Home Birth StoriesFROM NEW ZEALAND FAMILIES
Zachariah’s Birth Story
Like most birth stories, this story starts at conception but the unique circumstances of Zach’s conception need telling just as much as the story of the labour and birth. In February 2004, Steve and I had our wedding and we planned to have a child sometime in the year following the wedding. My menstrual cycle has a large impact on my life and when I had my last period before our wedding, I realised with dread that I was due to be at my premenstrual worst on the day of the wedding itself. This was a serious situation because I would be very likely to say ‘bug*** off’ rather than ‘I do’. So I came up with a solution – if we got pregnant there would be no PMT! I convinced Steve that this was an excellent idea and at the appropriate times I hauled Steve off to the bedroom to achieve my goal. My plan was a roaring success and on the day of our wedding I had about 10 days worth of baby cells inside me and I was a glowing bride instead of the green monster from the swamp. Poor Steve thought that he would have a few months of trying, but I had warned him that I come from a fertile family! Although this was a rather extreme solution to PMT, it was a very successful one except for the unfortunate side effect that I spent much of our honeymoon with my head down the toilet!
Once I found out I was pregnant, I set about planning for my antenatal care and the birth. My older sister had had a beautiful home birth with her first child and this example combined with my distrust of the medical establishment meant that I didn’t even consider hospital as a viable place to give birth to a baby. I interviewed several midwives who do home birth and chose Linda Shannon as my LMC and Julie Carlyon as my second midwife. My pregnancy progressed beautifully with no problems. I chose the course of least interventions and declined any scans or tests, and also insisted Linda use the pinard instead of the sonicaid when checking on the baby. Steve took a bit of convincing about the safety of homebirth and no interventions. He had attended the birth of his two children from a previous marriage and the birth of his grandson, all of which were medicalised hospital births and he was well-indoctrinated that this was the safest option for giving birth. Throughout the pregnancy, Steve attended most of the midwife visits and the antenatal classes and enjoyed learning about his baby in a way that he never had a chance to for his previous children. Through this process, he came to accept that my birth plan was right for all of us.
My due date of November 11 approached and I had insisted to Steve that I would produce him a baby at 11 minutes past 11 on the 11th day of the 11th month! As my due date passed, and no baby arrived, we decided that our child had inherited his time keeping genes from his father and was now on ‘Brown time’ (for which Steve is well-known!). Steve insisted that given the military precision with which I organised conception, if the baby had my genes it would have arrived when expected. By the time I was a week overdue, I was truly sick of being pregnant. I was very large, the weather was very hot and I found the whole process exhausting. I admired the design of pregnancy that ensures late pregnancy is so uncomfortable that labour is a very exciting prospect.
By this time, I had given up second-guessing the signals my body was giving – instead of thinking ‘is this it?’ with every niggle, I resigned myself each morning to waking up accepting that I was still pregnant. At 10 days overdue, I had a day of strong back ache and started to think that maybe something was going to happen. The next morning when I woke up, still with no baby, I decided it was time to start nudging this baby into being ready. I had an appointment with Linda that morning and I got her to stir up my cervix with some evening primrose oil. That afternoon, I went for a swim with a friend, did some shopping and arrived home ready for a well-earned rest at about 5pm. Steve was having a nap in bed so I curled up next to him. As I relaxed, I felt some contractions that were distinctly different from the constant Braxton-Hicks contractions that I usually had throughout each day. I started to count my breaths between contractions and realised they were very regular at about four and a half minutes apart. I lay there getting more and more excited, knowing that this was probably ‘it’. I wanted to wake Steve but I also knew that he needed to keep sleeping because he was probably in for a long night. Instead, I got up and made some dinner. I rang Linda to let her know she would be needed later in the night, and also rang my support team to put them on standby. My sister Jo and her partner Dave were my support team and they had to drive to Palmerston North from Wellington. I didn’t want them to start the trip until I knew for sure that things were happening. Then I woke Steve and broke the exciting news to him. We had dinner then took the dog for a walk down the river behind our place. It was a lovely evening and we took our time strolling along and pausing every four or five minutes for me to hang off Steve’s neck and breathe through the contraction. At about 9, I rang Linda wanting to know how I would know that it was all on and when to ring Jo and Dave. She suggested it was early stages yet and to try taking a couple of panadol and get into bed with some hot wheat packs on my back and belly. I lasted about an hour in bed but then became too uncomfortable to handle the contractions lying down. I left Steve sleeping and had a long hot shower, letting the water run on my lower back while I leaned on the wall and swayed with each contraction. By midnight, I knew that it was definitely for real. I rang Jo and told her I needed her. I woke Steve and told him I needed him too and got him to light the fire. The next couple of hours I spent sitting on my swiss ball leaning over the back of the couch. I had written a list of suggestions for my support team and had some print outs of pressure points that are useful in labour. Steve was a bit uncertain of how to help me and tried using the pressure points. Jo and Dave arrived at 2.30 and the relief on Steve’s face was obvious! Dave had been at my older sister’s home birth and had worked with all the pressure points before. I stayed on the ball and my team all naturally slotted into a routine of pushing on my shoulders and my lower back as each contraction came. I’m not sure how much the pressure points actually worked, but I know that being touched helped keep me grounded and focussed and let me know they were all there with me. In between contractions, I would rest my head on the cushions and Jo would massage my back or put a hot wheat pack on it. At 3am I had a show but when I stood up to go to the toilet, there was a gush of a couple of tablespoons of bright red blood. From what I had read, I thought this was a cause for concern. I got Steve to ring Linda who assured us that it was perfectly normal. I also got Steve to ask Linda how we would know when we needed to have her here. She just said that I would know. The next few hours I spent alternating between having hot showers, sitting on the ball or walking up and down and leaning against the wall with the contractions. At 6, I knew that I wanted Linda there. I had a slight sense of anxiety and wanted to know how I was doing, even if she turned up to check me and then leave again, I knew I needed her input. I asked Steve to ring her and he let out one of the comments that was an absolute classic for me. He said “but you’re not even in the second stage and I can’t see the head – why do you need her?” He said that as I went into a contraction, and before I even got my breath back at the end of the contraction I snarled at him “You’re not serious, are you?!!” He promptly rang her and asked her to come. We realised later that his comment came from his experience of hospital births. With his first two children, the doctor only turned up at the very end to actually deliver the baby and he was assuming that Linda would be taking the same approach.
Linda arrived at about 7am and found that I was 7 cm dilated. She listened for the heartbeat with the sonic aid and the baby was doing fine. I found this very emotional because I had not heard my baby’s heartbeat before so it was very special. We had filled the pool by this stage so I got in and with the first contraction in the water, my waters broke. The contractions became much stronger and faster, but still only about 3-4 minutes apart. Jo and Dave took turns working on my back with each contraction and Steve really came into his own as my coach. During each contraction he would keep telling me to focus on slowing my breath, relax my face, relax my hands and made me stay right in the present. If the contractions got too strong for me and my breathing started to quicken or my quiet groaning started to rise, he would raise his voice to penetrate and keep me focussed. In between contractions, he would first make me take three deep breaths to refocus myself, and then he would talk me through a yoga relaxation. Starting from my feet, he would talk up through my body getting me to relax each part that he passed. Although I could not talk to him by this stage, his voice was magic and so important to me. Jo started applying iced flannels to my forehead and the back of my neck between contractions, which was very soothing. At some stage in the pool, the baby started to go posterior and my back began to ache. Linda got me to lie on my left side to encourage the baby to turn properly. Shortly after this, I began to get contractions that had a pushing urge in the middle of them. This was the most intense part of labour because I couldn’t seem to get on top of those contractions. It was like this roar came up from inside me and would completely overtake me and take my breath away. By this stage I was very tired and was running out of energy. My uterus was also getting tired because my contractions had slowed to 10 minutes apart and were not always very strong. I remember saying to Linda that I didn’t think I could take much more, and thinking that if someone offered me a caesarean right then I would jump at the chance! Linda gave me a homeopathic remedy a couple of times that helped strengthen the contractions again. Eventually Steve could see that my breathing was trying to change and he encouraged me to begin panting through the contractions to control the pushing urge. I still had a band of pain around my abdomen that meant the cervix hadn’t dilated fully and that I should not be pushing. The panting was a godsend and I began to feel less out of control. Linda got me out of the pool shortly before 10 to examine me and found that I was only 8cm because the lip of the cervix had swollen up and was coming back over the baby’s head. That was really disheartening news to have worked hard for 3 hours and only gained 1cm. I also started to feel it was all a bit futile because I thought that once the lip of the cervix swelled up, it was unlikely to allow the baby out naturally. But I hadn’t counted on Linda’s witchcraft! She applied arnica and rescue remedy directly to my cervix and it moved straight back out the way. I was lying on my back on the floor and as the next contraction came, I started to push. Linda said that if I wanted I water birth I better get back in the pool! Feeling like a turtle cast on its back with everyone standing round staring at me, I shrieked at them to help me up and get me in the pool. With everyone laughing, they hauled me to my feet and helped me get in. At the next contraction I began to push in earnest. Linda had said all along that I can choose how long the second stage lasts for and if I want to get the baby out I just have to push it out. Steve said that at that first push, my face and chest went completely purple. Linda had to remind me to only push with the contractions because I was just pushing non-stop, determined to get the baby moving! I felt him moving down into my vagina but as the contractions ended I would feel him slip back up again. After a little while of this, Linda had a quick feel of my cervix and found the lip had slipped back over again. She got me out of the pool and tried the arnica treatment again, which worked a second time. This time I stayed out of the pool and on my hands and knees on the floor continued pushing. A couple of pushes later his head came out. Linda first thought the cord was wrapped around his neck but then realised it was just a roll of fat across the back of his neck! While we waited for the next contraction there was a bit of banter about how well I had been feeding him because he looked so chubby. With one more big push, his shoulders came out and the rest of him shot out. Linda did a very good catch because he chose to come out with the opposite shoulder first and shot away from Linda towards me! She passed him through to me and I cuddled him to my chest. I was so excited to meet him – I couldn’t stop gushing endearments at him and looking at him. I wanted to see what sex he was but Linda pointed out that it would be best to get him breathing first! She gave him a vigorous rubbing with the towel and he cried for a minute before becoming calm and began to open his eyes and look around. After a while, Steve cut the cord and then I delivered the placenta with a bit of management from Linda. Linda and Julie were guessing he weighed a good nine pounds because he seemed so large, but everyone was surprised when Julie weighed him and he was 10lb 11oz (4860g)! I had no idea I could produce such a large baby and to do so without tearing was even more amazing. I was also proud of myself for having pushed him out in 25 minutes, after close to 12 hours of hard labouring through the night.
It was wonderful to be able to clean up and snuggle into my own bed with my husband and baby and have all my family around. My mother turned up soon after the birth with strawberries and ice cream and helped clean up and do the washing. We all had a rest for the afternoon then sat around talking about the birth over dinner. I imagined if I had been in hospital how much more lonely it would have been to spend the night there by myself. Jo and Dave had taken turns videoing parts of the labour and all of the delivery and we watched the video that evening. I’ve watched the video many times since and can’t believe how lucky I was to have such a fantastic support team. Watching the video showed me they worked as hard as I did to make the birth a success. What stands out the most for me on the video was how much love was lavished on me during the labour. All three of them loved and supported me through the whole event and there was no way I could have done it without them. The energy in the room was so calm and peaceful and perfect for receiving a baby.
I also felt very lucky to have had a midwife as skilled as Linda. I am sure that if I had been in the hospital under the care of someone else, I would have ended up with either an epidural or caesarean or both, instead of the simple solution of arnica and rescue remedy. I am also very glad that I chose not to have any scans. Not knowing he was a big baby meant that no one could scare me by telling me it was unlikely I could deliver him naturally or that I was bound to have problems with his size. I’m sure many doctors would not have let me go past my due date if they had known what a large baby I was carrying and they would have insisted on a closely monitored induction. Instead, I had a beautiful birth and a gorgeous baby and memories that I will treasure forever.
From early on in my pregnancy my husband Ben and I had discussed having a homebirth. He was a bit cautious at first but after discussing it with our midwife Linda Shannon we decided as long as we had a trouble free pregnancy we would go ahead with a homebirth. We avoided telling many people about our plans to birth at home as we found a lot of people have very strong opinions and we got tired of hearing everyone’s horror stories.
I had a very smooth pregnancy and didn’t suffer from morning sickness but had low blood pressure and had to take it easy in the mornings to avoid feeling faint. I couldn’t believe how hungry I felt around 39-40 weeks. I finished work at 36 weeks our due date (29th July) came and went, although due to family history we didn’t expect to go into labour until after 41 weeks. We had a check-up at the hospital the day before going into labour just to check that the baby was ok and the placenta was still working well. Everything looked fine so we were just instructed to wait. Linda gave me some acupuncture and a stretch and sweep in hope that it might start off the labour.
Thankfully the next day I was having a lot of Braxton hicks contractions and by lunchtime I had a show followed by an increase in contractions. I was fairly sure we would be meeting our baby soon. We were at my parents house in fielding for dinner and I didn’t want to miss out on the roast. I managed to eat between contractions which were getting a lot stronger. I instructed Ben he would have to finish his dessert in the car because the baby was on its way and I really had to get home now! By the time we got home the contractions were two minutes apart. I called the midwife and Ben started filling the birthing pool. I was managing the pain by kicking my feet which helped to take my mind off the contractions. When Linda arrived she checked to find I was already 7cms dilated. What a relief I was able to get into the birthing pool. It felt great to be immersed in the warm water. I was able to move a lot more freely in the pool. Linda applied acupressure during my contractions to relieve back pain which worked really well.
When I felt ready to push Ben got into the birthing pool he was a great support and it helped to have something to lean back against. I concentrated on pushing through the pain of the contractions. Linda was monitoring the baby’s heart rate which was starting to drop and there was some meconium passing in the waters. So it felt best to get out and try some pushes on the couch. I leant up against Ben with my mum holding one foot against her hip and Siobhan (the student midwife) with the other. It made a huge difference to have them to bear down and push against. After an hour and 25 minutes of pushing I gave birth to Emily Rose Trask weighing 8lb 1oz. (12th August 2009 at 1.19am) A total labour of 7 1/2 hours. I was so thrilled to have finally met our new baby it wasn’t until a few days later that I read back over the birth notes that I thought to myself wow I did it! I achieved a natural home birth without pain relief and no stitches. There was one point during transition that I said to the midwife ‘Ouch, it hurts’ She just smiled and replied I know! This gave me the determination to push on and focus on the birth. I was extremely well looked after during the birth I had two midwives present and also a student midwife. They all did an amazing job. The aftercare and follow up visits were a huge help through the first days of breast feeding
Baby M’s Birth Story
From the time I first knew I was pregnant I wanted to give birth at home if I could. A hospital environment just didn’t sound attractive and my research in to home births showed that it was at least as safe as a hospital birth. I also didn’t really understand the idea of routinely ‘planning’ for epidurals and pain relief – giving birth just seemed like something my body should be able to do, and planning for pain relief felt like a bit of a cop-out and admitting defeat in advance.
We live in a small town so my only options were home, or hospital. No birth centre, and the maternity unit at the hospital only had one birthing suite with a pool – a water birth was something else I was really keen on. The only reason I could see that I might not be able to stay at home was my age – I was 35 and would be 36 when I gave birth.
I found an independent midwife who supported home births and talked to her about my options. She had no problem with me aiming for a home birth – saying that I was healthy, fit, and had no reason to expect problems in pregnancy or birth. Our approach was that I would stay at home if possible, but would transfer to hospital if anything was of concern at any stage – we were less than 2km from the hospital.
I got to my 39th week, and then my 40th. I had two due dates – one calculated on my LMP (3/9), and one from the 20 week scan (13/9). By the 13th, my midwife and I decided it was time to have an obstetrician check up to make sure everything was ok. Just a formality I thought. The outcome – concern that amniotic fluid levels were low, and that on the morning of 16/9 I would come in to hospital and be induced. My request to wait just one more day until the 17th – two weeks after ‘my’ due date – were declined as that was a Friday and they didn’t want to possibly have to call in specialists on the weekend!
This was the last thing I wanted, knowing that my chances of having a birth free of medication and intervention would be pretty low. Luckily on the evening of 15/9 I started to feel tightenings low down. Idly timing them while watching a movie, I saw they were quite far apart but very regular – 11 minutes – which made me hope that this was it and I wouldn’t need to make the trip to hospital in the morning.
Over the next few hours they continued, not very close together but still regular. Not painful, just uncomfortable. I sent a text to my midwife; ‘I think labour has started, I know you’ll just tell me to try and get some sleep so that’s what I’m off to do, will update you in the morning’.
The sensation got more and more like period pains, and closer together, till at around 3am with the pains 5-7 minutes apart lasting 45 to 60 seconds I gave up trying to sleep and starting wandering the house. Lying down was quite uncomfortable – walking around and then leaning against a wall or bench, swinging my hips, during each contraction was least uncomfortable. Sometimes there would be a bit of a break and I’d actually fall asleep sitting on the sofa, but this wasn’t often enough for my liking! I never felt any pain higher up – it was all very low down.
By around 7am I knew my midwife would be in the process of getting her kids ready to bring them in to school, so had a quick chat with her on the phone and she said she’d come in afterwards to visit and do an internal. We all thought it would be some time yet, but were very happy to be able to tell the hospital that I wouldn’t be coming in that day.
My midwife arrived around 9.00am, and told me that I’d better get the birthing pool filled up pretty quickly if I wanted to use it, because I was already 8cm! This was fantastic news as I didn’t think it had been that bad so far, and to know that I’d already gotten so far was very very encouraging. I’d been holding off on the pool, knowing that it could slow things down if I got in too early! If only I’d known.
Luckily we had borrowed an instant gas water heater, so the pool was full quickly, and I got in at about 10am. Bliss. The warm water, weightlessness and being able to move around on hands and knees so easily was wonderful. My midwife had gone to report to the hospital and run a few errands, and I spent the next couple of hours leaning my head against the side through contractions, with my partner beside me outside the pool, and in between running for snacks, or drinks, or whatever else I decided I needed! Closing my eyes during the contractions really helped me to focus on feeling them, and thinking of the pain as helpful and positive, rather than something to be suffered through. All this time, my contractions were still between 5 to 7 minutes apart.
By around 11.20, the sensations were definitely changing, and I was starting to feel strong pressure as well as the contractions. Each contraction was becoming more all-consuming – more like a strong spasm than just cramping and pain. I was about to suggest that if my midwife didn’t come back soon, we’d better find her – when she walked in the door, with her backup midwife following shortly behind her.
A check showed I was fully dilated, but that my waters still hadn’t broken. A few contractions later and as the urge to push became overwhelming, they burst with a rush. I guess I spent about the next 40 minutes pushing – it didn’t feel painful, just hard work and I could feel my baby’s head moving down slowly each time. My midwife was fantastic – I was getting frustrated with how long I felt it was taking, and she reassured me that this was a good way to be! Between each pushing contraction, she checked the baby’s heart rate and that was pretty much her only intervention. Eventually I could feel her head very low down, and then the only moment of real pain that I remember – my tailbone being pushed out by her head. Then she was crowning, and I felt a lot of pressure but not really pain, and after one final big push her head was out. I felt her shoulders as she twisted round, and she was born at 12.20 on 16/9. The weather had been awful all day, with thunder and lightning and lots of rain – and just as she was born we had a brief powercut, so her arrival obviously made an impression on the world!
My midwife caught her underwater and passed her back through my legs and up to me, so I could bring her up out of the water. I moved to lean back against the side and held her up so my partner could see, and she opened her eyes and quietly had a look around – she never cried, just stared. Her apgar was perfect (8 and then 10), and after about 20 minutes in the warm water we got out of the pool for the afterbirth and to clean and dry off. The only damage was one small graze.
After about 40 minutes the cord was still pulsing, so we decided to cut it anyway and my midwife gave me a bit of ‘help’ to get the placenta moving, which came out shortly afterwards. I felt a bit ‘tender’ but the placenta is so yielding, it wasn’t painful.
Some leftovers from last night’s dinner, a sweet strong hot chocolate, and a bit of a feed for baby M, and then she had a sleepy cuddle with her dad while I had a lovely long hot shower. It felt great to be at home with our new family.
Jasmin’s Birth Story
Born 2.05 pm on Thursday 19th April 2001.
Raglan was very conducive to a fantastic summer pregnancy. Most days were spent devouring every book from the Homebirth library on the deck of my house. If it was just too hot another expectant mum and I headed to the beach, dug holes in the cool sand to sink our beautiful bellies in and lay there looking normal!
Over the first few months Pete my husband was unsure about my desire for a home birth. He was concerned about the safety of his family. The more information and statistics we researched the more convinced we were that home was the right place for a fit, healthy, informed woman to have her baby as long as there were no complications.
In January we watched Bethany’s home water-birth from the homebirth library. Apart from the horror when he realised what the sieve was for this was a real turning point for Pete. He now realised that birth could be blood, mess and drama free. I was also completely sold on the water-birth idea.
By March I had a very clear idea what I did and didn’t want for my baby and me. A comprehensive birth plan for home and another for the unlikely event of a transfer to Hamilton was typed up. This made me feel very strong and in control.
In early April my blood pressure began creeping up and we started discussions about hypertension and pregnancy toxaemia. Hannah our mid-wife suggested I start focusing more on my diet and eating protein snacks every 2 hrs throughout the day.
For weeks the baby was in a posterior position and we discussed the implications and different birthing positions. Fortunately on my antenatal visit on 16th April she had rotated and was anterior and fully engaged ready for action…phew! By this time my blood pressure was nearly double what it normally is and I had a mild headache. It seems my body and baby knew it was time to get on with the job.
On Wednesday 18th April and Pete and I were to go to a weekly business meeting that I NEVER missed but I decided to stay home alone and have a candle lit herbal bath. When I got out I felt a bit ill and then had a few twinges. When Pete came home I told him I was having bad Braxton Hick’s so he’d better sleep in the spare room and turn up the hot water cylinder on the way. Do you think I had him fooled?
At 3am Pete woke up to hear me moaning through a contraction in the living room. I hadn’t been able to contemplate the idea of going back to bed or sleeping as right from the start at 11pm the contractions were very close together and strong. Besides it was far too exciting! I was tired of trying not to wake Pete and needed to stop being restrained and make some noise to try to help ride the waves.
Pete got up and got the fire going and started filling the birth pool. There was an air of hustle, bustle and dare I say stress for a while but then all the jobs were done and I obviously wasn’t going to have this baby in the next 5 mins so he dragged his lazy boy out on to the deck for some fresh air leaving me to get on with it quietly… in my noisy way.
As the morning wore on I started to get restless and bored so I made a few 4 minute phone calls between contractions and invited my mother in law out for the party. After a while the contractions spaced out and I slept for 15 mins solid between them. I was really spaced out on endorphins by this stage and I think my body was giving the baby and me a rest for the hard work just around the corner.
By not long after 11am I started to feel like I needed to go to the loo all the time and I just couldn’t get comfortable in any position. All I could think about was getting in the water. We rang Hannah again and she advised that I hold on and get in as a last resort so that I didn’t relax too much and go off the boil. Not very long later I decided it was last resort time and if I was getting in too early, tough I was doing it anyway! For a couple of minutes it was weightless bliss and then the contractions hit. Wham! Time to catch up on all the ones I missed when I was sleeping. I obviously had been holding back because I knew I wanted to be in the water and once I was there all inhibitions went and we were getting on with the job.
I had been so spaced out that I hadn’t realised I’d gone through the transition phase (which sounded so dramatic in all the books) and was in the pushing phase. At 12 noon Theresa the student arrived and assured me that I was doing a fantastic job. Having her smiling face looking calmly at me over the edge of the pool, when I actually had my eyes open was lovely.
12.20pm heralded the arrival of Hannah and I can recall her walking down the hall saying, “How long has she been making those noises?” Hannah observed for a little while making the odd empowering comment and then encouraged me to put less energy in to the noise and more in to my bum. On the video you can see me become more workman like after that.
At 12.39 my waters finally broke which was really encouraging. Made me feel like I’d actually achieved something. The labour stepped up a pace from there as I was feeling confident about pushing and knew that baby was well on the way. We all had a laugh when the head came out and I said, “It feels small”. Hannah reckoned no one had ever said that before. I meant it felt small when I touched it with my hand; it certainly was no mean feat getting it out. How women have babies falling into their stockings in the supermarket beats me! There was a lot of back pain as the baby’s shoulders moved but it was awesome to feel her helping and it brought me back to earth a bit and renewed my resolve to get the job done A.S.A.P.
At 2.05pm baby Jasmin was born. The cord was around her neck 3 times so I couldn’t pick her up or see her straight away but Pete and Theresa managed to bring her to the surface and untangle her without cutting the cord. Getting my leg over the cord from the kneeling position to sitting was a mission as I had gone all weak and wobbly. By 2.10pm Jasmin was happily breastfeeding and we just sat in the pool chilling out together until I birthed the placenta about 15 mins later. Pete clamped and cut the cord and we got out of the water and all went to bed together. A few hrs later after we’d had some lovely family time on our own Hannah weighed Jasmin and did all the tests but it was so nice to leave all that stuff until later. Thanks Hannah.
Thanks to Jasmin for making us feel so blessed. Thanks to Hannah for guiding us and educating us so thoroughly. Thanks to Theresa and Gwen for being at my beck and call with ice, hot water, more ice and more hot water! Thanks to my sister in law Jenny who made a video of the birth and thanks to Pete for being the main support person for his crazy wife from start to finish.
Mud Hut Home Birth
“There were shepherds living out in the fields … An angel of the Lord appeared … and said to them, “…you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger”(Luke 2:8-12)
We are volunteer workers with an NGO in West Africa, Republic of Benin. I had 3 previous water births, and 2 of them were home births.
I was pregnant with my 4th child and felt I had a clear sense of what I wanted from birth, based in a belief in the importance of birth as being something sacred, private, and deeply powerful.
Grantly Dick Read in “Childbirth without fear” stated “we are not concerned with disease, but with healthy women carrying out a normal and natural function”.
Because we are working in Benin I knew it was unlikely that I would find a midwife that would be an advocate of physiological birth (or if they were, one that would also allow me the birthing choices I was wanting to make). I also knew that it is very expensive for anyone to travel this far to come out to visit. Within maternity wards here, most if not all will be trained in a medical model system that usually looks for the worst and unfortunately, more often than not, finds or creates it – we had just heard of a baby dying due to forceps injuries at the local Natti hospital.
So I prepared within myself that I would likely be birthing unattended. I did a lot of reading up (in the context of home births) on issues that brought up any questions or doubts within myself, and came away satisfied yet again that natural birth was achievable and desirable in the circumstances I was considering. After an ultrasound, I knew baby and I were in good health, and I was taking multivitamins and trying to eat well.
I spent many hours in prayer and felt again an assurance and a deep sense of peace before God that things were OK, that we were in his hands. I kept thinking of Mary birthing in the stable, what circumstances! – but the Nativity is a lasting image and emblem of something holy and sacred.
We were eventually blessed with Sharon, our Kiwi midwife who did a lot of independent fundraising and went to a huge amount of personal effort to come out. I was so thankful and pleased that she really wanted to be a support and help for us. She is an advocate of the midwifery guidelines that say you ensure the woman is informed and then give her the dignity of choice. What a blessing and relief to find.
However when I did go into labour before Sharon arrived, I was still well prepared to birth unattended because of my ongoing expectations and beliefs about birth. I see it as a privilege to be a healthy woman with a supportive husband and the option to birth in privacy and peace. “Birth is not an emergency but an emergence”.
When I went into labour it just felt like more practice contractions and I wasn’t fazed – I call them “Tightenings”. About the same time my youngest (who I was still breastfeeding) came and asked for a drink, and I got one of those “grab you” tightenings, and then I started saying to Jo, “Hmmm” – he thought they were just practice too, until he saw the way I was concentrating, leaning against the kitchen bench!
And that they were coming again, though I didn’t want to time anything.
I wasn’t really thinking I was in labour. I moved into our room and pottered around, opening the buckets of old sheets and towels that I had prepared and throwing them down next to my armchair and next to the toilet, and covering over a kids mattress. My mind and my body weren’t really paying attention to each other, but part of me back there was thinking it could move really quickly so I better have some things out just in case! (Before the birth I spoke out to Baby inside that when God called him, he was going to come quickly and easily.) So during a few tightenings I sat on my armchair, concentrating on relaxing into it all and letting my body take over. I instinctively felt that my body was naturally more open when I wasn’t wearing undies! So I took them off and said “I give my body permission to open”.
Then I moved to the toilet because it was the place where I felt most open. I had one intense tightening, which didn’t connect to my logical brain that this was transition! But I wanted Jo there and called out for him. He was moving around trying to get hot water into the pool, but he saw me and stayed nearby. I just had time to throw sheets and towels on the ground and I knelt on them, leaning on an overturned bucket. Then I had 2 intense tightenings which I only realised in retrospect were pushing, because of the way I was breathing – more exhaling through my open mouth rather than just breathing quietly like I had been before. During these I was listening briefly to worship music on my mp3, “Perfect love casts out fear, his name is Jesus”.
I stood up and asked Jo if the pool was ready and I thought he said it was (although it was still cold). So I got ready to get in, but I had a “grab you” and crouched down because I could feel the baby descending! I managed to say to Jo “the baby’s coming now” – it felt great to crouch and feel the head crowning with my hand there, as I went slow -it felt different to a water birth where I never really felt the stretching, but so powerful to crouch and feel the head myself as it was being born! Immediately it turned and then Baby’s whole body slipped out into my hands in front of me, face up, pink and crying vigorously! (Jo said I blew on his face and then he started but I don’t remember).
Jo said all up it took less than an hour. He brought the kids mattress over and I lay on that, baby on my belly, while he tidied up and cut the cord. I went and leaned over my armchair with baby lying against me and delivered the placenta. We settled on the nearby bed and broke out the traditional celebratory Peanut M & M’s, and baby had a nuzzle. We didn’t weigh or measure him because we had nothing to do it with! But he was pink-and-golden-healthy and making plenty of noise.
We were so glad Sharon still decided to come out, she found out the baby had been born just as she was getting ready to fly out! But when she came it was such a support and encouragement. She brought so many presents it was like several Christmases combined! And what anaffirmation to be able to share and feel understood. It’s stillcrazy to me that I didn’t even realise I was pushing at the end of the labour, but Sharon said it was because I am so comfortable with birth that I let my body just get on with the job!
Noah Ezekiel was born here at home in our mud hut, 22nd September at about 6.30 pm we think! We think he had a good agpar, we think he weighed about 3.5 kg, and we think he was about 53 cm long! However we do know that he’s wonderful and his 3 brothers agree.
“My soul glorifies the Lord” (Mary’s song)
Kristie Bayne, Natitingou, Benin.
Elsie’s Birth Story – October 2009
I was lying in bed, two days past my due date, awake after my husband Tony had gone to work. I was reading and suddenly got a really crippling gut cramp. I didn’t think much of this, because I’d had an upset tummy the night before, had spent a lot of time on the toilet, and had put it down to the pork we’d had for dinner not agreeing with my stomach (although Tony tells me that he had suspicions that it was more than that, even at that early point). I remember looking at the clock which read 8.38am, and thinking “I’m not getting out of bed, this will probably pass, and this book is really good”. A little later I got an even more urgently crippling gut cramp (like the worst sort of diarrhoea pain) and looked at the clock again – this time it said 8.46am. Interesting, I thought, that’s 8 minutes apart. Then I had to urgently go to the toilet and empty my bowels.
I sat on the toilet (still reading – I was determined to enjoy my book, and still didn’t think much of what was happening!) for ages, trying to focus on my book and rubbing my tummy. When the pain and diarrhoea passed, I decided that it was very important that I ate breakfast (although I don’t remember being particularly hungry). So I headed through to the kitchen to make porridge. I got some oats and water in the pot, then had to rush back to the bathroom with another bout of terrible tummy pains and diarrhoea. When that bout passed I thought perhaps I wouldn’t be able to manage actually cooking breakfast, so I poured a bowl of cereal, and then what-do-you-know, I headed back to the bathroom again. When that bout passed I felt a bit better, and actually got my porridge cooking. I thought I’d better ring Tony and get him to come home, so phoned him and said “You’d better come home, I’m feeling really unwell”. He said he’d come as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, just as my porridge came to the boil I had another horrible cramping gut pain, so turned the element off and headed back to the bathroom. After that bout of toilet-sitting, I went back to the kitchen and poured my porridge into a bowl, grabbed a glass of juice and took the lot back to the bathroom. My back was very sore by this stage, and I decided that I would feel better in the shower, but I was determined to eat my breakfast, so took it with me into the shower (which isn’t as wet and manky as it sounds, as our shower is over a big bath, so I could put my bowl and glass well out of the way of the water).
