My wish for the birth of my second child was to experience physiological birth, what I believed would be safest for me and my baby, but also because I didn’t get that experience with my first child. I sensed the best place to support this would be at home, and I found a beautiful midwife that I connected with on many levels.
I wasn’t placing much emphasis on my due date, believing that for sure I would go well ‘overdue’. I was quite surprised when, on my due date, I lost my mucous plug shortly after breakfast. OK, I thought, the baby is actually coming soon! I was at home with my four year old daughter, Yemaya, and together we started to put the final things in place for the birth. We refreshed the alter, placing the beads and candle from my mother blessing. I also strung together the little cards of prayers and affirmations that my dear friends had written for me. It was beautiful reading them again, I felt they were giving me strength for what was to come. Within an hour, mild contractions started, and they kept coming about an hour apart. My partner Johnny was on the morning shift at the local cafe. I didn’t want to alarm him, so I sent him a message just asking him to keep his phone close by. At this point I still thought I was in a labour warm up, as I had that in the days leading up to the birth of my first born. I didn’t let myself get too excited.
There were a few more things I needed for the birth, some pantry essentials and library books to return so I took my daughter for the 5 minute drive into town. I was confident we could breeze through the errands before any major action started. The sensations in my belly and the moisture from the leaking plug were quite distracting and started to feel pretty spaced out. I ran into a few friends and kept the progress secret, still unsure myself. I dropped into the cafe to see my partner and he was beyond excited. He was certainly convinced that birth was near.
I grew anxious to get home, to my birthing space. At home I ate some lunch and then I put on some audio books for my daughter so I could have some rest. Rest and relaxation were my key intentions leading up to the birth, so I wanted to emphasise that now. The contractions were still coming, about 30mins apart so I called my midwife. She seemed pleased and was also sure that she would be needed soon. I called my doula to tell her to be prepared to come too. After hearing me out, she told me to ring her in the morning the next day. My reaction was ‘no you’re wrong, it could be sooner’. That was a sign to me that I was ready, and that I did want this to be labour! Yet i was still cautious of going hard too soon.
As I lied down I noticed that although the sensations were of the same frequency, they were getting stronger. At 3pm my partner got home and was ready for full birthing action. I insisted that there was still time and sent him with my daughter to the weekly farmers market to stock up on fresh produce . I spoke to my midwife again and she told me she had cancelled all of her plans and was going home to rest up for what could be birth that night. I put on my birth playlist and went through my relaxation techniques. Without any distractions, I started to really let it all sink in, that my baby was not far away.
When Johnny got home from the market he tidied up the kitchen space and cooked us dinner. I was nervous about eating, but decided it would be good to fuel myself up. During dinner the contractions were getting closer together and stronger, strong enough that I had to stand up and lean over the table, swaying my hips and giving them all of my attention. I started to get vocal too, as a way of coping with the tightening feeling. I was starting to feel agitated, as though I couldn’t function well in our normal night time routine. Johnny sensed this and said he would put Yemaya to bed. She went down quite easily despite the fact that she could hear my sounds. It was a relief when she was asleep, now I could really drop in. Johnny and I made a beautiful bath with rose petals and lit by candles. The contractions were about 5 minutes now. They had been getting quite painful, I was feeling it in my lower back and my hips. Getting into the water was so soothing. I also noticed the contractions starting to slowdown, losing their intensity. I was OK with that because I didn’t feel like there was a rush and I wanted to be on track with my intention. Johnny rang my midwife and doula and both were on their way without any further convincing. I felt anxious about them coming, as they each had a decent drive to get here. What if this isn’t it? I didn’t want to waste their time. I was still comfortable in the bath when my doula arrived. It was so lovely to see her, and she began by offering nurturing gestures like ladling warm water over my exposed neck and shoulders. I didn’t have many words, and started to feel like I was in between worlds. I decided it was time to get out of the bath and explore getting back into the intensity. The first contraction standing up was definitely harder, but I was ready to commit. I went out into the lounge room and lied down on my side. It was 8pm and I switched off my phone, the last time that I would look at the clock. Our space was beautiful. Lit by candlight, the full moon beaming in through the windows and the high steeple roof made it feel like a sacred church. My midwife had arrived and was making herself busy. My focus was so inward and I didn’t even know how to greet her so I didn’t. ‘No baby yet?’She said, which made me feel confident this was happening!
The contractions rolled by and my doula was doing lots to help me be comfortable, such as replenishing my labour aid (raspberry leaf tea and grape juice) and placing hot towels over my lower back and hips. It felt good to be gently walking around in between contractions. In the face of their intensity I was inwardly saying ‘yes, give me all that you’ve got and open me up!’ I practiced the thought that each contraction was effective, and bringing me closer to meeting my baby. Johnny and I went outside to see the massive full moon rising. It was beautiful and he held me up through a big contraction. I had my arms around his shoulders and which meant I could to loosen my hips because they weren’t having to work so hard holding me up. This became my most used way to get through the contractions. Johnny was working hard too! He stayed so present with me and also tended the fireplace on the cold winter’s night.
At a guess the contractions were only 5 minutes apart, and I started to go into head games about that. Like I’d read somewhere that the contractions should be closer together. I was doubtful that I was getting anywhere and I was feeling tired. This made me feel fear, as exhaustion was the reason for my hospital transfer in my daughter’s birth. I really had to practice my mindfulness techniques, to discern the story in my mind from the reality. I recalled one of my favourite quotes from my reading in pregnancy ‘labour has no clock’ and to keep the tiger (negative mind chatter ) in its cage!
This whole time my midwife was quietly in the background. She had checked the baby’s heart beat on arrival and that was all. I was seeking reassurance so I asked her if she should check my progress, hinting for an internal examination. My midwife politely declined, saying that she could see things were definitely happening. That was then I accepted that it was me birthing this baby, nobody else. This was no doubt a turning point, an opportunity for me to step into my power and fully meet the challenge.
