The front room in our home is my yoga room it's where I keep all my yoga books, my mat and yoga props. It gets the best light and breeze in the house and it's where I prepare my yoga lessons and meditate. When I decided to have my baby at home I knew I wanted it in this room. We were told we were having a girl and she was due to be born on April 19th.
My husband took some convincing about a homebirth but my midwife and I managed to get him comfortable enough with the Idea. My eight year old daughter Jordan, on the other hand, couldn't wait. We kept our decision private till the very end so our families wouldn't be too concerned.
I felt incredibly heavy from thirty-seven weeks onward so I was surprised to still be pregnant at my baby blessing way a week before the due date. It was an intimate event in the front room and everyone bought a candle or flowers and a dish to share. The birth altar was adorned with cards, an ultrasound picture and a welcome sign that Jordan had made. My dearest girlfriends and relatives sat in a circle and wished me a safe, quick delivery. We beaded bracelets, made a birthing necklace, ate and laughed. It was a celebration of womanhood and the rituals made me feel supported and my baby honoured. The room was filled with strong female energy; I was ready.
But the 19th came and went. At 4am on the 20th I woke with a strong pain in the lower abdomen. I waited and there were a couple more. I had random contractions throughout the day and went for a brisk walk. I thought it would be nice to give birth on the 21st since Jordan had also been born on the 21st day (of October). But it was the same on the 21st; just random contractions all day. At 2.00pm my naturopath (and dear friend) Roxanne popped over with some caulophylium, which I took every 2 hours.
I woke up during the night with contractions that were 8 minutes apart for several hours. I was certain that all the walking, chilli, yoga and homeopathy had combined to get things rolling. I couldn’t sleep so I sat and timed the surges. At 5am I decided to have a bath. I ended up falling asleep in it and when I woke up at 6am the surges had come to a halt.
Ian had stayed home from work and Jordan from school, but our baby just wasn’t ready to leave the womb just yet. I was becoming frustrated by the stopping and starting. I was tired and felt pressured by the phone calls and text messages asking how it was going. And on top of all that I was angry at myself for not being patient and not trusting my body. I had planned to surrender completely and let things unfold naturally. But patience has never been my best trait and because of the previous miscarriage and healing time, I felt as if I’d been pregnant for a year!
I stopped taking any homeopathic remedies and went for a quiet walk with Jordan. I realised that it would probably be one of the last moments she would have with me as an only child. We reflected on our life together, walking closely and talking quietly. That night we had dinner at my parents’ house. At 8.30pm we were watching TV when a powerful surge made me get up off the lounge. I texted my midwife to let her know that it was probably going to be another night of pre-labour. I put Jordan to bed and retreated to the front room.
I checked that everything was in its place and felt the need to light all the candles and start photographing things. I felt surrounded by love and warmth and I wanted to capture it all before the flowers started dying. I felt like being alone so I lay on the lounge, watched our goldfish glide about and planned to sleep.
The surges became regular and strong. By the time I thought to monitor them they were already 5 minutes apart. Each time I felt one coming on I would get on my hands and knees. On an exhalation I chanted ‘aum’ and rode the entire contraction out. I rested between each one and found myself in a zone where my breath, body and mind were all focused on one thing. I felt confident and strong. At some point I went and had a shower. The next few hours became a blur of sleep and chanting through contractions.
At about 2.30am I needed another shower. Ian had fallen asleep so I woke him up and asked him to call my midwife. Contractions were now 2 to 3 minutes apart and I felt like I needed her. I was brought to my knees by contractions in the bathroom before I could get into the shower.
My midwife arrived just after 3am. She sat back and observed and I felt reassured by her quiet presence. Ian filled up the pool. I got in at about 3.30am and continued chanting but started to feel my baby bear down. Jordan woke up at about 5am, walked in and asked where the baby was. She knew everything about conception, where babies come from and had watched birth DVDs with me. But seeing her mummy actually doing it was too much for her. She curled up beside the pool and stayed quiet. I found myself reassuring her that everything was okay and she began popping her head up over the rim of the pool to stare at me sympathetically. My midwife soon hade her offering me water and wiping my face.
