"The medical field completed my home-birth experience!"
I never thought these would be the words I would have to utter!
This is a story of dying to everything I had envisioned for my birth, a complete soul decimation.
Planned home births attended by a midwife have about a 5% chance of ending in c-section, with the national average for c-sections being around 31%.
During my pregnancy in South Africa, this average was around 77%, an average I had no intention of contributing towards.
My partner and I both desired and planned for a home birth the way that some people map out their careers or wedding day.
After seeing all the corruption that was going on in the medical system, we knew that our beliefs and lifestyle habits may be difficult to manage in a hospital setting, and with all the restrictions we decided to go our own way.
I also strongly know when it comes to listening to my wise feminine body I’m all tuned, so this route felt most natural and aligned.
I did everything…
Getaways in nature
Rest, Rest, Rest
My first trimester was about clearing up old patterns that were still lingering and getting through the nausea. Pregnancy leaves nothing untouched and has a way of bringing up matters that need your loving awareness.
The rest of my pregnancy was pure ecstasy. I was super creative during this time and my business reached all time highs. During this time I also formed a Women’s community experiencing some of the most incredible heartfelt deep connections with women I’ve barely even known and this community keeps on growing today.
There is no doubt that I really enjoy being pregnant. Nothing is more delightful than having a belly bump - the one opportunity where you can just let it all hang out, while stroking your belly and baby is just utter bliss.
So far everything was going according to plan until I passed my “due date” which most first time Mama’s all do.
Approaching 41 weeks and still no sign of this little one's arrival we decided to do all the natural ways of induction to get things moving. Acupuncture, Chiro, Shiatsu massages, walking, nature, lots of sex, spicy foods, stretch and sweep and yet still no sign.
42 weeks plus 2 days approaching, and we needed to make some important decisions. The first thing was to go in for another scan to make sure everything was still ok. The results were a “big” baby over 4kg, with no sign of baby engaging and my cervix, which was still closed and thick.
The advice given was to have an induction on Sunday evening, the 19th of December, which would mean having to change my home-birth to a hospital birth.
I had half a day to think things through. Tapping into my bodily wisdom I had a strong feeling that I would go into labour on the Full Moon of the 18 December, a day before the official induction date.
Being an astrologer, and sensitive to the energies of the moon, I was certain that this would be the day. There was a deep significance about this day - which was that it was the last full moon of 2020, the same day that I had a miscarriage, and little did I know (or I did know) that the last full moon of 2021 I was going into labour.
This felt like a beautiful reminder on how life comes back full circle!
On the other hand, though, I was being guided within to change my home-birth to a hospital birth for reasons I could not yet see. From somewhere deep within it felt aligned, and my being moved into a full and embodied “yes”.
As hard as it was, I made the change trusting that my inner compass will safely navigate me to shore - as difficult as this was to accept.
That evening I cried and mourned my home birth experience as I sat in our deflated birthing pool, reassuring myself that my intuition was guiding me and that I just needed to trust the process.
The morning of the Full Moon at 10 am, just as I had predicted, I awoke to labour pains… my baby was coming!
This was not just some ordinary day it was thee most glorious, warm, blue-skied summers day. The ocean was calm, a deadly calm, no waves which is unlike our oceans in this neck of the woods.
I could feel the magic in the air on this day - my baby was making its way to Earth 🌎
I laboured from 10am till about 5.30pm at home, still able to walk and and visit the ocean for one last swim.
By 5.30pm the contractions had escalated, still semi-manageable but they had my attention. I wanted to labour as much as I could at home and alone before heading to the hospital. I put on music, lit some candles and enjoyed a warm bath, while my partner started preparing us a meal.
By 10.30pm the contractions escalated and were taking me further to my edge and so we decided to head off to the hospital. At this point I had to really go in deep with each contraction to find some soothing relief.
As I arrived at the hospital, I was welcomed by my incredible Doula, Charlene, who had turned our private hospital room into a home. It had been set up to accommodate my desire to feel as if I was birthing at home.
The lights were dimmed, beautiful soothing music playing in the background, the smell of soft lavender essence and the sound of warm water filling up the big bath tub - which was where I spent most of my time labouring.
