Angus’ Birth Story by Jenna Roberts
Home birth after two C-sections
9th of October 2011
My first son was born via planned C-section a day before his EDD. I developed pre-eclampisa and he was posterior. I didn’t know at the time that both of these issues did not make a c-section necessary, so I happily agreed. His arrival was okay, but I had a bad reaction from the drugs and was out of it. I believe to this day that the lack of hormones released by labour affected our ability to bond well and regret the c-section regularly.
I attempted a VBAC with the same OB with our second son. I went into labour spontaneously seven days after his EDD. I was terrified and labour did not progress well. After 31 hours and an epidural I was told I needed a c-section. I asked if my partner Ash had time to wake up and grab a cup of coffee, which he did. When we finally got to theatre my OB said, “Lets get this over and done with, I’ve got a golf game to get to”. Afterwards I was very angry and upset by the experience and Ash’s lack of support during labour. I had hoped it would be a bonding experience for us as a family and instead I felt more alone then ever before.
I started to lose small chunks of my mucus plug at least a week before my due day and was excited thinking we would be meeting our baby soon (we didn’t know his gender). Meanwhile my due date came and went and still no sign of baby. It wasn’t until Saturday the 8th, the morning of my ten year high school reunion picnic, that I finally had my bloody show. I put a pad on and told Ash and best friend Trish, who was visiting, “We will have this baby before the weekend is over”.
I sent a text to my midwife and doula to let them know. I had a few twinges before we left for the picnic, but nothing regular. Later that afternoon when I got home we decided to go to the grocery store. I figured that walking would help bring things on and stocking the fridge before the birth would come in handy. We came home and had left over soup for dinner, then put the kids to bed.
At 7:13pm I was having the occasional contraction and Ash said he was tired. So I told him to go to sleep as he would need it. At about 8pm I sent the midwife and doula a text to let them know I was having irregular contractions and would keep in touch as things progressed. I surfed the net, had a snack, and baked a cake. I lay down in bed watching Harry Potter, falling asleep before the end.
A few hours later I started to wake up with contractions. I was lying on my side and pushing against my bedside, channeling Ina May Gaskin with each contraction. “Yes”, “Open”, and “I’m going to get huge”, were my mantras. I worked on keeping my jaw loose and chatted to my baby between contractions as I got up to go to the toilet. After going to the toilet I would come back to bed and go back to sleep again. I repeated this cycle until about 4 am when I started to wake Ash up with them. He suggested I use “horsey lips”, but I found I didn’t like it. I got up around this time and swayed my hips while standing over the kitchen bench seat.
I decided after a few contractions to try the shower. So I jumped in and sat backwards over a chair, but standing up and swaying my hips felt so much better. At about 5:30am I began to feel like I couldn’t do it any more and I vomited a couple of times. The part of me that had read too many childbirth books wondered if I might be in transition. I told Ash I needed to get out of the shower and text my doula, Sara. It was around this time that Lucas (aged 6), woke up and we told him the baby was coming soon.
I went and sat on the couch, but found sitting during contractions unbearable. I would sit on the couch between then and stand up against a patch of wall, with my head pressed against the cool plaster, swaying my hips. Myles (aged 3) woke up just as Sara arrived at 6am. I felt very out of reality at this point- really in labour land as they say. I gave Sara an update on how things had progressed and had a few more contractions before heading to the toilet and shower again. I stood during contractions and Sara reminded me to keep my vocalising in a low tone. I would sit back on the chair between contractions and fall into a sort of semi sleep state as Myles sat on his stool outside the shower watching over me.
I asked Sara if it was too early to get into the pool and she said we could fill it if I’d like. Yes please! I couldn’t stay in the shower, because the hot water was being diverted to the pool. I went to the toilet and walked to the lounge and saw bolts of lightening in the sky outside. I sat on the couch with Ash and Sara helping me to stand as contractions hit. Sara asked if I’d eaten and I hadn’t. Ash made an enormous bowl of porridge, but I never even touched it.
Finally Lucas and Myles finished filling the pool and I threw myself in. I threw up again several times. I lay over the side of the pool on a towel during contractions, swaying my hips as Ash, Sara or Myles poured water over my back. After each contraction I would roll onto my bottom and fall asleep. It was quite warm in the pool and it was joyous relief when a cool wet tea towel was placed on my head or back. Ash and Sara made sure I drank plenty of water which felt great.
Around this time Myles started trying to jump in the pool and Lucas was getting silly. so Ash took them for a drive to return some DVD’s to the store. While they were gone Sara asked if I had thought about calling the midwife. I said she should call her, so she nicked off to do that. She came back and suggested I move to the shower again so I did, standing during contractions and sitting and sleeping between again. Sara asked if I was feeling the urge to push. I replied, “I think I might be pushing, but I don’t know if its an urge”. Time passed like this, and Ash and the boys returned at some point. Ash put on a movie for them.