When Tony got home I was bent over in the shower, with the water on the small of my back. I had eaten half my porridge and drunk half my juice, which was all I managed to get down until after the birth. I refused to stand up, because I could deal with the searing pain in my back, which felt like I was being scraped out from the inside with a hot blunt spoon, but I couldn’t deal with the pain in my tummy at the same time, and bending over seemed to neutralise the pain in my stomach and only allow the pain in my back to be felt. Tony told me I had to get out of the shower so that he could fill the birth pool. I was quite rude in my refusal, but as he pointed out, once he started filling the pool, there wasn’t going to be any water for me in the shower, so I had to get out. He brought me my bath robe (which I never put on) and I turned off the shower and got out and got dry.
Tony came back from setting up the filling of the pool and asked if we should phone the midwife (Margaret) yet. I said that I thought we were supposed to time things first, so that we could give her an indication of where things were at. Tony got his cell phone (neither of us have watches with second hands) and set it on stop watch for me as I had a contraction (not that I had realised that I was actually having contractions – I still just thought that I was having bouts of pain). Then he left the bathroom (yes, I was still doubled up over the edge of the bath, just not under the shower any more). He said that he looked at the clock in the kitchen as he left the bathroom, and it said 10.36am. When he headed back into the bathroom (he’d been checking on the birth pool and associated set up) he looked at that clock again and it said 10.40am. He said to me as he came back into the bathroom “Tell me when you have the next one” I said “I’ve already had it”! I had timed it and it had lasted for a minute. Tony had also grabbed the sheet of stages of labour with the picture of the faces to try to figure out where we were up to. He asked where I thought we were, and I was very short with him, so I think he figured that we were well past the happy chatting face! He phoned Margaret, and told her that I was in labour with contractions that were 3 minutes apart lasting for a minute (all the while in the background I was saying “Tell her it’s probably nothing” – I still hadn’t clicked that I was actually in labour). Margaret’s response was “You’re kidding?!” because she was on her way to another birth! So she got Cecil to come around as the backup midwife instead (we knew her from our antenatal classes, so that was okay).
When Cecil arrived I was back on the toilet with more diarrhoea, and what I thought might have been a show, as there was some thick mucus streaked with blood when I wiped. This time I couldn’t read my book (and I still haven’t finished it!!) as the pain was too intense. Tony told me I needed to come out of the bathroom so that Cecil could have a chat, so he got a t-shirt and pair of boxer shorts of his for me to wear. I struggled into the clothes, and dragged myself through to the lounge, where Tony had the fire going. I was still bent double to minimise the pain in my tummy. I bent over an office-style chair we had in the lounge, with my arms on the seat and my head mashed as hard as I could into the back of it, to deal with the pain, as I continued to feel as if I was being scraped out with that damn hot blunt spoon. I couldn’t do non-focused awareness as a relaxation technique, but I did focus on breathing through each contraction (or crippling bout of pain as I thought of them) and keeping my breathing out nice and slow as they finished. I managed to fill Cecil in a bit on what had been happening, and answer some questions between contractions, and then she asked the worst thing – for me to lie down on my back so she could listen to the baby. It was so hard to get unbent, and even harder to cope with the pain while lying flat on my back. Fortunately she was really quick about it, and the baby was fine, so up I got and back to the chair to bend over again.
Cecil phoned Margaret to update her at some point, and I heard her saying that “labour was just getting established” – all I could think was “OH MY GOD! Only JUST ESTABLISHED?!! I CAN’T do this for 18 – 20 hours! I CANNOT do this until tomorrow – it’s too sore!!”. Because of course I was thinking that first time labours usually go for that long for the first stage, and then more time for the rest! I remember thinking also that I knew why people went to the hospital, because if you didn’t know what was happening, you’d think you were dying, it felt so SORE and uncontrollable. Shortly after this I had to start making noise to cope with each contraction, so I started making this low-pitched moaning sound. At one point I remember saying “Oh god, I sound like a dying warthog”, to which Cecil responded “No, you sound like the scenario” (she had played the part of a very vocal pregnant woman in a birth scenario as part of our antenatal classes, and I was quite shocked – and said so! – at the amount of noise she made – turns out she was a VERY accurate actor!). I remember thinking “Why on EARTH did I want this to start – I just wish it would stop!” I was starting to regret all the jumping down the stairs I had done the day before, as it obviously got things moving!
At some point after this Margaret arrived – apparently the other lady was still up and wandering around chatting when she got to her house, so Margaret decided that she better come and see how I was getting on. She was quite surprised at how far along things had got.
I asked when I could get into the pool, and Cecil told me I should wait until massage on my back and hot towels weren’t helping anymore. Tony was diligently rubbing my back for me, and giving me sips of water between contractions. After I’d asked about the pool, they decided to try the hot towels on my back. Somehow I managed to communicate where the only pair of washing-up gloves that we own were to be located (in the camping gear for dish-washing) and Tony found them! I was right beside the fire in the lounge and had got too hot, so Tony went and got me a crop-top style bra to change into instead of his t-shirt. Then he put a hot towel on my back. I reacted VERY badly to this because it was too hot and felt horrible. I think I got really angry and accused him of trying to burn me.
All the while I kept making my low-pitched groans. I remembered reading somewhere that you have to keep the pitch low to stay relaxed, because if you get high-pitched you start to tense up, so I tried really hard to keep the groans low and deep. I also remembered reading that making your mouth into a smile shape helped relax you too, so I tried to do that as I groaned too. I suspect it was more of a grimace or a rictus than a smile, but I was trying! After each contraction I’d concentrate on blowing out and trying to relax again. I do remember trying to think of my cervix opening, and thinking “open, open” through some of the contractions (like it suggests in the book Mind Over Labour) but eventually it got too hard to do more than just focus on my breathing and groaning.
Finally they told me I could get into the pool, so I headed to the bathroom one last time, and when I was getting up there was a drop of dark red blood on the seat – I remember anxiously telling Tony that he should tell Margaret about it, in case it was a bad thing, then I forgot all about it. I stepped out of the boxer-shorts, and wearing only my bra, staggered through the kitchen into the sunroom/dining room where the pool was set up. It turned out that we had actually set the pool up wrong – there was a clear plastic liner, all brand spanking new, that we had thought we didn’t need to use, because Tony mended the other liner – as it happened, every person who uses the pool gets their own liner, so the brand new liner was for us to use. Whoops. So while I was in the bathroom, Tony, Margaret and Cecil were desperately struggling to put the new liner into the pool, which was already full of water! They did a pretty good job, it was a bit like having a bath in a plastic bag, but most of the water was inside the clear liner, and only a wee bit around the edges.
It was absolute bliss to get into the pool. It didn’t stop the pain, but my tummy didn’t weigh anything, and it seemed to just make things a bit more bearable. Margaret had checked my backside for that line that goes up as you labour while I was still bent over the chair, and hadn’t been sure about how far through I was, but when I got in the pool she said it went nearly all the way to the top – indicating I was pretty much all the way through. I was too scared to ask how I was doing, because I thought I wouldn’t be able to cope if they told me I still had hours to go, so I never asked how I was getting on. I never had any internal examinations either (not during my pregnancy, and not during the labour), which I was pleased about.
While I was in the pool, Margaret would occasionally check my temperature in my ear, and the pool temperature. She also listened to the baby occasionally with the wee hand held ultra sound thing (wrapped in a plastic bag I think). Tony kept mopping my head with a cool flannel and giving me sips of water , which was heavenly. Sometimes I leaned into his hand to keep the flannel on my face, and he would think I was pushing it away, and I didn’t have any energy to tell him that I wasn’t pushing it away. He was an absolute hero the whole way through (this is a guy who wasn’t that keen on home birth, or birth in general for that matter) and I just wish I could have expressed that at the time. I have told him how great he was since then, but I’m not sure he believes me! Every so often he’d tell me I was doing great, and that he was proud of me or that he loved me – pretty enormous stuff for a guy who doesn’t really convey his emotions verbally.
Also while I was in the pool, they kept pouring more water in – sometimes cold and sometimes hot. I think they were boiling 2 stock pots, 1 large pot and the jug pretty much constantly. I couldn’t work out why they couldn’t leave well alone if they kept having to put cold in after the hot, but apparently the pool wasn’t full enough. In between contractions I rested with my head down – sometimes on the edge of the pool, but more often with my nose almost in the water. I found that the edge of the pool was really good to grip during the contractions too (Tony wisely kept his hands well out of harm’s way!). At one stage, while I was labouring away, we heard the gate beside the house close. I said “Who the f**k’s that?!”, and Tony looked out the window and said “Oh God, it’s mum!”. My response was not nice – “Tell her to F**K off!” (this was pretty much all I said during labour, and pretty harsh, as I really like my mother-in-law!). He raced out the back door to head her off. She’d popped around to drop off some baby clothes, but he had to let her know that it was NOT a good time for a visit, as we were a bit busy!
After I’d been in the pool for a while, the contractions got more and more painful, to the extent that I was screaming through some of them, (even though I was trying really hard to keep my noises low so that I would stay relaxed). I flailed around so much during one really strong and painful contraction that I hit myself in the eye and burst some blood vessels. By this stage I really didn’t think I could do it for much longer, but I was trying really hard to keep that to myself. I was told later that I actually did say “I can’t do this any more”, but I had thought I hadn’t said that out loud! I’m not quite sure at what stage my waters broke, but I definitely felt them go – it was like a water balloon exploded out from between my legs. It still remains the coolest feeling of the entire labour – even at the time I remember thinking – “That felt really cool!”. When the contractions got really awful, Margaret applied pressure to some spots on my lower back, and when I got screamy, she would talk me back down as the contraction ended – reminding me to focus on my breathing, and to drop my shoulders so that I would relax.
Some time after those really horrible painful contractions, and after my waters breaking, I started to grunt involuntarily while contracting. Margaret said “If you can breathe instead of pushing, that would be good, but if you have to push that’s fine” – all I could think was “Oh my god, it’s too early, I’ve probably got an anterior lip or something!”. But I couldn’t resist the pushing. It was like a freight train rushing through my body – there was NO way I could have stopped what was happening. With each push I gave these horrible low grunts which really hurt my throat. Eventually I could start to feel the baby pressing against my cervix (I figure that was what it was pressing against, because it was very tight and sore when it pressed against it). The baby would come down and press against the tight sore bit with each contraction, and then as the contraction passed, the baby would slide back up inside. It hurt so much when the baby pressed against the tight area that when it slid back up I would think “Don’t come back down baby – just stay where you are”. Tony told me I had to move forward, because I was scooted so far back in the pool that he couldn’t reach me, and they couldn’t get behind me to see what was happening – it was SO hard to move forward, but I think I managed to a bit.
I remember Margaret saying something about feeling the baby come through “that ring of fire”, so of course the Johnny Cash song started going round and round in my head! Margaret kept checking how the baby was doing with the wee hand held ultrasound thingy, and at one point she said “you need to push your baby out now” – I’m not sure whether they were getting concerned about the baby’s heartbeat, or me, or what – certainly no panic was ever passed on to me – if anything it felt more like encouragement to move on to the next step. I pushed harder and harder when the baby pressed against the sore tight bit – at first I was thinking “Breathe through it, you don’t want to tear” but then I got frustrated at how much it hurt and how hard it was to push the baby out and thought “Bugger it, I don’t care if I tear, I want this baby OUT!”. I pushed and pushed and it felt as if I was tearing in half. I had my legs as wide apart as I could, and would have quite liked an extra set of legs at right angles to my actual legs, so I could open them wide out too – it felt like I was making a long narrow opening, not a nice wide one! I think Margaret got Tony round behind me to catch the baby (I had my eyes shut pretty much the entire time I was in the pool, so I’m not sure) and eventually, the head started to come out. Margaret told me to put my hand down and I could feel the head. I had a wee feel, but what I felt was so small, soft and spongy feeling that I thought I was just feeling some part of my vagina all swollen up, so I stopped in case people thought I was just copping a feel! Margaret told me later I was actually feeling the baby’s head. I did do a couple of wee poos as I was pushing, but I didn’t say anything about them, because I didn’t want Tony to hassle me about pooing in the pool (which he had been doing while I was pregnant).
After what felt like heaps of pushing, and agonising stretchy, burning-feeling pain that felt like I was tearing apart, the head came out a bit, and Margaret said I needed to keep pushing to get the chin out. So I pushed and pushed some more. Once the head was out the baby started wiggling around inside me as it eagerly tried to get the rest of itself born. It was the weirdest feeling – like swallowing a live fish (only up your vagina!). I just wanted the baby to hold still – it felt so strange. I pushed and pushed some more, and the baby came all the way out. I think Tony caught it, then Margaret passed it up between my legs to me, and Tony came round to sit beside my head again. I think I probably said some nutty stuff like “Oh, it’s a baby!”. I do remember that it was like a switch had been shut off from the labour, and I didn’t think or care about all the pain and pushing, all I could focus on was the wee pink squirming thing in my arms (I did remember all the pain and hideousness later, but at that time, it really just disappeared).
The baby gave a little cry which made everyone very happy, and Tony went and got a hat for it’s head so it wouldn’t get cold. The cord was quite short, so I couldn’t lift the baby up very high. I asked “Is it an Ethan or an Elsie?” (those were the names we’d picked for a boy or a girl) and Margaret said “Why don’t you have a look”. It was hard to lift the baby up to see because of the short cord, and at first I saw a wee wrinkled heel and thought it was a scrotum, and that we’d had a boy, but when I actually looked properly, I realised we’d had a girl. She looked up at us, blinked, looked distinctly unimpressed and then stopped breathing, and began to turn blue-grey around her face. Margaret and Cecil got out the oxygen and gave her some for a couple of minutes until she started breathing again. At no time was I stressed out or concerned for Elsie, as they were so calm and matter of fact about what they were doing – I didn’t really even realise there was a problem. Soon she was all nicely pink again, and we had some photos, then I was helped out of the pool and through into the lounge which they’d set up all ready for me.
I lay down on the couch, and Elsie was put skin to skin with me and started rooting around looking for a bit of bosom. I had to keep asking if she was really a girl, because we’d been convinced we were having a boy, and I had had such a fleeting look when I checked, but was reassured that she was very definitely a girl. While Elsie was having a look for the bosom, Margaret and Cecil checked to see if the placenta was coming free, as I had opted for an un-managed third stage. I remember at one stage being quite shocked and almost shrieking “Margaret!” as she gave the cord a wee tug which confirmed that the placenta was still attached – it HURT! Now that we were all settled, I had enough brain to think of other things, and all I could think was “MAN I’m HUNGRY!”, so Cecil went and made me some jam sandwiches – what a hero! At this point we also made some phone calls to let family know that Elsie had arrived safely.
After a while Elsie was sucking happily away on a bosom, and a bit later Margaret and Cecil got me to squat off the edge of the couch and give some pushes to deliver the placenta. While I did this, Tony cleaned Elsie up, put her in her first nappy and gave her a cuddle. Pushing out the placenta was really hard, because I didn’t really have any push left in me, and also, the same urge wasn’t there that I’d had when pushing Elsie out, and the placenta was a much less tangible thing to push out. After a couple of pushes it fell out into the bowl that Margaret was holding ready for it – it felt like pushing out a big dinner-plate sized piece of liver – quite gross, but I was pleased to be rid of it. What I wasn’t expecting was the continued contractions as Elsie was sucking – I couldn’t believe it, it was like getting a really bad period immediately after giving birth – and I thought my body had earned a rest!
Once she had her nappy on, and the placenta was delivered, Elsie went back skin to skin with me, and Margaret and Cecil had a look at my tail end to see if there was any damage. I had a bit of a nick up by my clitoris, and a tear inside my vagina. Margaret was happy to leave the nick alone to heal by itself (she knew my horror of having any sort of interventions “down there”) but the vaginal tear while not really bad, was such that she felt that it would be best to suture it. After a bit of consultation, I eventually decided that she knew my abhorrence of stitches in that region, so if she was saying that it needed to be done, it wasn’t for no reason, so I gave her the go ahead. Tony held my hand while they put in the injections, which were the worst bit, then they put in 5 or so stitches. The tear only went a tiny way into my perineum, which I was very glad about, so it didn’t need to be stitched. The worst part of all, was when Margaret had to check that the stitches hadn’t gone through the rectal wall (because the tear was on the side of my vagina that faces the rectum) and there was only one way for her to check that – think man’s prostate check and you’ll know what she had to do – NOT pleasant.
After making sure I was all sorted, Margaret had to rush away to the other lady who she’d been to first (whom I had beaten to the finish line), so Cecil, who had gone home, had to come back. She cleaned me up, helped me get into a clean t-shirt and then helped me to bed (which they had made up with waterproof sheets in case I bled badly – I didn’t, I think altogether I only lost 200ml). Cecil got us settled in the bedroom, helped me dress Elsie for the first time (I didn’t want her to get cold) and then headed away. Tony’s mum came around with dinner for us all, which was fantastic, then everyone left and it was just the three of us.
Later in the evening, Margaret came back to do the weighing and measuring. Elsie weighed 7lb 7oz and was 51cm long. The entire labour took 6 hours until her delivery – she was born just after 2.30pm, and then another hour for the delivery of the placenta. Although it was painful and really intense, I couldn’t have asked for a more straight-forward labour and birth, or for better midwives or support person. Tony, Margaret and Cecil were just fantastic.
We hadn’t planned for me to give birth in the pool, although it was always an option – we’d more been going to use it as pain relief – however now that I’ve been through labour and birth, I wouldn’t change a thing. I also know that there is no way anyone could have got me out of that pool once I was in it – the house could have burnt down around me and I would NOT have gotten out! I did find my memories of the birth quite overwhelming initially, but with time their intensity has faded and they’ve become more bearable. As I write this, Elsie is only just 3 weeks old, so it’s definitely far too early to say whether we’d do it all again and have another baby (although if we did, it would DEFINITELY be a home birth). However, Elsie is just wonderful, and certainly her birth has profoundly changed me and my life.
Hugo’s Birth Story
Birth story of Hugo Sebastian James Davidson, born to Katy and Glenn Davidson on December 23, 2003 at 2.40am, Summer Solstice
We were sitting in the lounge eating pizza for tea when I first realised Hugo was definitely on the way. I was eight days “overdue” and starting to get worried. Ending up in hospital for an induction was the last thing I wanted.
We were planning a homebirth in the belief that childbirth is a natural, normal event in a woman’s life and not something that needs to be medicalised. I wanted to be able to labour at home, uninterrupted, surrounded by people close to me. I wanted to avoid medical intervention. And most of all, after it was all over I wanted to be able to go to sleep, my baby beside me, in my own bed.
I started feeling regular pains at about 7pm but they were short and very close together, only about one minute apart. Not at all like slow progression of labour I was expecting from the books I’d read.
I told Glenn he had better start filling the birth pool. He didn’t quite believe things were happening and instead asked me to help him stake up our tomato plants. So there we were out in the garden staking the tomatoes in between contractions as if it were the most natural thing in the world to be doing.
My contractions became longer and stronger and I needed Glenn or my mum with me. They stroked my back and talked to me. Early in the labour I found sitting on a large Swiss ball and leaning forward on a bean bag the best positions. I tried keep in positions which kept my pelvis “open” and concentrated on breathing through each contraction.
At 10pm my midwife Mary Anne arrived and as she walked in the door I did a huge pizza spew in the sink. She gave me the good news I was 6cm dilated. It was time for the birthing pool. It felt wonderful to submerge into the water. The pain relief was amazing.
I could kneel forwards and put all my weight on a floating cushion. During contractions I gripped the side of the pool for support. Glenn was in the pool with me rubbing my back.
As the contractions got stronger and stronger I felt as if I was in another place – floating in and out of the present. In between contractions I felt calm and quiet, my body totally relaxed, resting for the next effort.
The strength I got from my support people including a friend and my sister-in-law was amazing. At one point during transition I called out “I can’t do this”, and I remember strong hands and voices reassuring me that yes I could. They gave me sips of water and put hot towels on my back which felt heavenly.
It was a relief to feel the bearing down urge and know my baby was almost here. Things seemed to speed up. I remember feeling a strong burning sensation as his head started crowning. Then before I knew it I was holding my beautiful brand new son in my arms.
To touch him and watch him as he took in his new world was the most magical experience. I was on the hugest high ever afterwards that nothing, including a trip to hospital to stitch a tear, could dampen. When we got home at about 6am dawn had arrived. The birds were singing and we were new parents. The three of us tucked up in bed and enjoyed our first day together as a new family.
I wish I could tell all expectant mothers that birth doesn’t have to be a scary and painful experience. It can be one of the most empowering and positive experiences in a woman’s life. It was for me.
Kahu’s Birth Story
In March a positive pregnancy test confirmed that we were expecting. I was really nervous throughout the first 3 months because I had had a miscarriage at around 8 weeks just 2 months earlier. We found out the sex early at our 15 week scan and were told we were having a boy, which Clyde was especially happy about. I had a really good pregnancy. I had some nausea and tiredness in the first 3 months, the second and third trimester were fine apart from constantly rushing to the toilet and heartburn. I continued to work at my two part time jobs as a homecare worker and pharmacy technician. I worked until four days before I had Kahu.
I read a lot about pregnancy and birth throughout my pregnancy and had decided that a home birth in water would be a really amazing way to bring our baby into the world. My midwives were very pro homebirth so it was always understood we would have baby at home as long as everything went well.
At my 38 week check I had high blood pressure which was unusual for me, two days later at 39 weeks on a Saturday night I went to the toilet and realized I had had a “show”. I was really shocked, I had told everyone I would have my baby early and not be overdue as is expected of first time mothers, since my own mum had all of us 2 weeks early. After showing Clyde I called my mum who told me to just wait, things will take awhile. I managed to get to sleep but couldn’t believe it was all finally happening. The next day I spent with Clyde and was getting period like cramps on and off most of the day. I thought I would go into real labour anytime. We went up to mum and dads for dinner and my two best friends Tui and Juanessa came for tea too and we went for a long walk together to try and bring on my labour. I had decided I wanted Tui and Juanessa as well as Clyde and the midwives there to support me during labour. After all that excitement, the contractions died away and I managed to get to sleep Sunday night. I woke up a few times with really sore stomach pains which faded away.
On Monday morning I was sure that today would be the day. I had decided I wanted to cook to pass the time so I baked cookies, a cake and made a huge lasagne for my support team. Juanessa and Tui arrived around noon and I was getting cramps every 5 or 6 minutes by this time. We went for a really long slow walk and I had to stop every 3 minutes and wait for the contractions to pass. When we got back Clyde put on the movie Boy for us to watch and it helped pass the time as the contractions got stronger. Mum came round a few times during this time; she was so excited to meet her grandson.
The midwife knew I was in labour but she was trying to hold off coming to see me until I really needed her, and I knew this was in my best interest. I didn’t want to be disappointed and find out I was only 1 cm along when she came. By 7 o’clock the contractions were really painful and I had convinced myself I was in transition. Juanessa kept convincing me to wait to call the midwife for a bit longer; she got there around 8 o’clock and did an internal which did not hurt at all. Betty was really happy with my progress and said the longest part of labour was over and I was over 3 cm. She also said my cervix was really spongy and my hips were really wide so there was lots of space for baby. She was so positive that it made me feel better, even though I thought it would nearly be over! She left and said the other midwife Milenna would be around later on once she had finished with someone else and to call her if I needed to. I went and had a bath and that really helped when the contractions got really sore. I didn’t make a lot of noise but breathed my way through the contractions. The pain was really intense and the contractions felt like a horrible pain in my back and across my lower stomach and thighs. I was starting to get a bit crazy around midnight, pacing the house and crouching and leaning and hanging of the furniture. I couldn’t get comfortable at all, and the contractions were so painful.
Milenna finally arrived around 12.30 and as soon as she arrived I asked her for an internal. I was relieved to find out I was 8 – 9 cm dilated, and baby would hopefully be here soon. As soon as she got there she took charge of the situation she had me standing up holding on to kahu’s cot and moving my hips in slow figure 8 motion which really helped, and she taught me how to breath through them properly. It was so good having someone to coach you through the contraction as it became unbearable she would say “it’s nearly, over. You’re doing so well.” The coaching helped me so much. I took off my nightdress and all worries of being naked in front of my friends were gone. I couldn’t care less. Milenna got Clyde to sit behind me and support me and I leant against the wall of the pool. The contractions were really strong and I pushed as hard as I could. Milenna got Clyde to come and hold my hand as he lay on the bed and I knelt in front of it for about an hour and Milenna massaged my back, which felt really, really good.
The contractions felt really horribly painful and intense and I found myself concentrating really hard to get through them. Milenna told me to rest on the bed and propped me up with pillows and Clyde lay beside me. I tried my hardest but I couldn’t handle the contractions laying down it was much too painful. Milenna got me to walk around while they filled up the birthing pool. The water hot water ran out and they had to boil pots on the stove. Milenna made me brace myself on the couch and continue the figure eight with my hips and breathe through the contractions but they were getting so painful I would sob a bit and they would take my breath away but I would get my breathing rhythm back. I remember thinking it was just so painful and it was so intense. I really wanted to hop into the water so badly and I remember feeling a bit of hatred towards Milenna for not letting me get in. I told her I felt like I really wanted to go for a pee, which I had been feeling for awhile but every time I went to the toilet nothing would come out. She told me to go and labour on the toilet for awhile with Juanessa. My vagina felt really weird like something was coming down and Milenna told me to see if I could feel anything and I was shocked when I could feel a rubbery ball like skin. She told me it would be my waters which were still intact. She told me to see if I could feel anything hard behind it, and I could only a little way up and it was his head. We all went into the room and she checked me again and said I was fully dilated and babies head had come down. Straight after I stood up I ran as good as I could to the toilet and had the urge to push which was really different from the contractions. I made grunting noises which came so naturally and I knew that this was what pushing was. Milenna told me I could hop into the pool which was warm and deep enough and I was so happy to climb in. I had laboured in the bath twice earlier and the water was such a good pain relief.
Pushing was so much better than the contractions before, because I could do something to stop the pain! I was sitting with my back against the pool side with Clyde supporting me from behind and I could see the waters coming out of my vagina and slipping back in through each contraction. Seeing that really motivated me to push extra hard. I remember how I would begin to push and then my body would take over. It went on for about an hour but it didn’t seem that long to me at all. Soon Milenna was saying baby will be here in the next contraction or two and I couldn’t believe it. I pushed really, r eally hard and I felt him crown. It was not nearly as bad as what I thought it would be and I knew I hadn’t torn when his head finally popped out. My contraction was still going and Milenna said I could push his body out if I could and I did. It was relief when he was out and I said “My baby!” and he was put onto my chest. He was covered in white goo and had bright red lips and purple skin. He cried for a few seconds then just looked at me. Juanessa told me later that at that moment her, Tui and Clyde all tried really hard to hold back tears. I felt really overwhelmed and slightly in shock. I couldn’t believe I had done it. The pool must have filled with blood and I had to get out but they didn’t want to cut the cord yet so I had to stand up while Clyde held Kahu and I pushed out the placenta with the first contraction I felt, it didn’t hurt. I looked down and blood was running down my thighs, and I felt a bit worried something was wrong. By this time Betty had arrived and I had to lie down on towels and they pushed my stomach and massaged it to get the rest of the blood out and then I had two injections to stop the bleeding. I am really afraid of needles and they didn’t hurt at all. I felt quite light headed and remember being really jealous I couldn’t hold the baby. My mum arrived sometime during my bleeding and everyone was just pouring over Kahu.
After maybe 20 minutes I was able to sit on the couch and try to breastfeed him. I felt really, really tired. He latched on well after a few attempts and after a shower and a pee which didn’t hurt at all I was wrapped up in bed with a new baby and Clyde at 6am. Looking back on my birth experience I feel really lucky to have had such a problem free birth and was able to do it my way. I am so glad I had a healthy baby which is really all you can ask for. I felt really strong and proud of myself for doing it the way nature intended without pain relief and amazed my body pulled it off! It was such an amazing and beautiful thing giving birth to my son, but at the time I was totally absorbed by the pain of each contraction.
Kahu is now 5 weeks old and weighs over 12 pound. The midwives are amazed at his huge weight gain and he is a really big boy. He is really active and loves doing his exercises, and sometimes blesses us with a smile! We love him so much and look forward to the rest of our lives spent with our special little man.
Ruby’s Birth Story
Ruby Mae was born at home, early, in fact. I had an appointment with my midwife that day to finalise the birthing plan (we had roughly planned it but today was the pen to paper day) and was going to make a playlist on my ipod!! I’m not much of a diary person, but kept notes throughout my pregnancy, I was lucky enough to be able to add entries while in labour, and finished it off the following day (everything from getting in the birthing pool was written the following day). The following is a mix of notes straight from the diary, and added notes, I apologise in advance for being a little disjointed for reading, it is real, raw, and wonderful!
28 April 2010 – Have you decided to arrive early??!!! (due date was 15 May) Its a full moon, dark and stormy night, interesting!!!!!!
1.50am – Ouch! I think this contraction might be a bit intense for a Braxton Hicks!?? Am I in labour??
2am – 2.40am – Yowzer, contractions are 5 minutes apart, your dad and I are starting to think this might be the real deal, should we ring our midwife? I’m walking around, trying to ease this and figure out if I’m actually in labour
4am – Asked Marty to text the Midwife, contractions were steady till 4am when they started coming every 2 minutes and lasting about a minute, Midwife responded that it sounds like the real deal, let her know when to come over (she lives on our street!! such luck!!) Midwife turned up after Marty text saying ‘come over, no rush, sooner the better’ LOL text of the century from nervous and excited dad to be… Internal was much easier than I expected, such absolute elation to find out I was near 5cm!!!! MW was very impressed at how lucid I was, joking and laughing between contractions. Advice to us? ‘Keep doin what you’re doin!!’
What was I doing? Through the contractions I was visualising a flower opening, and every so often Marty was pressing down on the pressure points in my lower back, I would lean back into them, amazing pressure counteracting the contraction pressure. I also counted to 20, up and back down , breathing in on the upward count, and out on the downward. I stayed in the same spot on the couch, with a chair in front of me to lean on if need be, I just closed my eyes, and focused on the breaks, not the contractions. It is intense, but amazing how quickly it becomes ‘the norm’ – you have these contractions, and back to normal during the breaks!!
Marty had been in full ‘action dad’ mode, laying the painters drop sheets over the entire lounge (he had read it can get messy haha) and towels on top, filling the pool that had been set up in the lounge, and getting everything prepared while rushing over and helping me focus through the contractions, he was also laughing at my facials, apparently I looked absolutely wasted, completely high on life and the natural chemicals that were being released with the labour.
Pool is ready to go, my mum has been over to see how I’m going, it was wonderful having her here seeing me do this, and sharing the experience!!
11am-ish… Marty let our Midwife know that I was getting a bit ‘over it’ … just a bit bored and restless, you just have no idea of what will happen next, and after sitting around chilling out, letting the contractions take their course for the last 10 or so hours, I was ready!! She suggested getting in the pool. WOW oh WOW oh WOW
AMAZING, Weightless relief!! Contractions were a bit easier floating in the pool. After an hour of ‘mucking about’ in the pool, our MW suggested ‘why don’t you try a wee push on your next contraction?’ A few contractions later, my waters broke! Midwife said ‘its going to get a little more intense from now on’ Oh game ON!!!!!!!! She was not wrong…. All I could do was try and get comfortable, Marty was feeding me ice cubes, which I would chomp and spit everywhere, I’d get the odd word in between sighs and groans and gasps, then I realised…. You are really going to be born!! We’re having a baby!!! (d’uhhhh!). I was excited, scared, my thoughts were twisting each way, and my how the voice of reason rings through in the eleventh hour!
Pushing Ruby out was the single most difficult thing I have ever done, I won’t lie, I wanted to give up, I wanted to transport myself somewhere else, nothing can prepare you for this, but the inner monologue kept me going, that voice of reason saying ‘well its not like you can go anywhere!! just get on with it!!’
It is funny how a part of your brain tries to ‘psyche you out’ and the other part is pushing you through giving you the rational thoughts
I do remember our lovely midwife taking my hands, and telling me how strong I am, and that I can do this, I sure can!!!!
It felt like you were a lot bigger, and that it would take a lot longer, so I was pretty scared (how the brain plays tricks on you!!!!) Marty was absolutely amazing, more than amazing, there isn’t a word that describes what he was like, amazing doesn’t do it any justice, the word amazing is just a drop in the ocean…..
When the time came, I gave an almighty push, in fact, I didn’t, my body was pushing involuntarily, I was just along for the ride by this stage. The midwife went down the end of the pool (facing me and able to see ‘down there’), she motioned Marty to the end of the pool so I knew we were nearing the finish line, I was worried about tearing (how on earth did that get in my head!) but thought ‘frig it’ and decided then and there to give an almighty push, push puuuuush!!! and your head popped out!! I remember thinking they say the rest slithers out, after another almighty push, that’s exactly what happened! Marty caught our beautiful wee baby, popped her onto my chest, and cut the cord once it was empty.
