Home is the best place


When I fell pregnant I had been watching birth for years. Many people would often ask me, doesn’t that scare you? Doesn’t that put you off? Why would you want to go through that? Most of these questions and comments were from people whom had experienced birth with intervention. What they didn’t know is that I had seen the magical side of birth, the side that fills you with sparkles, the side where your body is so full of oxytocin you think you may just burst. I’d seen women transform into warriors. I remember the first home birth I was apart of and it was in that moment that I knew whenever my time was I wanted it like this. I wanted to be a warrior, I wanted to be empowered. I wanted to be at home away from the medicalization of childbirth, I wanted to be safe. I wanted to be in my space (I mean really have you seen the size of the birthing rooms?!) Now some people may read this and think wow she’s high on rainbows chasing unicorns but believe me when I say birth is empowering. Birth is beautiful. Birth is important.

My time came early 2015, I was not actively trying to fall pregnant so when I found out I was hapu I was in absolute denial to the point of doing several tests and making my husband do one, you know just to make sure you know they weren’t faulty! After the shock had set in, I quickly started dreaming of my pregnancy and birth. I knew what I wanted and how I wanted things to go. I knew that finding a good midwife who would support and believe in me was where I needed to start. A midwife who would never give up on me and I knew just the one.

Pregnancy for me was breezy; I had no major issues and enjoyed the life growing inside of me.  I was my most confident when I was pregnant. I LOVED it. Of course I missed my red wine over winter but I felt so blessed to be on the road to motherhood. I was so excited for this journey. When I did have moments where I was done I would think to myself you only do this so few times in life, enjoy, take time to tune in to baby and enjoy the moments of just me and baby.

The thing I feared the most and often stressed over was the hospital. What if something happened and it would be recommended I transferred? What if I couldn’t birth this baby? My biggest fear was and still is caesarean. I know 100% that it is needed in medical emergencies, I get that and I am 100% pro safety but for me it would still crush me. It’s not something that I voiced often and usually only with my husband because I didn’t want to make others feel bad or deal with people’s opinions about me being some radical hippie, it’s the whole high on rainbows chasing unicorns thing again. And it seemed like everyone had an opinion on my place of birth. People constantly undermined me “oh its your first don’t bank on your homebirth… It will be long you’ll need an epidural… your baby looks big probably safest your in the hospital in case you need a caesarean”.  How about mind you own business I know what I am capable of. I wouldn’t dream of saying that to someone else seriously. It doesn’t bother me if your baby arrived covered in sparkles on the back of a poodle. This is about me and how I want my babies to arrive. Everyone is unique in their wants, needs and experiences and I think that’s important to remember.

In my family the babies are big and late. My nana, my mum and my sister all went 10 days over with their first babies so I assumed baby would arrive on the 14th November, little did I know baby had its own plans! I remember the day I went in to labour so vividly. My husband and I had been out to the shops and had stopped into the strawberry farm on the way home for ice cream and fresh berries. We had planned to stop at my nanas on the way home and I remember jumping back in the car and saying to Adam, take me home I need to be at home. He didn’t really think anything of it and after dropping me home off up the road to his friend’s house he went. I was tired and managed to sleep for a few hours and was woken by dull aches. I hopped in the bath, where I stayed for hours watching movies zoning out not 100% sure of what was happening. Adam cooked a lovely dinner and as soon as I went to eat and couldn’t I thought oh yes baby is coming even though I never really accepted it and kept telling Adam baby isn’t coming until Friday, 10 days over remember! The aches soon turned into irregular surges, the pressure in my back was intense and soon my bowels and stomach started clearing and I thought it would never stop. And the pressure, I didn’t like the pressure. I remember emerging from the bath room to find Adam had hung all the fairy lights and set up the pool – bless – “but babe, the baby isn’t coming until Friday”. I tried resting but as soon as I had surges I had to stand, move, shake it off; the pressure was just too much.  I used the TENS and this was amazing, I loved it! It distracted my mind and helped me relax and breathe. I remember falling asleep for a few brief moments with my husband cuddled around me and soon flying up nearly knocking him out as the next surge started. I remember Adam saying we need to call the midwife and I knew it was too early but he was scared and did so anyway. My midwife was off call and the second arrived about 3am and I was only 3cm. 3cm. 3 small  cm. Even though I knew it was too early my heart sank when she told me – how could these surges get any more intense and my back, the pressure in my back, please universe give me strength!

