“This is the story of the birth of my 4th child. My first home birth after 3 hospital births. To anyone having or planning on having a baby, I highly recommend homebirth as an option! There is no place like home. There is no place like home! Being in your own space enables you to do what nature intended without fear and sometimes unnecessary intervention. Embrace your beautiful woman power and birth your babies with all the love and security of your own home.” – Theresa
It started a little over 8 months ago, when my partner Peter insisted I buy a home pregnancy test. I was only 3 days late for my cycle, but he “had a feeling”. So I grabbed one in the shopping. I tested positive 2 days before my youngest daughter Hannah’s first birthday. What a surprise that was! After the initial shock we were happy with the news and told family and friends at Hannah’s first birthday party.
I guessed I was around 5 weeks, so didn’t rush in to the doctors. I had only ever used the services of my GP for prenatal care. We decided to go with a different route in prenatal care this time. Peter and I talked about what we wanted for the birth and seeing as I had gone through 2 previous rough hospital births and we nearly didn’t make it there with Hannah, the idea of a homebirth was very appealing to both of us.
So, off to Google I went in search of a midwife. I came up with a short list of 4 midwives. Then I went to the message board on Trademe and asked for people in my local area to recommend midwives they thought were good. Ruth Davison was the first one I found on Google and she was also highly recommended by one trader in particular whose story I had read. So I made contact with her and she came to my home where I booked with her. Funny enough my second choice turned out to be Ruth’s backup midwife Janine Clemons.
My pregnancy progressed as text books say it should. Along the way Ruth offered loads of advice and gave me lots of information to read about homebirth and the possibility of using water (which we decided to go with). This included books, pamphlets and DVD’s. She reassured me regarding small things I worried about like my blood group and Hannah’s IUGR.
I was sent for essential blood tests and an anatomy scan at 20 weeks. Unlike my past 3 pregnancies which consisted of monthly then fortnightly bloods as well as numerous growth scans. Her approach to my pregnancy gave me what I needed to really enjoy it!
Fast forward to my due date, which came and went as I knew it would! I wasn’t too concerned with this, I was taking every day and treasuring it as my possible last! Not planning anymore meant these would likely be my last days with a little being inside me. Every night I went off to sleep wondering if I would still be pregnant in the morning, and every morning there my bump was to greet me until 41 weeks 4 days.
I had a visit with Ruth this day and she was very reassuring and explained what would happen if I went much further over my dates then offered to sweep the membranes, which I eagerly agreed to.
Ruth checked everything out and discovered I was already 5cm dilated and effaced! YAY things would happen soon! She swept the membranes to encourage things along and instructed I get things ready. She left me with instructions to contact her as soon as I felt things getting regular. I took the last photo of my belly and then sat down to ring Peter and let him know what was happening. We decided it was best for him to come home which he did. I also rang my mum and sister to let them know today was the day!
I went about my usual day as best I could with my excitement rising. I had tightening on and off throughout the rest of the day and in to the evening. By 7pm they were definitely becoming a bit more regular and a little before 8pm I started timing them. There was no pain, just a gripping that squeezed my belly from top to bottom. After a few hours I decided this was happening a lot like Hannah’s delivery so I text Ruth just to let her know things were happening and to ask when I should contact her to come over. Ruth asked a few questions and said she would get things ready and come over and to start filling the pool. Peter having something to do went off and started that. I rang my mum and sister to let them know it was time to come over but not to rush as there was still no pain.
I continued to time my contractions and made regular visits to the loo while Peter got the pool ready. We had had it set up in our bedroom for a few weeks before the birth, so all that he needed to do was put the liner on and fill it. At around 10.30pm I made yet another visit to the loo and discovered a bloody show when I wiped. When I came out Ruth was here which was very reassuring for me as I was able to tell her what was going on. Shortly after that mum arrived, she was followed a little while after by Debs a student Childbirth Educator who was going to be present for Keean’s birth. My sister Tania, niece Natasha and finally Janine, the backup midwife arrived. So by midnight everyone was here and my contractions were coming closer together at around 5 minutes. Ruth had been occasionally checking Keean’s heart rate throughout the evening. This stayed steady and strong.
We past the time chatting, telling stories and drinking cups of tea. I can’t believe how relaxed the whole situation was! I took Miss Hannah to her bed in order to try and get her to sleep. Once she went off I went in to see how Peter was getting on with the pool. Seeing the pool all ready to go had me feeling a little emotional. He asked how I was feeling and I told him I felt as if I had got everyone here far to soon, but Peter reminded me we didn’t want to muck around just in case it all happened too fast like Hannah’s birth.
By now each contraction produced a funny bulging feeling with a lot of pressure in my back passage, but still not a lot of pain. At around 2am Janine let me know she and Ruth had discussed checking how things were going and possibly breaking the waters to get things really going. I agreed to this happily! So at 2.10am Ruth ruptured my membranes and let me know I was now 7cm dilated. This was my very first experience with leaking waters and that was something very different! I changed in to my nighty and we went back out (me with towels between my legs!).