Ruby Mae Harrison arrived. 8lb 4 oz 1.22pm. My first words holding you.,.. ‘Its a baby!!’ haha deliriously happy and talking nonsense! After a few minutes I realised we hadn’t even checked to see if it was a boy or a girl!! I was intact which was a big worry for me, why was I worried!!!! Ruby let out an almighty cry just as the new nanas arrived, everyone was crying and laughing.
Wonderful wonderful experience, I can’t wait to do it all again!!!!!
First at home – Corban’s Story
I discovered I was pregnant at Christmas 2005. Being only 23, single and unsure what I was doing in life, a baby was a totally unexpected surprise. I am a firm believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason and never contemplated having an abortion.
When I was 4 months, I moved into a new house in Birkdale with Dan, the father of the baby in a situation most would describe as unusual – needless to say we are no longer together, and probably shouldn’t have gotten together at all. I needed support and chose the worst person thinking he would give it.
But anyway… my pregnancy was great. No morning sickness, I was totally positive about the whole experience, and had a great midwife – Creaghan Mitchell from Albany Midwives Collective. I hadn’t thought about the birth being anywhere in particular, I didn’t know anyone who had had a home birth, but when I started going to antenatal classes my views on everything changed. They were run by the North Shore Hospital and instead of it being a positive experience – which I instinctively thought child birth was – it was angled so negatively that I lasted 2 classes and never went back. We were told outright no one having a first baby could have it at home, this was simply “too dangerous.” Birth was a painful experience in which too much could go wrong to “risk your baby” anywhere but hospital. We visited the maternity wards, which I found barren, sterile and a horrible place to bring someone into the world. Hospital is where you go when you are sick, and babies aren’t sick. The attitude of the other mothers shocked me as well, some already convincing themselves caesarean was the only option to avoid the horror, and to be pumped full of as many and much drugs as possible.
I went straight home and investigated the other options, coming across the HBA website and several books, such as ’Home Birth Bound’ by Maggie Banks.This convinced me what I was doing was natural, and to trust my body – not a horde of strange doctors placing a time limit on how long I should have to do something a man never even can. I spoke with Creaghan for the first time about home birth at 32 weeks. I had already made my mind up. I wrote a birth plan she described as a bit staunch, but there was no way I was going to hospital. I knew I didn’t need to.
I was due Tuesday the 22nd August, and woke up that morning to what I thought might have been my show coming away. Wasn’t sure, and luckily had a midwife appointment that morning anyhow. Creaghan did an internal to see how things were, baby was descending well and she told me he would be born by Friday at the latest depending on how things progressed. I was excited! I went shopping, went to my Grandmas house for lunch, and then headed home to rest in case things happened that night.
By 4pm I was sure something was happening. Beginning to get a weird feeling in my stomach like period pain was coming, but I didn’t want to get excited about it, so told myself it wasn’t happening. Called Emma, my labour partner at 5pm and she came over at 5.30 with Robbie (who is Dans other son.) Called Dan at about 5.45 who was still at work, but thinking as it was a first baby that things wouldn’t happen too fast, didn’t get him to race home. When he still wasn’t home by 6.30, told him perhaps to get here a bit quicker. The contractions were about 30 seconds long and coming every 7-10 minutes .
Had a bath at 8.30 which was nice, and from 9pm everything was pretty full on. We didn’t know when to call the midwife, had been in contact with her via text message but she was happy with how things were going to told us to wait to call her as late as possible. Emma said we would call her when my waters broke, but by 10pm I was feeling pressure on my back passage and told her to make the call. The contractions were coming so fast I don’t remember much about the next hour, it was about 10.30ish when we called Creaghan but she too didn’t rush over, thinking first baby, hours to go.
Emma was awesome, I was just leaning on her on my knees, as she sat on the couch, and I was steadying my breathing by focusing on the curtain pattern. Dan was not much help, and left the room to play computer games after I snapped at him that he wasn’t helping. (What a catch…) Creaghan arrived at 11.30, when my body starting wanting to desperately push. She told me to wait, as she set up her stuff and I moved onto my hands and knees. I had a massive contraction, pushed and as she began to examine me for the first time, could see the babies head – I was crowning, 10cm dilated and good to go. She said it was ok to push, so I did and out popped a head. Dan was called and walked into the lounge to see a babies head. On the next contraction, his body slithered out, with just enough time to put a drop-cloth underneath me. His birth sack was unbroken, so if Emma and I had waited for the waters to go before calling the midwife, she wouldn’t have made it at all!
I stared down at this little person on the floor and I think I said something along the lines of, Wow, is that my baby? He looks like an alien. And thus Corban James was born, Tuesday 22nd August, 2006 at 11.40pm. The placenta came away 2 minutes later, no tearing, no stitches. The second midwife arrived five minutes after he was born, declaring it the easiest birth she had been to.
Thinking back, it was so fast, I get excited all over again when I think about it. I wish we taped it! It couldn’t have happened easier if we tried. I was so glad I had Corban at home, he turns one in a month, I cant believe how fast time has gone. I am also 8 weeks pregnant with my second (to John, my fiance, the man I adore and who respects me in ways Dan couldn’t imagine). I wouldn’t even contemplate having the new baby anywhere but home. John is a first time dad and very nervous, but having the great experience with Corban has given me the most resounding evidence that hospital births are not for me – I just wish other mums, doctors and midwives were as open to a more natural form of childbirth rather than believing all the scare tactics used upon society when it comes to having a baby.
Investigate all the options, trust yourself, your body and your baby and don’t let anyone scare you into having a birth dictated by rules and regulations if that’s not what you want. I suppose I’m thankful at the end of the day for being positive, opinionated and independent, couldn’t have done it without that!
Thomas’s Birth Story
Thomas was born on the 26th September 2005. On Sunday the 25th we were still organising the last wee things. Grand-Nev came around in the morning and put the security locks on the windows. I wondered sometimes if it was like he was waiting for everything to be done!
In the afternoon Paul played the guitar, while I went for a walk with my best friend Kate on the beach. We went quite a long way up towards St.Kilda from St.Clair, especially considering how pregnant I was. We had a lovely chat and I was wondering when my baby was going to come? We got home at four thirty and I needed a sleep. So I slept until six, which was a long sleep for me as I didn’t really do that much sleeping while pregnant. I wondered if I was saving my strength for something more exciting.
When I woke up I felt really fresh, and my Nana had phoned from the North Island. She had sent a package and had been a bit confused about the address. Unfortunately it had been sent to one that I thought may have been at the bottom of our street down a large flight of stairs. So I said I’d go and check and call her back. I was feeling really full of beans and hadn’t taken on this flight of stairs for a while because my giant tummy had been hurting when I had. But this time it was no problem. As it turned out the address she had sent it too didn’t even exist so I rang her back to let her know.
Paul and I had the tea which he had been cooking, then at about 8.30 we went to do the groceries. We didn’t get back until 10.30 but I still felt quite good. We put the groceries away and went to bed. Thomas was kicking busily, probably his first real chance after all the activities of the day! I fell asleep easily but awoke at 2 am to some niggly pains. By 2.30 I couldn’t sleep and thought, ‘hmmm, I had better get up and do some assignment cause I probably won’t have much time this week.’ I sat at the computer for about an hour and did nearly all of the assignment, although I couldn’t sit through the contractions. I had to get up and walk around. I was also online with a friend of ours from England and she joked, “Your not in labour are you?”
I also got some weetbix and tamarillo’s, thinking I would need more energy later but could only eat about three quarters of them. With every contraction from the beginning, I felt like I needed to go to the loo. The contractions were getting closer together but I didn’t really ever time them because I thought I had hours and hours to go. I thought I should probably wake Paul, so I went into the bedroom some time between 3.30 and 4am, and said, ‘Babe, I am having some contraptions (our word for contractions), but don’t get up if you don’t want to.” Of course he couldn’t sleep so he got up and started to set up the pool.
I couldn’t sit down any more because it was too sore to. I had a few more contractions and thought, ‘Oh God these are really sore, how am I going to do this for 10 hours?’ At about 4am I said to Paul, ‘Should I call Margaret (the midwife) or Mum?” I decided by ten past that Margaret was the best option because she was used to this. Plus Mum was sick and probably not able to come in anyway, so I could call her in the morning. I rang, and Margaret said ‘Don’t worry, try walking around and breathing. If the contractions haven’t got stronger or closer together I’ll be round at 8ish.”
So I did what she had said. I was trying to get Paul to time the contractions but he was a bit busy with the pool and every time I said, “How long was that?” He said ‘I don’t know.” Looking back now I think he didn’t even have enough time to check between them really.
Finally I said to Paul, ‘I don’t think I can do this for 10 hours.” I had one more contraction dropped the hot-water-bottle I was holding and ran to the loo again. The urge to push was so much stronger than the earlier bowel emptying ones. I yelled “Pauuuulll! Ring Margaret something’s wrong!” I thought something was wrong because it seemed to be too soon to be feeling like this, after all the ante-natal stuff said hours of cake baking and playing cards. I was terrified something was wrong with me or my baby. I tried a few positions to hold my baby in but of course they didn’t really work. So I sat back on the toilet and pushed. The waters broke and Thomas’s head started coming down. I saw the waters in the loo and knew they were healthy. Suddenly I realised nothing as wrong and the baby was on its way. So I took off my pyjama pants (which were still around my ankles!) got down on the floor on one foot and one knee and pushed my baby out!
I caught him by holding his head and feeling his body slip out. I looked down and he looked like a little sunshine, limbs and umbilical cord flowing from his tiny body and eyes open. I laughed. I couldn’t believe he was here and we’d done it on our own. I said “Paul, here’s your boy.” (We didn’t know what he was going to be before hand). We both thought is he o.k? Thomas obliged and gave a wee squeak, the sweetest sound ever. Paul got a towel and we tried to wrap him as best we could. The umbilical cord was a bit short so I couldn’t pull him close to me.
Paul had called Margaret and she had raced over in her car. She didn’t live to far away luckily for us. She arrived about five minutes after he was born to find our new family on the bathroom floor. We all moved into the living room. Paul cut the umbilical cord and Thomas tried to have a wee drink. I called my Mum to tell her and her first grandchild had arrived. An hour after Thomas was born the placenta came and the birth was completed.
What an empowering, life changing, love filled experience my beautiful boy gave us, and has been giving them everyday since.
After a painful difficult pregnancy, I found myself quite looking forward to labour (and wondering if I should be). I did some reading up, mostly focusing on Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (which I found very helpful), and came to the conclusion that, like most challenging physical endeavours, handling birth is mostly mental. Having had a fair amount of mind-body connection training in theatre and dance I was quite looking forward to putting this into practice.
My due date was June 5th. On May 19th I was throwing up dinner (as I tended to do throughout my pregnancy) and a heap of liquid flooded out of me, perhaps 1/8 to ¼ cup. I thought that possibly my waters had broken as I immediately started having good practice contractions (the first I’d felt). My husband Phil and I were excited and made tentative plans in case we had to leave our home on Stewart Island early. A chat with Liz, one of our midwives, the next morning made it clear that my waters hadn’t broken (there was no more fluid coming out) and I should go about life as usual. The whole next week was very stormy, which added to the excitement as my contractions continued off and on. Thinking the baby might come early, Phil went down to the local shop and picked up a pack of nappies. Word got out and those insidious island rumours flew that I was heavily in labour and going to town that night. We found it all quite funny.
The baby held off until we travelled the next weekend to Otautau to the house we had arranged to look after for nine weeks. This house was quite flash and we felt really lucky to be able to spend our special time here. Practice contractions slowed down as I adjusted to our new home. The final three weeks I felt the best I had the whole pregnancy, and Phil and I were able to take a couple of lovely walks in the Longwoods.
On my due date, we walked 3k and it felt so good. I worked hard mentally at being patient and allowing this baby to come in his own time. It was hard not to feel a bit impatient as his due date came and went, especially when people called or Phil started getting a bit frustrated. I did take good walks nearly every day and stimulated my nipples during some of the practice contractions.
June 9th at 1am I randomly found myself wide awake and wanting to finish some sewing. I was fairly content, but couldn’t go back to sleep and when Phil left for work at 6am I hemmed a dozen cloths for the baby – something that would have exhausted me previously. The colours seemed very clear and bright and I felt very in tune. I managed a one hour nap and took a lovely 4k walk up Knutsford Road. It was a beautiful crisp day, with snow on the hills, and I relished being out and moving. That evening at 9pm my waters broke. I was just in the bathroom and they flooded out. Honestly, in sensation and appearance it was just like the last time, with the same amount of clear liquid. I went to sleep with a towel under me and woke at 1am to find fluid really gushing out. Contractions were more regular, but quite comfortable and the fluid continued to gush all night, saturating three towels.
Hurray, it had started! I wasn’t nervous at all, just looking forward to it. Things carried on easily, Phil and I walked 1k and Liz stopped in to check on us. Jan, a student midwife and friend, also came by for the morning and afternoon and I really enjoyed her casual presence. The only worry was that my contractions weren’t getting stronger. They were a bit more than my period pain (which is pretty bearable) but less than most of the pain I had had during this pregnancy. Come on! I was ready for the heavy stuff. Eighteen hours after my waters had broken, we drove half an hour to the Winton Maternity Clinic so Liz could do a CTG (a machine to monitor my contractions and the baby’s heart rate), and give me antibiotics. Everything was great, it just needed to pick up the pace. The day was very cold and overcast – perfect for focusing on labour.
Back at home I was starting to feel tired and a bit concerned about having the strength for the journey ahead. Liz stopped by at 6pm, and I asked her if I should try to sleep. Because my waters had broken and there was a risk of infection, the plan was to go to hospital if nothing was happening by the following morning. So instead of sleep, Liz said “I think we need to get this baby coming.” Rats…okay. Phil and I went to bed, where he did some acupressure on me. A couple of points on my legs were powerfully effective and really put some strength behind the contractions. This was more intense but felt good – it was what we wanted. Following that we cuddled and Phil stimulated my nipples. Suddenly, I asked him to stop and I experienced a powerful POP inside me, then a strong contraction that really took concentration. A trip to the toilet revealed bloody show and timing these contractions we found them to be one minute long and a minute and a half apart. We had done it! It was happening now! I started conscientiously making low noises and breathing slowly to get through each contraction. I also fluttered my lips (like a horse), which I had read would help me open up. This was hard to do at times, but really effective, and once I got further along I found it cut down on the pain by about half. Amazing.
I threw up, but that didn’t bother me since I didn’t need the food in my stomach anyway. I was glad for it actually because throwing up helped me dilate. Liz was beautifully supportive, letting Phil and I handle it. My lower back to the top of my hips really hurt at the start of each contraction, and Phil was marvellous at putting firm pressure there. Really firm. He knew he was bruising me, but I needed it and didn’t care.
I wanted to sit in our spa bath, but Liz said I couldn’t until I was 5 centimetres dilated in case the warm water slowed things down. She checked (which was uncomfortable but not painful like I was expecting), and I was 3 centimetres. Too easy! I tried to catch a bit of rest in between contractions. I was still concerned about being too tired when it came to pushing. Between contraction was lovely – no pain at all, a beautiful break. Between contractions I would lay down but during them I had to be upright and leaning slightly forward on something. Sitting, laying, squatting and hands and knees were not good options at this point – it was much too painful. It wasn’t long at all before I didn’t have time to lie down between contractions and Phil was massaging my back continuously. It was intense, but I felt marvellously on top of it and closed my eyes. Actually I closed my eyes through most of the rest of it, so I could focus. Amazingly soon, I heard the blessed sound of Liz drawing a bath.
I had many options planned to help me through this part of labour (I heard that first-time mothers often dilate one centimetre and hour after 5 centimetres, so I assume we would have lots of time to implement). I found it fascinating that I had no use for any of these things; what we were doing was working. To me, time seemed to be flying, and I was dilating nicely. My goal was to get through each rush and with Phil’s help, I was. All the mental imagery, ice, rescue lozenges, reflexology – were put to the side. I did use a mantra, saying “I want to open wide” in my head at times. I think it helped.
The tub was great. Jan turned up and gave Phil a break. Her touch was firm and loving. The contractions seemed to start with a bang, build briefly, then slowly taper off to begin again. The beginning part was not a nice feeling – at its height I had that icy cold feeling running up my spine that made me want to tense up and lose control. It took a lot of concentration to keep trying to stay relaxed. Verbal encouragement really helped. Hearing people talk about other things within my hearing really didn’t help, but that only happened a couple of times and I couldn’t be bothered asking them not to. As each contraction tailed off, I ended it smiling and half laughing – it felt so good. I worked hard to find that happiness – it was very positive. I also told Phil often that I loved him and thanked the others. The only impatient thing I said was “my back,” if the person on back-duty was not listening when I started my low groans. This only happened a couple of times. I felt very loved and supported and like I was doing quite well. Still it came as a shock when Liz said I could start pushing if I felt like it. Was I there already? Suddenly I did feel like it, in a strong insistent way. I did a couple of pushes and Liz asked if I felt the baby move down. Not really. She did a quick check (my second and last) and said I had a tiny lip of cervix left and that should move back through the next couple of rushes. It was really hard for me to believe we were here already. I never felt a transition. Soon I felt the urge to push again, and my sleepiness left me. I felt clear and strong. I pushed and couldn’t feel much happening inside although the pushes were effective. I was surprised (and a bit disappointed) at how little I felt inside me through the pushing.
I knew that sometimes you poo a bit during pushing, but I hadn’t had a dump all day. I assumed I would get the runs in early labour, but I never did. So basically, when pushing, my mental goal was to push the poo out – and it worked brilliantly. I did poo quite a bit (the others fished it out with a sieve) and moved the baby down at the same time. The contractions slowed down now to give the baby and myself some welcome breaks. The baby’s heart rate was fine. Liz kept checking it underwater on me. Often this was uncomfortable and annoying, since my tummy was sore, but I kept reminding myself that we must make sure the baby is okay. Pushing was good. Hard, but nearly always progressive. A contraction would build, I’d feel the urge to push and bear down, making deep strong noises until I needed a break and air. I would let up, but the power and intensity of the contraction remained so that a few quick gasps were all I could manage before pushing again. Pushing was work, but it didn’t hurt. Soon I put my hand underneath to help myself relax and open up. And then Liz said I could reach inside and check where he was. I did and felt his squishy bulging head about 3 inches up. Wow! Already – he was coming!
I didn’t feel tired at all. Liz told me that when it started to sting I should slow down and let things stretch. I had been on hands and knees for a long time and got into a squat now. This felt more efficient for pushing. I knew I wanted to use this position, but was afraid of getting into it too early and getting tired knees and thighs. With everyone’s encouragement my pushes were working. Terryll (my other midwife) turned up, and I was able to say hello to her (with my eyes shut still). The next few rounds of pushes didn’t seem to do much. I could feel a little balloon of skin (his head) coming out my vagina – how surreal. It was starting to sting, so I wasn’t pushing as hard. Terryll took the baby’s heart rate and found it had suddenly dropped rather low (97 per minute). She told me to push and push hard and just get the baby out. Oh well, perineum. I could feel it burning and tearing, and a couple of times I squealed high-pitched. It wasn’t nice, but there wasn’t any other option, and I felt such encouragement from everyone that I was doing well and doing it right. A series of really hard pushes where I didn’t feel inside me that I was making any progress, but I could feel his head coming down and not retracting. All of a sudden – woosh – his head came out and was hanging out of me. That felt good, and bizarre. A couple more pushes did nothing (how frustrating). So Terryll told me to stand up. I did this relatively easily (considering) and the next big push brought him sliding out. Terryll caught him behind me, and handed him between my legs to me. And there I was, holding our new-born baby boy. I didn’t feel so much tired as really happy, fascinated, and in love. I laid back down in the bath and put the baby in up to his shoulders to keep him warm. The water was bright red with my blood and my bottom was pretty sore, but I leaned back, spread my legs out and enjoyed our baby while I waited for the placenta. Terryll had me feel the cord several times to see when the heart beat died off. The cord felt neat, very rubbery and strong, and the heart beat came through clearly. I was overjoyed at this little person, and slightly frustrated that Phil couldn’t be right next to me. I was at the far side of the tub, so our family bonding stuff would have to happen later.
It was awhile before the placenta came, so I just enjoyed our child and laughed. Finally the contractions came back. I shakily climbed out of the tub as Terryll held the baby (I hated to let go of him – already!). Then I squatted over a container and gave a couple of big pushes. It slid out easily – a great blobby mess. It felt strange not to be physically attached to any of this anymore. Jan cut the cord, and I stumbled out to the lounge with a towel between my legs. They had prepared the couch with sheets for me to lie on. I was shaky and shivery. I held our child with Phil right there while watching Terryll examine the placenta. It was really cool. My placenta was unique in that the lobes weren’t very obvious and the cord came out nearer the edge of it than the middle. What a fascinating thing. We didn’t want it, but it was special to Jan, so she took it home and buried it under a native tree.
Now they weighed and measured the baby. 8 pounds 5 ounces! Bigger than anyone had guessed! He didn’t seem too upset by the poking and prodding. He really appeared quite at home in the world. Terryll had a look at me and found I had two good tears and a bit of bruising. Ouch! I was over being brave, and while she stitched me up I whimpered and bit my hand. Phil stayed right with me while Jan held the baby, which was lovely. Hurray for local anaesthetic! Stitching up took a while and did hurt, and my good humour was running out. So I tried not to vent. 16 plus stitches later it was over and I felt much better. I had some haemorrhoids too but was expecting them since I dealt with them during pregnancy. Now breastfeeding and some barley sugars for me since I couldn’t stop shaking. With Terryll’s help, he latched on nicely and had a half-sleepy sampling. His little mouth felt good on me. It was so easy. Now I was pretty exhausted, but decided to have a shower (ah, wonderful!), and then to bed. In bed with the babe right there in the cradle by 4am. Everyone cleaned up the mess and headed home with much thanks and good feelings. Phil looked like a proud father. I was happy and so tired.
I drank water all though labour, even when pushing. It was several litres in the end. But once the bloody show arrived I had no interest in food.
I never once desired pain relief. In the height of it, I even asked myself if I did (out of curiosity). It just didn’t seem an option. The pain was part of it. That was what was helping me get there. And in the midst of it, I was too focused to entertain any other thoughts in my head.
From the bloody show my labour lasted about six hours. To me it seemed much shorter.
One of the very first things I said to Phillip while sitting in the tub holding our new son was “Let’s have six of these.” I meant it. It was such a positive experience. The pregnancy, though much less intense, was way more challenging.
My Valentines Day surprise
I found out I was pregnant on my birthday, which was a wonderful birthday present. When I called my sister in the U.K. the first thing she said was “are you going to have a homebirth?”My sister had had 2 successful home births. I replied that I didn’t think so as it isn’t advised for first births (so I had read) and besides we were renting a place which didn’t really feel like home and who knows where we would be living at the time of the birth.
A few months later after having read more and more, I decided that I really would like to have a homebirth and went along to an evening run by the Nelson home birth group. After watching some inspiring footage of strong women having natural water births my heart was set on it. My midwife was keen too. We borrowed our birth pool, got our tarpaulin out, bought some second hand sheets, had the babies first outfit and some towels warming in our hot water cupboard and made sure that we had plenty of food in the pantry. Now it was time to wait for the arrival of our little boy.
My due date came and went and with every passing day I got a little more stressed. First babies are often late though so I wasn’t too concerned except that my baby had not engaged and was presenting in a posterior position. I clung to the fact that I had 2 due dates and maybe my ‘Last Menstrual Period’ date was wrong but the scan date of 5 days later was more accurate. When I was 10 days overdue, or 5 past my preferred due date, my midwife suggested a scan and a non stress test. These showed that our little boy was doing very well and there was nothing to be concerned about which was a relief; but despite this an induction was discussed. I was told that since he was not engaged and in a posterior position then the chances of my having a caesarean were greatly increased. I could barely control myself I went home and bawled my head off. I had been having a hassle free pregnancy and was in no hurry to end it. I had a firm belief that my little boy just needed a bit more time. I searched the internet and found stories of women who had gone to 43 weeks. Armed with this information I set about negotiating with my obstetrician and my midwife. They agreed to give me a little longer and I was booked in for my induction on Sunday night. My midwife did one final stretch and sweep to see if we could get things going naturally and she said that I was nearly fully effaced and already about 2 centimetres dilated BUT since the baby was still not even in my pelvis and STILL in the posterior position then this didn’t necessarily count for much. My sister’s babies were both at least 12 days overdue so I tried one last bit of negotiating and managed to get my induction postponed to Monday morning instead of Sunday night. (17 days past my original due date or 12 past my preferred date)
That weekend I tried everything, pineapple, swimming, walks, going on a swing and finally a friend recommend acupuncture. I phoned around but no one seemed to be answering their phones at the weekend. I finally found David out in Richmond who agreed to see me at such short notice and he was wonderful. He said to ring him again on Sunday morning if nothing had happened and he would give me a follow up treatment. Sunday arrived and I realized that I would have to pack my bags for the hospital as nothing was happening. I went to town to buy some nighties, magazines and snacks for the hospital and it was with a heavy heart that I put the birthing pool and my other home birth bits and pieces out of sight as they made me feel too sad. That afternoon I had another acupuncture treatment and that night my husband and I tried one final sperm treatment of prostaglandins on my cervix!!
At 11 o’clock that night I felt some twinges but I had felt twinges the previous week for 2 hours which amounted to nothing so I didn’t get my hopes up. I was restless and went to sleep in the other room. For the next few hours I dozed on and off. The baby was moving so much, I thought that maybe something was wrong. At 4 o’clock I got up to go to the toilet for what felt like the hundredth time that night and as I went I heard a pop and there was a huge gush of water. I still wasn’t sure that this was anything so I tried to go back to bed but it kept gushing out. I told my husband that I thought my waters had broken but made him smell it to make sure, apparently it shouldn’t really smell, where as urine does. We decided that this was not urine and that maybe those twinges were labour, but I had no pain sensations and I realized that first births can take hours and hours so I was still not getting excited. My husband Dave had a 4.30am shower as he knew that the birthing pool would drain the hot water cylinder. Then we both tried to carry on as normal eating breakfast and watching breakfast TV.
At 7am I decided I had better let my midwife know what was going on, so I got Dave to time the contractions. They were coming about 3 minutes apart but the pain was bearable so I still wasn’t sure how fast I was progressing. My midwife said to call her back when I needed her to come. Dave asked if he should fill the birthing pool. I still wasn’t sure if I was far along enough and knew that you weren’t meant to get in too soon, so I said no; let’s just wait until the midwife gets here. By 7.40 the contractions were less than 2 minutes apart and there seemed to be no break in between. Not even long enough to squirt more rescue remedy into the back of my throat, or long enough to call the midwife without groaning down the phone. So I got Dave to call the midwife and she said she was on her way. When the midwife arrived I told her I had an uncontrollable urge to push. She checked and said that I was 9cms dilated and to try not to push yet. The next hour or so of trying NOT to push was so hard. Dave tried panting along with me and rubbing my sacrum until finally I was given the go ahead to push if I wanted to. I thought that not pushing was hard but the pushing part truly was the “labour”, it was such hard work and I felt like I was making very little progress. We tried heaps of different positions but a supported squat seemed to work best. Eventually with a little help from the midwives scissors our little boy slid out screaming. It was such a relief to hold him and so wonderful to go and lie down in my own bed.
It wasn’t the serene water birth I had hoped for (we didn’t have time to fill the pool) but I am so glad that I had him at home. We were certainly glad to have that tarpaulin and it was lucky that we had bought second hand sheets as I am not sure they would have gotten clean in the wash. My midwives were fantastic. I got chocolates popped into my mouth as I lay in bed with my baby and we got loads of photos taken too. The follow up support was incredible, having the midwife come each day to check up on baby and me was very reassuring and the advice on breastfeeding was invaluable.
I will never know what kick started my labour, if it was the acupuncture, making love, going for a walk, talking to baby or a prayer said by a friend. But as the three of us lay in bed later my husband and I agreed that this was the best Valentines Day gift we had ever given each other
Getting pregnant again was far easier than we imagined, and again, an easy pregnancy, no morning sickness or anything dramatic. After the easy birth of Corban, and seeing what a great little guy he was I was in a good head space and intended to stay that way! This time around my midwife was Kerry Martin from The Midwives in Green Bay, who was lovely and we got along great. The only difference between this pregnancy and the last was caring for a toddler made me exhausted! Not to mention I was bigger than last time around.
We had a scan at 20 weeks, curiosity more than anything, and found out we were having another boy. This was great, John is from a family where boys are well outnumbered by the girls, and it would also be a first grandson for his parents (having 2 grand-daughters already!) By 6 months I was napping whenever Corban did, and by 7 months I hardly left the couch! I had no fear that this baby would be a gigantic monster, I knew he would be bigger than Corban though, who was 3.6kg. My only worry throughout the pregnancy was tearing and needing stitches, only because I might have to go to hospital to have them.
Since this was Johns first child, and my second, we watched the pregnancies of family with great interest – me hoping that it would make him less nervous. However, when the two woman due to give birth before me (my sister-in-law, and Johns sister) both had caesareans, I didn’t want John to pre-order an ambulance, as he had been joking about doing. Luckily for me he trusts my instincts, and was fine with it.
At 8 months, precisely a month and a day before my due date of 15th March, John had a minor stroke at work. He was in hospital for 4 days, and told he would be unable to drive a car for a few months, and never drive heavy machinery again. Rather annoying considering that is what he does for a job! I was a bit stressed for a while there, but we had fantastic family support, and it ended up being a complete god send as John was home in my final month to look after Corban, something I was now too tired to do!
Corban was born on his due date, which didn’t help for trying to predict when the new baby would arrive. On Wednesday the 12th of March I went to the midwife, being 39 weeks and 4 days. I was confident, if a bit impatient, she was happy, but warned me she was not working from Thursday night to Monday morning – so if I went into labour, I would be having either Abbey or Carly at the birth. I had met Abbey once, but never even met Carly, though knew she was into acupuncture and had less on her plate than Abbey. We spoke on the phone just in case, and she seemed lovely. To be perfectly honest, the midwife was not important, I knew what I had to do, and the baby was going to arrive regardless of who was there.
Thursday night we went for dinner at my parents house, I was a lot more relaxed and ambivalent about when the baby was going to arrive – I was just sick of waddling!
Friday morning – I had a great nights sleep and woke up at 6.15 with a bit of a twinge in my tummy and the feeling something might happen today. Now here is where things get fast and crazy: I had light spotting when I went to the toilet, and woke John up in a relaxed manner, and told him I thought our baby would come today. He was a bit freaked out, and called his Mum, Lesley, who was coming over to help out. It was 6..30am. I spoke to Lesley, calm, relaxed and then hopped in the shower and had a cup of tea. The contractions had started already, very light and easy to breathe through. I didn’t want to wake up the midwife before 7, so called my Dad to get him to come over and babysit Corban for the day.
By the time we called Carly, just past 7am, I couldn’t talk during contractions. By quarter past 7 I was kneeling over the couch, with my stomach resting against the seat and John pressing my lower back. I have no idea how fast the contractions were coming, but there wasn’t enough of a gap to count too high. The phone rang at 7.30, about the same time the pressure moved from my front to my back, and I knew from Corban’s birth that things were happening really fast, and the little guy was on his way! I felt him start to crown by about 7.35, and started to lean forwards further, sticking my bum back towards John who was pushing against my lower back to help with the pain. Bear in mind, we are in the lounge with nothing around us – no clean towels, nothing even underneath me. I didn’t want to freak John out, so didn’t tell him how close the baby was, hoping like hell the midwife would arrive before he did. We managed to slip the babies changing mat under my knees as I felt the head come out. John used all his years of TV birth experience, and told me to push, but I waited for the next contraction and let him come out on his own – I pushed only once the whole labour. And then we went into shock. John ran off to get some towels, and I looked at this gigantic baby on the floor who wasn’t breathing and thought ‘What the hell do I do now?’ Within two minutes Carly arrived, who gave him mouth to mouth, and got John to get the oxygen from her car. When she asked him to call the ambulance, we both must have had a mini heart attack, but she explained it was simply a precaution. He started breathing within a few minutes then Lesley arrived, my Dad arrived, an ambulance arrived. It was quite a full lounge within a short space of time.
And so Oscar Chey Longdon was born, 7.40am, March 14th. 90 minutes of labour, no tearing! Oscar was not a small baby, he weighed 4kg, and continues to feed like its going out of fashion, already hitting 5kgs at 5 weeks old. I knew his birth would be faster than Corban’s, but I had imagined 4 hours at the least! It was a crazy but great experience, John was traumatised for a few weeks after the event, but how many kids can say their Dads delivered them? It will be a great story when they are older, but it might have put John off having any more kids!
Duncan’s Story: A Homebirth “From the Man’s Perspective”
It all started for me some three and a half years ago at an antenatal class – a bunch of expectant first time parents sitting there with a group of strangers wondering, “What the hell am I doing here?” Midwives! Bring on the doctors, the machinery, the drugs and the other wonders of modern science. But there I was, dragged along by my wife’s excitement, listening to what I thought at the time was the “hippy” section of the medical profession, subscribing natures way and homeopathic remedies for childbirth. These, I thought, were the people probably not good enough to get a job at the hospitals – HOW WRONG I WAS!
