My partner and I had decided we were ready to welcome our next child into our family. As we drove home from a shopping trip, I said, “I feel like a cream bun.” For me, this is a very rare indulgence! “Maybe you’re pregnant, ” said Clayton – I laughed it off. It was a mere matter of weeks ago that we had gone out for dinner, and sat across from each other and reconnected as partners. We took off the ‘parent hat’ for a few hours, and discussed our new plans for the future – and I had told him that yet again, all I could think of was having another baby. I really didn’t entertain the possibility of pregnancy that much after Clayton had said it in the car weeks later, but decided to take a test the next morning anyway.
Standing on my own in the bathroom, just as I’d placed the test strip on the benchtop, I got a strong feeling that I actually was pregnant – seconds later, two lines developing before my eyes. Clayton was on the bus on his way to work, and I called him with a shaking voice to share the news, and then I called a family member. Just as had been asked of me time and again during my first pregnancy, she asked me which hospital I was planning on having the baby at this time. I named the hospital closest to us, but in my heart, I wanted to say, “I’m not going to a hospital, I’m going to have my baby at home.”
The happy news had come just before Mother’s Day 2012, and we kept it to ourselves so we could tell our mothers in person. After some tears of elation and hugs of congratulations, the same question was asked of us – which hospital we were planning to go to? Choosing to give birth at home felt so completely natural and safe to me, but I realised that this was not going to be a feeling shared by most people around me.
I started researching the statistics for homebirth, reading stories of homebirths, reading about waterbirth and its statistics, and as I did, my heart sang – it all felt so right! Then I started looking for independent midwives who practiced in my area. Eagerly reading through their profiles, I had a shortlist of 3.
The first woman I contacted regretfully said she wasn’t practicing for a while due to family commitments, and recommended that I follow up either of my other two midwifery support choices. The next midwife I contacted lived in my town. I sent her an email and we agreed to meet up – it was at this point that I discovered she not only lived in my town, but on my street! Whilst this seemed exceedingly convenient, I didn’t want to be sold by that fact before I had met her and spoken with her to ask all of our questions face to face. As fate would have it, however, she was the perfect fit for us, and I felt so happy and confident that she would join us on our homebirthing journey.
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As mentioned earlier, the idea of me choosing to birth at home created feelings that varied between unease and disbelief by those around me. Whilst it was painful to feel that I didn’t have everyone’s support, to be told inadvertently by some that I was making such a dangerous decision, I was not swayed by that. Clayton was initially unconvinced that my heart was steering me in the right direction, too, but as the weeks progressed, I would present him with mounting evidence and supportive statistics for homebirth. I would assure him that I was so completely confident in my decision, that he too became confident, and an unwavering support to me.
At 34 weeks, we made an appointment at our nearest hospital with the head obstetrician. Yes, I wanted to bring my baby girl into the world in her own home, I wanted that with my heart and soul; however, knew that any indicators that baby and I would be safer in the ‘just in case’ environment of the hospital, that I would need to heed that advice.
The obstetrician was very easy-going and easy to talk to. He completely respected our decision – given my previous uneventful, healthy pregnancy and birth, and my current uneventful healthy pregnancy. He acknowledged the depth of the research we had done, and my confidence in myself and in birth itself. He also quipped, “Well, it’s not a medical procedure, is it?” Whilst I had always trusted in our midwife, to be supported by the obstetrician in our birthing choice further boosted my confidence and affirmed that homebirth was a safe, viable option.
39 weeks : my body starts to give the familiar niggles. I’m restless, emotional, an my goodness I just can’t get the house clean enough! I’m in prodromal labour, and will have contractions that build in intensity during the night every night, but they won’t regulate – by the morning they’ll just dissipate. It’s not until after this pregnancy that I will understand prodromal labour as I time where I should have just been patient and resting. Not getting caught up in ‘today’s the day’ mindset, thus the subsequent disappointment which ensued. It’s a time to pause, trust, go within and connect with baby.
I’m 40 weeks – the same pattern has played out for the seventh day straight. Julie, our midwife, came down with the doppler again, and told me about her schedule for the day. As she had the other 6 days I’d called her to our house, asked me to call her if there were any changes. I close the door to her, and just crumble and burst into tears. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted, and feel as though I’m stuck in limbo. Thankfully, I give in to sleep a few hours later. I surrender, and tell myself, today is not the day. Surrender and trust play such an important powerful role in labour, and I feel it’s no coincidence that surrender and trust also started my labour.
