Here's my most recent homebirth...
I woke up on the 27th pretty upset once again at 41+5 I was pretty much just wanting a baby getting out of me experience, and that's exactly what I got..
My posts that morning brought up how over it I was, I considered visiting the IMs in Fremantle for a VE and a S&S Rob was having to take time off work because I was no longer coping emotionally, I knew all the risks of the above and doubted I would actually get one but decided to go in anyway. Clare was wonderful despite freaking me out by not being able to find Ella's heartbeat for a good 5 minutes, my heart sunk into confusion, I knew she was ok and Clare finally found it, back where she started looking. She than told me about a few births where the women had to consciously go into labour, she told me to just go home and have a baby- best advice ever! We got the boys ice cream on the way home and once there I retreated into bed for a much needed sleep..
As I slept I started having surges, they pulled me out of slumber around 2:30pm and I decided this was it, I was going to have this baby. Between early surges I prepped dinner, side stepping- plastering a wheat pack to my pelvis when needed and doing a little dance, Rob was playing with the boys outside. Once dinner was prepped I started pottering around with last min birth prep, my surges died down during this time, Rob had topped up the air in the pool and I needed his help to fit the liner over it, once that was done I moved the mattress back into the room and set up a nest for after/during the birth if needed. I then moved into the lounge to sit on a fit ball Rob had grabbed from a friend that morning, surges built up during this time and I continued the wheat pack routine- reheating it every 3-4 surges.
Rob finished off dinner and we ate, he showered and popped the boys to bed it was during this that I decided it was time to retreat into my birth room, after lighting my many candles and posting for anyone else who wanted to to light them as well, I spent time leaning over the fit ball in front of my little alter of candles, birth beads and beautiful notes I had shared with a group of women who were sharing the same estimated due date month, I listened to music during this time using my headphones, Rob popped in and asked if I wanted him with me I said I was happy alone but asked him to heat my wheat pack for me he brought it back and left me to it. I switched between leaning over the fit ball and sitting on it, I can only note times looking back now at my posts and it was at 7:41pm that I climbed into the pool, Rob was clearly dubbed hot water man and he bailed and added hot water as needed (which was often) the boys woke up not long after this, Oliver first thanks to the wild storm that had descended on our world. He napped on Robs arms until Connor woke and they were both up for the birth. I had switched my music to the stereo once I got in the pool and was happily humming along between surges.
It's amazing looking back how with it I was for this birth, thinking about it makes me wonder if the responsibility that comes with planning a free birth subconsciously made me more aware of what was going on around me, making sure I peed numerous times and I found myself checking my vagina for progress about 5 times and was pretty happy and encouraged to discover the first time that I could only feel about 2cm of cervix left, I knew she wasn't far away, if I gave a little push I could feel my waters bulging so I knew they were still intact. During this time my surges kept getting stronger and stronger, I had been doing the classic horse lips early on but had now changed to my previously tried with Oliver's birth AHHHing during them numerous times, I kept having to remind myself to keep it low and loose and that loose lips = a loose vagina! I reached the rest silently between surges stage and it was bliss though I noted I was beginning to fight them and ran different birth quotes through my head. I decided I needed a bit of womanly love and called a friend after smsing her that "this is insane, want drugs" she told me exactly what I needed to hear "no you don't" she offered to chat with me and I jumped at the chance I called her at 9:08 straight after a surge, our phone call lasted exactly 1 min before the next surge hit. I tried goingto the toilet after this as I felt a bit poopy but nothing came out and I bolted back to the pool.
Not long after this my surges reached that forever after forgotten all time strength and I started saying "come on baby" as my surges built up, my back was killing me despite her anterior position, other quotes from this time included "Rob I can't do this" numerous times, his reply was always the same "yes you can, you are doing it" at times I replied saying "I don't want too, just get her out" he would tell me I was nearly there and I knew he was right, I remember telling him that "next time I wanted drugs, I wanted an epidural, no I wanted a booked caesarean- stuff waiting around till 41+5 again" I was checking my progress every 2-3 surges at this stage, as I found it encouraging, my back was really hurting at this stage and I was moaning to Rob how much I also started feeling really hot and he started fanning me with a wet terry flat nappy that was flicking me with water (not his best birth support moment) I yelled at him and he grabbed a dry one. It was just after this I decided to try and break my own waters but I couldn't get a grip and just ended up with fingerfulls of mucus, my back felt like it was on fire though strangely I knew it wasn't as intense as Olivers birth my AHHing was getting grunty mid-end of surges and I asked Rob between surges to tell me if he could see the purple line in my butt crack, yep even during my own birth my curiosity had me asking questions.
