Birthrites: Healing After Caesarean.

Lochlain's Birth Story - Another Epic.

Wow. In light of what I have recently achieved, I am totally in awe of the female human body and the power it holds within. I have known all along what my body is born to do; I just never honestly believed that I could ever do it. Self doubt is an awful thing, but when I look back on my first birth experience, I can see why it has plagued me for so long.

I found out I was pregnant in the middle of November, but I had known from conception that I was. I was excited but hesitant to get too overwhelmed, as I still had so many issues from my last birth experience to deal with. Andrew was happy, but he seemed hesitant to want to discuss my want for a natural birth, and my want for things to go differently this time. He still held onto some emotional baggage of his own from Will's birth. I found myself spending many a night sweating and crying over having to get this baby out of me, I was already scared and was not focussing on the beauty growing within me. It took quite some time to overcome a lot of fear and anger, and going to yoga once a week turned out to be a fantastic way to process some of those issues.

William was a year old when I conceived and I was determined to not let my pregnancy affect our breastfeeding relationship, as I truly believe in the benefits he was receiving through my liquid gold.

The pregnancy was fairly uneventful apart from a couple of normal hiccups. I checked with my GP to confirm the pregnancy within a couple of days of getting a positive result. I had a scan at 10 weeks to date the pregnancy and check for multiples, as Andrew is a fraternal twin. I was given a due date of 29th July. At 12 weeks I was admitted to JHC with severe dehydration caused by hyper-emesis, and after three days of re-hydration I was allowed to go home. I continued to demand feed Will, but was starting to find the night feeds very draining, as I was starting uni full time and still working part time.

I was booked into KEMH to have my baby, as I had talked to Andrew about where we would go and he decided that we might as well stick with what we know. I had enquired with the CMP about having my own midwife, but was knocked back as they believed the hospital would require me to be too closely monitored for them to work effectively in my favour. I was playing with the idea of accidental homebirth, but was scared of being on my own. I knew in my head though that when the time came to go to hospital it would be a battle to get me to go.

I decided to go to antenatal yoga during my pregnancy, in a hope to avoid the unfavourable foetal positioning which had been the downfall of my last birth. I was determined to observe all OFP techniques and religiously sat properly. My yoga instructor was also an independent midwife so I knew I was in great hands for helping this baby come naturally.

At 25 weeks I was reading a thread on NP about an "accidental" homebirth (MidlandsAngel it is you who inspired!) and I was crying in front of the computer when Andrew asked why I was so upset. "I want a homebirth" was all I could blurt out. So the next day I got in touch with the Leederville Natural Childbirth Centre and asked for the mobile numbers of every midwife in the northern suburbs who would consider HBAC. I finally got a "Yes, I will come and chat to you" from my wonderful midwife Lynda. I was so scared that what I was thinking of doing was naively foolish, but I knew somewhere deep down in my heart that this was what was going to heal me from the inside. And that it was the best way for my baby to be born my way. I continued to keep the hospital appointments in case I changed my mind, and also so that if anything popped up I had a backup plan that was well thought out. I listened to my VBAC preparation CD and read my affirmations every day. I saw a homeopath and got a tonic made up for strengthening the uterus, and controlling blood flow.

At 27 weeks I unfortunately got a UTI which I didn't pick up on until it was too late, and it irritated my uterus into contracting - too early for my liking, so I went back to JHC and they fixed my up. Sadly, that weekend was the end of mine and Will's breastfeeding relationship. I think he picked up my exhausted vibe, and my pregnant belly was becoming centre stage in my lap. I love that we fed as long as we did, and I hope that it helped him become the little boy he is meant to be.

For the rest of my pregnancy I was fairly cruisey. I finished of my semester at uni, doing exams at 35 weeks. I kept up with the yoga once a week, and tried to be as kind to my body as I could be.