I’d slipped into a deep sleep quickly, but was woken with the intensity of the contractions. I got up, and just as I had during my first labour, felt that I needed to start walking and focusing on my breathing. Up and down the hallway, sometimes kicking a ball to our then 2 year old daughter between contractions. I realise they are regulating and building, and at that time, Julie had called to see how I was. I told her I was progressing well, and would let her know when I ready for her to come down and help Clayton fill the birthing pool – a few hours later, Clayton called her to say it was time.
I’d heard stories of women calling their midwives only to have the contractions space out again, even stop, and for a moment I was afraid this would happen. Clayton asked if I was sure it was time, but I knew I was in established labour. Minutes later, Julie was there, and I caught a glimpse of her making her way to our lounge room as I was working through a contraction in the bathroom. I remembered her saying, “Yep, that’s a labour face!” She always knew the right times for, and right forms of humour!
Julie and Clayton started filling up the birthing pool, and the conversations between contractions got shorter and shorter, my walking trips longer. To the end of the hallway, and then into our bedroom where I had my baby girl’s clothes laid out, and where I would soon be tucked up with her in our bed. I talked with her, reminded her we were working together, and to keep intensifying the contractions – we were a great team, Indigo and I!
I’d managed to not so gracefully squeeze into my bathers, and made my way, breath-focused, back down the hallway. The pool was ready, and I immersed myself in the heavenly bliss of the warmth. It felt so incredibly good – too good! I relished the feeling for a few minutes, and I felt like the little girl who had successfully sneaked a piece of chocolate out of the pantry – satisfied, but guilty! All of a sudden, the intensity returned, but I realised that I was having trouble focusing within, and on my sweet little girl who wanted to push a ball to Mummy across the water. She was put to bed, and as my focus returned, so did the momentum.
The room is dimly lit, beautiful music is playing, my essential oil blend is burning – Julie sits quietly trusting in the corner of the room, Clayton just on the outside of the pool near me cooling my forehead in the heat of a January night. All of a sudden, three contractions; one on top of the other. I remember feeling this during my first birth just before I felt ready to bear down, but accompanied with pain that had me doubled over standing in the shower – the pain isn’t there this time. Although the warmth and buoyancy of the water attributes to this, I know it’s also due to my lack of fear – I’m ready.
I ask Julie if she thinks I’m ready, as doubt tries to edge its way into my consciousness for a moment. With a gentle voice of conviction, she reminds me that my body knows what is doing. I get on all fours, and start breathing my baby girl down. I need some extra support, so Clayton jumps into the water with all of his clothes on and kneels with me, and I clasp my hands behind his neck. I feel the connection strengthening between he and I – heart to heart, in the water together.
There’s barely enough time to catch my breath between contractions, the power of them is extraordinary; it takes everything I have to work with them and not be overwhelmed by them – and I know I’m nearly there, but more importantly, that our little girl is nearly here!
Julie reassures me that all is well, and then her voice is full of joy as she tells me to get ready to catch my baby girl – I look down, she’s not there – she’s literally paddling her feet towards her Daddy! Julie laughs and tells us she’s never seen anything like it, and Clayton scoops up our cheeky waterbaby and gently passes her to me. The elation I feel is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Clayton and I cry tears of pure exhilaration, and gaze down at another beautiful little girl – she’s alert and gazing right back at us – these moments are pure euphoria.
I look up, and see that Julie has woken our eldest daughter, Aila, and she is in her arms; bleary eyed and ready to meet her baby sister. They meet for the first time, and share a cuddle on the couch together. It’s another emotionally charged moment, and one in which I’ll never forget…
Aila’s birth was a totally disempowering experience, yet it empowered me greatly for Indigo’s birth. It made me realise the power of my body and how I could wholeheartedly trust in it, and my intuition. Of how going into birth as an active participant, being aware of the interventions we may feel pressured into, and that educating ourselves all throughout our pregnancies is paramount. Birth should be a time where we can feel free to focus solely on our bodies and babies. There’s no special secret when it comes to giving birth, it doesn’t extend beyond trust. When we trust in ourselves, when we just trust the physiology of the process, we can birth our babies with true presence and true confidence – where we discover beauty of the greatest magnitude and a power and strength in ourselves we’ll never again question.
From the Womb to the World
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