Ashleigh Jade – Birth Story (13th October 2008)
As with my first pregnancy, at week eight I suffered terrible morning sickness. Despite eating small protein meals and taking other herbal and natural remedies nothing seemed to alleviate the nausea.
A friend recommend acupuncture and in particular Heather Bruce. At first I dismissed the idea as I’d tried acupuncture to treat other ailments in the past to no avail.
However, by week twelve I was feeling so terrible I was willing to try anything. Heather assessed my condition and started acupuncture treatment for me.
Firstly she treated the nausea and headaches. After a few weeks of treatment (which including Chinese herbs) the nausea ceased (only to return on days that were very hot, or when I was overworked/underfed). With my first pregnancy the nausea lasted till week 21, however Heather had managed to control the symptom within a few weeks (with a dramatic improvement within one week).
As my pregnancy progressed Heather said that various problems I was having were all attributable to one issue – a weakness in my kidney energy (I even found it difficult to bend at the knees – apparently another sign of the acupuncture raft of symptoms). Heather’s treatment again included some Chinese herbs and acupuncture. Within one week I had stopped urinating several times at night (in fact I no longer needed to wake at night at all). Within four weeks my knees also no longer ached when I bent down. I found this greatly improved my life as anyone with an active toddler will know, there is a lot of bending in a single day, and so to have bending no longer cause pain was a fantastic and unexpected result of the treatment.
In my second trimester I had some light bleeding. I called Heather (at 7am – and she answers – what Doctor would do that!!!!). Heather had me come see her on my way to hospital to get a copy of her pregnancy self help manual “What Dad’s Can Do” and some calming herbs to see me through. The book provided useful advice on how to prevent a miscarriage. My husband and I read and reread it while we waited for our scan. The scan showed no reason for the bleed and that afternoon Heather squeezed me in for a treatment and we followed her advice as to herbs and moxa treatment for preventing a miscarriage. After several days of rest, moxa, vitamins and massage from my partner the bleeding stopped and never returned.
The last trimester we worked on keeping me well, and then progressed onto preparing for a gentle birth (for both me and my baby). Using her “What Dad’s Can Do” manual/DVD my husband gave me moxa and massage treatments every other night. As we got closer to week 37, we also included perineal massage nightly.
As we approached 40 weeks my husband really worked hard at opening my pelvis, he became intimately aware of my body and one night a few days before the birth, announced that my body had ‘changed’, my hips were no longer where they used to be! All these massages lead to a very loving and intimate relationship with my husband. In fact, we had never been so close. Heather’s book and DVD had provided him with clear directions and thus the confidence he needed to help me, and made him feel he was taking an active part in preparing for the healthy birth of our baby.
In addition to treating my physical self I also worked on gaining knowledge of an alternative birth to the traditional ‘hospital emergency’ model. Books such as “Birthing from Within”, “Lotus Birth” and “Spiritual Midwifery” confronted the notion that women need to be ‘managed at birth’, and I saw no reason why birth could not be as they write about. With all this preparation, I felt ready for a wonderful birth experience.
1pm: I feel a small pain in my lower back, but try to ignore it, I’ve been having pains for weeks now, but somehow I know it is different. I call my Doula and tell her we may have a date tonight, but I’ve an appointment with my acupuncturist (Heather) so I will call her after that. I ring my husband and tell him to come home after his next meeting, he cries and tells me he loves me.
2pm: I walk into Heather’s office and ask “is it OK if I go into labour here?” she smiles and say’s “I think that is a splendid idea”. I tell her the pain is all in my lower back (which I know from my extremely painful and long first labour means the bub is no longer in the right position) and Heather tells me to get into a forwards sitting position. I had fallen when swimming that morning and baby had moved – so we both knew she had to go back to where she had been.
I walk into the treatment room and forget to get undressed, so we both laugh and I’m feeling good. Heather puts a needle in my left outer toe and another on the right outer toe and some in my lower back. Almost immediately I have a good strong contraction in the front of my tummy – the contraction did not hurt it actually felt wonderful. Baby moved back to where she was supposed to be immediately!!!!
The contractions start to come every five minutes and I love them. After a while I think “oh, I’d better get home as they are only a few minutes apart and getting stronger”. Heather walks in and takes the needles out, and asks how I’m getting home; I only live ten mins away so I drive. She tells me to pull over and press a point in between my thumb and index finger if the pain is too much. I have another contraction on the counter and she tells me to open my mouth and bring my shoulders down. I do and it feels better (and I remember this for the rest of the labour). Then I hear a familiar voice say “hello darling”, and one of my best friends comes out of the other treatment room in a towel, she is 16 weeks pregnant and off for a loo break.