In hindsight, women have been giving birth for quite a few years now and why I thought giving birth in a hospital would be better, I have no idea.
Now, onto the birthing part. I remember organising the birthing pool which I wanted to collect from the hire place four months before the due date just in case. Apparently this is not allowed and I ended up collecting it about three weeks before my son arrived.
We were organised; birthing pool, seven hundred thousand square metres of heavy duty polythene (apparently, or so I was told, there would be blood and stuff everywhere) and some old sheets, bubbly, camembert and pate in the fridge, we were ready to go.
The BIG day, Ange awoke on the due date and had some crampy things (I’ve never really understood what that’s all about, but I have sympathised with her all our married life). Anyway, she had had these before, so no real panic at this point, just carry on, breakfast and the other normal things people do on the weekends.
Another hour or so, cramps a little worse and the toilet was continually occupied (not a great day to relax and read the weekend herald). Perhaps this was it; having not been there before I was unable to offer any pearls of wisdom as to whether or not labour had started, but it had …
Lunchtime came, a little more serious and time to ring the midwife who arrived not long after with the usual spiel that if you’re not sure you are in labour then you’re probably not … They are not perfect – we were in labour. (You will notice that I use “WE” as it was difficult for me to watch my wife in pain, and as a man who wants to fix things, not be able to do anything about it other than let nature take its course). Midwife explained that we were only four centimetres dilated and that as a rule of thumb one hour for 1cm, so, still six hours to go. She left (with our permission) to go and call on a couple of other clients and we were left to it.
Anyway, time for “ACTION MAN” – polythene spread out to cover the entire lounge and half way up the walls (I was planning for a war zone!) including furniture, towels and old sheets spread out, the pool up and filling commenced. Let me tell you, those pools are big – no trouble with the cold water but the hot water cylinder was drained, so pots out and boiling on the stove along with the jug and anything else that I could find to fill up that pool.
Things starting to get more intense with Ange unable to get comfortable, stand up, sit down, lie down, stand up, walk around, all the while I was not quite sure what she wanted me to do so I hovered, cold flannels, rubbing her back, cold drinks etc, just to be there for whatever she wanted. I thought I did a pretty good job, but you probably need to check with her to see if I did the right things or not. Big thing here is just do whatever they want and life will be perfect.
Phoned the midwife when Ange felt like she needed to push and they arrived about 30-40 minutes before Lucas turned up in the pool to the absolute delight of his father.
Guys, I consider myself to be pretty much a mans man, but let me tell you, nothing prepares you for the sheer overwhelming joy and love you feel when your child is born. Also had some dust in my eyes which made my eyes water (my wife will try and tell you that I cried but that simply is not true).
What I can honestly say is that for me, having my son at home has been the best decision we ever made, despite my initial concerns. To be able to spend that time with my wife, pretty much on our own, was just such a tremendous privilege; no doctors, no smell of disinfectant, no machines beeping, just the comfortable feeling you have when you sit at the place you live in. You know where everything is and visiting hours never end. There was no rush to cut the cord, no rush to do anything and best of all I got to be the first person to dress my son and pass him onto the most amazing woman I know – my wife.
I will always make time to talk about what for me so far in my life, has been one of the greatest days ever.
The birth of Carys Shirin Ann: 21 September 1999
After having our boys, Wade in hospital followed by Reid (a waterbirth) at home, there was no doubt that I’d be having this baby at home as well. Still, I found it quite amazing that a lot of people assumed I’d be heading back to hospital for this birth – why, I’ll never know.
This 3rd pregnancy was such an eventful one. I had spent virtually the whole pregnancy sick with so many ills, chills and tummy bugs I’d picked up, not to mention the morning sickness, that I found myself wondering if this child would ever turn out normal! Secretly though, I wondered perhaps if it would be a girl, as I’d not had a days sickness with the boys. This pregnancy was certainly so different. I had been having quite strong Braxton hicks contractions from about 34 weeks, with a few good runs of them at 37 weeks which got me thinking this is the real thing. However nothing really ever seemed to eventuate, and I spent a lot of my time huffing and puffing just to get by!
So at 38 weeks when I woke up at 3am on Monday 20 September with some real powerful crampy contractions I still thought nothing of it. I managed to sleep in between them, and got through to 8am to see Adil off to work. My day was already well mapped out with two sick children to look after and it pouring with rain outside. I virtually spent the day on the couch with the boys, dozing on and off (thank goodness they were sick), still having contractions 15-30 minutes apart. They weren’t definite, but the difference in them to the previous ones made me a feel perhaps this was it. Adil arrived home and got the boys fed and into bed while I stayed on the couch. At 7.45pm Adil was heading out to cricket practice and I asked him to stay home as I didn’t feel I wanted to be left alone that night.
At 8pm I got up to go to the loo, as I’d had another strong contraction and a real urge to go to the toilet. I discovered I’d had a little show, and was amazed at how excited I felt. I phoned Lyn straight away, as Reid’s labour was quick, so we wanted to be prepared for this baby’s arrival. She said to phone back when they’d got stronger and closer. 40 minutes later Adil rang her back as they’d quite quickly gone to 7 minutes apart and much stronger. We phoned our two support people, Jo and Claire, and they both arrived along with Lyn around 9.30pm. Once the contractions got stronger I felt heaps of pressure on my lower back and tail bone. Jo was putting ice on my back to help ease the pain and Claire administered heaps of Rescue Remedy and massage to help divert the pain. The ice worked wonders! It actually numbed my lower back completely, it didn’t make me feel cold, but surprisingly made my feet very cold!
We were joined by Reid (17mths) at 10.30pm, who calmly sat in the bean bag for about 2 ½ hours watching the labour process. We were all amazed at how he never seemed frightened, just sitting and observing all that was going on. By 11.30pm the contractions had actually got really intense and I found being on my knees leaning into the couch really comfortable. I really wanted to push by now as the pressure was incredible and the back pain was almost too much to bear. Lyn suggested I try to push with the next few contractions, but as soon as I started I knew that the baby wasn’t ‘there’, I couldn’t feel anything.
I remember just wanting to give up and go to bed at this stage, the pain was so intense and I couldn’t focus on anything to get rid of it. The baby’s head was moving heaps, grinding around the cervix area, which was also quite painful. Lyn had a good feel of the baby’s position (no internals though), and then said those words I didn’t want to hear, “Jude, I think this baby’s slightly posterior”. She suggested I lie down on the floor on my side and breathe through the next ½ hours contractions to help the baby move. It was the 2nd time that night I just wanted to give up and I remember shedding a few tears at the thought of having to lie down, let alone all the intense feelings I had about just wanting to see my baby.
However, with the fantastic support I had from Adil, Jo and Claire, I managed it. I felt almost calm in between contractions, as all 3 surrounded me and massaged, held my hands, with Jo helping me to visualise beautiful places to be. Everybody had positive encouragement, which helped me so much to getting closer to delivering my baby. At 1.15am the contractions had finally moved to my front and I could absolutely no longer breathe through them. I sat back up on my knees and lent into Adil who was sitting on the couch. I started to push again and almost immediately I could feel the baby’s head. By now Jo had taken up her position with the video camera, and Lyn and Claire were waiting for the baby to arrive! When I look back on the video now, the pushing seemed to be the easiest part, as I was more in control of my body. I didn’t have as much of the burning pain I’d had with Reid and I could feel my baby’s head emerging slowly but surely. I was also very vocal at this point, and I felt this was a good way to release my feelings of all the pain I’d worked my way through! Claire was getting quite excited, talking me through the pushing as baby’s head emerged. Lyn had kept a hot cloth on my perineum, which actually felt good, and had given me direction with my pushing. I actually felt quite safe with the cloth there and each time she moved it to warm it up again, I literally begged her to put it back!
At 1.46am with one last push our baby arrived into the hands of Claire, who was overwhelmed. Jo was trying to video with a running nose (from a cold), a let down (she’s still breastfeeding) and tears and laughter, it makes really good viewing!!
After the baby was born I lent into Adil and took some deep breaths, had a few tears and tried to refocus on myself for a moment. I then heard Claire saying “he’s born, he’s here Jude”. I remember turning quickly to look as Lyn untangled her cord, which was firmly stuck between her legs. “It’s a girl”, we all said at the same time! How fantastic. Baby Carys Shirin Ann had finally arrived, 7lb 7oz, 2 weeks early with loads of black hair, a beautiful perfect specimen.
Wade (4yrs) had just woken up (I found out later, this was because of all my ‘yelling’), as she was being born, he was totally overawed. He sat on Adils knee and watched everything, helping Adil to cut Carys’ cord. He was also intrigued with all the ‘good blood’ and the placenta, not to mention Lyn’s big scissors. However ½ hour later all he really wanted was to know if Carys had brought him a present!
Adil and I want so much to thank our 2 good friends, Jo and Claire. Jo, who along with her 3 children had our 2 so many times while I was sick. Her endless supply of meals and the fabulous support and friendship she has given us is so valuable, a true friend indeed. Claire, who has been there for all 3 of our children’s births, a huge tower of strength, love and support, another valuable and true friend.
And last but not least our friend and midwife Lyn, who has seen us through all 3 very different births. She has been there for us when needed, giving us so much valued support and encouragement. We are so lucky to of had her friendship over the last 5 years. There is nothing I would have done differently.
Thank you Lyn.
Birth Story of Carys Shirin Ann: 21 September 1999
As told by Wade, aged 4 years.
My Dad came and got me up.
Jo tried to wake me up. I didn’t want to come down with Jo.
I came into the lounge. I saw the baby and Uncle Claire and Jo and Lyn and my Dad and Mummy.
I got woken up by Mummy going arrrrrah.
I saw the baby. I sit on Dads knee. Dad hold me.
My Dad cut the cord with Lyn’s scissors.
The blood dripped on Mummy’s shirt.
My Dad used to let me go and let me have lots of cuddles with Carys.
The placenta came from Mummy’s vagina and into Lyn’s icecream container.
The placenta tipped into the grass and planted for Carys’ new garden.
Carys look little. She had lots of sticky hair.
Carys had lots of toes. I love her. She’s my little man.
Carys had a thing on her belly button to block the middle.
I got action man. Reid got a car.
Lyn had big scissors and a big case.
The scissors are to cut the cord, they are bigger and huge.
A note from Mum:
When asked what was the best thing about Carys being born, he replied;
“My action man and Lyn had big huge scissors”!
Family of three
Firstly I decided to have a home birth after witnessing the terrible birth of my nephew in hospital. A change of shift and many indecisions later he was born. I knew then I deserved something better, my own midwife, who would stay with me. Secondly and more importantly, I felt the need to birth in a more friendly and relaxing environment. That was three years ago.
On August 30th 1995 I had a home pregnancy test; we just knew it would be positive. My pregnancy went well; I did have a scare at 11 & 1/2 weeks when I had some bleeding. It brought back some scary memories of a miscarriage I had when I was younger. After finding out from a scan that everything was fine, my pregnancy went well and I was due on 28th April 1996.
After falling asleep around 12:00am Wednesday the 24th April 1996 watching T.V. I woke up at 1:30am needing to go to the toilet. I did and then turned off the T.V. and went back to sleep. At 2:30am I woke again needing to go, so once again I did, (I thought this is it as I really emptied my bladder) then it was back to sleep for the night! At 3:30am I was again woken by my bladder (or so I thought), but as I sat up I knew it wasn’t my bladder leaking! I felt amniotic fluid running down my legs as I dashed to the toilet, I felt like a little kid with a new toy! I sat there thinking “yay THIS IS IT”. I then headed back to the bedroom to tell my husband Gregory. I turned on the light and saw my “show” on the side of the bed; I woke up Gregory and told him, he did a double take. We whispered about what was happening, letting it sink in. It was 4:17am and I felt something in my tummy, it must be a contraction. Thinking labour would be long we decided not to ring our midwife (Pam) until 6am, a more decent hour to be woken up!
We (Gregory actually) decided to get some sleep, huh, fat chance I had waited a long time for this and I was too excited to sleep anyway. I got up and had a cup of tea, something to eat. I went back to bed, but even Gregory was too excited to sleep even though he usually HAS to have 8 hours!! So we went into the lounge and put the heater on. It was now 5:15am and I had been having mild like period pains for the last hour 5-10 minutes apart. By 5:45am I thought it would be good to relax in a bath.
At 6am Gregory rang the midwife, and she said to ring back when the contractions were 5 minutes apart – they were! I was having them 5 minutes apart with smaller ones in between. Gregory and I decided to wait another ½ hour before ringing her back. Gregory rang my brother as he would be off to work (7am) and we wanted him to know, he asked whether he should get the day off, we said no as it would probably be a long day. Graeme (brother) said that he would ring at lunch and check how things were going. By then it was 6:30am and we rang Pam back and she was on her way.
When Pam arrived we were in the bedroom enjoying the quiet with our two cats on the bed with us, oblivious to what was happening. At 7:30am we talk with Pam about when to call my parents to come (they live in Taumarunui, two hours away), we decide to ring them and say to start to get ready. At 8:15am I ask for a V.E. as I wanted to know how far along I am, so my parents don’t miss it. Pam said that I am about 5cm dilated and that my cervix is soft, and that we had better tell my parents to leave NOW! I thought wow this is going fast – halfway.
Back to the bath as the contractions have become quite strong since 7:00am Pam coaches me through my contractions giving me a way to cope – she said “It’s like climbing up a mountain, tough going up, but once you reach the peak it gets better, eases”. I saw that mountain at each contraction and focussed on the peak, and when that was reached the pain ebbed slowly away. During this Gregory was rushing around getting water, straws and ice. NO ice in freezer, ahh!! That was Mum and Dad’s job….
I was quite relaxed and with every contraction my hand was held by either Gregory or Pam – I’m not sure who. Only once did I feel like asking for pain relief, as the contraction ebbed so did that thought, as I couldn’t speak during it. With no words spoken my needs were met – cold flannels, drinks. I could feel our baby moving down when suddenly a contraction hit in three bolts and I panicked, Gregory told me to breathe, as I was saying I couldn’t handle it, his words were forceful and it broke my panic and made me focus once again. Transition had hit and I wanted out of the bath. After the next contraction I stood up, and gravity hit!! WHOA it was a heavy feeling. Baby had moved right down.
We went into the bedroom (9:30am), I stood with Pam rocking and still adjusting to the new sensation of the head. I screamed a little which actually helped. It was then I looked at the clock and realized my parents weren’t going to make it. I felt like keeping our baby in, as I wanted them here. I was also fighting my body, instead of working with it.
I knelt leaning on the bed. I started pushing/my body did, but felt nervous/scared I knew this was the only way our baby was going to come out and once I got my head around that I felt more in control. I couldn’t feel the contractions, which felt weird (like losing a reliable friend), so I turned around and squatted with Gregory behind me, I was using his legs for support. Just before that I threw up, which didn’t surprise me, but was Yuk! Pam was putting hot cloths on my perineum – what a relief to the stinging, stretching feeling. We got out a small mirror and I saw our baby’s head, Pam suggested I touch it, I couldn’t, as I could only think of the pain and if I touched it, it might get worse, strange logic? But seeing our baby’s head helped as I was still fighting things. Then Pam suggested “hopping on to the bed” – how could I “hop” on to it – well I did! I was lying on my left side. Gregory knelt on the bed and I held on to him.
My leg was on Pam’s back or it was pushing into her side. After a few pushes (3?) I felt like nothing was happening that our baby wasn’t still moving out. Pam said to Gregory “you can tell your baby’s coming out as you can see the rings on the head”. I still wasn’t convinced (panic I think – feeling that I couldn’t do this). Pam then said “would I like an episiotomy” – with that said I knew I could push out a house! A threat Pam wasn’t willing to go through with; she hoped I would say no, she told me later. I did NOT want one, it made me focus again! With two deep pushes, and my head against Gregory’s side, our baby’s head was born. Pam said to be quiet so we could listen to our baby making squeaky noises. I could feel the shoulders move into position – it was an amazing feeling. Gregory had a look at our baby and say baby having a good look around! I asked for a rest to catch my breath as I thought it would be as hard to push out the shoulders as it was the head. A few breaths and with another gentle push and our baby boy was born at 10:20am.
I said “Is that my baby” – it was a release of overwhelming emotions – joy, love and even loss as he was no longer a part of me. I looked at Gregory and he has tears of joy in his eyes, and I could feel the love surrounding us, then he kissed me.
Gregory cut the cord after it finished pulsing and I helped. It seemed like we were alone, even though Pam was there. Fifteen minutes after Tarantino was born I delivered the placenta, baby was at my breast drinking, and then I gave a few small pushes while Pam gently pulled on it. Pam showed it to us before it was put into the freezer (we planned to bury it later). Five minutes (20 after the birth) later Mum and Dad arrived, slightly disappointed that they missed it all, but overjoyed to see their new grandson. All of us were amazed how fast it was, even Pam commented that she thought I wouldn’t deliver before lunch. Tarantino was checked over, weighed, dressed and perfect! Then handed to his proud grandparents. I had a shower and then went into the lounge to have a cuppa and to breastfeed my new son. What an amazing feeling birth is – what a truly exhilarating feeling to give birth the way I wanted, with love, in a caring environment – my home!
Thanks to Pam Sanders for her help (and threats) in achieving this.
P.S. My brother rang at lunch amazed that I answered and shocked that his nephew was here so quick!
Serrano’s Birth (same family as above)
I had a very good pregnancy; the only thing that hampered it was a sprainedhip. I went to the chiropractor and felt relief, but I managed to fall over a couple of times and re-injured it so had to go back to the chiropractor. We chose not to have a scan as we feel they aren’t that safe, so we didn’t know what sex that baby was going to be.
I woke up at 4:30am on the 28th February with an ache in my tummy. Tarantino (our 3-year-old son) then woke up and had wet his bed, so Gregory changed him and I made up his bed.
I have another pain. We go back to bed and make love, then another pain. I thought it might be just from making love. Another pain, ten minutes later, (5:10am) I think I might be in labour. I tell Gregory and we notice another is ten minutes later! Yip I know I’m in labour, I go to the toilet to see if my waters have broken – yes only a little though.
We decide to put the birth pool up inside, as it’s cool outside and if it’s a fast labour I’ll get cold. I ring Maggie to tell her the news – it’s 5:30am will ring again later for her to come. I ring my mother and father in Taumarunui and tell them to come now. They were meant to be here for Tarantino’s birth, but missed it by 20 minutes, as they didn’t leave straight away. So I wanted to make sure they made it this time.
The pool is filling and the contractions are 10 minutes apart and quite strong. I ring my sister Lynda and leave a message, also leave a message for my sister in the states. Lynda rings back and we talk for about ½ hour, she will keep ringing me as she is going out later. I ring Lesley (support person) at around six to tell her I’m in labour. Ring Maggie back 7:20am as contractions are stronger. I go for a walk to the mailbox with the cats following, and have to stop halfway down with a contraction. Maggie comes 7:50am and then Mum and Dad arrive – yay what a relief, I’m so glad that they are here. Miriam arrives too (student midwife). Hot drinks for everyone and I go outside with Maggie.
After they finish their drinks both midwives decide to leave and come back later, since Mum and Dad have arrived, it’s now 8:20am. While they are away we put on Titanic to watch. Dad took some photos of Tarantino and me to show off my tummy, as it will be the last photo of me pregnant. I have a few crackers and a cup of tea. Midwives return 10ish and I have been in the pool before they came and continue to hop in and out when I feel like it. Hopping out to use the toilet also. All this time (11:00am now), Dad and Tarantino have been in the bedroom on the computer! Tarantino comes to see me to get kisses and hugs then goes back to his game; I think he just needed reassurance that I’m okay.
My cat Elsa comes by the pool and says hello and goes to sleep. Maggie is pouring water over my back with each contraction; they are 4-6 minutes apart. I close my eyes and go into myself blocking everything out. Gregory is there holding my hands throughout. The contractions feel very strong, but I have a good rest in between them. I crunch on ice and drink water when thirsty. Maggie leaves to get slippery elm as I have indigestion and it’s really annoying me. I have some crackers while she is gone with Miriam in the kitchen and she helps me through some strong contractions.
They are getting stronger. I go to the toilet again. Gregory is in the bedroom checking on the others. Lesley is here now, and Mum goes to the shop to get things for lunch. I go back to the lounge to kneel and lean on a big cushion on the couch with Gregory holding my hands. Maggie is gone ½ hour and is back 12:30pm. She gives me the slippery elm in yoghurt and it seems to work.
I can actually feel now my cervix open up before each contraction. Back into the pool. Toilet again (1:00pmish) and I have a clear show, I get up and cuddle Gregory and moan that it’s taking longer than Tarantino’s birth and I feel everyone is waiting for me – that I’m not progressing.
I go outside for awhile – it is hot and sunny and the contractions seem to be quite spaced out at times. Back to the pool and Mum and Lesley have made lunch for everyone, sandwiches and they looked yummy. I didn’t want any just in case I throw them up later. Maggie talks about a red line on my back that comes when I have a contraction, it’s not yet burgundy. Tarantino visits for a cuddle.
2:10pm another toilet stop, then back to the pool. Contractions are very intense, but still spaced out – very different to Tarantino’s labour so far. I ask for Gregory to turn on the video and I turn around and hold onto his hands, Tarantino is right there too, as he didn’t want to go down for his sleep. My Dad tried to make him and he got upset and came by me, I knew it was getting close and told Dad it was okay.
I am kneeling in the pool, leaning into the side when a contraction comes; Gregory gives me ice and water when I want. 2:30pm and the contractions don’t seem to stop and I feel overwhelmed with them and scream a little. My Dad makes a joke and it annoys me and I tell him to shut up and he walks out, I cry and tell Miriam to make sure he’s not offended and is back in the room, she does and Mum and Lesley are also there.
I feel baby come down and scream as I remember that yucky, stretchy feeling. Baby moves back up and I have a rest and wipe my face then the next contraction comes and baby crowns and stays there. Maggie says baby is staying there, and I say I realize that – I think she is stating something that is too obvious to me!! She says then one more push and baby will be born. Another contraction and I push, but baby doesn’t come – I feel slightly cheated. The next one I push and baby is out, yet it felt weird like three hard bits. I say is it out yet as it took a few seconds. Maggie guides baby through my legs and I turn around and I lift baby out of the water and cuddle baby and cry. I say “my baby”.
Maggie tells me that baby’s cord was around it’s tummy and over it’s shoulder – that she helped untangle it, so that’s why I felt three hard bits as it took a bit to come out. Tarantino cuddles me and then Gregory leans over and says, “Are you going to check what sex it is?” I do and it’s a boy – I tell everyone “here’s Serrano Bruce Alan De Estena” so they know he’s a boy.
I decide to get out, as Serrano feels cold even though they put in more hot water. Time he was born was 2:49pm, wow only 19 minutes of second stage, and only four pushes for him to come out. Tarantino’s second stage took 50 minutes; I am amazed how different the two births were. I hop on the couch 20 minutes later I birth the placenta.
Serrano is very alert and is breastfeeding before and after the placenta delivered. My Dad cuts the cord with Tarantino overseeing it. We celebrate with grape juice and chocolates for everyone. I ring Lynda and then Denise to tell them the good news. I also ring my brother; they will come over soon. Everyone is there and I feel peaceful and loved. I am really glad my parents were there to witness their grandchild’s birth, especially as Dad had never been at a birth. Lesley was overwhelmed and thankful to be a part of our special day, it was also her son’s birthday!
Maggie then goes over the placenta and explains all the “bits” to me. She checks Serrano out and we all guess at his weight after everyone having a hold. Miriam and Lesley are the closet. Maggie weighs him and he is 9lb 10ozs, 57cm long. WOW!! Then she helps me to the shower while Miriam gets him changed and clean as he passes some meconium. Then back to the couch for a cuppa and something to eat, which Mum kindly gets for me. Maggie and Miriam leave it is now just before 5:00pm.
Another wonderful home birth that I will cherish, it was exactly how I wanted having a water birth. Thanks to Maggie for helping me to achieve this. Thanks to Miriam for your help and I hope this reinforces home birthing for you.
Thanks to my wonderful husband who like me thinks there is no other way to birth, but at home. We feel truly blessed to be able to have the birth we both wanted – once again in our home, surrounded by people we love.
I feel great after the birth and start to concentrate on breastfeeding, as with Tarantino I had some problems. Serrano decided to pull back and move from side to side when feeding and this grazed my nipples. The first week was a bit hard to get used to feeding again. It hurt and I felt a little discouraged, but I made sure he got on properly and then there were no more problems – wow what a relief!
Looking back at both of these births years on and after having had a transfer to hospital with my last birth. I feel lucky at the quality of care I received and how different the practices of the two midwives I have had. My first midwife was good but the second one was great and the difference being: first midwife “did home births’ while the second was a “home birth” midwife. Their philosophies were very different and looking back I wished I had known that, as I would have chosen a home birth midwife for my first birth.
My friend Lesley said of the midwife “she didn’t do much, apart from monitor baby and massage your back”. The midwife knew to let me birth my baby and help me do this by watching and encouraging that process, not by interfering and “monitoring” every 5 minutes. She listened to my noises and watched how I was birthing to see how close I was to birthing the baby. She trusted, like me in the process of birthing naturally without unnecessary intervention.
Ariana’s Birth Story
What a surprise to find out I was pregnant. After conference in Dunedin in July I had my suspicions and then in Invercargill waiting for my period to come, I knew it was not going to. My van broke down and instead of a week’s rest without my boys it was stress. I was missing them and they both had chicken pox while I was at conference. The thought of leaving my partner and our so very new relationship was hard enough; we didn’t know what we were going to do. Then to be pregnant WOW what a shock. My friend in Invercargill brought me a pregnancy test and when it was positive both of us said I was having a girl. Well we would have to wait to find that out.
I travelled back to Hamilton, stopped in at Dunedin overnight and stayed with Belinda, a midwife and ex co-ordinator for the WHBA. We talked and worked out when I was due, it got me excited to be on this wondrous journey that being pregnant brings. I left there at 9am, stopped at Christchurch for a break to see my sister. The further I got away from Mark the more scared I was for our future. I got to Wellington at 12 (midnight), fuelled up and went to Bulls and went for a coffee at a mates. I meant to crash there the night, but was too wired and wanting to see my boys. So I left and got to my parents place in Taumarunui just after 6am – 21 hours drive, with only a few hours sleep on the Lynx crossing the strait. After trying to sneak in and go to sleep I heard my boys just waking – I couldn’t wait to cuddle them and share my news.
After a few hours sleep, my thoughts turned to midwives. I rang Maggie from Taumarunui, as I wanted to be sure she was available. The pregnancy went well with no problems. Mark and I kept in contact by phone and email; he planned to visit for 2 weeks in October. This was stressful as I wanted him here to support me and to experience the pregnancy. Add to stress levels my van breaking down and not being fixed properly – but finally got sorted. Tarantino (my 7 year old) was throwing up from December for a whole month up to 6 times a day. Many tries at homeopathic treatment then three visits to the doctor and one to the hospital and no help, he stopped. This was hard with him throwing up in the night and not fully waking up. He would sit up – so I would rush in, sometimes it meant a shower and bed change.
YAY three months till my due date of March 21st. Mark moved up at Christmas and we adjusted to living as a family. During this time we talked about the birth – how different are our views, if it was up to Mark we would go to hospital, for me though having had two awesome homebirths there was no way I’d birth anywhere else. This was hard on us both our very different philosophies.
Sunday March 16th I got up late and vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen walls and oven and washed floors (my last thing I wanted done before baby came and strangely enough the same thing I had done before Tarantino was born!!). Then I rushed off to our Core Group WHBA meeting. I relaxed after that. Mark and I watched the movie, and then I headed to bed tired from the day. A few niggles though lead me to suspect I was not to sleep this night. 10 minutes apart I go back out to the lounge to Mark and ask him “Are you ready to have baby tonight?” he said “no” then asked was I serious…YIP I was.
We moved the couch and started setting up the birth pool. I rang my Mum and Dad and said I’d ring back in an hour, but I think you need to get ready to come. I rang back in ½ hour and it went to the answer phone – I kept trying and got frustrated. Got them 1ish and they are on their way. I had been going to the toilet frequently I went again and saw a small amount of blood. I also found I couldn’t stand or sit through the contractions as it was uncomfortable in my tummy. Which I knew was different to my previous labour pains. I rang Maggie and said I will ring in an hour, but that it looks like things are heating up so to speak. It is now 2am, by 2:30am there was more blood and the pain in my stomach didn’t feel normal. So I had to ask Mark to ring Maggie and told her to come now.
I decided since things were stepping up I’d get into the pool – the temp was too hot so Mark got buckets and filled it up. While he was filling one up outside, I needed him, I was kneeling on the couch leaning over the arm. I yelled at Mark to come – he didn’t hear me and I swore and yelled then cried. He came and held me saying he hadn‘t heard me, I told him not to leave me again. I tried the pool and the temp was fine. So I hopped in, Maggie came not long after 3am and checked baby’s heartbeat and all was fine, but we notice small blood clots in the pool. Maggie rings Sheryl (student midwife) and tells her to come and asks shall we ring Sonia (student midwife) and I said to wait until Sheryl arrives.
Also the pool hasn’t helped with the pain and I feel I can’t relax my stomach in between contractions. Mum and Dad arrive 3:30am and Mum says hi as she comes in, I yell at her to shut up swearing. I’m not coping with the pain as I have no break and I’m feeling scared. Maggie checks baby’s heartbeat, it is ok, but there are more clots. Maggie wants me out of the pool to check my stomach, which is very tight. There is a big clot when I hop out of the pool. I kneel by the pool during a contraction and I cry feeling scared, nervous and uncertain of how things will go. I’m feeling scared as I know this isn’t normal. Maggie explains we need to check this out with a scan and blood tests, to see whether it is my blood or baby’s, it could mean placenta previa. Maggie rings WWH to tell them we are on our way. Dad is here and will stay home since the boys are asleep.
I am lying on the couch and Mark is next to me, holding me, I tell him “It’s ok”. But I am not sure whether he needs the reassurance or that I do. Am I telling him or myself, I feel scared; this isn’t how it is supposed to be. Maggie gets the car ready, I hop in the back lying on Mark, Mum is in the front (she had got baby’s clothes from the hot water cylinder – yay). Maggie attempts to back out 6 times I keep thinking get me there this is hideous. A 5-minute drive that I’m sure took an hour; Maggie was explaining what it could be and what tests we needed. We arrive at the hospital at 4:20am and no-one was ready for us Maggie had to get a wheelchair then wheeled us to a room. I wanted out of the chair as it hurt to sit down, Maggie said no and quickly wheeled up to the room – then went and got the registrar, ON to the bed – this isn’t happening, I’m not here. On my back (hate this) scan reveals placenta isn’t’ in front of baby (YAY) and she does a VE (OUCH), I’m fully dilated. They insert a line in my left wrist – telling me to keep still, so I did and tell them to hurry up and just do it. ON my side and someone is messing with my back and I push there hand’s away. Sheryl arrives and Maggie tells me so I know.
Baby’s heartbeat is fine and I get asked if I want gas Maggie says “she’s a home birther if she wants something she’ll ask for it”. I think yeah don’t want gas; if I’m here I’d want the hard stuff. I actually said out loud “Don’t want gas” was kind of incensed at the offer really. Maggie tells me to turn over onto all fours – telling registrar and other midwife that’s how I birth. They keep trying to get baby’s heartbeat and can’t, so ask to put on a scalp electrode – Maggie whispers no, and then I say NO back to them. Then they look to Mark, wanting him to say yes. I tell Maggie I don’t want to be here, she says well push baby out and then we can go back home, push deep into my bum as I hadn’t been the last two pushes. I put my head into my nightie – tis like I’m in another place and I tell myself I can do this and I breathe (this feels like I have escaped for ages) then emerge focussed. The other midwife puts the pillows in front of me (making it easier to lean on), and I lean over them. Mark is right next to me, holding me. A good push, then I sit right up so the registrar can listen to baby’s heartbeat. Sheryl wipes my forehead ahhh bliss and I cuddle into Mark.
Someone (Maggie) has hot cloths on my perineum and I concentrate my pushing there – they feel sooo good. A few more pushes and Maggie tells me not to stop, baby is right there and then she is born. I pull her through my legs and up. Maggie helps – baby isn’t breathing, so Maggie tells me to blow on baby and talk. She suctions baby and baby coughs a little. I cuddle baby and want to turn around and lie back. I can’t wait to check the sex, I have a little girl, Mark is right there and I smile and tell him. I turn around the hospital midwife and registrar are gone, no congratulations, just gone. We wrap towels around baby against my body she is breathing fine. 4:20am she was born only 20 minutes after arriving at WWH!! But it seemed a lot longer that that! There is a bit of blood and I feel sticky and yuk, baby’s poo’s on me as well! Sheryl gets some cloth’s and wipes me a bit and we get a clean sheet under me. Maggie tells me baby was born in her caul and she had to break it. Hospital midwife pops in and comments how perfect her head is – Mark liked that.
