First Birth, Free Birth, Still Born - My Birth Story
August 10, 2018
***This is a free stillbirth story***
I feel as though I gave birth to so many things in my experience with a freebirth. One being a rebirth of myself. A new understanding of who I was. Another being a passion, a purpose.
I've never written my story out before. So, without further ado! Here we go:
I had just met the man of my dreams. I was 21, wildly floating through life, looking for answers when I first experienced and listened to that feeling of knowing. I knew from the moment I saw him, we were going to spend years together. Literally that moment! We fell fast. Our love was radical.
We rented a tiny cottage on the ocean right away in my home town. He worked 4.5 hours away but drove back and forth every weekend until he found work near me. There was no keeping us apart.
The cottage was a very special place to me. My grandparents built it and spent many years baking pies and watching the tide fluctuate. I lived here as a child when my parents divorced and have many memories tied to that little slice of heaven.
Three months after we met, I was feeling off..my boobs hurt like hell and everything tasted odd. I knew something was going on. My partner, Scott, was away for work but I couldn't wait for him to take a pregnancy test. My dog, Arlo was there supporting me when I peed on the stick in my tiny bathroom with his big eyes staring at me. He knew.. He definitely knew he was going to have to share me, again! I had already broken his heart when I brought Scott home. Two faint lines appeared right away and my hands started to tremble. I couldn't breath. I was in so much shock..next thing I knew I was sitting on top of the kitchen island hugging Arlo, rocking back and forth repeating "ohmigod, ohmigod". We both knew we wanted a handful of kids but I all of a sudden felt so young, so inexperienced and we weren't expecting kids just yet.
I called a friend who was full of birth/child knowledge and who I now know I met for this reason. She had a home birth with her second daughter. Which I was absolutely fascinated with. This was a world I had no idea existed but felt that I belonged to. I don't like hospitals..the smell alone is a trigger for me. The thought of give birth there with strangers made me even consider adoption growing up. I knew hospital births were not for me.
Going forward I knew I was going to have a home birth and Scott was on board. He listened and supported. He trusted that I knew what was best for me. We wanted to find a Midwife who supported us. Someone who had ancient wisdom and who connect with me enough to be at my birth. At this point I didn't know about free birth. My instincts did but I felt I needed someone there for Scott's sake. I wanted reassurance.
I planed to have one ultrasound to see how far along I was because at that point I didn't have the knowledge on tracking my moon cycle and I wasn't connected to myself. I had just started a new job and felt the guilt of leaving for maternity leave and wanted to give them a time line..SO SAD, I KNOW.
I look back now and wish I could just hug my poor little self. I was so fearful of everything and so far away from my true authentic self. I was very disconnected. Although we were so excited about creating life together, I had a really hard time picturing being a mom. I wasn't able to invasion my baby. I could hardly imagine a life with this baby. When I tried, all I saw was a black screen. After 16 weeks, I noticed my belly growth slowed down. I went from what felt like being deathly ill all day long to feeling quite good. You might even say I was glowing. I was starting to worry there was something wrong. I reached out to my Midwife who was currently over seas traveling for a few months in hopes to calm my mind. I wanted so badly to be fine. I even joined an infant loss support group and then deleted my request after a few hours because I wanted to stay positive. I didn't want to face what I knew deep down.
My midwife refered me to another local Midwife who agreed to meet with me. I just wanted to hear the heart beat. Everyhting would be fine if I could just hear the heart beat. At this point I hadn't voiced my concerns to anyone accept my midwife. Saying them out loud made them real and I didn't want any added fear from anyone. We headed into the city to meet her on march 11th, which happened to be my birthday. I was 23 weeks at this point(bases on my first ultrasound *eyeroll *). I met her at a hotel and we chatted and she listed for a heart beat with a wooden stethoscope.
When she couldn't find it we chatted some more and she asked what I would do if the baby was no longer alive. I had a feeling of knowing I would be okay. We talked about stillborn and options *just in case*.
That night I laid in bed with the worst cramps. I went to the bathroom and noticed I was spotting the teeniest bit. By this point I was really in denial. This couldn't be happening, not on my birthday.
The next day I went to the bathroom and this time there was a lot more blood and I still had cramps. I just started crying. It was time to tell Scott what was happening. He held me. At this point I was accepting that something was wrong. We started to panic, so we jumped in the car and drove to the Emergency Room. We grabbed our number and while we were waiting, a young girl came in with a cold. The nurse looked at me and said "I'm going to take her first". I could see the regret in her eyes when it was finally my turn to go in and I told her I thought I was having misarrange.
They sent us straight to labour and delivery where we waited for at least an hour before someone came to see us. There was a curtain dividing us and another couple. The couple beside us were complaining about wanting to get out for a cigarette. She was in the last stages on her pregnancy. "I cant wait to get this thing out" she said. We just sat there in silence, squeezing our hands tight. How could this be happening.
