Parenting

The Birth of Juno Atawhai – Part 3

24 April, 2014

This the final part of my birth story- read Part One here and Part Two here.
So, I had given birth, hurrah! Welcome Juno! It had been a peaceful, active birth despite being hooked up to Syntocinon, an IV and antibiotics.

After introducing Ramona to Juno and having some cuddles Ramona and Tim headed home- it was 9pm and it had been a long day for them.

My mum stayed with me and we put our heads together about how we could break out of hospital. The worst thing about being in hospital for Ramona’s birth three years ago was having stay overnight without Tim, in a room with 5 other wailing babies and construction works that started outside the window at 6am! I was absolutely CERTAIN that Juno and I were well enough to go home. Who would have thought the hospital would have been so hard to convince?

First of all each hospital worker we encountered passed the decision on to someone else, and each time they said they were fetching the person with the authority we had to wait another hour!

Finally the midwife on the postnatal ward started to take our requests to go home seriously. She started busying herself with tests on me but got quite het up about my iron levels. She suggested I had lost so much blood that I might DIE. Really? I asked. So if I stayed in hospital what would you do? Well, she replied, in the morning we would do more tests and then we would prescribe some iron tablets.

Hmmm.

I said that I would much rather go home and have a bowl of spinach and then have a really excellent sleep in my own bed.

They also said that Juno needed to be checked in case of infection, and then prescribed antibiotics. And when would that happen, I enquired? In the morning.

Hmm.

I knew that home births had a GP visit the following morning to do those checks, so I asked her if that could be the case for me too? Yes, she confirmed, quite reluctantly.

Rightiho, we’ll be off then! I was determined to leave and fed up that we had spent 3 hours so far simply waiting for an official discharge. My mum went and told the head of ward that we were leaving and if they wanted us to sign the self-discharge forms than they’d need to fetch them immediately. They got those forms and we signed them and were finally free!

We jumped in a cab and were home within 4 minutes. I was so happy sitting on our sofa late at night with my husband, mum and new baby, stuffing spinach, nuts and dried fruit into my face!

First thing the next morning our GP came over – very, very happily- and couldn’t see why the hospital caused such a fuss – we were both more than fine.

It has been an amazing year with our mighty Juno. We have done some things quite differently (a whole post in itself) and there have been challenges ( I’m looking at you, tandem breastfeeding) but our world is a brighter more beautiful place with Juno in it.

I still wrestle with my feelings about the birth. (Why do I even HAVE to feel anything about it?!)

As well as being deeply personal, I believe birth is also an enormously spiritual, and even political, act. I wanted desperately to have a relaxed, non interventionist birth at home for me, my baby… and also society. Birth isn’t a sickness! Home can be the perfect environment for a birthing mother and for almost all births less intervention (induction, VEs, clock watching) from medical peeps is BETTER. I wanted to be one of the women for whom this was the case, in order to help prove that we need to allow the birthing process freedom to be slow, stop-starty and natural. *Look! I gave birth in my lounge, with just a midwife and a hot water bottle!*

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me and as a dear, dear midwife friend said to me just after the birth I really HAVE got to let go of all the “What If?”s – What if I just stayed in the pool? What if I didn’t have all the checks? What if I didn’t know my due date AT ALL?

I have to confess… I sort of came to dislike the natural birth movement in the weeks after Juno’s birth. They made me feel like a failure. They make my list of “What If?”s grow and multiply. In my insecurity about my transfer to hospital I feel as if they point and say “You were too fearful!” (I WAS. NOT. FRIGHTENED. AT. ALL) “You didn’t listen to your hypnotherapy cd enough!” (I listened to it ALL THE TIME.) “6 hours a day spiralling your hips on the birth ball was NOT ENOUGH!” (I hardly sat with my knees higher than my hips for nine months!)

I know they aren’t saying that…. But it feels that way sometimes.

If it wasn’t for the natural birth movement I wouldn’t be so miserable (even a year on!) about having all the intervention I did…. But on the other hand I possibly wouldn’t have managed to avoid induction and earlier intervention if it wasn’t for the natural birth movement!!

