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…born into water at home 14th June 2012

Before writing my second birth story i think a little preface of the first one is appropriate. It was your typical pregnancy with no complications. We completed the calm birth classes and were looking forward to a natural water birth in the hospital.

Unfortunately my labour was quite long, labelled ‘failed to progress’, administered with an epidural and pitocin and then on a 4-hour clock… and since my contractions pretty much ceased during this 4 hours and no baby arrived we had an emergency c-sec. Our son was born at a healthy 3.8kgs, perfectly healthy but seemingly stuck in the birth canal for a while. His head was quite misshaped for a day or so.

What followed was a c-sec wound that popped open on day 5, a huge infection, an open c-sec wound for 9 weeks with daily hospital visits for wound dressings and eventually another operation to clean my wound and seal it up again. It was hard, tiring and i felt sick and incapacitated for at least 4 months post birth. Emotionally, it took a lot longer than 4 months for me to heal.

As soon as we decided to get pregnant again i decided i definitely wanted a natural birth, so we started planning our vbac. I hired a wonderful doula to help us with our journey, began yoga classes, joined a vbac support group and booked into the same hospital… and thus our journey began.

The hospital seemed very encouraging of my vbac plans and i got in with the community midwives so i was very confident that i would get my natural birth. Unfortunately after 2 borderline (and i mean only just borderline!) tests for gestational diabetes i was transferred to the high-risk clinic. I was no longer allowed the care of the community midwives and i was seeing Dr’s who were talking about ‘doing things’ to me once i got to a certain date… 38/39wks… this was not in my plans.

After a week of continuing to eat my normal foods and testing my blood 4 times a day i had not one high blood sugar test (not a single one!). I was perfectly healthy with no signs or symptoms of GD and i was absolutely confident that there was nothing unhealthy about myself or my baby. I was doing yoga, meditating and communicating with my baby as often as i could and together we were sure that we did not need any intervention. Despite my best efforts to prove my health to the Dr’s they were unwilling to listen and my care with the community midwives remained discontinued.

In hindsight, and after reading recent medical data, i would have declined all testing for GD.

It was decision time – After another visit to the hospital ending in tears i had a good chat with my doula, Lauren, about my fears, followed by night of quiet mediation with my baby. In the morning i decided it was time to at least explore the option of a homebirth. My husband and son were in Adelaide together at the time and so i called him to seek his opinion. He was initially hesitant but open to discussion and together we decided to at least talk with an independent midwife, and we met Lisa.

By 34 weeks we decided to change our hospital plans to homebirth plans and from there we never looked back. To be honest, if you had told me that i’d be planning a homebirth at 34wks i would have laughed at you… and felt very uncomfortable, but after all we’d been through it just felt so right.

During my final 6 weeks of pregnancy i had one appointment a week with Lisa, each one was as encouraging as the next. It felt normal and i started to really believe that we’d have our baby at home. I had a wonderful blessingway, belly henna, made placenta plans and got ambulance cover – just in case!

The Birth Story…

June 13th – I had recently smashed my fancy touch screen phone and acquired a much less fancy one as a replacement. As part of the set-up my new phone i realised that i had not entered the ‘due date’ (or birthday) of our baby. Since falling pregnant i always said my due date was the 14th. The first hospital scan we had said the 13th and the hospital had written it down wrong as the 15th… but i maintained the 14th and this is the date i entered into my phone as our little girl’s birthday.

June 14th – i was woken with mild contractions at 3am. These contractions were not regular or overly painful and i continued to doze on and off until 6am. I sent a text to Lauren and Lisa saying that i was feeling mild contractions and that today seemed like a nice day to have a baby.

Contractions continued every 5 – 10mins and we sent our 2.5yr old son, Jackson, to daycare. I also packed up his things to spend a day or two at Nana’s house, which is only a few minutes away, then had a good  breakfast of eggs and toast. I knew my parents were returning home from their 2 week cruise today and that my Mum could stay at my Nana’s to help if need be. Subconsciously i think i was waiting for my Mum to get home before having the baby. I knew she was worried about the homebirth and i wanted her to know we were ok. I also wanted her to help my 81yr old Nana with our 2yr old!

At about 10am i put the beef and red wine casserole in the slow cooker, i had been planning my post-birth meals for a few weeks now and wanted this to be my first ‘real meal’. I was so happy not to have hospital food on the menu! At 11am i was tired of having contractions that didn’t seem to be doing anything and so i took a nap while i listened to my calmbirth cd for an hour.

I woke up and had chicken soup for lunch and cooked a groaning cake for post-birth ‘birthday’ celebrations. Contractions continued on and off, getting regular and then dropping off again in the afternoon. Once again i went to bed and took a nap, this time listening to Shamanic Drums. When i woke i was quite disheartened that i felt my contractions had stopped again and that i wasn’t progressing… the last remaining fears from my first birth were coming to the surface to be dealt with. My husband Matt had said he heard me have 2 contractions while i was sleeping but i didn’t believe him. Who sleeps through contractions?

About 4pm i spoke with Lauren  and told her i was feeling disheartened and she helped me verbalise my fears about not progressing. I had a bit of a cry and spoke to her for a few minutes about trusting myself and my baby. I felt a bit better after that. Then Lisa came for our 40wk visit and i had another little cry about the same thing. She checked the baby’s position and assured me that she was not posterior (another fear which stemmed from the first birth) and that we were all perfectly prepared for the birth.

