Image from here
On Sunday evening just after 6pm on the 4th September 2005 as I sat outside with Daniel and our friend Steve who was staying the weekend, I felt a “show” and knew that baby would soon be on its way. It came as a surprise, even though I had known it could be any time, (it was only a few days before the due date) and I felt a funny sense of nervousness.
I wanted to be alone with Daniel to share the news so I waited until we went to bed and I whispered to him that labour was likely to begin anytime. He hardly seemed phased and suggested I get some sleep.
I hardly slept. Around 10:30pm I started to feel what I thought were contractions and I soon woke Daniel. I started getting very excited and we got up to prepare a few last minute things. We also woke Steve who helped with a few things. Daniel had a broken leg, which was still in a cast, so Steve’s presence and help was much appreciated.
Around 2am our midwife Anneke arrived. She found I was 3cms dilated and knowing it still could be some time, Steve set up a mattress so she could sleep in another room rather than go home to sleep. I found it reassuring that she was in the house for when we needed her, but that she didn’t need to be with us the whole time.
I rested on the bed between contractions and got up on my knees and leaned on Daniel or went on all fours during contractions. At first I didn’t want to invite any of the people we’d planned to be with us for the labour and birth, I felt happier alone with Daniel.
However during a heavier contraction, I suddenly had the desire to have some toning (people singing single tones to help the process). Daniel tried calling Sonya and Katrina many times but couldn’t get through to them until around 8am the next morning. He also called my mother who came around a short time later, while I was in the bath (which I felt the need for as contractions intensified a bit more). As I sat in the bath, feeling soothed by the water, Daniel and my mother toned through each contraction, adding a peaceful touch.
After an hour and a half I’d had enough in the bath and continued labouring on the bed. The atmosphere was very beautiful as the room was decorated with large bunches of flowers and lit with several candles and a soft lamp. Added to this was the gentle sound of the toning. When Sonya and Katrina arrived, the space was even more beautiful as their voices and Katrina’s lyre playing joined the chorus. I experienced some very blissful moments as I rested on my bed and the lyre playing continued. Everyone was focused on the process of birthing baby and there was no distracting chatter. Daniel was a tremendous support. He was with me at every moment, hopping on his good leg with me on every trip to the toilet (where I always had a contraction) and back to the bedroom. I was able to move and flow freely as I pictured the energy flowing and opening up my body for the birth.
Just before 9am I felt the desire to get up and I squatted on the floor at the end of the bed. Daniel supported me on one side and my mother on the other side. Anneke coached me as I began pushing. The waters broke during a push and poured with a gush onto the floor. I found it really hard to push and was never really sure when I was meant to. I felt the dichotomy of wanting to get the baby out but not wanting to push because it increased the pain as the baby stretched my tissues. I made a lot of fuss and even reverted to sucking my thumb and fingers a few times – quite comforting I found, no wonder babies do it!! With much encouragement from those around me (there were now nine people as Steve had joined the circle as well as the back up midwife and a student midwife), I grunted and pushed with all my strength. When the baby’s head crowned, I reached my hand down and touched it. It felt so soft and squashy I pulled my hand away so I wouldn’t damage it!! After a few more long, hard pushes the head was out. There was a little bit of action below which I later found out, was Anneke moving the cord from around baby’s neck. Daniel had moved into position to catch baby, while Sonya supported me. Another push and the rest of baby’s body was out. What a relief for me!! It was 9:43am. The baby screamed and was handed to me. At first the baby felt so slimy and floppy to me, it hardly seemed human. I put the baby on my breast. She kept screaming, which was not what I’d expected. I was amazed that this little being who had grown inside me was finally out. I felt tears of joy and relief as Daniel and I looked at our little girl. Her name came to me the moment we saw she was a girl. “Hello Susan” I said (we’d purposely not thought of names before the birth).
I remembered the placenta was still to come and I handed Suzie to Daniel. “Oh no, I have to push again” I said as I braced myself with the support of two people once again. Prepared for another hard slog, I pushed so hard it slithered out immediately!!
I went to the bed and Anneke found I had a two centimetre tear, which I opted not to have stitched. Daniel and Susan joined me in bed and she kept screaming as I put her to the breast. It was a bit disheartening having a screaming baby, but when she stopped it was wonderful to see and feel her in bed with us.
We left the cord attached to her and put the placenta beside her on some sticks in a bowl to drain. It took 8 ½ days until the cord finally popped off. We’d sprinkled it regularly with rosemary to keep it well so it didn’t get too smelly. It was special to allow the placenta to come away in its own time and give healthful benefits to Suzie. Suzie stayed on the bed most of the firsts eight days, and it gave Daniel and I lots of time to enjoy her, without visitors picking her up.
What wonderful experience it was to have Susan’s birth at home in the sacred atmosphere we created and a blessing for Susan to began life on earth.