Birth Story - Our decision to have a homebirth was almost as shocking to me initially as it was to so many of the people we told who warned us against it however as a reader and researcher, we watched, reviewed and interviewed greatly and felt a deep sense of calm and faith in home birthing.
Being my 2nd baby I was feeling relatively confident however with a 20 year gap in between and a greater understanding of pregnancy, birth and beyond I also had many anxieties and a thirst for new knowledge, practices and strategies to ensure a happy and healthy time for my baby, my partner and myself.
My 1st birth at 18 years old had been fast so we were expecting another quick labor. It had also been in a hospital, my waters had been intentionally broken at 8cms dilation and I gave birth on my back, ankles in stirrups totally in the hands of the hospital team, their beliefs and birth plan strategy. Thankfully I had no time for any interventions although there definitely was manual pulling and twisting on my baby’s fragile spine.
I co-own and manage a Corrective Chiropractic office in Lane Cove and am therefore well aware of how traumatic even a natural birth is for both Mother and child. I had also read and watched documentaries on how birth-assisting drugs cross the placental barrier affecting a babies ability to participate fully in birth so I was openly seeking ways to minimize the need for any type of medical interventions. I was blessed to meet a patient in our office, Naomi, an “attachment parent” who introduced me to Jane Palmer her midwife who went on to become my mid-wife. Through Naomi & Jane, I was introduced to concepts such as lotus birth, natural infant hygiene; baby- led weaning, water birth, the continuum concept, attachment parenting and conscientious objection (to vaccination). These concepts certainly appealed to me because our entire health philosophy at Chiropractic Central is based around providing your body with what it needs to naturally be healthy, to express life to your full potential and trust in your innate intelligence.
I am one of those fortunate women with a partner who supports, trusts and believes in me and my decisions. He knows my expertise is in health and wellness so wholeheartedly embraced my “alternative” birthing ideas, parenting philosophy and choices.
Our decision to have a homebirth was almost as shocking to me initially as it was to so many of the people we told who warned us against it however as a reader and researcher, we watched, reviewed and interviewed greatly and felt a deep sense of calm and faith in home birthing. We hadn’t considered a water birth however yet again after much watching of DVDs, speaking with other home birth Mums and reading, we decided that this was the way for us. I thought I was unusually brave and adventurous to embrace this birthing choice until I saw the women of Russia giving birth in the warm waters of the Black Sea and others in orgasmic trance -like states who barely wince during their births. Regardless, the more we thought about a home birth, the more it resonated with us.
We were fortunate enough to be renting a home with a large spa bath in the backyard which was surrounded by 10ft conifers and beds of gardenias. We started heating the spa about a week before our baby was due to ensure that with the outside temperature dropping, we would have a warm, relaxed and natural environment in which to birth. I had prepared all the recommended labor supporting tool and remedies, arnica in cream & tablet form, dolomite and ribena ice cube blocks, oxygen, heat packs, ice packs, Swiss ball, relaxation and affirmation CDs, candles, birthday cake ingredients, raspberry leaf tea, mini meditation birth cards, 1st and 2nd stage labor massage blends and rescue remedy. These were packaged up in a basket with red and white gingham check-something that looked a lot like the basket I remember Red Riding Hood taking to Grandma.
On the afternoon of June 3rd, several hours before our birth, Gav erected a tarp squarely around the spa area so that we had some privacy-he thoughtfully and I’m sure painfully managed to keep as much of nature within the tarp so I could feel like I was outside and not tented in-labor makes me slightly claustrophobic so I wanted to be able to see trees and stars. The erecting of the tarp took my mind off any discomfort I was experiencing because poor Gav was out, battling the elements to create the perfect birth space for me. Some of the heaviest rain threatened our plans and our Staffy pup thwarted what other efforts were made by tugging on the ends of the tarp Gav was trying to hang. It was quietly comical to see a 6ft2 man of Schwarzenegger proportions attempting delicately to give me some type of roof while pools of water formed in every dip and curve which then ended up either over Gav or collapsing the make shift roof completely. Almost as soon as it had started, the rain stopped and Gav was able to get some semblance of a room made.
