The homebirth of Archie McGuire Wolfe
06/08/12 12lb4oz (5.56kg)
My greatest achievements in life have been my 9 gorgeous children. Each of the journeys that delivered them to me has been unique. With each new pregnancy, my “risk” status grew in the eyes of healthcare providers & I became more determined each time to have the birth that I felt was not only mine by right, but what was best for myself, my baby & my family.
My birth history is quite extensive. I have had 8 hospital births. My first 3 were vaginal births(with interventions), the next 4 births were c/sections(after “failure to progress” diagnosis). 2 of those c/sections were attempted VBACs, 1 was a “forced” elective. My next birth was a successful VBA4C in hospital. This leads me to the birth story of my most recent little cherub.
This story starts during my 2nd trimester. I had booked into John Hunter Hospital for my 2nd VBA4C. I had birthed my 2 previous babies there with the last one being a vbac. With this in mind, I expected to have my “risk” level lowered & not be subjected to the same old restrictions whilst in labour. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. In fact more restrictions than ever were placed on me…continuous monitoring, NO shower/water, laying on the bed, epidural upon arrival…it was unacceptable that there was no room for negotiation. I began looking at my options.
I met my wonderful midwife at a VBAC support group when I was about 32wks. We got to talking all things birth & one of us mentioned homebirth. It was always something I admired but never thought possible with my history. Lisa was very supportive. We met up a few times & discussed the possibility of me home birthing in detail. My main obstacles, as I saw them, were the fact that 3 out of 4 of my vaginal births were assisted with ventouse(due to posterior positioning of bubs) & I had always been a huge fan of epidurals. A homebirth meant NO medical pain relief. My husband was against the idea as well, but being the independent person I am, told him that I would do it with or without him. After much toing & froing, research & discussion, I decided that a water homebirth would be the best option for another successful vbac.
5th August 2012 – 40+5wks. BAM!!! I’m woken by a particularly strong contraction. It’s 4am. I get up & go to the bathroom to investigate if I’d had a show. Another strong contraction. Wow, this is it; we’re having a baby today!!! 1st thought…remind Rob to get Jasmine to surfing & kids to footy. I wander around a bit with contractions coming strong & regular. 2nd thought…Damn, didn’t do groceries or fold the washing! At 5am I text midwife, Lisa, & doula, Emma, to let them know todays the day.
I get the birth ball out & try some rocking. After a while I feel a bit faint & have to lie down. I text Lisa again at 6am letting her know & ask if she can come over.
When Lisa & Emma arrived I was leaning over the bed. I had started to get the dreaded backache that generally goes with my posterior babies. The girls were both encouraging me to move around & also had a hot water bottle on my back. I just wanted to get in the birth pool. Hubby, Rob, & the kids were putting it up as I was thinking it.
I don’t know what the time was but finally the pool was ready. OMG it was heaven. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be comfortable in the water, but it really helped ease the pain of the contractions. Some of my little ferals popped their heads in at some point to check out what was going on. I could hear the kids on & off all day as they kept themselves amused.
I was so tired. After 5 or 6 hours, sometime around 10am I guess, I asked Lisa to examine me. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere & wanted to know how dilated I was. 8cm, waters bulging…this was good. 7cm had always been my hoodoo number where everything stopped. I could do this, it wouldn’t be much longer.
“Relax, release” I started thinking to myself. I was surrounded by lovely warm water. All I was missing was some drumming music & incense…lol.
Things appeared to be slowing so Lisa & Emma helped me out of the pool & tried some rebozo while I was head down, bum up on the floor. What an odd sensation & damn uncomfortable. Didn’t like it at all!!
Back into the pool. OMG, it still felt awesome! Very relaxing. I had no idea of the time. I had so much backache & pressure in my bum.
After what seemed like an eternity of contractions, I asked Lisa for another VE. I don’t think she was keen. Maybe it was for the best. I didn’t want to know if I wasn’t making progress. There was NO WAY I was transferring to hospital without it being an emergency. I could tough this out! I think I wonder aloud if the hospital would give me an epidural & let me leave? Hmmm…probably NOT!
Next thing I recall is lying in bed with the electric blanket on & a TENS machine attached to me. It was dark, where had the day gone? I felt like I had been labouring a long time, yet I was still surprised when I realised how quickly the time had passed. I was comfy in bed & was sleeping between contractions. The TENS machine kept stopping so I didn’t really use it much.
Random thought…I bet those kids didn’t clean the microwave like I asked! Emma, my doula, was a constant presence. Whispering encouragement in my ear, getting me to drink her god awful labour concoction & just generally making sure I was as comfortable as could be.
