At age forty-two, for my second, and last, child, I chose to birth at home, with only my partner – because I trusted my body to birth.
Interestingly, despite my birth including three “medical emergencies”, all went smoothly.
In fact my birth was joyous, fun, exciting and very emotionally fulfilling.
Some people might label me “lucky” hearing my birth story. I believe we make our own luck.
I totally trusted my instinct, my baby and my body.
My individual circumstance:
I knew it was highly possible I would bleed post-partum (that’s my normal), AND, I came from a place of baby-separation-trauma from my sons’ birth, eight years ago.
I just couldn’t shake the fear of having to fight to keep my child with me again this time.
And I didn’t want my normal bleeding turned into emergency interventions that I didn’t need. And I didn’t want stress in my birth space that could slow my uterus recovery after birth.
Here is my birth-story:
“My dream birth would be in a cave, by firelight, with drums and wise women in a circle singing.
Of course, that wasn’t an affordable or practical choice, so I went for something close-ish -Government funded homebirth with Belmont Midwives.
Very sadly, they refused me due to some ‘B’ risk categories.
I booked an interview with the head obstetrician (OB) of the program to appeal for a place. I was given a registrar instead and she didn’t introduce herself. What she did do is tell me that if I want the “joyful” birth I am speaking of, then I will be more suited to birth with an independent midwife (IM), not with the hospital. She offersed me a place with the high risk OB team, but she cannot explain to me why I need high risk?
I told her “I just want to birth with midwives”. She told me that “some women” ask too many questions about their care. It took me awhile, but I finally realised that she meant that I was one of those “some women” and I also realised I was being rejected from hospital because I might “ask too many questions”??? (as it happens, I am sure I would have, as I am very well informed about birth. I also suspect they know I am a Hypnobirthing Educator and that I’ve declined un-neccesary interventions in the past.
I easily say “no thank you” to their offers of high risk hospital management of my birth.
I hire an IM who takes me on with the approval of their associated OB (further proof that I am actually not categorised as high risk? I still havent even mentioned to anyone about my propensity to bleed).
But I don’t even feel comfortable with an IM. I am afraid, afraid that a medical provider linked with the medical system will not allow me to bleed and then recover (as I know my body can).
I also being to feel more and more uncomfortable with having a man in my birth space. I have a history of sexual abuse and the only local IM at the time was a male.
Focusing on my own intuition, I become completely in-tune with my body and my baby. Each day I check in with the HypnoBirthing philosophy, asking myself do I feel natural, normal and healthy? Each day I nod ‘yes’.
I have no fear or birth. I have birthed before. I know I can do it. But I am carrying so much fear, fear that if my midwife follows procedure, this may mean an ambulance team could be called despite me not asking for one and this type of stress could hinder my uterus contracting after birth and be life threatening.
At 38 weeks, we let go of our IM. The financial burden is large and the stress of feeling hindered or under policy even larger.
I check with a trusted ‘wise woman’ if she can be available “just in case” and she is happy to believe in me (and my partner) and be on call if needed.
A mother births and is healed:
I expect a long gestation, as do all the women in my family, and I am not disappointed. Each day past forty weeks, I rejoice that my baby is developing lungs, brain and fat.
I grieve that I must release my last ever child from my womb. It is the saddest thing I have ever had to do.
I get upset at my partner for everything – he intelligently ignores my hormonal outbursts and finishes off our ensuite. At forty two weeks exactly I let my defenses down, we make love and some true, strong contractions begin. I have about seven of these surges during an afternoon nap, some strong enough that I need to breathe long, deep breaths to my abdomen and gyrate my hips backwards and forwards.
A little later we head out to the car to pick up my son from school and take him to his sport but my waters release. My partner and I agree he should still go, we assure each other there is time. I go back inside to find that I am suddenly in serious labour. I am happy alone though, it feels so emotionally blissful to have my body sensations to myself. I get a precious thirty minutes before I become stuck on the bed.
The contractions become so strong and unbearable, I tell myself “I will have to resign from my career as a birth educator – how can I educate women that they can cope with labour, if I cannot?”. Fortuntately I find that yelling “yes, yeeesss” and “I’m okay, I’m okkkaaay” help me through. The contractions come hard and fast and I feel my hips press outwards. It occurs to me that a HEAD is moving through my pelvis. I’m having thoughts such as “I give up, I just need to rest” and “no wonder women want to go to hospital, I wish I could cut this baby out”. To cope, I start yelling “it’s okay baby, you can come if you want to.”