After waiting another couple hours they finally brought their doppler machine in to try to listen to the heart beat. The doctor was cold. He seemed like he was trying to cover up his annoyance with a fake smile. He searched and searched and searched. We waiting. We saw the lifeless baby on the screen. We knew. Yet there was silence for at least 15 minutes. I could hardly hear the machine over the thumping of my heart pounding in my chest.
Finally he turns the machine off and said he was not able to locate a heart beat and there was no movement in the fetus. I'm sorry. Then he left.
We started weeping one of those cries that starts in your feet and effects your whole body. Complete brokenness. While this was going on, our neighbours started playing loud obnoxious music on the other side of the curtain. We were devastated. We wanted to get the hell out of there. I wish we had just walked out. A lady came in after a long while to give us a few pamphlets. One was on fathers blaming the mom for infant death and how it can effect your relationship!!! She told me that where I was already in labour she wouldn't need to induce me. She said things like the fetus could be rotting because it appears to have been dead for 7 weeks. She said I could come back to the hospital but where the baby is so small, I will just feel the urge to pass a bowl movement and that's it.
I was so distraught. We left as soon as we could and called the midwife we had seen on my birthday. She was incredible. She filled us with the proper information like what was really going to happen. What to prepare ourselves for. She explained that I was going to go through all the labour stages. She wanted to make sure I got lots of rest, followed my intuition, and trusted my body that it knows what its doing. She explained to me that it can take this long without medical intervention for a miscarriage to come to birth. It was time to let go of the outside world and muster up the courage to get through the hardest thing I was ever going to have to do.
Over the next two days my contractions came and went. Our cottage filled with beautiful flowers and nourishing food. We stuck to ourselves, bonding, connecting, resting.
I woke up early the morning after with strong contractions. I knew today was the day. I felt different. I felt wiser, stronger and more connected to what I knew was going to happened. I slipped out of bed to clean the entire cottage top to bottom. Nesting. I want to move and I wanted to be cozy.
We hadn't really talked about a plan. We knew my mom was going to come over for support and I told my new midwife that I would call if I needed her. Somewhere in my soul, I knew from the beginning of my pregnancy that I was going to give birth without a midwife but I had never given it the energy of a thought. I knew my mom and Scott were going to support me.
As I laboured, my intuition really flowed. I was on all fours, then I was curled over the couch, using gravity as a friend. I moved throughout the cottage, flowing with the increasing contractions. In the late afternoon I started to transition. I could no longer speak to anyone but I could hear my mom on the phone with our midwife asking for advise, making sure I had everything I needed. My mom was incredible supportive for being thrown into a situation she knew nothing about. She wasn't even sure how she felt about homebirths. But she supported me. Scott did as well. Rubbing my back for hours. Getting me food and water, loving me whole heartedly.
I delivered our still born baby into my hands. I held him, and smelled him and studied him. There was no time limit on how long we had with him, there was no panic. There was just love for this little dear who would never experience this life with us as his parents. We grieved together. That night I slept with my arms cradling an invisible baby. I just had this magnetic pull to cradle something. I can hardly explain it with words.
We embraced every grieving emotion that came. Scott carried me when my knees gave out and I held him when his eye wept uncontrollable. Everything we felt, we felt the whole way through. We knew that we had to experience every corner of this so we would have no regrets. No suitcase of unfelt emotions to carry with us throughout the rest of our life. My parents offered to burry the baby for us because they just couldn't imagine having to do that for your own child. But we knew we were meant to do it, when we were ready, with just the two of us.
We kept the baby for almost a week before we felt ready to say goodbye to his little body. We memorized everything about him because we gave ourselves the time to. We made space for our feelings to flow. We dug a hole for him beneath the earth where his little body would lay amongst the wildflowers on our little piece of heaven.
I learned that when you experience what you are meant to, when you stay open, no matter the circumstances, there is beauty in every situations. My birth was beautiful. It was intuitive and powerful. I was present for it all, I made every decision. Yes, there are things I would make different decisions on now that I trust my body fully but I have no regrets. We will have our time and it will be beautiful as well. But honouring this baby by not hiding from the pain or having someone else control my experience has provided us with incredible wisdom I will take with me throughout my lifetime. It was the greatest gift we could have given each other. I learned that I am a warrior womyn. I bloomed into the wild flower that I am today and I will forever be grateful for the hard times for they are there for growth and to gain wisdom. When I let go of what I wanted to happen and rode the wave of what was, there was no weight in whether the situation was good or bad. It just was.
Scott and I are now happily married and still plan to have a handful of children free birthed in our home. I will grow from our first experience and cherish our first born with the open heart I now carry and the deep connection I now share with my partner.