During her visit my parents returned from their cruise and were at our place picking up their car. I could feel my contractions becoming more regular and a bit more intense but i was still not convinced that i was progressing, i was sure they would drop off again and that i’d be in pre-labour for days!!

Everyone left about 6ish, i think? This is when my labour really kicked in. I recall having a few quite intense contractions and wondering why Matt was in the kitchen cooking sausages and chicken chippees… each contraction was obvious by my verbalisations and he would come running from the kitchen and put pressure on my lower back. The verbalisations i practised at yoga were amazing at helping me through each contraction and the counter pressure on my back reduced the pain by about 50%.

At some point i allowed a chicken chippee into my mouth and regretted it and i remember thinking “why did i let Lisa go home… and why haven’t i called our doula yet?!”

We called Lauren and she was at our place within 20mins. It was about 7pm and things were getting serious. I was labouring in the bathroom, which came in handy when i had to use the toilet! Lauren made me a labour aid drink but i think i was too deep in my labour to appreciate it, i was still sipping water but only because someone kept shoving a straw in my mouth, thank you ‘someone’!

This is kind of where my memory gets hazy and i thank the birth gods for labour hormones J

I was in transition and i felt completely out of control, yet completely in control at the same time. I hopped in the shower and put my head right in the corner against the tiles and as i verbalised my Ohms, Haa’s and Ohhh’s i could feel the humming vibrations all around me. I remember thinking “yay for wall to wall tiling and its wonderful acoustics” although i’m sure my neighbours disagreed!

It was somewhere around this point that Lisa came back… although i have little recollection of who called her, or when. Although i knew she had arrived, her arrival was so peaceful and laid back that i barely noticed. She was listening to me labour and perhaps blowing up the birth pool? I’m sure she also came and checked the heart rate with her Doppler at some point… but i don’t recall. I know that in the midst of transition when i almost lost it completely she laid a quiet hand on me and made me feel like everything was going to be alright.

It was about 9.20pm when my water broke with a very distinct “pop” and amongst the birth haze i was able to stop, take note and say “my water just broke!” It was a very exciting moment for me as this didn’t happen in my first birth and it made my experience feel different and i definitely knew i was progressing then.

I knew the pool was full and Matt had suggested we go to it a couple of times but during transition this just felt like too much to do and i wasn’t sure i could have a contraction in the hallway without having a complete meltdown… so i waited. During this whole time Matt had stayed by my side, using counter pressure, encouragement and breathing with me to help me stay focussed, his unwavering support is etched in my mind forever. Truly the best birth support husband ever!!!

Although i didn’t know it at the time my contractions had changed a bit and i was getting ‘pushy’ in the bathroom. It was at this point i felt ready to get in the pool and so i did the walk… and as soon as i got one leg in the pool i just felt so relieved that i almost jumped in. Lauren had done the most wonderful job of completing our birth space with aromatherapy, music, candles and most of all her divine presence and belief in me… just knowing she was there was enough to make me feel confident.

As soon as my body was immersed in water i felt the haze lift, transition was over and i was pushing. Each contraction was an opportunity to help bring my baby into the world and i wasn’t going to waste a single one. My yogic chanting had its time and was gone. In its place was a raw and powerful noise that came from deep within. I felt like a lioness roaring for her cub and nothing could stop me.

After a few pushes i realised that i had no idea how dilated i was… another fear creeping in… i stopped and said something along the lines of “I’m pushing. Am i pushing? I think i’m pushing. Should i be pushing yet? I don’t know if it’s been long enough?” From the look i got from Lisa i realised that everything was just perfect and that i simply needed to trust my body and go with what i was feeling… and back to being a Lioness!

I don’t recall the pushing stage being painful at all. I remember the pool being replenished with hot water from the pots on the stove… the smoke alarm going off from all the pots being on the stove… not letting Matt go to fix the smoke alarm because i would not let him out of the bear grip i had on his hands… then one tiny little bit of pain – one little tear – and then i could feel her descending.

Slowly during each contraction i could feel the head of my little girl move down and then back up again, slowly stretching me and moving back up. My pushes got stronger and stronger as her head moved further and further down. I felt my pelvic bones readjust to make more room and i recall vocalising the word “Open” to encourage this movement.

I also remember stopping and saying “I can so totally do this!”

Shortly later, time had no meaning, her head emerged… and i took a little break. Then in a couple more pushes her body was born.

Although we planned for Matt to catch her i had completely forgotten and would not release him from my grip, so our wonderful midwife Lisa brought her to my chest and i breathed her in, taking in everything i could.

Ruby Jane Ash was born at home into water at 10.34pm 14th June 2012 weighing 3.9kgs (8 pound 8 ounces) and 52cms long.

…but alas, our story doesn’t end there… once our little cherub was born we realised it was a little cold. Lisa suggested that we slip down into the water a little more so that Ruby could stay warm. So i wiggled a little and slipped down we did! So much so that i dunked my newly born baby back into the pool. She swallowed/inhaled a little water and we had to give her some oxygen but she was perfect.

So there we have it, i dunked my newborn and will never live it down… but it was still the most perfect birth i could ever have imagined.

We cut the short cord once it finished pulsing and i birthed the placenta after about an hour.

While the ladies cleaned up we had some wonderful skin to skin time and started breastfeeding and when the cleaning was done we all had some groaning cake and a good chat.

By 2am i was tucked safely in our bed with our baby and our house was quiet again… the end, and the beginning.


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