Oban’s undisturbed, VBAC and accidental homebirth!
I can already envisage your jaw dropping now but this story is normal birth at it’s absolute finest.
For people who do not know what a VBAC is. It is a Vaginal Birth attempted after a previous caesarean birth.
For people wishing to find out a little bit more about the associated issues around VBAC in Australia there is a balanced article by Dr Rachel Reed, VBAC: Making a Mountain out of a Molehill. Definitely worth a read.
A VBAC is what my friend and husband were planning. As you will read, Emily writes that this birth was an opportunity for a “do over”. Birth has a great capacity for healing and it never ceases to amaze me the courage and emotional fortitude women take with them into their birthing time.
I will let Emily’s story speak for itself but let me say this…
…Emily is a women, like you or me, yet her story demonstrates that a women’s body is designed to birth and when you relax enough, release fears, feel safe, in private, and use skills such as self-hypnosis, breathing, guided relaxation and affirmation – extraordinary birth can happen. The irony of this statement is Emily’s birth was normal … we just don’t often get to see or experience undisturbed birth, free of intervention.
Emily’s body birthed in a stunning, empowering and as you will read at the end, transformational manner. She will never be the same again. Her birth also exemplifies that birth has a capacity to heal, it has a capacity to change how one sees oneself and it has capacity to make a stronger and more confident parent.
So…positive birth matters. It matters how a woman feels during pregnancy. It matters how she feels during her birth and it matters how she feels after her birth. This should always be in the forefront of a woman’s mind as well as the caregivers who take part in her care.
An accidental homebirth, unassisted wasn’t how Emily and Peter planned their birth. They had originally planned a hospital birth with midwife led care, but their baby had a completely different agenda. This is often how the story goes. Birth happens. Birth unravels and enriches those it touches.
Let the oxytocin tingles begin ….
Oban’s Birth Story:
I have called this Oban’s birth story, but it is really more about me than him, my experience of bringing him into the world. I know I am supposed to be happy with a healthy baby and to want anything more than that seems selfish, especially with my history. Despite this, a positive birth experience was so important to me and having Oban was my opportunity for a “do over “, to try for a birth I felt empowered about, and Oban’s birth certainly was that.
My story starts before Oban was even conceived. Prior to having Oban, I had done 19 cycles of IVF and successfully conceived twice using donor eggs, once resulting in a still-birth and the other in our beautiful four-and-a-half-year-old son Arlo who was born by emergency C-section.
My first pregnancy after many years of IVF was cut short at 24 weeks after I had an allergic reaction to the paint I was using to paint the nursery. Giving birth to a dead baby was a long and harrowing process. I was induced and endured a painful 24-hour labour, at the end of which I gave birth to a little girl we called Juno. She was tiny, but perfectly formed.
We were lucky enough to conceive Arlo on our very next IVF cycle. His pregnancy was considered high risk because of our history and I was carefully monitored throughout. Arlo was two weeks late when I was again induced, but ended up having an emergency C-section after he showed signs of distress.
After Arlo was born we tried a few more times using IVF, but eventually gave up. We dearly wanted to give him a sibling and had begun the rather difficult process of adoption. We had only been approved by the adoption board for a month when I found out I was pregnant! So Oban was a surprise from the moment he was conceived. I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, but was fearful of another C-section.
Oban was three days overdue when, and after having a nap on Friday afternoon I was woken up by surges. This had happened for the last few days and I had just put it down to Braxton hicks and expected they would subside when I got up like they had done in the days leading up. This time they didn’t and within an hour I let My husband Peter know that I thought tonight was going to be the night.
At 7pm we put our 4-year-old son Arlo to bed and headed to the supermarket to get some supplies in preparation for a long night.
When we got home from shopping at about 8.30 things where getting good, the surges were strong and I found I needed to focus on them. I used my tens machine and felt excited and confident that things were going as planned. My body was going through the birthing process and I (the conscious me) was merely along for the ride.
Peter started to get things ready for the hospital, spending the next few hours doing important things like downloading music for the birth.
