Ok.. so grandma is holding a
sleeping Hannah and I am semi rested, so I will try to write
this story out.
Just a bit of a recap, the week
before her birth (May 22 2000) I had been having some
challenges with my registered midwife wanting me to start
jumping through conventional medical hoops to prove that my
baby was healthy i.e.: non stress test, u/s etc...since I
was 42 weeks. So to ensure that she would do a homebirth and
feel reassured, we agreed to do these tests on the Thursday,
we got the non stress test done (she said we failed 7 out of
10) but did not get the u/s done due to scheduling
conflicts. So we returned on the Friday to do them again. We
found this all to be very stressful.
On Friday we did the u/s and all
was fine... amniotic fluid was great etc... then we did the
non stress test and passed with flying colours. We left
there feeling very reassured, with my midwife thanking me
for compromising and doing these test for her peace of mind.
Saturday was fine with little (but building) waves
(contractions) throughout the evening. We had spoken to an
traditional birth attendant (Gloria Lemay) to see if she
would jump in at the last moment if our midwife bailed due
to medical pressure from her college and could not do the
homebirth. We had arranged to meet with her on Sunday
afternoon. Late Saturday night my midwife left a message for
me... she called 3 times Sunday morning and wanted us to go
in for the tests to be done over again on Sunday as well as
to talk to an OB about the "benefits of induction at this
stage" We felt very betrayed I will be honest. I did not
return her call at that point, and we went out for lunch and
to do our day.
She continued to call with each
call becoming more intense and more pressure being exerted
with each call. She kept saying "we MUST..." do this and
that etc.. and to call her.. the pressure and intimidation
was horrible. And the more she called upping the pressure
the more I dug my heels in. I was angry and resentful of
this since she had not mentioned that this had to be done a
second time and I felt the pressure was so unnecessary. It
never entered her mind that I wasn't sitting by the phone
waiting for her to tell me what test to have
We met with the traditional birth
attendant on Sunday afternoon and just had such a wonderful
meeting with her and an open and honest discussion. I really
felt that my wishes were being respected and mostly I saw
that Gloria was coming from the belief that this was natural
and right and would wait for signs of things going wrong,
where my midwife was coming from a place where everything
was wrong (because of me being 42 weeks) and me having to
prove that all was alright.
So in the evening I called my
midwife and told her I appreciated all her help and care and
that I had hired someone else to attend our birth. It was
not a great conversation but it confirmed that I had made
the right choice. She was adamant that I was not making an
informed choice and that my beliefs about conventional
medicine was not balanced and that she had to ensure the
best choices were made for my baby.
She insisted that the tests we did
on Friday were only good for 24-48 hours.
When I asked her about that and
said that it made no sense to me that we could assume all
was fine 48 hours after a test but not 49 hours. Her only
answer was that they weren't reliable after that point, she
could not explain why. I was impressed that I was so calm..
but I knew I simply knew that all was fine with this baby
and that nothing she said had any power over me anymore.
After a week of giving into the fear put on us by the
conventional medical system, I was not having anymore of it.
I knew what was right. Speaking with Gloria definately
confirmed what I knew and it was so wonderful to meet
someone that believed what I did. It was obvious that our
positions and beliefs about birth were poles apart and that
I couldn't birth this baby in those conditions. We parted on
fairly good terms, although I did feel betrayed and hurt but
was determined to let it go.
So Gloria left our place at 5 ish
and by 11 I was in full labour.... amazing what safety and
feeling respected will do for opening your
At 11 we went to bed... I did not
know I was in labour, I had been feeling this for many
nights in the last few weeks... but what was different was
that I could not lie down and was not going to be able to
sleep through these waves. So I got up and started walking
in our bedroom. My husband got up and rubbed my lower back
which was starting to hurt a lot and to hold me after each
The waves felt like just that...
like waves... I could see them coming on the horizon, but
couldn't tell how big they were going to be until they were
washing over my head. We tried all the positions we knew.