Avid Natural Birthers need to get far, far better at challenging an over medicalised system without suggesting individual women aren’t doing enough. (Which is an almost impossible ask, I realise.)

Natural Birthers: Please don’t try and dissect the birth process with women who didn’t get the birth they wanted, please don’t offer ideas about what went wrong, or how the woman didn’t do quite enough of XXXXX.

Natural Birthers: Please continue to share your beautiful, empowering birth stories. These will change the system! They will help take away any fears around birth! They will encourage women to consider natural/ home births after sections, with posterior positions and even breech. Write them up and share them! (Look at this wonderful story, and future website to watch, by my friend Clare who shares her story of a home birth after a previous section.)

Going through this process has opened my eyes and gave me a lot of empathy for similar situations… Where people who have done something “successfully” feel as others for whom it hasn’t worked must have done something wrong…. It has softened my heart towards things like bottle feeding and other practices of attachment/ natural parenting. Sometimes things just don’t work out and it isn’t for want of trying.

Because, like birth, all those acts are both personal and political… There are big, structural issues that SHOULD be tackled but in the middle of it are real women trying to do their best.

Crumbs. If you have skimmed all the above here is a short summary: BIRTH, HOWEVER DONE, IS AWESOME, LIFE CHANGING AND DO-ABLE! IT SHOULD, OVER ALL, BE LESS MEDICALISED BUT IF MEDICALISED DONT MAKE MOTHER FEEL RUBBISH. MANY THANKS.

AND LOOK JUNO WAS BORN! AND TOMORROW SHE IS ONE! lulu

Are there any similarities to your story or feelings? Would l love to hear from you- I find it hard to reply to each comment but I read them and love the commenter!

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20 Comments

  • Reply Ria 24 April, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Permission to share please! I loved reading this and I’d consider junos birth pretty intervention-less by most standards! :))

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 24 April, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      Please share!

  • Reply Gill 24 April, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I’ve loved reading your posts on Juno’s birth.

    My ‘political’ views about issues us mothers face have been swayed with every turn.

    After a dreadful first birth, which left me furious with hospital staff and frightened of the next, I considered a home birth. But I wasn’t sure which complications were down to ‘what ifs’ and which were an inevitable part of that birth (and needed medical intervention to keep us alive) and I was scared.

    I spent 6 months drawing on every contact I had to make sure I was happy with my birth plan, that everybody else knew and understood my birth plan, that I was consultant-led at a hospital with a strong midwife team championing natural births.

    It was a very different experience. The midwife couldn’t have been any better, I was in the pool, they had clearly read through my notes and my birth plan, they were gentle and respectful and reminded me of my options at every step.

    Then the midwife told me that there was something she needed to check. She reassured me and asked me not to worry but warned that it would seem bright because she would need to put the lights on. She was so calm that I didn’t panic, but it was still a bit of a shock when the lights came on with a CLUNK and 10 people rushed into the room. It all became manic for a short while, as it became evident that there was shoulder dystocia and my baby girl had to be released and then resuscitated.

    We are not very close to the hospital and I don’t want to think about what might have been had I chosen a home birth. For this birth, I was lucky enough to have the best of both worlds in a hospital environment.

    My view now is that we are incredibly lucky to live in a country where childbirth is not a significant cause of death and where we do have options. However, it makes me angry that for every example of great care I have received (not just in childbirth), I’ve had to be pushy and vocal and generally annoying to receive it. There must be more consistency – it is not acceptable that your ability to be eloquent during a contraction or sheer good luck will determine whether or not your care is adequate.

    • Reply Jen in Oz 3 May, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      I agree with your rant, hoped and planned for a home birth with my third. Ended up at hospital in the right place at the right time by instinct because he came out with breathing difficulties. So thankful for our medical system in Australia and also for the freedom to use it in the way I want to.

