David's Birth Story
I was a full 42 weeks pregnant with my first child, so we decided to get someone to come and do acupuncture to get the process going. In Israel you cannot have a home birth if you are over 42 weeks (the stupidest thing I have ever heard, but never you mind), hence the urgency to get the process started. Otherwise I don't think I would have bothered to do anything, as the baby was still moving about fine and seeming quite happy in there. We had of course also tried all the other things possible to get the labour started without success - sex (ha), castor oil (not recommended - yuk - and it can dehydrate you badly), exercise (my 20 kilos heavier pregnant self went for a 5km walk in the heat - baby did not budge). I'd been to see the gynae I think two days before, and had a stretch and sweep - not pleasant at all, and I don't think it did much. Barbara had also done another one on the morning we did the acupuncture, where she said I was 1.5cm dilated, but nothing much else was going on.
So we had the acupuncture man over to come and stick needles in me, which he did, from 3 to 5 in the afternoon. At 7 the first very light contractions started, and by about 10 they were coming quite thick and fast. My sister, who is a paediatrician who has attended many births, was freaking out - it was quite funny. I told her to leave me alone to concentrate - I didn't want the labour to stop. So she went and started cooking - she made 3 pies and only one of them came out right - she was so nervous that she messed up the others. So she made me call Barbara at about ten, because she was convinced I was about to pop, when actually I was not really in active labour quite yet. I had contractions and they were quite sore, but nowhere near the real deal. I was quite annoyed when I realised the contractions got worse - I thought they were the same all the way through so I thought it was going to be a breeze because I was coping so well initially
So Barbara came over and checked me - I was 2 cm dilated, and I think nearly all effaced but I can't recall. Luckily she didn't tell me what she thought at the time which was I had a long long way to go. So she went home and Adi and my sister went to sleep. I of course could not sleep, so I stayed up walking around and around our tiny little house until at about 3 in the morning things starting getting quite difficult, so I woke Adi up. Meanwhile I had had him come home from work and go to the shops - he was also all excited and surprised by how calm I was. He came home and started to blow up the pool - and it popped! Thank goodness it popped before I or any water was in it. So it was quarter to ten - he said to me sorry dear, you won't be having a pool. I said to him get out the house right now and go get one - the shops closed at ten. So he dashed and luckily got one right as a shop was closing. He came home and blew it up and started to half fill it with cold water, and then they went to bed.
The whole time I was using the hypnobirthing breathing - but it wasn't really helping too much. I also started to vocalise through the contractions - saying om om om through them which felt silly but did help - though later it just turned into ow ow ow which was funny after the time. So at about 8 or 9 in the morning I couldn't take it anymore and I got in the shower for a bit - that helped a bit. I was leaning on the shower attachment where it went into the wall during contractions, and Adi was trying to hold it up from the bottom as all my 76 kilos pushed down on it from up above. He basically followed me around the whole time as I went from place to place trying to deal with the contractions. I was also really tired, and I kept on trying to lie down, and I would lie down and fall asleep for a minute and then get woken up by the worst contractions. Also I kept on needing to pee, and feeling like I needed to poo (as you do when the head starts to descend) so I kept on going to the toilet, and then I would get caught by the contractions there and it hurt! The only thing stopping me from wanting to go to hospital for an epidural was the thought of the car ride there - I knew it would be too sore. So Barbara came back at about 11 in the morning - she was very surprised because she said later I was doing really well for a first time labour - I was about 7 or 8 cm dilated by then but still not screaming or anything - just breathing while they came thick and fast. So I got into the pool, while Adi and my sister boiled up pots of water and brought buckets of hot water - it was very old school. I was on all fours in the pool and I made them close all the windows because there was a draft going onto my back which hurt when I had a contraction. At some point Adi got in with me and was pouring water on my back with his hands. It was quite funny because it was a 30 something degree day and they were really hot and I kept on making them close all the windows. The pool really helped - although at some point it stopped helping though actually who knows how it would have been outside the pool. So I was leaning on Adi at some point and then my waters broke - they went pop in the water - quite funny. I was so disappointed because I thought the head had come out - I didn't know that would take a whole lot more effort. They broke right towards the end which was good because I didn't want to land up going to the hospital because they had broken for too long.
At about 2 o clock or so Barbara told me I was completely dilated and could push if I wanted to. She was very good - she wanted to check me but asked me if I could and each time I told her no - I didn't want to get disappointed with how far I was. She could tell I was fully dilated because you get this funny purple line from your back to your bottom apparently when you are fully dilated. So then I was just breathing during the contractions, and at some point I threw up - the best throw up ever :) I felt so much better afterwards and I was pleased because I knew it meant I was getting somewhere. It took a long time to push him out though - initially I was breathing him down (a la hypnobirthing) and then I felt like I needed to push so I did. Adi kept on telling me to relax, and to breath the baby down - I felt like smacking him at some point - felt like telling him you breathe, I'm going to push this damn thing out. I really wanted him to come out slowly so I didn't tear, but at a certain point I just had had it, and wanted him out!