My mum checked in early with Adam (we were suppose to go out with her and friends for dinner the night before but I’d told mum I didn’t want to go out I needed to stay home so she was thinking baby could be coming) and arrived about 6am. Oh mum you’re here, make it stop now mum, I need to sleep, I don’t like the pressure mum. I kept telling mum no I’m only 3cm its too early you may as well go home to sleep mum.  But mum knew better and soon called the midwife back. I remember standing in my room, in the corner, roaring away and I as I look up I see my midwife walk up the driveway. I was crying with joy. She was coming to look after me on her day off. This meant so so much to me. At this point I was tired and a bit distressed, I was disheartened that I had called too early and now I had probably done the same. My midwife gave me some homeopathic remedies and helped re focus me. We decided to do another examination to see where we were at. Being on my back sucked. I hated it. I couldn’t be on my back, the pressure was too bad. But after what felt like 5000 attempts it was done. 9cm. Ok nearly there.  You got this. You can absolutely have your baby at home. You’re tired but keep fighting. Keep going.

The surges never changed in intensity from 3cm – 9cm. For some reason I thought oh you know I’ll get to 6cm and be in active labour and they will be way more intense. But no, not for me.

I had really set my little heart on a water birth but I hated the pool. I had to stand, to walk, to dance I had to do anything but be still and no flipping way was I going on my back. I continued to use the TENS for a few more hours. I remember late morning the midwives wanted me to try some new things.  Stairs, robozo, squatting, sitting on the toilet. My baby was fine, 100% fine, no decelerations in his heart rate ever occurred throughout the whole labour. Soon the second midwife got called away to another birth. Nooooo come back, I don’t want anyone else except you two! No one is allowed to be in labour but meeeee. It’s amazing how selfish the brain becomes in labour. My main midwife and I continued on, I truly admire her patience and just generally putting up with me, I was loud. I thought in my head I would be this calm beautiful labouring woman but in reality I was a roaring taniwha. It was exhausting but it was the only way I could manage the intensity. We all soldiered on for a few more hours and it had been 6 hours since I was last examined and I wanted to know where I was at but fearful of the consequences.  In my head I should have had a baby by now (you know according the books one cm every two hours and all haha) or at least feel pushy. The examination was done by both midwives (with consent obviously) and this rung alarm bells in my head. Why are they both examining me? They are both highly skilled midwives, what is going on? Still 9cm and baby’s head is still high. Heart sinks. I remember looking at my midwife and asking her if baby was going to be born vaginally and she said she wasn’t sure. This is when I burst into tears and I told them in between sobs I’m not having a caesarean, I am not transferring I am staying here, which both of my midwives respected 100% (see how amazing these women are?!) There was no need for transfer though, yes baby was taking time but I am a first time mum having my first baby – some babies just need time to navigate the pelvis and if baby and mum are happy there are no problems. I think it was at this time shit got real for me. I had to fight harder, I had to fight for my baby. I had to fight for my homebirth. I had to get real orange peel. If I transferred I knew the doctors would recommend a caesarean. No I’m staying put.  I need this homebirth, I need the magic, I can do it. It’s funny I look back and I remember saying so many times I cant do this but inside myself I knew I could, maybe it was because I had heard this a lot at other labours, and it had just been the thing to say. There was no doubt in my mind that my baby was going to be born at home even after the news of slowed progress. Babies take time. We are ok. Keep fighting. You can do this.

