41 weeks 6 days. Yes, it can be done.
After being told that I have a very posterior presenting cervix on my 5th stretch and sweep at 41 weeks, it was easy to be disheartened as I was fully prepared to have my waters broken at that stage. My last babies were 42 weekers (one well over-cooked and with meconium) --all of my babies I have had my membranes ruptured. So I got grumpy about it for the day and then I let it go. Sunday morning my midwife came over to see if we were favorable and after getting thru my ultra tough membranes – we were committed. We were having our baby.
Walk one - morning: with 3 kids. Not a great time to focus on strengthening those contractions.
Walk two – lunchtime: in solitude, the focus was happening and the contractions were coming 2 minutes apart. A bit of focus time on the birthing ball with the babies out of the house to play and we continued going. Then my mind turned to getting the pool ready, getting the washing put away, what are we having for dinner… I’ve got to, I’ve got to, I’ve got to… = fizzled labour.
Walk three – early evening with Rach (my friend for birth) Came home with a clear head and open heart.
7:30 p.m. children home after having walk at beach, fed dinner and baths. They came into the beautiful, serene, calm birthing space we had created. Monty (3) says, “Oh, it’s so good to be home.” Big cuddles and off to bed. Gretta (5) with a twinkle in her eye as she knew she’d be meeting the baby during the night.
Nic and I are calm, at home, kids in bed, chooks and dogs fed, cows milked, Midwife and second midwife on call, Rachel home and waiting, Lou the photographer tucked away in the caravan out the back, birthing pool warm. Bango – let’s have a baby.
By 8:30 p.m. we were ready for Amanda our midwife to come, and Rachel to come. Lou came inside and it was light going for a while, manageable and regular tightenings. When I started getting tired of being on my feet and the birthing ball I hopped into the luxurious warm water of my birthing pool. All women should experience this if they choose to during labour. Ahhhhhh.
I labored on my knees over the side with INTENSE back pains ricocheting thru my lower-back and spine. Nic rubbed my back and applied counter pressure. Amanda occasionally monitored the baby’s heart. Rachel brought me water and a warm smile when I came to and looked around. All the while, the baby kicking right out the front of my belly.
I now have a new found respect for any woman birthing a baby posteriorly. Oh man – the only word I have for it is intense. Uber intense. However, my incredible, strong, powerful, perfect body continued to bring my baby to me.
I was getting tired. I was getting weepy, I was getting over it. I couldn’t do it. Then my midwife came to my ear and gently said, “say yes.” And I did. Part of me wanted to push, and the guttural sound came from my mouth, but my body was not ready yet. At one stage, I just couldn’t groan loud enough. Rachel had to cover her ears! Meanwhile, my gentle midwife and the assisting midwife that had joined us kept quietly monitoring, whispering between themselves, supporting me. Rachel was giving me her hand and bringing towels and cups of cool water. Nic was supporting me and encouraging me with his hands. I was safe, and I knew it.
I finally asked Amanda to check me to see where I was at. I sat down on the seat in the birthing pool – a position that I had tried during one contraction and I had to scream thru. It was the last position that I wanted to be in, but I got there and she found I had a cervical lip holding us up. She had to try to push it back during the next contraction. I knew what that meant. A contraction not on my knees. It brought the house down. The children woke. The windows rattled and the full moon had to slink away behind the clouds for a moment. Then my baby stopped kicking me out the front and turned. Down she came through my birth canal. Rapidly. We were doing this now. I stayed on my back and levitated on the top of the water with full force of primal sounds coming from my mouth.
I breathed. Felt her little head. And with the next contraction I birthed my little baby. Into my own hands, then up onto my chest.
She was so little. 8 pounds 8 ounces - my smallest baby. I felt my husbands hands on my shoulders and an electric connection between father, mother and babe.
The kids came in immedieately - their baby had arrived! The boys were a bit cautious - probably from all the mama noise just before, but Gretta was awestruck. She instantly wanted to be there, touching us and being present.
The baby was very quiet and peaceful - so much so that the midwives wanted to get her out of the water and give her oxygen if she needed it. She didn't - as soon as she was taken out of that peaceful warm water she arched up and told us all about it - getting her lungs in perfect working order. After she pooed on the midwives, they handed her back to me in our blissful bath. Oh the love.
I hadn't realized what I had done until Rachel said, "Look what you did!!" and the reality of it hit me. I had just done the birth that I desired, visualized and fought for. Oh the joy.
Reflections of birthing at home:
One of my major concerns of birthing at home (prior to doing so) was not the safety, absence of pain relief or having children present for me. All three of those standard "concerns" played no part. I knew homebirth and waterbirth was safe.
I did not want to have any pain relief other than that warm buoyant water.
My other children wanted to be there – they’d watched waterbirth on videos and we talked about it. I left it up to them how much they wanted to be involved, and for all of them they wanted to be there. Especially Gretta. She was absolutely enamored by it all – how special is that!?
For me the concern stemmed from the postnatal care. Obviously at the hospital your food is brought to you and the dishes are done by someone else. You are left to rest with your baby and have flowers and guests delivered to your room, la de da da da… Well, let’s think about it – is it really that restful? Sitting on a hard hospital bed in an unfamiliar, noisy, prodding environment living out of a suitcase that you hopefully packed correctly? Looking wistfully out the window in hopes that your husband and children would arrive soon to share some of the love?
Now that I look back, the homebirth was so much more specail than I ever imagined BECAUSE of the non existent postnatal care. I called my midwife the next day and told her not to worry about coming around that day and to wait until then next because we were all doing smashingly. My mother in law came on day 2 and eased the pressure of older kiddos off, and my incredibly supportive friends brought food. I hung the washing out, snuggled and fed my babe, snuggled and fed my big kids, walked to the mailbox, walked to the cowshed with her... My body healed and moved and was loved. It was all that I needed.
Living on our very work intense Organic farm, I knew that my husband would be limited to the help he could offer as his daily responsibilities were more for the bovine and poultry and dog kind. On saying that now, he was so incredibly helpful – even after only getting 2 hours of sleep and having to head out to the cow shed to milk the cows again at 4:30 in the morning. For him, this birth was special because we were just here. Whenever we needed him, or he needed to see us during the day. We were always here. Settled, happy and peaceful.
Our littlest girl is named Savannah Bronwyn.
It is now 7 weeks since giving birth to this precious parcel. We are so filled with love, and we feel very complete having her in our world with us.
* all photos by Lou at Sunny & Scout. Thank you lady! xx