The Home Water Birth that almost didn't happenFeb 28, 2023
First off, this little one stayed quiet and undiscovered til about 10 weeks into the pregnancy.
This is because I was still breastfeeding my third child and didn't have a cycle or bleed to go by, nor was I paying much attention.
But ahoy, we were clearly spot on with the egg and sperm meet ups!
It was the subtle things that in retrospect were my "signs" of pregnancy.
The craving for Nachos, for Bak Chor Mee, the stronger flavours of high density nutrition that we mistakenly associate with junk food...
I also began to have a fair measure of breastfeeding aversion and could not wait to wean my baby #3 who was at the time just 15 months old.
I had innocently put this phenomenon down to stress.
It finally twigged, when after a short cab ride, I got unbelievably nauseous, and thought it was best to check.
I felt a little excited.
Imagine adding a fourth little angel to our family?
I sent the 3 kids up to their music class and made my way to the nearest pharmacy.
I bought the cheapest pregnancy kit available and went into the public toilets and peed on it.
Oh my god.
We were at the peak of relationship issues at this time.
I was going through a rough patch and had exploded so many times, things were on edge to say the least.
Moreover, between us, stupid arguments were flavour of the day, arguing about everything including arguing about how we argued.
I was beyond tired of it all.
And so, the news hit me like a wake up call, and I was humbled.
I realised, no matter how shitty it was at the moment, God has decided we have the strength to see one more angel through life.
Not only that.
This heavenly being chose us.
This raised my eyes up to more everlasting things, and helped me come out of the rut and see a little bit beyond the petty arguments.
I texted the photo of the positive test to my momfriends and siblings.
Awe and celebrations on WhatsApp!
(and some thinking it was a positive covid test, ha ha!)
So I was pregnant. Anything from 5 to 20 weeks possibly?
Midwife Red said, your baby is due on Valentine's Day.
The challenges along the way
The following week, we all got a fever and actually tested positive for covid!
Our helper flew home for a well deserved break.
My mum moved out in order not to get sick with us.
We quarantined for 2 weeks just Neil, a pregnant Me and the 3 kids.
We did fine!
We kept our kitchen clean, the laundry done, the kids well fed, and only 2-3 new lizards came to live with us LOL
Finally, we got to see Dr Paul Tseng!
Just how pregnant was I? Let's see!
Bedside ultrasound scan, and Dr Paul says, I'm about 12 weeks and due on Valentine's Day!
I text Red that she was spot on.
July til Dec went fast.
Festive shenanigans have a way of stealing time from you!
By December, despite a relaxing babymoon in Bali, and having the best blood test results ever (including all my key nutrients), without needing to rely on prenatal vitamins...
I could feel my Kidney Jing deplete.
My voice got less powerful, and it became an effort to speak audibly.
My sleeps were affected.
My appetite was in turn affected.
I also felt more Braxton Hicks, yet it was frankly too early for any labour related activity.
I switched out weight training for pilates.
I decided to max out on sleep to break this cycle. (Cue CALM + DEEP SLEEP. So glad I invented them!)
The last thing: My midwife Red Miller asked, are you drinking enough?
"Tell me exactly how much you're drinking."
And I was busted; 3 glasses a day wasn't enough!
Guess what happened when I pushed from 3 glasses of water a day to 8?
I got energised!
Even the Braxton hicks slowed down.
What seemed like an early labour at 35 weeks (which we would need neonatal care for and could not have a home birth)...morphed into something else.
I also experienced some anxiety during this time, because I knew birthing was not a walk in the park.
During one of my prenatal with Red, she led me into a place inside of me where I found a lot of trust, and from there came a lot of power.
This pregnancy slowly but surely stabilised.
To the point we were now counting just how long more it would take.
Fear and apprehension of the birthing process began to make way for excitement.
Milestone after a milestone, we passed the 37 week mark, then 38 weeks... then we crossed the Chinese zodiac from Tiger to Rabbit!
Then we moved firmly into February...and then 39 weeks...
I was immensely proud of where we had come to.
When my babies are well baked, they tend to have an easier time with breastfeeding and growing in their early days.
I go to sleep at 10 or 11, after some doom scrolling on Instagram...
At 12, I feel some Braxton hicks but manage to stay semi-asleep through them.
At 1am, I have to get up for water, and a poop. (A telltale sign!)
I call my midwife, to whom I say, let me see how the next hour goes, since I always have my babies at the break of dawn.
She says, what if this one isn't a break of dawn baby, what if it's a middle of the night baby?
She also hears me surge twice in our 6 minute call.
She gathers her birth assist and our birth photographer and makes her way here with them coming from all parts of the island.
I labour on my own while Neil looks around everywhere for an adapter to blow up the kids pool...
He begins hosing water into the pool. It swizzles and sprays water all over the room.
I glare daggers at him, and wished he would at least appear like he knew what he was doing.
Soon, I have no time to think anymore.
The surges get closer and closer together and they are ALL intense.
It feels good to make a loud low noise with them.
Sometimes the low and open sound that I wish to make, doesn't go to plan and sounds like a high pitched and resistant shriek.
