MY AMAZING, GENTLE, POSITIVE BIRTH!
I'm attempting to write my baby's birth story while they quietly snooze on my lap. Other new parents will understand this learned skill of bringing multitasking to the next level.
My guess date came and went on Dec. 18th. As 40 weeks passed, I grew more impatient but also more hopeful that my baby would hopefully not be born on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. While there is certainly nothing wrong with having a baby on either of these days, I think these two are solidly on the list of "days I would prefer my kid not be born" for many parents. I am no exception.
Christmas came and went. On St. Stephen's Day I found myself on my due date Facebook group telling the other expectant mums that I was feeling emotionally and physically done. I was ready to meet my baby. I didn't know it at the time, but hours later I would go into labour!
Around 8:30 PM I experienced a couple tightening sensations very low in my pelvis, versus in the abdominal area. Were these contractions? I noted them anyway and went about my evening putting my youngest to bed and getting ready to take a shower. Just before going into the shower I used the toilet and saw that I had begun to lose my mucous plug! I had never started to lose it prior to active labour so this was something different for me. I sent a message to my midwife telling her what I saw and then told my husband tonight could be the night. I took my shower and came out to my husband and teenage son putting some items away. They knew me well enough to start cleaning a few things. Giving birth in a house that was not tidy would irritate me. After putting a few things away we started a family board game. I sat on my birth ball as everyone else sat normally around our sitting room coffee table. I found myself both distracted and irritated during the board game. The "tightening sensations" were now clearly contractions, which I began to time on an app on my phone. They started to become more frequent and were really manageable.
After the board game the kids went to bed and my husband and I stayed up watching tv and relaxing. The contractions started to slow down around 11 PM so I suggested maybe a little intimacy would help them pick up again. They started to pick up a little, but at midnight I decided we should go to bed. No point staying up with contractions that were mild and manageable when I could attempt to get some sleep! At 3 AM I was woken up by the contractions that started to become more painful and regular. I went downstairs and used both my CUB and birth ball to position myself as I watched tv and had a snack. My husband and teenager moved the kitchen table out of the dining room and brought out the already inflated birth pool. My husband started to fill it and checked in on me regularly. My contractions were approx 7 min apart and ranged from mild to moderate. At 6 AM my husband and I decided to cover the birth pool, which was really hot, and try to sleep again.
Surprisingly, my older children slept in until 8 AM. My contractions had slowed to 13-23 min. apart but when they did come, they were definitely more moderate. I wondered if my older children being awake would decrease my oxytocin levels and thus, slow my labour. I texted my midwife and promised to keep her updated. I felt certain my contractions would slow down or stop completely. From 8-9 AM we did our normal routine- got the kids breakfast and they quietly started playing with the toys they got for Christmas. I told my husband things probably wouldn't pick up so he could run to the shop and I would be fine at home... boy was I wrong!
At 9 AM it was like someone flipped a switch! Suddenly my manageable contractions became painful and difficult to talk through. I found myself hunching over and breathing through them as they came on every 3-5 min. My three older children being in the house suddenly became incredibly annoying. I admit that I quickly became a bit rude and pushy to everyone, but especially my husband. I WANTED THE KIDS OUT OF THE HOUSE NOW! and I told him so. My husband and I began packing up the three older children- a few snacks, spare clothes and the "nana and grandad birth bag" that I had previously packed were gathered. I got my toddler dressed in between contractions that were taking my breath away and making me cranky. My husband frantically tried to de-ice the car and broke the scraper in the process. He left with the kids to bring them to my mother and father in-laws' house that is just five minutes away. (He later told me he was so afraid he was going to miss the birth while he was away!)
At this point my husband was gone and I had just texted my midwife, who also wasn't with me, three words- "I need you." It's honestly all I could mentally think of and physically text. The contractions came on fast and furious. Being alone for those 15 min. felt like an ETERNITY! The contractions felt more painful and I felt much more emotionally overwhelmed by them. I tried different birth positions while upstairs in my bedroom. Nothing felt comfortable. I knew I had to get downstairs to the dining room where the birth pool was set up. I slowly made my way down the stairs between contractions as I tried to relax, although I wasn't very successful at that point.
Oh wow. The warmth of the birth pool was wonderful. I still felt deeply, deeply alone and could not wait for either the midwives or my husband to get home. The midwives arrived first and let themselves in, as I had told them to do. My husband arrived a min. or two later. My vitals were taken and baby's heart beat was checked- all was well. At this point I started to cry. I don't know exactly why but I think it was mostly because of overwhelm. Nature does a great job of helping us forget just how much hard work is involved in birth. When the kids were gone and I was surrounded by my support team, it was like I suddenly realised and had to admit this is happening. I am in labour. This is going to be hard work and I've got to lean into it to bring this new soul into the world.
