So with my hospital bag packed (because, well I never know) and the home birth kit from my midwife in the house (again, well I thought if I changed my mind in the moment, I want to be prepared), I felt ready. I got to that moment where it's like, I've done all I could ever possibly do to prepare myself and now all that is left to do is let it all go, open my mind to what will happen and then just prepare to dance with God/Life in the moment. I was entering into the unknown territory now and frankly you can never know what will come or what will happen. What was left to do was surrender it all, know that I have done my best and then just run the race the best I can. Whether I win gold or silver or bronze or none is no longer in my hands. The part that I could control was to give my best and get ready, the result is out of my hands. But from now on ,whatever happens, I knew there cannot be any regrets. The regret only will come from knowing that I could have done more. I remember my hubby doula reminding me of this when I was panicking that baby may be breech and I just "cant' do it" and he said, well baby, don't just give up now, we just need to make sure we try our best and then see what happens. Let's not give up now and then live with what would have happened if we just tried. So my prayer at this point was now, I've done absolutely everything I can my Lord, my Goddess....now it's Your turn. Show me.
I was up for something else in this pregnancy and felt, what if I did nothing? What if I just wait? If the great Ina May says women can give birth in their sleep in her book Guide to childbirth, how much of me and my doing is really needed here? I must say I originally studied as a scientist so here, with my own body was a great opportunity. I wanted to see..I wanted to test everything I had read. Is it true? Are they all true? Well, I was about to find out.
So I sat back into my bubble of breath and refused to do anything with the cloud of options and excitement hovering around me. Instead, I carried on my practise, did some colouring of the birth affirmations, slept a lot (when I could), peed a lot, let my husband massage me, baked and with patience generally just carried on doing what I do everyday and nothing more.
Before I start, just want to say that everything from here on out is what I wrote just a couple of weeks after birth and I have decided to just put it straight on here without much editing. This is because I feel it really captures how I felt in the moment. So here it is!
Slept again. Morning at 9am....niggles continued...felt I'll tell hubby to come because I don't think I could take my first daughter (Luna) to nursery. Meanwhile...She'e is climbing all over me as I try to entertain her while riding the slow and yummy waves of contractions. Luna's labour lasted for 5 days so you can see why I just didn't want to get excited about anything whatsoever!!. Patience was my mantra (and an amazing one at that) At 10am, I felt like ok....this is no joke now. I need hubby home. Called him and he came back around 12pm. At this point....it was getting "interesting". He cooked, I ate (quietly, knowing this would be my last meal before baby comes so I needed to load up on energy) and went straight to the upstairs bedroom. And he took over with Luna and took her to nursery.
By 1pm when he returned....I told him to start getting things ready. So he prepared my birth room downstairs just like we had talked about over and over again....candles, flowers, rose petals, essential oils, blinds etc.
Meanwhile upstairs, lying on the bed, the intensity of the feelings where increasing. I stayed in my bubble, hugging my breath and refusing to go outside my bubble to all the things (fear of the intensity, doubts etc) that wanted to pull me out and distract me. I felt focused and intense. I listened to the playlist I had been playing for months now. Just once was enough because as lovely as it was, I felt it was pulling me away from really focusing on the intensity... kinda like distracting me. It felt like whenever I wasn't focusing on it, the feelings became unbearable but the more I focused in on them, the less intense they were. So it was all quiet for me from then on.
It's funny because I do tell women to go for it and express themselves if they want to be vocal during labour whereas for me it felt I just wanted to be quiet and literally 'listen' to the contractions as they came and went. I didn't think I'll be the quiet type but here we are :-). I was just making low humming sounds when they came and after the went.... I was like shhhhhhhhh....just wait for the next one and then the next....Intense!
Before I knew it, hubby came in and said he was gonna pick Luna up from nursery and I thought, what? It's 6pm already? Wow that went quick! Then followed by a little panic, baby (referring to my hubby) don't leave me! What if baby comes when you're away?! Hubby: You'll be just fine bébé, you've been doing it all by yourself anyway...you're amazing! I'll be back before you know it. Once again, I returned inside bubble and it was true, I literally just lay back down on the bed and he was back....time was warping in my head....everything was mysteriously and mystically weird. It was perfect!