We have a coffee and baby feeds. I rang Dad to say everything is fine and that we have a girl, and asked him not to tell the boys. The placenta comes 45 minutes later and Maggie catches it this time (with Serrano she missed and it landed on the floor). I laughed at this. Another coffee. I give baby to Mark after he cut the cord. We discuss how I was treated by registrar and Maggie goes to talk with her, she comes back and feels better about why she did VE etc. Mark gives baby to Mum and goes for smoke with Maggie. Sheryl goes over the placenta when he comes back. A lot of blood clots, but otherwise good. We talked with Maggie about why I bled and had stomach pain – “placental abruption” the placenta coming away caused the bleeding and pain. I go with Maggie to showers. Then we get baby and leave – Mum had gotten her dressed while I was in the shower.
We arrive at home at 6:30am and Dad and the boys rushed out to meet us, I tell them it’s a girl – which they already knew. They were always saying they were getting a sister, dad hadn’t told them it was a girl. They had huge smiles on their faces. We sit down and have coffee and biscuits. Dad comments that it is St Patrick’s Day March 17th. I ring Sonia and tell her, she will visit after dropping her son at school. Mark, Ariana Rhiannon Lynda De Estena-Kennedy and I go to bed. Sheryl takes a photo of us all and the boys. Sheryl and Maggie leave. I stay awake until Sonia comes, I’m feeling tired though….then I sleep.
What a journey. Not at all what I wanted and in so many ways I feel sadness at that. I am glad we transferred as there was a risk of placenta previa. The registrar said to Maggie that we could have stayed at home – great to say in hindsight. It was a good reason to transfer and that is what a hospital is for, to use extra equipment if it is required. Funny thing in my notes it says I had a “non-caesarean delivery” I kind of think they need to change the language they use there.
I’d like to thank Maggie for her strength, for her support and her voice. You are an amazing advocate for birthing women, giving them their voice in an environment where they easily lose all strength to ask for what they want. Thank you Sheryl for being a great support to Mark explaining what was happening to him and my Mum. To Mark I know a home birth wasn’t your choice, but I thank you for supporting me in my choice. You were amazing being there with me and for me. We created a perfect baby through our love, I thank you for that.
Edwards family stories
1. Alexander’s Birth – Induction
I’ll never forget waving goodbye to Paulette (Eric’s sister) and her children as they stood on our veranda just after 8am on 8 July 1999. It felt rather strange taking a sedate trip into hospital at a pre-determined time and day.
I was pleased to see our midwife, Raewyn, at the hospital and to find out that I was one centimetre dilated! I was then examined by Mr McLean (specialist) and his team. It felt odd to be in the hospital bed rather than in an O.T uniform with the rest of the team.
At 9am the hormonal gels were inserted to help speed up the dilation of the cervix. I was hooked up to the machine I was relieved to see that the niggling pain was indeed small but definite contractions. Things started to speed up after lunch so I had a soak in the bath. Then at about 2.15pm Raewyn hooked me up to the machine and confirmed that I was definitely in labour. By the time Eric had the water pool set up I was ready to get in and ease the increasing pain. Time passed quickly in the pool and before I knew it my body was wanting to ‘bear down’ and it was hard to resist that urge. I got out of the pool (as per the obstetric registrar’s instructions as there was concern about my low platelet count and potential for haemorrhage).
The next 1 1/2 hours of pushing with lots of encouragement from Raewyn and Eric weren’t quite enough to push our baby out. However, the mere mention of forceps was enough for me to give an extra push forward and with the aid of an episiotomy our son, Alexander Paul McKenzie EDWARDS was born at 7.16pm. We were amazed at the size of him, a hearty 9lb 10oz (4610 grams). After giving our hungry lad his first feed I then enjoyed watching Eric give Alex his first bath.
My thanks to a great support team of Raewyn and Eric.
Somehow we must have known that our second baby’s birth was close because on the 12th of March, the E.D.D (estimated date of delivery) I washed out all the baby clothes. They fluttered in the warm Southland breeze while Eric assembled the birth pool eagerly assisted by ‘big brother’, Alex (20 months). While this was happening Pamela, our midwife, arrived with a midwife who could cover for her the following weekend when Pamela was away.
That evening when Eric was in at work for several hours I began to get crampy feelings when going to bed around 10.15pm. I tried not to get too excited but could not sleep hoping that I was going into labour. By 1 am when Eric arrived home I was having mild and regular contractions about 10 minutes apart. Mild, yet enough to keep me awake. I dozed for an hour but was up for the rest of the time getting linen and other items ready for the birth. At about 4.30 am I had a small blood tinged mucus show. I was very excited! Then at 6 am I had a larger show. I left Eric sleeping until 7am when I woke him and we agreed to give Pamela a ring. Pamela said to let her know when the contractions got stronger. So we rang my sister, Robyn, who lived next door, and my mother who lived 30 minutes away. Mum said she’d come in at about 10 am and take Alex out to “the farm” with her for a holiday.
Eric filled the pool after breakfast then went for a snooze while Mum and I chatted for an hour or so. Around 11.20 am things started to hot up. I was getting sick of being inside and decided to go for a walk down the road with Eric but quickly changed my mind at the gateway when a was gripped by a stronger contraction. By 11.30 when I was doing some weeding in the garden I felt very pleased knowing that Pamela was due around noon. When she examined me I was rapt to learn than I was already 5 cm dilated (halfway!!!).
After lunch I got in the birth pool to carry on labouring. At this stage the contractions were not that intense. Pamela said that I might experience a forceful popping sensation when my waters broke and not long after this was exactly what happened. Soon after this I moved into a rapid transition period of pushing. Pamela and Eric were almost caught out at how quick it was before your head was crowning. I think it was four or five pushes before the head emerged then another two or three pushes before our baby slithered into the water. I turned onto my front and gave our baby boy his first cuddle while Eric cut the umbilical cord. Hamish didn’t make sound but just looked around intently at his surroundings.
Raewyn (our second midwife) made a mercy dash to her home several kilometres down the road to get a replacement for the Syntometrine (used to speed up expulsion of the placenta) lost in our fridge. I was amazed at how quickly I expelled the placenta after this drug was administered. Robyn arrived and said that she could look after our Singaporean friends who were due to arrive “some time after lunch” and stay for a night or so! Robyn was rather surprised to be able to give Hamish one of his first cuddles. Three quarters of an hour later I was sitting on the sofa in my dressing gown with our baby in my arms when our friends arrived. To their delight were able to hold a newborn babe before heading into Invercargill to find alternative accommodation! At 5.30pm I was tucked up in bed with Hamish’s bassinet beside me and Pamela went home to organize herself for her trip to Australia.
3. A Letter to Tesca
This is the story of your birth. Long before you were conceived your father, Eric, had a name in waiting. Tesca, the name of a small alpine plant -meaning wild place.
A week late and I’d done all the jobs I’d wanted to do, the birth pool was gathering dust in the garage, I had even bought a big pile of videos and tried to think of things other than “when was this baby boy or girl going to arrive?” Saturday (23 August) and Mum-to-be was grumpy and needed to get out of the house. So I packed a picnic lunch and Dad plus two sons grabbed coats and gumboots for a ‘wee stroll’ up Forest Hill (a local walking track). Our ‘wee stroll’ to the summit lookout and back lasted over 2 hours with Hamish (nearly 2 ½ ) and Alex (4 years old) setting the pace.
As we pulled in the drive at home we saw my sister, Robyn, and I commented that if that walk didn’t put me into labour then nothing would! I went and had a hot bath and lay down for a while. It wasn’t until I got up at 5.30pm that I started having cramping sensations. So I sent Eric and the boys off to get fish and chips. Eric finally detected my state as we were picnicking on the floor. Eric said “are you okay?” I said “no, let’s get the kids into bed A.S.A.P and get the P-O-O-L up “. The boys suspected nothing and went to bed happily after a few stories.
Eric’s next job was to fill the birth pool while we both timed the contractions. I was a bit thrown by the fact that I was getting my labour pains in the front of my thighs and having pressure on my lower bowel. So when I rang Raewyn (our midwife for the weekend) for the second time my contractions were only two minutes apart. Maree (student midwife) and Raewyn raced around immediately.
Raewyn hadn’t been in the door for more than a couple of minutes when my waters broke. From then on things went very quickly. Raewyn forgot the paperwork and checked the baby’s heart beat which was strong. I barely made it into the pool before I was pushing. And I couldn’t believe it but I’d just started pushing and the baby’s head was already crowning. I didn’t realise it at the time but the cord was wrapped twice around its neck. But it was only another push and our baby was born. Several weeks before your birth a friend had prayed for a safe delivery and that the umbilical cord would not be a problem. Already God had his hand upon you little Tesca.
As Raewyn lifted our baby out of the pool I was amazed to discover that we had a wee girl. Tesca was born at 9.21 p.m. Initially she was a bit stunned from the delivery but recovered quickly and tested her lungs! Already she showed strength in holding her head up.
A few minutes later we woke up big brothers, Alex and Hamish, so they could meet their wee sister and see Dad cut the cord “with a really big pair of scissors” (as Alex said!). After I delivered the placenta I gave Tesca her first feed and she latched on straight away for a big drink. In the glow of the fire and with the midwives composing medical poetry at our kitchen table. We rang our family to tell them the good news and your Auntie Robyn came over from next door to meet wee Tesca.
Then we all had a hot drink and biscuits. By midnight we were all tucked up in bed our new family of five. And Tesca you slept on your fathers chest like a wee possum (or not so wee at 8lb 13oz!). The next morning I woke with a smile on my face thinking ‘I have a daughter.’
Thank you to my absolutely fantastic support team of Eric, Raewyn, Maree, Auntie Robyn,our family and of course Pamela, my midwife but for a weekend when it all happened (sorry about the surprise, Pam, it just shows what a walk up Forest Hill can do!)
Hales Family stories
1. A Blessed and Sacred Birth
On Sunday evening just after 6pm on the 4th September 2005 as I sat outside with Daniel and our friend Steve who was staying the weekend, I felt a “show” and knew that baby would soon be on its way. It came as a surprise, even though I had known it could be any time, (it was only a few days before the due date) and I felt a funny sense of nervousness. I wanted to be alone with Daniel to share the news so I waited until we went to bed and I whispered to him that labour was likely to begin anytime. He hardly seemed phased and suggested I get some sleep.
I hardly slept. Around 10:30pm I started to feel what I thought were contractions and I soon woke Daniel. I started getting very excited and we got up to prepare some last minute things. We also woke Steve who helped with a few things. Daniel had a broken leg, which was still in a cast, so Steve’s presence and help was much appreciated.
Around 2am our midwife Anneke arrived. She found I was 3cms dilated and knowing it still could be some time, Steve set up a mattress so she could sleep in another room rather than go home to sleep. I found it reassuring that she was in the house for when we needed her, but that she didn’t need to be with us the whole time.
I rested on the bed between contractions and got up on my knees and leant on Daniel or went on all fours. At first I didn’t want to invite any of the people we’d planned to be with us for the labour and birth, I felt happier alone with Daniel. However during a heavier contraction, I suddenly had the desire to have some toning (people singing single tones to help the process). Daniel tried calling Sonya and Katrina many times but couldn’t get through to them until around 8am the next morning. He also called my mother who came around a short time later, while I was in the bath (which I felt the need for as contractions intensified a bit more). As I sat in the bath, feeling soothed by the water, Daniel and my mother toned through each contraction, adding a peaceful touch.
After an hour and a half I’d had enough in the bath and continued labouring on the bed. The atmosphere was very beautiful as the room was decorated with large bunches of flowers and lit with several candles and a soft lamp. Added to this was the gentle sound of the toning. When Sonya and Katrina arrived, the space was even more beautiful as their voices and Katrina’s lyre playing joined the chorus. I experienced some very blissful moments as I rested on my bed and the lyre playing continued. Everyone was focused on the process of birthing baby and there was no distractive chatter. Daniel was a tremendous support. He was with me at every moment, hopping on his good leg with me on every trip to the toilet (where I always had a contraction) and back to the bedroom. I was able to move and flow freely as I pictured the energy flowing and opening up my body for the birth.
Just before 9am I felt the desire to get up and I squatted on the floor at the end of the bed. Daniel supported me on one side and my mother on the other side. Anneke coached me as I began pushing. The waters broke during a push and poured with a gush onto the floor. I found it really hard to push and was never really sure when I was meant to. I felt the dichotomy of wanting to get the baby out but not wanting to push because it increased the pain as the baby stretched my tissues. I made a lot of fuss and even reverted to sucking my thumb and fingers a few times – quite comforting I found, no wonder babies do it!! With much encouragement from those around me (there were now nine people as Steve had joined the circle as well as the back up midwife and a student midwife), I grunted and pushed with all my strength. When the baby’s head crowned, I reached my hand down and touched it. It felt so soft and squashy I pulled my hand away so I wouldn’t damage it!! After a few more long, hard pushes the head was out. There was a little bit of action below which I later found out, was Anneke moving the cord from around baby’s neck. Daniel had moved into position to catch baby, while Sonya supported me. Another push and the rest of baby’s body was out. What a relief for me!! It was 9:43am. The baby screamed and was handed to me. At first the baby felt so slimy and floppy to me, it hardly seemed human. I put the baby on my breast. She kept screaming, which was not what I’d expected. I was amazed that this little being who had grown inside me was finally out. I felt tears of joy and relief as Daniel and I looked at our little girl. Her name came to me the moment we saw she was a girl. “Hello Susan” I said (we’d purposely not thought of names before the birth).
I remembered the placenta was still to come and I handed Suzie to Daniel. “Oh no, I have to push again” I said as I braced myself with the support of two people once again. Prepared for another hard slog, I pushed so hard it slithered out immediately!!
I went to the bed and Anneke found I had a two centimetre tear, which I opted not to have stitched. Daniel and Susan joined me in bed and she kept screaming as I put her to the breast. It was a bit disheartening having a screaming baby, but when she stopped it was wonderful to see and feel her in bed with us.
We left the cord attached to her and put the placenta beside her on some sticks in a bowl to drain. It took 8 ½ days until the cord finally popped off. We’d sprinkled it regularly with rosemary to keep it well so it didn’t get too smelly. It was special to allow the placenta to come away in its own time and give healthful benefits to Suzie. Suzie stayed on the bed most of the first eight days, and it gave Daniel and I lots of time to enjoy her, without visitors picking her up.
What wonderful experience it was to have Susan’s birth at home in the sacred atmosphere we created and a blessing for Susan to begin life on earth.
2. George’s Birth Story
Our baby was conceived in a yurt. The pregnancy went well aside from the tiredness of early pregnancy and a little morning sickness. We lived in our yurt for most of the pregnancy but moved into a house two months before baby was due.
It was the end of November and we’d been for a trip to the beach on Saturday. All through Saturday night I was up and down to the toilet. Already before I went to bed, I had noticed I had a lot of runny mucous. I wondered if this was a sign that labour was almost there. “I’ll call Molly (my midwife) tomorrow and ask her” I thought. There was no need however as at 5am there was blood in the mucous. “The show” I thought. I had already felt a few tightenings but wasn’t sure if they were the real thing.
Now I was sure labour had begun. Quickly the tightenings became more intense. I could not lie in bed through them, I had to go to the toilet. About an hour later Daniel stirred and I told him labour had begun. “You can stay in bed with Susie (3 years)” I said.
Five or ten minutes later Daniel was up. He set to tidying the kitchen and making space for the pool. He brought the pool in which was already pumped up and wet from the dew. I tried to help with the dishes and sweeping however with tightenings coming every few minutes, I couldn’t do much. I started calling Daniel to support me through each one. I leaned into him and made low toning sounds.
When Susie woke up alone in our bed, she came out to see the pool being filled. She held the hose. There were pots of water on the stove heating up.
At 6:55am I called Molly to tell her I was in labour. She listened through one contraction and said she thought the birth was only a few hours away. I was relieved to hear that. I had thought it would go fast, especially as the tightenings were so strong from the beginning. However I had not wanted to get my hopes up in case it could go on all day. Molly asked if I wanted her to come yet and I said I wasn’t sure. She said she’d have breakfast then call back. She also suggested I call my friend Insa to collect Susie.
Tightenings continued and got a little stronger. When Insa arrived I was very pleased. It was probably around 7:20 or so. She gave me a hug. I felt pretty weary at that point. I can’t quite describe the feeling except for “blah”. Another contraction came on and following that one I asked Insa if she and Susie could feed the chickens. As they headed out I had another strong contraction. I was in the hallway and called out to Daniel to come – as I did for most contractions. This one was different though. I could feel the head bulging. “It’s coming, the baby is coming” I said. “Where’s Molly?” I asked. Daniel called Molly after that one.
I went to the pool which was only one third full. I stepped in but it was too hot so I stood through the next pushing contraction. Daniel added more cold water and then I dared to sit down in it. I didn’t experience any pain relief, but then I was already in the final stages.
Susie and Insa came in while I was in the midst of the next pushing contraction. I didn’t want Susie around seeing me like this anymore so I waved them out. A few seconds later the contraction was over and I realised that it was not nice for Susie that I hadn’t said goodbye, so Daniel called them back in. Susie came to the pool and gave me a kiss, then off they went, Susie on the back of Insa’s bike.
Daniel was in the pool with me and as the next contraction came I said “Oh no, I’m going to do a poo” Then I said “No I’m not, its the baby’s head” as the head popped out. I was very surprised and relieved all at once. I hadn’t consciously pushed, my body had done it anyway. I had felt the head bulging but was scared of the pain, remembering my last birth. Well the head was out now and I was so pleased. As we waited for the next contraction I had a little concern for the baby with its head out and under water. I knew it was probably fine but I still asked Daniel if it was okay. It seemed like a long time but finally another contraction came. This time I consciously gave a big push and the body slid out into Daniels hands.
The baby was out!! Daniel laid him on my lower belly with only his head out of the water. I held him there for several minutes in awe and feeling so happy. We bathed in the beauty of this special time. Molly arrived as we were admiring our wee treasure. She calmly took her place beside the pool. Soon she suggested we lift him up so he could find the breast and feed. She brought a towel and I picked the baby up. It was at this point we saw the baby was a boy. “Its a boy” I said.
I placed him above my breasts and supported him as he gradually worked his way down to find a nipple. I gave him a little bit of guidance but mainly let him move himself. He did find the nipple and latch on at 8:30am. He was born at 7:47am.
While our boy was looking for the nipple, Daniel said one of his names was “Prophecy. This had come from a dream a few days before in which he was with a boy called “Prophecy” who he watched grow up. When Daniel said the name, my first thought was “not as a first name”. My head started racing with names “George, Peter” then I stopped and let it go, trusting the right name would come. The name George kept coming back to me so finally I said “I think his name is George” Daniel then told us that after the dream, the name George had also come to him.
The contractions to get the placenta out were getting more painful. Molly said that it had probably detached and it might help if I squatted or stood. I tried first squatting then standing. Still no placenta so we went to the toilet and with a little pull and push from me, out it came into a colander. By this time it was 9am. We left the cord attached to George – a lotus birth – and allowed it to come off in its own time. After four days Daniel cut it off as his belly button was poking out and the dry cord was rubbing and irritating it. The stump fell off the following night.
After birthing the placenta we went to the lounge and George and I settled down on the couch where he fed again and fell asleep. Daniel made some toast and Molly made me a lemon and honey drink.
The rest of the day was very relaxed as we lay on a mattress in the lounge enjoying our wee boy. Susan came home with Insa and Sharda (her daughter) about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Susie had a huge smile when she saw “the baby”. She just looked for a while in amazement.
George Prophecy weighed 8lb 4oz, a big baby after my first (6lb 9oz). A quick home birth and a beautiful baby. This was a wonderful start for his life and a joy for us.
3. Our Yurt Baby, Peter
This story begins at the circus. Late in May in a circus house truck our baby was conceived. Daniel is a circus performer and we were in Hamilton for the last stand of the season. After the circus season was over we had a few weeks deciding what to do next before we headed to Tauranga in the circus house truck. It was while we were parked up in the country on someone’s land with only a rickety toilet and no bathroom that we realised that our third baby was on the way. At the same time Daniel was drawing up the plans for our new home – a yurt, which is a Mongolian round house with a wood framework, wool insulation and canvas skin. We had lived in a yurt in Christchurch and had found it the warmest and most beautiful space to live. I called a homebirth midwife but was too sick to go and see her so she came to our house truck. I felt immediately happy with Vicki so did not feel the need to meet any other midwives. The nausea was the worst I’d experienced, I was virtually bedridden. I was very grateful Daniel was around to look after the children and I, while also working on our yurt home. We moved to another piece of land just around the corner where we had a bathroom, laundry and kitchen and a big shed for Daniel to build the yurt in. During this time when I spent most of my time in bed, I picked up my guitar and played a lot. It lifted my spirits and I wrote a song for baby.
Little star in the sky, come down to earth
We will love you and cuddle you and share your joy.
You will love life on earth, with so much to learn
Wondrous sights and sounds, taste, touch and smells.
You will lead a grand life, down here on earth
Attracting the best, light love, and joy.
By the end of the first trimester my nausea was gone and I could enjoy the pregnancy.
Just before Christmas we found out we needed to leave the place where we were living. We looked at where to go. We considered moving away from Tauranga to Coromandel or Rotorua before settling on New Plymouth where we could live at Daniel’s mother’s (Raewyn) house and put the yurt (which by then was complete) up on a terrace above her house. I was happy we would be able to have our yurt to birth in, as I had dreamed of this all pregnancy, however I was very sad to leave my midwife behind. I tried to hold the picture in my mind that I would find a midwife who could live up to Vicki.
When we arrived in Taranaki (3½ weeks before baby’s due date) I rang around nearly all the midwives in New Plymouth and some from further away. Most were full and the few that weren’t just didn’t feel right for me. I felt so tempted to run away back to Tauranga (a friend had offered we could stay at her house) where I would have Vicki. I considered an unassisted birth, but in my last round of calls I finally found Sharon who was based in Stratford. From when I first talked to her, I knew she was the right person for me. So with baby’s due date less than two weeks away I finally felt settled and ready to give birth (still had to wait for the yurt to go up though) I no longer felt tempted to go back to Tauranga.
Wednesday (due date was the following Tuesday) the yurt was up and Thursday the furniture was in, Saturday I unpacked and finished washing baby clothes (I’d been waiting to sort the baby clothes all pregnancy till we got the yurt up as they were packed in various boxes!). On Saturday afternoon we went to the beach. While there, I remembered that on the Saturday before George’s birth we had also been to the beach and he was born the next day. Both my previous baby’s had been born two days before their due dates so I had for a while been expecting the same this time – which would be Sunday. So at the beach I suddenly felt the resemblance and felt that “tomorrow will be the day”. When we got home from the beach, I got all the last bits and pieces ready for the birth and started some bread rising. I went to bed waiting for something to happen.
In the early hours of the next morning I woke and felt a light contraction. They came every now and then for a while. Finally at 6:30am I got up to go down to the house. Before I got out of the yurt, I heard a trip, trip of little feet and Susie (5 ½) came to see me. More trip, trips followed and George (2 ¼) was up too. So Daniel got up and we all headed to the house. When I went to the toilet I saw that I did have a little bit of a show so that confirmed for me that this was indeed the real thing. George’s birth had been very quick and my midwife had missed the birth, so I expected it to be quick again. I called Sharon (who lives 45 mins away) and told her labour had started but was slow, she said she would have breakfast and get ready before calling me back. Soon after Daniel called his sister Nicki who was coming to look after Susie and George. She arrived with her three children and we had a bustling household!! Contractions were light and spread apart. I had a few things I wanted to do like finish baking bread and a few other bits and pieces, which is probably why labour was slow. About 10am Nicki and Raewyn took all the children to the market (with the list I had written out the night before in case I couldn’t go!).
Ah peace. Daniel and I headed to the yurt and could get on with labour alone. It was hot in the yurt so we stripped off. We started loving, kissing, massaging and cuddling. It was an exciting and special time. It also brought on the contractions faster. Now I felt like it could go very fast. Soon I thought I better call Sharon and ask her to come.
Then I became distracted, I had heard a message from my sister’s au pair that morning (she’d left it the night before) and it seemed odd – I wondered if something was up, but as they were a few hours behind I hadn’t called back yet. Now I felt I needed to try to find her number and call but I only got an answer phone. Later I got a text saying the au pair was looking for accommodation in Christchurch and wondered if I could help!
We went back to the yurt and then Sharon arrived. Contractions had slowed down again. Sharon listened to baby’s heart rate with the fetoscope, a bit of a challenge on a slippery oily, belly!! All was well so we all went to the house and enjoyed fresh bread for lunch. By now the others were all back. With light contractions only every 15 mins or so, Sharon left, but was going to stay close by for when we needed her. Daniel lay down with George for his nap and I did some digging in the garden to help things along. That did bring on more contractions but it was also hot work in the sun so I went in for a cold wash and then a rest. I wasn’t really into resting – just wanted to get on with it. When George woke up we took him down to the house with the others.
Daniel and I came back to our yurt haven alone around 3:30pm. Contractions were increasing in frequency and strength now. Daniel massaged me and I used all sorts of positions including hanging off Daniel’s circus straps which hung from the centre of the yurt, leaning over the bed, hanging off Daniel, arms up, rocking, moving… I enjoyed the freedom of adopting any position. Around 4pm Sharon called to see how things were going. Daniel said he thought contractions were 10 – 12 mins apart, so Sharon said she would meet her daughter for a drink at the airport as it sounded like I still had a while to go. When he checked the watch it was 8 mins since the last one. An hour later I asked Daniel how long ago was it since Sharon called. I thought good – at least she has had some time with her daughter and might come soon.
Very soon I asked Daniel to tell Sharon to come as the contractions were feeling intense. He texted “No rush but contractions 3 – 6 mins apart” (I read that only later and had to laugh because to me it was urgent by then). She replied that she’d be there in 10 – 15 mins. Yeah!! I had thoughts at this time that I didn’t want labout to go too fast as I really wanted Sharon to be there. Soon I got on my hands and knees beside the bed and in a very strong contraction there was a pop and out gushed my waters. That was very exciting for me – I’d never experienced it like that before. When Sharon walked in the door a minute later I was all bubbly and excitedly told her of my waters breaking. A couple of minutes later I was on my hands and knees pushing. Daniel was behind me and Sharon was on hands and knees in front. I nuzzled into her and told her several times how glad I was she was here as I pushed and screamed mighty loud until the head popped out. I felt with my hand as it was coming. I was relieved the intense pain of the head coming out was short lived. I waited a few minutes for the next contraction then began another mighty push, again screaming very loud (which I hadn’t done with my other births). I thought of the poor baby’s ears, but Sharon reassured me it would be ok. When baby slithered out Sharon said to Daniel who had caught baby to “pass him through Hannah’s legs”. I was relieved he was out and ecstatic as I held our wee grey-blue baby. As I held him to my chest Sharon put a towel over him and gave him a little rub to encourage him to breathe. A few names flashed through my head and Peter kept recurring so I said his name was Peter (we had purposely given no thought to names before birth and trusted the name would come). Peter kept his eyes closed as I cuddled and enjoyed these precious first minutes with him. Soon Sharon asked if we had seen if baby was a boy or girl – neither of us had nor had she, we’d all just assumed that!! We had a look and sure enough, baby was still our boy Peter!!
I sat on the bed with Peter and let him find his way to the breast. He suckled well. By now Andrea the second midwife was here too (Sharon had only been able to call after Peter was born!!) About 1 ¾ hrs after the birth, while holding Peter, I got up onto the makeshift toilet (a birth stool with a bucket under it) to birth the placenta. One push and it was out. Daniel then put it into a bowl with sticks so it could drain and laid it beside Peter and I on the bed. No need to cut the cord, we would wait till it came off at Peter’s belly button (this is called a Lotus birth). Peter lived on our bed with his placenta in a bowl beside him for nearly 5 days when he kicked it off. This gave him a peaceful entry into the world with only Daniel and I holding him till day 6. Daniel salted the placenta the next day and again the following. The salt helped it dry out and prevented it from rotting.
About 2 hours after the birth Daniel went to the house to get some food for us and invite everyone up. Into the yurt came three of Peter’s cousins, his sister, brother, aunty and grandmother, followed soon after by his grandfather and step-grandmother. George came straight up and gave Peter a very gentle stroke on the head, Susie stood looking and smiling from a distance. It was a beautiful time lying and cuddling Peter while he fed and slept and everyone admired him. Before dark everyone left and we settled in for our first night together.
So our 8lb 3oz baby was born at 5:47pm on Sunday 20th Feb in our beautiful yurt that grew as he did. It is now 3 weeks since his birth and he has not left the yurt. It is a lovely space for him to arrive into and be, as he slowly accustoms himself to life on earth. I have changed the first line of baby’s song and sing it to him often.
Little Peter my boy, welcome to earth
We will love you and cuddle you and share your joy.
You will love life on earth, with so much to learn
Wondrous sights and sounds, taste, touch and smells.
You will lead a grand life, down here on earth
Attracting the best, light love, and joy.
My memory of Jessica’s birth is a little faded after so many years, so please excuse it being a little ‘basic’. I had an awful time when I had been giving birth to Sean that dragged on for nearly three days, so decided that perhaps a homebirth would be a better second-time-around.
On Friday 25th March we picked up the video camera to film the birth and I said to my husband Stephen that we had better get it out and make sure we knew how to use it etc just in case I went into labour that night. We went to bed and I was convinced that if we made love I would go into labour. Afterwards I lay there with my bum on pillows trying to keep everything in there! I had a few contractions straight away and thought that I had better get some sleep just in case something was happening. I went straight to sleep but woke at 1.20am with a contraction, it was strong enough to get me out of bed and walk around. They were coming every 6-7 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds.
I waited an hour and rang our midwife Fiona. She told me to go and have a bath and see if the contractions stopped. First I rang my mum and dad to let them know that I thought I was in labour (mum was 5 hours away) then off I went. Shortly after getting in the bath the contractions intensified. I stayed there for a while but they were getting so strong that I thought I better get out because I was afraid she was going to be born in there! I had to wake Stephen to help me out, he was very unimpressed! He had just worked 12 days straight and really wanted to sleep, so getting woken at 3am wasn’t his idea of fun.
I rang Fiona back and asked her to come soon. I also rang my mum and dad as they had been sitting there having a cup of tea, my mum eagerly anticipating the birth and had her bag packed and ready to go.
Fiona arrived at 4.30am and the VE showed I was about 6cm dilated. I was pretty happy with that as I was coping really well with the contractions. Fiona suggested I watch the video of Sean when he was little to see if that would get things moving, so we sat there watching him for a while. The contractions continued and after another hour I started rocking with them while I was leaning on Stephen. By this stage I couldn’t talk through them, which pleased Fiona as she knew that meant the birth was a lot closer.
At 7.30am she did another VE and I was 8cm. She offered me an ARM ( artificial rupture of the membranes/ ‘breaking the waters’) to get the job done, which she did at 7.45am. What a lovely feeling it is to have that warm water running out of you! By 8.45am I was on the floor leaning over pillows on the couch and rocking with each contraction, they were strong and I was getting a little fretful and noisy but I don’t remember ever feeling out of control with them. At 9.10am I started pushing, the contractions got very strong at this point and I can distinctly remember yelling “I can’t do it, please don’t make me do it!’ Fiona told me to hold the noise in and use that for pushing, which I did and at 9.28am she arrived. She was passed to me through my legs and wow what a feeling that was to finally see her!
I was suddenly very uncomfortable and insisted on turning around, but what an effort this was! Watching Jessica’s birth on video still makes me laugh at how I looked attempting to do this! Jessica’s cord was very short and I could feel it pulling. Eventually I got myself settled and sat holding her while I tried to deliver the placenta, with Fiona pulling and me pushing like mad it eventually came out about 30 minutes after she was born. I was upset that mum hadn’t arrived yet but finally just after the placenta came out she arrived at the door to see her beautiful granddaughter.She came straight over to me, where I was still sitting on the floor having a nice hot milo and gave me a kiss and told me she was perfect. My mum died just over two years later and this is one of the memories that so often comes to mind when I think of her and that look of pure joy she had on her face.
Sean had arrived 10 days late, but with Jess coming 5 days early I was certain that Aria would arrive before her due date as well, especially as her head was fully engaged at 35 weeks. Alas, she had other ideas, so when I was 40 weeks and 6 days, I had an appointment to see Lyn my midwife and she duly ‘swept’ me. Then away we went to wait for labour to begin. I was absolutely certain that it would work. So when I had a show the next day on Saturday I was pretty confident. But Saturday went, Sunday came, Sunday went and Monday came and nearly went before it began. I felt a little strange that afternoon, and had gone to bed to try and have a sleep when Sean and Jess were home from school, but couldn’t as I was having a few contractions that I told myself were Braxton hicks, even though they felt different. I had joked for weeks that I wondered if I would recognise labour when it began because I had been having so many braxton hicks.