By this time I was fatigued and doubt began to creep in. My knees were stiff from being on them for so long and the water was getting cool. I started thinking that maybe she was stuck and I would need some intervention. I started repeating that I couldn’t do it and that I was tired. I just wanted everything to stop so I could curl up in bed. I wished she could be born while I slept. “What if she is too big for me?” I asked my midwife. “Your baby is the perfect size for you” she said calmly. She offered me some Rescue Remedy, which I took enthusiastically. Jordan and Ian had a dose too and my midwife went to her car to get a tripod for the video camera.
While my midwife was out I had the urge to feel what was going on inside me. I slowly inserted my fingers and not far up I felt the squishy amniotic sac. I pressed it gently and felt my little girl’s head. My waters hadn’t broken yet and she was almost home! I burst out laughing. I was overjoyed to feel her and in awe of the whole miraculous event. Touching her and visualising her here gave me the encouragement I needed. By this time it was 4.50am.
When my midwife came back in I said I wanted out of the pool and into the shower. She discouraged me from showering and suggested sitting on the toilet for a bit instead. I was helped out of the pool and as soon as my feet touched the dry floor I knew I wouldn’t give birth in the water. “Blow the candles out,” I told Ian. The room became dark, I turned around and headed towards my bedroom. As I passed the computer room I noticed the window was wide open and I hoped my neighbours hadn’t heard too much.
It was 5.45am and I felt great to be on the toilet, but I couldn’t stay there long. I made the short journey to my bedroom and my midwife set up the drop sheets on the bed. I tried to get on all fours on the bed but this wasn’t going to do. I needed to be down low, close to Earth. I needed grounding. I squatted against the bed, Jordan was drawing in the bed, my midwife was behind me and Ian was holding my arms.
I could feel the intense crowning sensations but I was holding back. Each new contraction became almost frightening, taking my breath away completely. I asked my midwife to please guide me as I didn’t want to tear. I felt exactly as I did when I was birthing Jordan; that I had reached some great height or I was at the very precipice of the world and to go any further would cause me to fall, combust or maybe even die. And again, just like during Jordan’s birth, I looked deep within me and summoned every ounce of courage and strength I had and I went to the place I needed to go to birth my baby. It was both exhilarating and terrifying.
My waters broke with a pop and gush at 6.20am. Jordan bounced off the bed and took charge of the camera as our baby’s head emerged. My midwife swapped positions with Ian so he was now behind me and she was supporting me from the front. At 6.33am our little girl, India Jade, shout out into her daddy’s arms weighing 3.86kg. He passed her to me and I sat on the bed cradling her. She was purple, warm, slippery and throbbing with life force. She didn’t cry right away but when she did it was full-bodied and deep. She was beautiful and I was stunned to have birthed another precious little girl. Ian too was overwhelmed by the moment.
We wrapped her up and waited till the cord stopped pulsing before disconnecting her from me. Ian called his parent and I rang my mum. “I have a baby girl!” I told her. She was ecstatic. I birthed the placenta in the shower with my midwife’s help while Ian and Jordan fell in love with India in our bed.
I emerged from the shower to find my emotional mum, sisters, niece and nephew in the hallway in their pyjamas. Soon after they left, my cousin popped in on her way to work and then my dad (he had the honour of watching my midwife inspect the placenta).
India’s name honours my love for yoga and Ian’s love for cricket (he tells everyone she’s his best catch to date!). As a yoga teacher I have developed a deep appreciation for and trust in my body. I have spent hours on the mat making discoveries about the power of my breath. But birthing my baby at home superseded any yogic experience to date and empowered me more than I ever thought possible.
India is almost 7 months old now and I am thankful for many things but especially: