Elki’s Birth Story | 14 Years Later

Elki; 14 years ago on the last day of February and summer, 2002, your father and I visited the birth centre at Flinders medical centre for what would be our last appointment before your birth.
I was 41 weeks and 4 days pregnant. The midwife was getting concerned about the length of my pregnancy and advised me to have my waters broken to stimulate your birth. She even mentioned casually that if this did not stimulate labor you may need to be born by cesarean. I was very upset by her insensitivity; determined to have a natural birth, and looking back now as a more confident and knowledgeable mama, I would have told her what I thought, that you were not ready, you and I were perfectly healthy, there was no need to stimulate your birth, and I am not having my waters broken….
But I was young and more fearful, and you were my world. So, at about 4pm I had my membranes broken and your father and I went back home hopeful that soon you would begin to make your journey to us.
And you did…..
At about 9pm that night I felt the first cramp, the very beginning of contractions. At first these were occasional and easy to bear for several hours. I remember your Dad and I went to bed to try and get some rest and at a point the contractions began to get stronger and too uncomfortable; bed no longer an option.
We wanted to wait for as long as possible before going into the birth centre, and at around 1:30am on the 1st of March, we decided to go. Your father rang Noni and Pop; they were taking us to the hospital and staying for your birth.
We arrived at the birth centre at 2am; I was taken from the emergency area to our room in a wheelchair. The room was like a spacious hotel room with a double bed, small kitchen, lounges, bath, and bathroom with a shower and toilet.
I settled in, pacing and walking around the room and hallways of the maternity ward; breathing through each contraction. The contractions were steadily becoming stronger and more intense, and closer together.
A midwife was there popping into the room occasionally to see how I was going and to check on me.
As the contractions became more intense I had a long shower; enjoying the relief and warmth the water gave. I was unsure how I was coping; I didn’t know how much more painful the contractions would become and if I was going to be able to cope with them. But I had the support of your amazing father and your Noni assured me I was going really well.
I had brought incense and music to put on whilst I was in labor with you, and at one point your father lit an incense for me but I promptly told him to put it out, the smell making me feel sick. I don’t remember the music ever being played, my mind too focussed on breathing through each contraction.
As the hours past the contractions became closer and closer together. I was nearing when I would begin to birth you. The midwife on duty left and another took her place. She came and checked on me and I remember needing to lay on my back for this and it being very uncomfortable.
After this came the point of labor that I remember most vividly, and I later realised that I was going through transition. I remember feeling a loss of control and fear; not knowing how I could possibly get through this! As each contraction came I did not know what to do; there didn’t seem to be any position in which I could bear the intensity.
It was then the midwife suggested I try the bath. I stripped off my clothing and climbed in but as soon as I lowered myself into the water I knew that I had to get out! I needed solid earth under me and you were coming now!
Your Dad and the midwife helped me out of the bath and over to the bed where I knelt with my knees on the floor, leaning over the bed with my elbows, holding your fathers hands as he supported me from the bed.
The urge to push was uncontrollable and the immense pressure as your head came down my birth canal enormous. But it was only two or three contractions before your head crowned; the midwife guiding me. I squeezed your Dad’s hands, his strength and love giving me the strength I needed, and pushed, it was painful and burned but you were so close.
And then with one more contraction and push your tiny body flowed like a wave from my body; you were born! It was the most amazing, relieving, beautiful feeling in the whole world, and that I had ever experienced, and then the midwife passed you to me, your Dad exclaimed, “it’s a boy!” and I held you; my glorious, so small, crying little baby boy!
What an amazing surprise, I had never felt such joy before as when I saw and held you for the first time.
You were born at 6:08am, on the 1st of March 2002. You weighed only 2.59kg or 5 pounds,12 ounces but you were so alert, healthy and perfect. Your skin looked to big for you and oh so delicate, and you were so soft. We named you not long after, your little face telling us to choose Elki.
We snuggled in bed and you had your first feed,

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your Dad had his first hold of his precious boy,

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and it was just amazing.
During that morning I remember after about an hour I birthed your placenta, having been given oxytocin to stimulate it’s birth. A doctor came to check on you and gave you the apgar test. If you had been any smaller they would have wanted to take you to the maternity ward for monitoring, I couldn’t imagine being apart from you for even a second! But thankfully you scored very high on the test and the doctor was not concerned.
We bathed you, which you did not appreciate at all,

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I had a shower, and we dressed you and kept you warm.