We had dinner and Sean and I went to the supermarket and I had a few stronger contractions while we were there, but that was nothing new. I told my friend Aimee as we left that if I was not in to do my shopping the next day that it would be because I had had her. I never really thought that that would actually be the case, but at the same time I knew it was about to happen. Strange thoughts!
We got home from the supermarket and as the kids were going to bed I had my first proper contraction. Jessica asked me if I was going into labour but I snapped at her and told her of course not and to get to bed! For the next few hours I timed them and they were coming about every six or seven minutes, by the time I was watching Nip Tuck I was having to get up as it was too painful to assume my normal horizontal position on the couch. By now I was sure that this was it and began to get excited. But at the same time I was very very scared and was trying really hard to keep calm. Drew and I made sure that Aria’s room was all ready for her arrival and tidied up the lounge.
I ran Lyn at 12.45am and told her that I thought I was in labour, but when she arrived at 1.10am she wasn’t convinced, she didn’t think my contractions were anywhere near strong enough, and upon checking me out I wasn’t yet fully effaced and only 3cm dilated. I was hugely peeved and wanted to cry, even though my contractions weren’t that strong I had been having them for hours (since about 3pm I realised afterwards). She did another stretch and sweep to see if that would get things moving. She then went home and told us to ring her when the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and lasting a minute (long and strong as she put it). She said that it might be hours before that happened, if at all, and that she thought she would probably be seeing me for another sweep at my appointment later that morning. My thoughts at the time were ‘You have GOT to be kidding. Stupid woman, what would you know, I WILL be ringing you back soon!’ She left just before 2am and at 2.30 I went to have a bath to see if that helped as when I was in early labour with Jessica that really helped my contractions to strengthen.
Almost straight away the contractions got stronger, it seemed to me that it happened really fast, I can’t even completely remember. I do remember asking Drew every time a contraction began how long since the last one and then demanding to know how long each was lasting. He told me afterwards that he just told me what I wanted to hear, but he didn’t have much of an idea as each time he would forget when the last one had finished! A couple of times he asked me if he should ring Lyn, but I told him to wait as I didn’t want to get her out of bed again until I had to, he was doing an amazing job of keeping me going. I don’t think he realised that just being there and encouraging me through each contraction helped. I lost all concept of time and in what seemed a very short time the contractions seemed to be coming so intensely that it was just one big contraction that peaked. I didn’t feel as if I was coping very well at all, the contractions were far more intense than I had experienced with either Sean or Jessica and I was beginning to not be able to breathe through them. Jessica had woken up with all the commotion of Drew running backwards and forwards from the kitchen with jugs of boiling water because I needed the bath really hot, so then she was running as well, I hated her seeing me in pain and asked her to go back to bed, it had been planned that she would be there for my labour and birth but I had warned her that I thought I wouldn’t want her there because I usually like to be alone when I am in pain.
Just after 4am Drew rang Lyn back and she arrived again at 4.25am. I was still in the bath and at 4.40am I had a huge contraction and felt something pop, I honestly thought that Aria’s head had exploded! As stupid as that sounds now, it was what I thought had happened! I had had my waters broken with both Sean and Jessica, so I had no idea what it felt like to have them break spontaneously. Lyn assured me that all was well and that it was just my waters breaking. All I was thinking that now, my contractions were going to intensify even more and I wasn’t sure that I could cope with that.
Lyn suggested I get out of the bath while I still could! She would have let me deliver here there but there wasn’t enough room, so I got out of the bath and got on my knees, leaning over pillows on the couch, rocking and swaying with each contraction. At 4.50am Lyn did a VE and informed me I was now 7cm dilated. Another HUGE disappointment, I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t fully dilated yet. I was having a contraction every 2-3 minutes. By 5.20am I was having 4 every 10 minutes and they were so intense I wondered how I was going to get through one more contraction, let alone many more! I remember sobbing when each one started because I really didn’t think I could do it anymore and I felt like I was screaming with every single one.
Sensing that I was in transition, at 5.55am Lyn did another VE and told me I was fully dilated but the urge to push wasn’t there, I felt totally out of control and the pain was almost unbearable. It is the most awful feeling to know that you have to do it yourself and that there is nothing that is going to help. I heard myself saying that I couldn’t do it anymore and begging Drew to make the pain stop, I was crying but no tears would come out. At 6am I got up to wee and then got into a supported squatting position with Drew behind me. At 6.05 am the back-up midwife Robyn arrived, she simply came inside, sat beside me and held my hand. I was worried about not wanting to push and at 6.20 Lyn told me to have a push and see how it felt, which I did but it hurt so much that I stopped! I really, really didn’t think that I could do it, but I kept telling myself that I had to, and I knew that the harder and stronger I pushed the sooner this would all be over. Just a few pushes later at 6.25am she was born. The entire time I was pushing I was asking Lyn if she could see her head, and when she could I was asking her if she was coming out. Even as her head was coming out I was still trying to get my head around that fact that I was having a baby, I still couldn’t believe it.
Lyn giving her to me was THE most amazing, exhilarating feeling that I have ever had. All at once it sunk in that it was real, she was really here!
As soon as she was born, Jessica came in. She said she had been waiting at the door and guessed when she had been born. Drew went and got Sean. He thought that “she was ugly, but oh, she’s here”. Now he thinks that she is the most beautiful thing that he has ever seen. She was very swollen and bruised (she had been grinding her head on my cervix for weeks) but I still thought that she was absolutely gorgeous and fell completely and utterly in love with her. I had been worried that I wouldn’t love her when she was born; I knew that I would, but I still worried! *more stupid thoughts* I needn’t have worried. She was weighed and dressed at 7am, all 3995gm of her – 8lb 12oz.
I was very uncomfortable and Lyn was telling me that I would feel better when the placenta came out, but getting it out was another story. Aria was put to my breast at 6.50am to try aid the delivery of the placenta, but it still took another half an hour before it finally did. It had been stuck behind my cervix, and it took a lot of pushing and pulling to get it out. We had agreed that Lyn would only give me syntometrine if she really thought I needed it, but she was not concerned at all.
As the weeks have rolled by the feelings have become stronger and stronger, and now my love for her is overflowing and at times quite overwhelming. I can’t even put into words how she makes me feel. Drew was so worried about me having her at home and really hated seeing me go through that but he has now become a complete homebirth convert and thinks everyone should have one! He raved about it for weeks afterwards to everybody!
Watt Family Birth Stories
1. Luis’s Birth Story
Paul and I had decided to start trying for our first child. First month unsuccessful, oh well not to worry, it was only early days. Three days before my next period was due I just knew I was pregnant. It was the weekend and Paul was at his mates place working on the sprint car, I just had to do the test then and there – positive. Well, talk about elation. I couldn’t wait for him to come home so I went to him, armed with the tester. As I walked up the driveway Paul came out to see me, all I could do was hand him the tester and through my tears mutter that we were pregnant. Now the nine month wait.
It all started just as the clock ticked into Friday 30th July. I went to the loo at least half a dozen times by 1.30am, while Paul carried on sleeping. I had been to yoga on the Thursday night and stopped to get Nasi Goreng for tea on the way home, hence I wasn’t sure if it was that that was sending me to the loo or the start of labour. But by 1.30am I had decided that it had to be labour, and it was now that Paul woke, wondering where I was and what I was up to. I told him that I thought it was time and he was up and straight out of bed – “why didn’t you wake me sooner?” was his response. Off to the lounge we went to bide our time watching the telly and enjoying the warmth of the fire. Paul’s mission was to keep count of the contractions, which were well and truly here now.
At 2.00am and the contractions were ten minutes apart. As we didn’t really know what to do, after much deliberation, we thought it time to call Hannah (our midwife) for some advice. She told us to leave it for another four to five hours and then see how things were progressing. It was our intention to call her and Paul’s sister (our support person) with an update.
We had discussed all our options for the birth, and although a home birth did sound very appealing we had decided that we would have our baby at Waikato Hospital, since it was our first and we were so uncertain as to what we were going to go through. We wanted to stay at home for as long as possible and thought we would pack the bag in early stages, using this as a distraction from the contractions. So off I went to the bedroom to start packing. Every time I had a contraction I would call out to Paul so he could record it and every time it did happen onto the bed I would jump, on all fours swaying. The pain of the initial contractions were quite intense, but I think it was once the endorphins had kicked in that the pain became more bearable. I can remember saying to Paul not long after I started packing “get me to the hospital, I want some pain killers”. Thank goodness for those endorphins as I was so determined that I could do this naturally. The bag packing was progressing very slowly, but the contractions progressing very quickly. In the end Paul came in to help me pack. We had lost track of the contractions but they seemed to be coming thick and fast and when I checked them on the alarm clock I was shocked to see that they were only two minutes apart and it was only 4.00am, two hours since we had first called Hannah.
It was about now that I informed Paul that I was not moving. All I could think about was how the hell was I supposed to travel in a car while I was in such pain, forget it, home seemed the perfect place to be. Paul checked if I wanted a bath or a shower or anything else, no way was I moving from that bed, I was there to stay.
It was time to phone Hannah again, especially when I told Paul I wanted to push. He was fast on the phone, to both Hannah and Marie to get here quickly. Hannah arrived about 20 minutes later and Marie about 5.30am. Luckily she got here, apparently she had one scary moment as she sped from Tarawera, slowed her down a bit.
When Hannah arrived I was on the bed with Paul rubbing my back. I told Hannah that I was not moving, so off to her car she went to grab her homebirth kit. Thank goodness she had it aye. It was about 6.15am when the urge to push really started and there was no stopping that urge. Hannah suggested the bean bag, which was an awesome item to have with the birth. I was on one side and Marie on the other. With each contraction I would get up on my knees and lean on Marie while I pushed and in between contractions I just lay across it with my eyes closed, in my own little world. The pain was so excruciating as our baby came down. All I can remember saying is “it’s gonna come out my poo hole” and I honestly believed that.
The next thing I know Hannah is telling me the head is crowning, not too long to go now I thought, and it was only a little while later and she was telling me one more push and the head would be out and one more push and it was, with Paul catching it. They told me later that the membrane was still intact and that Hannah needed to pinch it to break it. I now waited for the next urge to push, which would bring our baby into this world, but the shoulders were stuck so Hannah had to assist a little. Luis arrived at 8.15am.
It was dad who made the announcement “we have a son”. I felt total elation at the arrival and that we had done it naturally, joy that Luis was healthy and safe, ecstatic at the sight of him and amazed at how beautiful he was (and still are). I had instant love for the little bundle that I was holding. I lay on my back with Luis on my chest and Paul cuddling us both – wow. Paul even had tears in his eyes, which made everything even more special for me. We named our little man Luis Jarod Watt (a name which Paul had chosen before the birth). Hannah checked Luis over, all 9lbs 8ozs and every inch perfect. We got Luis on the boob, with some guidance from Hannah and the three of us (mum, dad and child) lay there waiting for the arrival of the placenta. 45 minutes later it arrived. Once it was out I sat on the side of the bed while Marie held Luis and Dad tied off the cord with flax and then cut it.
We had done it, we had a beautiful son and both Luis and I were good. A second degree tear from the shoulder, but it was worth it, we had our wonderful little man.
I can’t believe we ever doubted that we could have a homebirth for our first child. It was the most perfect place to give birth. Everyone was great. Firstly Paul, who got ignored, but hung in there. I may not have spoken to him, but just knowing he was there was all I needed. Secondly Marie, who managed with all my weight pushing on her. Not once did she complain, even the one time that I bit her!! The following week she told me that she had to have a massage as her back and hamstrings were so sore and I can’t say that I’m surprised. And thirdly Hannah our midwife, who told me that I could do it when I was saying I couldn’t. She helped to bring Luis into this world.
2. Rowan’s Birth Story
Well, this birth was a little different to Luis’ birth, not better and not worse, just a little different.
Paul and I had decided to start trying for our second child on Luis’ first birthday. Well, we conceived on Luis’ first birthday!! This time dad and I did the test together (I did Luis’ by myself) and the excitement of being pregnant again was just as fantastic. Our first phone call was to Hannah (our midwife) – we had to have her again. Our due date was Sunday 22 April. I loved being pregnant and was really looking forward to the birth, just to see our baby face to face was going to be wonderful.
On Saturday 21 April, about 8.30pm I started having funny tummy feelings. It certainly didn’t feel like the labour pains I had with Luis, hence I thought that it may just be an upset tummy. I called Hannah just to let her know that I thought that this could be it – not 100% certain, but just be prepared for another call sometime soon.
I went to the loo about 10.30pm and had a show, so this really could be it. But with Luis the show had come about 4 days prior to his arrival, so no telling. Off to bed we went, thinking that we should get some sleep just in case. I was awoken a couple of times, but I’m not too sure if it was the tummy waking me or just the mind.
At 1.30am on Sunday 22 April I felt a dribble, thinking I had wet myself I jumped out of bed and went to the loo. I thought that this might have been my waters. Luis’ hadn’t broken until his birth so I didn’t know what to expect, but what else could it have been.
I headed into the lounge, got on all fours, swaying with the contractions. I was timing them and writing them down as they came along, all the while I was watching the Chiefs playing, I can’t remember who they were playing, but they were in South Africa. I phoned Hannah at 2.00pm to say that the contractions were about 6 minutes apart. She asked if I wanted her now, which I didn’t as things were quite bearable. She told me to give her a ring when I needed her, perhaps 3 to 4 hours time. Paul got up about now to see what I was up to!! He hadn’t even felt me get out of bed, but had heard something so thought he had better check. I was heading to the loo lots and yelling out each time a contraction happened so Paul could write them down. By now I was in the kitchen, leaning on the bench, it seemed to be the right height.
It was 2.00am now and Paul asked if I wanted him to phone Hannah, yes was my answer. Things were really happening now, the pain was getting quite intense. Hannah answered the phone “Sharon?”, but when she heard Paul on the other end she knew that things were serious and she was on her way.
Paul had started filling the spa bath, as we were going to have a water birth this time. Kelly (our student midwife/support person) arrived around 2.45am and Hannah about a minute later. Kelly headed into the bathroom to look after the bath, which thank goodness was just about ready. I can remember being in the kitchen and squatting with a very intense contraction. I always complained at yoga that I couldn’t squat and here I was squatting!! Next thing I was folded in half (feet and hands on the ground with my butt up in the air). Paul asked Hannah what I was doing and she told him that I was trying to slow things down as the baby was coming. I don’t know why I stood like that, it just felt right.
Now I had the urge to push, which I did, one push in the kitchen and Hannah directed me to the bath. So off I waddled, hands on knees. I can remember thinking how the hell am I going to get my leg over the bath, but somehow I managed to and to find a good position, on my knees leaning over the bath. I said “oh big poo, big poo, here it comes”, and with that I had another push. Hannah had a quick look and told Paul he better get down there ready to catch. Of course he couldn’t understand what Hannah was saying, it was too quick, but the head was crowning and our baby was well and truly on the way. Another push and the head was out and one more push and the body was almost out, just stuck at the hips, so Paul helped out a little, and our second son was born at 3.00am. Only 1½ hours, a lot quicker than either Paul or I had expected.
Paul was the one to make the announcement again, as he was holding our brand new child he declared “we have another son” and I can remember saying over and over “thank goodness it was so quick”. He may have been a lot quicker than Luis, but boy the pain was just as intense.
I managed to get my leg over the umbilical cord and sit on my bum so I could cuddle my son – Rowan Joel Watt. He was so very little, but so very gorgeous, we had done it, another perfect son, after a fantastic pregnancy and a pretty satisfying birth. I sat in the bath with Rowan for a little while, until the cord stopped pulsing. Hannah and Kelly were outside cutting some flax to tie off the cord. Paul cut it once it had stopped pulsing and then held Rowan while I birthed the placenta. Then I jumped in the shower, which was just devine.
We all then headed into the lounge and sat around talking for a while, about the most unrelated things, but it was just so cruisy, you wouldn’t think that we had just given birth (other than the little bundle in my arms and the smile that wasn’t leaving my face). I think Hannah and Kelly headed off about 5.00am. I tried to feed Rowan, but he just wasn’t interested. Paul, Rowan and I all headed off to bed, knowing that Luis was going to be awake soon (can you believe he slept through the whole thing, with all my grunting and everything).
Luis got up around 6.45am. I was in the loo at the time and he came down to see me. Paul got up and got him his milk and I headed back to bed. Paul brought Luis to the bedroom to show him his new brother, he just wanted to touch Rowan.
Rowan finally had his first feed around 8.00am. Luis and Paul were up, dressed and fed by this stage, watching telly I believe. I can remember hearing Paul on the phone, very briefly. He was calling his mum to tell her we had had our child. She didn’t even ask whether we had a boy or a girl, just said she was on her way around and hung up the phone and came straight around. She was so delighted when she arrived to see Rowan, but had wanted to know why we hadn’t phoned her sooner. She was going to come around for Luis during the birth, but as he hadn’t woken we hadn’t phoned. She would have come around at 3.00am to see Rowan if we had have called her.
Hannah and Kelly arrived back around 8.30am to weigh Rowan. Hannah had left her scales at home, hence we had to weigh him a little later. Only 7lb 13ozs, but every inch of our little boy perfect.
Once again a wonderful homebirth experience. Thanks to everyone (Paul, Hannah and Kelly) for getting me through it. The arrival of our beautiful, healthy and perfect son was well worth all the pain.
3. Jordyn’s story
I knew I was pregnant even before my period was due. Paul and I did a test but as the test kit was past its use-by date, we went around to Hannah’s (our midwife) to get a new one. We did another test there, but the line was just about non-existent, so we got some more test kits to do the following morning. We also found out that Hannah was leaving Hamilton and moving to Nelson – she had been there for our two boys (Luis and Rowan) and the miscarriage we had had four months earlier, so we just had to have her again. We did another test that night and the line was more obvious, and it was definitely there the next morning when we did another test. We rung Hannah to let her know, saying that we would also like Kelly (student midwife) to be involved, as she had with Rowan.
This pregnancy was so different from our boys. We don’t scan, but I think I knew all along that I was having a girl. I had a prolapsed disc at 8 weeks, but luckily found a great osteopath who managed to get it just about right, but that took a good three months. I then had two bouts of the flu, with the first putting me out of action for two weeks (our baby was certainly going to have good immunity as I didn’t!!), and I strained my back again at about 36 weeks. And to add to all this our baby was breach up until the end and of course there was the study I was doing – with two exams 1½ weeks before our due date and another two exams four days before our due date (and both on the same day!!).
The last couple of weeks of the pregnancy were pretty busy. Luis had just started morning kindy so we were off around 8.20am every morning walking there (my daily exercise). Then it was home again and Rowan and I kept ourselves busy until we needed to go back to collect Luis. I was also busy studying for my final exams as I really didn’t want to have to sit them again next year.
Hannah came around when we were 39 weeks and confirmed a breach and then came around again two days before our due date and felt our little one was still breach, thinking that she could feel the shoulders and that the head was tucked under. We had prepared ourselves for a breach homebirth with Hannah and Kelly giving us lots of information. It’s amazing the reactions we got when telling people that we were birthing a breach at home – most people assumed that we would be off to hospital for a caesarean.
I had been having niggles in the early hours of Sunday (day before our due date) but didn’t think much of it. Paul headed off around 7.00am dirt bike riding (about when the niggles stopped) – on the condition that he came straight home after the ride just in case our little one decided to come early. I had a show late morning and sent a text to Paul to let him know (as he was out of coverage area). As soon as he got it he phoned to check how things were going – nothing happening. Paul got home around 3.00pm and set the birth pool up and filled it as I was having niggles again. By 6.30pm we had established labour – our little one was on the way.
Our boys were going to stay home for the birth but they were wanting my attention and I just knew that I wasn’t going to want to give it to them so Paul dropped them off at Nana’s for the night (and boy am I pleased he did – the language was not good!!).
We phoned Hannah to let her know that we had established labour and she phoned Kelly and they headed around. It was quite strange having them there waiting for things to happen as we had only phoned them when I was in transition previously. The contractions were progressing with me breathing through them as needed. Once they started to get more intense I got into the pool which was absolute luxury. Dee (our second midwife) had arrived by now and we were all just chatting away waiting for things to really happen – then transition started and how things changed. I felt really lost with myself. I didn’t know what I wanted (other than staying in the pool). I was using the F word a lot, screaming and hitting the side of the pool, really getting quite frustrated. Things just weren’t going like they did with our boys and when I had the urge to push I felt there was nothing to push. I think I was feeling a bit scared, thinking that as we had a breach baby, it was stuck (as it wasn’t coming like it should!!) and I started thinking that I had to get help. I said to Hannah that I thought I needed to go somewhere and she advised me that I would have to get out of the pool and she would have to do an examination before I could go anywhere. I so needed to hear that, it gave me the push I needed. I knew I wasn’t getting out of that pool, I didn’t want to birth in hospital and I didn’t want an examination, so with the next contraction our baby was coming.
I had remembered Hannah telling us earlier in the week that we had to let our breach baby out slowly as with a fast breach birth there could be complications. I was pointing saying “coming, it’s coming” and Paul was saying that he could see eyes and a mouth. Here I was thinking our baby had come out bum first and all of the body was out and we just needed to birth the top of the head – nobody told me that our little one had come out head first – that she had turned.
It was 10.45pm and our baby was here, crying and I was thinking no resuscitation, our baby is doing it, we don’t have to resuscitate (Hannah had advised that a lot of breach babies are resuscitated for very good reasons) – our baby was so clever. I then stood and lifted my leg over the cord and our baby was handed to me. I looked to see whether we had a daughter or a son, I had to look twice and couldn’t believe we had a daughter – which I proudly announced to everyone. We sat in the pool for a while and I fed our little girl, then we got out and sat on the couch waiting for the placenta to birth. Once the cord stopped pulsing Paul cut it and the placenta seemed to fall out not long after.
Jordyn and I lay on the couch and I fed her some more. Then I dressed her. I had forgotten how little babies are and how difficult they are to dress. But everything came back to me – eventually.
Jordyn is now eight weeks old and I look back to her birth day with a smile. It seems so long ago and the memory of the pain has gone, just the memory of holding her for the first time is here – and what a wonderful memory. And the reaction of our boys the following morning at meeting their sister – awesome.
She is so very different to Luis and Rowan – she sleeps!! She is the most beautiful little girl, especially now that those rolls are here – just more to cuddle.
We were lucky to have such an awesome support group during our pregnancy and birthing. Paul, my man who is always great – Hannah, who is not only the best midwife out, but also a family friend, and we will miss not having her in the same town – Kelly, who was so supportive throughout, and who is going to be a great midwife starting next year and Dee, who is just such a beautiful person.
Wright family stories
1. Dylans Story
I found out I was pregnant with Dylan while we were living in the UK on a working holiday – we were very excited as we’d planned to start trying and hopefully be pregnant by the time we returned home – we just didn’t expect it to happen straight away! We did a home test and that was positive so I went to the local doctor who told me it was too early to be sure and anyway I had a one in three chance of miscarriage! I came home in tears and that was the last time I would see a doctor in pregnancy. I was 5mths pregnant by the time we returned home to New Zealand. We found a midwife and my whole pregnancy went very smoothly. A scan at 20 weeks confirmed we were having a boy (which was a surprise as somehow I’d assumed we’d have a girl first!). During my pregnancy I read just about every book ever written on birth and was very keen to have a natural intervention free birth and was very attracted to the idea of home birth however I let others doubts influence me and compromised by planning to birth at our small local rural birthing unit.
At 38 weeks Dylan was still posterior and I was warned if he didn’t turn I could be in for a long labour and a transfer to a larger hospital (yuck!) so on my midwifes advice I borrowed a rocking birth stool from the birthing centre and rocked and rocked and rocked for the next two weeks to try and convince him to turn! Two days before my due date I was watching TV at around 9pm when I felt a sticky feeling and went to the toilet to discover quite a bit of blood and a show. I was a bit worried about this as I’d only been expecting spotting so I rang my midwife who said not to worry unless it didn’t stop within half an hour which it did. After a bout of diarrhoea (and a good dose of nerves!) we decided we’d better get some sleep as we knew it could be awhile before anything else happened.
At 11pm I realised I was getting very mild contractions but they weren’t very painful and I was still able to sleep until about 1am, when I would get out of bed and rock through each one and then go back to bed. At 3.30am I sat up and whoosh my waters broke with a huge gush and the contractions became more intense. I took a shower and got changed and then decided we’d better ring the midwife although we really didn’t want to bother her so early in the morning as we figured we probably still had hours and hours to go. She asked us how close together they were and it was only then we realised they were only 3 minutes apart. We still weren’t too concerned as I felt I was coping OK and told her not to hurry but luckily she did as within half an hour they had got much longer and stronger and then suddenly it took all my effort to keep in control. I was on my hands and knees rocking through each contraction and they were coming one after other and I was thinking ‘oh my god I still have hours and hours more to go’ !! David thinking it might be awhile before he could eat again decided to heat up some leftovers to keep him going for this ‘long’ labour – well I took one whiff and promptly threw up – lovely! Then suddenly I had an overwhelming urge to push which completely shocked me and threw David into a tail-spin!
When only a few minutes later I had another pushing urge we decided we weren’t too keen on handling this alone so we rang the midwife on her mobile phone and arranged to meet her at the birth centre. In between the contractions David was rushing around trying to get us organised to go and would have to rush back to me every few minutes when another contraction hit as I really needed him with me. Then came the worst trip of my life – kneeling in the back seat of the car trying not to push as we drove the 15min journey at high speed – very scary! We arrived just after 6am and the walk up the corridor to the birthing room was the longest of my life! I climbed up on the bed on my hands and knees and remember asking the midwife how far dilated I was – she said ‘its too late for that just push when you feel the urge’ – I still didn’t believe her until David told me he could see his head! So I pushed and at 6.20am Dylan quite literally dropped out onto the bed (I’d been squatting and the midwife took her hand from his head for just a second!) and he let out a huge roar. Both David & I just looked at him in astonishment until the midwife said ‘pick him up’ so we did and of course he was just beautiful! My memorable first words to him were ‘ooh you smell funny’ (amniotic fluid).
After a few cuddles Dylan was weighed and checked while I was stitched up – this was definitely the worst part for me but because of his too quick exit I had quite a big tear. Afterwards I asked the midwife how many stitches I’d had and she said ‘don’t ask’ but I’ve since found out it was very close to being a third degree tear and I was very lucky!
After Dylan’s birth I stayed at the birth centre for 5 days and while it was OK I was bored – I was almost the only person in the centre most of that week and I felt very alone with this new baby plus the bed was lumpy! I missed David dreadfully and he says he didn’t feel like a ‘real’ father until we came home. I started to realise that my birth had been so straightforward that I could have just as easily stayed at home and saved all the stress of that mad dash! 18mths later I had a miscarriage at 10 weeks and an overnight stay in hospital made me realise I didn’t want to go down the hospital road again! I was delighted to fall pregnant again just a few weeks later and this time I was determined to have a home birth.
2. Shaun’s Birth Story
Once again I had a very normal pregnancy and were delighted to discover at the 18 week scan that Dylan was to get a brother. On the morning of my due date I woke knowing something was happening so after my fast experience last time we got organised! I phoned the midwife to let her know and called my younger sister who was to join us as well. But by 9am nothing more was happening so I sent my husband off to work with his pager and spent the morning with my sister feeling like a fraud! By lunchtime I was getting impatient for something to start happening (especially with David phoning every ½ hr to see if he should come home!) so off we went for a walk around the block. This seemed to work and by 3pm the contractions were still mild but 10 min apart.
David was called home and by 5pm the contractions were getting stronger and closer. Around this time my midwife phoned to see what was happening and to ask if we needed her or if she could go to her university night class. I said I didn’t think that was a good idea and within 10 minutes was back on the phone telling her maybe she should come over as the contractions were definitely getting stronger but not to rush as my waters hadn’t gone yet. She said sometimes they don’t go till the end and that she would come straight away. By the time she arrived at 5.30 I was in transition and by the time she had set up I was ready to push. I had been walking around the house and rocking and swaying through the contractions but moved to the bedroom when I started to feel I wanted to push. We had decided on a hands and knees position to try and avoid another tear and I breathed my way through the contractions giving only a few very gentle pushes (I’d read it was 80% contraction 20% mothers effort anyway!). David and the midwife were laughing and joking and telling me how well I was doing and I was thinking this is just way too normal!
My waters started to leak with each contraction and at 6.20pm Shaun was born on our bedroom floor and was greeted by two delighted parents, my very happy emotional sister (who’d had to stand in for the second midwife who hadn’t arrived in time!!) and very soon after a very excited older brother who’d been at McDonalds for dinner with his Uncle!
As soon as the placenta was birthed I climbed into our bed and gave Shaun his first breastfeed. Everything felt so normal and it was great to be in my own environment and be able to do what I wanted. Soon after, the rest of our famly arrived to meet the new baby and after I had a shower and a change of clothes we ordered takeaways for tea (fish and chips) which really tasted great after all the hard work! A few hours later all our families went home and we all went to bed! With no tear (yippee!) I was up and about in no time. It was great to be surrounded by my family and friends from day one but best of all was sleeping in my very own comfy bed!
3. Celina’s Birth Story
My pregnancy and labour with Celina was definitely my most challenging though as with most things looking back it doesn’t seem so bad and she was certainly worth the wait! We had just been starting to think about another baby and had stopped being quite so careful and were thrilled to discover I was pregnant again. From the beginning the whole pregnancy was very different to my previous two and I felt very nauseous in the first few weeks. A scan at 18 weeks showed ‘probably’ a girl so we were very excited. One concern was that the placenta was low and partially ‘previa’ but we were assured the chances of it not moving were less than 3%. We decided to have another scan at 32 weeks to be certain especially with my history of fast labours. The next scan showed the placenta had moved up enough and once again showed a girl – this time we got really excited and we started thinking of ‘her’.
It sure seemed to be a long pregnancy – I guess by the time you get to #3 the novelty has worn off a bit! By 37 weeks I was starting to show signs of being ‘ready’ and even my midwife felt maybe this baby would be early so we got organised! At 39 weeks I woke in the middle of the night about 3am with light cramps. Though mild they were 5 – 10min apart so given my history I decided I’d better let everyone know. I was especially concerned about my husband David getting home in time as he worked night shift as a fitter in an underground coal mine and would take 1½ hours minimum to get out of the tunnel, showered and home. I was able to get a message to him and also phoned my sister who was only ½ hr drive away. The contractions continued steady but still very mild and I pottered around getting the birth pool filled, towels out etc. By early morning the contractions had almost petered out then after a few hours break they were suddenly back and this time they had some more kick.
Remembering Shaun’s birth I set off walking to try and help things along. The contractions continued for about 2 hours and just when we thought some action was about to begin they suddenly stopped completely! I just couldn’t work out what was going on! My midwife called in that afternoon and we decided to do an internal (my first ever in pregnancy & labour!) and found I was 3cm dilated so that was at least some progress so everyone went home assuring me they’d be back in the night! Well they were not and for another week we waited – everyone had a theory on when it would happen but day by day the dates went past and suddenly I was past my due date for the first time ever! At two days past my due date I had a non-stress test done (another first! – 20minutes on a fetal heart monitor) and of course she was fine – I could have told them it was me that was stressed not her! I also had another quick 2 minute scan to definitely rule out the low placenta as the cause of the head not dropping right down and labour stalling but this time we could see it had moved up even higher so that was a relief! Another internal showed I was now 5cm and my cervix more thinned so at least some progress was being made! My midwife did a stretch and sweep on my cervix and again we hoped that would start something but still nothing happened!
I began to feel really stressed – the waiting, constant phone calls and enquires if I’d ‘had the baby yet’ had me in tears more than a few times and I was letting the answer machine do a lot of ‘screening’!! Another worry was that we knew that when it did happen it was likely to be quite fast so I couldn’t go far and I felt very ‘housebound’ While I knew it was normal to go to 42 or even 43 weeks that had never happened to me before with both boys being either early or on-time and this had all been made worse by the pre-labour and expectation that I would be early.
On Wednesday I had a small show in the morning and then late in the afternoon a heavy one – yippee I though this is it – but still we waited and nothing! I was given the option of seeing a specialist who’d be able to authorise an induction (which would just mean breaking my waters as I was so well dilated already) but the big catch with this was it would have to be done at the local birth centre – not a bad place but not the wonderful home birth I’d planned – in fact I just couldn’t visualise labouring anywhere other than at home as I’d never done it before and I knew I wouldn’t be as relaxed and happy as I would be at home. We decided to give her a few more days but I was like a yoyo – one minute worrying and thinking I want this over and the next thinking I would wait it out! I decided to try and just take things one day at a time and keep as busy as possible – I was mowing lawns, digging gardens, anything to keep me busy! Early on Sunday morning I was woken by my son Shaun who was having a bad dream and stood up feeling quite funny and then felt a gush of waters and realised something was finally happening and I was so excited! Soon after some contractions started up but they had no pattern and could be five minutes apart and then two hours!