After checking myself, I felt pretty dilated, I couldn't feel much of a cervix if any at all and I knew I was waiting for the fetal ejection response I felt during Oliver's birth and much different to the pushing reflex I felt during Connor's but I was getting impatient with the intensity so decided to try pushing to see how it felt, the relief was instant and cupping myself I began pushing, looking back it only took about 3-5 pushes but they were really hard work, I pooped and told Rob to "scoop" but he couldn't see any, I felt her waters bulging at my vagina and I panted twice before decide that was hurting too much and I'd rather deal with a tear, one more push and she went (as Oliver put it) pachow! out into the pool, I managed to catch her and scooped her under her arms and I bought her to the surface, I could feel she had no cord around her neck with my fingers straight away, knowing her waters broke as she was born but not being able to look myself I asked Rob if her face was clear and he leant over and removed a piece of caul, she started coughing straight away and I knew she sounded a bit chestyer than Oliver did due to her quick arrival from my lack of patience, she started crying on and off and didn't stop for a good while.
As I sat in the pool surges started up again and I knew the placenta wasn't far off, after 2 pushes it arrived with me saying "thank god for that" probably took less than 5 minutes Rob scooped it into a container and we got out the pool and into our little nest. We spent time greeting her and I quickly posted a photo to the July Mummas thinking it went onto my main wall it wasn't until much later when I went to check that I realized. I spent ages trying to get her to attach to my breast to help with the bleeding, I knew I was fine but wanted that back up happening she finally attached about 30mins after being born I'd say. I spent this time drinking what Rob later pointed out was 3 bottles of water. Rob boiled the cord tie and scissors and he tied and Connor cut the cord, it was pale, limp and cold at this point with a few blue clots. Oliver was quiet interested in the placenta asking questions about it and talking about how baby Ella came out of Mummies vagina, he was also keen to check how my bleeding was going as I kept an eye on a few gushes and clots.
Rob went and made me a peanut butter sandwich (soo yummy given I hadn't been able to eat white bread without feeling nauseous for the past 5 months) after I ate we weighed her, tiny at 3.5kg (7lb7oz) smaller than Connor by 200g and just 2lb smaller than Oliver had been, so not my predicted huge baby and way off my last scans estimate at 34 weeks of a bigger than Oliver baby especially since she went past that date by nearly 2 weeks. When Rob went to scoop her out of the blanket to weigh her he scooped some meconium too so we headed for the shower after that, climbed into bed and Rob took the boys to bed just before 2am, I spent the night baby gazing, napping and boobing!
The boys handled the birth quiet well, Oliver didn't leave Robs side once he woke and I chatted to him between surges telling him that I was ok, and that Mummies vagina had to get big so that the baby could come out and that sometimes that hurt, I reminded them both of the videos we had watched on Daddy's computer and they were both excited to have our baby soon, both of them would cover their ears when I was AHHing and Connor at times left the room to go play, which was what he was doing when Ella arrived, Rob called him in straight away after. They have both been loving her non-stop since she arrived and have been giving her lots of love which is beautiful to see.
My Unassisted VBAC HomeBirth of Rivi Cecilia
I have no idea how to begin writing this birth story – the birth itself was so incredibly fast that there isn’t really much to recount; but the pregnancy was a different story!
The whole way through the pregnancy I had felt uncomfortable. I truly believed that something was going to go wrong. After having two previously uneventful pregnancies, I really had no reason to feel this way – but I couldn’t shake it. Then at 34wks pregnant I began itching. Blood tests indicated that I may have obstetric cholestasis, a disease which I was not prepared to battle with in order to gain my second HBAC (Home Birth After Caesarean). I began preparing to meet my belly babe by 37wks. Even so, in the hopes that I may somehow beat the disease, I changed my diet, began acupuncture and chiropractic care, and within three weeks my blood tests had returned back to perfectly normal levels! I continued having blood tests every week and still, they were back to normal. My plans for HBAC were back on the table!
