By Melanie, South Africa
My story (conception and birth) began with a very long wait, was filled with all kinds of emotions, and ended with a dream come true! We tried for almost 3 years to conceive, a time filled with doubt – asking ourselves if something was wrong with us, and a lot of tears – asking God why was it taking so long! Finally I gave up – I gave it up to God to give us a child, and not ourselves trying to make one! Well, I think that is how it is for most people – when they finally forget about making babies, and just enjoy making love – miracles happen.
My next long wait – being pregnant for over 10 months!! Yes, you probably haven't heard of this one before. Well, the scan predicted Chris to be born on 11th of January. My midwife's calendar predicted the 19th of January, although when she did her checkup on me, she said this baby will come early – expect him by Christmas! Well, I expected him to come soon – and so the wait began and he finally came 13 February!
Early in my pregnancy I started to investigate all the possible birth methods that are available. I never thought that I would do a home birth, but it quickly became clear to my husband and I that that was definitely going to be our birth of choice.
I believe everyone, and every parent will make the best choice they can possible for their birth and in every aspect for their children's life – therefore if a mother chooses a caesarean or hospital birth, or which ever way, it is a good choice for them. But for us – going to a hospital was just wrong. I felt that giving birth naturally is the way God destined a woman to give birth, and there is nothing wrong with it. My baby and I were in absolute good health and we didn't need to be treated as patients. Yes, hospitals and doctors have a good role to fill – but only if it is needed. If there is no need, why do it?
Well, being always the odd one out in my family and friends – I was immediately confronted with a lot of criticism. My husband and I decided it doesn't help you try to explain your case to everyone, so we pretended we were planning a hospital birth, while we were secretly planning a home birth.
We wanted of course to make sure we weren't putting my baby's life in danger, so we had the hospital booking done and I made sure my and my baby's health were 100%. I was really lucky to get one of the best midwives for home birth, and I had a friend who supported me all the way with research and lots of phone calls. And of course my husband who believed fully in what we were doing was the right thing, as well as a lot of support and encouragement from my Doula and her assistant.
So all this gave me confidence, but I still had lots of fear and doubt. Not doubt on whether home birth is a good choice, but doubt in the safety for my baby crept in when we started to go overdue. So I have to give God all the credit, because at the end He was the One who carried me and my baby through! Every time I prayed, he answered with a Word of Faith. Every time I read my Bible, he answered with a Word of Faith.
I kept asking why is it taking so long, and is there something wrong with me that I can't go into labor – and the answer every time was to stay strong, that He will carry this child and that I must have faith. It was one of the most difficult things for me, to keep believing. Week after week, day after day and night after night was a huge struggle – waiting to meet this child and longing to hold him in my arms! All I could do was making sure he keeps moving inside me, go for my midwife checkups and be healthy! What else could I do?
Well in the end, I started getting desperate. I suppose I could have tried the following methods earlier – but I have to wonder – would it have helped? Maybe my body was just not ready, and no matter what I tried, it will not help to push your body into something he is not ready for. That is why I also refused to have an induction, unless it was medically necessary. I felt that to have an induction, is to force my baby out, when all the tests and check ups prove that my baby is happy and healthy – induction was just not going to be an option!!
So in the last 2 weeks, I tried everything – curry, pineapples, orange juice, making love, raspberry leave tea, walking walking walking, a homeopath cocktail, even a reflexology massage. I tried to keep my mind busy, and not think or worry about being overdue, so I tackled projects like writing, scrap booking, and even gardening! On the 12th of February, I woke up in the morning terrified. My thoughts were filled with worry and fear of what can go wrong, things like if he could pass and swallow meconium. Seven o'clock that morning I jump out the bed and onto the internet doing research on the dangers of being overdue.
I went into a frantic worry, calling my midwife and telling her I need to see her immediately. She was busy with another birth at that point and couldn't see me, so I grabbed my rescue drops just trying to calm down. I went down on my knees praying again and begging God to help me. Thirty minutes later my midwife phones and says she can see me immediately. We rushed to her office, all of us concerned on what are we going to do – as this is definitely not normal! She puts me again on the monitors, the placenta and baby shows they are 100% and happy!
My midwife couldn't believe it, as how is this even possible? So we decided to do a internal exam, and if there is no improvement – we'll have to do an induction or caesarean. It was one of the saddest moments in my life – the thought of having to give up after all this time! Well, the moment my midwife's hand went it – her face lit up like the rise of the sun! I thought I was imagining it – was she really smiling and excited? Yes – she says, this baby is seriously on his way out!! I asked her what about the possibility of an induction? No, it is too late for an induction – this baby is coming!!
The absolute joy and relief! We all hugged each other, and I was filled with excitement and joy! My husband and I decided to celebrate with a lunch, and walk around until I can't anymore. Well straight after lunch, I could barely walk! The contractions started. We went home and the contractions stayed more or less the same till eight o'clock that night. So I had a bath and decided to go to bed – I thought that maybe I'll finally go into labor the next day. Ten o'clock I woke up with a strong contraction – and each one after that got stronger and stronger.
I finally got the courage to phone my midwife to ask her to make the trip in the middle of the night. When she came, I got into the bath and there I stayed, sleeping between each contraction. At some point in the morning I told my midwife I have to get out of the bath and lie down on the bed. I have no idea how long I was on the bed, as it felt like things happened very fast, but my baby finally made his full appearance half past six that morning!! It was the best and most joyful moment of my life! I can't express how grateful I am that things went well in the end. My baby only passed meconium at the actual birth. I didn't use any pain medication and I had a very minor tear that didn't need stitches, so much that I don't even know where the tear was.
When I went to my GP afterwards to do a general checkup on Chris, and revealed that he weighed 4.28 kg at birth and I did a normal birth – he was shocked. He said that normally I would have been given a caesarean, because that is the norm. Well, I didn't even mention to him that the baby was a month overdue and that I barely had a tear. So again I had to ask why are there so many interferences with a birth, where nothing is wrong? It seems to be a fact that standards and rules have been set in place by doctors and hospitals that have to be followed by every woman.
It doesn't matter whether they have the proof that something medically is wrong, injections are given as a norm, woman must labor within a certain few hours, you must labor in a certain position that is comfortable for them, etc. Every woman and her baby is treated the same and not as individuals. Even my midwife said she was humbled by this experience and it just showed her that the doctors today interfere too quickly and easily where there is no reason to.
I feel extremely lucky, but also amazed at how strong God created us – we must just believe in Him for everything, and believe in ourselves that we can do it!! My strongest advise to any pregnant women, is to surround yourself with honest people who will support you in your birth of choice. If they change their mind and start to doubt you or your choice of birth without any medical proof that something is wrong, then avoid them for a while – stay strong and stay with the people who have you and your babies' health and interest at heart. Not the doctor who doesn't remember you name at the next visit, and not your friends and colleagues who have different believes and try to force their opinions on you. Follow your heart, and believe!
“We have a secret in our culture, its not that birth is painful, but that women are strong.” (Laura S. Harm)