Normally I would uhm and ahhh about posting a birth story on our blog. Simply because often it can look like quite a dreadful experience. I was lucky enough to meet Amanda five years ago on a parenting forum when we both had our now five year olds. At the time she had her first baby and I had my third, Amanda has since gone on to have three more babies and yes is now the proud mother of four under five!
Little Jemima arrived three weeks ago and Amanda shared her birth video, I watched it and was really moved with emotions, in fact I sat there in tears, my body was jerking, I was half cheering but I still had a big smile on my face it is the most amazing birth I have ever been priveliged enough to watch and I know many woman will be very inspired to strive for the same experience after viewing it.
Amanda, has also written out her birth story I ahve not edited because I know if you are pregnant and anything like me you have a huge thirst for any tiny bit of information about the road called birth you are heading towards, even if it is your third or fourth. So grab a drink and enjoy the read. To Little Jemima A great big welcome to the world gorgeous girl!
This was my fourth pregnancy, and my easiest by far. I decided early on to keep as fit and healthy as possible, I did aerobics, yoga, pilates, and followed a very healthy diet. But I didn’t want to think too much about the labour. Although I’d had three easy, drug-free births, I just didn’t want to do labour again.
Eventually, around the 20 week mark, I decided to face reality, that baby was coming out, and I might as well start getting used to the idea. I looked into Hypnobirthing and Calmbirth classes but there were none on at times that we could organise a babysitter for our three current children. Plus, my births are easy, it’s only the last five minutes that hurt like buggary. Was it really worth $400 to maybe have a calm final five minutes of labour?
So we decided to do Hypnobirthing at home. I got books on the subject, tapes, CDs and joined the Active Birth Preparation group on EB to chat with other women who were also preparing for drug-free, active births. Hubby and I began our Hypnobirthing practice – with mixed results. Some nights we had a positive time, others we felt that things just wouldn’t come together. The time he tried to massage my back with the backs of his fingers, but scratched me horribly with his sharp, uneven nails was a lowlight. Other times we’d only get half way through a planned session before we decided to ditch it and make love instead.
Had a massive scare at 37 weeks. Baby had turned transverse lie – sideways – and I was looking at a caesarean section if baby stayed that way. I’d already been having pre-labour contractions and expecting them to turn into real labour soon. Fortunately labour did not eventuate and baby turned head down within the week – making an external cephalic version unnecessary. I wanted baby out before she had a chance to turn transverse on me again, and also before school started.
And so began the weeks of nightly, prelabour contractions that disappeared every morning. I then found out that the bath at my birth centre was being dismantled on Monday, 1st Feb, my due date, as they were moving it to another room. I really wanted another waterbirth – so I upped the natural induction stuff – sex every night, nipple stimulation every night, I got herbs, I got a homeopathic remedy and I paid a fortune for acupuncture.
Saturday 30th January I knew was going to be the day. I’d had some beautiful contractions overnight and they didn’t disappear until almost lunchtime – far later than usual. We knew they’d start up “for real” later that night. Afterall, I’d had a bloody show a week earlier – surely it was time to go into labour.
I called my friend who was to take photographs of the birth over, we bundled the boys off to their uncle’s and prepared for the big event. After dinner I started getting some mild contractions, not much, but thought a good long walk with hubby would help. We went out and admired the full moon, it was a beautiful, warm evening, and then BANG – they started. It was all so intense I nearly had to crawl up the driveway. But the pain was running down my buttocks and into my legs – not much pain in the uterus. Was this normal? Wasn’t sure as I’d only ever had posterior labours before and could never feel much through the back pain. A couple of hours later we decided to phone the birth centre and let them know I was labouring and would come in shortly – have the bath ready!
I was told that no midwife was on duty who was accredited to do waterbirths until 7am. What?? No way!!!! I made the stupidest decision ever and decided to try to slow down this labour so that I’d time it that I gave birth after 7am. Afterall, I’d been able to stop the contractions every night just by going to sleep and they’d usually disappear by breakfast. So I lay down, listening to a hypnosis birthing tape and visualised the contractions become more and more mild.
However I stopped labour completely. Next morning I was distraught – a long walk got some contractions back – but they weren’t labour contractions – just the mild prelabour contractions I’d been having. Sent friend home, went to bed with a headache.
