I've decided to post this here. May my experience be a positive influence in your perspective of birth.
There came a time in my labour, when although I could feel my baby's head, he still felt so far away. It felt like he was over a mountain that I was looking at in the distance. My midwife said "your baby is so close", and I honestly couldn't believe it. I was using what felt like every molecule of my body to bring him out, but he still wasn't in my arms. I had to find more. More energy, more motivation, more faith, more force. You can't know where that 'more' comes from, but it does come. So with that slippery, vulnerable, perfect baby on my chest all I could think was "I did it"! I made this angel! My body brought him to life! A power filled me for the days and months afterwards, where I felt like no challenge would ever be too big again.
Elijah's Homebirth Story
In the week leading up to the homebirth of Elijah I had been experiencing increasing frequency of Braxton Hicks contractions. Each night around 9:30pm I would get an increase of sensations in my cervix and suspect that maybe tonight would be the night, but by 11:00pm it would settle and I would get another good nights sleep. Not much seemed to happen during the days, I was convinced that when labour started for real it would be in the early hours of the morning.
On Sunday 25th of September (the estimated due date) we decided to go and visit some dear friends because we needed to get out of our house and have a change of scenery (I just wanted to meet my baby). We had a lovely lunch with them and then took their boat out for some time laying on the beautiful Murray River sand and watching our mate have a waterski. We joked that hopefully the ride in the boat would shake up the baby and get things moving. That night we went to Josh's parents for dinner as they had friends visiting. I noticed some mucus plug starting to come away so we went home early. I had more tightenings that night, but they stopped and I went to sleep easily. The next day not much action except I started to have a small amount of bloody show.
By Tuesday I was feeling like this baby might need some encouragement in coming earthside. I decided to spend the afternoon by myself and went for a walk around the block and to the labyrinth to try and increase the contractions. Josh came home from work early as he had been working locally for the day and my sister brought around dinner – a lovely Mexican bean dish with corn chips, avocado dip and salad. The bloody show was increasing which encouraged me that things might be moving closer to the real labour.
I decided to do some meditation and birth drawings like I had seen in ‘Birthing from Within’. I drew some pictures of how I imagined the labour to be and talked to my baby and told it that the world was safe and that Josh and I would care for it. It was a new moon that night, which seemed fitting for becoming a new mother.
I went to bed at 10:00pm feeling uncomfortable, but suspecting that this would be the same as every other night and nothing much would happen. I woke up at 11:00pm with increasing discomfort and had to move around. I noticed that the tightening was much stronger and coming more regularly. I woke Josh up and said that the real labour was starting. We were both excited and apprehensive as I moved around the lounge room for a while, leaning over the couch and swaying. Josh finished pumping up the birth pool and brought in all the mattress stuff from the shed. He kept asking if it was time to call our midwife and I didn’t really know. We timed my contractions at lasting 1 minute and coming every 2 minutes so I messaged Andrea (my midwife). She didn’t reply to two text messages (it was the middle of the night) so Josh called her and she arrived in the next hour.
Josh filled the pool in the meantime as I was feeling very uncomfortable and I listened to one of the hypnobirthing tracks on my iPhone which I enjoyed hearing my friend's familiar voice on. I messaged all my Blessingway friends to light their candles and got some lovely encouragements back.
The surges felt like waves, where I could feel it coming on and intensifying and then backing off again. The feeling was like a squeezing and it had a sharpness to it. I had a cold wet face-washer on the edge of the pool and with each contraction I leaned forward and put my forehead on the face-washer. This became like a ritual and I HAD to do this with every contraction. Between contractions I could talk, smile and breathe normally, but when the wave came I groaned and all my body seemed to tighten up.
This continued on, and just seemed to get more intense as things progressed. Andrea suggested I feel inside to see if I could feel the babies head. It was amazing to feel the head less than a forefinger length inside. I could feel all around the head and this apparently meant the cervix was fully dilated. These waves continued and with each contraction it felt like my baby got squeezed down a little more, but then when I rested between contractions it felt like it would slip back up. I felt like I had been 'not getting anywhere' for ages. Sarah the second midwife had gone to sleep on the couch which made me feel like they must have thought things were a fair way off happening.
I started to get a stronger downward feeling and started really groaning in my throat. Andrea suggested I use that energy to push down rather than let off all that noise. I was grateful for this the next day, when I noticed my throat was sore from yelling. After what felt like hours Andrea suggested I get out of the pool to try some pushes on the toilet. I was really reluctant as the water was really helping with the pain.
I stood up and got out of the pool and made it to the kitchen floor in front of the pantry. I felt another contraction and squatted with josh holding behind me. I could feel the baby making progress, but it was so intense I didn’t think I could handle the pain. I remember Andrea telling me it was like having to push through I brick wall, but I just couldn't seem to go any harder. I felt like I was as the end of myself. My legs were cramping while squatting out of the pool so they helped me get to the toilet.
I sat on the toilet and Andrea lifted my right leg up so I could push against her. I was trying to hold the push even between surges, but this was so hard to do. I felt a burning around my perineum and it stung so much. Andrea couldn’t hear the baby’s heart rate anymore so she was saying to me “Come on Em, you have to push your baby out”. Josh put the camera down and lifted up my left leg so I could push against both of them. I thought I couldn't do it. I felt one last burning and then my baby's head was out. With one last surge my baby was being passed to me. I held our baby with his head in my left arm and his body across mine. There was meconium and vernix all over the small body in my arms and it was squirming.
Towels were piled on top of us and the baby started to cry. All I could think was “I did it!.” Pure relief was the most overwhelming emotion. I hadn’t seen the gender of the baby and I asked Josh what we had had, and he said I don’t know. He pealed the towels back and turned the slippery baby over and saw it was a BOY. We were so overwhelmed. So much happiness, and love and joy.
A few minutes later I walked back to the birth pool carrying my baby. We had a rinse off and I passed some clots. I decided I wanted to push the placenta out so I stood up and gave a few pushes and Josh caught it in a colander from the kitchen. It was large and heavy and the cord was so thick. Elijah and I then got out of the pool and lay on a mattress on the floor. I passed a bit of blood when doing this and felt quite feint. I was shaking all over.
Elijah was crying a lot, so I cuddled him close to my side and showed him my right nipple. After a while he latched on and breast fed laying down for a long time. His placenta lay next to us, until Cody our cat looked interested in sniffing and tasting it, so Josh cut the cord while I was feeding Elijah. It had stopped pulsing long before.
Andrea left to go to work (her other job at the local hospital) and Josh, Eli and I lay on the floor in our lounge room. I tried to urinate because I felt desperate to, but I couldn’t, only diarrhoea. When Andrea came back that afternoon I was still having very strong after pains and still hadn’t emptied my bladder, she put in a catheter and this gave so much relief. My uterus and been cramping back down to size on a hyper-extended bladder, which was like continuous labour pains.
Elijah slept between us in our bed that night and I felt an enormous gratitude for the miracle of my perfect baby. I grew and nurtured and then birthed a son.