At 39 weeks on the Sunday morning I woke at about 4.30am with a really bad cramp in my legs. I decided to get up and go to the toilet seeing as I was already awake. When I got there I found that I had a show, and immediately I got my first real pre labour contraction. I was so excited. I was finally getting my chance to feel childbirth for real! I went back to bed and the contractions continued. I didn't sleep much, but napped when I could. The cramps were too exciting, so I started to count sheep! Sunday morning when we all woke up I decided that this baby was not too far away so I asked Andrew to go away for the day and take Will so I could just relax by myself. He sent Will to his parents and left for a friends so I hopped in the shower and SMS'd Lynda to let her know what the go was. I also SMS'd Fay and Vicki, my two birth buddies, just so that they could prepare their own families for what was about to come, as I had no idea it would take so long to kick in.

Vicki was so excited (this is my stepmother), that she decided to drive up later that afternoon, as she lives an hour away and didn't like the idea of driving in the dark if things happened overnight. Fay decided to come too, and we all ate crappy takeaway and laughed watched my belly contract. They were awesome to see. The muscles would bunch up real tight and go real hard, and I would breathe and then it would go back to its round netball shape. We spent hours watching my belly; Fay has some great video of my contractions - something to show you all when I can!

We watched some movies and Fay went to sleep in the spare room with Rohan (her youngest, who she brought with her as he is breastfed). Andrew went to bed as he was coming down with the flu and Vic and I fell asleep on the couches. We decided to spread some plastic out just in case my waters broke. Will stayed with his grandparents, who didn't know that I was planning a homebirth.

Monday morning Andrew went to work. I had spent the night groaning in my sleep, and had been up since about 3.30am as the contraction had seemed to get more "bitey". I spent the day rocking and swaying and telling myself this was all part of the journey. Vic went out and bought some trashy magazines and Fay did my grocery shopping. She also did all of her washing as her washing machine broke down, so there was a perfect opportunity for her to catch up on some stuff. I made brownies, as I wanted to keep my mind busy. I was still rocking and breathing through the contractions, and was starting to swear with the odd few. Will came home for a visit, but I found it hard to cope with him as my mind was elsewhere. I asked Andrew's parents to come and get him for another night. That afternoon Vic went to a friends place in the next suburb, and Fay and I decided to take a walk. We only made one lap of the block as I couldn't cope with the pain in my pubic bone all that well, and we live in a hilly part of the suburb. We got home and decided to look up natural methods of induction. We decided that castor oil was a no go as neither of us could stomach the idea, but we gave evening primrose a go. Yes I had to stick it "up there" while Fay laughed at my prudishness from the other side of the toilet door. We tried looking for the breast pump to give that a go - but I still can't find it! Lynda came out to check me, and said that I was doing fine and this could go on for days yet, so just relax and have fun. Yeah - sure! I was a bit stressed that things weren't moving more quickly, but Lynda told me I had to get to the fed up point, and lose control a bit, and then we'd be right.

Andrew came home, and Vic made us an absolutely delicious Thai Green Chicken Curry (yep it was worth a shot). I ate three serves. At some point the previous day Sundarii's husband had dropped off some bush flower essences and other supplies so Fay got to work on learning what to do with them, and getting me into gear. I relaxed and let her do stuff to my ears, and I felt good while the contractions continued. We watched more crappy movies and talked and laughed about how this was probably a false alarm, and how everyone should just pack up and go home tomorrow because it wouldn't happen for another week. The girls went to bed, so I decided to make Andrew help me with this labour a bit. Let me tell you, he was not complaining! It felt a bit weird, we stopped before things got too heated, as we both felt a shift inside me, and we figured that we had done enough.

I went to sleep groaning on the lounge room floor, while Vic slept on the couch so I had someone near me. Andrew had come down with a full blown flu.. At 3.30am on Tuesday I woke with a sudden urge to roll over onto all fours, and felt a gush from between my legs. I called out to Vic to get me a towel, but I had already made a bit of a mess on the mattress. I got up and had a shower, and SMS'd Lynda that I had fluid leaking, we assumed it was my waters as there was so much of it, so I got really excited. I knew though that I only had about 18 hours because I had group B strep, and Lynda would have to take me in after that, so I figured I would have a baby that day.

