Audrey Jean’s Birth Story by Mom Helen
Content from: Birth Stories – Homebirth Birth Stories
Monday, 17 November 2008 11:17
Our first baby, Audrey Jean Lennon came into the world at home on February 25th 1997 at 4.30pm. She was greeted by her Mum and Dad, and midwives Sara Day and Karen Robb. Our friend Heather also assisted during much of the labour, but missed the birth itself by only a few minutes.
Mark and I had decided before she was even conceived that we wanted to have our baby at home in water with a midwife. We found out we were pregnant on July 6th 1996 while in Victoria visiting Mark’s parents. It was a pretty exciting time for us and we had a hard time not telling everyone we knew and then some. When we got back we went to interview Sara Day and right away we knew she was going to help us have our baby.
Most of our friends and family at first thought that a home water birth was pretty weird, even dangerous but all along I just KNEW that it was the right thing for us to do. I had an overwhelming sense that my body was capable of bringing our baby into the world without any high tech gear or drugs. I wondered all along if my instincts were right, having never done this before, but decided that a positive attitude about our upcoming birth grounded in reality was a good thing for me and my baby.
The pregnancy went by without a hitch as I intuitively knew it would. Both Mark and I are professional trumpet players and I practised and performed up until the day before she was born. Funny thing – now she seems to be calmed by loud brass music! I don’t know if she remembers but we used to talk to her at night before she was born. We’d tell her all about what was going on, about the kitties and Murray the dog and how excited we all were about her coming. I had a dream half way through it was a girl – it was so vivid and the weird thing is my mother had the same dream when she was pregnant with me.
The due date was March 12th 1997 but Sara seemed to think it would be late and we’d read that first babies are usually late so we thought it would probably come by March 20th. But by the middle of February I was ready to go anytime. I wasn’t that big but I felt huge and uncomfortable and was wishing it would come sooner. I was getting up at night alot to pee and we figured later that it was because the head was pretty low. About a week before the birth I got a really bad cold and that made me even more uncomfortable. To top it all off I was trying to practice for a big concert in Red Deer that I had lots of solos in. I was still thinking I had lots of time to relax and get ready and was really looking forward to it.
But my little sweetpea had other plans. On Saturday February 22nd, the day of the concert in Red Deer I started to lose the mucous plug, but there were no contractions yet. We were totally unprepared and hadn’t even gotten half of the stuff that Sara said we needed for a home water birth. So after consulting with Sara I sent Mark out shopping while I drove to Red Deer for the dress rehearsal and concert with the symphony. On the way I was talking to the baby, saying that it had to wait till after Monday to come and before next Saturday because I had a concert on Monday and one on Saturday. The concert in Red Deer went off without a hitch and we got home with no problems.
Two days later on Monday nothing else had happened so we thought the baby had decided to wait a bit longer. I was booked to teach a clinic and play at a funeral on Tuesday but I had this weird feeling of really not wanting to do either of them and I didn’t know why. I found out why at 1am on Tuesday when the contractions started – she had listened to what I had said in the car about waiting till after Monday!
I had gone to bed kind of late that night and couldn’t sleep ’cause I just couldn’t get comfortable. So I got up after a while and played cards on the computer and then tried to go to sleep again but no luck. Then I started to realise that I was feeling uncomfortable at regular intervals, every few minutes, and that it felt kind of like cramps. When I had to empty my bowels at 2am I knew this was it. I waited a bit longer to make sure and then finally at 2.30am I woke Mark and told him the show was on. He was really sweet and stayed up with me all night.
At 3.45am we phoned Sara to let her know what was happening and she said it sounded like the real thing. We started writing down the time and length of the contractions. They felt like bad menstrual cramps and were coming every 3 to 4 minutes but they weren’t too bad. Sara said to call her again when things got more intense and she would come over. At 6am we phoned our friend Heather to let her know ’cause she had agreed to be there to help us, and Mark phoned the bus company to let them know he wasn’t coming to work that day. Also we cancelled my gigs and the students that were supposed to come that day.
Heather came over with Jessye the dog and Paul came over and took her and Murray to his place for the day. Mark made breakfast, scrambled eggs with toast and veggie bacon but I wasn’t that hungry. It was a pretty relaxed atmosphere and though we were excited and surprised things were happening this early there was a sense of everything being right. We phoned my Mum to let her know the baby was coming but we couldn’t find Mark’s parents. They were holidaying in California and had their cell phone turned off!
Around 9am I got in the bathtub – it felt much better and Karen called to say she was coming over to check on us. The contractions were still coming every few minutes and it felt good if I moaned in a low voice through them. When Karen checked me she found I was already dilated 4cm so we were all thrilled to have gotten so far with so little effort. She also checked the heartbeat and my blood pressure and said that everything was good. She had phoned Sara and they were a bit worried because I hadn’t had any sleep since Sunday night and I was sick with a cold. They decided to see if they could slow down the labour by giving me a drink so I could get some sleep but it didn’t work – this baby was determined to come.