We decided to get out for a walk and upon returning I had an obvious show and called Jane to let her know I believed tonight would be the night. She reassured me that she was on stand-by if labor started to progress and suggested I get what rest I was able to. Gav and I ate, showered and at around 9pm decided to attempt some sleep. On lying down, I started to feel increasingly uncomfortable and maneuvered into several different positions before finding that rocking on all fours was the most comfortable. I had put on the calm birth CD and was listening to the affirmations on my head set with Gav snoring beside me. After 30 minutes I decided to get up. I was feeling calm yet excited and in a total place of trust in my body-something that was definitely helped by listening to the CD. I had only been watching TV for 15 minutes when a deeper surge came over me. I was calling them surges rather than contractions after participating in the Calm Birth class to minimize attraction to the visual negative image; and associated painful experience of a contraction. A surge, in my visualisation is much more bearable, less tension invoking and more in tune with being open, relaxed and in trust of your body.
I text Jane to say I had progressed to having surges and that I was going to shower. On moving, I felt another great wave ride over me. In the shower I noticed that there was definitely something going on “down there” and was able to feel a slimy, hard ball between my legs. I woke Gav up to have a look as obviously being able to see “down there” was now impossible with such a belly. Gav was startled awake and told me to lie on my back so he could have a look. I said;” I can’t, you’ll have to look from underneath”. He cursed that he couldn’t see much in the dark and raced to get his torch. With flashlight in hand he declared; “there’s something olive there, call Jane!” I waddled to the kitchen and phoned Jane calmly stating that I thought I may have been crowning. She said, “Ok I’ll come over”. By this time it was 10pm; Gav had the spa simmering and was busily lighting candles while I submerged myself in the heat of the bubbling water. I remember floating to the four sides of the spa, looking up at what had now become a clear night sky and gazing at the stars which seemed brighter than usual. I started to concentrate on the breathing techniques I had learnt and focused on visualizing the birth I wanted. I think 10 minutes had passed and my feelings of peace, trust, readiness and control were intensifying. Gav came to the side of the spa to see how I was doing, brought me some water and the most delicate mist of rain started to fall on us. I have to say that I wrote an extremely comprehensive birth plan however even I couldn’t had imagined how utterly idyllic the setting was. Jane arrived at around 1020pm and I recall thinking I hope she tells me I’m 10cms dilated because I don’t know if I can move through too many more of the surges that were starting to come. Jane readied her kit and assisted me when I stated that I wanted to use the bathroom. We waddled together hand in hand down the hall way to the toilet and on sitting I was overcome by an almighty surge-I gripped the door handle and groaned. Jane said, good Jacie, just one more push. I immediately sparked up and said,” I am not having this baby in the toilet, that wasn’t in my birth plan, get me back to the spa!” So I waddled, Jane with hands cupped under me and Gav trailing behind back to the spa”. Gav said to Jane, what should I do and Jane retorted “get in the spa; you need to catch this baby!” So, Gav jumps in, pyjamas and all.
Back in the spa we somehow manage to slow down the urgency of birthing and enjoy some kisses, cuddles and meaningful exchange with each other and with our baby. Jane respects these intimate moments and Gav holds me through the surges, through the membranes rupturing and through the head crowning and in the downtime I look up to the sky and let the rain gently fall on my face. The technique of breathing my baby to birth seems to be working and when I tell Jane “it’s stinging” she encourages me and I give one almighty nudge to release our baby. Gav is absolutely glowing; he is overwhelmed at being able to touch our baby’s head, at seeing a live birth, in our home by candlelight under a glorious moon lit sky. With that final nudge, our baby is thrust towards the bottom of the spa and into Gav’s big, strong arms. He cradles her body and gently allows her to come to the surface, placing her in my arms. It’s 1050pm and our precious baby is born. We both are so engrossed with the beauty and love pouring between the three of us that we actually forget to look and she what we have. We take a peek and to our absolute joy, we know we have our baby girl, Indi-Lee.
In our opinion, we experienced a perfect birth place and space. All the elements of our dream birth were met. The only sigh I breathed was for all the amazing tools and supporting remedies I had on hand yet didn’t get the time or opportunity to use. I guess that’s a tradeoff I can live with!