  • Reply Gill 24 April, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    PS sorry, I realise I went off on a bit of a rant there!

    I think what I’m trying to say is that I do believe that hospitals have their place and that there are some amazing staff out there. I feel strongly that we shouldn’t feel guilty or disappointed for taking that route, whether by choice or necessity, we are ultimately lucky to have it.

    We just have so far to go before the real needs of mums and babies are routinely met.

  • Reply Xanthe 24 April, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    I didn’t realise Juno and Josh shared a birthday 🙂

    Your story is fab and you should be very proud of the way you stood up for what you wanted despite the threat of over medicalisation. I would suggest that it was as natural a birth as it could possibly have been considering the pesky fever. I am quite passionate about natural birth without fear (but deffo not as much as you!) and I enjoyed hypnobirthing, but was definitely in pain in my labours. I don’t let anyone tell me I wasn’t ‘doing’ it properly because I felt that pain and cried my eyes out while telling my body to stop during transition 😉

    Our circumstances are entirely individual, so unless I meet another hypnobirther with my frame, retroverted uterus, two b2b labours, babies with 91st centile heads, etc then I choose the water off a duck’s back approach. You should do the same, and be proud of your amazing births!!!

    Happy Birthday Juno, I can’t believe you are 1 already xxx

  • Reply Becca 24 April, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I loved reading your story! I’m a month off of my due date for baby 3 and have had two syntocinon augmented births – the second was very similar to junos with an urge to push at 6cm whih revealed a posterior baby. Synto helped get the job done but was pretty brutal. I have recently been blogging through a naomi wolf book on pregnancy where she seeks to find a balance between medicalised birth and natural birth extremism.

  • Reply Anna 24 April, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Gosh, I am SO relieved to hear that I am not the only one who felt that sense of disappointment in the natural birth movement post-birth. It took me ages to get over it, and I completely agree that (probably unwittingly) natural birth aficionado’s can really make you feel like you could or should have done something different. That said, some of the midwives and consultants also made me feel like I’d failed by even contemplating a natural birth in the first place!

    Becoming a mum for the first time was such a overwhelming and bewildering time for me (as well as totally brilliant), so I think I was vulnerable to all sorts of comments that made me question myself at that time.

    Following my Yoga preparation classes and workshops, I was Ina May’ed up to my eyeballs and took the stance that I wanted to focus exclusively on a natural birth, and hear only positive birth stories. I did my hypnobirthing tapes religiously, watched homes births on youtube, avoided One Born Every Minute like the plague, and confidently brushed off any suggestions from well-meaning people that I was bonkers / I’d be better off in hospital etc. In the end, our little one presented very much like Juno did – mostly back to back, but a bit sideways as well – ouch! As first timers, at home, over New Year, with no maternal / other female support, we felt scared and alone, despite all my best efforts. The hospital wouldn’t send out a midwife until the contractions were ‘regular’, and when she did eventually come, she left after half an hour for us to spend yet another night alone. It was only when the ambulance arrived with gas and air that I started to feel safe again. It would still be another 36 hours before she made an appearance – and still no regular contractions!)

    In hindsight, maybe I should have taken a more pragmatic approach to my preparation for the birth, but it’s such a fine line between being pragmatic and letting that chink of medicalisation dent your faith in your own body’s ability to birth. Like Gill above, I do feel that hospitals have their place, but it’s so hard to know who to trust, when the approaches seem so polarised.

    Thank you for sharing – such a pleasure to read, and inspiring as always!
    Anna recently posted…Living Arrows 14/52 & 15/52My Profile

  • Reply Al 25 April, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Both my children’s births were complicated, huge adventures, both make me smile like a loon when I remember them.

    But neither one was how I had planned it.
    I came to terms with this by reminding myself these aren’t MY birth stories… they belong to my children. I’m not going to take ownership of how they came into the world, its their very beginning. I just happened to be there and what an AMAZING privilege it was.