Pretty soon Heather had to leave to play a kiddies concert with the CPO but she promised she would be back soon. I was in and out of the tub all morning and Karen stayed with us getting the tub ready and making sure we were OK. I tried to lay down a few times and rest between contractions and Sara phoned to say she would be over around 12.30pm after some appointments. When Heather came back the contractions were a bit harder and it felt good to have someone rub down my back and legs during them. Mark was busy helping Karen get everything ready and making lunch – spiral pasta with Classico Florentine sauce, funny how you remember the silliest details. I had a little bit but didn’t feel like too much.
After lunch Heather had to leave again for a rehearsal and at Karen’s suggestion we went for a walk to get things moving. I didn’t want to go too far so we went out to the back yard and walked around there. Now things got more intense and I got much more serious. Mark said I kind of went into my own zone and he followed me around the back yard feeling a bit useless. Sara arrived around 1.30pm and once she was there I knew I would have this baby soon – I guess subconsciously I had been waiting for her before I really got going. I was dying to get in the tub but they wanted me to wait a bit longer until things really got going so it wouldn’t slow down the labour. After I came inside I lay down for a while and Sara stayed with me while Mark took a nap.
Finally around 2pm they let me get into the tub and it was bliss. They had set it up in front of the stereo in the basement but by this time I didn’t want to listen to any music. I had always thought I’d want to listen to the slow movement of Bruckner 7 during labour but when the time came I just wanted quiet. I slept between contractions and Karen and Mark took turns pouring water over my belly during them. At some point Karen checked me again and I was 6cm dilated.
Things were getting harder now and I had to concentrate on relaxing and thinking of “open and down” during the contractions, which were much longer now. Sara and Karen kept telling me it would get easier when the water broke so that kept me going. I kept thinking it would happen each contraction but it never did. It was hard at this point but Sara encouraged me and I knew it wouldn’t be long now.
Around 4pm they suggested I get out of the tub for a minute so they could check me and put some more hot water in. Karen checked me in the bathroom and could feel the bag of waters bulging out and said I was fully dilated. I could feel it too and then Karen checked again and the water broke. It came out in a big gush into the toilet and it was a huge relief. Right away though the contractions came hard and fast. The baby had dropped right down and was right there. I was surprised because I thought once the water broke I would get a break and be able to rest a bit but it didn’t happen that way for me.
They helped me get back into the tub and the next half an hour was very intense. It was happening a bit fast for me so I was trying not to push but my body was doing it anyway – it was like I was just along for the ride. Pretty soon we could see the head coming out in the mirror and once I could see that little head I knew it was really going to happen. We were having a baby! Sara told me to put my hand down and I felt the top of my baby’s head for the first time. It was so soft and delicate.
I pushed for a little bit and then the head was ready to be born. With the next contraction Sara coached me to huff and slowly it slid out. Mark and I reached down to feel it and I could even feel two tiny ears. Time seemed to stand still and I felt this calmness all of a sudden. Later as we watched the video we heard Karen say that the cord was wrapped around the neck but at the time I never heard that as I was in another world. The next contraction came after a few minutes and this perfect little person made her way into the water and into the world. She came out looking so peaceful and wise and Karen and Mark handed her straight to me and I lay her on my chest. She was so tiny but somehow so wise. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. It sounds corny but it really was a miracle.
It didn’t take long for her to make her first noises – just little cries of surprise as she took her first breaths. Karen and Sara were busy checking her heartbeat and vitals as Mark and I got to know her. After a couple of minutes we decided to see what she was – I guess I knew all along that it was a girl but I was scared to be too sure about it in case I was wrong. Heather arrived a few minutes later (boy was she disappointed) and we all admired her before Dad cut the cord.
We snuggled for a bit longer in the tub before Mark and Heather took her and I delivered the placenta and got cleaned up. I had a tiny vaginal wall tear that didn’t need suturing but stung like hell for a while. After Karen had finished the new-born exam I held my little girl and nursed her for the first time. She seemed so content and calm – so unlike all the stereotypical images we see of new-borns. She finished nursing and promptly fell asleep while we celebrated around her.
While Karen and Sara cleaned up (I swear you couldn’t tell anything had happened once they were done), we phoned our relatives and some friends and waited for the pizza to come. It was like a party, a couple of friends dropped by to see her, flowers started arriving and we feasted on pizza. By 10pm we were exhausted so we sent everybody home and Mark and I crawled into bed with our little Audrey.
Having had a birth this way I’m SO glad we went this way and would never choose to go to a hospital. I recovered so quickly – we went to the symphony when she was three days old and I played a concert when she was four days old. As I write this she is a happy and healthy five month old and we can’t believe how lucky we are to have her in our lives. Our friends and family have all been impressed with our decision to have a home birth (after the fact) – one look at her is enough to convince them. We’re practising attachment parenting and it’s working well for all of us – she literally glows with happiness.