The moment I was pregnant, I knew I would do everything I could to have a homebirth. I saw my sister being born and cut her cord, all in the lounge room of our home 24 years earlier; it wasn’t a foreign concept to me. I learnt very quickly to keep it quiet as the decision freaked a LOT of people out. I didn’t understand, my Dr approved, I was low risk, so why not?
We found a private practice midwife and began the exciting journey of waiting for our son to arrive. My due date came and went, and I was not impressed! On January 12th, I had cramps but I also had our brother in law visiting. Every time they would leave the house, the cramps would commence, but the moment they arrived home, they would cease. You can imagine how that made an almost 42 weeks pregnant woman feel! That evening I found sleep very difficult. I tossed and turned before getting up and spending the entire night on my knees against the bed head. I was so happy; the cramps were coming regularly and were comfortable. Like period cramps. I was so excited to meet our child!
The 13th I was smiling so much, it was finally happening. We didn’t tell anyone, just called our midwife. When she heard I was contracting every 5 mins, with 1 minute long contractions, but they would change from 5 mins apart, to 4 apart, she said that I was in false labour. That disappointed me but I was losing my mucous plug so I knew something was going to happen.
I spent the entire day with cramps following the similar pattern previously mentioned. I was comfortable but had no appetite, just kept my fluids up. My husband came home from work and was excited. Again, we rang the midwife who said keep her posted but it was too early and it was false or erratic labour. I spent the night again on my knees, leaning over the couch or bedhead. I was starting to feel a bit tired, as I wasn’t sleeping.
By the morning of the 14th, I lost my full mucous plug, which was thrilling. I wondered the whole time “how dilated am I?”. For an impatient person it was driving me nuts not knowing how far along I was! I called the midwife and explained I was still steady but no real pain and although I found I couldn’t speak through contractions due to intensity, that it was enjoyable other than my sore knees and tiredness. She said that I needed to rest that day and evening, as it could be getting closer but we still had a way to go. I was so frustrated when it came to bedtime, as where was my baby? I couldn’t sleep. Lying down was painful. The contractions didn’t stop at all. I wanted to call the midwife but worried, as they weren’t any closer together. Occasionally they would drop to 2-3 mins apart but would go back to 5 mins. My husband stayed up with me all night as I was on my knees arching my back over the lounge, kitchen bench and bed head.
By morning, the 15th, we rang the midwife again and she asked, is she in the pool? I wasn’t in pool as I didn’t feel like I was in great pain. She said to get the pool running and she was coming down our way that day so it wouldn’t hurt. I was flat, frustrated and so tired. My back was aching from arching so much for 3 nights in row as well as the days. I wanted to know what was happening, why my water hadn’t broken and why I hadn’t had the quick labour I was manifesting. I knew I was taking SO long but tried to release it. Then the back labour began.
We also ran out of hot water at the same time. My husband was boiling pots of water to put in the pool as I tried to find relief. None of my tricks worked. No magnesium oil or homeopathic could tackle it. Once the pool was full it provided so much relief. We hooked the hose up to the hot water tap, and I enjoyed that. I was in the pool for a few hours when it got really hard for a while. Then just as I felt like couldn’t take the back labour any longer, it stopped.
We looked at each other, both on our knees, heads touching and asked…is this transition? We were elated! I could eat some watermelon and pineapple, and enjoyed coconut water. I floated in the pool, chatted to the animals and giggled with my husband.
Then my midwife arrived. She had received some bad news on the phone and was crying. It was awful. I felt so bad for her. She pulled up a chair and watched me. I didn’t contract for 15 mins and was super chatty. She said that I looked great but we needed to consider our options. I was confused; didn’t we just hit transition and come out the other side? She said that she didn’t want me laboring any longer, that exhaustion could cause troubles so it was time to consider transferring to the hospital. That’s when it hit me. I had failed. I had made a mistake. I wouldn’t get the home birth I longed for.. I truly thought I had made it to transition and was just having a lull before pushing. The tears hit
She said she had some paperwork to file so would go, then come back.
She left and I bawled my eyes out. I won’t lie, I panicked. Therefore, my body locked up! Back labour swooped back in with my fear and I lost control.
I was in the shower when midwife returned TWO HOURS LATER .She was in a happier mood and wanted to check my dilation. I was angry, why wasn’t this done before she left? Guess what…I was almost 10cm dilated but for a cervical lip. She broke my waters, pushed the lip in and my son dropped immediately. I was so excited I would get my home birth and that he was right there, but I felt truly betrayed and that she had given me an emergency talk but then left us, when it was all so unnecessary. We never got to celebrate or discuss why my apparently erratic labour actually was full labour. That my son could’ve been born a few days earlier. That we labored ourselves at home with only my husband and I for support!
The back labour was hell by this point. I truly believe my anxiety and fear escalated it as I tightened up and waited. I was crying and trying so hard. My husband was with me every second of the way, The midwife sat at least 10ft away, whilst taking personal calls. I now know the paperwork she had to do when leaving us had to do with the bad news she got, not about me.
When I started feeling pushy, she came over and sat by the pool. My husband coached me through it, and I remember feeling my sons silky hair. By now all back labour had gone and I was ready to rock and roll. It was a relatively quick process. He crowned and sat like that in between a contraction. I will never forget that moment. I could feel his head and face, feel my husband who literally was holding me up in the pool and it was like time stood still. It was the last moment we had together before becoming parents. When the next contraction came he popped out and was placed on my chest. We both cried and marveled at this perfect human being. Finally. It was done.
Read Summah’s breastfeeding journey here –