An unexpected blessing (Zoe & Marcel)

Featuring:

Marcel (the main man)
Zoe & Gio (birthing couple)
Luca & Neola (other children)
Sarah (good friend in capacity of looking after children)
Inma & Luci (midwives)

Marcel was conceived against all the odds and has completed our family in so many ways. I write with him here sleeping and snuffling away and feel so grateful that the coil failed! He is divine.

I was due on the 12th October, and felt very close from about week 39 of my pregnancy, lots of Braxton Hicks and feeling light and woozy. I had prepared more for this 3rd pregnancy than the last 2… hypnobirthing, daily visualisations, lots of conversations with my team of independent midwives (Neixer a Casa). The house was full of lists. One was “things to do when I go into labour: call Sarah/midwives, take food out of freezer, turn on boiler..etc”. This time, I wasn’t leaving anything to chance.

On Sunday 28th October (2 weeks and 1 day “late”) Sarah offered to take the kids out as we had all been going a bit stir crazy waiting in limbo for the baby. Though we had got a nice little rhythm of morning walk on beach, curry dinner and other stuff to ‘get it going’, it was getting tiring. Fortunately absolutely no pressure from midwives, and baby fine, so no need to worry.

Kids were out and Gio and I had a lovely lazy day listening to radio and knitting (! which I hardly ever do) and sitting on the birthing ball and other good old fashioned methods of induction (wink wink). In the afternoon Gio took Luca out to watch the football at a friends and Neola and I watched a movie on the couch. About 5pm I noticed I had light tightenings about every 20 mins, so I told midwives and we agreed we would talk again at 10pm.

Once the kids were in bed at 9pm or so, I was still having slightly stronger tightenings regularly, so we cleaned up the house and started with the list! Sarah came round at about 11 and the house was full of candles, dark, tidy, cosy and ready to go. I had spoken with Inma and agreed I would call if/when the tightenings became strong and at 5 mins apart. She reminded me it would take her 40 mins to get here so calculate accordingly. I left that to Gio and cleared my mind.

Around midnight I was having pleasant surges every 10 mins, lying in the bed by candlelight and soft music, with Gio doing light touch massage (a technique from hypnobirthing) on my back, arms and legs. Really nice, beautiful calm intimate and pleasant moment….all was well, kids sleeping, I was surrounded by love and support in my home, my own comfy bed, with my baby coming anytime soon. A form of exquisite happiness was all around. We drifted off to sleep…

I awoke at 2.30 and I realised I must not have had a proper surge for a while because I had slept well. I felt disappointed… I really wanted this to be it, the stage was set, it was all perfect…could it have been a false start? I didn’t know whether I should ‘try to get it going’ or try to drift off back to sleep and ‘do it tomorrow’… would labouring in the day with the kids around be OK? Then again, was I not too tired to go through with this right now? Could I be bothered to be in labour? Lots of questions flying around in my head, brain chatter, mostly about my control over the situation, and how much of it was up to me.

I couldn’t sleep so I went to the loo. Then bam! The surges started agaion in ernest, great to be getting on with it! As if I really had that much control of this life force flowing through me…! Came back to room and it all really heated up. I found the best position was standing up and leaning over my tall chest of drawers for surges, with Gio pressing my lower back on each side as hard as he could, it cut the sensations in half and I found it hard to get through a surge without him there. I was also using the hypnobirthing techniques of breathing in very slowly during a surge and counting to 20, expanding my lungs and adding pressure to the belly with my breath. I was doing it, so in the flow, not another thought in my mind, totally zoned out, I didn’t have to think about anything, I knew those around me would deal with anything I needed. I was in my mammalian birthing state 100%. No thoughts (which is very hard for me, Ms.Active brain).

Gio called the midwives at about 3.15 am, and later told me that he was concerned they wouldn’t make it as I was in the throws of active labour, third child, and they needed 40mins to get here…hahaha, glad I didn’t have a care in the world except rushing though my surges! I continued to pace, rotate hips, lean over chest, then my legs got tired so I put my mat down on the floor and kneeled over my bed.

Midwives arrived (I later found out this was just before 4am) and I felt Luci’s loving presence and light reassuring touch on my shoulder, no words, just a whispered breath for a greeting. She tried to do the counter-pressure on my lower back, but I needed Gio’s stronger hands!

I asked if I could get in the bath as I was feeling the sensations quite strongly, needed change of scenery (was at the start of transition, looking back) and they said no problem and Gio ran me a lovely bath with essential oils and candles. I got in (later found out this was about 4.15) what a  relief! Really warm and so soothing. The surges had become very intense and it was a great feeling to get into the water (I had wanted water births for my first 2 births but didn’t have enough hot water, we had discussed this and the midwives had suggested I could birth in the bath if I wanted…this was part of the plan!).