Very quickly the contractions started to become painful. I was still very capable of dealing with them, but I was also able to report to Peter “Yep! That one hurt”. And with each contraction I was leaking loads of fluid. So I decided to get in the pool. Janine had had a few calls from another lady in labour and at this stage let me know she had to go. She wished me luck and went off. I got in the pool and had a decent contraction which stopped me being able to move! So I waited it out standing with a bit of hand pressure on my back. Once it was gone I got down in to the water. I tried a sitting position but that wasn’t comfortable and in the end settled on kneeling/squatting. The water was soothing although I had to ask Peter to stop stirring the thermometer in the water as it was putting me off balance.
Mum, Tania and Natasha sat on our bed while Deb’s and Ruth sat on the floor near the pool. Peter was on the other side right next to me but not in the pool yet.
By now the contractions were considerably more painful. Each one would start in my lower belly and spread around to my lower back and in to my thighs. I felt calm, I knew Ruth was there if I needed her. I trusted her completely and she seemed to understand that I wanted to do this myself. She listened and watched how I was coping to gauge when I would birth Keean. I had Peter there as well. Peter’s calm reassurance helped ease my mind so I knew I was safe and I knew I could do this. I was concentrating on the rise in the pain. I knew that it would peak and then back off and that was where I was aiming for. As each contraction came and went I sat on my knees and gently rocked back and forth. Ruth checked Keean’s heart between and sometimes during the contractions. Through these contractions I was putting pressure on my lower belly with one hand and my lower back with the other.
After a number of these contractions they kicked it up a notch! They were a lot more painful and I had too ask everyone to be quiet in order to concentrate on my goal, getting to the other side of each contraction. Now the pain was mostly in my lower back and I used both hands to put as much pressure there as I could which helped. I got the most amazing feeling and I can only think it was Keean moving down through my cervix and birth canal. It wasn’t painful but I felt him there. Again I had to ask everyone to “shhhhhhhhhhh” and I let them know I was going to push. Peter asked me if he could get in the pool, but I was unable to respond. So he got in with me. I had told him well before hand that I wanted him in there with me to catch Keean and in the end he was happy to do this.
My first push was very involuntary. My body took control and bore down through the contraction. Once it was gone I went forward on to hands and knees with my chin leaning over the edge of the pool. The feeling inside of me was like turmoil, both pain and excitement. He was right there! I could feel his head right there. To me it felt as though his head was out, but Peter tells me it wasn’t yet. I felt myself moaning waiting for another chance to push. It was painful but not a pain I couldn’t control. I was trying to control my breathing also and with the next contraction I pushed with everything I had which birthed Keean’s head.
Again my body took over and at 2.47am on the 25th march 2010 I pushed my Son out in to the waiting hands of his Dad who was guided by our brilliant midwife Ruth.
Ruth showed Peter how to bring Keean up between my legs and I sat back up again. I brought Keean up out of the water and he opened his lungs for the world to hear him say “I am here”. Ruth Put a towel over him and placed her hand on my shoulder. I was so thankful to her right at that moment. I still am and I am glad I have that exact moment captured forever in a photo. I looked over at Peter and I felt overwhelming love for him. He made me feel so safe and secure. I just wanted to lean on him, but I couldn’t as there wasn’t much cord out yet and I was holding Keean against my tummy. Peter put his hand up and helped me to support our new son.
Caleab my older son came in after Keean’s crying had woken him. Mum went to wake the girls and got Hannah as well. So all the kids came in and met their new brother shortly after he was born.
Caleab had been asking questions the previous day about the cord and placenta so he watched as Ruth got everything ready and had Peter cut Keean’s last link to my womb. It’s funny, I felt a sudden loss right then. It was fleeting, but I acknowledge my emotion for what it was. Keean was now his own person. No longer mine, no longer my private little being.
Not long after that I started contracting again and birthed the placenta. I was empty. My emotions threatened to take over. I did it, no one else. I birthed my son my way! I was exhilarated, ecstatic and delighted from having the full birth experience in such a wonderful way.
After Ruth helped me from the pool, dried me off and helped me change I got in to my own bed where I was given Keean. I put him to my breast and he fed for a long time. Ruth then weighed him and took all his measurements (8lb 10oz 51cm length and 37cm head). I lay there bone tired exhausted and just about unable to keep my eyes open, but buzzing and absolutely alive!
A few cups of tea later and everyone started leaving for their beds. Ruth was the last to leave at 5.30am. Peter came to bed then and we just lay with our new beautiful baby boy and I slept.
After the most amazing experience of my life I have only a few regrets: that I never seriously considered homebirth for my 3 previous births, that I let myself be scare in to a hospital, and that my older 3 children didn’t get a chance to be born in to such a calm and loving environment.