I remember my midwives sending me up and down the stairs. Suggesting the block of wood and shaking my leg. Come on baby, mummy is tired now. I remember asking my husband for some apple, I need some natural sugars I thought and I started playing Let it be by the beetles. This song resonated with me as Paul McCarthy’s mum was a midwife and she would say to him ‘let it be’ and birth is the same. We need to just let it be, give my pepi time. That’s exactly what I was going to do. I was so grateful that my mum, husband and midwives were beside me fighting, encouraging me, working with me to make this happen.

Three more hours passed and still no sign of transition. My midwives suggested to check where we were at and some pushing in McRoberts and on my side to aid things along. I remember being on my back and soon my waters broke and being in McRoberts and literally needing to kick my legs out I hated this position, my back, stop, get me up I hate this. I remember when I stood up and felt this huge drop, like literally baby’s head dropping further into my pelvis. Yuck. I don’t like it. I spent the next two hours in the shower and on the toilet to help baby descend further.  Wow will this ever end. I’m going to be in labour forever I thought. 5pm came around and still no urge to push. Or was it that I hadn’t fully surrendered to the process? Finally fully dilated. Great, time to push I thought. I was most comfortable in a half squat at the end of my bed. I remember with each contraction gripping on to my sheets and pushing like my life depended on it.

I remember one of my dear friends joking with me before labour saying oh you’re so photogenic you’ll look like a princess pushing compared to me all red and sweaty ha I thought if only you could see me now sista! My mum and husband were on each side of me. Encouraging me. Fighting with me. Not to mention my wonderful midwives at the business end, eyes hanging out of their heads after spending all day with the roaring taniwha, patiently supporting me, being the wonderful creatures they are. An hour passed and I felt like I had made no progress but I was assured that things were happening. I literally felt like there was a canon ball in vagina, it wasn’t painful just the weirdest feeling of my life. Another hour and still no baby. You’re kidding me, come on precious, mummy is waiting, mummy is ready. Mummy wants to meet you, please my baby. It was at this point that I only ever thought (but not voiced) about transfer then I remember saying to my self, you have a baby half out your vagina, you are not going any where sunshine. It was after another hour of pushing, fighting, begging and one my midwives said to me ‘just bring your other leg up into a full squat” that the head was born. Wow I thought, the baby is almost here, the baby is real. My precious baby. I couldn’t wait for the next surge baby had to come NOW, the only time I ever had that ‘I need to push’ feeling. I remember my midwife passing my baby to me. Holy shit a baby. It was a boy! A boy! We have a son! A beautiful healthy, chubby son, who I love so much already and I’ve only known for a few seconds. My baby. My son. I just birthed my 3.9kg baby at home with my amazing husband and mummy and my phenomenal midwives. I did it! Wow! Oh one more thing to do – birth the whenua. I remember turning over to sit on my bottom and going to pull my son up to my chest but his cord was so short and pulled on me, Ouch. I knew there must have been a reason the placenta was anterior (to accommodate the short cord). The placenta came relatively quickly and easily. And boy did it feel great to birth it. I remember the second midwife telling me it was a good size and heart shaped. We tied my sons cord off with Muka and kept him skin to skin and feeding. I felt as high as a kite after the birth. My oxytocin was through the roof. I felt amazing, strong, empowered like I could conqueror the world. I had my beautiful, precious son in my arms and my heart was bursting with love. The best adventure of my life was about to start with my amazing whanau. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of becoming a mummy.

Even though labour was long and tough it was the most amazing experience of my life and I can’t wait to do it again, at home. Some babies just need a bit more time and my son definitely did, I am so grateful we were at home. I owe my husband, mum and my amazing midwives everything. My midwives never stopped believing in me and my body and I will always cherish their care, these women will always hold a special place in my heart. They are an example of what an exceptional midwives are and a true asset to the midwifery workforce.