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We rested and slept together, you in my arms all the time,

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And you had your first visits from family, including your Nanny and Poppy.
At about 3pm on your birth day we took you home; so happy and bewildered by the arrival of our first, sweet baby.

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I began my life as your mama, now 14 years ago. Since that first day you have thrived; gaining your birth weight and more by the end of your first week,

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And always approaching life with exuberance, vibrance, loving energy, and a heart of sweetness.

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Zubin’s Homebirth Story

We named Zubin on his two week old birthday so throughout this story, which I wrote over¬†his first 9 days,¬†he is still called ‘bubba’

We waited eight years to become pregnant again. When we did I knew bubba would be born at our home in Lonnavale. Anusha was born in our last home in Adelaide and Elki in the Flinders hospital birth centre, and apart from having my waters broken with Elki, both births were natural and without intervention or pain relief, I was active the whole time, and birthed on all fours. For this birth there was no other choice for me apart from homebirth. The idea of birthing in a hospital being very wrong for me (although I know at times and for some women it is right and necessary and the place they feel safest); things such as, the impersonal environment with a very high risk of intervention cascading into more intervention, pregnancy treated as an illness, the baby an invader in the woman’s body compromising her health, and women having their power and intuition taken away from them, would greatly concern me if I were to need to birth in a hospital.

I had some difficulties along the way. A blood test at around 28 weeks showing I had low Iron and B12 levels (I had low Iron levels with all my pregnancies) and mild thrombocytopenia (my platelet levels which are needed for blood clotting had dropped). I was pressured by my GP to see an obstetrician regarding my platelet levels (I did not do this) but was reassured and supported by my midwife, friends who researched platelet levels during pregnancy, and my own intuition that my levels were not too low to still have a homebirth.

I began supplementing Iron and B12 and continued having as healthy diet as possible (my levels subsequently rose to within the normal range) and repeat blood tests showed my platelets were hovering around the same level.

Then at about 34 weeks I developed shingles, which were very painful and meant after finally getting it diagnosed in hospital after a wrong diagnosis at the GP, I had to take antivirals, which although were proven to be safe during pregnancy were not something I wanted to be putting into my or bubba’s body. It also meant that my other two children could have contracted chicken pox from me (neither of them having had it yet), not a good time with bubba’s estimated due date only weeks away. Thankfully neither of them did get chicken pox and I recovered well, but my partner ended up with shingles several weeks later! We were onto this immediately though and he also recovered quickly, but it was all rather stressful and a great relief when we were both completely healthy again.

In the last couple of weeks of my pregnancy we finished our final preparations for the homebirth, and settled in for hibernation and the birth of our beautiful bubba in our bush home…..

On the 9th of April, 2015, I woke up at 7am feeling like something was happening. I felt that my underwear was a bit wet and got out of bed to go to the toilet thinking, could my waters be breaking? As soon as I stood up I felt water trickling down my leg and noticed some drops on the floor were pinkish. I went to the toilet and realising this was the day had mixed feelings of anxiety and excitement, and also a bit of disbelief that the day had arrived. I went back to the bedroom to wake up Scott and told him that ‘I think my water’s are breaking ’cause I’m leaking!’ (unless I had wet myself!)

I decided to have a shower and when I got out Scott got up and lit the fire. We let the children sleep until they woke up normally, all the time my waters continuing to leak slowly. Scott and I both pottered around the house, doing bits of cleaning up. When I could see that Elki had woken up and was reading in bed I called out good morning and told him that bubba was coming today. He was excited to hear this and I was excited to be telling him, having wondered for a long time how this would happen. After a while Anusha surfaced and said she had actually heard me telling Elki about bubba but hadn’t said anything, I had a feeling she had done this, taking it in quietly by herself.

We continued on with our morning and at about 9am I rang our midwife Anni to let her know that things were starting. She was very excited to hear this, we had been due to drop in and see her that morning if nothing had happened yet. We decided I would ring her later when things were more progressed.

As the morning continued I continued to leak! The children were rather amused by my ‘oh oh’s’ as more water trickled out, and by my dashes to the bathroom. We were all feeling a bit anxious, especially the children, and wondered when things would progress further. To help things along Nush and I went for a walk together while Scott and Elki stayed at home together reading. We walked up the drive and wandered through the plantation that borders our property, our last walk just the two of us. It was an absolutely beautiful morning, we looked at the gorgeous blue sky and the trees reaching up, their leaves silouhetted against the blue. The birds were singing and the sun was shining with warmth. Anusha gave me a leaf which I found days later, dried in my jumper pocket.