In those 3 short weeks that I had began preparing to meet my baby before my EDD, I had completely lost focus on allowing my belly babe to arrive in her own time, as I had began using natural induction techniques in a vain attempt to bring on labour. Needless to say, they didn’t work! Hundreds of dollars spent on acupuncture, naturopathy, herbs, tinctures and tonics… but my baby came when it suited her best. And I’m so thankful that she did!
By the time 41wks rolled around I gave in. I gave it to the gods, completely surrendered and stopped all induction techniques. Those final 5 days of pregnancy were bliss! My head didn’t feel so foggy, I didn’t feel any pressure to meet an expiry date, and I spent quality time with Grant and the kids. I can honestly say that by forgetting about WHEN I was going to meet my baby, I allowed myself to relax enough for her to make her perfect debut.
When labour did finally kick in at 41+5, I was completely ready for it. Grant had began his leave from work and I felt supported and assured. Jedd and Sage had unfortunately had gastro two nights previously and Grant woke up in the early hours of the morning with vomiting and diarrhoea. I woke up a few hours later with a little bit of vomiting, but mostly diarrhoea. Thankfully Jedd and Sage had recovered well and were booked into daycare that day. So after dropping them off early, we hopped into bed for a couple of hours of catch-up sleep. This is when my surges began – as soon as I laid down! They came every 10-15 minutes, and I would wake and rock my body through it, then lay back down for some more sleep. After 2hrs of rest I had a hot shower and the surges became a bit more intense – so I did what anyone does when they’re expecting to have a baby and went straight back to bed for another 2hrs! I kept this pattern up all day and finally got out of bed at 4pm.
I called my friend Erin to come around to hang out with me while Grant went to collect Jedd and Sage from daycare and grab some take away for them all for dinner. Erin arrived at around 5:30pm and we chatted away in the kitchen for an hour. I had to stop chatting when the surges hit, lean on the kitchen bench and rock my body through them. Whenever we stopped talking, Erins 5 month old son would gabble away – it was so sweet! Almost like he was talking to my unborn babe, and it reminded me what this was all about; meeting my baby! In that hour my surges picked up quite a bit. When Erin arrived they were still 9-12 minutes apart, but by the time she left at 6:20pm they were coming every 2-4 minutes and lasting for about a minute each.
Because Sages birth had gone on for 24hrs, I still felt like I had a long way to go and so texted Jo (my midwife) to let her know where I was at. She asked if I wanted her to come over yet – I ummed and ahhed and finally said that she should have some dinner first and take her time, but to head over when she was ready. I texted Britt (my photographer) at the same time and she arrived first. Just as well really – I’m glad she got some photos of me in labour at all!
Britt arrived just after 7pm and I was well and truly in labourland. My candles were lit, my birth affirmation posters were on the wall and the birth pool was being filled. None of it meant anything at the time though – my body had a job to do and my focus was on bringing baby earthside. I swayed my body through each surge and after a few more rushes went to sit down on the toilet.
Squatting down was the most amazing feeling – I rocked my body forwards and backwards through the surges, feeling every motion and movement within. Then the most incredible thing happened – I felt my body pushing! I had never felt this before, the intense urge to bear down. There was no fighting it, my scarred uterus was pushing my baby earthside. The very same uterus that had been sliced open for a caesarean; the uterus that had ruptured from a cornual ectopic pregnancy… this uterus was so strong and powerful that it hugged and squeezed my belly babe earthside.
I went back to the floor beside the birth pool and got down on all fours – this pushing felt so good! I could hear my voice rising and my face tensing, so focused on relaxing my jaw and lowering my voice. I reached down and could feel my babies head. The pool was too hot to get in, so whilst Grant bucketed hot water out and put cold water in I kept on all fours, rocking and feeling my body gently embracing my belly babe.
Finally I couldn’t stand it any longer – I NEEDED to be in that birth pool! It felt close enough to being the right temperature so I just hopped straight in and discovered that it was perfect. Time to meet my baby!
