Tuesday, January 17, 2006

the birth story - a natural home birth

It's actually a long story, but I try to focus on the essence (if I can). I had no idea what the birth was going to be, so I tried to get informed. I read birth stories on the internet. Wow, some Hungarian women's stories were awful. I felt that I had a very good chance to have something much better. I felt strong and determined that I didn't have to go to the hospital. I had worries about the umbilical cord, whether it was going to be around the neck or not. I asked Laura, our midwife about it. She calmed me and told me not to worry. There were plenty of babies born with the umbilical cord around their neck. It can be easily taken off, when their head appears. OK. I was more relaxed and I must say at the moment when the head appeared, I completely forgot about all the worries I ever had. We were lucky though, there were no complications either with umbilical cord, or anything else.

So, as I said, I tried to be well informed, read some literature, did pregnancy yoga and took birth preparation classes etc. , but at the moment when delivery started, all the knowledge seemed to have evaporated. My head was just one big emptiness. I was very much in the here & now and the memory part of my brain was just wiped. As if you press delete and everything is gone from one moment to the next. When the first contractions came I thought, finally, it started. The point comes when you feel you had enough and want your baby out and start the next phase of your motherhood. I didn't know then yet, that I had to wait 2 more days.

These first contractions were very mild and started on the 4th around half past 2 at night. I waited till the morning and then called Laura. When I told her what was happening, she suggested me to go to the park, since it was a nice sunny day. And so we did. I asked Mathijs to stay with me. I felt much more safe with him on my side. We took a walk, stopped when contractions came; they didn't hurt that much. We also had a tea/coffee in the Pacific, while sitting outside in the sun. I just imagined if someone we knew came by and asked 'Hi, how are you doing?' and I could have answered: 'Oh, I'm fine, I'm in labour.'

And this first day passed by in this way. The next day on the 5th around 1 a.m. I got some heavier contractions. I could not sleep that night properly. When I was lying, I had very strong contractions coming. I looked for comforting positions as my Active Birth book suggested. I ended up sitting on a big pillow on the floor, with a chair in front of me. My head was resting on the chair. I had some sleep. The pain was much more present on this second day. I called Laura in the morning again and she came around 5 p.m. I had no idea at that time what was happening, how far I was dilated or how long I had to go etc. I tried to identify the phases according to what I read, but Laura, knew it all so well.

When she arrived, she examined me and said that the head was resting on the baarmoedermond and the opening was 5 cm. She broke the water and said that pain was supposed to become stronger and I could go into the birthtub. I can't remember whether I actually did go in there or not. Laura also gave me acupressure and aromatherapy that enhance the birth (some herbs that during pregnancy may cause miscarriage). She was optimistic and said that I was going to give birth the same day. ...Then we waited 3 hours. Laura had another birth to attend the day before, so she was fairly tired. I was walking around, or hanging on the loftbed. The pain was painful, but I could still take it without screaming. Around 8 p.m. Laura checked me again. Opening 7,5 cm and the head moved away from the cervix. Laura went home to take care of her family and came back around 10.

In the meantime I tried so many things. I put some music on and started to dance by moving my hips around and making little jumps, hoping that maybe gravitation was going to embrace me and help my baby out. Then at one point I thought that I was maybe too nervous and I had to chill. I dived into our birthtub filled with water of body temperature. I was meditating, trying to imagine the cervix opening further. The water was hot, I was sweating like crazy.

When Laura came back I was at 8 cm. All that hassle for 0,5 cm? I was losing hope and trust. We took the scenarios into account. The first option was to wait until it opened up by itself. From the second options on hospital was always part of the plan. E.g. going to the hospital to get infusion, which would fasten the process. Even the idea of a cesarean came up, if the head did not want to sink in again. As I was lying on the bed suddenly those very heavy contractions came, I think I felt similar ones before, but by seeking comfort the sharpness of the pain went away. Aha, that was it. I had to lie down to get the final birth pain, which was strong enough to push the baby out. I read so much in my Active Birth book about positions during labour and a lying position was considered such a negative one. Not good for either mother or baby. So, my policy was to avoid it.

Another magical moment. Was it psychological that I was so shit scared of hospital, or was it physical that I had to go horizontal to get those contractions, I don't know. From about half past 10 on 5th October till the moment Timur was born I screamed with each contraction. They came about every 5-10 minutes, as far as I can remember. I heard that by opening the mouth one can also help the opening of the cervix. And by sounds, screams, songs one can channel out the sharpness of the pain. I don't remember how quickly or slowly time went. I lost sensation of time. I forgot about where I was, whether I was bothering the neighbours or not. (I guess, they did not sleep much that night.) I heard at once Laura telling Mathijs: "Sounds good." While I was screaming like this, Laura took a nap on our couch and Mathijs was also falling asleep next to my bed. I felt relieved that at least they could get some rest, despite the circumstances.

Around 1 a.m on 6th October Laura checked me again. Opening was complete. She told me again to go into the tub. I was pushing in the tub. Pain was much more gentle in the water, but I couldn't feel anything inside me. Laura asked me whether I felt the baby coming and I just didn't feel anything concerning this department. I felt lost again. I was losing control. I had hallucinations. Sounds came to me distorted and I couldn't register every word that was told to me. I was grabbing the side of the tub. Mathijs was behind me in the water. I couldn't give him any instructions. His presence made a big difference. I felt safe.

I was pushing for a while. The lights were nearly completely turned off. Laura had a kind of miner's lamp on her head, which she turned on when it was needed. In the meantime the assistant from Geboortecentrum arrived. Aafke, the young midwife student was nice. I was a bit afraid of the assistant, because we had such an energy going on that I didn't want by anyone to be disturbed. She fitted well into the scene. She got some water for me, which I drank with a straw. She had good timing for the water and it came very refreshing to me. I was pushing and pushing. I felt such a strong pulling energy in my buttocks muscles. I could hardly resist them and push those muscles that had to be used for the delivery. I was losing my patience in all this pushing, when at one point in time Laura told me to stick my finger inside and try to feel the baby. I guess, I did feel the head of Timur, but I didn't believe that was it.

I came out of the water after about an hour and sat on a special Dutch birth chair, the barkruk. Don't imagine a real bar chair, this one is about knee high and a special metal plate is under it. Laura also put a mirror on the floor, so now I could see with my own eyes Timur's head. My hope immediately increased with 200%. It turned out that there was a stubborn piece of skin across the birthcanal, which had to be cut through. Cca. 10 minutes after the cutting through Timur was there. I saw the head coming forward with every push, which was very motivating. I was very careful at the very last moment, because I didn't want to be ripped. There were only 2 small rips on the surface of front part and the perineum stayed intact.

I felt exhausted, numb, tired... I lost about 8 deciliter of blood, which made me nearly faint when I stood up from the barkruk. Mathijs went with Timur back into the tub and spent about 20 minutes in water, which they both enjoyed. After the bath Timur started drinking from the breast. I am very grateful to Laura for all her patience and support throughout the whole process. Also thanks to Mathijs, who silently supported me with his mere presence. Timur was just lovely when he was born. I had to think about all those horror stories about blood-covered, screaming babies, bleeding mother, scissors, needles, white coats and all the other stuff. I was extremely happy and proud that I pulled it off myself. It's such an empowering experience. I became a mother! I thought I was going to be emotional at birth, but in fact I was not. That part came later. On the other hand, I felt rather exhausted, and was so happy to retire into my own bed. I was tired, but could hardly sleep. It's such a miracle! My body created such a wonderful creature. Mother nature knows it all.


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