My home birth with Barbara Ben-Ami
My first 2 children were born in a wonderful birth center in London, but I was disappointed with a hospital experience in Jerusalem on my 3rd child’s birth. I had friends who had very positive experiences with home births, so I decided that a home birth would be my first choice. I had a very complicated pregnancy, and it was only around my 36th week that my doctor pronounced me –‘average risk’ (the high risk category I was previously in would have precluded a home birth). I let Barbara know that we would be able to go ahead with the plan to birth at home. I was thankful and relieved, but still a bit nervous about being at home. I looked forward to Barbara’s prenatal visits as a way to prepare psychologically for the birth and to build up a relationship. Barbara was wonderfully reassuring, calming, and gave me all the time I needed.
3 days before seder night (which was my due date) I had a scheduled appointment with Barbara. I told her that I was keen for the baby to come before the holiday would start, and felt that the birth was imminent. I asked her to check me and she could tell that I was slowly dilating. Barbara advised me that I would probably be in labour within the next 2 days. I felt that the exam really woke up the baby and got the contractions to come stronger. I worked in a very focused way on sorting through the machsan, knowing that this baby was on the way. That evening I went out to a big dinner with my children and mother in law (who had just arrived that morning). I knew that it wasn’t ideal to have a heavy meal while I was in early labour, but I hadn’t eaten well the last few days before Pesach and knew that I needed as much nourishment as possible for the upcoming days.
When we got back from dinner I felt the contractions even stronger and called Barbara. She was absolutely wonderful when I asked her to come over for the 2nd time that day, just to check me. She happily came and saw my progress. I had very quick labours in the past, and she guessed that I would have a baby by the morning. I was happy for her to go home and get some sleep, promising that I would call when I needed her. My husband and I decided to put the children to sleep at home, guessing that the baby wouldn’t come until the morning. I worked on organizing last minute things and I wrote loving letters to all the family members. I finally felt ready for bed around 1am. Around 2, I woke up to feel my water breaking. I called my mother in America to share the exciting news. I had a very intense contraction, and after the next one felt just as big I called Barbara and my birth coach, Judy. I told them it was time to come. I woke my husband, and when Barbara came he felt it was time to wake the children, and get them ready to go out. He took them to the kotel, to pray for mommy and the new baby. My mother in law stayed and helped make Barbara and Judy feel welcome.
I needed to focus alot by this point and Barbara was wonderful. She checked me as gently as possible and respected my sensitivities. She and Judy helped me find comfortable positions and listened to what helped me. Barbara held me up and also brought a scarf for me to pull on, both of which really helped. After about an hour the contractions were very difficult and I was saying ‘I can’t handle this’. Barbara was very calm and reassuring and amazingly it was time to push. There was no way I could get up onto the bed that had been prepared, but Barbara was totally fine about setting her things up where I was. The pushing felt longer and harder than the other children, but I was told that it was only a few minutes. My baby boy was born around 6 am. Barbara checked him and helped me onto the bed to hold him and deliver the afterbirth. I felt very weak and tired, but Barbara was patient and professional about making sure everything would be ok. Eventually I was able to get up and have a shower. Barbara stayed focussed on my wellbeing, even with the excitement of an adorable newborn. Most importantly, Barbara cleaned up the floor, (as i hadn’t made it onto the bed and things needed a good washing!). When my son and I were settled in and the older children had come home to meet their new brother, Barbara gave me all the instructions I needed and paced up. She was in touch over the next few days and came back to check on us after yom tov. My baby was checked and found healthy our local paediatrician across the street, just 2 hours after birth. Barbara was incredibly attentive, warm, professional , accommodating to all our preferences. I was so thankful to her for having made our home birth hopes a reality. I hope to have another birth at home, with her calm presence.