Our Third Birth, Second Homebirth: Welcoming our Third Daughter – story from Clare
I thought that by way of telling our birth journey of our third little poppet that I would start with a journey that began it all…
Palm trees, clear and glorious blue skies and more delicious Mexican food than you can poke a stick at… we were in LA on our Big Adventure: a whole year of living abroad as a family…
Back to that Mexican food. I had developed a bit of a love affair with the ol’ fish taco; some might say that it bordered on ridiculous, but I was as happy as a pig in mud, that is, until… I started vomiting. Less than 6 weeks into our Big Adventure and here I was overlooking the toilet bowl and not the Hollywood sign. Awesome.
What was really weird is that the vomiting and crummy belly would only really hit me in the morning and in the late afternoon when I was really really tired… but then my period arrived and I was like, “ah, well, there you go, no wonder I took a bit to shake of the dodgy fish taco effects!” It was only my second cycle since I had my second daughter in September of 2010, so my body was adjusting! All good. Carry on people! Back to eating fish taco!!
Then 2 days later it all stopped. Vomiting did not.
I remember the moment so clearly, I was washing my hands in the bathroom and I looked up into the mirror and it hit me. Pregnant. You.Could.Be.Pregnant.
My husband, Lorenzo and I had decided to think about trying for another baby once we got back from our Big Adventure. Nothing set in stone, no real decision to actually go ahead. Gosh only knows the troubles that we have faced in the past to fall pregnant… do we really want to risk our contentment and go through that rollercoaster again?
Cannot possibly be pregnant. Fish Taco.
The next morning I did the usual round of taking the girls to a Giant Coffee Chain That Shall Not Be Named for my 2 litres of the ‘small’ coffee, but on the way I inadvertently found myself popping into the local chemist just casually passing by the ‘family planning’ section… picked up a packet of home pregnancy tests and a magazine (‘cause I wasn’t really pregnant, I was just checking and really, all I needed was the magazine, that’s why I went in there in the first place… ya’know… Kardashian gossip).
Drank my two litres of coffee, told Lorenzo to hold my hand (figuratively I mean… holding someone’s hand as they pee on a stick would be humorous, but rather messy I would think). Within seconds a rather definite and not at all “needing-to-squint-under-a-powerful-light” “PREGNANT” was written across the screen!
Not the fish taco.
Our Big Adventure was necessarily cut short, we jet-setted back to Australia when I was 26 weeks pregnant and began the gorgeous journey of planning our second homebirth.
When I was on the cusp of 34 weeks pregnant I went into preterm labour. It was a bit scary, this was not in my plan!
It also played into some of the deep-harboured fears that I had been holding that my second daughter’s healing homebirth was simply a fluke, or a lucky break; that somehow, I actually didn’t deserve another beautiful, empowered birth… after all these years following my first traumatic birth experience I still felt a little bit ‘broken’ or underserving of an awesome birth.
Thankfully, with lots of love and support from my husband and my lovely friends and midwives I was able to follow the strict bedrest orders and it worked a charm, I hit 35 weeks and the threatened labour that was constantly being provoked by my daring to take a shower or sit up to drink a cup of tea, ebbed away, and from 36 weeks I knew that I could stay home, so when that date came by and went a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.
In many ways, with hindsight, I see that scare as a gauntlet that needed to be run to allow myself to believe in myself and to truly begin healing on all levels from my first birth’s trauma. To show my strength to myself. I ended up in hospital on monitoring and had to navigate the system (continuous monitoring, internal exam, fetal febronectin test, saying ‘no’ to the StrepB test… quite the challenge! The poor registrar didn’t know how to do an internal and fetal febronectin test without also doing the StrepB swab… ahh how I rocked his world by simply informing that he will not be doing the swab and to just take that out of the equation hahaha). But I did it. I went to hospital, I demanded to be treated with respect and with some informed negotiation we got through it with flying colours and were discharged with flying colours back into the loving embrace of my independent midwives (even the hospital conceded that they couldn’t look after me as well as my midwives in this situation).
On the morning of the third of November (at just over 39 weeks) at 4am I was in a lovely deep sleep when all of a sudden, mid-dream, my waters broke!
And it was like Niagara Falls, I kid you not!
Thankfully I had pre-planned such a scenario (my previous two labours were SROM) and had a towel beside the bed. I woke up Lorenzo and told him. So Exciting!
Lorenzo started to prepare some food for us all to eat once baby was here and I waddled around feeling the ickiness of what is essentially peeing in your pants as the gushes kept on coming.
I called my midwife to let her know: I was having some mild, regular surges at that stage and after such a quick birth with DD2 of just over an hour and half we felt we needed to be prepared.
And then my gorgeous 2 big girls woke up: and everything stopped! No contractions, not even a niggle, not even a backache. Nothing!
My midwife rang around lunchtime to see how I was getting along, and I told her that nothing was happening. I was a bit disheartened. I knew that after 24 hours there was the real chance that I would need to go into hospital for some monitoring and to be honest I just didn’t want to think about it, I just wanted to go into labour gosh darn it!
