My Week-long Marathon Birth Story
When our first daughter was born in 2010, one of the first things we said right after her birth was “Let’s do this at home next time”. When I finally got pregnant again 5 years later (I almost gave up hope that I’ll get pregnant again), we started planning for our home birth. We went for a HypnoBirthing course for our first baby and I knew it in my bones that I wanted to birth at home and not in hospital the second time round. We didn’t tell anyone of our decision though and I went to KKIA (Klinik Kesihatan Ibu dan Anak) and HUKM for my antenatal check-ups.
The Marathon Begun
And then as the birth date approached I welcomed the changes in my body - the aches, the ligaments adjusting, even my balloon-like bloated feet. It was on a Sunday that I felt what I thought was real surges. It came in the evening and melted away in the morning. It was a good sign so I didn’t bother much.
Monday came and went, as did my surges. I think this was when I started to look for the “purple line”, as indication of whether or not I was dilating. Well, looking at my butt crack was funny but not fruitful.
On Tuesday morning, I was woken up by the sensation of water flowing and I woke my husband (Kingston) up. I told him my water broke. He took leave from work that day. We got the blow-up pool ready. I did forward leaning inversion. I danced some salsa. Unfortunately the surges tapered off again. I was starting to get frustrated.
The next day I felt more water flow out but I told Kingston not to take leave but to go to work. I went about as usual; listening to birth affirmations, cooking, shopping and picking up my daughter from school. I was starting to doubt if labour has really started or was it all in my imagination. I took a walk and had a talk with my baby.
Thursday came and went. I drank coconut water and lots of plain water. I prayed and I checked my pad to monitor the fluid. I kept reading about prodromal labour. It was comforting and reassuring to know that what I was going through wasn’t abnormal, but just a variation of normal labour.
On Friday morning, the surges were getting stronger and more regular. I couldn’t sleep lying down anymore. If I did I would be moaning and groaning. So I napped sitting on the sofa, my head supported by cushions. I noticed some show. I was getting very emotionally tired. The wait was getting unbearable. “Will the baby ever come?”, “Will I end up in hospital?”, “Baby please come soon…”
I got in the pool at night, just to try it out. While also hoping it will stimulate labour and bring on birth that night. But it didn’t…
It was day 7. I can’t explain the emotions that I went through. As a person who gets easily distressed it was amazing that I remained rather calm. On Saturday morning at 3am I got out of bed due to the strong surges. I napped sitting up on the sofa again. A friend asked if she could take Emma, our 6-year old daughter, to her house. Thinking that birth, if it happens, will only happen at night I agreed to her suggestion. Little did I know that it was part of God’s wonderful plan.
For most part of the morning I just tried my best to relax, drank plenty of water, timed my surges and thought positive thoughts. I closed my eyes and listened to my favourite tunes. I thought of happy things and willed my surges to continue on. After Emma left the house, we started boiling water and I got ready to get into the pool. I changed my clothes, applied lavender oil on my wrist and put some in the diffuser. When the pool water was warm enough, I got in. It was about 11.30am.
Time seemed to be going very slowly. I breathed. I groaned. I visualized a flower blooming. Kingston kept giving me water to drink. I drank. I remember I got up once to empty my bladder. The surges were getting stronger and closer. It was getting more difficult to relax. I wanted transition to come. I wanted to have the urge to push, but I wasn’t there yet. I didn’t say much throughout the whole ordeal but I did mumble about “Why did we want to have another child?? We could’ve just adopted!”
The pressure was getting stronger. I touched myself down there to feel if there was a head coming down. None. I tried to pee a second time but couldn’t. Being out of water also made the pressure too strong for me to handle. I got back into the water. I told Kingston “I can’t relax”. He turned on the water filter of the fish pond and told me to listen to the sound. Time went by, with each surge I felt like I was being thrown around by giant waves. When earlier I had welcomed the sensation, this time it was difficult for me to handle. I told myself “No, wait. Not yet. I’m not ready.” But they came anyway, my whole being was carried away by the strong pressure.
I was on my knee, resting my chin on my arms. I put my hand between my head and I felt it. My baby’s head! I was relieved and motivated. She was coming. I didn’t tell my husband because I was too deep into my birthing body. And certainly I didn’t feel like talking. But I did tell him to pour hot water. He found out when he checked his camera which was under water. When he saw it he exclaimed, “Pat! The baby’s head is coming out!”. I think he said that a few times before I replied with a soft and slow “I know…”. And he was so excited he asked if I wanted to see the video of the baby’s crown coming out! I had to groan out another “no…”. The other thing I said after that was not to touch her head because it made me feel uncomfortable.