Monday, my due date, was my daughter’s first day of school – obviously couldn’t have the baby that day. Tuesday was my nephew’s birthday – had been told very early on that I wasn’t allowed to have the baby that day. Wednesday was my son’s first day of kinder – couldn’t have baby that day. Thursday was a good day to have a baby – but damnit – it was sooooo hot. Had an appointment that afternoon – There was the usual worry about measuring small (I measure small for every pregnancy) – I asked for a stretch and sweep as I was completely over it all. Midwife said she’d be surprised if I wasn’t in labour within 24 hours. WooHooo!!! Somebody seemed confident this baby would come out.
Got the usual pre-labour contractions that night but this time I was excited – somebody had told me I was going to have a baby – and they meant it. Contractions didn’t disappear when the sun came up and the children awoke – woohooo. I’d even put the TENS on. Once the boys were taken to daycare and our daughter was at school we decided to go for a walk to ram the contractions up a notch.
As we were walking out the door a contraction hit that had me bent over practising my deep breathing for real! Hooray!!! Hubby tactlessly asked “Are we gonna make it to the shops?” and copped a mouthful for asking questions during a contractions. “Babe, we practiced for months, get with it.” Put on raincoat and used umbrella – I’d put on makeup and straightened my hair – wanted to stay looking good for the hospital photos!
So we go and eat the worst breakfast in the history of cafe dining. I was having some nicely intense surges every three or four minutes (never actually timed them). I would stand up, lean on the table and swing my hips from side to side, eyes closed, deep, deep breathing through nostrils.
I had to go to the bank & get money out – left hubby in the cafe. Was just beginning to cross the road when I felt a strong one starting. Run back to side of road. Put my nose up against the lightpole and swing hips while breathing deeply. Thankfully I live in an extremely dodgy suburb so the sight of women dancing with lightpoles in the rain deserves a raised eyebrow, but not a second glance.
We decided to get home and go to hospital. Previous births have escalated steeply toward the end, so we didn’t want to leave it too late. There was no contraction for five, six, maybe seven minutes but then as soon as I stood up – Bang – a massive one, then another. I’d stick my nose into hubby’s chest and feel his strong arms around me – such a comfort. I’d concentrate on swinging my hips and deep breathing. I picked a beautiful rose from our garden – not only did it smell divine, but as I held it, I visualised my cervix opening, just like the rosebud.
We picked up our daughter from school – she had asked very early on if she could come to the birth, phoned her support person and the videotographer.
Made it to the hospital without drama – had contractions every few minutes on the way from the car park to the birth centre. My daughter held my hand during a few of them. It was such a special moment –for the first time ever, it was her giving comfort to me. Got shown our room – time was about 12.30pm maybe a little later.
I love the birth centre, even though it was well documented that I’d planned a waterbirth, they went out of their way to accommodate me. Bed up, bed down, beanbag, towels, water, ice, cd player. I put up some drawings our five year old daughter had done showing the new baby in mummy’s arms and set up the room to make it as homely as I could.
Felicity, our daughter’s support person arrived, and Jac the videotographer. Felicity had been on notice for over four weeks – she’d been sober, sleeping with her phone, and checking it constantly during the day. We were all so excited – finally the big day was here. Labour was still easy going. I’d lean into the beanbag which was placed on top of the bed and swing my hips
At 1.10pm I sent our daughter out and climbed onto bed, leaning into beanbag. I began listening to an Hypnosis for Childbirth tape. It was time to take this labour business seriously.
Almost as soon as I started the tape I heard a new midwife come in. The idea of hypnobirthing is simply to get into a deep state of relaxation so your body can do what it has to do without any muscle tension working against you. So there was no way I was interrupting my concentration in order be polite and do the introductions and small talk. She worked around me, managing to get doppler readings and even feeling the strength of the contractions with her fingertips.
Towards the end of the tape I was starting to lose focus. How dilated was I? When would my waters break? Concentrate Amanda. I hope I’m nearly fully dilated. Imagine if I’m only 5 or 6 cm. Breathe girl, breathe. Well I can keep this calm in the meantime, but I don’t think I can keep it up for hours. Take a deep breath, listen to the tape.
