Wendy’s Home Birth Story

On the night of Thursday, October 1st, I went to bed late and I was restless, unable to sleep very well.

Around 2 am, I realized that I was uncomfortable because I was having contractions! They were quite regular but not intense and I could actually lay in bed and drift off to sleep between them.

Our family of five woke up as usual just after 6 am in time to get the two big boys off to school. The bus comes by our house at 7:20 am! I sent a note to Jack’s and Callan’s teachers warning that this day may be the new baby’s birthday and that their Aunt Jackie would come to the school to pick them up, if this were the case.

Darrell and I decided that we would bring Julia to emergency for an eye infection that had woken her up the night before. She had shouted “my eye, my eye” in the middle of the night.

I continued to have contractions at the children’s hospital, much to Darrell’s dismay and rising anxiety.

I even had to consciously breathe at one point to cope through the contraction. Darrell said “oh Wendy – you’d better start calling people now – this is REALLY happening!” Yes, it certainly was, but somehow, I knew it wasn’t a big panic and that we had a few hours to spare yet. Julia was fine – polysporin eye drops were recommended and we were heading home from the hospital by 10:30 a.m.

I called my sister, Jacqueline, from the car to warn her that the birth was impending but that there was “no panic now”. I called my mother from home at around 11:00 a.m. and repeated this message. I was getting ready to leave for a massage appointment at 11:30 when I had a fairly intense contraction that required coping strategies including leaning on the kitchen counter to breathe. The contraction did not last long but to Darrell’s relief, I cancelled my massage appointment and called my midwife, Parvin. I told her the same message “don’t panic yet – just a heads up that things are happening”.

At around 12:30 pm, my mother called back to tell us that they were on their way in the next hour or so. Driving from Belleville, their departure time put them into rush hour traffic so I said “don’t bother – no panic”.

My parents left Belleville around 1:00 pm despite my lackadaisical attitude.

My sister arrived at our house and we started cooking a groaning cake. I was happy that she was going to be at our house in time for the boys’ arrival home on the school bus. We called my cousin, Manise, who also started cooking a groaning cake for me.

Darrell filled the birth pool and we covered it with a tarp to keep the hot water in. I donned the lovely bracelet of birthing stones that I was given at the Blessingway ceremony for Gina and I.

With strong encouragement from Darrell and Jackie, I called Parvin again just before the kids came home from school to advise her that yes, this was really abour – contractions were regular at about 10 minutes apart but not at all intense yet. I was having lots of mucous discharge as well but no panic yet although things do tend to happen quickly for me once they start happening – perhaps she could come around 6:30 p.m. after the evening rush hour? I knew that things were happening, I told her, because I could actually feel the baby moving down through my body. That was cool.

When the boys got home from school at three, they were delighted to see their Aunt Jackie and happily agreed to play outside with her and Julia. I was still quite comfortable and not really anticipating any action until after the children were in bed and asleep that night. Darrell put my mother’s homemade frozen lasagne into the oven once the groaning cakes came out.

My hips were still aching – I had been plagued by what I can only describe as a seized sacro-iliac joint for the week or so before I gave birth.

I had seen my chiropractor several times for this problem, my sister had massaged me, I had a TCM massage and another massage by my naturopath including a castor oil treatment pack to relieve the stiffness. I was not in actual severe pain but since I couldn’t walk properly, I didn’t go to work during the week just before Malcolm’s birthday. I was concerned about birthing with what I considered to be a “seized pelvis”.

My parents arrived shortly after 5 p.m. My midwife, Parvin, called me to say that she was on her way. I was not using any coping strategies but I was feeling like things were really happening so I didn’t object. Parvin arrived just before 6 p.m. and Lynne, her student midwife, arrived a couple of minutes behind her. Parvin checked me and found me 3 cm dilated, quite effaced and the baby’s head very low.

This is only the second time that I have ever been checked while I was in labour with any of my four children (I was checked just before Julia was born to “confirm” that I was actually in labour and eligible to get into the delivery room – imagine!). Parvin had had one of her medical bags stolen from her car so she headed off to the Maison des Naissances to get replacement equipment. Lynne remained with me and started getting their equipment ready.

At around 6:15 p.m., I was starting to get hot.

I took off my sweater and my long sleeved shirt and changed into a tank top that I had left in the solarium. After the next contraction, I stripped off my jeans and tied my funky Westport wrap around my hips.

