Gradually over the course of my pregnancy I developed a very clear fantasy of the perfect birthing experience.
In the depths of winter there is a dimly lit, cosy room with a wood burning fire roaring, the comforting smell of peppermint wafting through the house. The birthing mother would be calm and strong and surrounded by a small group of supportive, caring people. There would be no fuss and no fear. The mother would have complete control over her experience, which would be the perfect length, not too long and not too fast. After relaxing between surges in her birthing pool, she would move to the perfect spot in front of the fire and birth her beautiful healthy baby. Afterwards the mother, father and new baby would hunker down in their warm cosy cave of a lounge, eat nourishing food and rejoice in the amazing experience that just happened.
I also was holding onto the experience of birthing my first child. A very long drawn out labour of a posterior positioned baby. A brightly lit hospital environment, surrounded by a medical team who took all of the control and failed to communicate what was happening to us. I was also holding onto the feeling of failure because although I had practised hypno-birthing, I had caved and asked for an epidural.
And afterwards, being left so exhausted that other people had to hold my new baby because I kept falling asleep and holding her seemed reckless.
These two scenarios seemed worlds apart and in reality I was just hoping for an experience that fell somewhere in-between.
The day that Albi decided to arrive was this gorgeous sunny winters day. It was school holidays and my sister and her family where visiting and had come round along with my parents to have lunch with me. After lunch they took my eldest child off for an adventure on the tram and left me in peace to work on my latest quilt. 10 minutes after they left I realised what I thought were some Braxton hicks were actually surges and I was in early labour. I called my mum and asked her to come back to keep me company and called my husband Tim to come home. I spent the next couple hours chatting to my mum and breathing through my surges, while Tim set up the birthing pool and lit the fire.
As the surges got stronger I asked for the curtains to be closed and the pool to be filled. I was supported by either my mum or Tim through each and every surge, I was never on my own and never felt out of control. Eventually the surges were strong and close together and my mum our midwife. She arrived so quickly and hot on her heels came my back up midwife.
She examined me and found I was 7cm dilated and after a brief stint in the bathroom I was then helped into the birthing pool. Can I just add in here that pool felt amazing! I stayed in the pool and worked through the surges and eventually my body changed from breathing through them to pushing with them. We did this for a while until I was examined again and found that I was 9cm dilated but a sneaky little cervical lip was in the way. It was suggested that I should get more grounded click here to learn about Earth as one of the Essential Elements to Birth to work through this and I moved from the pool to leaning against a footstool in front of the fire. I was starting to find the surges felt intense in my back as I was breathing through them waiting for that lip to get out the way. My magical midwife massaged the most amazing geranium smelling oil to my back as well as a heat pack. I had been in active labour for 4 hours. My water finally broke and I started pushing again and in less than 30 minutes I gave birth to a healthy 3.96kg boy. 4 minutes later I birthed the placenta without really realising it was happening.
Once we were all cleaned up and sorted out and the midwives had done all the checks and care that they needed to and had left, Tim, Albi and I hunkered down on the couch with The Tour of France on the TV and hot bowls of vegetable soup to eat.
When I recount the birth of my second child I can now say…
In the depths of winter there is a dimly lit, cosy room with a wood burning fire roaring, the comforting smell of geranium wafting through the house. I was calm and strong and surrounded by a small amazing group of supportive, caring people. There was no fuss and no fear. I had complete control over my experience, which was be the perfect length, not too long and not too fast. After relaxing between surges in the birthing pool, I moved to the perfect spot in front of the fire and birthed my beautiful healthy baby boy. Afterwards we hunkered down in our warm cosy cave of a lounge, ate nourishing soup, rejoiced in the amazing experience that just happened and watch cycling on TV.