Everything has a context so I can’t tell the story of the home birth of my second son without mentioning my first. The 2nd birth itself it was quite easy and straight forward but through my personal journey I regained the confidence I lost the first time and now believe in myself again and can follow what is natural and instinctive.
Before and during my first pregnancy I was very interested in psychoanalysis, the development of the brain and the effects of trauma on its normal development. It was during that time I discovered a book called “The life in the Womb”. This book was more about the personal and an emotional approach, with the baby as a human being and not so clinical as the others I came across. It was from this book I started to think how I would like to make the baby’s transition from in to outside the womb. It was for that reason I planned a water birth at home. This seemed the gentle and natural way to bring my first baby into this world. But things did not go as I planned. Samuel was two weeks over due, and during a hospital visit to monitor the baby’s heart rate, my waters broke with meconium present. And from that point every thing went in a different direction to what I dreamed of. I was induced because my labour was not fast enough. Epidural and forceps were used and ended up being given a caesarean. And all the free extras; two days and one night stayed at the delivery suite, then five more nights on the maternity ward courtesy of NHS. This caused a bladder problem, nerve damage to my right leg and foot with a loss of feeling to some parts of my leg and limited the movement of my right foot (that is an epidural for you!) a souvenir that took me three months to get rid off.
When I found that I was expecting another baby I was sure I wanted to go with the plan I had for my first birth. This time around I knew if I wanted to have a fulfilled birth experience I had to have a doula, Hannah was the natural choice. I knew her from my first pregnancy and we already a good relationship.
With the label of a high risk pregnancy from the previous c-section, the pregnancy went well without any problems. Only at the end of 39 weeks did the Obstetric consultant remember I existed and wanted to be involved with my birth plan decisions, deciding to arrange a meeting on my due date, that I refused to go to. They went ahead with that meeting, from which more concerns were expressed by Head of Midwifery Leeds, the consultant and my midwife. From my maternity notes, the consultant (who never met me) diagnosed me with CPD – a small pelvis (Cephalo-Pelvic Disproportion). Communicating in different ways; home visit; phone calls and even a letter written by the consultant; the health professionals involved with my care advised me to have an elective cesarian or try a vaginal trial in hospital.
Following my instinct I said no to the doctors and healthcare professionals that I know better. This was not as easy at it sounds. I did it, but was only able to because of the two, very positive people who supported me, my doula and my partner. They helped me to think clearly when my confidence was being shaken and anxiety level was growing.
It was around this time Hannah suggest that I to go for relaxing treatment and recommend Rebecca for a maternity reflexology. I had never had it before but decided to try it out. I was surprised by the experience, not only for the relaxing virtues but for the therapeutic side. The body reflects what is on your mind, and by Rebecca pressing certain areas on my feet could tell me that “my body was ready to give birth to the baby but i was holding on to it”. She mentioned that I “was scared to walk forward” – the area corresponding to the knees were painful when pressed, and “was something under my nose”, when putting pressed another point corresponding to sinusitis. The next day I returned “to be more efficient and have this baby out” as Rebecca said. I was more open to the work that she could do on me, though at one point Rebecca asked me to relax and visualise the birth of my baby, and I could not do it. Just a simple task felt impossible and beyond me. The tears started to run down my face like I had a river inside and was overflowing. I just cried for the rest of the session, cried with anger for the way medical staff treated me and made me feel on my first birth. I grieved for two more days, then wrote an abusive letter to the medical staff who were at the birth of my son (I didn’t post it) and spoke about my feelings with friends.
And then Sunday morning after getting up I felt twinges. I was not sure if they were contractions or not and didn’t want to get my hopes high (I was 11 days over-due by the scan date) I decided to believe that was just Braxton Hicks contractions, and kept feeling them the rest of the day. By 8pm I texted my doula describing the twinges I had been having all day and asked if she thought they were contractions. Hannah replyed that “it sounds like it has started” and suggested a glass of wine and to get some rest. Because I did not have wine I decided instead to a have shot of whisky. By 10pm when the contraction started to be more regular I contacted Hannah and she suggested that I put the tens machine on, have another glass of wine and go to bed. I had another shot of whisky. I did not feel any relief from it so around 12.30 I decided to finish the bottle (do not worry – there was only a little bit left!)and went to the bed. To help me relax I listened to hypnobaby, a CD I used during pregnancy to help me sleep. In this situation it worked more as distraction between contractions. By 3.20 I needed to use the toilet, the show came out so I rang Hannah to inform about it and she offered to came to my house if wanted it but I declined saying that I was going back to bed. After finishing the phone call I realised my waters had broken I tried to rest but lying down was not comfortable any more. The contractions were getting strong so at 3.30am I rang Hannah to came over. I woke up Avelino who was sleeping and we came downstairs to get the pool ready. By this time I had to concentrate on my contractions, walking while I was having one and moving my hips when resting. Hannah arrived at 4.30, it was lovely to see her and have someone to help support Avelino, who had just filled the pool with air (even though it had been inflated for more than a week) and put the lining on but had forgotten to fill it with water.
By 5am the birthing pool was ready to get in, it was a lovely sensation to feel the water. Around 5.30 my husband went up stairs because our son was awake. By this time thing were getting very intense. I was very loud, starting to feeling I was losing control. I could not find a comfortable position during the contractions. Hannah was on her knees on other side on the room and came near the pool to tell me to do a poo if I needed to. It was something I was not expecting to hear. I started to push and pushed for a hour and half. I was left with less than five minutes of sketchy memories. The things I can remember clearly was Hannah telling to me bite a fruity bar, very sweet and sticking to my teeth ( I found out later it was to give me energy), and towards the end after Hannah mentioned the word “open”, I it took it as a prompt and started to speak to the baby and reassure him that was safe to come out and that we were looking forward to meet him.
The first midwife arrived 40 minutes, around 6.20, the second midwife arrived, minutes before the baby was born. It was my doula who called the maternity ward and spoke with the midwives when they arrived at my home. Avelino was still upstairs and came down 10 or 15 minutes later, telling the midwives my wishes and my past birth history. I found her very respectful, she stayed in the back ground, observing and not telling me what to do but asking me instead what I wanted, quite different from the experience I had before. The intervention was minimal, I had the heart rate listened to twice. I examined myself to feel the head descending, ” I feel something soft like meat and no hair” that was my first description of my son’s head.
It was amazing when I felt with my hand the head starting to come out, I knew I was giving birth but was but it went suddenly “click” how near I was to have this baby (I was in this bubble of pushing and rest and not thinking much about anything else). It took a number of pushes before the head came out. It was explained to me that this was a process to give the body time for the vagina to enlarge. The rest of the body came out with one push.
7.03 Edgar was in my arms, weighing 3.740kg, the proudest moment of my life. I DID IT!
It was such a calm and beautiful birth, the first eyes Edgar stared at were mine and I was the first to hold him and cuddle in my arms. The first words of welcome to earth and to our lives were from us, his parents. That was what I wanted all along, providing a nice passage with as little trauma as possible for the baby and, as I found out, for me. To celebrate this fantastic occasion I had a placenta smoothie (some placenta, berries and a banana to be more precise) and spent the rest of day in bed having skin-to-skin with my lovely newborn.