sound of my waters breaking. There had been no heads up – nothing. Up I sprung and ran straight to the bathroom, you know, just to make sure.

I came out of the bathroom and gently gave Matt the nod. Of course, while I stood there, the rest of my waters decided to leak. I asked Matt to give my Mam a call. She was on stand by to look after Max.

It was a particularly horrible night, lashing rain and cold. I sat on the edge of our bed, after drying the floor, trying to decide what to wear and throwing some makeup into my hospital bag.

We don’t have time

11.20pm. Uh-oh I mutter. “Matt, we don’t have time. You may call an ambulance.”

I had made it downstairs to the bathroom just as Mam and Dad walked in. The little bathroom was no bigger than 4 foot by 4. I couldn’t have found a smaller space to labour in.

I was pushing. I’ll never forget my poor mam’s face: “Jess, love. You need to get off the toilet, you can’t have the baby in the toilet.”

Where I found the strength to hoist myself in one swoosh, up and down, I will never know. Dad was on the phone to the operator, frantically answering all her questions and relaying the information to mammy.

It was happening

What was the point in panicking? It was happening. One arm around the toilet, one arm up on the sink. Push.

It’s all a bit of a blur but I remember the operator telling my dad to get a shoe lace and safety pin. I opened my eyes in a rather “what the f**k do we need those for” kind of way. Her head was out, and we needed those to clamp the cord. My mum and I both looking at another for reassurance.

00.07pm. Baby Robyn entered the world. Screaming. Thank God. The relief.

I had managed to take off my top through all this so Mam could pop her up on my chest for skin to skin. I was freezing. The front door had been open the entire time, waiting on the paramedics.

The paramedics arrived shortly after, they couldn’t believe how calm it all was. Thankfully my mam wrapped us both up in blankets. We delivered the placenta there. Up I got, threw on a dressing gown and out I walked to the ambulance.

You can’t help but think “what if?” The nightmares and flashbacks. It’s only now really sinking in,

Jessica O’Neill is a 26-year-old mama to two under two. She’s currently on maternity leave and winging motherhood everyday.

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Jessica O'Neill  /  26-year-old mama

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