Suddenly between contractions there was a knock at the shower door. It took me a second to work out it was my midwife. “How’s it going”, she asked. “Its going,” I replied. She nipped off and came back with the doppler and tried to get a heart beat. She couldn’t hear properly over the noise of the shower (the only time I was worried about my baby!) so she asked if I could hop out and lay on the couch. She immediately found the heart beat and it was perfect. We listened during a contraction and although she said I could move into whatever position was comfortable I stayed put.
I felt like I needed to do a poo so I went back to the toilet, but couldn’t seem to manage it. I was getting incredibly frustrated that I couldn’t do this poo that I so desperately felt I needed to do. I hopped back into the pool, complaining all the while about this poo! My midwife told me I could just do it in the pool if I wanted and she would take care of it. So I tried desperately to do a poo in the birth pool. It was the best advice she could give me as it turned out there was no poo, but rather a baby pressing on my bowel!
My midwife asked if we had any orange juice for me to drink as an energy boost, but we didn’t so I suggested Ash pop to the shops to buy me some thinking we had hours left to go. He suggested a honey lemon tea instead which everyone agreed was a better idea, fortunately realising we were very close to meeting our baby.
My midwife suggested I put my fingers inside my vagina and tell her what I felt. “The membranes are still intact,” I said and she laughed saying that I had read way too many birth books. “I can feel that spongy bit that’s normally right at the back,” I cried. She asked if I could feel a head behind the bag and I said no. She said I could push if I felt like it (which in fact I already was without knowing it). I continued pushing hanging over the side of the pool while holding Ash’s hands.
I felt again and could feel his head behind the sack. “I’m scared that I’m going to give myself haemorrhoids pushing so hard,” I said. “Oh well just leave it in there then,” my midwife suggested. I felt sure pushing him out would be easier if the waters were broken and bitched, “This is what you get when you choose a hands off midwife”. “What do you want me to do, reach in and pull it out,” she asked. “Yes! No not really.” I replied. Knowing that truly I wanted to do it without any intervention.
My MP3 player had run out of batteries and Ash had plugged in his with the radio playing at some point and when the midday news was called I announced, “I have to have this baby in 13 minutes”. When asked why I explained, “Necause then the baby will be born on the 9/10/11 at 12:13”. Everyone around me was laughing that I should manage to think of this at such a moment.
His head started to crown slowly. “Oh my goodness I feel as though I’m going to split in two!” I cried. “Come on baby you can do it! Push our baby out,” Ash said. To which I told him to ‘shut up’, not explaining that it felt too much like coached pushing.
His head emerged into the water, still encapsulated in the bag of waters (though at the time I thought it had burst), and it was a while before my body pushed out the rest of him. Ash ran around to see his head and then resumed holding my hands. Myles walked into the room with his lego aeroplane he had been building, flew it around a bit and then walked back off to the playroom. It really is amazing that I could be sitting there with a baby’s head hanging out of me chatting and joking!
Finally my body pushed the rest of him out and I flipped on to my bottom almost kicking my midwife and the baby as I did so! He was born in the caul and the midwife pulled the membranes off as I flipped over. She passed him straight to me and rubbed the meconium off his head. He cried heartily straight away.
My midwife and Doula called my older boys from the playroom and they came to meet their sibling. “Is it a boy or a girl,” Lucas asked. “It’s a baby,” my midwife told him laughing. We cuddled, laughed and cried with joy before pulling back the blanket that had been laid over him. “This is Angus,” Ash announced to the big boys. Angus continued to cry and my midwife joked, “He knows he is the youngest of three boys and he has to make himself heard”. I joked and asked, “Where is the off button” and said he was the “Angry Angus” after a burger by Hungry Jacks.
I sat in the pool for a short while before my midwife asked if I could move to the couch so she could make sure my blood loss was okay. “How?” I asked. Many hands helped me over the side of the pool while I held Angus as his cord was still attached. I sat on the couch and my older boys felt the cord to make sure it had stopped pulsing and Lucas cut the cord while I promised Myles he could cut the next one.
I delivered the placenta a short while later and my midwife went and checked it and cut some pieces off for me to eat later. She brought it back and explained to the boys how it worked while Angus had a feed and I ate some toast.
We sent a text to family and friends to let them know. Ash had a cuddle while my peri was checked (I ended up with a second degree tear and a graze, but we decided not to do stitches) and I had a shower. After my shower I lay in bed and the boys had a cuddle with their new brother. My midwife and doula cleaned everything away and by the time I went back to the lounge room you would never know what had just happened! Family arrived not long after to meet our littlest man.
It was such an amazing experience that I couldn’t sleep for days afterwards, because I just kept reliving every detail. Both Ash and I were on an amazing high from the experience!