Birth Story - Lisa recounts Kyra's homebirth in water shared by her family and the days following.
I don't know how to start. I'm both happy and sad at the same time. I'm so happy that we've got a little baby girl and that the whole experience was exhilarating. The birth was pretty much exactly what happened in a dream I had before I even fell pregnant, and the dream is where I got the name Kyra from! I am sad because I want to wind back the clock and go through it again! The experience was so amazing that I miss it and wish I could experience it again. I remember how it went, but when I think about it now, it is not easy to "re-feel" what I felt at the time. All that remains is the memory of the feelings and that makes me sad. It is going to be very difficult to put Kyra's birth in words as it was pretty much beyond description but I will do my best!
I had a visit from Marianne (midwife) on the 27th of December, and my mum was there as well. I was impatient because Ookie was supposed to be an early baby, and I had been getting signs for a week that something was going on! I joked that Mum would get a 1am call from me not knowing that she was really going to get that call that very night!!!
I had been losing mucous on and off all week, was going to the toilet a lot (bowel movements) the frequency of them being unusual for me! I had a strange niggly feeling as well that made it impossible for me to sit still and concentrate on anything. The strange period-like pressure in my pelvis and the occasional cramp or twinge was driving me nuts! Nothing was happening, yet something was! I suppose I was pretty stressed out during that week, and when Marianne said on the 27th Dec that labour would happen when I was relaxed and ready, I decided to try a massage that night!
It wasn't easy to relax, I was very cranky and emotional, not to mention restless and tired! I had a hot shower, laid down in bed with the air-conditioning on and massaged my belly with lavender and sandalwood mixed in with almond oil. It was the first time I had tried that combination and it was the best massage I've ever had. The smell was so calming and I had fun rubbing my belly. It helped me to fall asleep and I slept from around 11.30pm to around 2am in the morning.
Had to pee at 2am, so I woke up all sore in the belly/pelvis and tired and went into the bathroom. As I was walking there, I felt a small gush of fluid between my legs and when I got to the toilet there was a little trickle, not much, and some more yellowish mucous. I called for Chris and was getting all excited before I realised that there wasn't much fluid and that it had stopped like the other times. (I had the same thing happen twice during my pregnancy at around 30 and 36 weeks - probably just a small tear in the amniotic sac each time that healed itself.) So I went back to bed with Chris and went to sleep.
It was around 3am when I woke up AGAIN, sore. I went to pee again and went back to bed. I got some period cramps and I tried to ignore them and get comfortable but they didn't go away! I tossed and turned in bed then realised that they were happening at irregular intervals. I woke Chris up again and told him I thought something could be happening... and he said he was too tired and I said to go back to sleep. I tried to sleep but finally got out of bed and got on the computer to see if there was anyone online to talk to. Had more cramps while on the computer and got up to walk around a bit. Got back on the computer and there was still nobody online so I got on Chris's Trillian and saw that his brother was on MSN. We talked for a few minutes then I asked Nick to get Chris's mum Susan. I told her I thought something was happening and asked her what she thought. Finally I decided to call my mum at around 3.40 because the cramps weren't going away and I had bad heartburn every time I got a cramp! I could of dealt with the cramps if it wasn't for the heartburn and there was no milk in the house to ease them! Mum came over with milk and I drank a fair bit which helped a lot then decided to go back to bed to try and sleep again so Mum left.
Sleeping didn't work. It was too uncomfortable in bed so by 4 or 5am I was up again, in the lounge room lying on the rug on the floor. I think I dozed for 10 or 15 minutes in between the cramps and finally at around 6 I couldn't take it anymore and decided that yes I was in labour and went to wake up Chris. I remember sticking my head into the Christmas tree that we had because the smell of the eucalyptus and pine helped distract me from the contractions. The tree smelt so secure so I ignored Chris's comments about me being a tree hugger!
I was hungry so Chris got me some Rice Bubbles at around 6.30am. I had the second mouthful in my mouth when I got a contraction so I spat it out into my hand! After that I couldn't eat anymore even though I was hungry. I think I started to get a little nauseous and sick-feeling then.
Chris mentioned maybe we should start the hot towels. (Had towelling nappies folded and sewn up so they would stay together) I didn't want to accept that it was labour yet in case it was a false alarm! I didn't want to get excited but the cramps were getting more intense and tight so Chris started to make up the hot lavender water in the nappy bucket. He called my mum at around 7am I think and she started to get ready to come over. I don't know what time she got here but by the time she got here, I was getting down to work, and didn't want to be talked at!
