Conversation in a Birthing Bath with Ibu Robin.

I sat in a water birthing pool into the night

Flowers and oils floated on the water and a small torchlight shone through the darkness

It was dark, it was dark, it was so dark

I could hear

I could hear everything for miles around me


I could hear the midwives talking in a low voice

Check the water temperature

It’s too warm

It should be 38 degrees only.

Dilation normal.


I can hear the frogs outside singing in unison with my breathing

My son giving me wise words and counting my breathing

My husband holding my hand

While I crush his fingers until they turn purple and almost break

He can feel

And then I tell him to multiply it by 10

And he’ll know how painful birth is.


I am centered

Connected to the universe around me.

You come in

Cool down the water pretty much straightaway

Turn to me and we start musing between labour pains.

“Make as much noise as you like,” you say.

“I’m sure your neighbors love you,” I answer.

“Yeah, we used to have the neighbor throw stones on the roof during birthing but he did it to one of the Cok dads in here and got told off, so he never did it again.”

You smile at the memory

I want to giggle so I do

I want to yell a little bit while the pain kicks in so I do.

And then I’m overwhelmed by everything.

I just need time by myself.

“Can I have a little bit of time by myself?

You know, to have a pee?” I ask.

“Sure. It’s totally up to you what you want,” you turn to the midwives and everyone leaves

I simply cannot believe how easy it is to ask

I can’t believe I’m the master of my own birth

I can’t believe I’m alone

I’m alone

Giving birth

On an island called Bali.

I kind of smile to myself.

“What the fuck?” I wonder to myself.

I have a pee.

Then faster labour convulsions kick in.

“You okay in there?” you are calling.

Slowly you come in the door.

Suddenly the pain is so intense I think I’m going to actually rise up and scrape the ceiling with my head.

I just need that water—

Both calming and anaesthetizing at the same time

I scramble for the water

It’s probably not the most elegant sight and thank God nobody else is there to see it 

But we kind of laugh

About the amazing quality of water

During birth

How on earth

I ever got through my first birth

Without water.


Time to call in the troops.  The baby is close.

My 10-year-old son counts me in

“Breathe mum, hold for three and breathe out.”

He’s like a rock.

He steps into big shoes as he counts me through.

I look at him

Right at him

And I know he’s becoming a beautiful man

With a wisdom beyond his years.

He looks right back at me

And keeps counting in

My breathing.

“Fully dilated; don’t push too hard,” you say.

Actually, I’d quite like to stop.

I want to stop now.

This is too much

I really can’t do this

I ask if I can change my mind

I’m hoping that it’s going to be as easy as asking everyone to leave the room

What was I thinking?

Did I really think I could do this at 40?

How truly ridiculous is this?

What was I thinking….

I start up and you laugh gently

A low, fun laugh

Like you know that I know

It’s all kind of taking the piss out of the situation to try to deal with pain

Real pain

Not just breaking your arm pain

Or smacking out a tooth pain Really, really cut and twist in multiple, salted wounds pain and then pouring vinegar in there too and jabbing 20 more times as hard as is humanly possible.

“You’re actually there already. Just one final push….”

You gently laugh again.

“But actually I can’t.

I just can’t.

I can’t

I can’t

Look at me?

Look at the size of my vagina in comparison to the baby’s head

I’m sorry but it’s just not possible.”

Another skin-tearing push comes and I yell again.

“Yeah, well, millions of millions of women are with you on this one over millions of years,” you point out.

“I’m sorry I just give in,

I can’t,”

I moan.

You are laughing now, “You would be surprised how many women say the same thing

But I’m telling you,

I can see the crown of your baby’s head.

One more push.”


So then

So then you offer to speed it up

By pulling back some unpronounceable flap of skin that lives down there.

As you do this it’s so painful it’s like,

It’s actually like having my tongue pulled out of my mouth as hard as possible

And nailing it to the table

And we all stop that one


So then

So then

We wait

And just before dawn my daughter starts to arrive.

Every doula, every midwife starts a Balinese prayer

Chanting in unison

My son and husband chant too

The energy in the room jumps tenfold

I am honoured

Like I have never


In my life been honoured.

As I give the last


We are honoured.

My memories of pain

Be first to comment