I’m blissful, so in love, so grounded and proud all my mahi paid off, being healthy, prepared, educated and connected. Our birth was spiritual, healing, hormonal, intense and full of ahua and wairua. I was visited by my tupuna, my Nana and my Nan both making themselves known and present to me. I left my logical brain, my most exercised muscle and let my tinana, my hormones, animal instinct take over and just went with it, getting into all sorts of positions and movements, sometimes just about pushing my partner over. At times I did come out of it but then I was gently guided back by our beautiful midwife. When it came to my final pushes I reached for my boys and held their hands tightly squeezing them, they held on. He was born into his papas hands under the water gently guided to his chest while I moved into position. We rested in the pool with my eyes locked on our boy, I look up at my birth support whanau, everyone quiet, looking on in amazement and admiration. My most proudest moment and no one and nothing can take this experience from me, it will remain with me when times get tuff as a parent, as a mama, in fearful and scary moments in the future, I am grounded, I am woman! Mana Wahine Toa
(Or the coming of the blood moon baby lol, and why I chose a home birth)
I had my first baby in 2012, back then the idea of having a baby in any other setting but hospital scared the blazes out of me. All that risk, no instant access to machines and doctors. And then I had my baby – We were bossed around by unknown midwives, told to lie down, had drips shoved in my arms, hormones pumped into the other. Bright lights, a whirl of faces, checks, more bossing around. At least 8 different people seeing my fanny. And a wee son, born posterior pulled out by a ventouse. A few weeks after having him a family friend remarked ‘Didnt you just feel so powerful, so, I am woman, hear me roar!!’ I replied no, just sh*t scared.
This time around I knew I wanted more, That I could have a different out come, and wanted to try a home birth. My family were shocked “If it wasn’t for hospital Shen could have died” The truth was for every urgent ‘life saving’ move, there were two that had led up to it that could/ should have been avoided. After many debates, discussions with the midwife and a lot of tooing and froing, we settled on a ‘home away from home birth’ At my mums, close enough to hospital to make the naysayers happy, yet a family home, and that’s what mattered to me. (Some days its easier to get people on your side by concession then to fight the whole way.)
So 5th april this year I was ready, I was ‘1 week to go’ and the easter ‘blood moon eclipse’ was happening. husband and I stood outside watching through the binoculars, and he commented “what a cool night it’d be to have our baby – the coming of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and a small girl lol” (Yes he actually said lol)
Oddly at 3 in the morning – the official end of the eclipse I felt a wiggle and pop. Waters had broken. Husband had only just gotten into bed, so I left him snoring softly while I got things rolling. Called the mid wife to let her know – as she’d asked me to if I was ‘earlier’. She told me to ring her back when contractions started getting close together and regular. 20 mins later I called her again – “Really???” yup. I’d had three, and five mins apart each… I was asked what I was doing – was car packed, was husband up and helping me? Was my mum aware we’d be coming soon…. No, I was in the middle of making hot cross buns!! Was told to not bother letting them rise, and get husband up.
(turned out she was zooming back to Auckland from batch just past Auckland…) Meet you at mums.
We got there in the end, about 5 am, things were about the same, contractions lasting 4 deep breaths, every 5 mins, Got things organised, blankets, tarps, Music!!- Bob Marley and a host of Jamaican roots reggae artists to see our bubba in. Music of the soul with the beat of the heart. And of course, tea and biscuits. My son especially liked this, and went around pinching everyone elses. Although soon got too stressed to be in the birth room with us, so went to play with pop, who ended up takin him out for a swing and promise of an ice cream.
Mean while I was calm collected and on task – midwife giving pressure point massages, husband drawing on my back with his fingers (I love that feeling!!)
Around 7 things ramped up another notch – They started feeling pushy. A quick VE showed I was well ready to jump in the bath, And that although not fully dilated, little miss’ head was coming down already. Suddenly, my cool calmness was replaced by a need to squeeze the blazes out of husbands hand and vocalise a bit more – and my potty mouth definitely got used. (easy to say that what I was uttering is not printable lol) Around this time My ma mentioned that if Id gone to hospital I could have had an epidural – pain-free, like she’d seen on the Kardashians – Which changed my mantra to ‘I am not a fkin Kardashian!!!’ with every surge.
I got out of the pool, tried another position, got back in, tried to get out again because I was getting annoyed by being confined to the bath, only to be told “your crowning, get back in, chill out, you got this”. Shocked, I had to feel what she meant, yup, a little head right there!!! Shit!!! Within 3 more surges she’d wriggled popped a bit then sploooosh, I remember looking down, awestruck as she blinked at me from under the water!!
