Maya's birth story, by Dawn

Maya is my first child. I had a planned homebirth in water. This is the most amazing experience of my life. I would never go to a hospital to give birth unless it was an absolute emergency.

Thur. Nov. 11th

I was 5 days past my due date. That doesnít sound like much, but I was really ready for something to happen. I wake up and go to the bathroom and realize that I have a show. Very excited I go in and tell Steve. Not much later I start having little contractions. They donít hurt at all, but are definitely periodic tightens of my uterus. I call my midwife to see if she thinks Steve should stay home form work that day. She says 'yes'. Very exciting, that must mean this could be it! So Steve and I hang out all day watching movies, and going on walks in the park to help the contractions along. I continued to have these little contractions all day, but nothing happened. How disappointing.

Fri. Nov. 12th

I wake up and feel a bit of a wet trickle down my leg and realize that I am having stronger contractions. Could my water have broken? It wasn't a lot of water, but there seemed to be a steady trickle. I've never done this before so how do I know. The contractions are stronger and starting to hurt and coming pretty regularly, but are still very manageable. I call the midwife and she says she will be over to see how I'm doing. When she walks in the door she takes one look at me and says, 'from looking at you I can tell its early days'. She asked if she could check my dilation, which I agree to. And, of course, no dilation yet. But no problem, it's early. I wasn't expecting much yet. Although a cm or two would have been nice. My midwife, Katie, assures me that, although there is no dilation, everything looked ready to go and it was just a matter of time. Katie says to call her when the contractions are stronger and closer together and leaves.

The contractions got stronger and closer together as the day went on and by late afternoon they were quite strong and about 5 minutes apart. I didn't want to sit down. The contractions were easiest to manage, if I was standing in front of the radiator and moving my hips through them. After a few hours of standing, my feet were hurting and I was ready to try the birthing pool. We rang the midwife and she said it would be fine to get in the birth pool and that she would be around in a bit to see how we were doing. The pool was nice.

The contractions kept coming every five minutes and were still strong, especially in my back. Steve and Katie took turns rubbing my back with oil, which was really nice. Then around 1am (I'm really fuzzy on times so this is really just a guess), Katie suggested I get out of the pool, because nothing was happen and the contractions seemed to be slowing down. I got out and sat on the birth ball. But the contractions continued to slow down.

Katie asked if she could check my dilation again. I agreed. And to my horror, I wasn't dilated at all! I had been having contractions all day and nothing. Around 2 or 3 am, Katie suggested that we all get try to get some rest and see what happens tomorrow. She told me to call her when the contractions were 3 times more painful. 3 times! They hurt enough as it was. I was discouraged and tired and not just a little scared by Katie's comment. Poor Steve had to empty and clean out the birth pool before he could go to bed. We agreed that he should sleep in the other room, because my contractions may keep him awake and I needed him refreshed in the morning.

Sat. Nov 13th

I must have actually slept, because I woke up at 6am and felt really weird, kind of like I was a big balloon (even more so than normal that is). I rolled over to get out of bed and all of a sudden I popped and out gushed a load of water. I yelled for Steve and told him my water definitely broke this time. I made my way to the toilet, trying not to get everything in the house wet, and then the contractions came back with a vengeance, coming at least every five minutes. I was sitting on the toilet yelling to Steve to get the birth pool ready. Steve was working as fast as he could, but it still seemed like forever I was stuck on that toilet. The contractions were definitely more painful now.

After I was in the birth pool, Steve called Katie to tell her that my waters had broken. She suggested if we were ok, we keep going and call her when we needed her. So I was moaning in the birth pool and Steve was massaging me and holding me. He kept asking me if the contractions were 3 times worse. Well they certainly were worse. They hurt like crazy, and not the way I imagined. People always talked about waves of contractions, so I thought I would visualise a rough ocean with big waves hitting me. But it did not feel like waves to me. I could feel the beginning and the end of them, but they never went totally away. And in the middle the pain was surprisingly sharp. It felt like I was being repeatedly stabbed, especially in the lower back and in my right side. I had no idea if it was 3 times worse though I just knew it hurt like hell, but I was scared to call Katie again, because I was afraid nothing would happen again and I wouldn't even be dilated. Steve decided it was time to call Katie. He said she heard my moaning and said she would be right over.