Grant took his shirt off and hopped in the pool with me. Three or four more pushes and Rivi made her way earthside into Daddies waiting hands! He lifted her straight up to my chest and I closed my arms around her little body. Love.
Five minutes later Jo came running in, and ten minutes after that I birthed the placenta. Everything was perfect and exactly as it should be. I felt empowered, amazed that I had achieved my second VBAC and in awe of it happening so quickly! I had never expected to have such a short labour and birth – it really took me by surprise. Rivi weighed 9lb 11oz, measured 57cm long and had a head circumference of 34cm. She was far too long for the 0000 outfits that I bought her and went straight into 000!
Rivi is now 5 days old. She is such a dream and so easy to love. Rivi has completed our family and taught me so much the last 10 months; patience more than anything else! But also her birth has taught me how important it is for women to be able to continue birthing at home assisted by a midwife. Even though Rivi arrived before my midwife did, homebirth needs to remain an option for women to choose when deciding where they wish to give birth. My daughters deserve the right to choose birth at home with a midwife and I will continue to write my letters, rally and protest for their maternal rights to be protected. If I don’t, who will.
DS - May 07 - c'sect
DD - Dec 08 - VBAC at Home
Surprise due mid September
My planned freebirth story is HERE
Mama of Four
DD - 2006 DS1 - 2008 DS2 - 2010 DS3 - 2012
I never thought that this would be me!
4 years ago my three daughters starting saying "Mummy, please can we have another baby?"
My husband and I were clucky too, so we started trying.
We had a miscarriage at 11 weeks ,which was such a bittersweet journey for us all.
When I realised I was pregnant again, I was so guarded. I never really allowed myself to fully enjoy and embrace the pregnancy - I was guarding my heart against the pain of loss.
I remember thinking "I won't fully relax until I have a live baby in my arms."
Late into the pregnancy, I found I was still struggling with fear. As a 4th-time homebirther and mature woman of 43, and after supporting nearly 100 other women through birth as a doula, you'd think I'd 'have it together' a tad more. But no, I was as vulnerable as any woman is when she goes through birth.
I became aware of the fact that I was holding on to fear related to the miscarriage. Deep down inside, I started mentioning this to God in my thoughts and prayers (I'm a Christian, this is just something that's normal to me.)
People starting sending me Blessingway messages, little notes written in cards and letters, which I started pinning up on my board in my birth corner. Again and again they were sharing verses from the Bible about fear - do not fear, I am with you, I will help you, my love will drive away all the fear, that kind of thing.
Finally at about 39 weeks it occured to me that if God was sending me all these messages about 'do not fear' surely that would mean I don't have anything to be scared of!
I really needed this reassurance.
I had a beautiful blessingway at 39 weeks. I had a massage, a footbath in fragrant herbs, and the women gave me blessingway beads and candles. My lovely 12 year old daughter painted the most amazing henna design on my tummy. Flowers in my hair. Everything this aging hippy child could want.
At exactly 40 weeks on the dot, I noticed some cramps happening at about 10 pm.
Kept schtum and went to bed.
Tightenings all night, and noticed some mucous plug passing when I went to the toilet. More tightenings all night, but I stayed in bed, kept to myself, just getting onto hands and knees when they happened.
In the morning I got up and asked dh to start pumping up and filling the pool. I kneeled over my birth ball and tied a heat pack round my tummy. I knew I was dilating and the pangs were a bit more painful that I expected.
My three daughters woke up and began to notice there was unusual activity going on and had eyes big and round.
Notice though, at this point I had not admitted to myself that I was in labour. I had not had a wee chat with God and celebrated the fact with him. I hadn't said as much to my dh. I didn't announce it to my children, I just let them figure it out.
I was playing safe. I was being guarded. I wasn't fully embracing it and entering into the wonderfulness of the moment. In case. In case - of what? In case it didn't work out well? The fears and tentativeness from pregnancy were now influencing my labour.
At 10 am we called my mum, doula friend and midwife friend to join us. My doula friend walked in to see me chatting and eating breakfast, then standing to lean forward for contractions. Her impression was that my body was way ahead of where my head was at. And she was right. My body was getting on with birthing this baby. But my mind was still trying to protect itself from - what? Something going wrong?
