Tuesday 20 July 2010
On Monday evening at around ten I have got a message from Ruth saying that Heidi’s waters broke and that soon the labour would start but that for now everybody was going to bed to rest.
So I have started packing my bag with some food and making sure that my doula bag was ready (even though I was only invited as an observer, but you never know).
I went to bed and left my phone on so that I could hear when the next message from Ruth would come.
At around five in the morning I get the next message: “ I am in her home, you can come when you are ready”, so I had a shower and drove towards the Southern Suburbs.
When I got there was still night time and sent a message to Ruth to let her know that I was outside. Few cars were gathered there without knowing to whom they belong to.
When I walked into the house it felt like too many people were in the house and I thought for myself whether that would have been a good choice or not and at the same time, I was thinking that if I was the woman giving birth I would not have been sure if I wanted to have so many people around me.
I saw Heidi making sure that the children had everything before going to school and once sitting in the rocking chair the three boys were called again to come back in and said a proper goodbye. At this point tears started jumping out from my eyes and a knowing that this was going to be a very different experience .
That morning I had my head and nose blocked with a lot of mucus, so I brought my serviettes with me, so when the sun was starting shinning outside and Heidi said: “ I am going for a walk, who is coming with me?” I could not be part of the group with the fear that my flu would become worst that what was at that point.
For me was very clear, from the first time when I spoke with you Heidi, that you are a very strong woman very clear with what are your needs and wants and for that I am deeply greatful.
I notice that in every moment, every step of the way you knew what you wanted, like :”this is my time for a walk, this is the time to have breakfast, this is the time to go to the toilet, this is the time to stop and be with my contractions, this is the time to have a different music, this is the time to answer the messages in my phone, this is the time to get into the bath”.
I was in a blessed space of love and gratitude, witnessing you and your husband dancing together in this beautiful yet powerful moment in your lives.
He was making sure during the morning that the water was ready for you, filling the bath more and more till the temperature was right. Keeping the cover on, so that the heat would not fly away.
He kept busy all the time while you were still in the process of walking around the house, toilet, breakfast and making sure everyone had coffee or tea in their cups.
So when, you came out of the bathroom and said: “now is time to go into the bath”, it was ready.
So Lydia and Ruth went with you into the room. At that point I felt a bit shy and I didn’t know whether was going to be ok for me to come in into the private space of your own bedroom.
Ruth called me in and suggested that I could sit on the corner on your bed next to the window.
The curtains were open and the light of the sun was coming through. The clear sky was the picture decorating your own room and in the middle the bath and your beautiful self inside it.
I notice that Lydia was constantly making sure that the baby’s heart beat was doing well, keeping records of your blood pressure and all the vital signs.
Sometimes during your conversation with her I would not understand what was said because unfortunately I can’t understand Afrikaans, but I knew by intuition what was going on.
I saw you changing positions in the water, while Ruth was massaging your back or your tummy. Sometimes she would use a container to pour water over your body to soothe the pain of the contractions.
At one point the music that you chose inside of the room was finished and after that you didn’t ask for more music to play, instead you were in tune more and more with your body, your baby, your senses.
David was with you all the time. There was not a moment in which he said : I need a break. And what was more powerful for me to witness was that he played with you and danced with you in every moment in the way that you would choose.
When you asked for music he would press the button for you. If you needed his hand he was there. If you would not use words, he would use also the non-verbal love and touch of this hands and kisses.He was constantly around you, on the one side of the bath, holding your hand.
On the other side was gentle Ruth, holding your other hand. Providing the necessary pills (homeopathy remedies) in the correct moments. Using oils, massage and using the power of breath to deal with some contractions.
They would use the cloth to wipe your face and refresh your cheeks which they were quite red and beautiful from where I was sitting.
You kept asking for juice to keep you cool and energised.
Your mother in law, like she said at the end: “it is been a wonderful experience, but I will never do this again”.
I felt that was too much for her. She was holding her own face with her hands all the time. I could notice how her fingers would shiver and she was making eye contact with me from the opposite side of the room and then I would make a nod with my head, reassuring that everything was going well.
I remember the time when she sat in front of you, on the bed and very politely you asked her to sit in other place in the room, because her face expressions where making you believe that something wrong was happening.
I had a lot of compassion for her. I supposed that because she haven’t had that experience, was not 100% convinced that this was the correct choice, even though from the beginning she was saying that “You are a very different woman and that only You could do this”.
And I believe her, indeed.
From the time you were in the bath, you took a break to go to the bathroom and then some other time for Lydia to check how was the dilation process.
Back in the pool, everything was silent and only the sound of the water or the sound of your voice and humming were happening in that space.
At one point, when you started crying and I saw David kissing you on the face I felt like the body needed to release whatever was there that was stopping your body and your baby to be born.
David would not try to stop you from crying or talk to you to take you out of that space, but instead he was with you in it, giving you the reassurance and the knowing that he was there with you all the way.
Then when the crying stopped after few contractions you started singing a lullabies to your baby, humming, touching with your hands around your belly, embracing the circle of life in your body, in your pool, in your room, in your house, in your life.
