Birth Story: Part One – Moon on a Stick!

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

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I’ve wanted to write our birth story for the past couple years. At first I found I could not as the emotions of it were just too raw, & later on the task to articulate all that had been, and had been felt, just seemed much too immense!
So it was a real inspiration when this months Natural Parenting Carnival called for us only to recount particularly that of our births which we felt really positive about or at least cherished as the better parts.

This made me realise that my experience could be divided into two halves. Two distinct parts; one which was overall positive and the other which I can feel little positive about other than that it spurred me to learn a great deal more about birth and about myself than I may have done otherwise.

Although I am aware that many people are very happy with the experiences they may have had giving birth in a hospital – whether it was planned to be that way or not, for me anyway this was unfortunately not the case. So this first part of my first Birth Story – that which I hold dear, begins and ends at home.
Part two will begin on the way to hospital and I will be adding it soon, so anyone who wishes to know the complete story is welcome to read it although I advise against it for anyone feeling nervous of birth or just emotionally delicate!

Throughout my first pregnancy, oddly, the one thing I felt sure about was the date of my babies arrival.
I knew he had been conceived on the night of a full moon, so maybe for that reason I was convinced he would also be born on a full moon – the one on the day before his due date!
So I was not surprised when, a couple of days before the full-moon I began having far apart, but regular, contractions which would stop after a few hours and start after a few more. When I phoned the midwives at the hospital they told me this was ‘latent’ labour and that I should carry on as normal but rest as much as I could to prepare for the main event.
However I was far too excited to rest much and the super painful spasms I’d been having in my back that past month had suddenly abated. So for the first time in ages I walked the short way into town with my partner to go for a hot chocolate at the nearest coffee house.

I chatted with familiar faces, stopping occasionally if a contraction required a little of my attention. On the way home I received a test message  from a friend who I’d made through antenatal classes.So I dropped into a pub (which was on my route home) to meet her and sip a ginger beer. She was due a few weeks later and I hoped she would find it reassuring to see me taking the contractions so in my stride!

megabump!

Striking a pose complete with red nose!

At home that evening I suddenly developed a really lousy head-cold. I felt restless with congestion and yet knew that ‘real’ labour would be upon me soon and so despite feeling a bit yuck, I was upbeat and cheerful.
Papa Moon & I watched a film and then some music videos..getting up and giggling with him while I tried to do Beyonce style booty shaking with a ridiculous bump!
(all complete with ridiculous outfit as you can see…)

Yet in the small hours the contractions stopped again so I went to bed finally.
Not for long though as around 6am the contractions started again, to stay this time. They were more regular this time – coming at least every five minutes

As I had planned a home-birth the community midwives had already dropped off their ‘home-birth medical kit’, including tanks of entinox or ‘gas & air’ as they call it, at my home a couple of weeks earlier, as is the norm in the UK. So when the midwife on duty arrived for the first time at about midday she was traveling light.
My contractions were still only 4-5 minutes apart and easy going enough that I was still happy and chatty, so she was very surprised to find during the internal examination (which I found very uncomfortable) that I was already 7cm dilated!

Despite the fact I was so far dilated the midwife felt that because my contractions were still so far apart and easy that it would probably be a while still before things really got going, so she left for lunch and advised we get something to eat too. I find it odd now, that I can’t remember if I actually ate anything the whole time I was in labour?!

She came back a couple of hours later with the second midwife (you always have two attending at British home-births). She wanted to check my dilation again. This time I found it not just uncomfortable but actually rather painful and it caused me to bleed quite a bit. A couple of years on I feel quite suspicious that she may have tried to ‘sweep my membranes’ during the exam without asking my permission, as my waters hadn’t broken and I hadn’t dilated any further. In either case it had felt quite violating and caused me to grow more than a little anxious.

By about 6pm the contractions were starting to feel much more intense although they were still no closer than about 4 minutes apart. I continued to move about a bit between them but  I would now have to hold onto someone for support during each one and be reminded not to ‘clench’ up. It really helped to have someone rub my lower back and both of the midwives seemed to have incredibly comforting, intuitive touch. I continued a good rapport with them too, while in the meantime Papa Moon got the birth pool filled up with the help of his mother who had dropped in a short while earlier.

I was glad to have my mother-out-law there as it was a comfort knowing she had home-birthed twice before –  both of Papa Moon’s younger brothers  who were in fact born in their home which was just literally up the street from where we live now! They later moved to another house not far away.
Papa Moon even remembers actually seeing his youngest brother being born, how magic is that!

Shortly I decided to try using some of the ‘gas & air’ mainly because I was intrigued to see how much it could actually help with the increasing pain (I was very skeptical).
When I found to my surprise that it actually seemed to work for me I decided to hold onto it!

Moon on a stick

My Moon on a Stick!

Before getting in the pool Papa Moon helped me out to the front of the house to see the full moon which was shining brightly and beautifully through wisps of cloud and hovering just above the telephone pole just down from our house. I felt it was my very own ‘moon-on-a-stick’ as so far all was just as I hoped it would be!
A good friend of ours happened to pass by while we were outside ‘moon-gazing. He had spent quite some time staying with us during my pregnancy and it felt just magic that he had appeared just in time to share such a lovely moment of this labour also.

Back in the house it was time to try out the pool. It was heavenly! Nice and dark with just a few candles lit and the warmth of the water helped me just to melt beautifully between each contraction. However time began to blur a little for me at this point and the sequence of events really starts to get a little fuzzy!

At some point, possibly around 8pm my midwife wanted to check my dilation again. Once more I found it very uncomfortable and stressful and I bled some more.
She expressed concern that I had only dilated 1cm more in the last several hours, taking me to 8cm. She mentioned that if things didn’t get going quickly that a transfer into hospital may be necessary to get help to ‘speed things up’ by breaking my waters. This not was not only very disheartening to hear but instilled a real fear into me that my beautiful experience may be about to slip from my grasp! I asked for a couple of hours to try to get things going naturally.

