This week I had my 16 week check-up, which was my third midwife appointment. So far for this pregnancy, I met with my GP around six weeks and then had an initial meeting with my midwife at eight weeks, followed by the more in depth booking in appointment at ten weeks and then my scan, which happened at 13 weeks. So pretty brilliant and consistent care all in all. God bless the NHS. At this check-up we talked through how things were going, discussed the results of the scan in more detail, did the usual blood pressure and urine tests, and talked about what would happen at the 20 week scan. All pretty helpful and reassuring stuff. Even the urine test served an important function, despite having to carry a pot to the toilet through a busy waiting room, and then inevitably piss on my own hand (in the toilet, not the waiting room). Peeing in a pot successfully is not a skill I possess but it would certainly go on my CV if I did as it’s bloody impressive. The only thing that left me feeling a bit uneasy was the conversation about where our birth would take place and the bright pink sticker that was stuck to the front of my notes stating: “You are recommended to have a homebirth”. Am I? OK. We had already talked about this in one of the earlier appointments and I had explained that although I understood that a homebirth could be an amazing, calm and beautiful option, I would feel more comfortable having a hospital birth again this time due to my previous experience, something that I reiterated at this appointment. So the sticker was a bit of a downer. We had always planned to have our first child at the Royal Sussex County Hospital after thinking through the possible options. I’m not particularly hospital phobic and as a first timer, it felt like a safe and reassuring place for us to do the deed. Having visited the hospital for our scans and one additional obstetrician appointment, and having taken the really helpful virtual tour online, I felt reassured this was a good choice for us. Knowing that they have nice rooms, birthing pools, birth balls and other equipment, and that they encourage as natural an approach to birth as possible helped me to visualise how I hoped things would go, as well as knowing that I was in safe hands should things not go to plan. The hospital is also reachable by taxi for us, which was quite important as learning to drive is still on my husband’s to do list (no comment). And for me, the thought of having to incinerate our living room carpet following an uncontrollable spillage of bodily fluids isn’t that appealing. This of course is entirely irrational, but each to their own. As it turned out, things didn’t quite go to plan first time around. My labour was very fast, ending in a rush from the birthing pool to a delivery room to gear up for an emergency c-section when the baby’s heart rate dropped unexpectedly. I was in quite a daze throughout all of this and experienced it in a very removed way, but my husband recalls there being 18 people in the room, him in scrubs, drenched in sweat, and things all being a bit stressful. I had an emergency epidural, one of the few things I had hoped not to do, but we didn’t end up having a c-section as our baby was delivered with a few big, totally painless pushes, and a little help from forceps, ventouse and an episiotomy (the latter being one of the other things I would have chosen not to happen). Despite this deviation from my ideal plan, I wouldn’t change the experience for anything as our baby boy was born healthy and well; yes with a few little cuts and bruises and an impressive cone head, but with no additional complications and two very happy and relieved parents. I found the whole experience quite overwhelming and it took a while for me to process it. Talking about it with other mothers helped and writing my birth story, our birth story, (which you can read on the LushTums website), also felt really cathartic and healing. But my main feeling after everything was that I was pleased to be in hospital and relieved that we were able to have the emergency treatment that was needed to ensure all was well. Things may of course have been completely fine had we chosen a home birth, and indeed they may even have been quite different. It is impossible to tell. But despite that, I am reluctant to opt for a home birth this time, even though both pregnancies have been classified as low risk and this is clearly the recommended option for second time mothers in our area. However, I don’t need to feel guilty about this choice, as choosing where to have your baby is an incredibly important and personal decision. So I am tempted to rip that ruddy sticker off my notes but I will try to stay open minded for now and see how I feel closer to the time. But if we have this baby in hospital, or in the taxi, or the car park, or the lift, as long as they are born healthy and well, then that is fine by me.