Birthrites: Healing After Caesarean.

Welcome Hannah.

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 next.

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 cervix!

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 wave.

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 think.

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 liberating.

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 anchor.

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 right.

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 !LOL

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 fast!

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 was!

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 night!

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. Amazing!

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 Saul:)