Rosie [in English]: harmony at home with preparation and faith

Rosie erzählt ihre Hausgeburt mit Mann, Hebamme, Doula und älterem Geschwisterkind. Sie beschreibt ihre Vorbereitung, ihren Glauben und das Wunder der ersten Minuten. 
I have found it quite difficult to write my birth story. Not because it was traumatic and I don’t want to re-live it; quite the contrary. I had a beautiful, amazing birth, and this is the reason I find it difficult to write. Because people don’t want to hear about it. It seems that, in our culture, it is fine and normal to relate negative stories of births that have not gone according to plan, but no one seems to be telling the stories of empowering, uplifting births that were what the mother was hoping and believing for.
I don’t write this to skite or because I think I am better than anyone else. I don’t write this to make anyone feel badly about their own experience. I write this because everyone has a birth story, every birth story is beautiful and unique, and mine happens to be a very positive story that I believe deserves to be told.
My Braxton Hicks contractions had been getting stronger over the last few weeks of the pregnancy – about a week before the birth I thought I was in labour for sure. I even called the midwife, filled the pool and got the camembert out to celebrate! Well the contractions stopped before bedtime. I had to buy more camembert.

What we thought was the real thing…
On the morning of Monday the 15th of February, I told Dan that I thought it would be soon. I just felt really tight and uncomfortable in my abdomen and I got a few contractions that were even stronger. I did my groceries that morning and picked up Reuben from his sleepover at Grandma and Grandad’s. I felt that I needed to get home quickly.
That evening at about 6:00, as I was making Reuben’s dinner, I had quite a strong contraction, and I actually stopped what I was doing and said ‘woah, that was a strong one!’ They became quite regular after that and gradually stronger – about 2 or 3 minutes apart if I was standing and 6 to 8 minutes apart if I was lying down.
They didn’t stop though so I knew it was happening. We got Reuben to bed by 7:00, downed some pumpkin soup for dinner (well, I had half of mine – Dan finished his in between contractions) and very soon after that I said to Dan that I thought we should call the midwife.

Dan finishing his soup
He said he had just been thinking the same thing. The contractions were very strong, lasting 45 seconds and consistently about 2 minutes apart, but I decided to stop timing them after that because it was becoming stressful to remember to press ‘start’ and ‘stop’.
We did some tummy wiggling with the Rebozo scarf – a Mexican technique to relieve labour pain (thank you Mary!) and Dan squeezed my hips through each contraction. I could actually physically feel that opening up my pelvis and the baby descending! Through each contraction I closed my eyes and focussed on the deep breathing I had been practicing during the pregnancy (thank you again Mary!!), also focussing on relaxing all my muscles, especially the muscles in my abdomen.
When I was in labour with Reuben, I was very vocal and made a loud ‘ahhh’ sound through each contraction, and at the time I thought it was helping me to release the pain. Looking back though, I can see how it made me tighten all of my muscles, especially the important ones (try yelling and not tensing your abdominal muscles!). That tension was working against what the contractions were trying to do in bringing the baby down, and made everything take so much longer. No wonder it was a 12 hour labour!
It was also longer because I was fighting against the contractions; as I felt each one begin I would try everything to make the pain stop and I would tense up in response to the pain, rather than relaxing and embracing the contractions and working with them. In this labour, I was completely silent right up until I was pushing. I specifically focussed on relaxing those abdominal muscles. It was not as easy as it sounds, as it is natural to tense up in response to pain, but I kept reminding myself that it would bring the baby down faster, and that each contraction was one contraction closer to meeting my beautiful baby.
I also kept repeating the verse in my head: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind” (Thanks Ps Aaron! You preached that one at church the day before the birth). That really helped me as well, to overcome the fear of the contractions and to keep my mind sound enough to focus on what I was doing.
During the pregnancy, I chose a song (I made a remix of ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong, with all the loud, intense parts taken out) as my birth song, and I listened to it daily during the last few weeks and practiced relaxing every muscle in my body and deep breathing. The idea of this was that because my mind had been programmed to relax and breathe deeply when it hears that song, the same would happen during labour when I listened to it. I put my earphones in at about 7:30 and listened to it on repeat. It really helped (thanks again Mary!).
We filled up the pool (again) and I got in as soon as I could. The water has such a nice soothing, calming effect and I believe that also helped everything go quickly. Mary (the midwife) arrived soon after I got in the water, listened to the baby’s heartbeat, and then left us to ourselves, which is what we wanted.

