Giving Birth in Paradise
by Jennifer VanLaanen-Smit, Maui Hawaii
The day that my daughter was born, my son and I awoke early (5:30 am) which is very rare for us. Usually we are up around 8:30 or 9:00. I started to have contractions accompanied by abdominal cramps. The contractions were nothing new, as I had been having them off and on for weeks now. I ended up in the bathroom, as I had loose stool. I thought that the cramps were due to a mango I had eaten the night before so I didn’t take them seriously. As usual, my 2 and 1/2 year-old son and I went to the local library for story time at 10:00. We usually walk around town afterwards, but this time we came straight home. I kept thinking that a heating pad to my abdomen would help with the cramping.
At home, I read books to my son. At 12:00, I called my husband Erik to come home and help with lunch and our son. I wanted to either stay in the bathroom or curl up in bed with a heating pad. When Erik came home thirty minutes later, I had a bloody show. I then knew that this was it! I was so excited – we all were. I got the changing room ready with Erik’s help, Erik got our son some lunch, and then the two of them went for a walk outside to let me be alone – as I wanted to be.
At around 2:30, Erik put our son down for his nap. I began feeling hard back labor as the contractions intensified. I knew that things were starting now. I asked Erik to massage my lower back and he did . . . for three hours! (It felt so good, I wouldn’t let him stop, even to pee!) The air was cool as it was lightly raining on this Thursday afternoon. I had a small portable heater going on to warm the room for my baby’s arrival. In the beginning of this, what I call “working labor” (labor I need to focus on), I stood up holding onto the front of our wooden changing table. I sang something that sounded like an Indian chant as I rocked my pelvis back and forth. I pushed up on my abdomen to move the baby off my lower back and towards my cervix. This helped with my back pain, as did the massage Erik was doing.
During transition, I rested between uterine “hugs” by leaning forward onto a mound of pillows stacked up onto the changing table. From this time on, I was totally silent as I concentrated on complete relaxation. I repeated to myself, “I am completely relaxed. My body knows exactly what it is doing. I am not fighting this in any way.” I got down onto my knees, holding onto the front of the changing table when I felt the urge to push. With my hand, I felt the bag of water pushing out of my cervix. . .like a bubble. It was very strong and thick. I tried to break it with my fingernails (thinking the water flow would whoosh the baby down), but the bag would not pop. After a few strong, intense pushes, the water did indeed break and I felt the baby descend the birth canal. Erik said that he saw meconium in the water. This slightly panicked me. It took about 5 pushes for my daughter to be born. Erik was excited when she crowned. He was doing perineum massage with oil and supporting my perineum with his hands. Her head came out and I yelled, “Ouch!” as I felt myself tear toward the front of my yoni.
She came out slowly . . .her head, shoulders, waist and finally out came all of her with a small gush of water. Erik caught her and placed her in my arms, as I sat down to hold her close to me. “A girl!” I knew she was a girl. She looked so small and so beautiful. I looked up and there was my son standing in the doorway. It was dark out, with the rain, and the room was lit with candles . . . and with the light coming in from behind the doorway, he looked like an angel. He had awakened from his nap when our baby cried her first cry as she was being born.
It was now 5:30pm. I told my daughter that I loved her and that she was wanted and I thanked her for coming to live with us. We all welcomed her into our family. We watched the cord and when it started to turn white. . .Erik clamped one end and cut it. He caught the cord blood in a test tube to test for the RH factor later (I am Rh- and my husband is Rh+). As it turned out, her blood type was Rh-, like mine. So I had no need to contemplate the RhoGam question, which I did with my Rh+ son.
We were both cold and Erik drew us a warm bath. As I was getting into the tub, the placenta dropped right out (about 10 minutes after her birth). I cleaned the blood off of us, I seemed to be bleeding quite a bit. I got out of the bath and blood poured out of me. I told Erik to give me the shot of pitocin that I had in case of emergency. He did and the bleeding slowed, then stopped. Soon we were warm and cozy and nursing in our family bed. Erik put the heater in the bedroom, so that we stayed warm. We weighed and measured Scout, she was 9 lbs. 10 oz. and 22″ long! Erik cleaned up everything and fixed dinner for himself and our son, and some tea for me.
My son had been born at home with a midwife who was a sweet dear friend, but I planned to have this baby unassisted. It was so nice not to have anyone else there to interfere or disturb the birth. Even talking bothered me. I need silence at birth. Now as I look back, I wish Erik had not said anything about the meconium because the fear that something might be wrong caused me to push her out in a rushed way and I tore. I did not breathe her out as I wished to.
During my pregnancy, I spent 15 minutes a day visualizing the birth. And down to the minute it was the way I visualized it, except for the pain, the blood and the tear. But I did it! I had an unassisted homebirth. I had no fear and was relaxed. I am happy with this birth and feel proud of myself. There is no other way to give birth.