No dear, it wasn't quite orgasmic
A labour of love
The births of my four children couldn't have been a more vastly different set of experiences.
My first baby was born by caesarean after a text book case of 'cascade of intervention' (going to hospital too early, being given syntocinon to speed up labour, continuous monitoring, getting an epidural for the intense pain caused by the syntocinon and being stuck to a hospital bed, foetal distress caused by all of the above) and finally lumped with the confidence shattering "failure to progress" label.
I refused to have another caesarean with my second baby, and aimed for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). While I achieved my VBAC, my lead carer turned out to be the midwife from hell during labour, leaving me with post-traumatic stress disorder and severe post-natal depression.
When I found out I was pregnant with my third, I was terrified. I didn't want to go through that again! It took me a long time to come to terms with my pregnancy but when I did, I was going to make damn sure I got the birth I wanted.
I educated myself as much as I possibly could short of undergoing midwifery training and shopped around till I got a supportive midwife. In the end I laboured at home in the bath and was only at the hospital one hour before my son was born, without any need for drugs or interventions. His name means "strong" and his birth gave me my strength and confidence back.
Being pregnant a fourth time was completely different again. After a lot of careful research I decided a home birth was the ideal and after yet more careful research I eschewed ultrasound and doppler. It made my pregnancy so different from the other three - so much more instinctive and I felt such a keen awareness of my baby.
My 41-week visit with my midwife rolled around and I found myself a little surprised to be there, not expecting to go that far past. But I loved being pregnant, so was grateful for the extra precious time we had.
My midwife was to be away the following day so jokingly told me that if I went into labour, I had till 5am before she had to leave.
We spent the rest of the day thinking nothing more of it, enjoying the beautiful weather and finally getting the pregnancy photos I had for so long wanted to do at the beach.
That evening I felt very crampy and was having more Braxton Hicks than usual. My husband and I debated ''encouraging'' things along in light of my midwife's impending absence but decided that sleep was more important and if it happens it happens. I'm glad we opted for sleep.
Not two hours later I found myself having a hard time ignoring the surges and sleeping through them. I got up and started pottering around, putting towels and blankets on to warm and the like. A little later, I found myself having to hang off the bathroom sink through surges and decided it was definitely time to fill the birth pool.
A half hour later the pool was ready and I gratefully got in. The surges weren't painful (I'm a big advocate of labour isn't meant to be hugely painful) as I had recoded myself, I guess you could say, to interpret the surges as a build up of energy rather than pain. However, the pool had the effect of slowing the surges down and I was glad for the break.
Eventually they picked up again and I had to start vocalising to stay on top of the waves. They were getting more intense but felt really good. I talked to my baby as I felt her moving down lower and lower with each surge. I told her how good we were doing, how good it felt and how happy I was that soon she would be in my arms. One of my favourite photos from this time is of me smiling just after a surge.
At 3am or so I told my husband to ring the backup midwife as things were starting to pick up pace. I guess because she wasn't familiar with me and how fast my previous labour was (three hours) she told us to ring back when things were more progressed.
At 3.30am our 22-month-old woke up, so my husband rang his mum to come help look after him. We enjoyed a little time together, my husband, my toddler and I, smiling and laughing. During one surge our tot even cutely vocalised with me!
The surges picked up the pace again and I could feel baby was getting very low, so my husband rang the backup midwife again who said she would be right around.
My mum-in-law arrived and was followed shortly after by my own midwife! I was delighted that she was still able to come even if only for a little while.
The next hour was spent just enjoying the surges, talking to our baby who I was so aware of, and much hugging, kissing and encouraging words from my husband. It was an hour of beautiful memories that I will always hold dear.
The transition was just a smooth ride from increasingly intense surges to the need to bear down. My vocalising became a primal roar as adrenaline kicked in. It was a sweet relief as I felt my water break.
Like a huge release of pressure and I roared with joy. With it came the overwhelming urge to bear down and get my baby out. It was the only time in my labour that I felt pain - a burning as my perineum stretched around my baby's crowning head and surges that almost became overwhelming.
But I surrendered to it and let my body do what it needed to. I was a primal mother roaring with primal birth energy. With a series of pushes and a series of 'pops' I felt my baby born.
My midwife lifted her up and said "Here Rose, take your baby".
I turned around and seeing her for the first time exclaimed "Oh my baby!" in sheer joy and love. I took her into my arms and held her to me. She was beautifully pink and cried. At 5.05am I heard the other midwife say - just in time for my midwife's trip!
My husband asked me later if I'd had an orgasmic birth. I asked him why and he replied that it sure sounded like I was! It might not have been orgasmic but it was definitely enjoyable.
Our brand new daughter's name, Athena, means wisdom. She gave me wisdom through my pregnancy to deepen my trust and confidence in my body and build on the strength my son had given me. Her home water birth was a truly amazing and life-changing experience and one I will never forget.
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