I was dealing with the contractions best on my hands and knees. I didn't use any of the pelvic rocks or exercises that we used in active birth class, but all the same I am very grateful for those classes! I was on my hands and knees a lot or kneeling or on my haunches leaning forward - good thing my muscles were strong and used to the positions! I think the positions I was using helped to keep Ookie anterior - it also helped that I had been using those positions regularly during my pregnancy!
The hot towels were great on my belly. Absolutely NO back pain at all. It was all in my lower belly and I took each contraction as it came. The pain was not unbearable, just mostly uncomfortable and intense. I've experienced worse pains than contractions! Mum and Chris started setting up the pool and recording how far apart the contractions were. At this stage I was too busy relaxing and trying to rest in between contractions to take much notice of what was going on. I was so relaxed that when a contraction started to happen, I didn't want to get on my hands and knees to deal with it so I just laid there until it became unbearable lying down then got up really fast, asking for hot towels and trying to deal with the tightening in my belly until I got my towel!
I got in the shower with the hot water on my back and resting my head on the shower wall. Didn't help much but at least it was a distraction. I didn't stay in for long because I preferred being on my hands and knees. Walked around with a towel wrapped around me for a bit because I was restless, feeling really nauseous and ended up on my hands and knees in the kitchen and made it back to the rug and Chris held a hot towel on my belly. It seemed like they took forever to get me my towels! Probably because I didn't ask for one until the tightening pain in my belly was at its peak! I started asking for the towels sooner and was amazed at how easier it got! Silly me!
Chris and Mum asked if I wanted to get into the pool. I didn't want to until Marianne got here in case the pool slowed down the labour. So they called Marianne and she said it was fine to get in so I got in and talk about ecstasy! It was so nice once I got in, I haven't been in a pool much since I got pregnant so the feeling was great! The water wasn't warm enough though so I was a bit cold and wasn't happy until I got more hot water in.
Chris was in the pool with me so we had a cuddle in between some contractions. I was happy having him close by and he was doing a really great job with the hot towels on my belly! I handled contractions either on my hands and knees or by leaning forward, resting my arms on the side of the pool with my legs tucked under me and open.
The hose was turned on and a trickle of hot water was coming out so I had the hose pointed at my belly which felt good. I was feeling pretty sick and had just finished vomiting when Marianne arrived. I was aware of Marianne there, then saw the oxygen tank and decided I didn't like it! I thought about asking her to move it out of sight but never got around to asking. Marianne did the first quick check of Ookie's heartbeat. She only checked about 5 times during labour and she did it quickly so it wasn't inconvenient.
At around 10am, I was saying "I don't want to do this anymore!" because after a hour or two in the pool, I was starting to get really tired and weak. I asked for Marianne to check to see how far along I was and at first when Mum asked her to check, Marianne was saying that I had said I didn't want that and to make sure it was what I wanted. I am glad I had her as a midwife because she clearly respected my wishes and wasn't going to do anything until she was sure it was what I wanted! She checked and I was about 5cm dilated. I remember thinking halfway there and being surprised I was already that far then feeling cranky because I thought it would take another 5 or 6 hours before I'd be fully dilated. Then I got another contraction and I went back to concentrating and taking them one at a time.
My dad and brothers turned up, and Josh did some video recording and I remember my Dad tapping me because mum wouldn't tell me what he said or something WHILE I was having a contraction! I'm sure he thought it was amusing when I snapped and waved my hand at him. I don't know what I said, probably something alone the lines of shut up!!!! Shane was pretty much inconspicuous but I could feel that he was there somewhere. They left and I was a bit disappointed because I wanted my brothers to stay there, and wanted Josh to keep videorecording. I didn't have time to dwell on it though because I had to concentrate on labouring!
I think about 30 minutes later, they were asking if I wanted to get out of the pool and have a break. I said yes and then had another contraction in the pool and thought that I would rather stay in the pool because I wasn't sure how I'd go out of the water and away from stream of hot water coming from the hose! Then the contraction was over and I had hands helping me out of the pool so I changed my mind again and got out!