I called my midwife in the morning and she arranged to come at 2pm if nothing happened before. We tried to carry on as normal but it was hard to not be caught between excitement and fear that it would all stop again! By the time she arrived there was really no progress and I was feeling very teary and uptight. She said she’d check me again and I was now at 7cm with my cervix totally thinned – pretty good for still not being in real labour!! She could still feel a bag of waters bulging and guessed that it was my hind waters that had broken. She said that the way things were she thought the rest of my waters would break very soon and then things would happen very fast. My worry though was David was due to go back to work that night and not only was I not keen on being left alone but also if nothing happened before then, he was almost sure to not make it home in time. So I asked my midwife whether she could break the rest of my waters. We had a talk about this option and in the end she agreed she would if I asked her to. I quickly said yes please – we were more than ready for this baby! I said thank you to her and then joked that when labour started I’d probably not be thanking her! Then I called my Sister, Mum, Sister-in-law and Mother-in-law to tell them it was time to head over.
After about ½ an hour the contractions started and within another ½ an hour they were 10 minutes apart and I was most comfortable standing. My midwife said she would go to do some shopping to give us some peace and would be back in around an hour. Just before she got back the contractions started to get really intense and I had to start working through them – she arrived back in the middle of a particularly big one and said well it looks like we are going to have a baby soon and called the student midwife to come. I found the contractions with this labour required quite a lot of mental effort to work through – unlike my other labour’s they were not all similar and would vary in strength and type from one to the next – sometimes I wanted David to rub my back etc and others I just wanted to be on my own. As the contractions became more pushy I was sick – this is I think one of the most miserable experiences – retching at one end and cramping at the other!
Realising how close things were getting the discussion turned to where I wanted to be to birth. I had the birth pool all set up but with the weather being quite warm I was feeling the heat and it just didn’t look as inviting as it might have in cooler weather or at night. Also she was still lying posterior and being upright felt more comfy than lying back or squatting in the pool. I had made a birth mat so ended up standing on that holding onto the side of the pool. I found it very hard to relax into this labour – with Shaun’s homebirth I’d been totally in control and it all ‘flowed’ but this time with all the drama in the weeks before I think I was just waiting for something to go wrong again so was more tense and had to work really hard at not losing control. My legs started to shake from standing so I moved onto my hands and knees and rested my head on some pillows on the couch. Between contractions I didn’t want to move at all just stay totally still – it was like I had to conserve every ounce of energy! To me the pushing didn’t seem very productive and I found myself beginning to wonder how much longer. Then I had a really unusual contraction (which I now realise was her turning anterior) and with the next contraction I felt the head and a productive push. With the next contraction I felt the head crown and then suddenly in a gush she was here! I was so surprised as I had though we still had a way to go.
My midwife wrapped her in a towel and passed her to David – everyone was ooing and ahhing and I sat back feeling very stunned then said ‘what is it, is it a girl’? David was all smiles and saying ‘you beauty’ and I had to say again ‘is it a girl’ twice and the second time more loudly. After what seemed like hours but was probably seconds he replied ‘yes’. He passed her to me and we had our first cuddles. The midwife offered David the chance to cut the cord but he was too engrossed in his new daughter and had done it twice before so his sister ended up doing it. This was really nice as she’d arrived feeling very apprehensive about the whole birth/pain thing and ended up totally in awe of the whole experience. She has since gone on the birth all of her children at home. Dylan and Shaun had been around for most of the labour and most of the time I’d been pushing they’d been just metres away eating their dinner without showing any amount of concern! At one stage Dylan had come in and had a good look and asked if the baby was coming yet but when he was told not yet ran back outside to play with Grandad who was keeping out of the way! They missed the actual birth but when they heard she was here they ran inside and the looks on their faces were magic!
Everyone else in the room was buzzing too and it felt so neat to have all that excitement surrounding you. The next few hours were just fabulous – the best part of the home birth experience in my opinion. It was like a big birthday party – my father-in-law arrived and then my brother-in-law who’d been scuba diving for the day and had got some crayfish and scallops so the men took over the kitchen and cooked them up and we washed them down with a glass of champagne. Celina was passed around and cuddled by everyone while I had a shower and made some phone calls and e-mails announcing her arrival !! It was amazing how good I felt – even within the first hour it was as if I’d hardly had a baby – no stitches is definitely the key to that! Later after everyone was gone (having cleaned up, tidied up and put the boys to bed for us!) David and I cuddled down in our own bed and lay talking about all that had happened and our plans for the future. For us there could be no other way – home birth is the best!
Jack’s Birth Story
I woke up at 6:30am on the 26th May and wondered why I’d wet my pants when I’d only just been to the toilet about an hour before. Then I realised I hadn’t wet my pants as such but my waters had broken. I phoned my midwife at about 7:30am to let her know and she came to see me mid-morning, checked that I knew when to ring her and did some baseline obs and off she went to clinic for the day. It was at this point that we discovered she had another woman in the exact same position – water’s broken, not in labour yet – so I spent the entire day worrying about whether I’d get to have my own midwife or not. Nothing much happened during the day in regards to labour. We got the birth pool ready, everyone except me had a nap and we just waited.
The midwife (N) had rung us in the evening, somewhere around 7pm I think, and I told her that I didn’t think I’d need her until after Mr 2.5 went to bed. My entire pregnancy I’d said I wanted to labour at night and after Mr 2.5 was in bed, so that we could have our baby with just us and our midwives.
We’d put some cold water in the bottom of the pool after we’d eaten dinner. After we put Mr 2.5 to bed and started to think about filling the pool we realised we’d put the wrong mat down under the pool and had to empty the pool to get it out. Luckily it was only cold water we had to take out. I’m not really sure what time we started filling the pool, I know we started after Mr 2.5 went to bed but before N got here.
DH had to really encourage me to ring N, as I was convinced that it was too soon to ring her as the contractions were still easy enough for me to breathe through even if they were coming every 3-4 minutes. I phoned her at 9pm, told her the contractions had been 3-4 minutes apart for 30-40 minutes and were starting to get more intense. After I rang her I wrote on a scrap of paper “9pm-ish, 2 minutes apart, sore, pain in lower belly and back/bum/pelvis. Forgot it hurt so much”.
At 9:20pm I rang her back and said the contractions were two minutes apart and lasting for about a minute, sharp pain. She got here at 9:45pm and started getting all her things ready. The contractions were really intense by this point and I needed DH holding me throughout them. Unlike with Mr 2.5’s labour I didn’t need the sacral pressure but it was better with DH behind me and leaning into him. I was doing a lot of squatting throughout labour, trying to deal with the pelvic pain. The pain was in my belly, around my hips and as it got harder the pain went down my thighs and there was little that relieved it.
I didn’t want to swear so much during labour this time and had practiced things like “oopppeennn” during BH contractions and early labour but I soon dropped that and opted for “come on baby”. It was nice and long and I could drag it out and focus on the baby getting out of me. This labour was really intense, I can’t even describe how intense it was and that word doesn’t seem enough for it. When I’d feel a contraction start I knew I only had a small amount of time to get DH to me before it started to peak. I thought they were only lasting a minute but according to my notes they were going for 90-120 seconds and happening every 2-3 minutes.
By 10pm I was starting to feel like I couldn’t do it, a sign I was probably in transition or nearing it, but I didn’t comprehend that as labour had been going for such a short time. N wrote that I was coping brilliantly and also commented on the “lovely Brahms lullaby” playing in the background (an Australian CD btw, by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra). At 10:15pm the pool was almost ready and our second midwife, M, was on her way.
Around this time I was starting to feel some pressure low down and getting paranoid about pooing. I kept wanting to go the toilet and managed to poo in there but got hit with a contraction while sitting down. I joked that that wasn’t fair, so in between contractions I was still quite lucid and aware of what was going on.
I got in the pool after 10:30pm which was an amazing relief. The water felt wonderful and so relaxing. Between contractions I sat back and talked to DH. During the contractions I knelt and leaned back into the side of the pool and DH. M arrived at 10:45pm.
N and M were putting pots of hot water into the pool and asking me about the temperature. I said it was fine for now, N said it needed to be a bit warmer if baby was going to be born into the water. I thought to myself that baby was ages away and why was she worrying about the temp for baby already?
Shortly after M arrived she sat on the floor in the lounge and I remember thinking it was nice to see her at my level and when I had another really hard contraction she sat by the pool and maintained eye contact with me while I was trying to get through it.
I sat back after a contraction and felt liquid come out of me. I thought that I’d emptied my bladder into the lovely clean pool and was going to have to get out but when I looked down there was cloudy fluid spreading out from between my legs. I asked “what’s that?”, heard N say “look at this M” and told me it was my water breaking.
Within a few minutes I had a major urge to push and was surprised and freaked out to feel that there was a head in my vagina. I had to really fight the panic as I wasn’t expecting it to go so fast and couldn’t comprehend that baby was coming out. I kept saying “it’s coming too fast! Help me! I need pressure!” and I know I was scared that I was going to get ripped in two. I’d moved to the other side of the pool as soon as I got the pushing urge and was leaning over the edge. I was in the exact wrong place for anyone to reach between my legs without them needing waders so had to move to the other side of the pool after that first contraction. The second contraction was just as hard and intense and I think the baby crowned at that point. DH told me later he was surprised to see baby there so quickly. One of our midwives told me to reach down and touch my baby but I said I couldn’t move, it was taking all of my concentration to cope with the pain. While waiting for the next contraction I was having to breathe and try to relax as I could feel the stretching and major pressure. In the third contraction baby’s head came out and the cord was around his neck so I had to move mid-contraction to a semi-kneeling position, with one knee on the floor of the pool and on one foot, so N could untangle baby. Baby came out in that contraction and he also had the cord wrapped around a leg.
N passed baby to me, I still couldn’t believe that baby was already here as it had taken about 4 minutes for him to be born. I held him while she stimulated him by rubbing his chest. I lifted my arm and announced to the room that it was a little boy.
I sat on a bedpan in the pool to deliver the placenta and had a few after pains, something I’d not had with Mr 2.5’s labour. Baby was nuzzling at my breast but wasn’t really interested in suckling. I gave up trying to deliver the placenta in the pool as my position wasn’t quite right. I sat on the pan on the floor and delivered it at 11:25, 30 minutes after baby was born.
DH cut the cord after that and I sat on the couch holding baby to my breast. N wrote in my notes that I looked “radiant”, a lovely thing to read. N checked out my nether regions and I had a shallow laceration but didn’t need stitches. Baby latched on by midnight and nursed for an hour. We sat around chatting, well I did while everyone else alternated between sitting and tidying up. It was amazing how good I felt afterwards, just sitting there having a normal conversation after having a baby in such a short period of time. It felt so normal.
I rang my parents just after midnight. At first I said I’d just rung for a chat (knowing full well they’d be in bed of course) and Mum asked me what was happening. When I’d spoken to her a few hours earlier nothing was happening so she wasn’t expecting to hear that I’d had baby. DH rang his parents and they came up to help empty the pool and tidy up.
N stayed until about 2am (and went to the next birth of the woman who’d been labouring while I was!) and we went to bed. I didn’t sleep much between the after pains, getting up to pee a lot and being on a hormonal high. I gave up sleeping at 3am and sat in the dark sending text messages to everyone on my phone until my phone ran out of money!
Everyone says to me that it must have been great/easy to have laboured and given birth all within 3 hours. It was certainly different from the 15 hours with Mr 2.5 but definitely not easy. I’d do it all again though.
Arthur’s Birth Story
When I wrote Arthur’s birth notice for the newspaper, I described his birth as being a ‘joyous’ occasion. And it was! This isn’t a load of hippie hogwash either. The birth of my son was the most joyful, beautiful and incredible experience of my life.
The night before our baby was born I couldn’t sleep. Not wanting to disturb Andrew with all my thrashing about, I got up and pottered about a bit. I stayed up till one in the morning trying to finish a picture of farm animals I was painting for the baby. (It remains unfinished.)
I awoke at 9am the next day, feeling a bit uncomfortable. This was nothing unusual as the baby’s head had been engaged for a few weeks, and virtually everything had become uncomfortable! When I noticed the discomfort seemed to be coming and going, I began to think my baby might be born that day. Foremost in my mind was our midwife Leanne’s words regarding pre-labour. I thought, “This isn’t the real thing, the contractions aren’t long enough. Besides, it could all just stop.” Consequently, I didn’t think I should contact the midwife, my support people or even Andrew just yet, and went about my usual morning routine.
Gradually, the contractions started becoming more intense, longer and closer together. Even at this early stage, I could feel the baby’s head pressing down on my cervix. It became necessary to concentrate on each contraction, and I thought, “This baby means business!” I entertained the possibility that this might be the real thing, but I was actually in denial about really being in labour until about halfway through.
I was expecting two lots of visitors that day, so I rang them to say not to come around because I might be having a baby. This was about eleven thirty. Time was just flying by. I rang the midwife and left a message, saying to ring back but nothing else. She later said I sounded too calm to be in labour! I rang my auntie Bev, one of my support people, to give her some advance warning because she lives about one hour away. The contractions were now about 45 seconds long. I told her that it might not be real labour, but she decided 45 seconds was long enough and to come anyway. I’m glad she did! I was feeling a little panicky on my own. I still hadn’t called Andrew, so I decided to let him know what was going on, seeing as everybody else did!
Andrew, Bev and Anne (our backup midwife – it was Leanne’s weekend off) arrived all around the same time. Once I had company the pain seemed so much more manageable. I found a position that worked for me – squatting down – and I would bob down into this position, with my head and forearms resting on the dinner table, whenever I had a contraction. Doing this, and exhaling slowly from the beginning of each contraction, made it completely bearable.
At this point, my support people were busy trying to get the birthing pool filled. This was a major undertaking. Having exhausted the hot water cylinder, they were boiling huge pots of water on the stove, and the kettle and spare kettle as well. As my labour progressed quite rapidly, this wasn’t fast enough, so Bev had to go door-knocking throughout the neighbourhood asking for buckets of hot water! This proved sufficient in the end.
Anne examined me (my one and only internal examination) and found my cervix 5cm dilated. I was extremely pleased. It was quite stretchy and she was able to open it up a bit wider. I couldn’t believe how quickly things were progressing.
Since I was now officially in active labour, I hopped in the pool. It was pure bliss. The water was beautiful and warm and felt very supportive of my belly. The water made it very easy to relax and rest between contractions. Being able to completely chill out and conserve energy like this I think definitely helped me have such an easy labour.
Things began hotting up once I had been in the pool a little while. Andrew rang his mother (our other support person) and in his typical relaxed fashion told her, “Come round whenever you want.” I was in quite advanced labour by this stage!! So she didn’t think to hurry, and consequently arrived much later than everyone else. I kept asking where she was, and had begun to worry she might miss the whole thing!
I felt a bit shivery and shaky so I asked for a lemon and honey drink to keep my blood sugars up. I should have left out the lemon because next thing I threw up and the citric acid left an awful taste. Anne told me, “We call that the 7cm vomit.” This was very encouraging. She was very attentive. I remember her always regularly asking if I needed more water, and reminding me to keep my breathing slow and regular. She kept telling me how well I was doing, and to keep doing whatever felt right to me.
Leanne, our LMC, decided to come to the birth even though it was her weekend off. I was glad about this because we’d got to know her so well throughout the pregnancy, and I really wanted her there. She arrived when I was approaching transition and gave me great moral support and encouragement.
I thought I was probably in transition when I started bellowing throughout each contraction. It made me feel better. I kept saying “I’m sick of this.” The midwives said this was a sign we didn’t have far to go! I seriously started thinking, “Somebody else should get in this pool and have a turn birthing this baby.” The support people and midwives kept chatting amongst themselves and saying how well I was doing, which was very reassuring.
Time ceased to have meaning. My world was now divided into contractions, and the magic time in between when I felt no pain at all. As this rhythm progressed, I felt my rational, thinking self retreating, and my animal self coming to the fore. I was in my own space, not thinking.
I could feel the pressure building up as the baby descended. Anne would check his descent and heart rate from time to time, and every time she said he was doing fine I would tell him what a good baby he was for being okay and doing his bit to get born. I began to feel like I wanted to push, but I wanted to be sure I was fully dilated first. However, there was no time between contractions to have another internal, so I just held off as long as possible, breathing through the contractions.
I was curious to know what was happening inside me, and not being a particularly modest person, I had a good feel around inside. I was quite surprised to feel the baby’s head, with a bulging bag of waters before it, about halfway down. I told everyone about this, very excited. The midwives suggested I break the waters myself, with a fingernail. The membranes were tough, but eventually came away. When they did, a big contraction took me and the baby seemed to surge downwards.
It was now obvious it was time to push. It took a few contractions to get the hang of this. The midwives helped me really well, giving instructions about breathing and pushing. I still couldn’t believe I was so far along. I was on my hands and knees at this point. Everyone said “The baby’s got lots of hair.”
I said, “What! Can you see it already?”
They all said “Yes!” It was very exciting.
I felt a little awkward on my hands and knees, and turned round into a supported squat. I was against the edge of the pool, with two of my helpers holding my arms. This position felt a lot freer and I was able to use gravity to help me.
The pushing contractions didn’t seem to hurt, but this may have been because the rest of me was hurting so much! Anne held a mirror under the water so I could see what was happening. When his head was halfway out, the baby started wriggling! I shrieked. It felt so weird. It felt like holding a floating object under water while it tries to escape to the surface. Arthur was keen to be born, and trying to wriggle his way out.
Because I gave birth in an upright position, I was able to watch him as he was born. These are the most amazing memories of my life. When he was halfway out I could make out his features under the water. I could see him and feel him wriggling about under water. It was as if he was trying to swim out by himself. I yelled something daft like, “It’s my baby!” I remember the midwives both smiling at that moment. They were very pleased. Everyone radiated energy – I could feel and hear them smiling.
The moment he was born was like an explosion, and the pool water quickly changed colour! I brought our baby to the surface and Andrew lifted him out of the water. Then Arthur and I had the best cuddle. His face was the picture of anguish. He was crying vigorously, bewailing the end of his utopian existence in the womb.
You have all these ideas when you are pregnant about what the first moments with your baby will be like. You think about what you might say to your newborn, and imagine them stopping crying as soon as they hear your voice. You imagine yourself eagerly checking to see if you have a son or daughter, as soon as the mystery of the last nine months is finally revealed. Myself, I have no recollection of what I first said to him. I remember exactly the colour and feel of his skin, greasy and soft, as I held him next to me. We stayed like that for a little while, me talking and him crying continually, apparently not caring who I was. After maybe five minutes Anne said, “Shall we see what we’ve got?” I hadn’t even thought about it. So we checked to see and I said to him, “I knew you were a boy.”
Arthur was born at ten past five, after a labour of eight hours. I joked that he was my nine to five baby. His arrival seemed conveniently timed to suit everybody. We rang the visitors I’d told not to come around earlier, (My mum, and Andrew’s sister and niece) and they all came to visit our beautiful baby, just a few hours after he was born.
I remember Mum phoning Dad and saying, “It was just like a normal day. Andrew got up and went to work, and Emma went into labour. They had the baby and now they’re all going to bed.”
When we learnt that I was pregnant with our much-awaited-for second child, we were ecstatic.
I had had a lovely hospital birth with my son Sol (now 4.5), but I hated the hospital environment post-partum. Before this pregnancy we had decided to have a home birth and I was already excited about the birth. My siblings and I were all born at home and I grew up in a world where birth was always discussed in positive ways. I remember Mum saying on numerous occaisions that the best three days of her life were the days we were born.
A close friend had attended ‘hypnobirthing’ classes and raved about them – I turned to Ms Google and what I heard sounded fascinating. Women using words such as ‘euphoric’, “pain-free” and “joyous”. These words were a far cry from the usual language associated with birth in our culture. Soon after, I was introduced to the amazing Aileen Devonshire of The Holistic Birth Company. She was happy to offer a course just for Leif and I. We spent five lovely evenings with Aileen discussing our thoughts on birthing, learning techniques for enjoying the birth and understanding what our roles were during labour and what we could do to prepare. In the latter stages of the pregnancy we set time aside to practice the relaxation and visualisation techniques.
I had brought Sol home from kindergarten and just felt really exhausted. I had been working on an article that was on deadline but exhaustion washed over me and I lay down to sleep on the couch for about an hour. When I awoke at 3.45pm I continued to lie there for a few moments and then I felt a ‘pop’ of my waters breaking. In one swift movement I grabbed a towel from the pile of laundry beside me, threw it in the floor and rolled off the couch and on to the towel. I was impressed with myself – the towel was soaked, but not a drop anywhere else! Sol looked at me oddly, but just nodded nonchalantly when I told him my waters had broken. He’d watched numerous birth videos with me so knew what this meant.
I called Leif who had just finished teaching for the day and also let my midwife Cheryl Benn know that things were underway. Sol’s birth had proceeded gradually throughout the day, so I thought I had hours to go before things really started. At this point I was having very mild contractions, spaced well apart. I was really excited but very calm, knowing everything was in place for our dream birth. I also was aware of the article I hadn’t finished, so decided to get that done right away as knew that pretty soon I wouldn’t have much spare time. I felt super-alert and was writing well, then all of a sudden it was like a part of my brain switched off. I decided that then was the time to email the draft to the editor and explain that was about as complete as it was going to get!
Leif arrived home and started getting the room prepared. We’d instructed our baby to be born at night, and it seemed like she was going to comply. We had the fire burning and Leif hung up fairy lights and lit candles. The birthing pool was by the fire. Both grandmothers called in on their way home from work, but I had decided I wanted one last dinner together with just the three of us.
After dinner I lounged over on the Swiss ball, and Sol stood beside me and rubbed my back (and occasionally climbed on me!). A really beautiful peaceful time. I realised my labour was progressing much faster than I had anticipated, so I asked Leif if he could put Sol to bed then, as I knew that pretty soon I would need all of Leif’s attention.
I stayed on the swiss ball, enjoying the peace and listening to Sol’s familiar bed routine and bedtime stories. I went to kiss Sol goodnight and to make sure he knew what was happening. He had been very involved in my pregnancy and knew the drill. A few weeks earlier he had told us that he wanted to be there when the baby was being born, but he didn’t want to see her head come out. Since my waters had broken he had reminded me of this numerous times! So I was reminded of this once more, and Sol knew that when the baby was nearly being born Leif would wake him up.
As soon as Sol was in bed it was like my body allowed my labour to progress. I continued to labour on the swiss ball while Leif started filling the pool as I felt like it wouldn’t be too long until I wanted to be weightless in the water.
I usually have an active mind that is hard to quieten – I have tried meditation a number of times, but always end up sitting there with a loud chatterbox in my head. I had been concerned that that would be the case whilst birthing, however I could feel myself slipping into a really deep relaxation and became only dimly aware of what was going on in the room. Love those birthing hormones! The room was warm and cosy and lit with candles, the light of the fire and fairy lights. I recall telling Leif that it would be impossible to be stressed out in that environment! It was blissful.
At about 7.30pm I got in to the pool and Mum, and my midwives Cheryl and Annie Kinloch arrived soon after. I was surprised at how fast my body was moving towards birthing and the contractions were lasting a long time and coming about every three minutes.
I had a relaxation birthing CD playing and the atmosphere was just beautiful. The contractions were intense but I felt so relaxed and wonderful. I could feel our baby moving and descending and I was so overwhelmed by how perfect it was that I started crying with happiness.
Notes from my midwives:
8.13pm “I can definitely feel her pushing down”
8.14pm “This is so lovely”. Rachel and Leif laughing together.
8.21pm Rachel verbalising the last contraction is beginning to give her a sense of breathing her baby out.
8.28pm Rachel moving in to a hands and knees position in birth pool.
Rachel looking beautiful and feeling relaxed on endorphins.
9pm Birth pool filled deeper. Rachel semi-reclined. CD finished and Rachel enjoying the quiet.
I was feeling the baby descending lower and every so often started feeling that the birth was not that far away. I continued to labour in the pool, but started feeling really exhausted. My body started feeling really heavy. My contractions had slowed a little and I decided to have Cheryl examine me. My cervix was 7cm dilated.
I said that I was really tired and that I wanted to have a sleep. At about the same point in Sol’s labour I felt exactly the same way, but I was in the hospital for his birth and I recall being told that it certainly wasn’t the time for a nap! I loved my midwives when they simply responded to my request by asking where I wanted to sleep. I wanted to rest on the couch, so my lovely helpers made a bed up for me and I snuggled in, Leif sitting right beside me. It was so peaceful and quiet, and it was as if Leif and I were the only people in the house. I quickly fell into a deep relaxation, whereby I was having big beautiful dreams, then I would come back to ‘real’ for each contraction, gripping Leif’s hand tightly. Immediately following each contraction I feel back in to dreamland. It was a beautiful rest. Like being on a boat in slow-motion, the peaks and troughs of the sea movement. I stayed in this zone for about 40 minutes, and then all of a sudden was ready to continue.
10.10pm Rachel needing to get up off the couch as contractions more intense.
10.14 Back in birth pool. Rachel still feeling baby move.
10.18 “She is doing lots of kicking”
10:20 Rachel groaning through a string contraction “It’s a big opening one”.
10.51 Rachel breathing through some very pushy contractions.
Rachel feeling baby moving down a bit further.
I was in a deeply relaxed state, just as we had discussed with Aileen, only vaguely aware of the people in the room and just so focused on my body and it opening up to allow our daughter to be born. As I laboured in the pool I was having beautiful dreams and my body felt so powerful but so relaxed.
During the classes with Aileen we had discussed the distinction between the analytical mind and the intuitive mind: with all the medical intervention in many births, we had moved so far from the intuitive mind being the dominant one in a labour.
All evening my analytical mind had been switched off. Yet at this point as I drifted between dreamland and contractions, suddenly my analytical mind popped up. It was very clearly like another voice, and it is the first time I have experienced such a dichotomy within my mind. Very clearly this other voice spoke over the dreamland that I was in:
“Oh my goodness Rachel, here you are, you are supposed to be having a baby, pushing a baby out, all these people are here, waiting for you to do something, and all you can do is laze about in this pool sleeping, for christs sake stop being so lazy and push this baby out!”
I listened to this other voice. What the hell was I doing?! A contraction hit and suddenly my body began pushing, an all-consuming effort to PUSH this baby out. I felt my whole body contract almost involuntarily and it was a scary, out-of-control feeling. I felt the baby descend a lot and I suddenly realised I could push this baby out right there and then. I panicked, because that was certainly not what I had planned, nor what I wanted. In that split second I knew that baby could arrive right then, and it would be a painful and fast entrance and I would likely tear. I cried out to Leif to calm me down – in my memory I was screaming this in panic, but having viewed the video it wasn’t as violent as it felt. Leif did one of the relaxation exercises we had practiced and the soothing words of the midwives put me back in control and I resumed breathing and found that calm place again.
10.58 Sol woken by Leif for the birth.
11.01 Rachel supported by Leif to breathe through intense contractions.
I was in a particularly deep sleep when a really intense contraction happened and I knew that our baby was nearly ready to be born.
11.07 “She is coming, I can feel her head moving down”
I knew I didn’t want to rush her out and just let my body and my baby take over and let them do what they needed to do. I just kept breathing through each contraction and felt no urge to push. In my mind I could almost “see” our baby making her way out, it was such a clear vision and it really felt like she was doing it rather than me. There was no searing pain when her head emerged as I had experienced with Sol’s birth. It was such an amazing feeling as I felt more of her making her way out. I started giggling – I could feel her legs kicking inside me as they made their way down. I felt absolutely euphoric.
11.13 Rachel birthed her baby so gently in water and was caught by Leif.
Leif guided baby between Rachel’s legs and Rachel lifted baby to her chest.
11.14 Baby cried. Cord loosened around neck.
11.16 Sol meeting his baby sister while being cuddled by Dad.
11.27 Baby so alert, gazing at Mum
These were just amazing moments, clearly etched in my mind forever. Our little girl in my arms, surrounded by peace and love. Sol meeting his little sister for the first time. We had already decided that we would leave the cord attached as long as possible, and certainly until I had naturally birthed the placenta.
11.28 Cord still pulsating strongly
11.29 Placenta birthed
11.32 Cord clamped by Leif and cut, watched by Sol
11.40 Rachel and baby assisted out of pool. Dried and covered with warm towels.
I had read about babies doing a ‘breast crawl’ immediately after birth, and wanted to give our baby that opportunity. Our little baby was placed on my chest and she immediately started snuffling round. I was mesmerised as she started inching her way to my right breast. It was so hard to resist the urge to guide her, but equally fascinating knowing she was capable of finding the nipple herself. In a very short space of time she had expertly found the nipple and started her first feast!
12.02am Baby sucking at breast after latching herself at 49 minutes old.
We were all hungry so the food was brought out and we all tucked into a midnight feast round the coffee table as we chatted about the evening. A perfect, relaxing way to finish off an amazing evening. As I sat there on the couch in the comfort of my own home, with my baby suckling at my breast I was so content. Our baby slept on my chest all night and I got very little sleep, gazing at my family all snuggled in our bed together. I awoke before them all and enjoyed some moments of peace, looking at wonder at what we had created and thinking I was the luckiest person in the world.
Once we had got to know her, we named our wee baby Nina Kowhai Hansen. The kowhai will always be blooming on her birthday.
(This story was orginally published here http://www.rachelhansen.org/blog/ninas-birth)
Beren’s breech birth at home, undiagnosed and wonderful!
A wonderful undiagnosed breech birth at home – the best kind!
Throughout my pregnancy, we had a feeling that our baby was a boy. It was just a hunch as we opted not to have the 20 week scan and so knew nothing more than the fact that we were expecting just one baby. People asked me, “What are you having?” I took such pleasure in staunchly saying “a baby!” We named our baby ‘Donkey’ as he loved to kick and move.
I really liked being pregnant and was lucky to experience no sickness or major aches and pains. I was happily riding around on my bike into my 41st week and went to weekly yoga classes led by another local midwife. At yoga I loved the time we spent focussing on our bodies, our babies and readying ourselves for birth.
Our midwife would stay for hours at our antenatal home visits, chatting endlessly and effortlessly about birth and parenting with us. We all tried to watch the clock, but it was kind of hopeless! We just got along so well, and it was a huge plus for me that she and Shawn connected. It felt good to have a midwife that Shawn could talk to and ask questions of so easily, and who shared his huge love of good coffee!
The books that my midwife lent me were varied and colourful. I lapped up Michel Odent’s writing and loved the Tummy Talk magazine where I first discovered Dr Sarah J Buckley. I learnt so much from the books, and from both my ‘yoga midwife’ and my own midwife. I remember talking to her one day about luck in birthing. She told me, “It’s not about luck, it’s about good health, good information and lots of trust”. I have never forgotten that and it is a mantra that can guide us in more than just birthing.
Knowing now how Beren was lying in my tummy I can understand more of the final weeks. I felt Beren’s movements a lot throughout the pregnancy, but whenever my midwife would palpate my tummy and talk about his position, I could never picture it in my head. I would try to feel for myself and not quite manage to feel what everyone else did. I worried occasionally that I wasn’t connected to my baby because of this, but the feeling didn’t linger. He had us all fooled, the little rascal.
Seeing 40 weeks come and go was more of a big deal for others than it was for us – we trusted baby and knew that the time would come. I was glad of the extra time to cook lots of healthy dinners for the freezer, sew, nest and catch up with friends. Medical induction was not something we planned to use, but by week 41 we were getting quite keen to see our baby. Business was very busy and we wanted to make sure Shawn would have some snatches of time at home. Easter weekend was coming up – ‘how perfect!’ we thought, a long weekend for Shawn to have at home. We hoped that baby wasn’t far away. We had decided to try some natural techniques to encourage labour so I ate a lot of pineapples that week. Good Friday was spent eating hot cross buns with Shawn’s family before we headed to the lake for some serious walking. I pounded a route up and down the steep paths on one side of the lake for as long as I could. And we tried the other well-known technique once we got home as well!
Sure enough, at about midnight I woke to feel a tightening in my belly. Then it happened again. Having had no Braxton Hicks or real tightenings before, I knew that this might be labour. I texted our midwife because I was so excited, but managed to control myself enough to not wake Shawn. The squeezes were mild enough for me to get some more sleep and it wasn’t until about 4am on Easter Saturday that I woke again. This time I couldn’t help but rouse Shawn and we both got straight out of bed like kids on Christmas day.
The contractions kept coming in rough 10-15 minute intervals, but they were very manageable. We mooched around and enjoyed a delicious pancake breakfast then decided to go for a walk round the block. It was probably the slowest walk of my life, but I enjoyed the fresh air and the distraction. I stopped now and then to lean on a fence if a contraction was a bit achey and Shawn ran across to the shops to get us some DVDs. Back at home we parked up on the couch and I remember bits and pieces of ‘Despicable Me’, sleeping on and off through the end of it.
