Zadyn Pele was due on September 11th, 2009, and didn’t arrive until September 20th, 2009. I had chosen to do a natural homebirth with my two amazing midwives T and C.
After Zadyn’s due date came and went I started to feel very antsy. The discomfort of late pregnancy was really getting to me. I couldn’t sleep through the night because I had to pee every few hours and my hips would ache from the extra weight – of which I gained 60lbs. The intense level of hormones at the end of pregnancy made me extremely emotional and I would burst into tears without any provocation. In the end I also felt a strange sense of foreboding which really unsettled me.
My primary midwife T offered to do a “stretch and sweep” which would help to encourage labor. The stretch and sweep is when the midwife or doctor uses his/her fingers to stretch your cervix, which releases hormones associated with labour. The stretch and sweep was not very painful, mostly uncomfortable. T repeated this every few days. I felt twinges of contractions which slowly gained momentum from September 11th until the 18th.
On the 18th of September, which was a Friday, things started to feel more intense; also, all week I had been losing my mucus plug which was like lots of slimy clear/yellow substance. I had also been spotting. T said I was 3cm dilated. Friday night I didn’t get much sleep. I was excited that the time was nearing, and the contractions kept me awake.
On Saturday morning my husband and I got up and started preparing for the birth. My parents had also come down to help out. We filled the birth pool we had rented and set up in our little apartment kitchen so that we could easily heat water on the stove to keep the pool warm.
The contractions kept getting stronger all day. I got in the pool in the afternoon and just chilled out and tried to relax. My husband had his bathing suit and would come in and keep me company every once in a while. By around 5 p.m. things started to intensify. I got crusty with my parents who were bustling in the kitchen and I felt it was breaking my concentration so they left the kitchen and stayed nearby.
At around 10 p.m. my contractions sped up and got even more painful – they were coming every three minutes so. T came to stay until I was ready to give birth. She checked me when she arrived and said I was still only 3cm, which was very disheartening. She said with the intensity of contractions that I might give birth before midnight.
The contractions started causing me to have diarrhea which made me feel sick. Often I would leave the birth pool to go to the toilet and void. Sometimes I would get stuck on the toilet with the contractions and would have trouble standing or walking. The pain was very intense in my back. My husband would press on my back as hard as he could throughout the contraction, which was the only way I could even begin to tolerate the pain. I felt overwhelmed and surprised by the level of pain that I was experiencing. I took homeopathic remedies, which helped, but once I cried with the overwhelming emotions.
Midnight came and went, and the contractions would come every 2 or 3 minutes, and the pain did not subside between each contraction, so I couldn’t get a break from the pain. I felt at once stuck in my body, witnessing every detail, and detached in my head with intense concentration. I was not aware of anything going on around me aside from what I was experiencing.
My secondary midwife, C, arrived around midnight. I kept watching the clock and seeing the hours go by and wondering if I could handle the pain any longer. I just wanted it to stop because I felt like I was being tortured and I couldn’t escape. My mind fought my body and I couldn’t relax to just let things happen. I started walking and wandering around the kitchen. I would sway my hips and move around to try to find a comfortable position. I also spent some time on my hands and knees rocking. I remember being in the pool and looking into my midwife’s eyes, she stroked my hair and said “I know, it’s so hard”. Even typing this now, 7 months later, remembering that moment brings tears to my eyes.
At 5 a.m. on Sunday morning, my midwives told me that if I wasn’t finished dilating within 30 minutes, they would have to call an ambulance and transfer me to the hospital for an epidural. They knew how much having a natural birth meant to me, so they were giving me as much time as they deemed safe. T checked my cervix and said it was 8cm. I continued contracting until 5:30 a.m., at which point T checked my cervix again and it was not yet 10cm.
Suddenly my water broke. C said, “You can stay here and finish, or we can go to the hospital.” I said let’s stay here. She said things would intensify until I was fully 10cm. I got back into the birth pool and T used her fingers to push my cervix away while I was contracting.
Now I was fully dilated, which was a relief because the contractions became much less painful. My midwives told me I could start pushing. I didn’t feel an urge to push, so I said “I don’t know when to push, tell me when I should push.” When they told me to push, I pushed as hard as I could. After this first push, I knew the feeling of when to push. I would bear down as hard as I could, but after the first push I felt my rectum come out, which scared me. I told T that I was worried about my intestines and she would put her finger into my anus when I pushed to keep my rectum from coming out of my body.
The midwives kept monitoring Zadyn’s heartbeat. After a couple of hours of pushing, they said he might be getting distressed and that I had to get him out as soon as possible. They said that his head was through the pelvis but my muscle tissue was thick and it was hard to get his head out. I reached down and I could feel my baby’s hair. At some point my midwives had called a third midwife to come and help because everyone was to tired.
The three midwives helped me out of the birth pool and onto the futon in the living room. We had prepared the futon with a tarp and old sheets in case I did have to give birth out of the water. They urged me to push and keep pushing harder and harder. It was so tiring and very difficult. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was scared for my baby and didn’t care about myself any more, only about him.
Then I felt a burning sensation and they said push into the burning. T had her fingers in and was assisting with getting Zadyn’s head out. Finally his head came out and then his body came out. He was blue and floppy – I was terrified. They laid him on my belly for a second while they cut the cord and took him to the resuscitation station to give him oxygen.
T stayed with me and was waiting for the placenta. I don’t remember much because I was so worried about Zadyn. I remember looking at T and she was looking at the third midwife M and saying “I don’t know where all this blood is coming from.” My placenta came out and she began to search for tears in the (vaginal/rectal) tissue. This part was excruciating, but finally she was done and said there were no tears. They gave me two injections of oxytocin to stop the bleeding.
Then they brought Zadyn to me, and he was just fine. At some point I found out that he was a boy – we had kept it a surprise. M started to show me how to breast feed and Zadyn latched right away. I was so lucky that he took to it very easily.
After that, I had a shower and then I went to sleep with Zadyn on my chest and my husband lying next to me. I felt so much love for my little baby. I would just smell his head and feel like I couldn’t get enough of his scent. I was so happy on one end with my new baby, but so traumatized on the other end by the long and painful labour.
I called my amazing homeopath Andrea Coulter and she sent me some great remedies which really helped. It took about 6 weeks to overcome the post-traumatic stress of the labour. I felt in a fog… I would remember details of what I had gone through, and burst into tears. I also felt a lot of anxiety and didn’t want to leave the house. Physically, I healed fast and was no longer in pain after about 2 weeks. My rectum eventually went back inside but it was tender for a while.
I can say now, 7 months later, that I am much more myself emotionally. Giving birth is the most important thing you will ever do. I feel that in North America this process is not honoured as much as it should be, and women are not given the support they should be. Becoming a new mother is a spiritual journey and whatever your birth ends up to be, know that it is a transformative process. After going through what I went through, I have a much better relationship with my own mother, because I know what she went through to bring me into this world.
– Shared by Nicole Khan from Ontario, Canada