My midwife came over a few hours later to do some observations as baby was not yet engaged and we needed to check on her happiness in case of prolapsed cord and to discuss further what the signs of that is, and the process of monitoring for infection etc etc. I was so bummed and a little bit worried. Do I encourage bub to come down and engage or am I risking her cord to come down first instead?
I was reassured my midwife to take a nice walk and find some decent stairs to climb to encourage her down. All that evening I bounced on a fitball, sat on the toilet, read the spinning babies website…
Finally gave up and went to bed at 9.30pm as I was just simply tired after a whole day of excitement and I knew that I needed to conserve energy for the Real Deal.
Then the clock struck twelve! BAM.
Woke up in Labour. As in, surges that roll one into the other without pause kinda labour. I guess baby engaged! Wahoo! Told Lorenzo to get up and call the midwives and fill the pool, a baby is coming!
I popped on my birth music on the ipod and rolled around on my knees over the fitball and began my calm-breathing exercises. They worked a treat and I was able simply wait for my midwives to arrive…one, two and three! (we had agreed to have a student midwife attend)
Candles were lit, oil burner was on, lorenzo had prepared the ice with lavender oil to perfection and was patting cold washers from it across my brow as they arrived all within 10 minutes of each-other around 1am.
Soon thereafter the pool was ready… I had bought a special rubber ducky bath thermometer for the Grand Occasion! It provided a rather humorous birth pool companion as it floated around with it’s quack-tacular grinning face!
I remember the bendy straws and cool water being offered, I remember the cool lavender infused washers and I remember the gentle candle-light of the room. I also remember the jokes we made about how my midwives work sooo hard sitting on the couch sipping cups of tea while I am in the pool having a baby hahaha.
It was just blissful, normal and full of happiness and good humour. It was also happening really really fast!
I knew that I was getting close to meeting my baby when I decided to turn around and face the corner of the room away from everyone.
At this point I had been quite present in the room and able to chat and laugh with my gorgeous people, but at that moment of real gravitas, of knowing that your baby is almost earthside, I needed a moment to chat only with her.
I looked up and saw one of my birth affirmation cards and it read: “relax the face and the body will follow”… it really resonated with me and gave me the strength to fully relax and connect with my baby girl. I told her that it was ok. We were doing awesome.
I stroked my big pregnant belly knowing that the next time I would have my hand there, she wouldn’t be in there…and then, without looking up (I was resting my head on the side of the birth pool) I quietly informed the room that I had opened up and that she was about to come down (can I just add here that feeling your cervix actually open up the whole way is totally cool, I’ve never felt that before! For me it felt like a little ‘pop’ hahaha).
Another little funny moment happened here where I told Lorenzo that he should get the sieve ready just in case I have a “poo baby” first haha. Absolute hilarity ensues as he, and the student midwife try to be the official “poo baby collector” hahaha. Thankfully, the job didn’t need to be filled… only a real baby was being born!
A surge came over. Hang on! Why is it so intense? With my second daughter (also a home waterbirth) the surges that accompanied her birth were so gentle and mild…why were these still so strong? Ok, no time for thinking about that… her head is coming down. How cool is that?!
Another surge! Oh cool! She is almost there! I can hear Lorenzo and one of the midwives organise to wake our eldest daughter up (we decided to let our second daughter keep sleeping as a two year old being awoken in the middle of the night could get ugly hahaha).
One of the midwives collects our eldest daughter. Lorenzo is momentarily behind me watching as our baby’s head begins to make an appearance. Then, realising, that we are really close he comes to my side, takes my hand and kisses me and tells me how wonderful I am (yeah, he’s a keeper!). At this point I place my hand gently over where she is about to crown and cradle her head to help.
It is so quiet. I hear nothing else but the intense and immediate pounding of my love for her and in that moment I scoop her up into my arms and hold her close.
The room is so warm, quiet and full of love and happiness. Our baby takes her breath gently, pops an eye open gazes at me, at Lorenzo and her Big Sister and then… goes back to sleep! Not even a peep hahaha.
Almost immediately the placenta begins to make its own journey down. Thankfully, it comes quite easily (my second daughter’s took 45 minutes and was quite a challenge pain-wise).
We pop it into the Tupperware container (bet the Tupperware lady who sold me that little number never imagined it to be used quite like that hahaha) and it floats about the pool while we wait for our baby to have a feed and a cuddle and for her Big Sister and Papa to cut the cord and officially welcome our newest little baby into the world.
At this time I have no idea of space or time… later on, as I am lying on the couch, sipping some champagne and eating a vegemite toast… om nom nom… I ask what time she was born: 1.58am!
So all up, 2 minutes shy of 2 hours.
I am bundled with our baby, who we named Emilia off to bed while her Big Sister and Papa sit up drinking tea with the midwives. Occasionally one of my midwives would pop in and take our observations.
By 5am the whole family is bundled into bed and the midwives have gone home to return later that afternoon…
…and at 6am our two year old wakes up ready to start the day hahaha!
[4 November 1012]
Weight: 3.1kgs | HC 35cm | Length: 47.5cm
First stage: 1 hour and 50 minutes
Second stage: 8 minutes
Third (physiological) stage: 25 minutes.