I was 39+ weeks pregnant and had been home for 2 weeks in a mad frenzy of cleaning and preparing. I was also constantly reading up on how to get labor going and how to ‘read the signs’…. well, like all other women not gifted with ‘the sight’, it was just going to happen when it was going to happen and I was required to exercise my limited patience. I did tell my baby that I was ready to meet him and everything was waiting and prepared for him – no pressure, but it was up to him now
So, on Sunday 17th February I woke up with a release of fluid that had me pretty sure this was my water breaking. I went to the loo and was sure it was my waters breaking… WOW, it was going to be happening.
We woke our gynae up at 6:30 am to ask him what to do now … well, not much to do unless contractions started. And then I made a mistake. DH and I spent the day in high anticipation, buying last minute goodies, doing the grocery shopping, stopping by the supportive set of IL’s – I think we even washed the car. And packed the car with everything we would be needing for and after the birth.
My mistake was not to go to sleep. Little did I know that this would be my last opportunity to sleep for quite some time…..
The Gynae checked me in the afternoon and I was reassured to know that the baby was at -2 (essentially descending into my pelvis) and well positioned for birth 🙂 I was also already 2 cm dilated. My doula was there to support me and share in our excitement.
Back at home and my first contraction started at about 9 pm. DH and I had bought a bottle of South African Pinotage for the labor. In our meetings with midwives, one had suggested having a glass of wine when contractions started – if the contractions were real, well the wine wouldn’t stop them. We liked this idea and bought said wine. Sitting on my birthing/physio ball and sipping on the wine, I found various positions that relieved the pressure of the first contractions. After a while I went to lie down and DH timed my contractions – about 15 minutes apart.
Within an hour they were about 7 minutes apart….. waves of intense sensation that totally took my breath away. DH called my doula and she gave the go ahead to come to the birthing cabin. Getting there was a different story. I could not tolerate the car moving when I was having a contraction and insisted DH stop driving. Luckily it was late at night, so there was hardly any traffic on the roads.
We arrived and I was not too eager for the Gynae to be checking anything. I was hurting and I did not want to know that is was for nothing. God forbid that I was still 2cm dilated. Well, it wasn’t 2cm, I had made progress to a whopping 3cm 😦
Into the heated pool I got, between vomiting all the wine and whatever it was I had eaten for supper… and I didn’t really like it – the pool that is. I got tired with nothing to comfortably support me between contractions. I wanted to be left alone and just have DH within reaching distance to hold my hand and for me to be able to feel his hand on my face – to be able to kiss his fingers and feel safe. More vomiting and I got out.
Another check, and now I was 6cm. I had been there for 3 hours and was progressing 1cm an hour. I started to do the math and cringed to think how much longer this could take. I remembered the chart from the ante natal classes with the woman’s face going a deeper and deeper shade of purple as the pain gets more and more intense. If at 6cm this was how intense it was going to be, how the hell was I going to manage all the way to 10, and the birth???? At this point pain medication did cross my mind.
Somehow, in some truly magical kind of way, I lost awareness of the pain. I was aware of DH. I was aware of my body in a kind of fully emerged in my body kind of a way. I was aware of my baby in a very non-specific kind of way. The best way I can describe it was a deep meditative state. DH was there to give me a hand to pull or push on, he supported me when a contraction came as I sat on the loo, walked about the room – wherever I was. Mostly I think I was lying on my side going with the flow of this rushing labor. My doula and the hydro-therapist were both massaging me and relieving the pain in my lower back. I felt so totally supported and safe.
As the night turned to dawn I stood at the open window at my doula’s suggestion and breathed in the morning light and air and took courage for the birth that was to be happening soon. I could feel it in my body.
I am not sure when I decided to strip off my clothes, and I only know I did as I have seen the photos of the birth itself. I was in the birthing pool, moving around, trying to get comfortable. The Gynae was there supporting me and guiding me, as was my doula. The hydro-therapist had gone out to drop her children off at school. DH was in the birthing pool with me. I felt so totally at one with myself and was not too interested when the Gynae told me I could reach down and touch my baby’s head. I was so deeply concentrated on the experience, that I was not ‘available’ for such pleasantries. I knew that it was all going fine and just wanted to keep flowing.
Throughout the labor and delivery the Gynae had been checking my baby’s heart beat with a doppler. This was reassuring. Somehow I could focus enough to hear the steady heartbeat and have that reassurance that all was good.
I was told to push. I said no. In my mind I was thinking that the perineum needs time to relax and stretch and slow is better. At the right time and about 4 contractions later DS was born. He was helped up out of the water by the Gynae and received into my open arms. My child, my boy. Alive and quietly aware of his surroundings. And with HUGE ears. With his birth, his ears had been squashed onto his head and just looked enormous. I remember thinking how weird it was to be noticing his ears moments after he was born.
The rest is a bit of a blur. I was on a complete high, which was only penetrated by the dim awareness that the Gynae was not happy with something. He kept looking at the clock. My placenta had yet to make an appearance. While my doula pressed on the pressure point for the placenta, I had injections in my thigh and the umbilical cord and the Gynae tugging on my cord with each contraction and me pushing him off and in complete shock at the pain.
Nothing. My placenta was not coming out.
To cut a long story short, I was transferred to the hospital, put under general anesthetic and had a minor surgery to remove my placenta, which had a small piece of placenta accreta.
The battle to get myself discharged and the long list of things we had to decline for our son are for another post. Suffice to say, I was not far off in my assessment of why I had wanted to avoid hospitals.