Neil says while filling up the birth pool, "You're doing well, remember, low and open sounds, ooh and ahhh"
"Shut up!" I say.
I lean into each surge, and they make me want to squat down. I roar. 🦁
I remember that with each surge, I am closer and closer to meeting my amazing little baby. (The birthing prayers and affirmations were well remembered!)
I'm in the zone of focus during the surges.
When the idea of pain came in, I gently challenged them in my mind, thinking, what really, IS pain?
Each surge felt like I was in a waterpark, following the flow of the float upon the slides. You can't stop it, you can only decide to lean into the float and enjoy the ride.
In between the surges my midwife arrives and feel further a sense of calm and trust.
As it begins to get more intense I become sensitive to the fact that Neil is not able to be 100% focussed on me, and feel annoyed that he can't be.
At this speed he's watching the water temperature, putting towels out, watching his phone for the intercom and just about managing to delegate the filling of the tub to my mum.
He tries his best.
For a couple of surges he is here for me and I hang onto his arms and sink into a squat.
"I'm gonna poo!"
Red says, "There's no poo, I've got you. Your baby's right here."
I put my hands down and a little into my vagina, and feel a bubble. The amniotic sac is bulging out, sooo cute, I thought!
Next surge, the sac breaks. Water splashes onto the towels on the floor.
I'm leaning over the half filled kids pool... and everyone is poised to catch the baby at the next surge.
But I say "I'm going to go in, OK?"
Affirming sign from Red.
I climb in.
During the next surge, my right hand grabs onto Red and I think I squeezed her so tight, I owe her an apology!
My left hand reaches down and I feel the head. It blobs out in one push!
My baby's head is out!
I wait for the next surge just seconds later, and let baby's body out.
At this point it all happened so quick that I lost hold of the baby, and baby shot out into the pool.
"Catch him!" I say, while I caught sight of his splayed out body in the water, testicles and all. (It's a boy!)
I somehow get into a position that doesn't tangle me up with the umbilical cord which is thankfully very loooong, and I lay back into the pool and Red hands me my baby and I let him lay on my chest.
It's only about 2am!
I call for the kids to be woken up and brought in.
My mum and Helper come in too.
We all take a breath here and soak in the wow.
Baby is very loud, communicating his bafflement as it was indeed fast and furious, a sudden introduction to the laws of nature!
Post birth ongoings
We rest for a bit...
I take a few bites of my frozen Hydralyte lolly...
And when I'm ready, I come out of the pool with my baby in my arms, into bed, surrounded by the glow of oxytocin, of awe from everyone around about the speed at which it all happened (Angelyn our birth assist I think made it for the last 3 minutes!)
I slurp up about 3 glasses of water that Midwife Red and my mum ensures I do. Birthing is thirsty work!
The cord stops pulsing and we gather the kids around. Nat wants to cut the cord again. We get on with that.
And I deliver the placenta with Red's help gently pressing over my pubic bone.
Schloop, out it comes.
Away Red goes to inspect the placenta and it turns into an approving and admiring session of "Wow it is so juicy and red..."
"The amniotic sac is so strong! Look, no shreds! What have you been eating?"
Some post birth uterine cramps as the uterus begins its shrinking process.
I get up and go pee.
Neil notices I'm bouncing around everywhere and walking as if I hadn't just given birth.
Must be the adrenalin.
Red says slow down. Ha ha!
Red examines my perineum and it's intact!
Some wounds inside the vagina which I will care for by keeping my legs closed, and staying quiet for the next 7 or more days so it can heal well.
Nothing that needs a stitch. I feel amazing about that.
We weigh the baby.
3.3kg, the heaviest of all my 4!
Well done us!
We all enjoy a drink, and mum steams some Tau Sar Pau [red bean bun] for everyone which was a welcome delight!
Neil and my helper bring the kids back to their rooms and they fall back asleep pretty quickly.
Red and team stay another 4-5 hours doing the needful, ensuring I'm stable... watching closely for any bleeds or clots ...
And finally they make their departure, leaving me and Neil basking in the awe of having our beautiful baby boy earthside with us now, and letting all of it sink in.
My learning points:
- Water. I perked up with 8-10 glasses a day, totally wilted with just 3!
I am a houseplant.
- I needed to respect my need for 10h sleep plus a nap!
- Sustainable nutrition, optimized with the right nutrient tests, without the need for prenatal vitamins.
- Getting educated on just what an empowered birth is, as nature intended.
- Tuning into the spiritual journey of it all
- Pain? What is pain?
- Choosing your support team intentionally.
- Curating the pregnancy, birth and postnatal experience for myself.
- Vocalising, asking for help, delegating.
- Doing less. Achieving more.
What helped me get educated and empowered
From Fear to Love: Your guide to a fearless magical birth, Red Miller
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin
Red Miller's Vibrant Pregnancy Program
My previous experiences with a doctor-led home birth, several midwife-led homebirths, and my own experience in obstetrics, "delivering babies" in hospitals with the "usual procedures".
[Birth photography by Keidi Lin, Unisonphoto]