About 6:30 (I'm guessing here guys... as I'm not sure of timings)
When Luna and hubby were back, my back suddenly started aching really bad. I called hubby to put his hand (he's got hot hands so it was like heavenly balm on my lower back). He started to move it around to give me a massage and I just told him to stay still. The later told me he was quite disappointed he didn't get to practise all the things and massages we talked about as I wanted him for about 10 mins and that's all he got to "do" throughout the whole labour. For me, the hovering around, taking care of everything else and giving me time and space to just get on and face what was going on in my womb was more than I could have ever asked for.
Anyway carrying on, I started feeling the need to push and I was like wow, Michel Odent was right! It really is a feeling you can't deny (I told you I was doing research!). It felt to me like that feeling that comes when you want to vomit. When can't hold it in and you just have to open your mouth and go with it.....almost like a gag reflex. It was incredibly intense and satisfying at the same time.
I told hubby to start filling the pool and he called our friend to come take Luna to her house. A couple more waves on the bed and I had to squat down beside the bed on a bucket hubby had brought up for me to pee in. The next wave and pop! the fore waters went....and violà! there was meconium. It was brown and I cannot tell you that I did not even flinch for a moment. Everything I had read in research (about the worst thing you can do being to panic in this situation and scare and stress the birthing mom) was so embedded in me that I didn't even need to remember it. I just carried on with the journey peacefully and quietly. If you want to read more on my meconium story, it's here. Now looking back, I am so glad for the research I did and that if not for it, this was where everything could have taken another turn due panic and lack of knowledge.
7:00pm (I guess) Back on the bed, lying down....intensity.....strong....just can't stay in this bed anymore...I need water!! Called hubby and he says...pool isn't full yet bébé. It didn't phase me as I staggered downstairs and plunged myself into the pool.....ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... Again I say in my head (it's true what they say......water during labour is actually amazing!)
7:30 Then I have a pause, and I'm so grateful for this and relief it offered from the continous intensities. So I use it to read all the affirmations I have on the wall...looking at all the goddess yantras I drew over the course of my pregnancy, felt grateful to be so quiet and surrounded by my amazing doula whos presence I felt just hoovering around me and making sure I had my space and everything I needed. Everything was just right. Friend came and took Luna. She held my hand for a bit...kisses, stokes, caresses...just perfect. Then off she went with my big baby
Then they started coming again....this feeling of pressure and wanting to poo..and I gladly went with it. I did poo...I was aware I knew when I did and I didn't care one bit. Got out of the pool, I need something hard, the floor, yes!....another hurl to push...pooed again...hubby came to clean me and I thought.....'ohh this is too messy'...I'm getting back in the pool! So again.....splash...in the pool and ahhh.....this is soo good. I have a cold drink from hubby (summer berries caprison, this just hit the sweetest spot in my brain and just at the perfect time...amazing!!!! ) more drink...more hurling into pushing.. It felt great, finally something seems to moving. Like I was being moved and flung around by some force from the inside. I was watching my body in awe.
Then I say....honey, I feel something coming!! Wait! It doesn't feel like a head. More urges to push and it kept coming forward and backward, forward and then backward. So I had a moment of doubt. Do I need to call a midwife?
In that moment, there was a quick processing of the possible scene in my head: if I call the line, they're all gonna rush in here and panic and turn the light on (the thing with the light really bothered me here) and then make noise, and maybe try to get me into an ambulance and take me to the hospital..errrr no! So I voiced it anyway...honey do you think we should call somebody? It's not coming.
My well-trained hubby's response was: Is that what you really want bébé? Why don't you try a little more and we'll see ok.
That just did it for me.....and literally the second brought in the next intensity...my body hurled me into pushing...a little sting and there it was, I was holding my baby's bum in my hands!!! It was amazing! I was in gobsmacked!....amazed, happy.
Next push...I felt her legs pop out behind me. I told hubby to come into the pool to hold baby while I push for the head.
He was there....holding her (he later told me he was barely holding her as her body was just free and floating) and next push... I went with the wonderful feeling of nearing the end and her head popped right out. Hubby passed her floppy body round to me. I remembered from my many reading to suck mouth and nose...rub back and keep baby low. And I did just that. Sucked mouth....seemed empty....sucked nose....a little mucus came out....rubbed back and She didn't cry....just looked at me.....my heart exploded! My baby is here. I did it! I trusted. And my baby is here!