With each contraction, Charlene was there, massaging me, pouring water down my back, feeding me ice cubes, comforting me through each surge, she never left my side.
My partner, my solid rock, was right there too - holding my hand through each and every bolt of lightning moving through, with forehead kisses and words of encouragement.
By 3am, the contractions had completely taken over that I was now vomiting and shaking. It was become very difficult to even breathe through them.
Another 4 hours of intense excruciating labour and finally by 7.30am the Gynaecologist had arrived, letting us know that I was 8cm and it could be a couple more hours.
A couple more hours…you must be crazy I said! I can barely get through one more contraction.
Excruciating sensations cursing through every fibre of my being, my whole sacrum and lower back felt as if it was being ripped apart. Contractions were rolling in every minute, leaving me with no space to even catch my breath.
I could not intuit anything, I was officially beyond exhausted - 21 hours of labouring, I was done!
So I made a choice…Epidural! This was not a decision I had made lightly. I tried to avoid all pain relief, but this was an aligned and fully embodied yes!
And so I followed through.
This helped me relax, which in turn allowed baby and my cervix to fully dilate to 10cm!
In less than an hour I was ready to push! The moment I had been waiting for.
I pushed and pushed like never before. However, over an hour of pushing and using the suction cup, our baby was just not coming.
“Emergency C-Section!” were the next words I heard! “
You really gave it all you had Vanessa”
“Your baby’s head is not in a good position, deflexed and not coming through the birth canal.”
My heart shattered into a thousand pieces. Crying internally I uttered to myself, “You are not a failure. You are not broken. You are so strong.” These words fuelled me.
Our daughter was born December 19 at 12.30 pm.
As we heard her very first cry both my partner and I burst into tears.
As soon as she was on my chest the flood of love came pouring through me - she was everything I had hoped for, and is my everything!
Welcome to Earth, Phoenix~Rose!
I do have a confession to make.
I was the first to judge myself and other Mamas relating to birth. I had believed that no pain relief and vaginal birth was the only “natural way”, when in truth, birth is breaking, transformative and unique for each Mama!
There is so much stigma around pain relief during labour. I wish this wasn't such a silent, almost shameful, hush hush subject. I wish all Women could share their birth stories and decisions to take pain relief without fearing judgment. Society has created an image of Woman as these "Super Women" giving her a badge of honour if she decides to have no pain-relief interventions. No, No, No!! Birth is breaking as much as its empowering! There is a point in every woman's birth where she has reached her edge and to continue would be doing more harm to herself, its a fine line and only SHE knows. Its time we burn these old beliefs and rather let our wise feminine bodies gently guide us rather than society dictate.
There are over a million ways to birth and create. There is no right or wrong way. There is your way, your unique and powerful birthing story necessary for your evolutionary growth and expansion. And that expansion is not always comfortable.
I have learnt that birth in all modalities is beautiful and I no longer hold expectations for birth to look a certain way.
I’ve also come to accept that the medical field does have its place here too, it’s just the abuse, power and greed of certain individuals and corporations that have polluted the system. Being informed and finding the right medical practitioners who can support your journey is key.
Thank god for c-sections as back in the olden days many women and babies were left to die.
Overall, I gave birth.
I showed the strength of a Woman who held life for 9 months and brought that life earth-side.
I experienced it all - from the preparation of a home-birth, daily interactions with my Doula and Midwife, listening to my intuition and making those changes, being flexible and adaptive, knowing when to take action, labouring at home, labouring in a bathtub, labouring in hospital, vaginal pushing to emergency c-section.
Sometimes we can have a very specific and detailed idea of what we want, only for nature to take its own course, ultimately giving us something completely different.
If we are too attached to the idea we cause ourselves more pain and suffering.
If we are like water - ever changing and moving, we open ourselves up to an even “better” outcome or experience than we could ever have imagined. Even if we don’t yet see it like that immediately, sometimes the lessons and their wisdom only come days or even months after.
A successful birth is certainly not determined by our vaginas! And a cut in our bellies is not a failure.
I want my story to give a voice to others who have experienced an unplanned c-section or a birth that may not have looked the way they had intended.
You did it!
You gave birth!
You are powerful!
You are a Mother!
This is worth celebrating!