  • Reply Holly B 25 April, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Lovely lady, I went through all of this and more after the ‘failed’ home birth of my first baby. I have lovely friends who have managed a home birth who have commented that EVERYONE can have a homebirth. Well, maybe they can, but for us both myself and my son would have been very unwell if we hadn’t gone into hospital. I guess it’s all down to your definition of what’s an acceptable outcome for birthing. Almost 6 years on I have put my demons to rest but find myself getting very stand offish around natural birthers for no good reason. I guess it is often their need to understand what I could have done to make it all better. Please don’t waste any more time on it all – I know that’s harder to do that to say. You’re amazing – you’re a mother, and mothering doesn’t end with birthing. It’s just the beginning. x

  • Reply Sian 25 April, 2014 at 6:27 am

    Lucy, I love reading your blog! I love your passion for parenting. You never seem tired or fed-up or in need of a break from your children (I am guilty of all the above at times, despite loving my girls to pieces).

    Juno’s birth story is beautiful, despite it not turning out 100% as planned. I’ve rarely met anyone whose births went exactly as predicted. Your eagerness to get home afterwards made me chuckle because your attitude was so different to my own! Teleri was delivered by C-section and the doctor reviewed me and told me I could go home the next day. I said ‘no thanks’, I wanted to spend another night in hospital in peace and solitude with my baby (I did have the privilege of a private room). I wasn’t quite ready to face the rest of the world and explain to Gwen why she couldn’t climb all over mummy. Of course, this was only a delaying tactic as I had to do that the following day, but I was more mentally prepared for it then.

    Perhaps I have a more relaxed attitude to hospitals as I work in one, and a more positive attitude towards medication as I spent four years at university studying them and the last 10 years supplying them to patients. I love helping people get better, it puts a smile of my face!

    Hope Juno had a lovely 1st birthday today, she is such a little darling! You are blessed with two wonderful children.

  • Reply LondonHeather 25 April, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Thank you again for sharing – I’ve really enjoyed reading the posts about Juno’s birth, and I’m really grateful that you’ve made yourself vulnerable by sharing both the wonderful and the more difficult aspects. It’s a great invitation to share without worry of judgement!

    I have ALL THE FEELINGS about what happened when my son was born, although mostly I’ve made peace with the fact that my hopes for a natural, active birth ended in induction and emergency c-section. What really messed me up, and made me feel useless, guilty and judged for not trying hard enough, was that I was unable to breastfeed because my son didn’t know how to latch. We tried and tried and tried until the cup feeding was just too stressful and we gave him a bottle.

    I guess what makes this still a sensitive topic (though less than it was) a year on is that I didn’t see it coming. I was prepared for the fact that my birth didn’t go the way I’d hoped for (and even though it was almost totally the opposite, I had an amazing experience with incredible support). But I was totally unprepared for breastfeeding, something I’d really looked forward to and felt prepared for, not to work out at all. I felt clued-up on all the problems I might face, but I had no idea that my son might be the one having the problems. It knocked me sideways, and even though I know we tried the best we could, I sometimes still feel the need to justify or explain myself so that people don’t judge me. And I still wonder if there was anything else I could’ve done.

    It’s hard not to analyse, second guess, go through the ‘what ifs’, and feel disappointed, guilty, a failure or judged. But, as you say, sometimes things don’t work, and it isn’t for lack of trying. And, like you’ve found, my empathy for mums facing all sorts of challenges has sky-rocketed.

    I’ve loved reading the comments here – they’re really encouraging. There’s so much to celebrate in all our different experiences, and it’s that, the sharing of stories with the acknowledgement that they are personal, that they all have value, and none set a universal standard, that has helped ease my own feelings and rejoice in all the things I’m loving about being a mum.

    Phew! That was longer than I’d anticipated. I hope Juno has a wonderful first birthday tomorrow!
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  • Reply Lluisa 25 April, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Thanks for sharing these words, it has been important for me. I wanted a natural birth and I ended up having a cesarean. My girl is 2 years old now and I am grateful to the life because she is in my life. In my case more than the physical wound was the emotional one, that one is so hard to heal, but I am trying my best.

