I feel the first twinges of labour in the early morning of Sunday the 15th of March. I know it could be a long time so I go about my day as normal; a trip to the markets in the morning and a walk on the beach with my two and a half year old son, Mowgli, in the afternoon.
In the evening, as I breastfeed Mowgli to sleep, the contractions get stronger and continue through the night.
Morning comes, I am home alone with Mowgli and very irritable (sorry Mo!). He must feel an energy shift as well and is frustrated, he keeps wanting to breastfeed or play while a contraction is happening and I just want space. It’s hard but we make it through to the afternoon in one piece. Contractions are ‘irregular'; around every 4-15 minutes but they are getting stronger. My mother in law takes Mowgli for the afternoon and I continue to labour while watching a movie with my partner. Halfway through the movie, I can no longer concentrate, I have to stop and moan through each contraction, so I decide to move around the house. At 10pm my mother in law drops Mowgli back and he's asleep! Perfect, I transfer him to bed and continue labouring.
At around midnight my partner and I go to bed too, I try to get some rest but I have to get up 20 minutes later as it is too painful to lay down and I fear my noise will wake Mowgli! I labour on my own for a few more hours, swapping between the shower and the spare bed.
At around 3:30AM Mowgli wakes up, he never wakes in the night but I think he can sense that something is happening. Mowgli is acting completely different than this morning. He is calm and gentle as he sits next to me while I moan and call out through contractions. We have our last breastfeeding session with just the two of us, I lay down between contractions to feed him and stand up when I feel one coming back. He is patient, waiting through the contraction and then cuddling and feeding again. It is such a special memory for me. This lasts about 20 minutes until one contraction feels different, my body bears down involuntarily and then I vomit all over the bedroom floor! Okay, time to wake my partner. I call out and when he comes in Mowgli says excitedly, "mumma chucked vomit on the ground!". My partner cleans the vomit while Mowgli keeps me company in the shower. I am pushing during contractions now, I try hard to breathe them out and not bear down but it is impossible! After a while I move back to the spare bed, but quickly start vomiting again and move back into the shower. My partner cleans the vomit again and then starts filling the bath in the birth room.
I feel that my baby is still very high in my womb and sense that I have a long way to go even though my body is pushing. Contractions are extremely painful, but they are still irregular and up and down in intensity, I feel that baby is sitting in a funny position and I need to have patience as my body works the baby down.
The bath is filled and warm by about 5:30am and I hop in, first contraction in the bath is wild and I contemplate getting right back out! But I stick it through and then am able to rest between contractions - the bath is fantastic! More vomit at around 7am, at this point I am wondering why it's taking so long, I can still feel my baby sitting very high up, but so much pressure in my vulva! I’ve been pushing for almost 4 hours now. I feel movement from my baby often so I know everything is okay. My partner has been constantly boiling pots to keep the water warm for me, as well as watching our son who has been up since 3, happily pottering around the house as I labour.
At around 7:15 I message a close friend and fellow free birther to ask if she can come over, I tell her I've been pushing for 4 hours but contractions are still irregular, I don't think baby is in the birth canal and I am exhausted. She says she will be over within the hour.
10 minutes later I message her back: "my waters just broke!"
The relief! During an extra strong contraction with extra strong pushing I feel the pressure explode and my waters fill the tub with a 'POP'. It feels so so so good. I never had this experience with my first as he was born en caul!
I tell my partner to make sure the camera is ready. From outside Mowgli starts crying - one of the dogs knocked him over and he scraped his arm, my partner goes to comfort him. Ahh, the rawness of freebirth!
I am pushing HARD, I can't stop. At this point the inevitable poo comes out and the unfortunate choice of Dahl the night before means there are small pieces floating everywhere, I am kicking myself that we didn't get a fish net or scoop.
I call my partner back once Mowgli has stopped crying and tell him I want to get out because of all the poo floating around but he quickly fashions a suction device out of some old hose and it works SO well, he removes every bit out around me while I continue to labour until the water is clear again.
More strong contractions, I'm pushing again, my partner gets the camera, Mowgli comes back in, eyes still wet from crying and I yell out loudly during a contraction as I feel the head start to crown! Mowgli starts crying again and my partner puts the camera down to comfort him (somehow he puts it so it is still filming perfectly focused on me!)
I give Mowgli a smile at the end of the contraction and reassure him that I'm okay, I can feel the baby's hair and that lots of noise just means the baby will be here soon! After he lets out all his emotions, he is happy again and runs back outside to continue playing with a pair of yellow pliers in the garden.
The next contraction I feel the head descend further. I push (still involuntarily) and the top of the head comes out. I have a short pause between contractions where I smile and feel the hair, I can't believe the baby is almost here! It suddenly feels so fast. Then I yell out "it's moving!!" This wiggly baby was kicking about while half outside of me! Between worlds! With the next contraction the whole head comes out, another pause, then with the third contraction I push the whole body out and bring my baby up to my chest.
So much hair! my partner immediately calls Mowgli who quickly runs back in and stands next to me with his yellow pliers. Baby has wide open eyes and is moving around, gurgling and taking some time to cry. I rub the baby's back and blow in baby's face. I hear coughs and splutters...and then a big cry. Mowgli is very excited, he puts his pliers down next to me (you will see them in my birth photos!) and our dog even comes in for a peek!
After about 5 minutes I remember to check what we have!...A girl!!
I see a little bit of blood start moving through the tub, I had a large hemorrhage with my first so decide to hop out so I can keep an eye on the bleeding. My partner gets a towel. I get up, step out of the bath and sit next to it on the ground. She starts breastfeeding and I feel a large clot come out accompanied by lots of blood, it would be considered a hemorrhage. I ask Gaj to get some Angelica tincture ready to try get the placenta out but when he gets back with the tincture I change my mind and decide to wait. I feel good and I want to give my body a chance to get the placenta out on its own. And it does! Not even 3 minutes later I birth the placenta, along with lots more blood. I take a piece of placenta and put it in my cheek as my baby has her first feed. I suddenly decide I want I shower - I pass baby to my partner and walking into the bathroom, 30 second shower and then back into the birth room to breastfeed some more. Mowgli joins and we have our first tandem feed. The afterpains are bad and I take some afterease herbs.
I message my friend again,
and send her a photo,
"I thought that might happen!" she replies, she's on her way over now.
Me and my partner look at each other and I say the name that I know is hers, Anansi. My partner agrees and we look down at our precious little daughter, Anansi.
My friend arrives, I pass another large clot so we prepare some 'no bleed' tincture and I take some of that. My friend and my partner help me move to the bed and then start cleaning up while I continue breastfeeding.
Throughout the morning we do placenta prints, take photos of the placenta, tie and cut the cord and put some cord in the dehydrator to make a keepsake. I drink a placenta and berry smoothie and eat nourishing food. More breastfeeding and cuddling. We catch Anansi's first poo in the sink (we do elimination communication from birth) and I have a shower. Then I settle into bed and cuddle my new baby girl, Anansi. My partner weighs the blood clots and they come out weighing 1.1kg!
In summary ~
After two days of labour and 4 hours of pushing, my waters broke and I birthed my baby girl into my arms as my partner and 2.5 year old son watched on.
It was magical and my reclamation. I hemorrhaged around 1.5 litres and was fine. My body knew what to do. Postpartum has been bliss. I am so supported. This pregnancy and birth has been so freeing after my first experience in the system. No doctor or midwife visits, no ultrasounds or tests, just trust and love!