“Penny”, I burst into tears and she hugs me, I’m so happy to see her and to be hugging her. “Oh, I have to run home before the next one hits” I tell her, and let go and run out the door feeling full of love and warmth.
3pm: The drive home: I jump in the car and lean forward determined to keep bub in the right position. The contractions stop? I think I feel one coming so I pull over, but it does not come? I then realise that I need to be in the right place surrounded by people I know in order to have a good birth and know that the baby will come tonight at home as nature intended. I then know I am staying home where I am surrounded by love to have my baby.
3.15pm: At home. I tell my Mum it is starting and we both get pretty excited. I ring my wonderful Doula and tell her “I’m ringing to confirm our date for tonight!”, “good girl” she says, “have something to eat and rest”. I agree to call her in a few hours and eat some chicken risotto that I’d frozen for this very moment. I hear Mum and my 2 year old playing in the yard and can hear the excitement in my Mum’s voice while she keeps Ally entertained. Ally is caught up in the excitement and you can hear that the two of them are having a wonderful afternoon. I’m so happy that they are here. I’m on the floor eating my risotto and if I have a contraction I stop eating jump on all fours and moan deep, the contractions feel good I would not describe them as painful. My husband comes home and we hug and then he starts getting the house ready.
4 pm: I ask Matt to sit with me on the bed as I’m starting to feel a bit ‘funny’. Its hard to describe but it is almost like you have had too much champagne, or more accurately smoked too much weed or taken something much stronger – I still felt ‘good’ just too good it was overwhelming. I start rolling my eyes back in my head. The contractions keep coming maybe 4-5 mins apart and when they come we call them “rushes” (based on the philosophy from “Spiritual Midwifery”) and Matt puts a heat pack on my back and presses points in my lower back as instructed by Heather a few weeks ago, while I go back on my hands and knees. When they are over, I sit back up and Matt rocks me while I start ‘tripping’ again on the natural hormones. I feel amazing.
7.30pm: The feel good drug starts to come down to a level that I enjoy immensely and I am feeling wonderfully high. Mum comes in and asks what I’m giggling about; all I can do is grin from ear to ear I feel so good. I call our Doula and tell her that things are going wonderfully, and that I will call her later as Matt and I are having a wonderful time. She tells me that things can happen quickly so I agree that she can come over when Australian Idol finishes.
Matt and I sit on the bed talking and I keep tripping, the rushes keep coming strong and steady and I moan deeply through them, enjoying the sound of a deep long hum. The hum and Matt’s pressure on my back makes them easy, and as soon as they stop I return to tripping on the bed with Matt. I’m having the best time of my life, the feeling is one of pure ecstasy and I’m having a ball.
Matt and Mum have dinner and take it in turns sitting with me while I trip. It is great that Mum and I are having this time together; I’ve always wondered what it would be like to get high with my Mum! He he.. Matt tells me that Thanh Bui got voted off Idol so I know that our Doula will be here soon.
9.05pm: I’m feeling so high, my knees start to shake, I ask Matt for some Rescue Remedy and our Doula walks in with some. “Welcome to the party” I say smiling and deliriously happy. She smiles and sits opposite me, close on the bed and rubs my legs, my happy drug kicks in even stronger and I roll my eyes back in a feeling a pure ecstasy. I’m in heaven I feel so wonderful, so high I’ve never felt so good in all my life. I still have contractions every few minutes that ruin my high momentarily, but as soon as the contraction is over I go back to feeling high again. They are more a momentary distraction from my “party” than anything else.
9.30pm: We are still in the bedroom and I’m the life of the party, grinning from ear to ear, tripping, smiling, talking rubbish, telling stories and enjoying every minute (yes, even the contractions). Mum, our Doula and Matt are all there just for me, and I feel like I’m the centre of the best party I’ve ever held. The contractions come every few minutes which stop me mid sentence, but as soon as they are over I go back to telling my stories or just sit on the bed grinning and tripping while Matt and our Doula and Mum rub my back and legs bring on even stronger trips.
10.15pm: In between a contraction I feel the baby move down the birth canal, it was not painful, it was almost pleasurable, but it meant that I could no longer sit on the bed as I felt I was sitting on bub’s head. At the same time both our Doula and I said “birth pool”.
(Note: Speaking to our Doula afterwards she tells me she did not say anything, I had thought that everyone in the room was on the same high as me and that we were all communicating without talking – very strange indeed!)
10.20pm: Birth Pool.
