My Beautiful Caesar


Leo-day-1

My Beautiful Caesar

August 2014

My gynae had my due date down for the 1st of August but baby only decided it was time on the 16th. To be honest I blame my very good friends over at The Skinny Juice Co for helping me grow such a big healthy boy – 4.1kilos and 56cms at birth!

I had planned a home water birth with the support of midwife Marianne Littlejohn and doula Lana Peterson and I had done everything in my power to prepare myself, physically, emotionally and spiritually, for this special occasion.

However things unfortunately did not go as planned…

I knew something was starting to happen around 4pm on the Thursday afternoon. I’d been having mild contractions on and off for about 2 weeks, but this contraction felt different. My whole body felt it. By around 4am on the Friday morning I had sms’d Lana and told her that I thought I was definitely in labour. The pain that came with every contraction was intense. I felt it deep within my bones. This wasn’t what I was expecting.

At-home

I had done a hypnobirthing course as preparation for my homebirth and we had learnt all about how birth doesn’t have to be a painful experience. Eliminating the fear and breathing correctly and staying relaxed is what I had prepared for. I honestly didn’t fear going into labour at all, I was so looking forward to the experience. I had listened to my birthing affirmations every day, fallen asleep to my rainbow relaxation CD every night and envisioned the perfect peaceful homebirth I have always dreamed of. I religiously did my yoga every morning and ate a 80% wheat and sugar free diet.

Retroyspective-9679

Early Friday morning, while I sat in a hot bath breathing through the contractions, we received the extremely sad news that our friend Wesley had passed away during the night. We knew Wes was battling with cancer but we really weren’t prepared for this news. It came as a huge shock to both Troy and I and almost immediately, my pain intensified.

I laboured at home through Friday and Saturday and by Saturday afternoon I had lost all sense of the world around me. I was in such intense pain but I kept repeating to myself “my surges cannot be stronger than me, because they are me. Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me.” – Affirmations we had learnt in hypnobirthing. I still truly believe that the hypnobirthing method works, and it certainly helped me make it through labour as long as I did, but as I later found out, he had flipped posterior, which meant I was experiencing what they refer to as “back labour”, and no amount of breathing and relaxing could get me through that pain.

I had to scream. And I did. I screamed for so many reasons, over and over and over again. I felt like my bones in my pelvis and my legs were being broken over and over again with every contraction.

By around 5pm on the Saturday afternoon, he was so low and so close, that we could see a glimpse of his head. I really thought I could do it. But I had been in labour for around 32 hours by that stage. I was absolutely broken and I was starting to doubt whether I would be able to live through anymore pain. I decided it was time to consider our options and almost immediately I felt relief, but it was quickly followed by intense sadness and guilt.

I really wanted to bring our baby into the world in the comfort of our own home and I really wanted him to have a water birth.

Because I had been so confident in my ability to birth at home, I hadn’t even packed a backup hospital bag as I felt that by doing that, I was setting myself up to fail. So when reality set in and we needed to get to the hospital, the chaos began.

The drive to the hospital was unbearable.

My contractions were coming hard and fast, and the urge to push was so strong. It was 4 hours later when I was finally wheeled into theatre and as the spinal block set in, so did the panic. I was paralyzed from the waist down now and I could feel no pain, but I could still feel them moving me. I felt like a rag doll and I was petrified that I would feel the cut.

My midwife Marianne was by my side through it all, she calmed me down and told me to use my hypnobirthing breathing. My love of my life Troy held my hand, gave me strength and told me everything would be okay.

It all happened so quickly, it was literally 2 minutes later when I looked up over the blue hospital sheets and saw the nurses holding up our perfect baby boy. It was the most beautiful moment ever. Time stood still for a few seconds. I couldn’t believe our struggle was over and our baby boy was finally here.

A few minutes later Mr Leo Wesley Davies was sleeping peacefully in my arms and I just couldn’t imagine life without him.

Despite the last 40 hours, I was on a high (I suppose the morphine helped!). The labour pain meant nothing to me anymore, the caesar had taken that all away. I never thought for a second that I would actually enjoy having a caesar, but it was a truly awesome experience.

It wasn’t the easy birth that I had hoped for.

I did everything I could to prepare for that day, but it just didn’t work out. If there is one thing I have learnt from going through what I did, it’s that you need to be open to accept whatever turn your birthing may take – a hypnobirthing affirmation I silently chose to ignore. If things don’t go as planned, that’s okay. That just wasn’t the path you or your baby were meant to take. Every life experience teaches you something new about yourself and those closest to you and I truly believe that everything happens for a reason.

Thinking back on Leo’s birth still brings tears to my eyes, but they are no longer tears of sadness, but more tears of appreciation on how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life who have supported me and Leo on this journey. Marianne and Lana were such a strong yet gentle team and I would never have lasted more than 2 hours of labour without them. And as one of my best friends reminded me, if it were 40 years ago, we may not even have survived the labour, so thank God for modern medical intervention when we need it.

Society made me believe that if you don’t have a natural birth, you aren’t womanly enough or strong enough, you didn’t reach deep enough and access your true feminine power. Well trust me, after 38 hours of labour it took a lot of feminine power to give in and accept a caesar.

A caesar is not always “the easy way out”. It’s a massive surgery that demands a massive recovery.

At first I felt so disappointed in myself that I couldn’t do it. I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t get it right. When I looked down at my scar every morning after a shower, I’d have a little cry as I thought back on my experience. But I’ve come to realize that’s a terrible mindset to have. Why do I feel ashamed? Look at the perfect little human that I made! Okay Dad had a little something to do with that too ;)

I’ve decided to think of my scar as a beautiful tattoo. It’s a permanent reminder of something very special to me, my little Leo.

Beautifully-Born

It took some time for me to understand what it really means to truly be a Mom. In surfing there is a saying: “only a surfer knows the feeling.” I think the same applies to motherhood. Only a mother knows the feeling.

Welcome to the world Leo Wesley Davies.

by Shannon

 

Shannon recently spoke at the Cape Town Midwifery and Birth Conference about her experience. Read her speech here.