By the time Shawn started the second film I was feeling a lot more like a woman in labour and had to ask him to turn it off – the voices and the characters were grating on my nerves and I needed quiet. I asked him to put on some music instead and pull the curtains. Then he left me alone, which was exactly what I wanted. I was lying on the couch when my waters popped – the force of them breaking was so strong that Shawn saw my whole body shake. This was a very cool feeling and a really distinct memory in my mind.
We let our midwife know where things were at and she said she’d pop over for a quick early labour visit around lunchtime. By the time she came I was well into some good contractions and Shawn had started to assemble the birth pool and fill it. Our midwife politely told him to stop filling the pool as it was early days in the labour. I think Shawn just needed something to do, but now he had a buddy to sit with and share many cups of coffee, so he could relax.
I had backed myself into a corner of the lounge, standing and leaning over the back of the rocking chair, swaying my hips or circling them in a figure of eight. Sometimes I knelt and leant forward onto the ottoman, but for the most part standing felt good. At times I used a hot wheat bag on my lower back. I felt like a Michel Odent chapter had come to life – here I was seeking privacy and security like a fellow mammal in a shady corner of our house. All the yoga positions and movements came into play and using them was one of the only things that I was still doing consciously. I would also let our midwife know when I felt baby move and went to the bathroom when I needed to pee. Everything felt right and as it should be, I felt safe, uninhibited and able to focus on my body and how to play my part in birthing our baby.
After a while I guess our midwife realised she was going to be staying put and she gave Shawn the okay to fill the rest of the pool. I was glad to hop in, the water felt so soothing and supportive, and the warmth felt good. Physical touch from others was something I felt I wanted to avoid – the odd squeeze of my hand was all I remember, but I couldn’t tell you if it was my midwife or Shawn as I had chosen to have my eyes closed. Once in the pool, I started to close in and get serious about this birth. At about 2pm contractions were two minutes apart and lasting about a minute. Baby’s heart was now being heard with the aqua Doppler instead of the beautiful wooden pinard. My eyes stayed shut for what felt like hours, I hardly spoke and I would just open my mouth and say ‘water’ or ‘orange’ as a signal to my two buddies that I wanted something other than their silent company. Grumpily, at one point I asked everyone to turn their phones off, and to unplug the landline too. I didn’t want interruptions!
The contractions were well established and getting stronger. I shifted between leaning back against the side of the pool and kneeling on all fours. When a contraction came, I would breathe out and vocalise. I consciously made as ‘open’ a noise or breath as I could, opening my mouth and keeping it soft, leaning my arms wide on the sides of the pool and spreading my fingers with palms out or facing up. These small actions really helped me to surrender and let labour happen. I felt strong and I knew that things were going just fine.
A few hours later and the contractions had moved up a gear. I found it harder and harder to breathe out evenly and slowly without wanting to just puff hard or pant. I had to work hard not to let the enormous power of the contractions take me down the path of tension and pain. When my hands sought to grip the sides of the pool, I had to release each finger and consciously turn my palm up, pushing the tension away with an open gesture. My sounds would start out open and low and then, as the contraction intensified, I would struggle to stop from screwing my face up and going high-pitched. The openness I was previously maintaining in my hips and the mental image I held of my cervix opening like a flower were replaced by a desire to curl over and push.
After half an hour or so of this feeling I had worked out how to use the new energy in my body and work with the stronger contractions. There was less time to rest between them and I felt a huge amount of pressure in my bottom between pushes as well. Suddenly, I was a new woman, eyes open and talking again. Our midwife contacted the second midwife and asked her to attend.
I was using a squat in the pool now and each push forced my poo into the water. It was at this stage that we all started to notice some thin meconium in the water, but it didn’t trigger any concern in me and I could still feel baby moving between pushes. My midwife suggested that I try a few contractions out of the water to see how it felt with additional gravity acting on me. I clambered out just in time for the next effort and more meconium appeared along with stringy clear mucus. Conversations about baby being breech began to happen – quick snatches of short, precise questions in between the big pushes. I consented to a vaginal examination and we found that sure enough, this baby was coming out bum first, hence all the meconium. I was fully dilated and baby was not far from fresh air.
This was not quite what I had expected! Suddenly I had shifted away from my hands-off, mammalian experience and my midwife had performed a VE, something I knew she would only ask to do if she deemed it absolutely necessary. In the next short break we discussed options and the choice of transferring to hospital. I asked both midwives what that might entail, even though I didn’t seriously think I would choose that path. Intuitively I felt that things were going okay and hearing that baby was so close made me certain that he would be born at home, as planned. My midwife asked me for a decision, I gauged my energy levels and knew that I had plenty of power left to do whatever was coming next. I told her we were staying put.
It wasn’t a completely calm atmosphere at this stage. Conversations about risk had stiffened the mood and the consequent tension felt palpable. Everyone has heard birth horror stories and I knew that breech was a word that struck more than a little fear into some people’s hearts. I guessed at what thoughts might have been running through my support peoples’ minds, but they never voiced any such concerns, never influenced me with suggestion or doubt. For that, I am truly grateful and I know it to be the mark of an exceptional midwife and a trusting partner.
Listening to baby’s heart was now happening more frequently and the rate was not always as high as we would have liked. Each time, I just waited for the next listen and it would seem to come up a bit and relax us – or maybe just me! My midwife suddenly transformed into an active midwife, moving to kneel beside me on the floor and talking to me through each push and in between. Mostly she voiced words of encouragement, affirmation and comfort, but she also gave some clear instructions to coach me through the pushing. She placed her hand on my lower back and put pressure there to keep me in a low squat throughout the whole push, when my body wanted to rise up and away from the incredibly stingy, hot feeling. I guess we all knew that each push had to count now. At one stage I reached around to feel for baby and touched his little slippery rump. What an amazing feeling – I was actually having this baby, right here on the lounge floor!
Beren was born just 30 minutes after we discovered he was in a breech position. I had used every ounce of my strength to not waste a single second of each push. I recall some very low vocalising to match the low aching and intense pressure on my perineum. After Beren’s bum had slithered down, the next thing to appear was a pair of big testicles! Shawn saw them and knew that Donkey was a boy after all, but he kept quiet and the surprise was intact for me to discover myself. Next one leg slipped down, then the other came as his chest and head were born slowly over a contraction. Gently, Shawn and our midwife juggled two pairs of hands to take hold of our slippery little bundle.
Just before 6pm our baby was here, born without fuss, just the way he wanted to be. He didn’t cry, just gave a little cough. I sat back from my one-knee-up position, relieved to rest my quads and catch my breath. I felt like a million bucks holding Beren for the first time. Staring at him, I could feel nothing other than joy, love and satisfaction at our birth journey. I remember saying, “That was great. I don’t think I tore or anything!” My midwife just smiled at me, knowing that those magical hormones would be protecting me from feeling reality for a while longer. Unlike her, I had no idea that Beren’s birth had resulted in a tear.
At our second midwife’s suggestion, I gave Beren some big ‘kisses’, blowing air into his nose and mouth to help open his lungs. He was covered in goo and blood. Beren’s cord had torn with the birth of his head, and Shawn’s massive homemade birth mat was decorated with scarlet drops from corner to corner!
A bit of Angelica and some pushing helped to bring the placenta down after about 40 minutes. During this time we talked and talked, about the labour and the birth, the breech surprise, the size of this baby (he hadn’t yet been weighed but was clearly large), Beren’s name and that he was a boy after all. We managed a few photos, but have made a mental note to do this better with our next birth.
Shawn had some very special cuddles with our towelled-up bundle, Beren nuzzling at his dad’s chest hopefully, while my midwife got the pool warm for me again. Having hopped out the pool to give birth on land, I was now grateful to climb back in with my new son and slosh around in the water, feeling warm and washing our skin together. Beren was quite stunned at first, but came round quickly, announcing his presence with small cries now and then. He started to look for my breast in the pool, but we found it easier to sit and snuggle on the couch where he could suckle onto dry skin. He did a lot of licking and latched on and off, but wasn’t overly interested in breastfeeding quite yet. Almost two hours after his birth, Beren’s cord was clamped and cut by Shawn.
Beren’s little body was reluctant to uncurl and stretch – we realised he must have been breech for some time by the look of his bent-up frog legs! He wanted to stay in this position which made him quite a challenge to hold and hard to get him close to the breast for a feed. Football hold was the best position at this time and he managed to latch then settle for a wee nap at about 8.30pm. We all took the chance to look at the placenta and admire it – what a clever organ. Our post-third stage plans involved consuming part of the placenta so Shawn took it to the kitchen where he cut off a chunk before freezing the rest. We planted the majority under a beautiful new Titoki tree in our garden and Shawn prepared the smaller chunk into tiny pillules that we froze on sheets of Gladwrap. I swallowed these straight from the freezer with a drink each day until they were all gone.
At about 9pm we moved to the bedroom where my midwife broke the news that I hadn’t birthed this big boy without a scratch! Oh, I was a bit let down to hear that I had a second degree tear and totally surprised because I still couldn’t really feel a thing. The tear was pretty straight and sat together quite nicely. Consequently, I chose not to have stitches and we talked about natural wound care and how I would look after myself over the coming weeks. There were days when this was a really hard part of being a new mother, but overall I was amazed at how quickly I healed and returned to feeling absolutely normal. The healing properties of Manuka wound honey and Calendula Sitz baths cannot be overstated!
We weighed our sleeping beauty and got a shock when he tipped the scales at 4.55kg (just over 10lb). No wonder I had such a big bump yesterday, this was a giant baby! So now we were parents – what a fantastic feeling. As we all cuddled up in bed together I couldn’t imagine any other way to have spent the day. I was tired and sore and enormously emotional, but all was well.
As the realisation that I had birthed a big breech baby at home sank in over the next few days, I drew such pride from this achievement, knowing that it was a little bit unusual in a society that still encourages the medical model of care for this kind of situation. It was almost as though I became a more complete woman after giving birth, like a new piece of the puzzle had fallen into place. That feeling gives me so much joy every day. Birth is a momentous gift for the mother as well as for the baby being welcomed. I am so grateful that I chose home birth and received that gift on my own terms and in my own time, surrounded by amazing people.
The day of your birth, my best birthday
Monday morning, June 30. I wake up to the feeling of my frosty nose this winter morning. Unlike most cold Monday mornings this one is different. With the sunrise of sleepy eyes a bright gleam of light is peering through the gap in my light grey curtains. I can hear the sound of opening and closing ranch sliding doors and water streaming through the pipes. With a big stretch reality dawns upon me, its my birthday. While I sleep my last peaceful sleep of childhood, your occupied by something much more extraordinary. My senses serving their purpose for 18 years now, noticing the light, the sound and the fluttering excitement in my heart. I know what day this is.
Unlike most Monday mornings, this one is different. With a yawn and a rub of my now risen eyes its time to see if my senses are correct with the way they hint the sweet inevitable. Please be today. I step outside with a fresh breath of winters cool air. As I approach the front door my heart races with excitement. Opening the lounge door the warmth of the heat pump kisses my chilly cheeks and frosty nose. As I step inside I feel the warmth on my skin but also this fluttering warmth in my stomach. Its relaxingly dark, with thanks to the grey clouds outside and the thick curtains all pulled around all openings. I peep around the corner knowing what to expect, the objects around me of my loving home and the pool I also expect to see with you resting in it. Everything I had imagined from the dawning of my first glances this morning to the moment I am standing in now. This day, June 30 2014 is the end of my adolescence and the beginnings of someone else’s, someone I have been very eager to meet.
I am nervous to approach you, its hard to see you in pain so vulnerable. I notice the strain in your face as pain sets in I can only imagine how intense the feeling must be. Your frizzy scruffed up bun in all places from the humidity of the warm water you’re sitting in, sits around your exhausted face. You glance at me and all I can feel is heart warming pride for my beautiful mum. As my chin wobbles with a hard swallow keeping down my tears I ask how you are. You’re in a lot of pain by this point and it worries me, I know you will be okay though soldiering on like the strong warrior you have always been through my eyes. Your stubborn certainness has always shown this and the thought gives me comfort every time you let out an uncomfortable moan.
I hesitantly leave the warm room filled with love, excitement and suspense. Unlike most monday mornings, this one is different but I have duties to attend to. I go back to my room and dress for the school day when I am ready i come back into the lounge, your leaning over a chair at the dining table. The one where all 8 of us will sit at in the very near future. Alan has left to help Chloe with the car its just you and me in the lounge I do my best to try and comfort you. I rub your warm back as you sway side to side breathing deeply in attempt to conceal the pain. I have never seen you in this way before the one time I have ever seen you not fully in control of the situation. My hand rubs the center low of your back, its small and narrow I never noticed how little your back is. My attempts to comfort you have shown me a switch in the norm. Its usually you rubbing my back in times of pain and worry and it makes me appreciate all that you have done for me starting from 18 years ago in this exact moment, in my journey into adulthood I can express the same nurturing care that I have learnt from you. I leave you with a love filled kiss on the cheek and two crystals that I know will help you. You accept them thankingly and I’m out the door. This has been a special moment for me.
Its time to leave and go to school. With a day uncertain of any particular plan it is all down to the magnificent processes occurring miraculously in your body. Within a few hours its time to come home. A repeat from this morning begins with the racing heart, a warm kiss on my icy face from the heat pump and the soothing sound of Aunty Mel’s voice. Its so good to see her. I peer once again around the corner to where you sit in the pool. I nervously sit on the couch you are in extreme bursts of pain that make me feel uneasy. Alan’s soothing presence seems to keep you in a calm enough state. He lovingly massages your back with the shower head streaming warm water onto your back. I sit tentatively quite on the couch, some time passes by Kelly and Aunty Mel encourage you in the best way possible. A big sense of girl power is felt so strong. I am so proud of you.
Chloe leaves in a hurry against time. I approach you in the pool shyly kneeling in front of you. Hoping I am not flustering you at this time. You are doing so well and the pain subsides enough to have a chat. You teach me about the fluid that sits on the bottom of the pool and how its what baby has been covered in during your pregnancy. I am mesmerized by you in labour knowing that soon all of your big belly moments are setting to an end.
Soon your waters fully break, to your happiness the vibe shifts within the room. Its time and we are all eager and excited. I sit across from you and you start to push, this is so exciting and within the time period of no longer than 2 minutes full of intensity of pushing I see waves of little hair under the water. You lean forward and reach your hand down you say “oh my gosh I can feel hair” Tears begin to pool in your eyes and love is felt throughout the whole room. With a few more pushes I see baby’s head I am intrigued and very excited. Moments later Kelly brings her hands into the warm pool and with another push out comes our little trooper. She is brought up to you and has her first feel of the love filled air “I did it” you whimper in a sign of relief. Tears roll down my face she is beautiful. Chloe comes in blubbering she can’t believe she missed out but is here now with all of us, as the new addition to the family takes her first strained breaths. I look around I see watery eyes and trembling smiles in my family’s faces. Chloe reaches down and cuts your umbilical cord. Baby is then passed up to her shirtless Daddy he is in complete awe of his little girl.
Us girls sit in amazement of the events that have just passed us, soaking up the warmth feeling in our hearts praising you finally relaxing in the pool. Its time to birth the placenta. The last part of your amazing progress is coming to a sweet end. Kelly shows us the tree of life that our little sister had been living in. It was amazing and funny to touch.
Eventually you hop out of the pool, we wrap your poor aching body in towels and then your dressing gown. You snuggle comfortably on the mattress with baby in your arms. Absolutely beautiful.
My Bath Baby
Indie Bay Dobson was born at 7:20 am on 04/12/11 (40 weeks + 6). A beautiful 7lb 15oz (way bigger than my midwife had anticipated) in my tub at home! 9 hours of established labour. 5-10 minutes of second stage pushing. At about 11:00pm we noticed that the contractions started picking up. I can’t actually remember what happened, but they started coming every 3-4 minutes. I lost a slightly brown mucous plug. I put on my Hypnobirthing Tracks and at 12:45pm my partner called the midwife. She headed over and checked me at 1:15 or 1:30 – 100% effaced and only 3cm dilated.
I felt like I had been in labour forever. The surges were felt mostly in my lower back and my legs. I didn’t know this, but she told my partner that average dilation is 1cm per hour, so she’d head home to sleep and wait to hear from us at 10:00ish. Over the next few hours the contractions started coming back to back. I completely relied on having a hot water bottle on my back or being in the shower to ease the tension. We were so exhausted we slept for a minute between each contraction. Haha. Over the next three trips to the toilet I lost bloody masses of mucous plug. I was able to manage through each of the contractions with breathing – but it was getting more and more difficult. My partner rang my midwife again at 3 or 4ish and she asked him to check my cervix under her instruction. He said he could feel the head, but he wasn’t sure how dilated I was. He guessed it was 5 or so cm. I started thinking in my head “holy crap, how many hours can I do this for…”. The contractions continued to increase in intensity and I joked with my partner at one point about giving up and getting drugs. But we both knew there was no way I was giving up. By about 5am I felt the urge to push. My partner had been told to tell me not to push, that it was too early and that I should force myself not to. He checked my cervix and was really confused about what he was feeling – said he had no idea, but that the midwife didn’t want to hear from us until it was time – which he would assume would be closer to 10:00am.
I was in so much pain – I was swearing and moaning like nothing. Haha – I had hoped for one of those beautiful painless births. It broke his heart to see me in so much agony and he was resisting being annoying and calling the midwife again in the middle of the night. I tried all fours, I tried the shower, I tried being on my birth ball, I tried leaning over standing. Nothing made it remotely manageable. I could not stop myself from pushing. I tried relaxing and breathing through the urges. But it just made the next contraction ten times more impossible to stop the urge. And once I pushed, the pain in my back was completely disabling. He checked me again an hour later and said he felt my bag of waters ahead of baby’s head. Finally he called the midwife at about 6:30 and told her that I was in so much pain and finding it impossible not to push. That he felt my cervix and could only feel the bag of waters. She arrived at about 7:00am, checked me, and said “Well, how about that – you don’t need to stop yourself pushing!” I was soooo ecstatic – despite the fact that I was probably fully dilated hours earlier. It still hurt like crazy to go with the urge of pushing but once I got into the tub, it took me about 5 or 6 pushes to slide her out and I checked to find out we had had a beautiful baby girl! It was such a relief to be “allowed” to push, and a part of me is so glad that I now know I could have trusted my body’s urges. She is absolutely gorgeous with a beautiful head of hair. Turns out she was delivered LOA – and had been positioned ROA/ROL most of the last few weeks. So throughout the morning she had likely rotated through the posterior positions before coming out LOA. Next labour – hopefully much shorter!
Am so stoked to have my girl and everyone is absolutely smitten. She took to the boob like a champ and I didn’t have any tearing! More than anything – so stoked to have had a NUCB home water birth that my mum (who had not intended on attending the birth due to her being anti-home birth) observed and was highly impressed with what she witnessed. Would not have done it any other way.
First time home birth
I never pictured myself being in a position where I would be heavily advocating home births, breastfeeding and natural parenting. I never ever thought I would have such passion for something until I had my first child.
At the age of 18 when I first fell pregnant, understandably I was completely oblivious to any topic of birth, pregnancy, kids & parenting. I was never someone that I myself pictured even having children so naturally I was quite misinformed on the typical topics which I will now sit here and just endlessly read in awe over and over again.
I had my first birth at the local hospital and maternity center in Ashburton.
I still think that because of my age at the time and among all the ignorance I did fairly well during my son’s labour. I used methods of hip swinging, breathing, I declined pain relief and even hopped in the birth pool there for most of my labour but when it came to the actual getting him out part I was quite panicky. I feel now at the time this was because I didn’t have the right support around me, I was not trusting my body and that led me to have a bit of complications getting him into the world.
6 hours of labour and 2 hours of pushing I was absolutely exhausted but my son Austin was born at 3pm on the 23rd of May 2012. I unfortunately suffered a PPH due to his size (9lb 11oz) and the hard time getting him out but otherwise we were good. From this birth I remember being very sore for 6 weeks afterwards and quite bluish and down, not that I wasn’t happy and over the moon about my beautiful son’s arrival, but for me that birth was definitely partly a traumatic experience even under wonderful midwifery care.
Throughout his life, now coming up 3 this May I pursued my curiosity of birth and all things surrounding it and started to educate myself on hundreds of topics that would prepare me if I was to ever have a child again, I was in the state of mind where I was not prepared to go through what I went through with my son again birth wise and wanted to rectify where things could have gone better for me and him for a better outcome healing wise both mentally and physically.
So I now sit here with a brain packed full of wonderful amazing things I’ve learned over the past 3 years since having my son, ready and waiting to be pursued if I was to ever have another baby.
This is where my Home Birth story begins.
On Sunday the 17th of May 2015 I did have another baby, and she was born safely and happily at home.
Contemplating birth options this time round I was leaning towards another hospital birth just for my own peace of mind about my previous PPH as I myself was not really aware of much basis round home births during my second pregnancy. I knew I didn’t want to go to a secondary hospital, but Ashburton Maternity was fine for me this time round again.
This all changed when I unfortunately was admitted to Christchurch hospital for a kidney infection at around 28 weeks pregnant, two very long days of being in hospital and just feeling utterly miserable in the environment I started to get a bit weary of having another hospital birth, even though this hospital was drastically different from the one back home, I was still not feeling “right” about it.
In the next few weeks my Partner and I watched the documentary the business of being born and a few natural home births vs hospital births.
Safe to say that the business of being born, even though it is set in America changed my mind extensively on my choices of another hospital birth.
It seemed to us that by giving birth at home we were more at peace with the process, we were in our own zone and could relax as much as possible.
When it came to do birth plans at 32 weeks with my midwife (I also had her for when I was pregnant with my son), she asked what I would like to do, heavily advocating home births herself she was over the moon to hear that I was contemplating a home birth this time.
I of course had questions, the main one being what happens if I have another severe loss of blood like my previous birth, listening to her explain that I was no safer at Ashburton hospital than at home was the deal breaker for me.
The way she explained home births to me and my partner we just felt it was so right for us.
So it was goodbye hospital planned birth and hello home prepared birth!
I was so excited during the weeks leading up to our daughter’s arrival, I did not have a nervous bone in my body, I was fully on board with the daily statement I would say to myself.
“I trust my body to birth my baby”
I would say this to myself often 10+ times a day.
Having that mindset of fully declaring yourself and your body to the power we as women achieve when birthing is something I firmly believe helped me.
To birth successfully without fear, you must be fearless. You must embrace the pain, you must declare your entire self to letting your body do what it was designed to do.
And boy did I ever do that.
At 1.30am on the 17th Of May 2015 I started having niggles, after having quite a bit of “false” labour for a few months I was used to this, but it was different this time, I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t sleep I just needed to be moving around s that’s what I did. I think I paced around my kitchen for a good hour before waking up my partner to say I think this is it.
I rang my midwife Anna at around 2.30am, just to inform her that I was doing fine but my contractions are regular and to be on standby.
By 3am I was feeling rather different, I had obviously transitioned quite quickly and was starting to feel very pushy and wanted to be on my hands and knees, taking my bodies lead I did exactly what I was told.
My midwife checked me and I was already 8 cm dilated. The real thing was definitely on it’s way!
Between contractions I was very happy standing around talking and having a good chat and laugh with my 3 year old son, my partner Jeremy and my midwife.
As soon as those contractions kicked in though I was back leaning over the couch grunting and roaring like a lioness. That was my biggest comfort was being able to make noise to settle the pain, and it worked so well. Getting out a good long deep groan every now and then definitely helped me breath right and stay focused.
It was such a relaxed time.
During the transition from 8cm to 10cm things got quite heated, my noises became louder, my swaying became deeper and my mind became clearer and my focus completely shifted into push mode.
This baby was on her way.
Starting to push I bared down with all my might big long and strong pushes.
My midwives, Partner and Mother giving me the positive encouragement I needed to hear every now and then.
Though I was making progress I was still struggling the tiniest bit to get her past my pelvis as the membranes were tightly placed round her wee head.
My midwife, giving me the options of I go for a week, or get up on the couch to have them lightly broken to just help things move along a bit I decided to just jump as quickly as I could onto the couch to have the membranes broken to allow her head to descend easier past the pelvis.
The quick move obviously worked because they pretty much broke all by themselves.
Asking me if I would like to resume my positioning on the floor as I told Anna I didn’t want to birth on my back again, that’s just how things went in the end, I was laying ever so peacefully into my Partners body and would you believe it if I told you? Smiling, happily smiling and ever so at peace with what was happening.
With each push I did I didn’t make a peep, I just bared down hard into my bottom and hugged my Partner tightly with my arms around his neck whilst he helped me use my strength to my full potential to bring our daughter into the world.
It was definitely not just me doing all the work, having him behind me and being so supportive was the most amazing and spiritual experience of my life. We connected on a whole different level throughout that time.
Baby’s head was starting to emerge itself, at this point my midwife asked me if I wanted to reach down and touch her and once her shoulders were out pull her up and out myself, I hesitated for a moment as I had never had this experience with my first so it was all a bit new but I’m so glad I did.
At that moment I touched my daughters head, it really clicked that I was here, at home peacefully bringing her into the world and I literally said “Oh my god, oh my god! That’s my baby, I want her!”
A couple of last pants and a big push I reached for her and pulled her right onto my chest.
She was here, we had done it.
At 6.14am Sunday the 17th of May, I Emily Dodge had given birth to my first daughter Eevee Elizabeth Perriton weighing a good decent healthy size of 8lb 8oz.
No grazes, no tearing, no huge blood loss, no complications just a straightforward wonderful and amazing birth.
The time spent after her birth was just wonderful, so cruisy and so laid back.
I just remember sitting there feeling so chilled out, so at peace and so happy with what I had accomplished.
My midwife left a couple of hours later after a few checks which all ticked the right boxes and we were left to it.
Left to relax and enjoy our new little family member in our own home without disturbance or worry.
After this experience I would never plan to have any future babies of mine in a hospital environment. This experience for me has been the most uplifting and powerful I’ve ever had in my life.
I am so grateful to my two amazing midwives Anna and Sandy, for Sandy it was her first home birth experience and I feel so honored to be able to give that to her.
I am also so grateful to my Partner whom without the most amazing support and love I don’t think I could have felt fully comfortable pursuing this wonderful dream come true. It really makes all the difference to the Mother when there is real, good and genuine support.
4 days later I am happily sitting here enjoying my ever so placid baby girl by the fire writing my testimony to reach out to others who may not be aware just how normal and wonderful the experience of a home birth can be. I feel fresh, I feel happy and most of all I do not feel stress.
I hope my experience can help others and enlighten them that home births aren’t a new age trending topic or a dangerous thing of the past but that they are so wonderful for not only Mother and baby but for those who are involved too.
Natural births of my big babies
Dearest Jordan Neihana,
I’m being a bit of a lazy mummy today, I am still in bed but that’s okay because I have you asleep next to me and I cant help gazing at you wondering what’s going through that little head of yours. Its been a long 9 months getting you here and I loved you from the moment I knew you were growing inside my tummy, very often I would lay in bed rubbing my growing tummy and be overwhelmed by the love I felt for you and shed a tear or two of joy.
Well your due date was here and 4th of August, seemed like the usual, Daddy had some things delivered and at about 10:45 I went to the loo and had some show, after Daddy unpacked everything we went to a child show and had a look around, We also went for a walk to get fresh air at about 7.30pm.
Later that night approx 9:45 I was lying on the bed with my laptop, when I got up I thought I had wet my pants, lucky there was a towel next to the bed, my waters had broken and were a slow trickle, I decided it wasn’t much so they must be my hind waters, I placed a towel between my legs and went and snuggled up on the couch with daddy and watched DVD’s till midnight, during this time I had a few mild Braxton Hicks.
At 2am I woke up, my tummy was cramping and it was feeling different to earlier, I lay in bed checking the time, at 3am I realised they were contractions and were regular, every 5mins and lasting 30secs, I woke daddy up to tell him the news and that we should get some things ready. I was not a lot of help so I went and had a shower, daddy called Nan to tell her you were on the way while I tried to get comfy on the couch, its now 4am and daddy has started timing the contractions they are coming more often now and lasting longer, we decide at 5am to page the MW to let her know also that you were on the way, her backup called and asked us questions, then she let our MW know and to call us as well, Daddy then proceeded to fill up the pool.
At 6am I climbed into the pool and it was just so nice and relaxing, at about 6:30 Nan arrived and was put onto timing contractions duty and also boiling water for the pool, Daddy stayed with me holding my hand and making sure I had water when I asked for it, he also became very good at holding a cold wet cloth on my forehead, Our MW called us again at 7am and decided she will head over, she got here 45mins later. The contractions continue to get more intense and longer, and your heart rate is being checked often, it is so lovely to hear you are doing so well and seem unphased by the going ons, meantime my back is hurting as you are posterior and need to turn and I’m trying different positions in the pool to try and ease the pressure, what I really wanted to do was rest my head on my hands while kneeling on all fours, but really not a good idea when in the water, but that’s ok because daddy got a wheat bag for my back and it was fabulous. I declined to have a VE done at 8:20 as I felt I had a long way to go until I needed to start pushing, even thou I had no idea of the time.
At 9am I consented to a VE, your head was well applied to my cervix and I was 8cm dilated, I had a 2cm lip anteriorly, I tried moving around in the pool to help move the last of my cervix out of the way, just before 10am the contractions started to feel different with pressure in my bottom being felt, the back up MW was called and was also now on her way over. The contractions were still getting stronger and I was starting to make a little noise when they peaked, I was starting to feel tired and knew I needed to rest up, I even nodded off a few times between the contractions, 11am I am starting to push a bit with the contractions but it still feels a little early and not coordinated, 11:30 and everyone is ready for a birth except me and you, your head still has some descending to do and your heart rate is still nice and strong. Daddy is still being fantastic looking after us and is sitting on the edge of the pool with his legs either side holding my hands.
12:30 and the decision was made I needed to get out of the pool as it seemed I still had an anterior lip as progress had slowed down, so I strip down to my birthday suit so I don’t drench the carpet (it’s only 4wks old) and go lay on my back on a mountain of towels, during the next few contractions the MW was able to push the remainder of my cervix over your head, a rather uncomfortable experience but not bad, I guess I was focused on having to push really hard to do my bit to push your head thru that little bit more, then it was off to the toilet for a new position and to help you descend some more, your poor daddy kneeled on the floor in front of me the whole time so I could grip his shoulders, it was now nearly 1pm and I was feeling very tired, your Nan then told me to focus on the ring of fire, I wanted to laugh at her and could only do so in my mind, as I didn’t have the energy.
About 1:15 and I had to try waddle back down the hallway to the lounge, not easy with your head stuck down there you know, but we somehow made it just before the next contraction hit, time for a new position, daddy sat on the couch while I squatted in front of him with his knees either side of me, which I held onto for dear life, it seems this was the best position and we made some really good progress, everyone was getting excited because you would be here soon, I was just thinking you were meant to be here ages ago and didn’t want to get my hopes up. Then at about 1:45pm we headed to the pile of towels that had the waterproof sheeting underneath etc, in the middle of getting up I had another contraction and only just got to lay down in time when another one hit me, I had daddy kneeling behind me holding me and being so encouraging, the backup and Nan both had a foot each braced against their hips and our MW was between my legs, telling me how you had so much hair, I had to push hard and hold it as nobody wanted you to slip backwards, then I felt the ring of fire, finally I thought to myself I am having a baby, the MW placed a warm cloth on my perineum and I could feel your head trying to escape, I really had to focus and just give little pushes and pant then push, I did this for about 2 or 3 contractions before your head was born, then I just had to relax and wait for the next contraction which was not long at all and with one last push you were born.
You were placed immediately onto my tummy and a warm towel was put over you and we had our very first cuddle, I had waited 9 very long months to have you in my arms and I was just so happy, I couldn’t stop looking at you, it was announced you were born at 2:00pm. After you were born I was told your head was in a bad position, and you came out a little sideways and on an angle, which is why I felt a lot of pain in my back and why you did not descend as well as expected. For the next 20mins your Daddy and I just looked at you, made sure you were all intact and giggled at your toes, they are so cute, Daddy during this time also got to cut your cord and I got checked over and perineum was intact. Then it was time for daddy to cuddle you while I gave birth to the placenta that did an amazing job of helping you to grow. Your APGARs were 9, followed by a 10. Then we had a go at feeding, once I figured out how to hold you, you latched on and suckled away like a natural.
I found this the following day written by your daddy in the notepad he was using to time the contractions “She is so beautiful I am nearly crying but I’m holding my shit together for her, she is very relaxed between contractions, breathing deep and well”, Also Nan left us a note as well before she went home saying “Congratulations on your darling perfect son. Mummy and daddy are doing a lovely job and coping well, just go with the flow as everyday will be new and exciting. Love each other, Eat, drink and rest and take lots of photos, Love always Mum/Nana. She is 100% right everyday we love you more and each day has brought new exciting experiences.
Loving you forever, Your Mummy
PS: I forgot to tell you your Daddy was so amazing, I don’t know how I could have done it without him being so strong and supportive for me. He was my rock that day, I was tired, teach me for got going to bed earlier and only getting 2hrs sleep.