Dane’s Birth Story
My sister, Louise, and I were pregnant at the same time and both our due dates were the 10 June. There was great betting by the family as to who would pop first.
On Monday 11 June Louise started with contractions and went to Somerset Hospital. They did not have a bed for her and due to some very painful internal examinations done on someone else’s dirty bed, my sister decided to rather return to Swellendam to birth in the hospital there. On Monday night and Tuesday night for a couple hours in the evening, I had the feeling that Dane was getting ready to come but nothing that could be described as regular contractions and they would stop when I sat down or had a bath. On Wednesday, I went scrapbooking in the morning and then my brother and I went to clear some things from my Mom-in-laws house. My mom-in-law passed away from cancer a week after we found out we were pregnant with Dane. It would have been her birthday on the 17 June so I was hoping Dane would come on her birthday (which also happened to be Father’s Day).
I arrived home just before 17h00, in time to take over the care of Liam (my eldest son who was 26 months old) from his Au-Pair, Andrea. As I picked Liam up, a contraction ran through me. Liam had, understandably, been going through a stage where he just wanted me to hold him; probably he could sense the imminent arrival of his brother. As soon as I picked Liam up another contraction would start but there were no contractions if I was not holding him. I coaxed Liam into having a bath (one of his favourite things). While Liam was in the bath he just wanted to be held by me, so I sat on the floor next to the bath with my arms around him. Liam had his head on my shoulder and was quiet happy. We sat like that until my husband, Jean, arrived home and I asked him to bath Liam so that I could cook supper. Liam did not want to bath with Daddy; it was at this time that I knew I would not be able to get through the evening with the current status quo but was still in denial that this was established labour as the contractions were irregular. Jean decided to take Liam to the Spur to play, while I stayed at home and cooked supper. I thought I was just a bit tired from cleaning out my mom-in-laws house and that things would settle down again as they had done the past few nights. I was wrong; it was now that the contractions picked up in intensity and became very regular. I sent a message to my midwife saying something might be happening and she asked if she could come after work at 19h00 to check on me. Now that I was no longer in denial, I needed Jean to be with me. We arranged that Andrea would take over looking after Liam at the Spur and give him some supper. She and Liam would join us later in the evening, depending on how the labour progressed.
Jean arrived home and was sent off to shave. I found in my first labour that kissing Jean during contractions worked well, but I don’t want to have raw lips from stubble! When Jean got out the shower, he started inflating the birth pool. At this time the midwife had finished work and Jean went to the hospital to fetch her. I managed to make one batch of shortbread biscuits before the midwife and Jean arrived back. Marcha checked me and was amazed to find that I was already 9 cm dilated. I quickly phoned Jill Bergman, our Doula, to let her know to come. Jill later told us that she was at a music concert and about to turn her cell phones off! Jill must have done some low flying because she arrived very quickly, given the distance she needed to come.
At this time, Marcha was setting up her equipment, Jean had run out of hot water from the geezer for the pool and was boiling water in the kettle and on the stove and I was lighting candles and setting the mood. Whenever a contraction came along, I would hold Jean, sway my hips and kiss Jean.
Sometime later Jean and I climbed into the birth pool but this seemed to slow things down and I was not as comfortable through contractions. I checked myself and could feel the bag of waters but could also feel a small lip. We got out the pool again and I wrapped a towel around myself. Jean and I just did our own thing, taking each contraction one at a time, with Marcha and Jill quietly chatting in the background.
Every time I had a contraction, they would move a linen saver under me in case my water broke, then I would move around, so when the next contraction came, they would again have to move the linen saver, it was a bit like musical linen savers! It was at this time that I started growling during contractions. Before the birth, I had been showing Liam a birth video on YouTube to get him used to the idea, he had seem unperturbed and had just said that when Dane came out of mommy’s tummy, then mommy would roar like a lion. We were joking that mommy was now roaring like a lion but Liam was not there to hear it.
We climbed back into the pool and I started to feel nauseous, Marcha just got the bucket in time when I vomited a few times but knew that I would soon meet my baby.
We sat in the pool for a while in that wonderful gap between contractions and pushing and we just waited for Dane to let us know when he was ready. I asked Marcha to remove the wall clock, so we wouldn’t watch the time but would enjoy the moment. We checked in with Andrea, who let us know Liam had a good evening and was now sleeping. In my unborn child session with Dane, his message to me for labour was not to watch the time. This was difficult because I was aware that it was Liam’s bedtime and I also wanted him to be home with us; but was hesitant to have him come home too soon as I also couldn’t split my focus at this time.
After all the speculation on birth dates, the 13th of June was really the perfect date. I was born on 16 Jan, exactly 3 months later; Liam celebrates his birthday on 16 April. Jean was born on 13 March, exactly 3 months later was 13 June; the day Dane was going to be born.
At this time I started to feel the urge to push and knelt in front of Jean with my head on his chest. After the first pushing contraction, Jean pointed to his chest and I realised that my hairclip had been pushing into him; I had been charging him like a rhino! I quickly took the hairclip out.
A few pushes and I could feel the head crowning, one big push and the head was out, Marcha wanted to check that the umbilical cord was not around his neck, this was the worst, with me saying no, no and Marcha saying she had to check. At the end there was no cord around his neck. I later reflected on this because I knew logically that Marcha needed to check. She had checked with Liam and the cord was around his neck and she just slipped if off. Somehow with Dane I just couldn’t stand the thought of her checking, even though I knew she had to. It came as no surprise to me that the cord was not around Dane’s neck and that I could give one last push. With the last push, Dane’s body came out and Jean caught him. The umbilical cord was not very long so I held him to my chest and put my hand on his chest to keep him warm.
We stayed in the pool for a little while, just being in the moment. It was just after 10 that Dane was born. Five hours from first contraction to birth but three hours from being fully dilated to birth, probably because of the very short umbilical cord.
Later we got out the pool and went to the bed room to sit on my special rocking chair. Dane latched for the first time on the rocking chair and promptly pooped all over me. Andrea bought Liam home during this time. Liam slept on his Daddy’s shoulder while I sat on the chair with Dane. Each time Dane would latch, he would poo all over me. At the end of the night, all the towels in the house needed to be washed! At one point in the evening, I felt a bit faint and Jill made me the most delicious hot chocolate ever and that really helped the energy levels.
By mid-night, the house had been cleared of all traces of the birth and we were all in bed and asleep. The next morning, Liam woke up, very excited to meet his new baby brother and to open the present that his baby brother had bought him.