    Happy birthday to Juno!!

    Love&Light

    Lluisa
    Lluisa recently posted…THE LAST WEEK OF MARCHMy Profile

  • Reply Alex 25 April, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Thank you for this story of Juno’s birth. For some reason I had imagined that you had a perfect birth without any interventions and think you are even stronger for having fought for the best possible variation considering the obstacles put in your way! You beautifully balanced that fine line that Anna describes in her comment.

    The problem with the desire for a natural birth has been on my mind also for the last 9 months, since the birth of my little boy. I’m still trying to complete writing our birth story to accompany a hospital complaint regarding our not so good birthing experience. (Hoping to contribute to hospital policies and procedures being reviewed and improved – there should be no pain without gain!) All natural ane drug-free in the birthing centre (conveniently located within the hospital) was what I wanted so much and prepared for as if my life depended on it – which in some ways it does! And yet, quite the opposite of my birth plan became shameful reality, due to lack of support and failings/ignorance of hospital staff and my own weakness to say ‘no’ in one brief but crucial moment, leading to the well known cascade of interventions including baby in distress and emergency c-section. Anything you can imagine to go wrong with view to a natural birth, happened.
    Did I feel miserable and saddened? Yes. Do I feel guilty? You bet. Like a failure? Very much. In particular as I’d been lecturing about avoiding exactly what happened to us, during those months before it happened.

    I still do love reading and hearing about positive birth stories. They instill hope for a potential further opportunity to a natural, if not even home birth (if my age and circumstances will allow). Every single positive story supports us in the regaining of maternal empowerment! 🙂

    I also feel that the natural birth movement can indeed increase a woman’s feeling of having failed if a positive outcome is not ‘achieved’, yet we’ve got to keep fighting for our right to TRY and have all the support we need for the best POSSIBLE birth experience. Only with the best efforts from everyone involved, no woman would need to feel like a failure, whatever her birth story turns out to be.

    Your CAPS summary pretty much nails it, Lucy!

    AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JUNO!

  • Reply Lilybett 25 April, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I feel this exact way about breastfeeding.
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  • Reply emily 26 April, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Well said Lucy. Happy birthday Juno xx
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  • Reply ThaliaKR 27 April, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    So much to say, but I’ll limit myself to one issue: the idea that fathers should GO HOME and spend the first hours of their babies’ lives AWAY FROM THEIR BABY is absolute madness. Insanity.

    As my friend Jody said when my boy was born (and we fought, successfully, to have my husband stay the night – another story), future generations will surely look back on these years with horror and disbelief.

    Happy birthday Juno!
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  • Reply Tasha Batsford 28 April, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    You’ll have to excuse the lack of long flowing sentences here, I’ve knackered my wrist.

    My three births were all supposed to be homebirths, and all ended up being sections.

    Feelings of failure? Check.
    Feelings of betrayal? Check.
    Feelings of judgement? Check.

    But then how many homebirthers feel, as other “crunchy minorities” do that they are also being judged and betrayed?

    Truth is all but a tiny few are being broken by modern birth practices. Whether we get the birth we want, or not, women are being set up to feel disenfranchised from birth.

    I have a pet theory that is why women seem to always share their horror stories when they come across a pregnant woman – it’s self defense mechanism against the feelings of inadequacy and pain that we are ALL left with once modern obstetric practices have touched our lives.

    I love sites like http://birthwithoutfearblog.com/ that support woman without judgement about how they birth because I know from my own experience that good births don’t always look how you think they will.

    Big love to you all, be gentle on yourself Lucy!
    XXXX

    PS Happy birthday again Juno!
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  • Reply Susanna 28 April, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Happy Birthday Juno! Amazing how in hospital you are at the mercy of others and how everything goes soooo slow. Enjoy the day. x

  • Reply Amanda 30 April, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I really wish I’d have written my birth stories down, whilst they were so fresh in my mind. A lovely legacy. Really enjoyed reading these xx
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