Tuesday 22 November 2011
After my visit to Sandy, our midwife, on Monday morning, there was concern about baby’s rather low heart rate. I wasn’t too worried as we’d already noticed this a few weeks earlier and a ctg had then shown that the base line heart rate was low but showed good variation and healthy acceleration – in other words, a strong, healthy heart rate. However, for peace of mind for myself as well as for Sandy, I went in to the hospital the next morning to get another ctg tracing to make sure what we saw was simply a low baseline and not distress. The results confirmed that all was fine. Obviously this was a big relief to me, since I really felt strongly about having a home birth and felt that this was also baba’s wish, and the idea of having to go in to be induced because of foetal distress really was a distressing thought to me.
So after the good news on Tuesday I felt top of the world, and my Mom commented that I had a sparkle in my eye and that maybe something was going to happen that evening. Which it did. At midnight,just as I was about to fall asleep, my waters broke. I recognised that familiar “pop” from Ayla’s birth, which had also happened in bed. With an excited, “oooohhh here we go again” giggle, Stephen and I got up and started getting things into place. His main task was getting the birth pool set up – one that he had constructed himself, inside our spacious shower. It was a beautiful still, starry night and we were in the comfort of our home, the sound of Scarborough beach break our only accompaniment. I called Sandy to let her know that things were happening, as well as Ruth, our doula. We moved the necessary things into place – into the bathroom, where I had planned to give birth – and I got myself some energising drinks ready.
Ayla’s birth had lasted 11 hours, and although smooth, it had certainly taken a lot of energy with long, intense contractions. I was expecting a similar marathon session.
Contractions had started and were intense enough for me to have to stop for each one, but they were short-lived, less than a minute in duration. I sat down on an exercise ball as it allowed me to rest between contractions and helped disperse the pain as I circled my hips around and around.
We started timing contractions, and they were 2-4 minutes apart, lasting 1-2 minutes each. I believed this was only the warm-up. Stephen massaged my back while I spiraled on the ball, and as the intensity increased, I started toning which also helped disperse the pain. We updated Sandy just after 1 am. and she said she would come now. I remember thinking, “oh, that’s not necessary just yet, but let her make the call”. We also told Ruth, who lived just up the road, and she said she’d come too. In a way I didn’t feel like having anyone else around – it was so beautifully peaceful and I felt like Stephen and I were handling the situation just fine. Stephen was completely present with me, responding to my every request, but at the same time not invading into the sensitive zone I had entered. He was the perfect companion for the task.
And Ayla was sleeping in the room next door, just as I had wished for.
The intensity of every contraction seemed to increase, and suddenly reached a point where I felt I couldn’t handle them getting any stronger. I asked Stephen to fill the pool. I also felt nauseous and he brought me a bucket.
Clearly I was in transition, and I realised these were the symptoms, but at the same time I thought it impossible since contractions were still only 1-2 minutes long and it felt like we had only just started.
But suddenly I needed to get off the ball since I felt the pressure of baby pushing down. I got onto the floor on my knees, leaning forward on a solid wooden coffee table. With the next contraction I felt my body pushing.
Now there was no doubting that this birth was indeed progressing very fast!
Taken a little by surprise, I started bellowing, which woke Ayla. Stephen went to get her and comfort her while I carried on bellowing, making an effort to make it sound not-too-scary for my two-year-old. I felt baby against my perineum and wondered how I would get my tracksuit pants off.
I heard Sandy walk in. With one hand leaning against the table, I used my other to pull the pants down and immediately felt the head bulging. I held the bulge, and started talking to her,
“hello baba, hello my little one”.
Her head emerged and I focused on my breathing (Sandy also reminded me to “breathe it out, breathe it out” as I really wanted to avoid tearing – we’d agreed upfront that she would remind me of this). Next thing I was holding the head, and a second later the shoulders slid through and I lifted the slippery bundle to my chest. I looked up at Ayla and Stephen and started speaking to Ayla as she was worried about me. I just stayed on my knees, cradling my newborn and speaking gentle words of assurance to Ayla.
Sandy handed me a towel and helped me undress properly. Stephen and Ayla crouched around in our little circle of bliss. I eventually walked over to the couch and lay down with baba on my bare chest and Ayla beside me. We saw that she was a girl – to my great surprise as I had believed throughout the pregnancy that this was a boy!
Moments later Ruth walked in, hugely surprised that baby was already out. She filled a hot water bottle and brought fresh warm towels to cover us with, while the little one started suckling.
Once the cord had stopped pulsating, I moved onto our home-made birth stool to birth the placenta.
I felt ecstatic – the birth had been so quick that I didn’t feel physically tired, and I was just so grateful that it had unfolded in such a calm environment. I also felt ecstatic for having caught her myself – it had been the highlight of the birth, feeling her slide out of my body into my hands. We later found out that she weighed a healthy 3.8kg, and the fact that she birthed so smoothly and easily and without any tearing made me proud of the fact that we had allowed the birth to unfold naturally and without any intervention at all.*
While lying on the couch Sandy and Stephen burned the cord (an alternative to cutting and clamping), while I sang a Blessing song to the little angel.
She lay calmly with her eyes open and alert.
*(This supports the latest evidence which suggests that a birth
proceeds most efficiently and with least complications if the birthing
mother is not interfered with, and therefore allowed to follow her
instincts with regards to where and in what position she wants to give