We walked into the next room that we had set up with a small birthing pool and inspirational images and photos and a mattress on the floor. Matt helped me undress and I jumped into the pool. It feels good, I felt free, weightless. The contractions now get stronger and for some reason the feeling of euphoria had died down. I need to draw on the image of an inspirational old woman I connected with one long hot dusty day in India nine years ago. When the contractions peak she looks at me in the face and gives me the strength to carry on, sometimes I even felt her take the pain from me. The image was always the same, as soon as she looked me in the face the pain decreased. When I scream out in pain, our Doula tells me “now is the time to call your Indian friend”, I tell her “she is already here” (our Doula later tells me she had goose bumps when I told her that).
Not all contractions where painful (Matt said I only screamed four times). Some were actually easy, but some were unbearable and I would yell “no”, “no”. I do later wish I had used a more positive word like “gentle” as that is want I wanted, a more gentle contraction. In between the contractions I would rest in Matt’s arms, Mum would pour water on my back and our Doula was always there went I looked up and needed to see her calm reassuring face.
10.40pm: My waters break. The pain is so strong, I tell our Doula I’m not sure what to do next (I’d never gotten further than 2 cm with my first baby). She tells me I don’t need to know as my body knows. I nod and go back to labour and let it happen. I don’t resist the contractions; there is no need to (even though they hurt my whole being).
11.10pm: I feel a stinging sensation then feel the head between my legs, just maybe one inch. No one else knows this but me. For now it is our little secret.
11.15pm: I sense Matt and our Doula putting a mirror between my legs and I move my hand so they can see what I already know. I feel Matt’s energy increase as he realises that he is about to become a father once more, this time under much different circumstances. I scream out as I have a painful contraction and our Doula tells me to go to the heavens and bring my baby down.
11.25pm: After what feels like a lifetime but only fifteen minutes our baby’s head finally breaks through with tremendous force. I ask our Doula if the cord is around its neck, she tells me is a soft calm voice that she “can’t see yet”. I’m happy and relaxed with that answer.
11.31pm: I’m relieved as I think that the pain will be over, but the family breeds broad shoulders so with the next contraction I need to use all my strength to bring her body out. I feel myself tear as she is born, but do not care.
My husband scoops her out of the water and brings her to my chest as our Doula takes the cord from around her neck and I’m in awe. “Talk to your baby” says our Doula in the same soft beautiful voice. Matt and I welcome our baby into the world with words of love and she takes a breath and looks at us, just as amazed with us and we are with her.
11.45pm: we are still in the pool just being and loving and then I feel another contraction, it is very painful and I need to moan deeply. Our Doula asks Matt to take the baby and tells him that I need to get out to birth the placenta. We get out of the pool and onto a mattress on the floor. We check the sex of our baby and find she is a girl. Wonderful.
12pm: I’m in a lot of pain and our Doula asks if I want to cut the cord to deliver the placenta on the toilet. We check if it is still pulsating, it isn’t so I agree.
12.15am: Matt cuts the cord and holds the baby while our Doula and Mum help me to the toilet. Our Doula tells me to put my thumb in my mouth and blow with the next contraction. I do and it feels like I have an explosive bowl motion as the placenta comes out into a bowl placed in the bottom of the toilet. At last the pain stops. We go back to the mattress on the floor. I am made a nice cup of milky tea with honey while everyone else has champagne.
12-2am: Our Doula puts me in the shower and cleans me, and helps me to a nice clean bed to cuddle my baby. She examines me and tells me she will check again in the morning if I need stiches or glue tomorrow but to keep my legs together tonight just in case. She then proceeds to clean my house (birthing is pretty messy), and washing towels and sheets.
2.30am: Our Doula tells me she is just sleeping in the next room and that when I wake to feed my baby or to use the loo to wake her if I see too much blood.
7am: We all wake and our Doula and Mum make me eggs on toast and tea. Matt and I have a beautiful morning together as a family while our Doula continues to clean up. She checks my wounds and shows me a mirror, we agree that it would be best to see someone to get a stitch (I needed 4) and I book into see someone that day.
10am: Our Doula leaves, I’m sad to see her go and tell her. I’m not sure that she understands how deeply grateful I am to her, she has not only enabled me to birth myself but she has helped healed the deep wounds from my first birth.
The first week has been amazing. In hospital with my first there was no one to look after me (or my baby) here at home, I’m yet to change a nappy or go hungry or go without sleep or a kind word.
One week later my perineum is still sore. I book into see Heather. To my surprise almost instantaneously as soon as a needle is inserted near my pubic bone my perineum feels 90% better. A few more needles in my ear and hand and I’m well on the way to a full recovery.
A word to Heather
I honestly believe that had I not seen Heather as soon as my labour had started that I would have had a long and painful labour just as I had with my first child.
The second Heather put the needles in my baby turned (into the right position) the pain vanished and never returned. Thanks to Heather, and the work we put in from her wonderful “What Dads Can Do” manual, I had an ecstatic drug free birth.