Just after I got into the pool
I was still breathing and relaxing through each contraction, feeling the baby descending. Dan got into the pool with me and kept squeezing my hips through the contractions. Reuben woke up for a wee sometime during all this, so while Dan went to see to him I had to go through a few contractions on my own, with no hip squeezing. That was scary, and I could feel fear trying to creep in, but I kept repeating to myself that God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. It simply was mind over matter, and having God’s promises memorised and stored in my heart really helped me to keep my mind focussed.
I’m not sure what time it was, but I imagine it was just before 9:00pm that I first felt the urge to push. I could not believe I was already so far along! I told the midwife, and she made a phone call to the second midwife to come.
Pushing a baby out is a strange thing; it is not easily described. It is not a conscious decision to push, and you can’t resist pushing even if you want to. It is like the body takes over and you have no say – it is going to get this baby out! Dan said it was similar to how your muscles behave when you’re vomiting; there is no choice, they surge whether you want to push or not.
I was kneeling in the pool, leaning forward over the edge with my arms draped over the side, one hand clutching Mary’s. After pushing for three or four contractions I could feel the sac (my waters hadn’t broken yet), then a contraction or two later my waters broke. Dan was squeezing my hips and he felt the ‘pop’! He stopped squeezing out of surprise when it happened, but I told him rather firmly to continue…
A few minutes later the baby was crowning. It was painful, but the midwife encouraged me to pant, which helped a lot (thank you again Mary!). Then the head was out. Dan told me he could see its head, it was moving around and coughing under the water. The midwife told me to wait for the next contraction, I said “I can’t” and then with one more big push, the whole baby came out, into the water and into its daddy’s waiting hands.
It is the biggest relief in the whole world once it is out, and suddenly, just like that, you are holding your child against you. The human life that you have carried inside of you for nine months and felt kicking you from the inside is finally in your arms and you can finally see each other and the emotion is so overwhelming that, if you are anything like me, you feel quite numb.
We still didn’t know if we had a boy or a girl, and to me that is the most beautiful moment; picking it up and seeing for ourselves – it’s a boy!! It is such a beautiful surprise. I didn’t realise until that moment that I had subconsciously been expecting a girl, and I was quite (pleasantly) surprised that he was a boy! He gurgled and cried a bit and lifted his head up straight away and looked around – such a strong boy already!

The moment we found out it was a boy!
There was a period of time right after he was born that was very special; almost sacred. It was a beautiful, quiet, peaceful time where we sat in the pool together and marvelled at the miracle that we were holding, that we now had another child, another son. It was no less surreal and difficult to take in than the first time.
He was absolutely perfect and at that moment I knew that everything I had been through over the last 9 months; the months of pain and discomfort in the pregnancy, the stretch marks and the varicose veins, the labour and delivery, were all completely worth it and I would do it all again in heartbeat for the sake of the miraculous little human I was holding.
The second midwife arrived then, not quite in time for the birth. I birthed the placenta a little while later, then Dan took the baby while the midwives helped me to awkwardly, ungracefully get out of the pool and settle on the couch.
I started feeding him right away, and soon after that Reuben woke up, for no apparent reason. Usually when he wakes up at midnight he says ‘dada’ because Dan always gets up for him; he never wakes up at 10:00pm and he never asks for mama, but he woke up at 10:00pm, sat up in bed and started repeating ‘mama’ in a concerned voice! He knew something was going on…
Dan brought him out and he got to meet his baby brother. He was pretty fascinated, and I think he understood that this ‘bubba’ was the same bubba that had been in my tummy for so long. He touched the baby’s hair and nose and tried to put his finger into his ear. Then he started telling the midwives about the mower.

Reuben meeting Bubba
Dan took him back to bed, then he cut the umbilical cord soon after. We both had showers, the midwives finished up their notes and left, we got the baby into some clothes, and then it was time for bed! We were all tucked up in bed, Bubba in the bassinet beside me, by midnight.
We quickly reminisced, prayed and thanked God for a beautiful birth and a healthy baby, Dan told me how immensely proud he was of me, then we all slept like babies. Actually, I have never understood that saying because babies wake up crying every few hours with hungry tummies and dirty nappies. We all slept soundly for 6 hours.
We still hadn’t named him, and we were tossing up between two names. We decided to each pray about it, and we both felt really peaceful about the name ‘Levi’. It means ‘harmonious’, and he is a very peaceful, harmonious baby.