The ripple effect of your love, the love that was emanating from your heart was reaching your baby and at the same time was touching everybody in the room, expanding around the house.
The contractions where getting stronger and stronger till you were fully dilated.
Sometimes you were asking your baby to come. You were asking him to help you and come now.
The picture of that moment in your room as I remember is:
Your mother and sister in law where standing by the door and against the wall.
David was on your left holding your hand, squatting against the cupboard.
Ruth on your right, holding and touching your other arm.
Lydia was on the right side as well, close to the things she needed to keep everything in order and well, making notes on the bed and keep encouraging you and making better with her comments.
I was sitting on the bed next to the window.
The sun outside was stronger and stronger, looked like a perfect, bright , spring day and the birth of your child was about to happen.
Fully dilated, with strong contractions and loud sounds and expressions I could feel that the end was closer and closer.
Your mother and sister in law were getting anxious and more nervous, to the point when sometimes they would need to step out of the room to breathe (I supposed) and some other times to answer the phone, while other family members and friends, wanted to know if baby had been born or not.
At the time of pushing you were holding each hand from David and Ruth while Lydia was guiding you in the process.
She suggested to change positions but you refused (don’t blame you), at that point is like you don’t want to move an inch of what is completely necessary.
Head of the baby was crowned and somehow he was not coming out yet, and I was wondering what was happening?
This was the first time in my life that I was present at a home birth, giving birth in a pool, so the movies that I have watched before, once the head of the baby was out, the whole body would slip out immediately, so I was wondering, “what is happening?”
Not long, Lydia said: “ we need to change positions now!”, with a very demanding tone of voice and at that point I saw your mother and sister in law running out of the room. I took my blue scarf out and jumped to the left side to help Ruth and David to hold you up, standing; while Lydia was making sure that the baby was going to come out and have a soft landing.
That changing of position was what was needed. When I looked again I saw your baby in Lydia’s hands and my first thought was:” he is a bit blue from the chest up”. You moved towards the bed and baby was placed on your chest. In this moment everyone exploded into tears, I felt like the energy had been accumulating in the room and when baby was born and we heard the first cry that energy between worry, anxiety and joy was released at once.
I felt so honoured to have had the opportunity to witness this miracle of life!
I went out of the room to have something to eat and drink as I felt that, that moment was now for you , baby and David together.
I congratulated your sister and mother in law when they walked in the house, because the first reaction was going out at the back to have a smoke and tell everyone that they had a new nephew and grandson!
I gave some chamomile tea sachets that I had with me to your mother in law, suggesting that she could have some during the rest of the day. She was looking at me still in amazement like not knowing what to say or think and what I thought is that she was still processing what just happened.
In your home, in your room, with your family, the sun shining, your new son in your arms…. What a beautiful view of life and love in one place in time
The next time I went to the room and I was looking at you both from the opening of the door, the placenta have came out and David was preparing to cut the umbilical cord, moving around Lydia to see how and where he was going to do it.
Never before I had experience this peacefulness about birth. So natural, so part of your daily life, so powerful.
Then I could keep hearing the baby crying, till you went back into the pool and we were topping up with some hot water to make the temperature perfect for both of you.
Again that was a healing view for me, when baby suddenly stopped crying as soon as both of you were in the pool, in the same water and life that he came from.
The color blue of the pool. You naturally and beautifully naked in the water caressing his little hands and arms.
During the whole morning I have to say that I felt also like a professional photographer. Never before I have made so many photos. It felt like I wanted to take more and more photos, all the time. Every angle was new, from the mirror looking into the image of yourself and David awaiting for your child.From the bed, contemplating the beauty of such an amazing team of people gathered to support you, love you and welcome your new son.
From the door as an admirer of the beauty and power of been a woman, a mother, a lover, a daughter in law, a friend, a client, a sister in law a human being.
And then, after Lydia wrote all the notes keeping records of what had happened and the procedures done, she started packing her things. Ruth was also keeping ready, putting some Arnica for you in a small container and I was saying to myself, this is the time where the team needs to say goodbye and thank you, to allow the family to celebrate and stay in this unique moment of human bliss.
I came back to your room for the last time to say goodbye and thank you for this opportunity. At this time you were sitting on the side of the bed, covered with some clothes and a blanket around you and Luca. If I recall correctly at this time I think he was breastfeeding.
So in my head everything that I had witnessed for this day was the way I have learnt from the best doctor in neuroscience a baby should be born and treated during the first hour after life.
In my heart I was feeling complete, happy, and thankful for this experience. With the confidence now that this would be the way I have dreamt for my children and my children’s children to be born into the light of our world.
In my soul, everything was perfect.
I sat in my car and drove away from your home with the sun shining on my car, feeling the heat of a spring day in winter.
I was driving but I was not completely there, I was in a dream in ecstasy.
I know now that my life was forever changed, thanks to you Heidi, David and Luca, as a woman, mother and doula.
So my next steps are now to bring this love and gratitude to all the women in labour and birth. To make sure that all the mothers could have the opportunity to have the chance to look into the opportunity to choose too have a home birth (if they want to).
Thank you so much from my heart to the Padoa family.
by Cristina Martinez Ruiz