CLARE'S BIRTHING OF TESSA
In short, Lara, I had the most beautiful birthing experience I could ever have imagined…
The longer story is that Tessa Evelyn Plumtree joined the world weighing in at 6lbs 13oz on 3rd September 2011, 4.30am. As you know I had a completely medicalized birthing with my son which culminated in an unplanned c-section and horrific recovery afterwards, so with Tessa, my birthing plan was to have the opportunity to have a VBAC using the hypnobirthing techniques from your class.
I had my 39 week visit with the midwives who did a stretch and sweep and that afternoon mild and disorganized contractions started. These continued for 2 days which was lucky as it gave my Mum time to arrive from England to be present at the birth and also look after my son (as an aside, I think in hindsight my body/baby was waiting for my mum to arrive before going into labour as I was in active labour 4 hours after her plane landed! The labouring body is so amazing!!). So I was woken up at midnight with contractions becoming more intense about every 10 minutes, and called the midwife. She told me we had to wait for the "4-1-1" before coming to the hospital, and that as the contractions were still 10 minutes apart, I was probably not in active labour. So, on her advice I ran a hot bath and practiced relaxing, which worked beautifully. I have to say that the combination of the hot water and the relaxation techniques meant I was completely comfortable, and I lost track of time. I could also feel the cervix contracting outwards which was a peculiar sensation, and gradually the frequency increased to 4 minutes apart which my husband was faithfully timing. By 3am we had just got to the 1 hour mark when out of the blue I felt extremely nauseous, vomited twice and felt the urge to push. This yanked me out of the relaxation zone as I knew this meant I was fully dilated, and called my husband to call the midwife. Another hypnobirthing learning: I felt empowered to tell the midwife how I really felt which was to say that I was completely relaxed and pain free and that there was no way I was contemplating leaving that zone to get out of the bath, down the stairs, into the car and onto the hospital…. so she said did that mean that she was coming to me then? And I said yes, we are going to have this baby here at home. Fortunately she went with this, and skipped up the highway at 140 kpm to the house. My waters broke just before she arrived and the pushing became really strong, but they managed to get me out of the bath onto the bed where I pushed for an hour and a half before she was born. It turns out that she was face up and at an angle, otherwise she probably would have come a lot quicker.
So that was the story of the labour, and the experience of giving birth at home was fabulous and beautiful, surrounded by my family, my own surroundings and knowing that my husband did not have to travel back and forth to visit me was an amazing feeling. I felt blessed, and there was a feeling of "rightness" that this was where babies should be born, not surrounded by medical equipment and doctors making biased judgment calls (though perhaps I can afford to be pro-home birth now because I had a simple birth and did not need their help?). There was a lot of humour in the unplanned nature of things: my mum had to rifle through my packed hospital bags for a diaper, then a onsie, then a granola bar and then whatever it was that we needed next… And above all I felt euphoric and powerful that I had got my VBAC in the setting of a birth experience that was beyond my imagining. And I'd done it without the aid of drugs, and without crippling pain too, it just doesn't get better does it?
Was I pain free? No, can't say that. I was totally comfortable through 80-90% of the contraction and at the peak I had to concentrate hard on keeping relaxed. Was it all down to relaxation? Not sure as I got a lot of comfort being in the hot bath too, those two things combined were how I got through the labour. I was also lucky to have a midwife to support my decision not to go to hospital, as I understand that home birthing for VBAC is not recommended at all.
Thank you, Lara, for your part in setting up my story. Certainly it helped me to have a healthy, comfortable birthing, but the most valuable lesson I learned was to be empowered and to direct my labour as I wanted at the critical moment.