I realized yesterday I still haven’t posted my first birth story to my blog! This was a surprising realization for me, as usually I jump at the chance to share this story.
So here it goes:
It was Friday August 15th. I was at a meeting with friends and I decided to walk the 30 minutes home. The next day I would be 39 weeks pregnant.
As I rounded the corner to my street while listening and singing to Coldplay’s ‘Every Teardrop a Waterfall’, I felt something wet between my legs. Unsure of pee or my water breaking, I quickly got inside the house with a HUGE smile on my face.
My husband had 4 university students over to talk about life. I ran to the bathroom and requested to speak with him. We both deduced that it was indeed my water that had broken! Totally giddy and prepared to distract myself, I took measures to change and join the group in the living room.
About an hour later I decided everyone should leave – in labour or not, this was a usual occurrence for me. I am adamant about going to bed at a decent hour!
I hadn’t started contracting, so I followed what the midwife had told me and went to bed around 10pm. Before bed I quickly called my best friend and doula to let her know what was going on. I woke at 4am with period-like cramps. I took two Tylenol and went back to sleep.
Another pregnant friend and I planned on going to a prenatal yoga class in the morning. I still wasn’t contracting regularly, so I kept the promise. Plus, my good friend Hannah was teaching! I stayed low at the back and made frequent trips to the bathroom. I told Hannah I was in labor at the end of class. We both were pretty excited.
While at yoga, my loving and supportive husband went to the grocery store to stock our home for the birth, we had to feed our two midwives and doula for who knows how long!
He picked me up after class and I had a chiropractic appointment so he dropped me off at the clinic (after I ate 3 croissants). My chiropractor does a lot of pre and post-natal work, so I knew I was in good hands. I believe my session with her really helped my labour go smoothly. And surprisingly I wasn’t the first mama she treated while in labour!
We finally arrived home and took a rest and had lunch. I still wasn’t contracting regularly and decided to call the midwife. At this point I realized my primary midwife was off-call! This was super devastating for me. I remember thinking, it’s Saturday afternoon, maybe I won’t start rhythmically contracting until Monday when she’s on-call again!
My back-up midwife called to get the scoop this far. I asked her if it would be okay to go to our friend’s wedding. My husband had a commitment that he didn’t want to break and I still wasn’t having rhythmic contractions. It was close to home. She said: “For sure! Just leave when you need to, and wear a really big pad”. LOL. So we did it.
Eventually my husband fulfilled his commitment and we were outta there! I stopped to be pretty sad because I was REALLY looking forward to this wedding. I had my beautiful maternity dress planned for months and was so excited to be with friends and have one last night to dance wildly with my husband and big belly before my life changed forever. But giving birth was just as fun… 😉
On the drive home the bumps really helped speed up labour. I contracted 3 times in the 20 minute ride. We arrived home and I said: “The next time we walk through this door we will have a baby!”
My doula arrived about 2 hours later, and my husband and I were into active labour at that point. She very smartly started a point by point outline of the progression of the evening.
It took a while for my husband and I to find a groove. What eventually worked best was standing up during the contractions and breathing incredibly deeply together, bracing eachothers forearms with my head on his chest. On the exhale we would continually make the sound “LAM” to promote a loosened jaw, tongue and lips and thereby relaxed pelvic floor. Between contractions I would sit on the edge of the sofa bed. I instructed my attendants to say: “DEEP BREATH IN” when I felt a contraction starting – this was very important at the time. My doula placed aromatherapy “hot packs” (a crockpot full of hot water and a few drops of lavender essential oil) low on my abdomen just as the contraction started which was incredibly helpful to ease the sensation. I was still chilly between contractions so I had a blanket draped over my shoulders and my socks and nightgown on.
It was interesting how during each contraction various thoughts came strongly into my head. For example: “I want to go shopping” or “I can’t believe how amazing my husband and doula are to be with me in this moment” or “Why am I still able to talk between contractions?” or “When this contraction is over I need to remember to ask Rose to get my yoga manual so I can remember the sound vibration for the root chakra.”
At 7pm my midwife, the amazing Linda, arrived. I had only met her twice! She is from South Africa and after the birth she stuck around into the night and shared a number of incredible stories of her life with us. She had attended over 3000 births at the time.
When she arrived, she took the baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler. I cried (I don’t remember crying). She also commented that I looked like a “Zulu Warrior” from South Africa with my cape on – LOL. A few minutes later she checked my cervix and I was already 8cm dilated. Praise God. I said I didn’t want to know how far I was, but she said: “Trust me, you want to know.”
After this I continued to contract and dilate. The thoughts that jumped into my head included: “I’m afraid of being a mom” and “It’s going to be an even birthday!”
At 8:30 Linda said to push, after checking and finding there was no cervix. I tried the birthing chair, but my hip flexors couldn’t handle it – there was a lot of sensation and I couldn’t relax them. So she suggested I go on my back. Now, I never dreamed I’d be birthing on my back, after all the reading and learning I’d done about how it’s not the optimal position, so this really threw me for a loop. But I went with it.
Pushing was the hardest part of my labour. The dilation was what I expected, I wouldn’t even say ‘painful’ per se. Just lots of sensation as my body opened up. But I never felt an urge to push. It wasn’t natural. And I expected it to be. So I really needed to take some time to learn to HOW to push.
I had to direct my breath down, which wasn’t something I was used to doing. I hold a lot of tension in my body so usually I ‘let go’ when I exhale. But here I had to ground down. I was so thankful in that moment because this was something my osteopath and I had talked about the week before. Praise God for His working in this way!
It took me a few contractions to get the hang of it. I wish now that I was more mindful in my pushing. I have read about the theory that pain in labour is simply a result of fear. I believe in these moments of pushing I became fearful. Fearful of my lack of control and what the outcome could be, fearful of pushing for 10 hours, fearful of many things. Because of this fear, I dug deep down and with all of my might, and disregarding my body, I pushed my baby out. I wasn’t mindful. And as a result I had a deep internal tear.
I am thankful for this lesson, for it is something I can work on and be more mindful of in my next birth, God willing.
At 9:27 pm our beautiful son was born. Just before he came out I was able to reach down and feel his little head. His tiny body was placed on my chest and I was completely awestruck. My husband was stunned. We checked the sex when we were ready. And named him right then. And our lives were changed forever.
It is recorded that at 10:20 I began breastfeeding him in sidelying. A beautiful dance that would continue for months to come.