As the morning went on I started to head butt the wall through the contractions. And when Andrew got up and kissed me goodbye to go to work I cried. It was the first time that I really let myself get upset by the fact that he wasn't going to be there for the birth. But we needed him to work, as we were desperate for money, and if he missed any shifts that week he couldn't get work till the end of September. Vic and Fay just held me and let the contractions continue. By about 10am though they had completely stopped again. Fay had an appointment at the Breastfeeding Centre and had to get home to check on her kids and her new washing machine, so I told her to go, and I would call if anything changed. I was fed up and starting to think that it was all in my head. I asked Vic to leave me for a couple of hours, so she went shopping to get stuff for dinner.

Lynda came out to check me in the afternoon, as things had completely stopped, so she needed to make sure it wasn't my waters that had broken. The baby was doing fine, but the amnicator thingy tested negative to amniotic fluid so we assumed that it was just increased discharge - discharge that splashes on the floor - I don't know. After Lynda left I lost it. I locked myself in my bedroom and cried my heart out. It felt so good. I let Vic and Fay know that it wasn't my waters, and that this was all just me being a sook. Fay decided to stay home for the night as her kids needed her. Vic stayed, but rang Dad to tell him to bring the kids up tomorrow. She took me to her friend's house around the corner who has a huge deep bath so that I could just get in there and float as I was exhausted from not sleeping and all the emotions running through my head. I poured a whole heap of oils in there (thanks Rach!!) and jumped into the hottest bath I have ever had. I stayed in there for 2 hours, just closed my eyes and slept. It was so warm and relaxing. As soon as I got out I felt weird. Like I was exhausted but needed to eat. Andrew's Mum and Dad brought Will back to have dinner with us; Vic had cooked a roast lamb, pork and chicken. I tried to eat but had trouble focusing on cutting up my food. The contractions were biting but I was refusing to let them get to me. After tea Andrew's parents came and got Will again, as I was so tired.

I went to bed with Andrew, thinking that I might as well sleep in my own bed as there was nothing going to happen. I crashed as soon as my head hit the pillow. At about 12.30am I woke with some sharp pain and a tingling sensation in my legs. By 1.30am I was in the shower, just humming to myself and telling myself that this was all part of the pre-labour. I got out of the shower and went and wrapped myself in a blanket and lay on the floor in the lounge. The contractions had kicked in again, and I was really gritting my teeth through them. At about 2.30am I decided that I was scared of being on my own. So on between contractions I hobbled to the spare room to wake Vic. She started timing them and they were about 4-5 minutes apart. She went and got the wheat bag heated up and I knelt over the arm of the lounge suite with the heat working on the small of my back. The arm of the seat was just at the right height for me to hang over between contractions and rest when I could.

By 3.30am I wanted Fay to know what was happening so I SMS'd her. She put Rohan and Xander in the car and drove straight up, getting to my place by about 4.30am. She put Xander in Will's bed and Rohan in the cot, and got straight to work with the pain spray and the bush flower essences. Fay looked at my feet and told me that this was the real thing because my feet were moving. At 5.30am I wanted Lynda, so we rang her and she arrived by about 6ish (I think, I could be wrong there). It was probably a bit early in hindsight, but at the time I really needed her guidance. She made me put on an amnicator pad to double check that my waters were intact. It showed a positive result to amniotic fluid, which is very odd. But we just decided to ignore it.

