Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Midwife Gini's Own Home Water Birth Story

My guest post today is by my friend Gini Conroy. What struck me about her story, when she told it to me, was how real and honest she was about her labor pain and how empowered she sounded when she described her home birth. Sometimes I read home birth stories that sound to good to be true. It's refreshing to hear her admit she had to do some screaming, and get all animalistic. Roar! She, herself, is a passionate and caring Newcastle midwife. She is also wife to Eli, and mum to Noel and newborn Tully. I hope you enjoy her story and take away something from it too.
 - Jess from Peachy Keen Mumma-
Professional photography by Kate Kennedy
The most common thing someone will say when you mention you are going to have a Homebirth is: 'but what about all the mess?'
Firstly I'll just mention, that I remember actually saying and thinking the same thing years ago and for me the reason was just because I'd never been to a Homebirth.



The truth is there really isn't that much mess, usually the baby is born in water, the tub or pool is emptied and the midwife takes the rest away.

We had one towel that needed to be washed, out of about 15 towels I had at the ready if needed... but why is it that women are willing to let a little bit of mess get in the way of a normal happy birth experience? It's because it's actually not the reason. The reason is "Fear".

The first thing people say to you after your Homebirth is:  'You're a brave girl' or ask 'how far do you live from the hospital?', something along those lines, all relating back to fear.
One of my biggest driving forces to having a Homebirth was my total fear of birthing in a hospital!And I am a midwife.

Fear. It's one of the biggest things that surrounds birth.
The worst bit about it all is that this completely and totally ruins birth if you let it. But that is a whole other topic.


Tully's Birth at Home
Waiting in Overdue-land:
I was lying awake in bed, around 3am on a Sunday morning, in total disbelief that I was still pregnant. I was 40+4 days. Overdue-land. Totally and completely over it and just wanting my baby in my arms already.

I had done a lot of the natural induction remedies we all hear about and felt my body was ready, my mind was ready, everyone was ready! I lay there thinking, praying and pleading to any god that would listen, to my deceased relatives for help, to my baby.  Please let labour start! I heard a door downstairs slam shut...I woke my husband Eli. 
"Eli, a door slammed shut downstairs!"
We got up and checked the house but found nothing, I  don't even know which door could have slammed? We went back to bed.  I lay there and cried a bit, and thought about how after all this time, I may still end up being induced in the public hospital.  Let it be if it has to be, I just want my baby now. And I fell asleep.


I woke up two hours later, and so did Noel (my toddler) who came into bed with us for a cuddle.
It was then that I felt a twinge of the very beginning of a contraction. It was about 5am.
With each little pain that came randomly I rolled onto all fours, then back to sleep when it left. But I didn't let myself believe it was the real thing, as how could it be! I had willed/ wished/ prayed myself into labour. Really? 

As the sun came up and morning began we all just began the day as normal, a stunning Sunday Autumn day.  One of those perfect days. The random pains continued so I stayed busy and cleaned the house, baked a batch of muffins, hung the washing up, each time stopping with the pain to lean on something, sway, and eventually yell a bit.


I phoned our midwife Dan about 9am and told him I was having some irregular pains, he said to phone back when they became more regular or if felt I wanted him to come. We live about 45 minutes away from our birth team. I then sent our birth photographer Kate a quick text letting her know things were starting and to be on standby for a call.
We had previously arranged for Noel's poppy to come and collect him for this day so Eli made the call.  Noel was driving me mad through the contractions. I was probably driving him mad too as he was trying to watch The Incredibles, and I was making too much noise.  "Mummy stop!"
He would yell at me during a contraction, 
"Stop pain!"



"Now might be a good time to tell you I am a yeller."

Some people go through labour all zen and quiet. I have no idea how! Everyone copes differently I guess. We phoned Eli's mum Jo, who was coming to the birth but lives in Sydney. For some reason I still wouldn't let myself believe I was in labour at this point, so I wasn't keen on her coming so early and missing her day at work but she decided to come anyway.

About midday, once Noel was gone, Eli and I watched Law and Order, pausing for a contraction where I would roll onto all fours on my yoga mat and yell loudly. I ate some lunch in between pains.
The contractions were still pretty random, every 10-15-20 minutes... sometimes 30 seconds, sometimes a minute in duration; really intense though. I thought to myself and told Eli,  'it's going to be late tonight, ages away, this isn't 'true labour'. Law and Order was now starting to become irritating.

I was remembering how, after my birth experience with Noel, I had sworn I would never put myself through the pain of birth again! "Eli what have I done?" I remember how much it hurts! Oh crap.
Eli now decided it might be a good time to set up our birth space. I kept telling him not to, but he told me that it was okay he was just going to set it up anyways. I was now leaning on all fours over the lounge gripping the sheets covering it.  I thought,  "I'm not moving from this spot"
We put on our music playlist and Eli rubbed my back during the contractions.