Something was going on with Lisa & Emma. I asked what was happening but Emma assured me everything was fine. I later learnt that Lisa was sick & had to call in her backup midwife. I remember lying in bed & this stranger popped up & introduced herself as the backup. She’d scared the crap out of me…lol. She explained that Lisa had reluctantly gone home & she would now be helping me. All I could think was “poor Lisa, I hope she’s ok, she’s guna be pissed she missed it”.
At some point Emma got me up to the toilet to help keep things moving. I was getting the urge to push with some contractions but it was excruciating. I had so much pressure on my back that I felt I would snap in 2. I tried to stay on the toilet to open my pelvis but had to stand & lean into Emma when a contraction came. I tried reciting the “relax, release” mantra in my head. Stuff that crap, it wasn’t helping!!!
I leant against the bed again with one leg up to open everything & help bub come down more. At some point I vomited in the shower. I had to get back in the pool. Finally the water was warm again & I got back in. Instant relief!
It was around 11pm & I remember thinking our baby wouldn’t arrive until Monday now. Surely this can’t go on much longer. I was so tired & didn’t want to keep going. I asked the midwife for another VE. I was talking to bub, saying “come on baby it’s time now”. She examined me during a contraction while I pushed to see how far bub came down. The midwife said my waters broke, but I know she helped it happen, bless her. There’s no going back now. I tried pushing with contractions. I don’t know if it was helping. Sometimes it was involuntary & I could feel bubs move, other times it felt like nothing was happening. I was leaning over the edge of the pool on my knees. All of a sudden I felt bubs head come down almost with a whoosh! It seemed to happen so quickly. When he started to crown, I screamed. OMFG!!! I had never felt the “ring of fire” quite like this. My contractions slowed & the pain was almost unbearable. This baby was going to rip me in two. I tried pushing without the help of contractions but it didn’t work. Slowly bubs head made progress. “It’s breech” I heard the midwife’s surprised voice. What? “No, it’s ok. It’s just got big cheeks”. What did this baby look like if you could mistake its face for its bum…lol.
It seemed like forever but finally his head was out. The midwife asked if I wanted to touch it. No, it was too distracting; I had other things going on. I could feel him moving inside trying to position his little body. It hurt like hell!
After a while the midwife’s voice became urgent. She told me to push harder. I was trying. Push…again…harder. “I am” I screamed. Emma & the midwife helped get me over the side of the pool to the floor. I had an enormous head between my legs & couldn’t manage on my own. What an odd sight that must have been.
I’m on all fours on the floor pushing as hard as I could. The midwife’s voice was more demanding & urgent. “Push harder! Baby’s turning blue!” FUCK ME what was happening? She got me onto my back with my legs pushed back as far as possible. My hubby had called an ambulance but the midwife was still trying to get baby out. Next thing I know, he’s out & she is talking to him, telling him to breathe. I keep asking if he’s alright. I hear a cry…THANK GOD!!!
It was 2am on Monday 6th August 2012. My brand new baby was put on my chest. I was asking if it was a boy or girl. I couldn’t lift bub high enough to see for myself. IT’S ANOTHER BOY!!! He was so very big & very pink! No wonder he got stuck. Everything seemed to be normal again. We were covered in a blanket. It was almost like there was no emergency. The midwife looked incredibly relieved.
In the meantime the ambo’s arrived. They gave bubs the once over & declared him perfectly healthy. They were only there for 10mins or so.
Someone woke the kids & all of a sudden we had an audience. They each had a little look at their new brother but couldn’t nurse him as he was still attached to the placenta. After a little while, they went back to bed.
About an hour later I birthed the placenta but also some clots. The midwife tied his cord with a string with beads & Rob cut it, “every baby should have beads” she was saying. We still hadn’t decided on a name for our boy. I gave him to Rob for a cuddle, & moved off the floor to the lounge. I complained to the midwife of having a sudden headache & began feeling faint. My vision went blurry & I couldn’t keep my eyes open. The midwife & Emma tried getting me to eat & drink something but I just couldn’t be bothered. Rob called the ambo’s again. I heard them arrive but didn’t have the energy to respond. They gave me some fluids & oxygen & I started to come to life again. 2 hours after my homebirth we were off to Hospital, but that’s the beginning of a whole other story.
I have NO regrets about my homebirth. I am incredibly proud of myself & feel that I can achieve anything. I birthed a 12lb 4oz(5.56kg) baby after a 22hr labour without drugs & without tearing (thanks to the magical birth pool) after 4 previous c/sections. My only disappointment was that I didn’t get to shower at home & curl up with my new baby in my own bed.
I feel complete. I finally had the birth that every woman should be able to experience.
My body, my baby, my birth.