Since then I have learned that anxiety and discomfort (such as was caused for me by those internal examinations) can not only slow or pause labour, but in some instances can even reverse it!
I feel quite sure that this may have been a really strong factor in what I was told was, my ‘failure to progress’.

I tried to enjoy the challenge and set myself to trying different positions in the birth pool in case baby wasn’t quite at a good angle. Despite the intensity of the contractions I had Papa Moon help me go up and down the stairs a couple of times. I still felt strong and powerful, and held onto that precious feeling of transcendence I felt because this experience was sooo different from anything else I’d ever known.

The midwives were frequently looking for Mooncubs heartbeat and began to mention that they were not entirly happy that his heartbeat wasn’t rising with each contraction , though it wasn’t dropping either, and that was giving them more desire to transfer me into the hospital to speed things up. The worry being that he and my uterus might get too tired to get through the 2nd stage – the pushing bit.
I didn’t really follow as I still felt I had plenty of energy left and could carry on a lot longer if I had to.
However all their fretting was getting to me and I began to lose focus through my contractions as the fear of going into hospital began to completely occupy my mind.

Finally around 11pm I relented. Not because I felt in myself that anything was wrong, or because I was getting weary as I wasn’t, but simply because I trusted that the midwives knew better than I. Their concern was enough to cause me to doubt what my own instict was telling me, which was that if I could relax enough then my labour would continue possibly slowly but surely and I could give birth without intervention.

So shortly after 11pm my mother arrived and followed us as Papa Moon’s mother carefully drove us the 15 minute journey to Worcester Royal Hospital. My two midwives followed also but only to ‘hand me over’ – something I accepted but was pretty disappointed about as one of the reasons I had chosen a home-birth was because I wanted the same midwife to stay with me throughout and I was under the impression that this was usually the case with home-birth midwives even when transfers into hospital occurred.

So as I said earlier it’s here during this ‘transfer’ I shall pause.
Here with the majority of memories I hold dear.
On the other side of this journey is a less nostalgic tale but an important one to tell none-the-less. Not only for the sake of completion but also as it has shaped the person that I have become, and led me to learn so much, in a quest to participate in all areas of my life as one who is informed as much as is possible.
..and of course Part Two does have one great positive to hold up and cherish .. the arrival of a very healthy Mooncub. For that I will always be grateful above all else.

Birth Pool

Bathed in water and candlelight…total bliss!


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

13 thoughts on “Birth Story: Part One – Moon on a Stick!

  1. Your story of laboring at home is beautiful – it sounds like you were peaceful, comfortable, and in touch with your body. I hope that you are at peace with the rest of your birth story – you sound like you handled everything with grace.
    ~Dionna @ Code Name: Mama

    • Thank you Dionna,
      I guess I learned that sometimes it takes being thrown out of touch with your body, to really make you recognize and appreciate what it is to be ‘in touch with your body’, as I was to begin with.

  2. The first part of your labor sounds beautiful in so many ways – and I love the moon-on-a-stick image. I’m interested in reading the second part. I definitely didn’t have the perfect birth I’d envisioned with my first childbirth experience either. But having a healthy child made many of the negatives seem unimportant. I hope that is (or gradually becomes) the case for you, too.

  3. Your experience laboring at home sounded so peaceful and joyful, with the exception of the cervical checks – ouch! I’m looking forward to reading the end of your birth story and about the empowerment and new things that you have learned about birth because of it!

  4. Aw, I’m so sad to know the second part isn’t so happy! This sounds very similar to my first birth. I also felt confident and content to continue on at home, but my midwives suggested transfer so often that I also gave in to what I thought was their greater wisdom. Sigh. I had several cervical checks that kept disappointing them, and they were surprisingly painful as well, particularly since they wanted to do them during a contraction. Yowch. It was rather nice to be alone for my second birth!

    I was curious if the gas & air had any effect, so thank you for answering that question as soon as I’d thought it. :)

    I love your moon on a stick — how auspicious! And you sound just exactly like what you are: a strong birthing mama. Glad you’re finding your way through to processing the birth and embracing the parts that are so you.

  5. Mama, this does sound like a wonderful start. Perhaps it’s sometimes harder to have sight of what you want and then not get it than to not have seen at all? I hope you make peace with your whole birth. And I look forward to hearing about it.

  6. How mystical that you would both conceive and birth during a full moon! It’s amazing how you confirm what I’ve read in several books and heard during my prenatal classes, that fear can actually pause labor. I hope I will be able to remain calm and empowered when I give birth to my first baby next month but if things don’t go according to plan, your positive attitude will be my inspiration.

    • As you have a birth imminent, I would like to add now, that I discovered that the ‘plan’ is less important than the people around you.
      Both my my friend and I were transferred after attempting home-births, we both ended up having surgery (hers was a c-section) after interventions. Yet our experiences and feeling afterwards were vastly different. She did not suffer phycological trauma.
      It came down to the simple point that throughout her time in the hospital, she was treated with sensitivity, care and respect, which unfortunately wasn’t the case for me.
      A positive attitude is definitely important when things don’t go to plan, but equally is a positive atmosphere and being able to trust those who’s care you are in.
      Please make sure there is somebody there to ensure that you are being treated as respectfully and gently as you should be – this may not necessarily be your partner if they are likely to become panicked or overwhelmed!
      I wish you many blessings on you birth and your little one.

      • Thank you so much :) My husband will be there with me, he even says he’ll do everything :) I don’t know about that but his presence is definitely incredibly important to me and knowing he’ll be by my side means knowing all will be right.

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