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.
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.
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.
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!