So I welcomed the final surges that brought my baby out, every sensation was embraced. She came slowly and gently. She slid out and Kingston guided her to the front of my body. I scooped her out and held her in my arms. There she was, our little girl. It was 2.30pm. Kingston was exultant. “We did it!” he said several times. Indeed we did, birthed our baby right in our kitchen!
I was tired, relieved and happy. She gave a soft cry and passed out meconium. After a few minutes I got up and we went to the toilet to wait for the placenta to come out. I took one Yunnan Baiyao pill. Thankfully the placenta came out in less than 10 minutes. Kingston checked if I was bleeding. I was fine. So I got cleaned up and went to rest on the bed with my baby, who very soon was suckling on my breast. Our elder daughter came back to find her new sister at home. The umbilical cord was cut four hours later. It was a good and blessed day, one that I have envisioned for years. And I thank God for the gift of baby Kayla and for giving us the knowledge and opportunity to experience birth as something natural and wonderful.
Special thanks to Soo Wai Han for her love, care and support. Not only did she give us a refresher course on HypnoBirthing, she was also in constant contact with us throughout the long labour, even when she was away on her family vacation.
The difference between this home birth and my previous hospital birth
1. Pain Management. I wish I can say that that birthing at home was totally painless, it wasn’t. (I was hoping for an ecstatic birth though). It was difficult but amazingly bearable. What REAL pain was what I experienced at hospital with my first birth. The doctor didn’t have the patience to wait for the placenta to come out on its own. He pulled it out. And then he put his hand inside me to scoop out whatever that’s left inside. I screamed in pain. It was excruciating, more painful than whatever I felt at the birth cumulated together. THAT was pain. It was traumatic and until today I can’t think of it without shuddering.
2. Privacy. When I gave birth in a hospital, I felt like a turtle in Pulau Redang when she comes up to lay her eggs. So many strangers were staring at me. And it didn’t help that the nurses were changing shifts so more people were looking at me. Perhaps they’ve never seen a woman “breathe down” her baby before therefore and they were intrigued. Still, it’s definitely more comforting to give birth without being watched.
3. No vaginal examinations. No need for anyone to poke their fingers in my vagina while I’m concentrating on my surges. No need for me to know how much I’ve dilated because it’s no indication how my labour is progressing anyway.
4. Security. I felt more secure at home. More tuned in to my own body and my baby. I didn’t have to worry about what the medical staffs are doing to me. My husband didn’t have to defend me and my rights. He just had to take care of me (and the cameras, of course). And the good thing about being at home is that no one was instructing me to push. I just let my body do what it was made to do.
The Power of Visualisation
Those of us who learnt HypnoBirthing know about how visualization helps us with our surges, labour and birth. For me, it also helped me to achieve a better pregnancy.
1. Turning a breech baby
When I was pregnant with my first child, she was in a breech position until the 7th month or so (I can’t really remember). I was very upset because I wanted a natural birth. When I spoke to Wai Han about it she advised me several things including talking to my baby, using moxibustion and visualization. I did all of those plus some crawling on all fours. I did visualization when I was praying and meditating. I visualized Jesus (I’m Catholic) carrying my baby in his arms, loving her and placing her in the correct position, head down. When the doctor scanned and found that she was no longer breech, his exact words were “You’re very lucky. God has blessed you.”
2. Placenta Previa
For my second pregnancy, I did not have a breech baby and I was thankful for that. However, I was told early in my pregnancy that my placenta was low but that I needn’t worry because it should move up as my pregnancy progresses. At my week 32 check up, I was diagnosed with Placenta Previa Type 1. I started to get anxious then. Wai Han advised me to visualise a balloon expanding and the placenta moving up as it does. She also taught me to imagine my hand as a magnet as I place it on my lower abdomen to “pull up” the placenta. At week 36 it was still low but 4cm away from the cervix. I continued to visualise, to talk to my baby to help and most importantly to pray. At week 37, I did a scan at HUKM. They didn’t mention about the placenta at all but I asked. It doesn’t seem to be a concern anymore. I was thankful, for now I could stop worrying and pay full attention to my baby’s birth.
- Patricia Chan (April 2016)
(mom of hypnobabies Emma Khoo and Kayla Khoo)