Gio mopped my face with a cold cloth and encouraged me. I remember saying “give me a break! I need a break!” (total transition talk!) and he would reply, “baby is nearly here, you will get  break soon, you are doing really well”, and I thought “yeah right! I’ve only just started labour!” (both other labours were 12 hours). But apparently they had told him it was really near.

Up until now I had been counting my breath through surges in and out to at least 20. Suddenly I felt the instinctive urge to do something different, so I tried J-breath (hypno technique) and it felt great! So I was guiding my baby down with my breaths and suddenly it became more vocal so Inma came in and I noticed everyone sort of focus their loving attention on me (until then they had totally left me alone, busying themselves with other stuff in other areas of the flat). I reached down and felt inside myself and felt his head and hair! Amazing, I had a huge smile on my face and it was wonderful!

After a few more breaths/surges/pushes (apparently expulsive was 8mins) he was crowning and my children were suddenly there (they had been woken by Sarah at the last minute to see their brother being born, also part of the plan) and here came Marcel! After his head came out his shoulder was a bit stuck, so Inma manoeuvred him a bit with her hand (the only time I was touched or ‘helped’ during the whole labour, no internals, nothing) and out he came…there was a moment when we didn’t know who would catch him, I didn’t want to, Gio…? Nope, so Inma caught him.

Inma passed him up to me out of the water and I just held him laughing and looking at him and feeling so proud and happy and relieved and absolutely ecstatic and euphoric. The most amazing moment of my life. Nothing else mattered, all I needed was right in that room, amazing, connecting, beautiful moment. Euphoric only comes a bit close to that feeling of that kind of birth.

Then the bath began to turn very red, I was haemorrhaging. They lifted me out of the bath quick time and I slipped-slopped my way to the front room, baby in arms and still attached to me via his intact umbilical cord joined to his placenta which was yet to be born (note: even in my euphoric state I refused to walk over my carpet dripping blood so they rolled it out the way!) and on to the couch for some sytoncin and belly massaging.

Still attached to me Marcel started to root for the boob and latched on me lying down and fed for 1 hr 20 mins. Placenta was born and when cord had stopped pulsing, Gio cut it. Luca amd Neola who had watched whole blood dripping debacle, were just silent together at my head watching all the  goings on, fascinated. They later said they weren’t scared but they didn’t like the blood. Fair enough. I really cold at this point (shock, being wet from bath) and they covered me in loads of blankets and eventually Luci dried my hair with a hairdryer and that helped a lot.

When they were sure I stopped bleeding so much I got into my own bed and snuggled up next to Marcel. Then they realised he had got a bit cold (he was naked, poor thing!) so I put him back on my body, skin to skin, with loads of blankets to raise him temperature (note: if I had been in hospital I think I would have been separated from him at this point so they could warm him up in an incubator, well… I would have already been separated form him after the bleed). I drank lots of liquids, placenta smoothie of course (that day and every day for about 2 weeks as we froze it in chunks so I could do that) and tea.

At about 8 or 9 in the morning, after checking all was well with me and Marcel, people started to leave (midwives were back later that day at 6pm to make sure all was well) and we snuggled and ate and had a lovely day, eating biscuits and smiling a lot. Marcel blessed Luca with a meconium poo that spilled out over his arm and the bed…! Both kids held Marcel, we all got loads of cuddles.

The post-partum has been fantastic, the midwives came almost every day for the 1st week then weekly until 5 weeks. The kids have accepted their brother with open arms. Gio has been amazing, supportive, loving and just brilliant. I have felt on top of the world, so lucky and blessed and bonded with this little one who has brought us so much joy!

I thank life for this amazing experience and thank Gio, Luca and Neola for being there for me. Sarah our wonderful friend (and now Neola’s godmother!) for taking care of the children so I didn’t have to worry about it, she was a loving, discreet and positive presence. And of course the amazing Luci and Inma for being there and caring, respecting and honouring the sacred process of birth. They were there for my first birth, and it has been a rare privilege to be supported by them once again for my last. Really unique, special people doing their calling and making such a good job of it, thank-you special ladies. I felt I did it unassisted, but cradled and supported by these loving and wise women, and just feel so grateful for it all.

I have had the privilege to step through the portal of birth with love and power, fearless and supported. I have had the experience of childbirth as joy and euphoria, empowerment and pleasure, an incredible life force steamed its way though me and left me not depleted but completed, I felt at one with my body and life itself.

The best gift I have ever had, thank you universe!

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