Andrew got up and left for work by about 8 and I was starting to make a fair bit of noise. I didn't like to be touched sometimes, and at other times I was begging the girls to put as much pressure on my lower back as they could. I was now kneeling on a large cushion on the floor bent over a foot stool with pillows on it. Lynda and Fay sat on the couch watching me and every time I cried through a contraction telling them I couldn't do it, they just kept telling me I was doing it. The contractions were hard, because they never settled into a regular pattern. Sometimes I got a break of 3 minutes, sometimes 7. It made it hard to rest in between because I wasn't sure how long I had till the next one. In this part of the labour I could still talk in between them. I just kept chanting to myself "I can do this", "I can do this". I even remember telling Fay that it was easier than I thought it would be. Lynda worked on the pressure points in my feet, and I had Fay and Vic alternating with putting extreme pressure on my lower back as I leant over a foot stool, I was becoming more vocal with each contraction.

At 10.30 or so I wanted to know where I was at. I had decided that I needed to know how far along I was and Lynda agreed to do another swab to check for amniotic fluid and then do a VE. I still had my undies on, as I was refusing to take them off, I didn't think that I would be comfortable showing my "bits" to everyone in the room, but Lynda convinced me that she couldn't do a VE if I kept them on, and besides, the baby had to come out that way! So off they came, much to my embarrassment. The swab came back negative for amniotic fluid so she checked me and said I was 6-7cm. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I was getting somewhere, but I still had a way to go. I was frustrated with myself for thinking that this was going to be over quickly. I had a few contractions while still lying on my back and I found them unbearable, Lynda suggested I go to the toilet and sit for a bit, and it was such a relief to get off my back. Being in the toilet was hard though because I had nothing to grip onto during contraction, and our toilet seat is not the steadiest!

From the toilet I demanded that the girls run me a bath and I jumped in with my singlet still on. Just fell into the water and demanded that it was hotter. I lay there with Fay pouring hot water over me, and covering me in hot towels while I closed my eyes and cried. I got really scared while I was in the bath. I don't actually know what I was scared of, but I kept telling Fay that I had had enough that I would be happy to let them cut me open now. I kept telling her that I was tired and I wanted to go to hospital. She just kept chatting to me about going to the beach and eating ice-cream. I kept barking at her to pour more hot water over me, and I napped in between contractions. I never understood how you could sleep in labour, but that's what I did. I slept, and dreamt some awful dreams, then all of a sudden I felt a warm gush between my legs, and I yelled out that there was something coming out. Whoops! Should have made it clear that I meant fluid, not a baby!

I decided then that I wanted to get in the shower. My hips ached from the bottom of the bath, so with a splash I stood up, and we all marvelled at this fluid streaming out of me! This was definitely it! I ripped my singlet off and got in the shower. It was awkward and I was frustrated, but I stayed there for a while gathering the strength to walk back to the lounge room.

As I went back in the lounge, Andrew came home from work. I got back on the floor and was really vocalising now. I lost all sense of time and space, but I knew that I didn't want Andrew in the room. His voice was making me angry, and he was asking questions which frustrated the absolute shit out of me. So half an hour later, he decided to go back to work, and as he shut the door I felt myself let go. Apparently my Dad showed up at the door not long after and never made it inside as he left in tears after hearing the sound of natural childbirth going on. I had had enough of being on all fours, and I could feel that this baby's head was so low, so I figured I was close, and rolled onto my side and had Fay hold my leg in the air as I began to push. I could not get comfortable at all and I tried to lean into the bean bag, but my back was just too sore. I gripped the bean bag with white knuckles as my body just completely took over and began pushing on its own. I kept telling Lynda that I wasn't ready to push, and she just kept telling me that if I was pushing without pushing then this baby wanted to come. She knelt down to get a better look at things and as she got near me I felt something snap inside me, and water splashed out of me everywhere with a POP! We were all in hysterics as Lynda had narrowly avoided an amniotic fluid bath! Don't know how I ended up with my waters breaking twice, but they did!