If I was serving as doula for a mama in this head space, I would gently challenge her to talk about her fears and doubts so she could let them go and get on with enjoying her birth, moment by moment. But I couldn't seem to do this for myself.
I decided to turn on some music.
The first strains of an amazing song by a Scottish band called Iona filled the room.
"... and here I am, out on the edge of the world ..."
The words and the melody so captured exactly where I was at, in this most sacred, place where even though we are surrounded by familiar, loving people, birth is something we do alone, in a mystical, amazing place ... on the edge of the world.
The flood gates released and I had a big cry and wanted to hug everybody.
"I'm crying because I'm happy!" I blubbed to my doula friend. She said, "I know."
Finally I could admit to myself and everyone that I was in labour and going to have a baby!
There was another song that I'd heard for the first time during my pregnancy, that gave me goose bumps when I heard it - "Healing Rain" by Michael W Smith. And now it was playing for my birth - "Healing rain is falling down ... I'm not afraid. I'm not afraid." Just those words, over and over, like a mantra.
Things then ramped up significantly. Good strong 'Puffing Billy' contractions. My doula brain was noting with satisfaction how the contractions picked up right after the emotional release. See that's how it is when a doula give birth, you can't quite separate your subjective experience from the objective observer's view!
I starting eyeing the pool. It was a fantastic deep one, much bigger than the usual Made in Water La Bassine. I loved it and climbed in.
My last three births were not painful. They weren't without exertion and effort and a fair bit of discomfort, but not what I'd call pain.
I didn't expect my 4th birth to be painful. But that's what this was - painful. I think the fact that I was lagging behind mentally, and not 'in the moment' with what my body was doing, meant that I wasn't in the Zone - that amazing labour-land place where you go really internal, a place of deep relaxation. I wasn't getting the usual rush of endorphins as a result - and I was feeling every bit of it, with not as much hormonal pain relief as the previous births. Perhaps. Birth is such a mystery, can we ever know?
I kneeled in the pool, my arms draped over the soft side of it. You couldn't get more comfortable a position in which to give birth. But I was not comfortable. I was quite a quiet birther during my previous births. Not this time. I started to roar, to really yell my head off during the contractions. One hit like a sledge hammer and I yelled and yelled. I was vaguely aware of my birth helpers encouraging me to lower the pitch - no chance - all I could do was yell! The cat was sleeping on the couch - her ears went back and she stalked off looking most affronted. The girls thought was hilarious. They were watching, rapt - not at all fazed by the din I was making. My doula friend thought I was in transition at that point.
"76.7% of NZ women are cared for by midwives. 3.18% of Australian women are cared for by midwives. Are Australian women sick? Only 12% of Australian women fit the medical\obstetric complication criteria."Rafferty, Ball & Aiken, Quality Health Care Journal, 2005
That was a horrible contraction. That sucked. I am not doing that again. No way. There has to be a better way. I needed to totally soften and yield and surrender if I didn't want to get totally dumped by the next wave.
My hands led the way. I laid my hands out, like someone meditating. If I could keep my hands open, I could keep my body open. My mum kindly thought I wanted someone to hold my hands, but actually I needed them open.
Sure enough the next contraction, though extremely intense, was not as bad.
It felt so tumultuous to me, and I thought I was noisy - but when I looked at the video later, it all seemed quiet and calm. It doesn't reveal the storm that was going on inside me.
I could feel my baby coming down. This was my first pregnancy with a posterior baby - who absolutely refused to budge no matter how much walking or OFP or Chiro I did. I was pretty sure he was a boy! I think he turned anterior somewhere on his journey.
He had a plan. I started feeling a ring of fire. I thought, heck, I've never had this with any of the other births! Those births felt good. This just hurt. I knew his head was nowhere near the perinuem, but already I was feeling stretching that really hurt.
It was an incredible experience to try to be so soft and open and trusting in the face of pure pain. This is the miracle that women do when they give birth and the reason why you are all AMAZING!!!
