Childbirth for me was a humbling experience.
I went through pregnancy with flying colours, I felt strong and healthy and every blood test reflected that. Not one hiccup.
I attended a Calm Birth course and spent weeks getting my room ready as I was planning to have a water birth at home with two incredible independent midwives.
Every day I meditated and visualised exactly how I wanted to give birth. In my mind I saw myself and my husband together in the birthing pool, giving birth and carrying our precious baby through my legs and up into my arms.
There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that that’s how it would all happen, I was in the best mind frame in the days leading up to labour and I felt only positive, calm and happy vibes.
It was a Tuesday and I went into pre-labour. I spent the first day trying to rest and conserve my energy as I knew I would need every ounce of it for the grand finale.
It was one of my requests to have as little internal examinations as possible. One of my midwives arrived on the Wednesday night as I felt I was progressing and thought I would probably birth my baby early hours on Thursday morning.
Thursday came and no sign of baby just yet. Everyone decided it was best to rest again as I was still in pre-labour. That did not come easy as I was sure I was in actual labour and any women who have tried lying down on their side to ‘rest’ would know it is not easy whilst breathing through contractions.
Friday came and still no baby yet. Although all signs from baby the whole time had been calm, happy and battling pre-labour like a boss. I was still hanging in there too, just.
Friday night everything was extremely intense, I felt like I was having an out of body experience, I couldn’t talk to anyone and all I wanted to do was focus on my breathing.
This was it, I felt it was almost time, my husband carried me from the shower and placed me into the warm birthing pool and together we worked as a team to breathe, rub my lower back and get through each contraction.
Time was passing by, it was now early hours of Saturday morning and I kept thinking how much longer will this go on for? I felt my body was extremely exhausted, I almost had nothing else left to give. So I asked my midwives for an internal.
After a long pre-labour (which felt like actual labour) I was finally in established labour, but only just. My midwife calmly held my arm and told me I was 6cm dilated. I burst hysterically into tears. I remember saying ‘what’s wrong with me, why aren’t I progressing?’. My baby’s heart rate had been so calm and normal the whole time but I knew within myself I couldn’t go on much longer. I was so determined to have a natural, drug-free, home birth but the thought kept crossing my mind that I might actually need help.
I made the decision to transfer to hospital. I knew I didn’t want an epidural but I needed something. So I left home which broke my heart. At that point I knew I was leaving behind my dream of having a home birth and we made our way to the hospital.
From Saturday morning, I had 3 sterile water injections, too many internals to remember, bucket loads of more tears, every single muscle in my body aching and a million micro sleeps. By Saturday afternoon I knew in my heart something wasn’t right and my one and only fear was about to become my reality.
I was still only 6cm dilated and was told I would need a C-section.
I hysterically burst into tears again, knowing that after 4 days of labouring for my little love, that was my only option left.
I gave birth to Ziggy Jacob Winterstein on Saturday afternoon and my life changed forever.
I knew in my heart it would take a while to process everything that had happened at home and in hospital. Not only did my body need to physically heal but my soul needed healing too.
There were days I grieved the loss of the home birth I had so carefully planned. I felt sad that I never experienced pushing my son out and I needed time to find the reason in ‘why’ Ziggy’s birth went the way it did. I remember looking back and thinking to myself that I had such a perfect pregnancy, I was low risk, completely healthy and capable of having a home birth, and yet I ended up in hospital having a C-section with my first born child. How could this be. I wondered if my body had failed me.
Leading up to Ziggy’s birth I knew I had to surrender to my body, let go and trust that it could birth my baby. But in hindsight I realise I had to learn to surrender to the hospital system and trust them to keep myself and my baby safe. Ziggy’s cord was around his head which was stopping him from coming down the canal and I was assured by my own midwives and the midwives at the hospital, that it would have been extremely difficult for him to be born naturally.
People say “well at least you got a healthy baby, that’s all that matters” and part of that is true. I am eternally grateful to live in a country where I have access to hospital facilities in times of emergency. But I’ve always believed that a healthy Mum is just as important and how I felt about my baby’s birth mattered too.
Having a C-section was a huge shock to my system. I have never had any kind of major surgery before and weeks after the birth I felt the effects of the antibiotics and drugs given to me in hospital.
In my recovery I felt disconnected from my body, something I am not use to at all. It was a real struggle to move around, I was in pain, I was extremely exhausted from a long labour and my gut health (which is very important to me) was suffering from the drugs and surgery. Trying to heal and recover from surgery while trying to nurture and care for my newborn baby without my husband (who had to fly back to Japan) by my side, was by far the most challenging time in my life.
5 months have passed and I can now look at the photos of my son being born and feel good about the whole experience. I think it’s because I can feel my body is getting fit and strong again and I know my heart has healed.
I have always believed that everything happens for a reason.
I realise now that God had bigger plans for me than I had planned for myself. I didn’t get the home birth that I so badly wanted (one day I will) but Ziggy’s birth was exactly how it needed to be.
I learnt so much from the whole experience, it taught me new things I didn’t know about myself, it showed me the true meaning of inner strength and it made me feel empowered from everything I went through. My birth experience transformed me into a fiercely protective and passionate Mother. I know now that if I can do childbirth and the recovery after childbirth, then I can do anything in life. I look down at my scar and it’s a beautiful reminder of where my son came from and to be grateful always.
Each day I stare at my son and fall deeper in love with him. I feel proud to be able to share my home/hospital birth story and I look back and give thanks.
Sometimes things don’t always happen the way you plan and that’s ok.
It took some time but now I feel at peace with it all.
Whether it’s a natural home birth, a hospital birth with pain relief or a cesarean section, ‘Every Birth Is Sacred’.