Pushing was easy. I love saying that. It really was. I had no control over it, my body just pushed and rested in waves, it was like surfing this huge wave and crashing down the face of it every time. I gripped the bean bag and Lynda told me she could see the head. I figured I had another half hour at least, so I talked to myself, and just decided to go with each push with all my might, and let my body guide me. As I looked down I could see three fabulous women, all cheering me on and telling me what they could see. They wanted me to touch the head as he came down, but it freaked me out a bit so I lonely did it once. It was also really hard to let go of the bean bag, I think my knuckles were fused at that point. Every push was huge, and I could feel the baby crown. Then they were cheering, "His face, we can see his face!!" I closed my eyes, and I felt a wriggle and a kick as my baby moved his shoulders inside me and slid out onto the mattress. Lynda lifted him up and I cradled him, as I laughed and cried. "I did it! I did it!!" I put him straight on the breast and he fed like a fiend. I sat up, and felt fantastic. I could tell that I hadn't torn, I felt so alive.

Lynda moved me to the couch so I could cuddle my baby properly and feed better, while we waited for the placenta. The cord turned white and Lynda asked if I wanted to cut the cord, I asked if we could wait till the placenta was out and she was happy to wait. About half an hour later, my placenta quite literally fell out of me, and we investigated my healthy baby growing machine. There was a complete sac which had housed my baby, and on the outside there was a smaller sac, so we figured that's why my water had seemed to have broken twice, very bizarre! I asked Vicki to ring Will and let my in-laws know that I had birthed. Then she called my Mum and Dad too. She couldn't get hold of Andrew as he has to have his phone switched off at work, but I really didn't care, because he was due home soon enough.

Vicki made me some crumpets with honey and a Milo (I craved sugar), as my back up midwife arrived. I had only pushed for 20 minutes in total, so she was surprised to see me with babe in arms and everything over with. Fay and I fed our babies on the couch together and then she decided to go home as her kids were needing to be looked after and Mikayla was due to finish school. Marilyn (the backup) also left very shortly after arriving as everything seemed to fine.

Not long after they left I asked if could get up and have a shower. Lynda wasn't keen as I was still looking a little too pale; when all of a sudden I felt this amazing urge to push again. Lynda just kept telling me they were afterpains and that I could get through them. But my body was pushing. I sat over the edge of the couch and pushed out HUGE clots of blood, the size of bread plates. She cleaned up the gory mess, and I lay down so she could check for any signs of wounds on the outside. There was nothing there. I fed Loch some more and we decided to weigh him, as I was curious as to how much this scrawny baby weighed. I passed Loch to Lynda and rested. I don't remember him being weighed and measured. But they put him back in my arms. I then begged them to take him away again as I felt the need to push once more. It was the worst pain of all. I screamed and screamed. Vicki grabbed the baby, as Lynda jumped on the couch and pushed down on my abdomen as blood clots the size of dinner plates were passed. She pushed on me inside and out. Then I passed out.

At some point they rang an ambulance and my Dad. The ambos turned up and Lynda had already given me the shot of Syntocinon and Ergometrine. She had the oxygen on me but I couldn't hear and my vision was dim. They were talking to me, trying to keep me conscious but I kept passing out. Lynda catheterised me on my lounge suite, but I felt nothing. The ambos tried to get a line into my arm but my veins were collapsing. Lynda was trying to explain to me what was happening and where we were going, but all I could do was stare into space. At that moment I thought about dying. Just stopping and letting the world go on without me. I closed my eyes and woke up in the ambulance with the ambo guy telling me why we had lights and sirens blaring.

My Dad followed us to the hospital with Vicki as she held onto Lochlain in the back seat of their car. We weren't allowed to take him in the ambo, but I don't know why he wasn't in a car seat -I don't really care either. As Dad drove to the hospital he drove past Andrew, who didn't know that I had given birth yet. I arrived at the hospital within 7 minutes of leaving home. I was rushed into the ED, and had two large IV lines inserted in my arms. They pushed through 5 litres of fluid straight away. And I had people talking to me, giving me their names and telling me what they were going to do, and why. I don't remember any details. But I do remember an obstetrician sticking her whole hand inside me, which caused my one and only tear. For some reason they gave me morphine which at the time I begged them not to do, but Lynda thought that it was for the best so I agreed. They were booking me in for theatre, and I was screaming for my baby.

