Long before I became pregnant, I knew that if I was to be blessed with another child that she or he would be born free. My experience around birth started with the arrival of my first son in a quiet hospital. My uterus came through unscarred but emotionally and spiritually I began motherhood as a car wreck. All instincts were stolen which left a woman desperately needing confidence in her abilities to mother.
My second child, a daughter was a much more fulfilling experience as I homebirthed her with a fantastic NHS Midwifery team supporting me despite the medical perceived risk of ruptured membranes for 5 days. I had asked a doula to mother me through pregnancy and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I had miscarried not long before this pregnancy and could have easily allowed my fear of loss to consume my decision making. A doula is my eyes is another experienced mother, with a skill of reflecting all expertise and wisdom back to the mother and awakening the confidence in the mother inside. Modern lifestyle and mainstream education does a good job of stripping most humans of their ability to follow through life instinctively. The birth of my daughter in water at home was a real celebration and rebirth of me as a mother. I knew I could do anything after giving birth to her and I wanted to shout to the world about the beauty of motherhood and birth. My path as a doula and childbirth educator began.
My first two children were 6 and 4, when I became pregnant again. I had started a journey with reiki after some profound healing experiences. I entered this pregnancy after feeling there was a baby that wanted me as a mother. During the previous year doulaing had taken me to walk alongside parents who wanted their babies born without medical assistance. The more stories of childbirth I witnessed, the more I could see how the gentlest of birth support could disrupt the mother from her hormonal bliss and slow or alter her experience. As a doula I became more and more invisible.
At the beginning of pregnancy I read so much from Michel Odent Birth and Breastfeeding to Birthkeepers Veronika Robinson and my desire to freebirth or have a family birth as I like to call it, felt more and more right. I had planned to connect with the local NHS midwife but after some grim stories of bullying and coercion, I decided to have an unassisted pregnancy. After all, I knew I did not want or need ultrasound or blood tests. My antenatal care instead was time spent on eating well and being nurtured through reflexology/osteopathy or mayan abdominal massage. I took the homeopathic tissue salts programme and looked and felt great. A huge difference from my last pregnancy when I had been diagnosed and admittedly felt slightly anaemic. I allowed myself to be doulaed by the amazing women in my life and chose another doula to walk the motherhood path with me. When I got to 16 weeks pregnant, I realised a truly unassisted pregnancy was not what I needed this time bcause of all I was giving out as a doula. I found a caring and open minded independent midwife who gave me a package of what I needed, a few antenatal appointments and two postnatal. I just needed someone with time that I could talk about pregnancy and hopes to for an hour and someone to do the official documentation. I had at that time heard too many stories of social work bullying mothers making freebirth choices despite it being a perfectly valid choice supported by current legislation.
For the first time in my four pregnancies, my due date came and went and no early baby despite a well engaged baby for 3 weeks prior.
Oren Isaac Phoenix’s birth story
I woke through the night with sensations that pretty much felt like what I had experienced over the last 2 weeks. Calum, my OH awoke at 4.45 and after a couple of tightenings; I went downstairs to have porridge. I was tired but not enough to get back to sleep. I tidied up and went back to lie down until Tom bounced in at 6.45. I made him breakfast and sent him to play, as I knew things were starting to happen. The sensations were in my back but short lived and sporadic so Calum went to work.
I called Calum to encourage him home when surges were every ten minutes. The kids and me set up the birth pool and found it all very exciting. I put music on to give me some sense of my own world, as Tom and Daisy still needed me to be present with them.
We had sat down as a family ten days prior and talked about their roles and what I would need to give birth .Tom was given the role of telling us the gender and Daisy was going to have the first skin to skin cuddle when I needed to get dry and clothed. I explained how important silence was to me and how questions were banned from me during labour.
I think the pool took a good hour to fill enough for me to get in and I reckon I got in at 12 ish. I lit candles and put on clary sage and lavender on the aroma steam thing. I put on my blessingway necklace. To connect me to the strength and blessings of the wonderful women I knew would be supporting me. I remember worrying about feeling the surges in my back and flipped out thinking what if he is posterior and cannot turn.
At this freak out moment I told myself to ‘shut up and switch off’. My internal sensors were saying ok this is intense but all is well- breathe. Tom knew every time I had a surge and would massage me or tell me to breathe, the you tube clips had definitely paid off. I had my bottle of water filled and at one point it looked empty and then Daisy came to me saying ‘look mum I have filled this’.
After a morning thinking I wasn’t progressing, I had a feel of my cervix after a tiny amount of show came out. I could feel a head and a tiny amount of waters before the head. I didn’t feel I was fully dilated or that anything was imminent. I messaged Claire at this point (my doula) to invite her over. It felt like the right time for her to come but I didn’t feel ready to birth.
After this I had some pretty powerful surges and I kept saying in my head open, release. As a surge reached it’s peak I had an uncontrollable urge to bite- not cool with an inflatable pool so I remember almost sucking the side of the pool. In between I read my wall of blessings and they were so reassuring, keeping me feeling light. Claire got to me and after a contraction and I remember a smiley conversation but no idea what it was about. This was a difference to Daisy’s birth where I was in an altered state of consciousness. I felt during my family birth that I was fully with it; maybe I had no need to protect myself, as everything around me was so normal. My friend there, her baby breastfeeding and my kids pottering about on a normal holiday day.
5 minutes after Claire arrived I had the most powerful surge I have ever experienced that was like vomiting from my yoni. I had no control as my body took over and my waters broke and his head came right down to my perineum. The surge seemed to last for minutes and it stung as his head stretched and bounced on my perineum. After that the kids were in the room as I had wanted birth plan wise but it had been so intense that I asked for them to wait outside the room. I was half wanting and half not wanting the next surge to come on. When it did, I felt I needed my hand on my perineum as my baby’s head passed through; I had never experienced anything that fast. The next surge I longed for as I stroked my baby’s head in the water. As soon as it came, my hands were there in waiting to lift my baby out of the water, I tried pulling when the shoulders were out but I had to wait until the surge had squeezed him all out first.
Then we met! The kids came in and Tom announced he had a brother and I fell totally in love. Calum arrived 5 minutes after Oren did into the bliss. We lotus birthed and separated at 7 days postpartum. This was a great way to stay in bed and ward off the visitors.