I felt quite lonely the last hour - it was just difficult for my sister to watch, and Adi didn't want to disturb me, so no-one was talking to me. They were quite surprised when I was cracking jokes in between contractions. I'd also been quite quiet but at about half past two vocalising turned from om om om into ow ow ow and then into full on screaming during each contraction. The head took a long time to come out, and it was fairly acutely sore. Once the head was out I gave one more push and out he came - and he kicked me in the butt on the way out. Naughty boy! He was born at 3 o clock exactly. Adi caught him, and Barbara helped me turn around, and I told Adi not to tell me what he was, and then he handed him to me and I didn't even look at what he was, I was just looking at him. Then my sister said what is it, a girl or a boy, and Adi told her - I hadn't had a chance to look! Then we phoned my mom who promptly burst into tears - she had been very worried. Then I got out the pool and delivered the placenta straight away, and Adi cut the cord. I was so weak I couldn't even lift David up. Then Adi took him so Barbara could stitch me up, and I was lying naked on the couch being stitched when the ambulance men burst in - you've never seen Adi move so fast to throw them out. It was hilarious. Ester our downstairs neighbour had heard me screaming, and she'd gotten scared, and come to knock on the door. We didn't hear her, and her husband told her the screaming was just the neighbourhood cats. She freaked out and called the paramedics who arrived within 4 minutes. They looked at Barbara's very impressive array of equipment, wished us mazel tov, consented to be photographed by my quick thinking sister, and left. Then we weighed David and saw he weighed a monstrous 3.75 kilos - no wonder it took so long to get him out!
Meanwhile Adi had phoned his parents - they were in shock when we told them David was born at home - we hadn't told them we were having a home birth. Good thing too as his mom said had she known she would have called the police over to drag us to hospital.
It was so nice not to have to go to hospital, and not to have to worry about being naked or making a noise (though I hadn't planned on making such a noise that the neighbours would call an ambulance). In terms of pain relief, the pool really did help, as did the shower, and also just being able to walk around and deal with the contractions as I wanted to, not being tied up to an IV pole or a monitor was great. Everyone else had been really worried about me having a home birth for my first birth, but I was really calm and quite confident with the decision. That didn't happen immediately - firstly I had read about Jerusalem's hospitals, and the description didn't fill me with confidence. Then the fact that Adi wouldn't be able to stay with me in hospital, and rooming in wasn't guaranteed, so David would have been taken away from me at night too, something I didn't want. It was also very important to me that I succeed with breastfeeding David, and I had read that a good birth is important for that, and that home births are very good in terms of not interfering with the breastfeeding relationship, which was something I liked. I didn't have to worry about someone taking David away, or giving him bottles of formula, or a dummy (pacifier). Another reason a home birth was really great was that my husband played a huge role - he wasn't sidelined at all. He supported me completely all the way through, and then got to catch the baby and cut the cord. He was walking on air for days afterward - he really enjoyed the process.
Some women worry they won't be able to handle the pain at home. One thing they should know is that the second the baby is out you forget anything ever hurt - you don't feel a thing you're on such a high. Secondly the feeling of achievement is amazing - that you managed to birth your baby without any interference really feels like something big. I won't lie and say it didn't hurt - it did, but now it is just a dim memory. And in between the contractions it was really fine, so I got a chance to rest in between them. And it was good to know I avoided the chance of any problems with the epidural, or having to land up having a c section because of lack of progress - I was very happy to avoid all those possibilities.
The hypnobirthing course we did also really helped - I listened to the affirmations for months before hand, and the relaxation scripts, and they really helped me to remain calm and not stressed the last few months of the pregnancy, and to not be too impatient by the end of it all. They also helped me during the birth - I wasn't worried during the birth about things stalling - I knew that things would proceed at their own pace and he would come out when he was good and ready. Barbara also helped with that a lot - I barely noticed she was there except for when she monitored his heartbeat from time to time. She never pressured me into being checked, or stressed me out that things were taking too long. She was just a very calm, very reassuring presence who just left us to get on with things, which was great.
Initially I was very worried about having a home birth, and I thought people who did were just completely crazy. After doing a lot of research, especially on homebirth.org.uk, I completely changed my mind - now I think people who have healthy pregnancies who give birth in hospitals are nuts J This is not a decision anyone should force you into - you should be happy with your decision, you should make an informed decision, and you should then not let anyone bother you with horror stories - just don't tell people you are having a home birth - it is much easier that way.