Everything is quite blurry for me now. I wasn't aware of much. I was very into myself. I remember Katie being there. But the only person I was really aware of was Steve. His holding me was really all that anchored my consciousness to the real world. I remember thinking 'Adoption is a good thing', 'Next time we adopt'. I remember thinking about pain relief, but dismissing it when I reminded myself that all pain relief can slow contractions and make labour longer and possibly lead to more interventions. After this three day roller coaster, I just wanted it over. I remember picturing my mother, who was an ocean away, in my head. She said 'You can do it, kid. I know you can. You're doing it.' I remember saying to myself that billions of women have done this before me, including my mom, and if they could do it so could I. I kept repeating to myself if they can do it so can you, over and over.

So I kept moaning and moaning and making it through the contractions. Then they started coming one on top of another with no break. I remember telling Katie, 'they're not stopping' and she told me I was in transition. That helped me. I was progressing. Then I realised I was pushing. I didn't mean to but my muscles just did it on their own. I looked up at Katie and said 'I think I'm pushing'. She just said that's good. I remember her making a phone call to the other midwife (they have two there for the delivery). Good, it must be almost over now, right. A few pushes and out she'll come right. Wrong. I was pushing forever. It seemed like she would never come out. Katie was very reassuring. She said that it's one step forward and two steps back that's the way it goes. I was working so hard. I started getting cramps in my legs. They hurt so badly. I would be in the middle of a contraction and then my leg muscled would start contracting too. Not only did it hurt, it took away my concentration from pushing. This is very hard work.

Finally after what seemed like forever, they said they could see the head. They got a mirror so I could see. I would see the head and then it would slip back in, over and over again. More pushing. Steve was right there holding me and pushing with me. Finally her head was halfway out and stayed. One more push and she'll be here, right. Wrong. Push after push, with all the strength I had I just couldn't get that head out. Then I remember hearing the midwife that I didn't know say to Katie that the baby had to be born soon with concern in her voice. That scared me. I told myself I had to do it this time. My baby needed me to do it this time. And with the next contraction I pushed with more strength than I even knew I had in me. I tapped into that protect your child mother energy and I did it, her head came out. Then Katie said 'Push Again'. I didn't even have a contraction, but I pushed again and out she came into the water.

Maya was born at 1:56 on Nov.13th (finally). The midwives got her and handed her to me. She cried right away and then she pooed. Lungs and plumbing were working fine. I held her in my arms. My head was so clouded. I remember looking down at her. She was perfect....bigger than I pictured a newborn. I saw Steve. He had tears in his eyes. The umbilical cord was really short, so it was hard to hold her above the water. The midwives suggested that we cut the cord. I was going to keep the cord attached until it stopped pulsing, but she was breathing fine and it was getting in the way so I agreed. Steve cut the cord.

We got out of the pool and into the bed, where I breast feed my little Maya for the first time. She latched on right away (Maya loves food). Katie tells me that they gave her an Agar score of 9 at birth and 10 after five minutes. Maya was such a strong healthy baby. And she weighed a whooping 8 pounds 15 ounces (4.05kg).

They asked me to give Maya to Steve, because we need to get the placenta out. I remember thinking 'what's the hurry?' I just wanted to keep feeding my baby. But ok, have to get the placenta out. The midwives seemed a bit nervous about it. They don't do many natural third stages, so I think they just weren't used to letting it come in its own time. I wasn't nervous. I felt like everything was fine. They put some pads down at the side of the bed and kept telling me to push and to squat this way and that. Then we decided I should go to the bathroom and just as I was about to get up to go, I stopped and said 'it's coming'. Out it came - right onto my carpet (still have that stain). It was huge. I have no idea how all that water, a 9 pound baby and this huge placenta all fit inside of me. The midwives left and Steve and Maya and I curled up our bed together. It was so nice to be at home.

I love my birth story. I felt very in control and able to do what my body needed me to do to bring Maya into this world. Katie was so wonderful. She supported me, respected my birth plan and gave me freedom to follow my body. I know if I was at a hospital, they would have tried to intervene because my labour didn't progress according to their 'averages'. No one centimetre of dilation an hour for me, and that long pushing phase would have certainly brought doctors running. People need to realise that normal healthy births come in all different lengths and patterns. No two women are the same. As long as the baby and mother are healthy, why not let nature take its course? One of my new biggest pet peeves now is the phrase "midwife/doctor/_____ delivered her baby". No one delivered my baby. I gave birth to her. It was the hardest, most painful thing I have ever experienced, but I did it. And she is perfect.

Dawn D

Dawn's second baby, Callum, was born at home in 2007.

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