Eventually Saul filled up the tub and I got in... WOW I
couldn't believe how as the warm water rose over my skin the
pain in my back and my hips lessened. It was amazing... I
stayed there till I needed to get out and walked around some
more. I just could not sit down. If I did sit and a was
sitting when a wave hit I couldn't get up and it was too
painful to sit through.
At 530 am it felt different, and I
cried through the wave, and kept moaning "I can't I can't"
and all of a sudden didn't want Saul to hold me.... after
the wave I thought "hey that is what they say transition is
like" Except then I remembered many women had said that they
were very internal and not able to talk or move and here I
was walking around not able to sit still. So I found "The
Birth Book" by the Sears and started trying to read about
what transition was like, but the waves made it hard to
Finally at 6 am we called Gloria
and Susan (my doula) the pain was very intense and I was
having a hard time managing and in fact wanted them there as
soon as I called... I kept pacing the room and then heading
to the window to look for them.
By 7 am I headed back into the tub
and got a little relief... I kept chanting "I can't" through
the harder ones which actually helped. At 7 30 Susan and
Gloria arrived and I was like "finally!" LOL.
At about that time a wave washed
over me and instead of breathing through it I felt myself
almost involuntary push downwards on my cervix a little..
not hard.. just a little pressure. It felt great... relief
from the pain and a filled feeling.
I told Gloria and Susan that I
wanted to push and they both said.. "well then go for it" I
immediately heard my old midwife saying "don't push too soon
or you will swell the cervix" So I asked Gloria "what if it
isn't time or it isn't ready?" Her answer was so perfect and
confirmed how right it was to have her there. She said " If
your body is telling you to push then it is the right time"
So I started pushing. Each time I seemed to push harder
although I found some became small grunting pushes. Over
time I became quite vocal and loud (my throat was hoarse for
days from the yelling) I did not scream in a high pitched
way.. but a low animal guttural yell. It was so
I felt myself slipping into a
trance state, I felt like I lost the ability to speak
English in more than one word. I did not want anyone
touching me. I drank water when given to me but did not want
a cold cloth on my face.
At one point I almost banged my
head on the faucet of the tub, my husband who was sitting at
the head of the tub put his hand over the faucet, I noticed
his hand there and laid my forehead on it and that became my
grounding force for the rest of my time in the tub. I held
onto the hot water tab and grasped and pulled on it with all
my might and laid my forehead on his hand for every wave
after that. At one point I had leaned back and was relaxing
a little and a wave snuck up on me and I practically dove to
his hand, couldn't get there fast enough. He was my
At one point Gloria asked me to
lift my tummy so she could listen to the babies heart
beat... but I couldn't do that through the waves so it
didn't happen. We also had no internals of physical checks
at all. I felt so pleased with that... no invasion of my
body by anyone, just a belief that this was all
My tub is a soaker tub, my husband
was at the taps, Susan was in the center at the stairs and
Gloria was at the other end, using a mirror and a light to
watch for progress vaginally when I was kneeling and
pushing, although I didn't know this until later because she
was so respectful and non invasive!
Although I didn't want to be
touched, I never felt alone, I felt this wall of power and
energy and love from the three of them surrounding me and
radiating to me in the tub. Their tone of voice and choice
of words were so wonderful. They washed over me in my haze
between waves. I heard things like "Good job" "That was a
good one" "You did great through that one" "it is safe to
push this baby out" " all is fine" they were like a soft
positive affirmation chanting team for me and they gave me
so much power and belief that I used to add to my own power.
Eventually Gloria suggested that I
get out of the tub for a bit, they would clean it and change
the water and I could sit on the toilet. At first I said no
but then agreed. I am glad I did. I can't tell you how much
of a genius Gloria is! On the toilet, Susan attended to me
while Saul and Gloria cleaned and changed the water, I went
through a number of waves and I could feel something moving
closer to my vaginal opening when I put my fingers inside of
myself. I thought it was the bag of waters as so far we had
not seen them break. Then I just felt full... too full...
and the hole on the toilet did not seem big enough for me...
so with much help I moved to hands and knees on towels and
pillows on the floor (I did not want to get back into the
tub for some reason I really don't know why I just followed
my instinct) I pushed through a couple of more waves. Susan
was at my head and Gloria and Saul were at my other end.