I was relieved, content, happy and on a whole new level of in love again with my husband and my precious baby.
Sat down and got ready to deliver my placenta but there it was, in between my legs...as if to say,....I'm all ready to go mama. I smiled. Told hubby to take pics (the ones your looking at were the only ones taken during the whole thing, there was no photographer for snip snaps...hmm maybe next time ;-)) and I mustered all the strength I could to get up with my floppy and knackered legs and onto the improvised bed on the floor of the birthing room.
Light was low (almost dark), water red, house quiet, another drink, baby in my arms, placenta beside me, content, happy, fulfilled.....I am indeed a powerful and fearless woman and no one can ever take that away from me. Not now, not ever.
Some pics taken by hubby. The room was so dark and lit only by a few candles hence the flash especially in the first pic.
So because my midwife was aware of intention to have minimal contact with them during my pregnancy, she was very respectful to me. She used to use words like, I would usually say these to women but I know you've done your research and you may want something different..,but I still have to say it as it's my job. So because I told her not to call me after my due date but wait a week and then call...that's exactly what she did.
She called literally the day after to say, "just checking in like you wanted to see if everything is fine and if you need anything"
Me, " no thanks, I just had my baby yesterday (She came exactly 41 weeks by their calculations)
Her, " ohh wow! Congratulations! So did you have someone there or did you do it on your own in the end?" (Almost like she knew and suspected I would do it alone)
Me: no, just me and my hubby
Her: " oh congratulations! Well when can we come and see baby?
I really liked the above because she just didn't shove her way in, she knew what I wanted and was very respectful to ask when she can come and it meant a lot to me.
So I told them to come on day 3 post partum. And they did and even here, it was another midwife that came and she was also so respectful and saying things like, " is it ok if I touch your baby?". Again this meant a lot to me. She asked general questions and she was genuinely amazed and surprised I breech birthed on my own and actually expressed her disappointment that they as NHS midwives don't get to witness normal breech births as ever so often it leads to an emergency c-section. She confided in me, in all her years (and she looked pretty old) she'd only seen one. I shared some photos with her and she particularly wanted to see the lotus birth as she'd never seen one before but had read in my scanty notes that I wanted to do that. So again, I showed her pictures and she was impressed and so thankful that I shared with her.
After that, I was offered choice for newborn tests and choose what I wanted and felt empowered to do so. So basically all straightforward and no drama at all from the NHS which I was worried about. I am thankful for having such understanding midwives that knew what I wanted and respected me while still doing their job of offering me the normal choices of services available.
I am thankful for the women that inspired me (through their stories or email) to read and inform myself and then take full responsibility of my birth to have my baby exactly the way I wanted. I am thankful for the women that believed in me and my capability to birth my baby. I am also thankful for the ones who doubted my choices and called it names because they helped to strengthen my resolve and pushed me deeper to fully trust my self and my body. I am deeply thankful for my amazing husband for supporting me 200% throughout this pregnancy and trusting me even when I didn't and when I wobbled. I am beyond thankful to my first baby, Luna, for sparking a fire inside me that awakened my being from naive to preparing and taking responsibility for what I wanted. And finally, I am gateful for my new baby Uma for giving me an immensely enlightening and blissful experience of birth and which I know and feel will forever change my outlook on life from here on out.
For all the women that feel they can't, you can. Sometimes, all that is needed is a little trust. Life, this grand design, is more amazing than we can ever comprehend.
Wanted to add here that all my labour was in the bed, lying down on my side and breathing. Now at some point my doula brain kicked in and I thought, I should really be on my hands and knees on all fours. As soon as I started to get up from my comfy side lying to all fours, the pain was so excruciating it almost toppled me over. So I humbly lay back down and ahhh better. And I spent 71/2 hours of my 9 hour labour in that position, the rest was in the pool. I feel, when we go in with ideas of how it should be especially in birth where everyone seems to have one opinion or another about the "right" way to do it, it just ruins everything or makes things harder than it needs to be. Of course this excludes women that actually really need the help (but I'm not here to focus on that). This goes for ourselves and our care providers to leave the ideas behind. A little curiosity, a little trust, a little humility and much much patience really does go a long long way.
Peace out people.