There was a mattress on the floor with a shower curtain wrapped around it so I got on all fours dripping water to deal with my contractions. I noticed my body was doing all the breathing for me so I just went with the flow, one at a time. I wasn't really aware of who was doing the hot towels (mum or Marianne) but knew it wasn't Chris anymore and was painfully aware of the fact he wasn't in the room anymore! I found out later he went to lie down for a few minutes because his back and hip were bothering him.
Once I knew he wasn't there I noticed the contractions get more intense and harder to deal with. I was rocking and alternating my pelvis but it didn't really help much so I just stuck in there on all fours during contractions. The nausea came back - damn the shower curtain! It was new and had not been washed or used so the plastic smell was making me sick! It was strong, but because I was in labour I think my sense of smell was more sensitive and it just made me sick! I couldn't help resting my head on the mattress in between contractions which made me really nauseous, then when I was back on my hands and knees, I was catching whiffs from the bloody thing! I didn't vomit again but I sure felt sick!
They were using hot towels on my belly and my back. I don't think the ones on my back really helped any, but they did provide a little distraction as they were put on my back. I had a cold washcloth for my face and neck because my head was so hot! I used the cold washcloth in between contractions mostly to cool down.
I could feel my body starting to get crampy-like during contractions and knew it wouldn't be much longer before I would feel the urge to bear down. Then all of a sudden there was a strong gush of water between my legs! I remember thinking "Ooops. Did I just pee or something?" and then my mum was telling me my waters had broke during a contraction and I was annoyed because I didn't care and wanted to concentrate undisturbed!
Then I got all pushy-like. It was nothing like needing to go and poo at all. It was a different pushing feeling and my body was doing it gently. I was getting the urges to help by pushing myself as well but I didn't. I just tried to breathe and let my body do whatever it was doing without interfering. This was the hardest part of the whole labour and birth experience, keeping my mind out of the way and not doing anything! I gave control over to my body. It was intense and all I could do was hang in there and wait! I remember telling my mum I wanted to push and she was telling me not to or something about Marianne checking first before I pushed. I am pretty sure that being on all fours was making it harder on my body at that stage because my body was trying to get the head to move down more but was having a hard time doing that because of the all fours position.
Mum and Marianne were asking me to get back into the pool, and I waited until after the next contraction then got in the pool just in time to have another contraction! Chris was back by then and he got changed into his swimmers and hopped in with me. Being in the pool was even more difficult because now that I was on my haunches and resting against the side, my body was starting to push the baby down and it was harder for me to not interfere. Marianne checked my dilation and I was 9cm. They told me not to push. Hah, tell that to my body, it started bearing down by itself! I was not doing it and did not see the point in fighting it - if my body was doing it then it obviously was ready to.
Throughout labour, I was given heaps of water, fruit juice and Bach Flower Rescue Remedy to keep my energy levels up. Earlier on, I was offered fluids and didn't really ask for a drink because I was getting enough. But during the pushing stage, I found myself asking for water more and more, I was surprised at how thirsty I was. I drank heaps! I was also using the cold washcloth on my head a lot more now especially during the contractions/pushing urges as it was the best distraction! Eventually I felt Ookie's head push down towards my vagina and go up again with each contraction and pushing urge.
From there on it was all fun! The contractions weren't in my lower belly anymore but instead in like a wave from my ribcage down to my vagina. They didn't hurt but they made my body push HARD and I started actively pushing when I felt my body do it. I was so absorbed in the feeling of the head moving down! It was one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had, and with all the endorphins I think I was on a bit of a high! I could feel the head come down and go up again as if it was in a stretchy elastic bag or something that would stop the head from coming out, and make it go back up again. I think I may have been making little moaning or grunting noises too from the force of my body bearing down.
I felt my waters break again when I was pushing, another strong gush and then I could feel the head come down more. I think at that point, the others could see a little bit of the head. At some point I poo'ed into the pool!! I didn't know this at the time but Chris told me afterwards I did twice but not much. I wish I had known, then I could of had a laugh at Chris's face, I'm sure he would of had a very amusing expression on it as he was in the pool with me!
The head was very deep down now and I could feel myself starting to stretch and open up! Wow! It was not painful at all, the bloody perineal massage HURT more than giving birth! There was a little aching stretchy feeling at one point up near my clitoris as the head started to crown but it didn't hurt me just made me want to push through it. You know how you bite your lip or chew your teeth and it aches a little but its a good ache and it makes you want to do it more? That's what it was like. I took my time and let the head come down and go up - I knew it was slowly stretching and opening me up and I was really looking forward to feeling the head come out!