As the tape finished I finally had a chat with Tammy the midwife. I asked for a pile of towels to sit on in case my waters broke anytime soon and some brief small talk that I don’t recall now. I requested that some classical music was played LOUDLY on the CD player. I wanted to imagine myself conducting the orchestra, and I needed to drown out any other thoughts. Little did I know there were ten minutes to go. Hubby was whispering affirmations in my ear “calm and relaxed, calm and relaxed” and even though I started to get restless, I really did imagine myself being calm and relaxed. I’d rock back and forth, banging into the beanbag ahead but the pressure of bulging waters was incredible.
Finally they went with an explosion. I got that moment of doubt that I think all women get “Is this me wetting myself or is it the amniotic fluid?” I didn’t care, I pushed it all out gleefully. We quickly got my knickers off and then the videotographer pressed record and went running downstairs to get our daughter. Surely it wouldn’t be long now.
With the next contraction I gave out a couple of moans. l I like to think that if I’m going to make noise that it would be a great roar of a lioness, but the video shows that I actually gave a couple of chicken squawks. There was a head coming down the birth canal. I put my hand down there. The video shows the midwife telling me that it’s more waters, but I didn’t hear that, as I was busy birthing my baby’s head. That was the most incredible thing I have ever done. I guided my baby’s head out – and she came out with a rush! Turns out her head isn’t much bigger than a tennis ball, so it’s no wonder she flew out like she was on a waterslide.
I didn’t hear Tammy calling for a second midwife, nor the conversation between her and hubby over how beautiful this newly birthed head was. I kept thinking “I’m about to have a baby” and “Oh crap, I have push out some shoulders.” With my third child the head, shoulders and chest all came out in the one push. Next contraction, to the tune of Vivaldi’s Spring I, I gave a half-hearted push. Afterall my body had done a good job without any help from me so far. Plop, there was a baby between my legs.
I looked down to see this tiny little creature looking up at me. She smiled. She’d done a mighty job of entangling herself in the cord so we undid that as I looked to see that she was, in fact, a little girl, just as we’d suspected all along. Things had happened so quickly that I was still fully dressed. I pulled up my singlet to get her onto my chest and couldn’t believe how warm she was. Like a hot water bottle. She smiled again. Weird – none of the others had done that.
Hubby and I were ecstatic – It had all been so easy. A few minutes later our daughter, Felicity and Jac arrive back incredulous that it had happened so quickly. I cut the cord and then we got our daughter to do her “job” which was to count all the fingers and toes – so even though she missed the actual birth, she is still proud of her role.
Placenta came mostly out – little bit was stuck, waited for another ten minutes, then gave a little tug and out it plopped. I had a shower and then we all settled in to play “Who does she look like?” and “Isn’t she the most beautiful baby you ever saw?” with the occasional “Oh, that was so easy, I want to do it again” from me.
All in all it was easily the best birth by far. I had always considered myself a bit of a birthing goddess but this birth merely confirmed it. The hypnobirthing practice we’d done in the months leading up to the birth was put to good use. Even though I didn’t listen to nearly as many tapes as I thought I’d need, I’m not complaining that labour was shorter than expected. And I don’t feel any regret that I didn’t get another waterbirth, well, maybe only a twinge. I’m doubtful that I’d have gotten a waterbirth anyway. By the time things were intense enough to warrant getting in the bath, I doubt I’d have had time to walk to the bath, take off my clothes and climb in. And I wonder if I would have spent the labour thinking “Is it painful enough to get in the bath yet?” which would have had me concentrating on the pain, rather than relaxing.
My labour wasn’t painfree as some hypnobirthing books promise, but it wasn’t painful either. The most unpleasant part was merely the bag of waters bulging. And it wasn’t really even hard work – certainly not physically – well not for childbirth at least. It took a lot of effort to stay relaxed and that was the hard work.
People ask “How long was the labour?” and I don’t know how to answer. After three weeks of pre-labour, it was such a smooth transition to birth that there was no definite stage one, transition, stage two, crowning etc. And it doesn’t matter – all that matters is that we have a healthy little baby, and that mummy is fighting fit. I’d love to do it all again, but like a great sportsman retiring at his peak, I now hang up my birthing cap as I move onto the next stage of my life: guiding Jemima and her three siblings from babies into happy, well adjusted adults.
Jemima Anne Jane
Born 13.50 5/2/2010
Weight: 2.910 kg or 6lb 6oz
For all the cloth wearing nappy lovers out there Amanda also owns and runs MandyMac Bamboo Nappies with a fab reputation, I know where does she find the time?
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