I was wondering if Lynne noticed that I was stripping down – I had read earlier that women lose one piece of clothing for every centimetre of dilation and I had just shed four articles of clothing in about 30 seconds! I shoved the couch out from the wall so that I could lean against the back of it, the way that Parvin had suggested to me when, weeks earlier, we had discussed my birth plan in the solarium.

My mother was rubbing my back, which felt quite lovely and comforting, until a contraction overwhelmed me and I said “that’s not good now”. My contractions were now becoming quite intense and I was wanting Darrell to return from his lasagne supper. My mother must have alerted him to the fact that things were picking up and he should get in there.

I remember handing him my chunky birthing bracelet during a contraction.

During the transfer, we dropped it on the floor, cracking the carnelian gemstone that Jackie had picked for me. Was this foreshadowing of the pelvic pain that would intensify and then completely disappear after the birth?

I didn’t notice if Parvin had returned from the Maison des Naissances when I moved from the back of the couch position to a hands and knees position on the carpet. Darrell was right beside me at this point and I could hear Jacqueline as well so I knew that all was well yet I was surprised to be overwhelmed with pain – this birth was so very different than the other three.

I had never felt pelvic pain like this before. I heard Parvin and Lynne saying quietly and calmly “You’re doing everything right”. I let out a blood curdling roar as the baby pressed down into my pelvis. I vomited and Darrell said “You’ve never done that before … have you?” I said “It’s ok – I think that it’s ok – I’m sorry for screaming into your ear”.

“What do you want to do, Wendy?”, I remember Darrell asking me.
“What do you need to do, Wendy?”, I remember Jackie asking me.
“Do you want to try to get into the pool?”

I really did want to get into the birth pool but I absolutely could not move.

I felt like my pelvis was about to crack in half and if I had been forced to move – or if someone tried to move me, I believe that I would have been seriously injured. I was crying, I think. We had planned for Darrell to catch the baby but I absolutely needed him. I was thinking, and I may have even said, “I just can’t … I can’t …”

It suddenly dawned on me that, incredibly, this birth was almost finished! That moment when you think you can’t means that it’s over! Done – Malcolm was ready to be born! I asked Jackie to take some pictures and she sprung into action.

I braced myself for the next contraction and assured myself that the pelvis cracking would be all over once that baby was out so I pushed and pushed. I disagree with pushing on principal and I was quite proud of the fact that Julia just slid out of my body less than two years ago. “I didn’t push my third child out, you know”, I would proudly tell anyone who asked about my birth experiences.

Oh – but I pushed on October 2nd, 2009.

Malcolm, my fourth child, was pushed out of my body. What relief I felt as he was born; his head, shoulders and then the rest of his little body was born at 6:42 p.m. Little body? Yes! At 3700 grams (8 lbs 3 ounces), he was our smallest baby!

I found out from the midwives the next day that Malcolm was born with a nuchal arm. He was born with his teeny newborn fist above his head, like Superman. Jack was born posterior, or sunny side up and his birth was not nearly as painful as Malcolm’s birth. I had massive tearing from Jack’s vacuum assisted birth, however I had no stitches resulting from this birth – go figure.

My mother rushed into the solarium just as Malcolm was born. She claims that she could hear my agonizing wails of pain for days afterwards whenever she walked into the solarium. My pelvis felt immediately better. The midwives told me that Malcolm was born after only four pushes.

My father, Jack, Callan and Julia met Malcolm within minutes of his birth.

Jack held Malcolm while he was still attached to his placenta. We protected Malcolm’s right to a lotus birth and did not cut the umbilical cord until after the placenta was delivered and the cord had completely stopped pulsing.

Julia asked to swim and since the warm water in the birth pool had been unused for birthing, we laughingly watched her strip and swim. We were happy and joyful. Everyone was relaxed. The midwives left just before 9:00 p.m.

The entire birth had taken less than an hour. From three centimetres dilation until placental delivery was officially recorded as 55 minutes, perhaps it was slightly less.

Parvin, head midwife in Gatineau and attendant at thousands of births in Iran, said that ours was the nicest homebirth she’d ever been to. I assumed that it was because of the speed of delivery. “No”, she explained later, “we see fast births all the time. You were calm, so calm. Everyone was calm and happy!” But I was SCREAMING! I guess that I wasn’t in a panic though. Parvin and Lynne also loved that the children, my sister and my parents were present and included. I liked that too.

And Julia WAS hilarious swimming in the pool. We had wine, served by my father, and the best plate of lasagne ever, made by my mother and cooked by my husband. Home IS the best, safest place to be.

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