Gloria said to me that with the next contraction I would
feel a lot of pressure and that this was normal and fine,
she put a warm cloth on my perineum and I pushed and pushed
I felt burning but not on my perineum but at the other end
of the vaginal opening. Gloria said ok the head will come
out and then slip in... And as I felt the head slip in I
moaned "it's going back in" like she hadn't told me
Gloria said this next one it will
stay out. So with the wave I pushed but at the same time I
didn't push... it is hard to explain. I tried to not push so
as not to tear but the need and urge to push was so intense!
I felt her head coming out.. I chanted "burn burn burn
burn" as her head came out. Saul told me later, "her
forehead came out.. Then her eyebrows, and eyes, when her
nose cleared it sprayed out all the fluid inside of her
sinus' then her mouth came out and her eyes opened!!" He
couldn't believe it... there her head was outside of me and
her body inside and her eyes are open!! Then we waited for
the next wave... when it came I pushed and her body slipped
out.. There was this incredible emptying feeling inside of
me, it was so weird! It was 9 25 am.. Only two hours since
Susan and Gloria arrived. I never thought it would go so
Saul caught her as she came out and
immediately she was placed on the towels between my legs so
I could see her, I leaned back and stared at her... Totally
shell-shocked! Overwhelmed and then slowly started to caress
her. Her eyes were open and she was looking around and calm
so incredibly calm. I was helped to lay down on some pillows
and towels on the floor and she was placed in my arms. Both
Gloria and Susan left the room after making sure we were ok
and Saul and I had some time alone to be with her. My world
became very small at that moment. All I could see was her
and Saul. It was so amazing. Simply the most spiritual thing
I have ever been through.
Awhile later (it felt like 5
minutes but apparently it was half and hour) Gloria and
Susan came in and suggested I move into the tub with the
baby. First Gloria checked on the placenta, the cord was
very long she said and the baby did have it once around her
neck which Gloria took care of. With two very small pushes
the placenta came out. I was amazed at how easy it
I got into the tub with Hannah and
again Susan and Gloria left the room and
Saul and I had some private time.
They then came in and asked about taking pics which we did.
Then Saul and Gloria cut the umbilical cord. I was then
helped to the bed and we nursed for the first time. Hannah
had not cried or even fussed at all at this point, it was
exactly as I imagined.. She was not traumatized by her entry
into this world. We had given her what we thought was
important... A gentle birth. Gloria made some wonderful
herbal tea for me to drink to prevent haemorrhage. Saul fell
asleep beside us:)
Unbeknownst to me, Saul had put a
chicken in the oven on timer when Gloria arrived and it was
ready, so Gloria and Susan made us a lovely lunch of chicken
rice and broccoli, which we ate ravenously. We laid in bed
and cuddled and snuggled... with Gloria and Susan coming in
for the occasional check up on us. They stayed until 4 pm
and cleaned up and did the laundry while we laid and
snuggled. Hannah was awake and alert the whole time... so
calm and peaceful we were all in bliss. About 3 she fell
asleep with a full tummy and slept until 11 that
So that was our birth and for days
after I just daydreamed my way through it. It was such a
powerful, amazing thing to do. I still look at her and
think... I grew you in my body, I pushed you out of my body
in a safe loving way and now I nourish you from my body.
So Hannah is now a week and a half
and we have been fairly nested in for that whole time... I
know we have to go out eventually.. but I am a little
intimidated by the thought of the first trip out but we will
do it soon.
Thanks for reading this long long
story. Thank you to everyone for their good wishes and all
their wonderful support that was given to me during my
pregnancy and especially at the end of it. And thank you to
Gloria Lemay (who is on the waterbirth list) who came along
like a saving angel and really helped me to have the birth
we wanted and helped me to grow in my belief and strength in
myself. She is an amazing woman.
Sherri-Lee, Hannah, and