Andrew walked in with tears rolling down his face, holding his newborn son. Looking at me, and crying. He just stood at the end of the bed like an apparition as I fell in and out of consciousness. My Dad and Vicki stood off to the side, just watching silently. Andrew came and laid Lochlain on my chest and talked to Lynda about what was happening. I just laid there whispering to myself, "I did it. I did it."

I was taken upstairs to the delivery suites for an ultrasound, where they could see another huge clot sitting inside me. The obstetrician was explaining to me what they were going to do but I was already screaming again, as my body prepared to push once more. The ob put a speculum inside me and began to dig out more clots, and then she pushed down on my belly as my body pushed and the biggest clot yet was passed with a gush. I screamed and screamed. I had hold of Lynda's hand as she had tears in her eyes I was squeezing so hard. I was begging that lady to get her hands out of me. Just let me die. It hurt so much, and I couldn't hear or see. I was so scared. Luckily, the morphine kicked in then. And into LALA land I went.

I was stabilised and people were allowed into the room. A lot more happened while I was in that room, but I was only partly conscious for most of, so I don't know -Every midwife I had, and every Dr introduced themselves to me, and explained everything to me, but I have no recollection of the details. At some point Andrew was asked to signa consent form for a blood transfusion, and he did ask me if it was ok. I had 3 litres of blood and a Syntocinon drip put up for 12 hours. I was not allowed to sit up, but I was allowed to feed Loch on demand. I was fasted in case I needed to go to theatre, but from what they could tell there was no rupture and no retained products. I kept telling them that my placenta was in the fridge and Dad could go get it. Lynda left at about 7pm, Dad and Vic drove her back to my place. Andrew went oback to his parents to check on Will, and let them know what had happened.

I was sponge bathed by a really nice midwife as I was covered from head to toe in blood. It was so different this time though, as after I had Will was absolutely humiliating, but now, I was thrilled. The midwife asked a lot of genuine questions about my decision to HBAC, and was really keen on learning more about my previous birth experience. They let Loch stay by my side in my bed al night, and only took him when I needed to shut my eyes for a bit, the midwives held him and walked up and down the halls with him while I rested; I watched their shadows moving under the door.

The next day I was allowed into the normal maternity ward, after begging for a shower. By the time I got there, after being wheeled down the hall I was exhausted. So I figured I was not ready to go home, as I was very light headed and still seeing stars. By that afternoon I had developed a fever and I was still having heavy gushes, so they put me on antibiotics, and fasted me again, just in case I needed theatre. I slept most of the day, and then Friday morning I was sent for a proper ultrasound to check that everything was settling down. I was given a clean bill of health but I still had a fever so was kept in till Saturday. I was diagnosed with an Atonic Uterus, and no other explanation was given for what happened, other than, "You were tired and your body was tired, but it shouldn't happen next time".

It took me a few weeks to get over the trauma of the last bit, but now I am so happy with my birth experience. I know that I did what nature intended women to do, and I am so proud of myself for having faith in myself enough to get through it all. I am healed of all my past hurts through this birth. That may sound facetious but it was all I needed. To know that I CAN give birth. It was the most awesome feeling walking out of the hospital to arrive home and look at the spot where my baby was born and feel shivers up and down my spine as I realised what I had done! How much I had achieved and how far I had come. Some of my family were reeling from the shock of seeing me in not such a great state, and Andrew's family vented their anger at not being told about my home birthing plans. But after a few weeks it all settled down, and I was given a chance to explain myself. I don't think they really understand my motivation and determination to do things my way, but they have also not shared the journey I have travelled since having William, and all that that entails.

So that is the story of my second baby - oh how different to my first.