My gorgeous little cone head bubba, Born just before 8am, in her nanas bath, surrounded by family, an awesome midwife and no intruders. This time I felt it.
I am woman, hear me roar!!!
This labour was so different from my last two. I was fully expecting the same pattern of nothing and then straight into active labour of about three hours long. But after 12+ hours of very irregular, intense but short surges and a lot of it in my back, I figured this time round I was going to be in it for the long haul!
I had a light lunch and decided to try and have an afternoon sleep. The surges stopped while I slept but eventually I was woken up by an intense one. I pottered around for a while (my husband had taken the kids up the road to his parents to give me some quiet time) getting some things prepared and while the surges got a little closer together and more intense (I had to stop, lean and concentrate), they were still all over the place. When I started to feel the need to vocalise I got my daughter to run up the road and get my husband. But I still figured it was a long way off because they were still irregular (and still a lot in my back!). I wanted to get in the pool though for a little relief from the back labour and started filling it.
My husband arrived shortly after and I decided that maybe he should call my ‘birth companions’ together just in case. I told him to apologise to everyone that I might be calling them too early and things might take a while yet. But better to be on the safe side I thought.
Things suddenly ramped up. It felt like going from late warm up labour to being 8-10cm dilated in the space of three surges. But they were still irregular!
My midwife arrived 5 minutes later, just after I had ‘assumed my position’ (kneeling forward) in my birth nest and my next companion (CBE/Doula in training) arrived after her.
The birth pool was abandoned – there was no way I was moving from my spot now!
I tried at first leaning over my Swiss ball but it wasn’t real comfy. Next surge was hanging onto my husband. Also uncomfortable. When the next one started, I literally shoved him onto all fours and leaned over his back. When that one receded I told him that I needed something else at that height for me to lean on. In a moment of inspiration he grabbed an abused plastic school chair that the kids had brought home one day from the side of the road and stuck a pillow on the seat. I buried my face in that pillow and gripped the back as another powerful surge came. Perfect!
They were still irregular with some being short, others long and some almost back to back. But they were incredibly INTENSE. So much more so than anything I’d ever felt in my previous four labours. It was just a sheer raw power coursing through me. My whole body was shaking with the effort.
It was a surreal experience being that I was so lucid in between surges, able to talk, think, have a drink. Even when the surges took me back into labour land and I was roaring with that power, there was a small voice in my head narrating and giving me tips (relax your face and hands, open your mouth, staring to feel pressure now….). Almost like a part of me was being my own doula/midwife to myself.
With pressure came even more intensity. My whole being was those powerful surges. They never overwhelmed me, sometimes it was like a knife’s edge though. Instead I became them. Surrendered to the raw, powerful energy until I was a universe of sheer force.
The pressure was building through each surge and oh, how a part of me wanted the waters to release to bring that sweet relief.
I reached inside and felt the sac, something I had always wanted to do but never done before. It was right there, close, and felt just as I had read it described – gorgeously silky and soft.
I felt again after the next surge and it was lower down again. So close to my vulva!
The next surge took me again and so did the ‘ring of fire’. Then, finally the waters came in a huge climactic release. What a feeling! I expected to have a few surges and then to feel her head coming as I had with the last two) but her head popped out just after the waters released!
I reached down and felt her beautiful, soft, dewy head and said to my husband, “That’s our baby’s head”. I heard her let out a little sound.
The intense surges were no more and I just felt a gentle but strong need to bear down. One push, then a second and I felt her shoulders rotate. On the third push, her body came sliding out and I caught her in my hands. In the next moment I was kneeling with her held on my chest. I can’t even begin to describe the sheer ecstasy, joy and love I felt in that moment. I did it! I caught her in my hands and brought her to my heart and I was SO in love with her.
I sat back against the cushions, my birth companions putting warm blankets around us both, and just basked in in her warm, wet softness and the greatest feeling of my life!
My final birth companion arrived to take photos. Everyone had the most amazing, gentle, joyous and loving energy – I will never forget being able to share this experience with these four amazing people.
Eventually placenta friend arrived in its own time with a gentle push. Big, gorgeous and healthy. Thank you placenta and umbilical for the miracles you are.
Willow had arrived just half an hour after my husband called my birth companions! She was a glorious, fast, intense, monumentally powerful ride that I will always, always remember!