I spent the next hour in the birth pool doing my deep breathing and visualisation. As soon as my husband returned home I had him put on my favourite hypnosis track that I had listened to regularly during my pregnancy. Yes- I did find it helpful! It helped me focus on my breathing and took my attention away from the contractions (surges) and their intensity. The most comfortable labouring position was kneeling, but not on all fours. I attempted leaning back, sitting with support and on all fours but those were definitely not helpful. I remember that I kept looking at my vision board, which was so conveniently placed in the dining room. I read the positive birth affirmations and looked at the pictures of my three older children. Their smiling faces helped me get through the toughest parts. I also found my husband incredibly helpful. He kept bringing me water and snacks and stayed near me. That is something I really craved during this labour, more so than my previous ones. I wanted him right next to me. Maybe I felt that way because he had been gone for 15 min (an eternity!) earlier in the labour? Now that he was home he was not permitted to leave me, ha! He rubbed my shoulders, back and hips as needed intuitively. I felt like we were really in-tune with each other. He wiped a cool cloth along my brow and helped me change positions as needed.
At one point I wanted to get out of the pool and into the bathroom. As I used the toilet, I heard a big POP! and my water broke! My midwife came in and asked if I thought my waters had broken. I told her more than once that I didn't know. It's clear to me now that I really was not using my "thinking brain" but had started to rely on my primitive brain while in labour. This one question required more energy and attention to answer than I was willing to give. (I look back at this moment and chuckle because it was so obvious that yes, my amniotic sac had burst!) I felt really comfortable sitting on the toilet but my midwife urged me to get back into the pool. Looking back now, I realise she knew I was closer to the end than even I did! I slowly made my way back to the birth pool.
During the next contraction I felt indescribable bulging in my perineum. Wait. Wait. Wait! I thought to myself... how is this possible!? I have not been actively pushing! This is the beauty of the human body. Your body and your baby know when it is time. My uterine muscles had been tightening around my baby. My body had been working as nature intended while I brought my mind's attention to my breathing, my vision board and the hypnosis track playing in the background. The next contraction brought my baby's head to my vaginal opening! I was so overwhelmed because again what the hell!? I haven't been pushing! and I remember saying "help me! help me! help me!" I didn't realise the baby would be emerging right at that moment! Truth be told, just minutes earlier I thought I had hours to go before this baby would be born! The two midwives quickly came to my side and instructed me on how to breathe to slow the crowning process. I'm soooo happy they were there! Two seconds later and my baby's head emerged... and there it rested for awhile. I told my husband to get the camera and he has several pictures of me with my baby's head outside my body. I kept my hand on my baby's head as this happened...
My baby's head turned not once, not twice, but three times after it had emerged with my hand gently resting on it. I also felt the baby's body turn while still inside me several times! This was... amazing! Intellectually, I knew the baby's body would make an internal rotation before fully emerging but to be so present during birth as to feel it was something new to me! I felt everything! One small push later and the rest of my baby's body emerged at 11:04 AM on Dec. 27th. Their eyes were wide open and the umbilical cord rested across the back of the neck. I gently released it, lifted the baby to my chest and sat back as a towel was draped over us both. I looked and we had...
... a baby boy!
Welcome to the world baby Graham! We love you so!
Early labour= 12 1/2 hours. Active labour + transition= 2 hours.
Following Graham's birth I went into the sitting room where I began to rest and started breastfeeding him. My older children arrived back home approx 30 min. after his birth. We didn't tell the children if they had a new brother or sister, we let them see for themselves. We began the umbilical cord burning process for baby Graham as a family. At this point I suddenly started to feel light-headed, nauseated, very tired and my blood pressure dropped. I turned pale and my husband plus the midwives noticed that I had started bleeding a bit more. The midwives are equipped with syntocinon (synthetic oxytocin) in case of emergency so they could have given me the injection to help stop the bleeding. Because I'm a Placenta Remedies Specialist and have been properly trained, I knew in some cultures if a new mother is bleeding following birth, she may be given a small piece of her raw placenta to place in her mouth. This supposedly helps stop such bleeding. I asked the midwives if I could try this first, which they agreed to. My husband removed the small piece of raw placenta and I placed it between my gum line and cheek. Within a few minutes everything improved! The bleeding slowed, eventually stopped and I no longer felt all of those awful symptoms. I continued to be monitored for well over an hour and the injection was not needed, although I certainly would have opted for it if the bleeding had continued!
Our bodies are truly amazing and I was so happy to be able to snuggle in bed with my new baby boy after a peaceful home birth.