Approaching this birth as a Doula and with everything I now knew from doing this work, I had questions. This is my birth and so I should have a say in how it needs to go down right? I am not crazy in thinking this, right? Well, I went and sought some support from the group. Sharing that I didn’t want any routine midwife appointments because well, I wasn’t sick, I was pregnant. I was healthy and I ate REALLY well so I didn’t feel I needed to be poked and prodded every 2 weeks. I wanted to tune into my body and trust it completely and if at any point it was not well, I'll heed the call and only then will I give someone a call to have a look at me.
One of the very many reminders for me was this:
- If you are at home, at the birth center, at the hospital giving birth, you are most powerful person in the room…not the one in the white coat, not the registrar, not the consultant, not the doula, not the midwife and NO-THING can happen without your consent. Nothing. Think deeply on this and you will begin to see how powerful you are as a birthing mama. Yes, persuasions may come, yes “suggestions” may come, yes “recommendations” may come and they may be quite strong, but unless you say yes, everything is at a halt.
In my reading frenzy, I also looked up meconium. Why does everyone rush around when baby poops. Yes, we all know about Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (when baby inhales it's own poop) but is it that the whole story? This paper says it occurs in 2 of 1000 live born babies and of those that inhale it, 95% of them clear it themselves after birth without help. I carried on reading this which opened my eyes on a whole new level. So what was all the fuss about, if the aim is to remain relaxed and calm, why the rushing around and the 'let's get things going'?.. wasn't that just contradictory from the environment you wanna create. As nurse Jeanne says here, sometimes, baby's just gatta poop. You can also listen to midwife, Rachel Reeds discussion on meconium here. I'll stop there because I did read A LOT on this but at least this gives you a little taste. I was slightly obsessed as I needed to make sure I understood everything I could in preparation for the next birth. I needed to make sure I wasn't crazy in thinking, why the rush? Surely leaving the cord intact, skin to skin and not suctioning babies would surely prevent hypoxia leaving baby not needing to take a gasp of air? This brought much needed armour and reinforcement for me.
So with all this on my mind, I was ready to get on and make my wishes known. Scared but ready…..actually shit scared but ready nonetheless. It’s always fizzy and scary when you go against the grid and choose to stand for what feels true to you. It’s never easy. Never will be but always, always worth it. Ok here we go, I decided I was going to have 3 appointments. One to go register my pregnancy, one to see my midwife and tell her of my plan of a homebirth and the final for the 20 weeks scan.
My midwife was all booked up so I had to travel all the way to the hospital to see a midwife. Now doing the work I do as a doula, going to the hospital was not a problem. I go there all the time and it's ok. But because I was now the one pregnant, I got the jitters going in there. I really did. Just the thought made my skin crawl. I knew I had to face whatever this was head on, because I may come back here again on the day of the birth but I decided to do it with a friend by my side. I found myself twitching my fingers in the waiting room…doing all sorts of breathing exercises to calm myself down as I was as nervous as hell. It was quite the practice. Everything went great though and the woman I met was lovely. But then again this mention of “Ooo, you’ll have to have this one at the labour ward”. I didn’t even bother replying to this. I just said goodbye when all the forms were filled and off I went. I’m the only one that knew what my plan was, so I’ll let the others do their own little dance and stay with myself and my decision.
So, first apt, tick! I was feeling quite proud and again the women from the group where virtually high-fiving me and holding a safe space for me.
Second appointment with my midwife and this time, I went with my husband and my daughter. At the appointment, I had her check me all over for blood pressure, heart rate, baby etc etc. And after that was done, she again proceeded to say, because of your history etc etc etc…you will need to have the baby at labour ward….. At this point was where I told her to hold that thought. Me: I do not need to have my baby at labour ward and I can have baby wherever I choose, this is my right as a pregnant woman right?
Answer was yes, but PPH.......and I continued to explain as I did last week on the blog what perhaps contributed to that.
And again came...yeah, but, we will highly recommend etc etc...........
Me: Well, I will have my baby at home and I will like to be attended by a midwife. That’s it. I also mentioned that this will be my last antenatal check-up. I do not wish to come back for any more and that if I need anything or feel out of sorts, I will call the number I had.
And then she mentioned I will get in touch with a consultant midwife and they will have a chat with me about where to go from here.
Me: I do not need to have a chat with anyone because I know what the conversation will be. You both will try to talk me out of my decision and make me see some sense. My decision is final and I do not need to talk it over with anyone.