Levi Luke, less than 12 hours old
It was not a coincidence or luck that I had the birth experience I had. There was a lot of preparation and work that went into it, mentally, spiritually and physically. A lot of people have asked me about it, so for those who want to know, these are the things which I believe helped me to achieve the birth I had. For those who don’t want to know, feel free to stop reading
During pregnancy:
  • I read “Supernatural Childbirth” by Jackie Mize. It is full of the promises of God’s word surrounding childbirth and babies. Through this I started to grow my faith to believe all kinds of things about my birth – that it would be complication-free, short and natural, among other things. God gave me a picture, that my labour and birth would be like an ocean, that each contraction would be a wave, bringing me closer to the shore as each wave got stronger, and that I would need to just ride the waves, work with them and not try to swim against them. He also gave me the song ‘Oceans’ to proclaim over my birth.
  • I selected a birth song and listened to it daily while relaxing every muscle in my body, starting at my eyebrows and working down to my toes, especially focussing on my lower abdomen muscles, all while practicing deep breathing as well. The idea of this is that you train your brain to automatically relax your whole body and start deep breathing as soon as you hear the song. You then listen to the song during labour and your body automatically relaxes, making the labour so much faster. The deep breathing also helps to relax the abdominal muscles and bring the baby down much more quickly.
  • I memorised scriptures that proclaimed the promises of God – about not having fear, about being strong through Him, about being an overcomer and about the blessing of having children. Only one went through my mind during labour, but I clung to it.
  • I bought an epi-no and used it.
  • I walked and did Pilates 4 times per week, and a workout with a fitness group once per week throughout the pregnancy (thank you Alicia Evans Personal Training!). Labour is not easy physically. It is like a marathon, and to be successful in a marathon you need to train physically. It isn’t fair to expect so much from your body if it is not fit and ready.
  • I ate very healthy food and drank lots of water. This is for the same reason as above, and also to give my baby a healthy gut and immune system.
  • I prayed and proclaimed God’s promises over my birth and baby almost daily. This grew my faith – each time I proclaimed a promise over my birth, I started to believe it more and more, and this gave me confidence and helped to cast out fear.
  • I rebuked every bad word spoken to me about the birth. So many people spoke about how bad it would be, that it would be long and that it would be very painful. I rebuked each word in Jesus’ name and replaced them with His promises and the things I was believing for.
  • I cast out fear, which is where basically all problems start. There are physical, mental and spiritual ways to deal with fear – understanding biologically what is happening during birth takes away fear of the unknown, memorising and proclaiming scriptures about how God has not given us a spirit of fear affirms our spirit, birthing at home takes away fear of hospitals and interventions, using the epi-no takes away fear of tearing etc etc etc.

During labour:

  • I got Dan to kneel behind me and to squeeze my hip bones together during each contraction; squeezing the hip bones together opens up the pelvic bones below. I could feel the baby moving down each time he did this, and it helped with the pain. We also used a Rebozo scarf before I got into the pool
  • I worked with the contractions and welcomed them instead of working against them and fearing and dreading them like I did in my first labour. I kept reminding myself that each contraction was one contraction closer to meeting my baby.
  • I did deep breathing and focussed on relaxing my abdominal muscles which brought the baby down much faster.
  • I had a water birth. The water and warmth help to relax the muscles and the mind, and I wasn’t afraid of everything falling out and making a mess on the floor, which helped me relax.
  • I had a home birth. I believe that this is one of the main reasons I have had good births. People tell me I am brave for having a home birth, but honestly it would take more courage for me to go to hospital than to have a baby at home. While they may seem like a place of safety and security for a birth, there is a fear of hospitals, whether it is conscious or subconscious, because they are places of pain, death and fear. They are clinical, impersonal and rushed, everything the opposite of home. There is also fear of the car ride to the hospital, giving birth in the car, getting to the birth suite etc etc. I believe (and there is lots of evidence to show) that hospital births are on average longer and end in more complications because a) of fear and b) there are so many unnecessary interventions and they are so readily available and quickly administered. I am also not fearful of homebirths because I have researched the facts thoroughly, and they are safer than hospital births with far fewer interventions and negative outcomes. Facts and statistics are enough for me to take away the emotional fear that most people have of home births. It makes sense to me to birth in a comfortable, relaxed and safe place. (Please note – I am not saying you can’t have a good birth in a hospital, I’m just saying that home was the best choice for me and helped me to have a good birth.)
  • I relied on Christ’s strength and the promises in his word, and brought scripture to mind in moments of doubt and weakness.