I am a mother of three children, but I have given birth to four. Two were born via surgery, and two were born naturally. My first was a planned hospital birth that turned into surgery, my second was a planned homebirth that also turned into surgery, my third was a planned freebirth that turned into a transfer at 28w and a stillbirth due to listeriosis. My fourth, is my only real birth story, and here it is, warts and all!
After six miscarriages over the course of about two years I didn't think I would ever end up with a sticky baby, but when I least expected it along came Angus. I started to see a naturopath for some herbal and homeopathic support, and had been taking her remedy for two months when I met a spiritual healer who offered me a healing session in exchange for a tarot reading. I accepted. Without ever telling her that I wanted a baby, that I had lost a son, or that I had ever had a miscarriage, the Egyptian healer said that there was a baby boy who lived in my womb, and until I had told him it was safe for him to leave I would never conceive the baby I wanted. She said that James and I had never separated and that we both needed to let go of each other.
I came home, sat on the bed with a photo of James and told him that I would always be his Mummy - at which point I realised I'd never referred to myself as his mummy - and that he would always be a part of our family. I told him that there was room in our family for another baby and I cried and cried, like I hadn't cried for a long time. Grief never leaves us, it just gets stored away in a safe place for later. Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant, when I didn't think I could be and I hadn't been paying attention to my cycle.
I wasn't sure I'd ever see a baby but to be on the safe side, with the current anti home birth political climate in Australia I called a midwife straight away to book her. A few short weeks later I had my first appointment and hired her on the spot. Pregnancy went by stupidly fast, even though by my guestimation I was 43+6 days before real labour started.
At about 37w and a few days I started having pre labour. I felt more pregnant than that but I put that down to this being my fourth full term pregnancy. A beautiful friend and my doula organised my blessingway at my friend's house.
I honestly thought labour would start soon from all the rumblings, but it wasn't meant to be! Over the next 5 weeks I did lots of small pre labour stuff, lost chunks of mucous, had a few days where my hind waters leaked, had two convincing false alarms where I couldn't sleep through contx ... and no baby. Eventually after the second false alarm I decided it was time to consider an emotional blockage of some sort so I phoned my wonderful counselor and went through all the possible channels of upheaval. Who knew so much could be hidden in my herstory! Two nights later labour began in earnest at 9pm.
I didn't think I was in labour despite the intensity of the two minute apart contractions. I went from zero to 2 min apart contractions instantly, it was rather sudden. I was convinced it was more pre labour and it would all fizzle, but I told A to ring our doula and midwife just incase. Sonia - our midwife - suggested a shower, and if things were still happening after that we could assume it was real. I had two contractions between the bed and the shower and had to be helped to stand up on my two feet through them, and they kept coming, thick and fast in the shower and when I got out. I still didn't think I was in labour but told A to ask Mem (beautiful doula and friend) to come over, even saying that we'd probably call her when she was half way here and saying it wasn't labour. A called Sonia too and asked her to come over, but I called her and told her not to because it wasn't labour yet ... she said she'd come anyway (I couldn't talk through contraction when I was on the phone to her - despite the fact I WAS NOT in labour).
I paced up and down and concentrated on opening and relaxing through the non labour contractions and A started to fill the pool despite the fact I had ordered him not to because it was too early (Sonia told him to do it after she's spoken to me). 40mins later Mem arrived and I couldn't speak to her through the long intense pains, and Sonia arrived soon after. She more or less looked at me and announced that we were having a baby, she was going to get her gear out of the car - but I was still convinced that we weren't having a baby any times soon, I wasn't in labour, and it would all fizzle.
I was finding the pain very intense and it was concerning me that I wasn't coping with it - when this was only very early labour as far as I was concerned so I hopped into the pool which was full of gorgeous warm water. The weightlessness felt so good, my back felt so good, but the contractions were still bloody horrible. I was really concerned that I wouldn't be able to cope with REAL labour when it started and kept saying "how am I going to cope when it gets real?" and refusing to believe everyone who told me that IT WAS REAL! This went on for an hour or so. I was petrified that I couldn't cope ... but I must have been coping because I lived to tell the tale.
Transition hit me hard because that is the nature of the beast and I come with a fair amount of emotional baggage from previous births, plus my other births had all been over thirty hours so I was terrified that there was still a day or so of labour to come and it was too intense for me to handle it "when it gets REAL". I said over and over "This is bigger than me, I can't do it" and everyone calmly assured me that I could. A hopped in the pool and I leant on him, hugs were the best, but god damn the contractions were hurting ... and I probably wasn't even in real labour! Then out of the blue I started to feel pushy, but still at the height of transition I was terrified of pushing wrongly, pushing too early, the pain of the pushing and a myriad of other imaginary demons. I think it was at this point that I announced a strong desire to transfer to hospital for an epidural. I begged and pleaded with everyone present but they all calmly told me that I didn't really want that outcome, that I could do it here at home. I decided to up the begging when I became convinced that the baby was in a bad position and that he was stuck. My midwife finally agreed to take me to hospital .... if I packed my own hospital bag. Given that I couldn't have willingly rolled over by myself at this stage I realised I was pretty much trapped and there was only one way out. I was going to have to push. After about an hour of sporadic pushing, not on every contraction, the real work began. The piggy back contractions slowed down, and my body started to push.
Working with it wasn't easy because it hurt! I hear women saying how they felt relief at pushing, but I felt like I was trapped in a SAW movie. Actually relaxing enough to push effectively was really hard work, and I couldn't feel the baby moving down so I felt like I had been right, he was stuck and I was going to have to push for weeks, or have him cut out. Eventually I started to notice that his head was moving down but it kept going back up again. Sonia assured me that that was a good thing because it was gently stretching everything. I don't know how long I kept pushing and struggling to relax enough for it to be effective, but eventually I felt a shift, and his head moved in earnest, like he was actually coming.
By this point I got a second wave of determination, I could see the end in sight. I did feel relief from pushing but it was only emotional relief. I pushed for about forty minutes all up, I think the last fifteen minutes were the best because that's when I knew it was working and that's when I called the kids in. As Angus crowned I reached down to feel his head (even though I didn't want to because moving hurt too much) and his head felt like one of those blue ice packs so I figured it was still in the caul. I think his head took about three spaced out contractions to come out fully, and I was so relieved to feel him actually working with me in between pushing. It wasn't until then that I realised part of what had held me back, and possibly lengthened transition, was a fear of losing the baby. He was born very soon after that.
I didn't know it, but apparently I picked him up myself and just pulled him to me. He didn't breathe straight away and he was quite pale, Sonia said to blow on his face but the second I set eyes on him I was so in love that I forgot, and she blew on him and gave him a little pat and then he just started to cry. I was flooded with so many feelings, from sheer joy to relief, and just about everything in between. All I can remember is saying over and over "hello little baby". Angus is now two and a half days old and I'm still feeling all those feelings, and I'm still saying "hello little baby" to him every time I set eyes on him.
It's strange to have a baby and yet no hole in my middle. It was amazing to hold my son before anyone else did. After pains don't hurt when you don't have a huge scar, or a life threatening illness. I'm slightly torn and I feel bruised as all hell, but ... I DID do it! And there's a little baby lying next to me, sleeping peacefully, and he will grow up with two siblings who can tell him the story of his birth. I imagine their story will be something like "Mum went into labour, we played for a while then went to sleep before the midwife woke us up to see you being born". That's how it should be.
He weighed 3.51kg, was born at 3:05am, head circumference 37cm and he was 55cm long. he was born into my hands after 5 hrs and 40mins of non labour, and 20mins of pushing bloody hard!