One contraction/pushing urge later, Ookie's head didn't go back up and I put my hand down between my legs. Wow again! I could feel the skin all stretched out over the head, and the lips of my vagina all soft to the side a bit and Ookie's soft head and the furry hair in the middle of the soft lips! I was moving my hand around and didn't want to take it away to push again because I was loving what I was feeling! My body pushed again and I pushed a little feeling how the skin stretched out more then I had to put my hand back on the side of the pool to concentrate on pushing the head out.
It happened too quickly, and I miss all the sensations! I wish it had somehow lasted longer so I could savour it better! I felt the head start to emerge and stopped pushing and let my body take over again. The head came out slowly then was out. I was told to stop pushing because the cord was around Ookie's neck once but then was told I could get her out if I wanted so I started pushing again when my body pushed. It took longer than I thought it would to get the body out and I was told later that this was because Ookie's right hand was above the head!
I felt the shoulders turn as they came out and felt the soft head and shoulders between my legs, and was surprised to find that Ookie was not all out yet! I pushed some more and the body came out, then the legs then finally the feet! I turned over as soon and saw Marianne's hands push the baby through between my legs and as I was sitting down, Ookie was put in my arms by Marianne. I kept saying over and over its a baby! to Chris! He looked kind of shell-shocked, I don't think he realised how close I was to giving birth because Marianne didn't say anything much when Ookie was starting to crown.
Ookie was covered in vernix and was pale blue for a few minutes, sat there looking around with big eyes and looking a little surprised! Marianne started suctioning and I cuddled and rubbed Ookie who didn't breathe properly for about 5 minutes. I was a little worried because I didn't know what was going on - Marianne and Mum were talking...but after about three or four minutes the pale skin was flushed pink! It was amazing how fast the pinkness crept over Ookie's skin! Ookie's eyes were the brightest blue ever!!!
I then asked if it was a boy or a girl. Marianne moved apart Ookie's legs and we all looked and I remember thinking are those swollen testicles, then realised there was no penis and that Ookie was a girl! I then remembered the dream I had and knew that this was Kyra!
We got out of the pool carefully and Marianne was giving Kyra a quick check over on the mattress while I was on my haunches again trying to push the placenta out. It was harder than giving birth to Kyra which surprised me. I didn't have the help of the strong contractions so I had to push on my own. I felt it start to come out (felt bigger than Kyra's head!) and then all of a sudden it slipped out and I felt something pull inside me like a pulled muscle or something. The feeling of it slipping out and going plop on the mattress gave me deejay vu! The dream again it felt like that in the dream minus the pulled muscle feeling I got on my right side when it came out. I'm probably wrong but it feels like the placenta did more damage to me coming out than Kyra! I suppose I would of been bruised from the birth so that would of been a factor.
I didn't really look down much even though I was really curious because Kyra had my full attention, I couldn't really take my eyes off her! The placenta went into the sieve and was sat in a glass bowl while I was helped to lie down on the mattress. Kyra was laid down next to me and Marianne held my breast for her to feed because I was too tired to do it even after being shown how to do it myself. Eventually I got some energy back and did it myself. They showed the placenta to me and I loved it! It looked so pretty and cool, even Chris thought so as well and he's the one who thought it would be gross!
My dad and brothers came back shortly after I gave birth, I think they came back when I was lying down breastfeeding. I wish they had been there and I regret that they missed it. If they had been there then we would have got a better videorecording! Mum had to do it while she helped Marianne out so there were bits missing. I'll make sure there is someone there the whole time next time!
Marianne did a quick check to see if I had tore or gotten grazed. Nup. Intact! She said she was a little worried Kyra scratched me coming out because of her hand by her head but I seemed fine! It took me hours to get up, I tried to get up slowly but felt too faint from exhaustion so I laid back down for a couple of hours and ate! I was so hungry! Eventually I sat up again and rested back against Chris, then crawled into the bedroom because I wasn't strong enough to stand up!
I was in active labour from about 6.30am to 12.25pm (5 hours and 55 minutes), and Kyra Schuring was born at 12.52pm, 28th December 2002 after 27 minutes of pushing! She was 3.7 kilograms - (8 pounds and 3 ounces), 53 cm long with a head circumference of 34 cm! It was a gentle birth and I know I could not have had such a good birth if I had gone to hospital. I did not at any stage feel like I was not in control or losing control as I shared control between me and my body freely. I was aware of everything that happened to me, but not as aware of what was said or what was going on around me because I was so involved in the labour and birth experience. Lying in bed with Kyra that night, I wanted to wind back the clock and do it again.
