When I talk about VBAC in general and my freebirth after 2 caesareans in particular, I mention reclaiming my power so much. And I wonder if I'm doing my journey, and the journey of so many other women, a (small) disservice by making it out to be such an enormous and POWERFUL event.
Yes - it is powerful. It is magical. It is affirming and so fabulous to be able to relate to others how I stuck it to the system.
But it was also normal. And joyful. And peaceful. And at times, funny as.
Here I recount those moments - the small ones that made the journey what it was.
Going into labour:
For my first two births I started labour at the hospital, by artificial means. And while the second time was much better than the first, the third time's a charm.
There was no real moment of "this is it". Just -
life happening, life happening, life happening, oh wait... life is not so easy to do anymore, let's go home and have a baby.
Maggie was born at 10:30pm. During the day I: wrote a blog post, had a big breakfast, messaged my doula to say I was in pre-labour and would probably remain that way for 2 more weeks, collected the kids from school (where I was swaying in such a way that I was asked if I was in labour), and then home to my cave. I heard the neighbour growl at the kids while he and Dave tried to put up the birth pool, heard the kids having pizza for dinner, and everything just seemed so.... well... normal.
Having the kids around:
There is nothing that says - life is normal - quite like having your kids around. I was not the slightest bit concerned. Although Dave and our neighbour were probably keen to get the kids out of the way while putting the birth pool up!
The best kids related moments were when Dave came and told me that he was going to go put Thomas (age 4) to bed.... and Thomas strongly objected stating that "I am going to protect mummy and baby pumpkin from zombies!" Unfortunately this involved lying on top of me rather than standing guard at the door. He was put to be a few minutes later!
While Dave was putting Thomas to bed, Ellie came in to hang out with me for a bit. She declared that I sounded like a walrus. Then wandered off. She brought me back a picture she drew of walrus's. (Pictured above).
Laughter is FABULOUS for labour. It releases endorphins and helps things progress. And kids are great at making us laugh.
With Thomas in bed, my doula present, and the photographer on her way it was time to jump in the birth pool.
Not long after I jumped in I needed to throw up. So Dave (or maybe my doula...can't remember) grabbed a random tub for me to spew in. I was laughing as I was spewing because the tub had holes in the bottom! Someone then grabbed another tub from the kitchen, which turned out to be the container I'd been using as Thomas's lunch box. LOL
Once I was in the pool we started playing some lovely relaxing hypnobirthing CDs. I had 2 CDs... and a 3 CD player. The hypnobirthing was beautiful and relaxing and really helped me to regain focus anytime I lost it.
Then the hypnobirthing CDs finished and one of Dave's very loud alternative CDs started blasting out!
That broke the mood a bit....
Just as baby was ready to emerge I heard the kettle. It was such a beautiful reminder of the normalcy of everything. I've never heard a kettle in hospital.
In fact I've never seen anyone bother with ensuring that the mum has a nice cup of tea ready for post birth hydration and relaxation.
Turns out that, for me, there is just nothing so normal as the sound of the kettle and the knowledge that my doula was thinking of what I might need immediately after baby came out.
Whenever I reflect on the actual birth of Baby Pumpkin I have a bit of a giggle. My doula had given me a cloth to put on my perineum for counter pressure as baby was coming down as my clitoris felt like it was going to explode (which was extremely unexpected!!). As I had the next contraction I went to put the cloth down there just in time to feel the entire baby come whooshing past! "It's out. It's out! The whole thing - the whole baby is out!" Then Dave fishing around in the pool for the baby.
The best bit was the my photographer had switched to video and caught it all!
The post partum:
My doula collected up every pillow and cushion in our house and made me the best little next on my bed. It was so lovely to jump out of the pool (carefully!) and wander down the hallway to my own bed. Hell - it was so nice to be able to walk just after having my baby and to be able to hold my baby.
After the placenta was birthed we needed a tub to put it in - Thomas's lunch box, having been cleaned, was used. We all had a bit of a giggle about that. I never did decide what to do with my placenta and it spent 2 years in the freezer, before our freezer died and it had to be tossed. Pretty sure Thomas's lunch box went in the bin with it.
The next day Thomas came racing in to our bed and spotted baby pumpkin. The delight in his voice as he raced off to wake his big sister "Ellie, Ellie, wake up! Baby Pumpkin is here! Baby Pumpkin is out of mummy's tummy!" Followed not long after by a bit of disappointment. Thomas unwrapped Baby Pumpkin and sounded a bit sad "Oh. She does have a vulva, so she's a girl. Maybe she'll turn into a boy later?!"
These moments are the ones which make the journey what it was. Yes I reclaimed my power, stuck it to the hospital, practiced my assertiveness etc, but I also reclaimed my joy in birth.
It was so nice to welcome a new family member amid joy and normalcy rather than fear, pain, and trauma.
I love reflecting on the birth of Baby Pumpkin (who is now a four year old known as Maggie) but I often worry about getting lost in those memories and the emotions that it brings up. I know that writing these down and sharing them will help me find new power in my story.
I hope that it helps you find power, joy, and normalcy in your story as well.
PS: Want to talk through some simple ways to bring more joy and normalcy to your individual journey? Get in touch to talk about my personalised VBAC mentoring and support.
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