My partner and son arrive home and my son is absolutely appalled to see his mother in so much pain and I feel self conscious. My partner organises my sons’ dinner and a movie in his room. As he retreats I just keep yelling “it’s normal, it’s normal!”
My noises have been sounding unmistakably pushy for awhile now and my partner has time to prepare warm cloth, pads in the hot pot (to protect against hemorrhoids or tearing), plus, hot towels for after birth.
I step off the bed intending to go and enjoy a hot bath. But as soon as my feet hit the floor, my body does a tremendous thrusting, jerking and I am involuntarily pushing! My body falls into a half squat. I feel bub’s head begin to press and I feel a small burning at my vagina. I find myself leaning over the adult bed with my partner behind me (the exact birth scene I imagined during my whole pregnancy). I instruct my partner “wipe any poo away gently and press the warm pad against me”. I feel so in love with my partner right now. His touch feels reassuring and protective.
With the very next contraction bubs’ head is steamrolling through and I hold my fingers wide on my labia/vaginal opening to support the skin. I pant instinctively to slow the head, telling myself again and again, “relax the muscle, allow the head out”. Phew, the head is born and I am intact.
The next couple of contractions are not long and not very strong and I can feel my baby is obstructed. I try different positions, but I’m still in my thinking brain. Next I find myself throwing my body forward. I’m in my animal brain now! – acting by pure instinct. I find myself on the bed on my hands and knees, bum jutting high. I feel something shift again and then I am still. My conscious mind feels calm and peaceful (my animal-self is poised for action).
My partner is calm and trusting, he knows that women birth best unhindered and that he is not expected to help “deliver” the baby.
The next contraction is a strong and powerful one. I’ve waited four and a half minutes to birth my child’s body and the time is NOW. One very long, deep groan as my upper body rears high and I birth on my knees and out she plops, super-massive, gushy waters and unravelling of the cord.
Oh my gosh my beautiful baby is lying below me! I leap backwards off the bed, stand and scoop her up. She is warm and amazing, pale and floppy. I blow on her face and she gasps. Her breathing instinct is intact and I know at some deep level that she is well.
I immediately call for my son as I cradle her to my chest. I must offer my son the choice to be with us, the choice that was ripped from him as a baby. He arrives by our side. And our healing has come full circle.
It’s as if, somehow, I needed to show my son that I could do it, I could birth a baby and keep her safe, I could correct my mistakes as a mother.
My precious child is breathing, but slowly and meekly and I know that she will benefit from her blood from the placenta. I lie on the bed and she is increasingly breathing herself earth side and within moments she cries herself pink. I’m falling in love with my daughter, I tell her “I was disturbed too, it hurt me too” and she continues to cry at me.
I get a massive contraction and I know my body is effectively clamping off the blood vessels and separating the placenta. I move to the bathroom and birth the placenta in two strong contractions. But I have already bled lot of blood, as per my normal. One wise-midwife way to signal to the body to stem post-partum bleeding is to place a piece of placenta in the gum. I do that and I find it so sweet and salty, I end up chewing the goodness out of the piece, discarding it and then urgently asking for more! I’ve never been one to advocate consuming the placenta, but I did always say, “if it’s instinctive, I’d do it”.
I am sitting against a bathroom wall. I don’t think of it, but it is easy to faint with low blood pressure in this position and I drift off focus a number of times. I refocus to my partner saying my name. I feel my uterus and it feels like a hard contracted uterus. I tell myself, “phew I’m okay”. But I drift off again so easily. My partner is looking stressed. But not panicking.
IF I’d felt weaker in my body, I would have just said “call the ambulance”. But it never happened.
My intuition is telling me all is well, my thinking brain is thinking negative fears – I just want permission to rest. I call my wise woman. We talk and I assess myself with her calm voice allowing me to tune into my body. Yes, I am okay. She suggests I eat a banana and lie down with my feet elevated. Makes perfect sense.
I eat a banana. It tastes even more delicious than the placenta. I lie down and feel a million times better. I do not pass out again. I am fine.
Wow, what an experience!
What could have been considered ‘emergency’ after ‘emergency’, was birth to our family.
I think to myself: “I can clear a stuck baby, my baby can breathe herself back to life, and my body can recover from major blood loss.”
~~ The human body is amazing ~~