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by Sarah on June 8th, 2010

What I’ll start by saying is that I have been very humbled by my birthing experience. Before, I didn’t fully understand the intensity of it all. I think was so busy convincing myself that it didn’t have to be painful and could be easy, that I almost couldn’t quite understand “what all the fuss was about”. Now that I’ve experienced it, I get it.

I was in active labour (from 4cm dilated) for 11 hours, and there was a period where I was so mentally, emotionally and physically tired, that I didn’t know if I could carry on. In a way, now that I look back, I’m glad that I experienced this, because I managed to (excuse the pun!) push through it . It was challenging – to the point where I even began to question my decision to have a homebirth – but I didn’t give up. I worked through the doubt.

Most importantly though, my beautiful Lily was born at home, in the water, without intervention, without medication and it was all completely worth it. I’m now able to say to all women who want to have natural birth that no matter how tired you are, and no matter how difficult it all seems, it really is possible to have the experience you want.

My labour started on Sunday night, the 23 May. I had a few mild surges in the evening, plus a giggling fit of nervousness, when it really clicked that I had a baby INSIDE my tummy and that I needed to GET IT OUT. The surges disappeared, then re-appeared for most of Monday. We thought I’d be in active labour by that night, but they disappeared again, only coming back late on the Tuesday. I, of course, didn’t sleep much the Sunday, Monday and not a wink on the Tuesday (lots of anticipation for a first-time Mom). By the time my midwife arrived (4:30am on Wed the 26th) I was fully into the swing of things, eyes heavy from the endorphins, surges pulling strongly at my cervix. Overall, from the last few days of latent labour, I was pretty emotionally and mentally drained.

The 3 hour massage from Mandi, bouncing on the birthing ball, listening to my Hypnobirthing affirmations, and doing my deep breathing, all definitely helped to relax me and ease the pain. Words can’t describe the relief I felt when Mandi eventually allowed me to get into the warm water of the birthing pool. This was at about 7:30am. At this point, all was going really well.

Our doctor, Gauri, arrived just after 8:30am. By 9am, I was 9cm dilated and still going strong. Everything was progressing smoothly, we all thought Bug would be born by 11am. The bubba had other ideas though…

Somewhere in the transition phase (when the baby is moving down the birth canal) we realised that she was “stuck”. Mandi and Gauri did a pelvic examination and could feel the bulge of the water sac above her head. This was causing slowing everything down. They tried to pinch the sac but couldn’t quite reach it, and so I had to carry on waiting for the baby to move down on her own. I was terribly tired, and terribly sore and this  wass the point where I felt like quitting. For a little while, I had thoughts that if I was at a hospital, they could do something to hurry things along, to help me deal with the pain.

Mandi could see that I was battling and suggested that I pull an angel card from her pack. I quietened my mind and asked the baby to advise me what to do. The card I chose said, “Focus – Stop thinking of what you don’t want, and start focusing your thoughts on what you do want”. Could my child have been more to the point?

So, I stopped thinking about hospitals, about taking a shortcut, and started to focus on what I wanted.  Within  an hour I felt my bubba move a little, and when they did another examination, they could feel the sac and head were low enough to pinch and break my waters. From here, my labour flowed.

On some level I even quite enjoyed the “pushing” phase, because I was able to direct my energy and efforts into something physical. The head began to crown at 2:40pm, by 3:10pm her head was out (so incredible to feel her hair and little ear) and then with one last push, her body slipped right out.

All in all, it was an amazingly powerful and emotional experience. One where I learned about not quitting, about the power of ones body, the power of ones mind, about the incredible connection that exists between mother and child, about the importance of being surrounded by people you love and trust.

Thank you thank you thank you, to my wonderful husband, Graeme for stoking the fire, heating water, making tea, juicing wheatgrass and all the emotional and physical support that you gave me on the day. Thank you to beautiful Mandi and Gauri, not only for midwifery and medical support, but also for your love, strength and massaging hands – they took turns in rubbing my back and hips almost permanently. Thank you to my doggies: Sadie for protecting the property, and Rusty for his calming, concerned presence. And lastly, thank you Lily, for being so in-tune, for knowing exactly what to do when, and for sending me the perfect message at the perfect time. My experience would not have been what it was without having the most wonderful homebirth team.