Benedict is my 7th child, and just like each of the others, his birth was unique.
A little background
Theresa, my first baby, was born by emergency caesarean 14 years ago. It was a rough time for me physically and emotionally. The Caesar was not something I wanted or expected. The birth of Joseph, 2 years later was my first vbac, and emotionally healing in so many ways. Claire was born 10 years ago, also a successful vbac. Same with Philip, 7 years ago. Thomas (5 years ago) was my first birth done with a private midwife. The hospital and the difference in the way I was treated convinced me that I never wanted to birth with a gynae again. The Birth of Gianna-Marie – 2,5 years ago – was my first water-birth with a midwife in a hospital. It was wonderful, except for the hospital part.
A year after Gianna-Marie was born I was certified as a doula. This gave me experience of births, home and hospital, some amazing, and some left me traumatized after witnessing the way a birthing mother was treated by some medical professionals.
This is Benedict’s story
Pregnant with number 7
When I found out that I was pregnant with no 7, I just knew I could not birth in a hospital again. Initially, I was told by the professionals, that a 7th baby and a 6th vbac, was not safe to birth at home. However, within a short time everyone relaxed and came on board with my hopes. I found a wonderful back-up gynae and 2 fantastic midwives that agreed to assist me at my birth.
This 7th pregnancy was medically a very easy and healthy pregnancy, but physically for me this one was so much harder. I found the vomiting in the early months, the discomfort of sciatic pain in the later months, all so much harder as an older mother. However, it was a healthy pregnancy and no medical issues arose for me or baby, and for that I am grateful.
The First Contractions
The earliest I have ever had one of my babies was at 39 weeks and 4 days, and the latest was 41 weeks. So I was expecting something similar. 38 weeks and 6 days came and I had a very uncomfortable day. Lots of Braxton Hick contractions and they seemed far more uncomfortable and regular than I was used to having. But, I wasn’t due for more than a week and so I dismissed them as one of those rough, tiring days. I told hubby about how I was feeling that evening and decided to go to bed early. All discomfort stopped and I had 3 hours of proper sleep. Gianna-Marie woke and then came to join me in our bed. And from then contractions started up again, but I was only just 39 weeks now and really it was too early for baby to come. Also, apart from some contractions, there were no other signs, so I went back to bed. But they didn’t stop, and when I got up an hour later I had a bloody show and I then knew, it had to be the start of labour even though it was earlier than expected.
The First Midwife
At 1am in the morning I phoned my one midwife. She had a 3 hour drive from Craddock to make and needed to know well in advance. She decided it was indeed time to come and she said she would make her way to my home. I went back to bed and tried to sleep a bit, but it was not possible, so I had a warm bath, to see if it would ease things. After that I felt better, but the contractions kept coming. I went back to bed. Contractions were only 10 min apart but they were quite strong when they came. Eventually at about 4am I got up, I still had one last sewing order to complete, so I thought I could keep myself busy and make it. I started to pin and cut out and just before 5am my midwife arrived. I was really happy to see her, but also nervous that I had called her for nothing. Contractions were pretty consistent, but still only 10 min apart. She checked my blood pressure, and baby’s heart, and we then just waited.
Soon after, the kids and Nick all woke up. We had coffee and decided that we would call my mother around 7am to see if the children could go to her for the day. I continued to sew up my order and my midwife put up the birth-pool. I completed my order and around 8am Nick went to drop the children and do some shopping. My midwife and I took a walk around the block and just waited patiently for things to move along.
The Second Midwife and My Mom Arrive
Contractions started coming about 7 min apart when Nick came back with my mother. The children were happy and looked after by my sisters. We also called the other midwife and in a short while she came along, too. Things were moving along, but not rapidly. Around midday I moved into active labour and while contractions stayed at 7 min apart, they became very intense. I decided it was time to call the photographer and she arrived about 1pm and started to take some photos. Time started to disappear for me as I could only focus on the contractions.
I was supported so well by the midwives, Nick and my mother. I felt and knew I was safe.
A Pool-Birth At Home
I was so relieved to be home and not have to make the uncomfortable drive to the hospital in active labour. The midwife checked my blood pressure and baby’s heart, and checked to see if I was dilating. I asked not to be told as I didn’t want to feel disappointed; I just knew I was doing well and things were progressing. It was about 2pm when I decided I needed the relief of the pool water, so I got into the birth-pool and felt so much better. Contractions remained at 7 min apart, but they seemed to be shorter, or at least easier to cope with at that stage. No one was worried that they never got closer together, it was just the way it was.
After a while (I’m not sure how long as time was lost to me) the contractions were incredibly intense and I knew I was at transition. This was such a hard time for me as it seemed to last forever. My 6th birth was pretty fast from transition to birth, but things just seemed to take so long this time. I felt I was loosing some focus and I was feeling confused about how long it was taking and was so grateful for the reminders of those around me to just keep going.
Baby’s crowning was the hardest part as it was so slow and so difficult. As soon as the head was born, we realized why things had been so slow and difficult. The cord was around his neck 2 times. This was not the first time for me, but the last time (baby no 6) the cord was loosely wrapped, and it was easy for the midwife to loop it off. This time it was so tight, there was no way she could get it off, and he would not be able to come down further with it on. His face was turning purple so her only choice was to cut it. She told me later that she had so little space she was afraid she would cut baby’s neck or me. But, she was awesome and she managed to cut it without cutting either of us. And in another minute my baby was born at 4:32pm on the first of June.
It’s a Boy!
I had been convinced my whole pregnancy that I was carrying a girl, so when I discovered that our baby was a boy, both hubby and I were beyond surprised. After a few minutes I had to check again and see he really was a boy!
Once baby was born, I was left with him in the pool for a while. This was amazing and he was so alert and looking around. After a short while he started to root and he then nursed for the first time. The placenta was birthed soon after and all was well. My emotion at this time was joy and pure relief that it was all over and my baby was safely born. After the placenta was birthed, I was able to get out of the pool and get dressed and climb into my own bed. During this time Nicholas had Benedict on his chest for skin to skin time. Baby was weighed and checked by the midwife. He was 3,265g (one of my smallest babies).
Back to My Own Bed
And then he was back with me. I was checked over and found to have no tears, which is awesome as recovery is so much easier. While I was able to rest in bed, Nicholas took my mother home and fetched the kids. The midwives cleaned up the whole birth area and made me coffee and a cheese sandwich. We were all able to see some of the amazing photos that were taken by the photographer, and she then left to go home soon after. The children were soon home and so excited to meet their new brother. The midwives both left soon after and we all went to bed as a family of 9 people! Grateful and Thanks to God for keeping us safe during this time.
The birth of Benedict was a memorable experience. It was tough – but then, birth is tough – but I was supported and cared for by my husband, 2 amazing midwives and my mother. I could not have asked for better.
I have been told I’m “brave” to have a home-birth, but over the last few years I have come to realise that actually the mothers having baby in the hospital, where there are 1 or 2 midwives available for a whole floor of labouring and birthing mothers, and where she is left alone for many hours and has so many interventions during the process, she is actually the brave one! My only regret in my home-birth is the fact that it took me 7 babies to have it for the first time!
Professional photos taken by Talitha Harvey. Look her up on Facebook!