I am the mother of 3 beautiful children ages 3, 2 and now a few days, my son having been birthed at home, unmedicated with the help of the Circle of Elephants, my husband and mom.
Since falling pregnant with our first child, I was intent on having a natural birth. This was not to be though as, with my firstborn, my water broke at 7 am and I went straight to hospital as per strict doctor’s orders, being the obedient patient I was. By 12pm I started getting mild cramps and between 4-7 pm, I had unbearable contractions but was only 4cm dilated. I couldn’t handle the pain and requested some pain relief. I got an epidural at 7 pm and immediately dilated to 7cm. At 11 pm I started feeling ice cold and was shivering uncontrollably. I think I had the whole ward’s blankets over me by then! I also developed a fever. This caused my unborn baby’s heart rate to drop. As a result, I was prepared for an emergency c-section and gave birth to a beautiful, smart baby girl weighing 2.6kg on 11 February 2016. It took me a long time to get over this traumatic experience, the cut and birth.
All the checks and prodding by different staff added to the stress and anxiety of my first birthing experience- heaven knows I already did not know what to expect. Maybe it is just me, but I did not need to be told how far I was dilated or have different people rushing by to do a routine check and tell me how far I’m dilated. I know it’s a job to them, but this is where my last experience with Circle of Elephants proves that caring for a patient makes a world of difference when a patient is anxious and in distress.
My second baby was born via elective c- section weighing 2.9kg in July 2017. I had initially wished to have a VBAC, but as my gynaecologist was due to leave for a vacation on my due date, I had until such date to try for a VBAC. As the date approached, I asked if I could wait a little longer because I really wanted to try again to have my baby by natural birth, but my request was declined and I went ahead with the c-section as scheduled. This is probably the one thing that made me determined to try for the vba2c. I’ve regretted for so long not giving myself a chance to at least a TOLAC (Trial of Labour After a Cesarean).
When I fell pregnant with my third child, I started my research again on VBACs. I joined Facebook support groups and attended my first home birth gathering. This group was very informative and I knew then and there this would be my way forward. I was so surprised and happy when I read about women having vba4c it fueled my hope of achieving my goal. This time around, I was confident that I would try a VBAC or at least a TOLAC and not be convinced otherwise despite medical opposition to a vba2c.
I was referred to Circle of Elephants and have not for one day during my pregnancy, birth and post-birth regretted my decision.
During the days leading up to the birth of my 3rd child, I told myself to be calm and I prepared myself mentally and emotionally. I could feel all the necessary changes in my body and each crack in my bones or cramp I got made me feel so happy that things were happening. With my first pregnancy every ache I felt made me nervous and I wanted to run to my doctor in a panic.
With my new approach and the positive energies, words of encouragement and advice I received from the amazing midwives I was on a new high and ready to take this birth on.
Since Saturday, 25 Jan I had mild period cramps. On Monday, my contractions started but were bearable. As time went by, the pains continued coming and by Tuesday the pains were stronger. I tried as much as I could to take my mind off the pain and ignore it but nerves and life, in general, got the better of me and I became anxious. Erica, one of the amazing midwives from Circle of Elephants, was the one to calm and encourage me. I went into labour on Wed, 29 January. By 4 pm I lost my mucus plug on the toilet (this seemed the best place for me to control my contractions). I contacted my midwives again and Erica came to assist me, not only with her midwifery skills but she was a source of mental and emotional strength for me too.
At 7 pm my water broke with one strong contraction.
After my water broke the surges of pain I felt came in different waves some came softly and left calmly while others came wild and shook me up but by this time because I felt the different levels of pain over each day and was taught ways to breathe through it, I could ride through those waves like a warrior! I just listened to my body and gave in to every surge and at one point I felt as if I really need to relieve myself. It felt as though I was already relieving myself in my bed so I went to my contraction control base(the tiniest toilet) and decided now is the time for me to push. I felt the baby’s head and I felt that ring of fire and the pain and relief it brought with it. Wow. So I called out to my midwives who so calmly waited through the craziness and I popped off the toilet and the head went back in.
I told my self this is it I have to push now one last painful push and how blissful that was. All the praying, all the tears, all the hugs, the blood and sweat of the night was so worth this feeling of birthing my baby naturally. I can’t wait to tell all the people that didn’t believe this was possible that I did it.
I remember going to a faraway place in the last moments of pushing and it was so peaceful there. Then there were those wild moments I actually felt like a wild animal and I remember the few times breaking down feeling unable to go through with this birth thinking it would have been easier having been cut again forgetting my mission of having a Vba2c against all odds
My beautiful boy made an entry into this world after 1 am on 30 January 2020, weighing 3.46kg.
This was the best birthing experience I had despite the non-support in medical circles. My recovery is rapid, the post-birth pains insignificant compared with that experienced post-c-section, with little to no medical concerns.
I have not required the intervention of medical doctors and the midwives have continued to do home checks and examinations. I am incredibly grateful to have had such a wonderful birthing team and without the support of Circle of Elephants, my experience may have been very different. Who knows, I may even have succumbed to my fears and followed medical advice to have another c-section, and missed out on what I can only describe as a beautiful experience.
Alhamdulillah for my husband and mother.
And especially the Circle of Elephants