I am so content and I feel complete. This is what I was made for, to labour, birth and be a mother! Everything seems so easy and natural. Chris and I now have a daughter that's part him and part me, we have our own family now and no matter what happens in the future, we'll have each other always. I made the right choice in having an intervention-free homebirth, and while its not for everyone, it certainly was for me! It was perfect, unique, priceless, exhilarating, and nothing at all like the "horror" stories I keep hearing from others.
I know this might seem like a strange comparison but its the best I can do. My first tattoo was wonderful (I've heard some people describe it as a "religious experience" or "spiritual experience") and it didn't really hurt and I know I will get others. My first birth was wonderful too and the only part that hurt were the contractions but even so they were not unbearable. I know I will have other births..... yet I am sad because this is not something I can just decide to experience again. I can go and get another tattoo anytime but if I want the birth experience, I have to get pregnant and then I have to wait nine months.... and it won't quite be the same as the first. I am sad for that moment that is gone and it has made me realise that our children will only be with us for a short time really. I am going to make the most of what time I have and value all the memories I will accumulate over the years.
The days after birth:
Breastfeeding gave me sore nipples the day after birth because I didn't quite have her attached properly but as soon as I was shown how the nipple was meant to point upwards, I didn't really have a problem. It is hard getting into a comfortable position to breastfeed but it gets easier the more I do it. My breasts only got slightly sore when my milk came in, and Kyra soon took care of that soreness! I was scared to pee for the first time but it was painless! The third time I went though, I got stinging, I think this was from the citrus juices I had been drinking so I switched to non-citrus juice and water and the stinging went away! I was sore down there for a couple of days but as soon as I had my first bowel movement a lot of the soreness and pressure went! The BM didn't hurt either which surprised me too! I passed a HUGE blood clot when I went and it freaked me out a little but I was told this was normal. I have a sore back from the heaviness of my breasts and probably from the birth as well. I think we'll be seeing the chiropractor once I'm out and about.
I'm tired but not as tired as I thought I would be. I seem to have adapted to the lack of sleep, the hardest part about waking during the night is the waking part! I wake up fast though if Kyra is really crying, I can't bear to see her cry. Chris isn't handling the waking at night very well the poor thing!
We did the PKU test today - Kyra was 6 days old. It was horrible, I was on the verge of crying before Marianne even did the test! I didn't want Kyra to hurt and it was hard seeing her cry like that. I fed her as soon as the test was done and she calmed down. Chris was upset too and after Marianne left, he was busying himself cleaning up the place because he was angry and was trying to distract himself! He told me that my voice was shaking when I was talking to Kyra during the test.
I'm glad that is over now! Mum came over and Chris and I took a walk at around 6pm. It felt so strange to be out of the house, I felt like something was missing - I didn't have my pregnant belly or Kyra inside of me.... and I didn't have her nearby or in my arms. I was happy for the refreshing walk but I think I was more happy to be back with Kyra! I never thought I'd say this but I miss being pregnant - I don't miss the discomforts at all but I miss how my belly looked and felt and I really miss feeling the movements inside me as she grew.
It is amazing how fast Kyra is growing, the changes to her face are the most noticeable. Breastfeeding has made her chin, mouth and nose develop, the little cute button nose she had when she was born isn't as button-ish as it was. The cord is drying out fast, and will fall off soon! The greedy little pig gorged herself today - emptying both breasts and then immediately threw up! It was the most I've seen her throw up and as soon as she finished, she was whinging for more milk!
Then a few hours later, she had a horribly messy poo which I cleaned up. Then she poo'd again (good thing I hadn't put the nappy on yet!) and so I cleaned THAT up and just before I finished cleaning she started poo'ing again! Chris looked so horrified and disgusted, and I couldn't stop laughing! It was so funny, the poo kept squirting out of her, good thing I had another nappy in front of her or she would of got poo all over me! It was a lot of poo!
Anyway, that's it. My experience of Kyra's birth and my first few days of being a mother! I am glad I got all of this off my chest, writing this has helped me to deal with the happiness and sadness that I feel.
2rd of January, 2003 (oh my god its 2003 already!)