Can she call you?
Me: No, I do not want anyone to call me either. Give me the details of your supervisor and I will write to tell her about my decision.
After this, I bid her goodbye and told her I will come back to give her my birth preferences at 36 weeks and then hopefully see her at the birth. She made some notes of our conversation and that was it. End of meeting.
I left that meeting feeling 3 things. Firstly, shakey, secondly, proud that I stood my ground and said what I had to say with a clear head and lastly, great to just have a woman chatting to another woman instead if it being naive and powerless woman chatting to the all powerful midwife. Everything was stripped away and in that moment it just felt like woman to woman and we were incased in a bubble meeting eye to eye. We were not totally agreeing but we met each other, with my husband acting as the guardian of the bubble. It was perfect. After that meeting I felt strong and like wow, I can't believe I did that. I was soo proud for standing up for myself in the knowledge of what I knew. It was amazing. I was also quite grateful for the midwife, for doing her job to offer me the standard services as they all do but also for allowing me to spread my wings as an independent pregnant woman standing firm in her rights. It wasn't the end but it was a great start.
Although the truth is, had I gone to that meeting unprepared. I would not know that I had any choices whatsoever ever. I probably would just nod, not question anything and assuming that everything is for the best. Or is it? It also makes me sad that this is the case for SO many women. The thing is if you don't go armed with information, no one is going to freely give it to you and it isn't their job to do that. So we have to do it for ourselves or hire someone that can help us do just that, if we want to, of course.The amount of women I work with who have their eyes wide open when I say, "you know if you don't feel comfortable with that, you can always question it and they go...'oooh I couldn't'. These birthing mothers just don't feel they can question anything. The assumption is made that "they" must know best and then most times they come out scarred and wishing they had questioned. The blog I wrote last week seemed to have stirred a bit of women out there and the messages I'm getting is the same,
- "I didn't know you could ask for this or question that",
- "I did't know about that"
- "I wasn't told"
- "I've been scarred from childbirth but everyone thinks I'm ok"
- "I dare not comment on your blog or Facebook because my family will see, they'll say, I'm just kicking up a fuss".
It's sad that some of us are suffering in silence and my heart goes out to these women. Please get informed, read about your rights as a pregnant woman. Dare to ask for what you want and if you and/or your partner are scared to challenge your options, then hire a doula and she'll help you with research. She may even come to antenatal meetings with you! Yep! Some doulas will do that for you. Take the reigns of your labour and birth in your hands and make it an experience to remember because, it really can be beautiful and a positive birth, whatever that may mean for you.
Anyways after that was done, I needed to attend to the question of a doula. Want to know what one is? Read this. What dads have to say about doula’s? Read this. Want to get one for yourself? Look here.
So did I hire a doula myself? are you kidding me, of course I did!! I'm not going to be all spiritual and say, I didn't need anyone because the truth is, I did need someone. I wanted to surrender to all the desires inside me so I called the woman I knew I wanted to be beside me because well, she's just awesome! She was the one that trained me as a doula and although she lived 2 hours away...well, a woman will do whatever she needs to get what she wants! I asked her and she said yes and I was ecstatic. I didn't know where/or how I would get the money to pay her but right then and there, I started working out a savings plan. Even if I had to borrow some money, I was willing and was going to do it!
I experienced 3 weeks of what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the job that I do. I totally let go and enjoyed being taken care of. With emails of "how are you today lovely?" How is bump? How are you feeling? Are you ok? Because a doula understands that the more you empty your mind when you are pregnant, the more it clears the way for what is to come and also helps in the bonding and trust between doula and doula-ee..(yep, that's totally a word :-) ) . It was bliss I tell ya. Round about this time was when I was still feeling nauseous so she'll send me emails about what could help etc etc. I really loved and relished the love and care.
Then one day, she dropped the bomb on me that my due date may clash with one of the conferences she was going on. Can you guess how I felt? Damn right devastated! But weirdly, also like maybe it was meant to be… but devastated nonetheless. It was so sweet when she said, I trust you will have all you need around you when the time comes. Ahhh how could I stay sad after that, I loved her even more.
Anyway after this, I looked around for other doulas but was still in mourning for Kate that none seemed to "fit" me. Then the idea came that I could ask my female friends to be there for me. Good idea or not? We'll see.
Next time: Doulas, Goddesses and some pretty kool Yantras ;-)