As we returned Scott and Elki were sitting out on the verandah in the sun. Scott asked how I was going and I told him I was still feeling the same, no contractions yet, just pressure.

The hours passed and we got the lounge and kitchen more ready; swept the floors, got the tubs out of the bedroom that held the towels, heat packs, sheets, and my birth mat, Scott got a pot of water ready to boil for the heat packs, and he put on a pot of soup for lunch. Slowly I started to feel very mild, irregular contractions, and at about 10:30am I noticed my mucous plug when I went to the toilet. After this the contractions slowly got stronger.

I rang Anni again at about 12pm to let her know how things were going and I said I would ring her again when the contractions were more regular and intense. We also rang family and friends to let them know bubba was coming today.

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We ate some of the lentil soup Scott had made for lunch. I had to eat mine standing up and in between contractions as sitting was starting to become uncomfortable. Over the morning and early afternoon the children busied themselves by playing outside on the trampoline and then crafting at the kitchen table.

As the contractions became more intense I walked around the lounge and kitchen and occasionally outside on the verandah. My feet began to ache so I tried sitting in between contractions, first on Anusha’s little lounge chair, and then on a chair Scott put near the fire for me. I stopped doing this after not long though as when a contraction came on standing up was really unpleasant. We lit my birth candle and put on some essential oil to burn. The children and Scott began to worry about me and started saying perhaps I should ring Anni again now. I didn’t want to ring her too early though, but at the same time she was nearly an hour away and my previous two births had not been that long once contractions started regularly. I told them not to worry and we’d ring Anni soon, all the time walking around. At one point while out on the verandah Anusha said to me, ‘mum, I’m not hassling you but I really think you should ring Anni now’ ‚Äď so sweet.

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I began needing to breath through the contractions, stopping and leaning on the lounge and the back of the chair near the fire. Then at 2:30pm I felt like the contractions had become more intense and required more of my concentration, and it was time to ring Anni. Scott rang for me and she said she would mosey on down.

After this Anusha went around and lit all the tea light candles and we put the curtain down to reduce the light. I continued breathing through my contractions leaning on the back of the chair, and I also had another shower. This eased some of the intensity. I leaned against the bathroom wall, breathing and rocking from side to side and looked out our bathroom window at a beautiful big gum tree thinking of Mother Earth’s power to grow and the tree’s unfurling growth towards the sky. At times during my labour I also thought of and pictured my cervix as an unfolding, opening flower.

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Anni and Liz (Anni’s support/our Doula) arrived at about 3:30pm. Anni got set up and I found out later that Elki and Nush helped Anni set up the oxygen tank on the verandah. After the initial excitement of their arrival things settled down. Elki who is such a vibrant and excitable boy really quietened down as the atmosphere became more peaceful and concentrated. Anni, Liz, and the children sat around the kitchen table as I laboured, Anni checked on me periodically, taking my blood pressure and checking bubba’s heartbeat with a pinard, all was going great.

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I began getting very hot so Liz and Scott got me a cold face washer which I found very helpful, and I cooled my face and chest, putting it on the back of my neck during contractions. Around this time I also started to feel a bit queasy and like I wasn’t getting enough air during contractions. I had some of the juice ice blocks Nusha and I had made and this helped to cool me down and give me a bit more energy.

As the contractions became more and more intense I needed the support of Scott to help me get through them. I leaned on him with my arms around his neck and shoulders and he helped me with his loving words and strength. I got close to transition and felt I couldn’t stand anymore. We had loosely planned that I would birth kneeling on the floor, leaning over the lounge with the fireplace behind me. Scott and Anni got everything ready for the birth, placing a sheet over the lounge and a blanket, towel,¬†and my birth mat on the floor. I knelt down and stripped off my clothes and after breathing through a couple of contractions felt I needed to be a bit more upright. We piled the two big lounge cushions up for me to lean on and Scott sat next to these holding my hands and supporting me through the contractions.

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Anni asked if I wanted her to use the heat packs on my lower front. I remember saying ‘maybe’ not quite able to think enough to decide, so she got them ready to give them a try. The heat packs really helped, dispersing the building pressure and intensity of the contractions. Liz also go me some water at this point as I was feeling thirsty.