Eli phoned Dan again and updated him. I said I didn't want him to come yet as I thought I still had a while.  Eli hung up, and a mighty contraction ripped through me.
I then looked at Eli and said, "Ring Daniel he needs to come now!"  So he did. He rang Kate as well and told her to come.

Labour-land:

I entered Labour-land well and truly at this point, around 1pmI yelled and yelled. Eli rubbed my back which was hurting. Jo (mother in-law and doula) arrived, put some oil on my back and gave me a lower back massage with the contractions. Kate arrived before the midwives did, I knew this from the click click of her camera.
Soon the only way I felt I could make it through each contraction was by leaning over Eli, in a hug position, where I could grip his thick checked shirt and scream. I felt like I was connected to something during the contraction this way, I felt safe and secure in his arms,  not like my body was about to go sky rocket off the planet or my head was about to blow off. It was like I was stuck in the surf with huge waves crashing over me and I had  found my rock to cling to in order to survive.

Dan and Kate (Dan's second midwife) arrived soon after, palped the baby, heard his heart rate and checked my blood pressure. I think I asked Dan if I really was in labour and if the baby was definitely coming? I got into the birth pool which felt great. I then continued to lean onto my rock - Eli, and scream hard and loudly. I felt all my muscles tense and all my veins pop out. It was just like I have read - you feel the might of creation move through you.

"It hurt like nothing I can ever explain. I think at this point I must have been transitioning as I vomited my lunch and felt as though I may just die from the pain."

I then started to feel a familiar feeling. The bag of membrane which surrounds the baby wasn't bursting.  The pressure was insane! "Dan pop the bag, break the bag for me please!" I remember saying. But he assured me I could do it and he didn't need to. This exact thing happened with Noel's birth,  I ended up pushing on the toilet, which popped the bag and spraying amniotic fluid about 2m across the bathroom.
So now, with this birth, I got out of the bath and went to the toilet, sat on it and pushed with all my might. I felt the bag release and sweet relief, but only for a second as the contractions ripped through my body. I quickly went back to the bath and knew I had to push.


I have to say I really didn't enjoy this stage, the next stage of horrors, as the pain from the contractions stop but you feel the baby descending through the bones of your pelvis and the horrible feeling of 'shitting a watermelon,' (my mums words not mine)!
I lay on my back to push, as this felt the most comfortable for me, and looked up to see
Kate the photographer right in the middle pointing the camera at me; Kate the midwife on one side of her, Dan on the other and my mother in law next to him. To be honest this was a bit weird and I felt a bit uncomfortable, but only for a split second as pushing then became my whole focus. I felt Eli next to my face and behind me which was comforting.

I pushed slowly, it wasn't as easy as I was expecting for my second birth, it felt like he was descending fairly slowly. The room was quiet, and our music playlist was playing softly. It was a Pandora radio station we had listened to at Noel's birth. The weirdest thing happened: Eli and I, almost at the same time, realised the same song I had pushed Noel out to was playing! How cool.

When his head started to birth I felt stinging all over, like I was tearing in every direction, (I'll just note now I didn't tear). I pushed as slow as I could to try and prevent this, I really didn't want to tear. I reached down and felt his head slowly birth with each push.When his head was born, I felt his tiny ear.
"I feel his ear!" I said. He started moving and wriggling half born! It was the strangest feeling. I could feel his legs kick and move inside my stomach while his head moved on the outside.
Then I heard Jo say, "his head is doing that thing"

This was the one time fear went through me. He's stuck I thought. My midwife brain kicked in and I thought 'head bobbing - the sign of shoulder dystocia.'

"Dan is he stuck?! Get him out, help me get him out" I cried.

Dan gently applied downward pressure on the baby's head and his shoulders released, I felt the huge feeing of relief, reached down and pulled my baby onto me. The feeling of pure happiness.. relief, euphoria. It's over! He is here! I'm so in love. He is safe, healthy, beautiful, I did it! It's over.
It was 2:45 p.m.



Giving birth I complain constantly, yell "I can't do it!" I scream, cry, moan, plead. But I never consider I need or want drugs or artificial pain relief, or that I really can't do it. (Even though I'm sure I said I couldn't). 'Labour is hard work, it hurts, but you can do it.' One of my favourite quotes is so true. It does bloody hurt - there is no way it doesn't, but you can do it!


I described how I experienced the pain in my birth not to scare you, or to make you think I'm so amazing to put up with it, but to give you an honest perspective.
Women go into birth scared of feeling pain, and they also feel shocked when they experience that level of pain. But your not dying, your arm isn't cut off, it's normal pain, it's a process, you just have to surrender and go through it.


"I'm not some powerful superwoman, I just did what my body was designed to do, and what thousands and thousands of women have done before me and are doing this very second."


Introducing Noel to his new baby brother

Me and my boys, and the woman who brought my husband into the world, Jo. 
Don't let fear scare you out of a normal birth. It's a right of passage, the greatest achievement of my life. It's the happiest I have ever felt. It's completely and totally empowering, and it's an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life. 




*PKM is linked up with Essentially Jess for 'I Blog on Tuesdays

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