Near the end of our pregnancy we decided to plan a home birth, although this was something I had wanted to do for some time. The thought of birthing our daughter in the comfort of our own home sounded wonderfully special to us. Our midwives and doula were very supportive of this decision. Our doula, Debra, lent us her birthing pool so we could have a water birth. Andrew and I had prepared for the birth by attending six weeks of hypnobabies classes to deepen our relaxation skills. Our aim was to use relaxation, breathing and mindfulness techniques as pain management during the birth, as well as using water therapy, massage, continued movement and altering positions throughout the birth. I practiced relaxation and mindfulness for approximately two hours each day for four months prior to Violet’s birth.
I started to experience my first pressure waves on April 11, 2014 around 9:30pm. I was 40 weeks + 4 days pregnant. The pressure waves came on strong and made their presence known quickly. I took a bath and started to practice relaxation. Andrew called Debra who provided him with support and suggestions of how to cope during the next few hours. My pressure waves continued to become more intense and by 2am, Debra and our on call midwife, Jill, had arrived. For the next few hours, Andrew, Debra and Jill assisted me in using my relaxation and mindfulness skills to manage the discomfort and to stay grounded in the present moment. My birth ball was used, I received a lot of massage (thanks Andrew and Debra!), I walked around, utilized different positions (standing, sitting, squatting, kneeling, etc) and I took baths and showers. The increasing intensity of the pressure waves is something I cannot adequately describe in words. I tried to focus on each one as it arrived and worked with it, rather than against it. This was made possible with the support of my team and in knowing that each pressure wave was bringing us closer to meeting our daughter. It was not easy.
Around 6am, my waters broke. Unfortunately, there was meconium (Violet’s first poop) in my waters which meant a transfer to hospital as a precautionary measure. At this point, I was about 9cm dilated and experiencing a strong urge to push Violet out into the world. As the birth pool was filling up in our living room, Andrew quickly grabbed our poorly packed hospital bag and we set off to BC Women’s Hospital. Andrew drove Debra and myself. Jill drove separately. The car ride was intense, having to breathe through my desire to push and somehow make myself comfortable in a moving car - yikes! We arrived at the hospital and had to wait for about 30 minutes to get a room due to a shortage of nursing staff. During the 30 minutes, I mostly stood, leaning against a bed with the support of Andrew, Debra and Jill. At this point, I began to push with the sensations. We arrived in a room around 6:30am and I was in active pushing for about 45 minutes until our little angel was born at 7:12am on April 12, 2014. During the active pushing (and during the entire 10 hours of birthing), Andrew was by my side the whole time, praising me and providing unconditional love and support. I know it was hard for him to see me and hear me birthing Violet. No one wants to see their partner in discomfort (that’s a mild statement!). At times, I didn’t think I could make it due to the intensity but I got through, thanks to the support of my team. During the final few pushes, I was able to touch Violet’s head as she was making her way into the world. A few more pushes and she was with us. Violet was immediately placed on my chest, skin to skin. It was amazing. Quickly, the discomfort passed and I was consumed with love. Due to the meconium, Violet was quickly assessed by a Paediatrician and everything was okay. She was healthy, although covered in a bit of poo! The placenta was birthed about 10 minutes after Violet. For the next few hours, Violet and I were skin to skin and she started to breastfeed almost immediately. Violet also had skin to skin time with her daddy. We were eventually taken to another room where we would spend the night. At first, they gave us a shared room but Andrew was able to score us a private room with his sweet Aussie accent.
Our first night with Violet was busy! She has never been much of a sleeper and never fit the ‘newborn sleeping pattern’ of 16-20 hours of sleep per day. She was up most of our first night eating, crying and getting endless cuddles from both of us. We had to make a few calls to the nurse during the night to help with Violet’s spitting up. Despite Violet’s resistance to sleep, both Andrew and I were absolutely, desperately in love with her. We thought she was the most perfect little angel to ever enter this world. She was healthy (weighting 3.64 kg / 8.02 pd and measuring 49 cm / 19.5 in), beautiful and had her own charismatic personality from day one. From start to finish, Violet’s birth was 10 hours, with 45 minutes of active pushing. Jill described our birth as “quick and intense”. I certainly agree with the “intense” part!
As I reflect on the birth process, it’s hard not to recall the intensity of the pressure waves and the active pushing stage – it’s quite indescribable, at least in an eloquent manner. I am however, proud that I was able to follow through with our plan and desire to have a natural, medication and intervention free birth. It is truly amazing what the human body is capable of when you trust in the process and trust in your body. This was made easier with the help of my team, reminding me continually that I was safe and what I was experiencing was normal. Andrew, Debra and Jill were simply amazing and I will be forever grateful for their love and support.
I am somewhat disappointed that we were unable to have our planned water birth but am grateful that we were able to have the great majority of Violet’s birth in the comfort of our home where I felt safe and secure. Regardless of the location, Violet was born into loving and accepting arms which is the most important thing in our eyes.
Sweet Violet, mommy and daddy love your more than one could ever imagine. You are the light in our lives, the moon in our shine.