Jude’s Birth. Sunshine and waves…
The weeks leading up to Jude’s birth had their ups and downs and were an emotional roller-coaster for me. I wanted to surrender to the in betweeness, that feeling of being on the precipice, the excitement, the nervousness – but I couldn’t. Handling midwife problems, facing challenges in my closest relationships and making tough decisions about post-date interventions all kept me from turning inwards. The final three weeks of pregnancy brought a symphony of movements (I even started to time contractions one night) but they faded with the morning light each time and left me wondering if I’d imagined them into being by wanting labour to start so badly.
Keeping the faith that I WOULD give birth, and that Jude and my body held knowledge that my conscious mind was not party to, became increasingly difficult as time went on. Fear and anxiety began to creep in. I feel blessed that I had such unwavering support from my close friends and partner at that stage. The morning of Jude’s birth I had a midwife appointment to discuss alternatives to my planned homebirth and another offer of a stretch and sweep. I was already feeling quite crampy when I arrived at the clinic at 11am. I couldn’t fully trust that labour was finally happening but deep down, I knew this was different – each surge lifted the hairs on my arms and neck and brought with it faint rushes of euphoria. All the fear and anxiety of the past few weeks melted away and left a focussed calm in their wake.
Some innate sixth sense led me to the health store after my appointment. I bought a homeopathic spray for anxiety and panic. I was confused as to my reasons for buying it at the time, as both my midwife and doula were trained homeopaths, but I bought it anyway. Jase dropped Jacob and I home and went to work on the understanding that he’d come home early if things started to develop. I was eager to spend quality time with Jacob, but he wanted to watch ‘Racing Snails’ while we ate lunch together. By this stage I was fairly sure that Jude was coming but I was scared that I would jinx it if I called my midwife or doula. I decided I would wait for my waters to break or a show before I made the call. Neither came.
At around 1.30 Jacob’s Nanna arrived to pick him up for the afternoon. I was barely able to speak to her and I remember feeling strangely disassociated as I stood hugging Jacob in blazing sunshine. I was craving a walk on the beach, and felt desperate to feel the ocean, but knew I needed to wait for Jase to get home. I took my Swiss ball onto the deck and began to dance to my favourite trance music in the sunshine. The surges increased in intensity as I danced my heart out and I FINALLY believed Jude’s birth was happening. The lyric, “Let your fears go, you might find your way back home’ resonated deeply as I accepted that I would soon give birth. Jase arrived home and I was still intent on a walk on the beach. I still believed that ‘true’ labour was hours away. Being the sensible one, Jase called the midwife and doula and began to fill the birthing pool, gently suggesting that walking on the beach was not the best idea. I used the TENS, then lost faith in it and instead got Jase to push a hot water bottle onto my lower back. The surges came and went, and I still felt that birth was far in the distance.
Jase was my rock, massaging my hips and reminding me to relax as I breathed through the intensity. I remember feeling his calm, controlled presence then looking up to see him maniacally spraying the ‘panic’ spray into his mouth. It must have been challenging for him – I desperately needed him to be touching me through each surge but also needed him to bring water, cool cloths and other comfort items and there wasn’t enough time in between for him to fetch them! I asked Jase to take off his watch, but I was still aware that little time had passed when I decided I needed to be in water. As the pool was still filling, I made my way down the hallway to the shower, very, very slowly. I was thinking: ‘just this breath. just this breath’
When I realised that there wasn’t enough water pressure for a shower, the first needle of doubt pricked my mind. ‘I am not sure I can do this for much longer.’ I was still waiting for my waters to break and believed I had hours and hours to go. I started needing to vocalise to focus my breath. I remember feeling really annoyed when Jase closed the window as it made me conscious of the noise I was making! I decided to get in the pool anyway and Jase phoned the midwife. He asked if I wanted her to come and I decided ‘not for a while yet’, believing I would be coping better once in the water.
Getting into the pool was AMAZING! I breathed easily through the next surge and then….nothing! It felt like 5 minutes of total emptiness, it was absolute bliss. Then my waters broke with an extremely loud ‘poof’. The pressure and need to push became overwhelming. Jase’s reminders to breathe and relax were not working and I became lost, unable to fight or surrender to the sensation. Our midwife chose this time to arrive, all she said was, “Go floppy” and I magically did. And just like that, I was calm again. When she asked about the pressure, I told her that I needed to push. She counselled me to wait. So I thought to myself, ‘Not yet. Not yet. No pushing. Just this breath. I want him out. Puuuuuush. No. Breeeeeeaaaathe. Just this breath. Just this breath.’
I didn’t want to feel Jude’s head as he crowned. I also didn’t want to move from my position on all fours – I was positive I would break if I did! The second midwife arrived, and I was vaguely irritated at the interruption. Although not as irritated as when Jase’s phone rang a few moments later. The spell was broken, and I realised I was not going to shatter so I turned round so I could catch my baby. I heard, “His head will be born with the next contraction.” Then the release of pressure so stunning that it took my breath from me. I put my hands down and his head was the softest silkiest thing I have ever touched. The elation hit me.
‘Nearly there’ I thought, ‘nearly there. He’ll be with me soon. Focus. Focus. Breathe.’
The midwife later told me that I was amazing at this point – beaming as I worked through the last few pushes. Two more pushes and I reached down and brought him up to my chest. The midwife removed the cord from around his neck and he cried way louder than I had expected and startled me. He looked so different to the baby in my imagination. He was so different and so beautiful. I didn’t cry. I wasn’t exhausted. He found my breast. Jase and I drank champagne and coconut water and ate crackers and salmon. The placenta came with ease. It was so simple, so beautiful. I felt so alive and present and proud. We did. We waited. He came and it was perfect.