Peter had downloaded a contraction counter on the iPhone and by about 11pm my surges were 3mins apart and the app was flashing up ‘go to hospital’. Peter called the hospital to tell them we were coming in. My midwife wasn’t due in until 6am the next morning so I talked to a midwife that I had only met once before. She triaged me on the phone by listening to a couple of my surges and said I was not ready to come in yet. She explained that it would be better if I waited a couple of hours until my contractions were 2 mins apart and lasting for at least 1min (mine were only about 45 seconds long). If I had spoken to my regular midwife who knew I was doing hypnobirthing (and that I lived 30mins from the hospital), I think she would have got me in at that point.
I remember thinking that if I got into the hospital and found out I was only 2cms dilated that I would be screaming for an epidural at that point so I was very keen to stay at home as long as possible. I took the midwifes advice and had a bath, continued to try to relax and breath through the surges. I played my hypnobirthing tracks and had the lights low.
Soon my body began to involuntarily ‘push’. I asked Peter to look up the acupressure point for a cervical lip (where you feel the need to push even though you are not fully dilated), as even though I thought I was in second stage the midwife has told me I wasn’t.
Throughout this process I was conscious of looking for signs that something might go wrong as my birth history had previously been a still-birth and an emergency C-section, but my little Oban regularly reassured me with his little kicks and movements.
I had an overwhelming sense of being inside my body, of how my surges felt and how they changed through transition and into the second stage of labour (although I couldn’t have communicated this to anyone else). The surges must have been painful, but I don’t remember being aware of the pain, just the rush of endorphins that came after each one.
I was spending time between walking around and sitting on the toilet. I must have been making some noise at that point (although I was not aware of it), as Arlo woke up and was complaining that it was late and parents shouldn’t be making this much racket at this time of night. Peter was dealing with him when I told him the baby was coming!
Peter then suggested it was time to go to the hospital. I said ‘we aren’t going to the hospital; I don’t even think I can make it to the car!’.
My darling Peter, who had read all the books and knew what to do decided this was my ‘crisis of confidents’ (where she tells you she can’t do it anymore, which means things are progressing well) and proceeded to get the bags for the hospital and to wake up my mother-in-law, Kate, who was staying with us to look after Arlo.
I could see the top of Oban’s head with the mirror and noticed a thick purplish ridge across the top of it. I was concerned that this was the cord. I put my hand on it to try to move it away, but noticed that it was still beneath the membrane and it didn’t seem to be pulsing, so decided it must just be a crease in the skin on the top of his head as his skull bones moved. With the next surge (around 1.25am) I stood up and ‘caught’ Oban. Just then Peter,Kate and Arlo came into the bathroom. Oban was pink and wriggling in my hands, but he had not yet taken a breath. I held him up-side-down and rubbed his back to try to get him to breath for what seemed like an eternity, while telling Peter to call an ambulance. Peter, somewhat flustered at this point, asked me what the number for triple 0 was.
By the time Peter got onto the ambulance Oban was breathing and making beautiful newborn baby crying noises. I had an overwhelming sense of love and achievement at what I had just done. I was cold, shaking and covered in blood so I got back into the warm bath.
The ambulance arrived about 10 mins later, the ambos clamped the cord so Peter could cut it and Oban and I rode to the hospital. Peter followed in the car, but we only spent a few hours in hospital to check everything was ok.
I had done other birthing classes during my first two pregnancies, but hypnobirthing taught me to be in the moment and follow my primal birthing instinct rather than being afraid of what was coming next.
It was not enough for me to just know the information, I had to feel it.
The meditation and self-hypnosis I learned prepared me in ways I could not have imagined until I was actually going through the birthing process. I learned to allow my cerebral cortex or “thinking brain” to switch off and let my body take over and do what it was designed to do.
Before I birthed Oban I only knew what I didn’t want: the experience being taken out of my control through medical intervention. I didn’t have the confidence to plan a home birth, but birthing him at home was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I have such a sense of empowerment and achievement for trusting my body.
I am more confident as a mother now and feel I can do anything I put my mind to.
I would recommend Hypnobirthing Australia to anyone seeking a positive birth experience.
Peter and Emily did a Hypnobirthing Australia hypnobirthing course with Big Hearted Birth.
Big Hearted Birth teaches Hypnobirthing and independent Childbirth Education in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
Be at the center of your birth. Make Birth a highlight.
If you would like support or advice on miscarriage, stillbirth or newborn death go to Sands