Then I did what I most feared. I asked if it would be OK if I could have a rest, if that would disrupt the labour. My midwife said it would be totally fine to have a rest and then get back into it. It was painful lying down but I was able to have a few micro naps in between contractions. I felt satisfied with that and recieved some energy to start moving again. Being on my feet got things going. The pain was really in my hips now, as though the tendons and muscles were starting to stretch. I hoped so much that this was doing something, as it felt so hard. Then we heard Yemaya had woken up. Johnny went in to settle her but she was wide awake and wanted to be apart of the action she could hear. I could hardly give her any attention, let alone wish for her to go back to bed. She wrapped herself in a blanket and sat quietly on the lounge, just watching. With the next contraction I screamed in pain and my waters broke in one big burst. That brought so much relief to the tension in my hips. The contractions started rolling now, one after the other with hardly a break in between. I needed warmth and crawled over to be by the fire. I could really feel my uterus working now, as all the pain switched to being localised to the area above my pubic bone. My body was involuntarily contracting. I felt like I couldn’t keep up, I was so tired and it was hard to catch my breath. In that tiny pause between each contraction my team was reminding me to breathe, and it was everything. I was kneeling on the floor, with my knees spread as far apart as possible to allow for opening. My arms were propped up on the couch. Everyone was with me now, my doula and Yemaya stroking my forehead and my midwife watching from behind. In my head I was thinking I can’t do this. The pain was too much, nothing like I was able to experience in the epidural in my first birth. I just wanted to know so much that it would be over soon. My doula continued to be there, massaging me, bringing hotpacks for my hips and holding my drink and straw. I was so thirsty and was desperate to drink when I could. My midwife told me to feel for the baby’s head. I placed my hand inside but didn’t feel it, which devastated me. I literally thought I was going to die and I wanted to ask to call the ambulance, yet I couldn’t even speak. Everyone around me seemed to think different, they were praising me and giving me so much encouragement. A few contractions later and only few minutes later I felt my vagina stretch and my body starting to push. That sensation was all that I needed to completely refresh my energy and my resolve. Finally, I was convinced that it was coming. With each contraction my body pushed. I rested momentarily in the short breaks and caught my breath by focusing on the exhale. I could feel everything changing in my vagina, and I knew what it was, the baby’s head! It hurt so much, the stretching and the breaking opening of my body. I cried and wailed, I could not be censored even if I tried. I was so surprised at the high pitched screams coming from my entire body, nothing like the primal moans I had imagined beforehand. This scene, with my lack of composure, so different to what Id learned in hypnobirthing and Calm birth. The sensation of crowning and then at last, for the first time in this labour, I knew exactly where I was at in this epic journey and everything calmed down. I took my time to push the head out in 3 or 4 pushes. Then the body came in one last push. Johnny caught the baby and placed it on the birth cushions for me to pick up.’ It’s a boy’ said Yemaya. She got to see him come into the world. And he is here in my arms quietly waking up. 1.57am…45minutes after my waters broke.
Ill never forget being flooded with relief, of overcoming all of the mental challenges about birthing at home, as well as the firewalk of physiological birth! So much joy, too, that it worked out for Yemaya to be there. It was a healing for our mother line. I shifted lots to birth my daughter vaginally in a hospital setting. But now she has witnessed her mother birth at home, so natural, normal and supported by amazing women, her father, and the warmth of the fire. I imagine that this experience will influence her perception of birth as positive, natural & most importantly shape her faith in her own body to carry & birth life
The third stage happened within 10 minutes. I birthed the placenta lying down on the couch, my Sun in my arms. The contractions were just as intense as for birthing the baby. I had a second degree tear, which I didn’t feel happen. When we weighed my Sun a few hours later it was no surprise, 9 pound 4! I decided not get the tear stitched under the guidance of my midwife who has seen many cases of better healing without stitches by using specialised herbal care and extended rest instead.
I dont hold back from describing the pain. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through… when it was happening I felt that I wasn’t ready for it, considering I had an epidural with Yemaya’s birth. But the pain is worth it. It showed me a strength I’ve never known and how much I love my baby and wanted to bring him into the world. I crossed through hell to do that. I say to others, don’t be afraid of pain, just make sure you have good support and things to help make it more bearable.
The birth of my Sun was the outcome I truly desired – completely physiological, very supported yet undisturbed, in my own home and with his older sister there to witness it 😍😍😍There were moments of calm, prayerfulness and beauty, as I had intended, but that all went out the window as the clock ticked by, fatigue set in and the pain grew beyond my expectations. So then fear, doubt and negative mental chatter started to overtake. I found myself in resistance to these aspects, and pretty much had to make peace with them then and there, to let go and let birth.
When things really got going, it turned into a wild birth! In experiencing the most intense pain I’ve ever felt, my sounds were not primal or deep moans like I’d heard about, they were high pitched screams that I could not control. My thoughts I could not control. My behaviour was counteractive to what I’d learned in Calm birth and Hypnobirthing. It was impossible to adhere to any birthing techniques. I was afraid and exhausted. And it was this, all of this that I had to surrender to. When I finally affirmed this to myself, coincidence or not, my baby moved down.
Was it orgasmic, blissful or calm? Hell no! But I have absolutely no regrets, and know that everything that happened was important for me, with my own individual story and complexes, to bring this baby into the world. Birth just is. We can prepare all we like for our dream birth and vision the details…yet ultimately birth will be unknown and is something we can’t control. These were the keys for me: acceptance of the now and curating my support team so that I could be safe to completely let go. In not keeping it together, the warrior birthing woman within was set free, and I couldn’t be more proud 💜