He started to emerge. I felt him suck back up again. And come down another way. "He's being very gentle with you," said my midwife friend as she watched his manouvrers. It really felt that this little lad had a plan. It did not feel very gentle to me, though!
There was a long gap between contractions. There was so much pressure up near my urethra. It hurt and it burned as he crowned and emerged.
My mind was still lagging behind. What - he's out? I was mentally scrambling to catch up. For so long I had looked forward to the experience of being in labour again, of giving birth again - and now I felt as if it was all slipping through my fingers.
He was in my arms, his caul still intact. Take the membranes off his face. Don't help. Let me do it myself. The cord is too short. I have to stand up and de-tangle him. I want to be cuddling him, not threading him about like a football. Oh baby, I'm coming.
Finally we are settling down in the pool, I am holding him in my arms. My focus is not absolutely absorbed in him. My brain is fried. My attention is scattered. I have this soft little being snuggled in my arms and I am not fully in my body, in myself for him.
I have a gulp of lovely warm After Birth tea, sweetened with honey. The placenta is easily born as I sit in the pool. The blood loss is hardly anything. I think the tea is good!
I'm resting on the couch, baby in my arms. The girls meet him, touch him, stroke him, kiss him. He's lovely.
My man has tears in his eyes. Seeing him born so gently brings up issues of his own violent birth, back in the days when they strapped his mother in stirrups, extracted the baby, strung him up by the heels, slapped him on the bum, took him away from his mother, poured acid into his eyes, circumcised him etc etc. It was deeply moving for him to see a little son enter the world so gently and easily.
Even if it hurt like heck for his mama!
They made up the Post Natal Bliss herbal bath for me and I climbed into it with my little baby son, the placenta still attached to him, floating in a bowl next to us. So there was me, baby boy and placenta all enjoying this blissful herbal soak together.
Soon we all de-camped to our bedroom and we decided to cut the cord eventually, just for practicality. We let baby Rory know what we were going to do, said a little prayer. We tied it with colourful plaited embroidery thread cords and cut the cord. All the girls had a hold of their new baby brother. They were aged 12, 10 and 8 and were delighted to be at the birth 'when they had a brain', as they say.
He was born at 1.32 pm, about 15 hours after the first niggle, and after a few hours (2? 3? of active labour) - that went by so fast I could hardly get my head around it.
He was my biggest baby at all of 8 pounds!! Just a spoonful of butter or so bigger than the girls.
This was my first boy, first posterior baby, first birth in Australia, first birth in our own home, first actual in-water birth and first baby to be born in the caul. And - the first birth that I can honestly say, actually HURT.
Losing our little one a couple of years ago was a special and sacred journey all of its own. It changed me and took away some of my innocence. It made me vulnerable, perhaps even weaker in some ways. I realise this, but I am not sorry. This is just part of the beauty and wonder and wisdom of life.
Realising that I was holding onto fear, that I was not able to fully relax, that I could not whole-heartedly embrace the pregnancy or even the experience of labour, that I was not fully in the moment or even fully in my body - does not fill me with regret or 'what ifs' or 'if onlys'. It just is what it is, and I am thankful for the experience, and what it's taught me about my own human frailty. Being able to love and accept myself, and love life, - even though it is less than ideal and I am less than perfect.
I feel so blessed to have a baby at 43 and to be breastfeeding him at age 44, and for my girls to have the experience with me.
This little baby was born safely and in the end, I had nothing to fear. I had wonderful support from my birth team, who allowed me the space to make the journey myself, which is all I wanted.
My midwife friend was truly there as my friend - she did not bring any of her gear into the house, not even a doppler. She asked me afterwards - "Did I do a good job of leaving off my midwife hat?" I said she did.
We called him Rory and used the Irish spelling, Ruaidhri. His second name is Zephaniah, because of a special verse in that prophetic book that says,"Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp.And so this little baby boy emerged in his caul and bounded into our lives, and we can't imagine what it was like before we had him.
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love
he will rejoice over you with singing."
"76.7% of NZ women are cared for by midwives. 3.18% of Australian women are cared for by midwives. Are Australian women sick? Only 12% of Australian women fit the medical\obstetric complication criteria."Rafferty, Ball & Aiken, Quality Health Care Journal, 2005