It wasn’t long before I could feel the enormous pressure of bubba’s head as he started to move down the birth canal. I remember needing to calm myself at this point, telling myself that I could get through each contraction, one at a time. I would rest in between each contraction without fearing the next. As the pressure increased, bubba’s head moving down and my body opening, I rocked back and forth through each contraction, leaning back and down with Scott supporting my weight by holding my hands tightly.

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As I labour I am silent, I turn inwards, close my eyes, and concentrate on breathing through the contractions. The second stage is the only time that I make any noise at all, and as the pressure of bubba’s head pushed down, the urge to push became irresistable, and I grunted and groaned through the contractions to help bubba out. Anni continued using the heat packs and as I began pushing she placed them from front to back on my vagina and perineum. This was extremely soothing and really helped me through the last contractions. I also remember her telling me I was doing beautifully and encouraging me through this stage.

Bubba’s head crowned and was birthed. As I birthed his head I pushed, groaned, and grunted, and slowed it down by panting rapidly through an open mouth. It was instinctual and his head was born with no grazing or tearing. With my previous births my midwives have told me when to slow down and stop pushing as to not overstretch or tear but this time I followed my instincts and Anni was wonderful, supporting me as I was¬†guided by my body. It’s a wonderful feeling to follow your body’s instincts, with trust and without fear, in the footsteps of generations of birthing women.

I remember either Anni or Liz telling me I could reach down and feel bubba’s head. I had not done this with my previous births, unable to move at this point, but I did this time. I can remember the feeling of his little head, a soft and wet covering of hair and beautifully soft skin. It was so lovely and I remember saying ‘Oh!’ I left my hand on bubba’s head until the next contraction came, then holding Scott’s hand again, pushed and grunted and saying ‘Ow’ birthed bubba’s body.

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This photo is a photo of when I had my hand on bubba’s head before his body was born – a very special moment

Anni caught bubba, turning him as he came out to remove his cord from around his neck (it was wrapped once around his neck). She passed him to me through my legs and Scott said, ‘it’s a boy!’ Bubba gave one cry and was breathing. The cord was still wrapped over his shoulders and around the back of his neck. Scott unwrapped it for me and then I lifted our amazing little boy up to my belly. I then turned around and sat down with him, it was 4:42pm.

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Anusha and Elki had been not far in the kitchen and now came over to see their new baby brother, marvelling at him. They both told me afterwards that they had found the second stage as I birthed bubba a bit distressing and upsetting, not liking to see their mama experiencing pain but once their brother arrived they were in awe and couldn’t wait to have a hold of him. Throughout the earlier parts of labour Elki and Nushi were absolutley wonderful, Elki took all of the photos for me (apart from the ones of bubba emerging which Liz took), and checked up on me every now and then to see if I was okay. It was so lovely to have their reassuring, loving faces and smiles around during the labour. Liz was a fantastic support, sitting and talking with them at the kitchen table; they both appreciated that as well, and told me they chatted to Liz about family, friends, and books.

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After bubba was born we cuddled and adored him, and I introduced him to my breast. We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and I had a couple of attempts at birthing the placenta. We left it a bit longer while bubba had his first feed, waiting for contractions to begin again. Then at about 6:05pm we decided to cut the cord (Annie clamping it with a peg first then replacing it with cotton and I cutting it), I birthed the placenta onto a mat, and then Anni placed it in my placenta bowl. Despite having mild thrombocytopenia I only lost about 50ml of blood, a very minimal amount. Anni showed the placenta to the children, explainging all it’s details. Anusha thought it was cool, Elki thought it was rather disgusting (he’s not one for seeing other people’s blood, let alone organs!).

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After this we settled on the lounge, I got dressed, Anni did some basic checks on bubba and me, and we weighed bubba. He was a very healthy 3.550kg. Eventually we got bubba dressed and sat around near the fire with cups of tea, and Anni and Liz left around 7:30pm. That night and for several after we all slept as a family in the lounge by the fire wanting to be close together as we started our journey as a family of five with our adorable baby boy.

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Now as I finish this it is 9 days after bubba’s birth. We are all totally in love with this perfect little boy and still adjusting to the changes he has brought to our life. We have all gone through times of sadness and grief over the loss of our previous life as just the four of us and Scott and I have also experienced pangs of guilt over now needing to spread our love and attention around three beautiful children, even though we know bubba is a blessed gift for Elki and Anusha, and they are all ready¬†so loving and¬†caring, and have exceeded our expectations of how helpful they would be. We are slowly adjusting and taking one day at a time.

I have had some difficulties with feeding as bubba was not latching on properly. Soon after he was born we noticed with amusement that he was a very vigorous and noisy hand sucker, sucking on the side of his hands and fingers. This meant he was not opening his mouth wide enough and was sucking on my nipples too close to the front of his mouth. Over the first few days my nipples became very sore and blistered but with the help of Anni’s advice and using a nipple shield for about half of his feeds, my nipples have healed and bubba is feeding much better.

As yet I have not left the house as we cocoon ourselves in our little home for this very special, emotional, and magical time. I am so thankful and blessed to have had the homebirth I envisioned and to have had two amazing ladies, Anni and Liz, there to support us. It is such a natural and sacred time to share with your family in your own home and I am so grateful to have birthed our precious, healthy baby as nature intended.

Preparing For Our Homebirth

This bubba came as a beautiful surprise to us after I’d all but given up on being blessed with a third child. Over the past nine months we have been preparing for the homebirth of the fifth member of our family, a homebirth that for the first time will be in our own home.

Much of that preparation has been my own, a lot of reading (my favourite author Ina May Gaskin) and thought, letting go of fears as much as possible and increasing my knowledge on birth, and for the first four months just making it through each day of debilitating morning sickness.

We have been preparing as a family, talking with our beautiful 13 and 8 year old, talking through their anxieties and fears about the birth, what they can do during the birth, and what to expect, also reading stories, the favourite of which has most definitely been Hello Baby by Jenni Overend and My Brother Jimi Jaz by Chrissy Butler, Anusha asking for them to be read over and over.

We have also been preparing our home, creating a natural and peaceful environment for our bubba. We have had some trials, like a bout of shingles that I had to deal with at around 34 weeks. A painful and scary experience when all you want to do is nest and be as healthy as possible for your baby! But now as I have just past my estimated due date I am feeling ready and we are all waiting…

One of the first things I did to prepare for our homebirth was to, of course, wash nappies and more nappies,

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so far all of our nappies are secondhand gifts from our lovely friends.
I began knitting early on in the pregnancy, recently finishing a pair of pants, but still going on a cardigan and burp cloth (which I hope to make more of).

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I went op shopping for secondhand sheets, blankets, and towels, and made my own birth mat from an old mattress protector and flannelette sheet (with some help from Nush),

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I also cut up the secondhand towels and hemmed them to be used as heat packs during the birth. I will not be having a water birth as I need my feet firmly grounded! But I will be using the shower and heat packs for pain relief.

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I have been gathering bubba clothes, some bought, some given, and some old, and doing lots and lots of washing!

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We have been in the kitchen a fair bit. Scott has been cooking up some meals to freeze for after the birth, and Nush helped me with freezing fresh juice ice cubes (and why not make some ice blocks at the same time!) in case I need a sugar boost during the birth,

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I have also been sprouting alfalfa to improve my vitamin K levels as I have mild thrombocytopenia, and we have been stocking the cupboards with essentials for our afterbirth hibernation!

My gorgeous partner and two little ones have started the year’s wood collecting and chopping so our house is nice and warm for bubba,

7th April 2015 247and I have been preparing for the birth with lots of candles, incense, and essential oil. I find candlelight extremely relaxing and meditative and wanted bubba to be born into a low lit, non intrusive environment.

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As the birth has drawn near we celebrated Samhain. As Samhain is a celebration of death and new beginnings, with the beginning of the pagan new year, this was a very special opportunity for us to talk about the passing of our family of four. We talked with the children about the sadness that we may all feel as our lives will never be the same and how this sadness is completely normal. We then talked about the excitement of welcoming our new bubba into our family and the changes this will bring. We had a special meal together, honouring the season with pumpking gnocchi, made biscuits, and carved spirit guides to guide our ancestors to eat with us. I also thought of the spirit guides as guiding the spirit of our bubba to his/her loving family home.

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And now, we are cocooning ourselves in our family home. It is such a special time to be together as we all await the arrival of our little one. We got out the paints yesterday and I suggested to Anusha that she paint a picture of bubba in the womb. This is what she created, so special.

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It was my estimated due date yesterday. We took our last photo as a family of four and Anusha took this last pregnancy photo of me at term.

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We can’t wait to meet this little presence who is already so much a part of our lives and our family. ‚̧