The Healing Birth of Miss OliveWednesday, 13 November 2013
I’m painfully aware that I owe this blog a birth story. It’s not like I haven’t had the time, right? It’s only been 5 months.
My God has it really been 5 months already?
For those who missed it, Olive Erin Batsford was born by Caesarean Section - my third – so perhaps there’s not that much to share. Except this birth was private and intimate and healing and peaceful and beautiful from start to finish, so perhaps this is a story that should be shared.
I spent my pregnancy with Olive working hard to find a birth option that would keep my heart safe while also securing a good birth for us both. That seems like a throwaway phrase – good birth – but it took up 90% of my brain power for most of the pregnancy to process. There were times I was so consumed by turning over this little pebble in my mind that I would forget to breathe.
Eventually I came to a place where I found some answers: I wanted Olive to be born with gentle hands guiding her. I wanted her to be left covered in her war paint and to hold her skin to skin. I wanted her cord to be left alone so that I, the mother who had grown and nurtured her for so long, could help her adjust to life separated from me. There would be no needles jabbing her, no strangers holding her, and I would be supported by a wise woman.
Initially I fought to make this birth a VBAC because the idea of achieving any of this with a c-section seemed impossible. I was wrong: I achieved all of it and more with the help of an amazing and enlightened hospital.
The morning of Olive’s birth, it was just me and my doula Mel.
For anyone wondering if the gender of your birth supporter makes a difference, there is not a font big enough to write this: YES! Birth with a woman supporting you has a completely different energy. I felt like a part of a tradition with Mel beside me; a link in a chain of a thousand generations of women bringing new life into the world. She also gave me support I didn’t know I needed, feeding me hypnobirthing cues when I didn’t even realise I was tense, and allowing me to be vulnerable and weak by mothering me and walking alongside me as a fellow labour veteran.
The staff just blew me away with their enthusiasm and support. I was asked a hundred questions about how I wanted to birth: Did I have a bag for the placenta? How did I want Olive to be handled? Did I want the lights dimmed? Did I have any music? Was it OK if they put tags on her? What were my thoughts on Vitamin K? Each asked respectfully and the answer carefully noted.
My big fear for this surgery was that for some reason I would need to be put under a general anaesthetic, and there were a few moments where I was fearful that could happen: Once during the siting of my spinal my blood pressure dropped and they had to hope that they had already given me enough, and again when we realised that they hadn't and I could still feel more than I should. Both moments overwhelmed me with emotion but Mel and the anaesthetist were calm and supportive and we found solutions.
This section was far rougher than my other two – apparently I had a lot of scar tissue - and the bruising is still healing 5 months later. So it took a shit ton of heaving and huffing before there was a pause, the surgeon asked me if I was ready to meet my baby, the screen was swung out of the way and slowly but surely, my baby was walked out of me and just as I had requested, dumped onto my chest still deliciously cheesy.
She was my first vernix baby and despite some comedy moments of being nearly suffocated by her as she slid onto my neck and nobody having a hand free to move her, I was already in love with her silky skin. She is still the softest of all my babies 5 months later and I've lost many an hour of sleep nuzzling her velvet neck.
For the first time I felt the urge to lift her leg and check she was a girl, and to look into her eyes and say “hello baby”, bonding moments I had missed the previous two times.
The placenta was placed in a dish beside us and there is stayed until that evening when I looked at my baby girl and knew she was ready to be her own person. It was a quiet moment when I cut her cord and she didn't complain, just adjusted herself to snuggle into my chest and slept on. A lot of people say lotus babies are more content and I think I would agree with that, Olive is definitely my most chilled baby.
The only thing that didn't go to plan with Olive’s arrival was her father. Keith is one for nervous energy and for reasons known best to him had worn himself out trading on his store of adrenaline until he came into the hospital and passed out on the floor beside my bed. Poor Mel had to deal with crazy-cat-lady-Esme before she ripped up the whole ward, and I had to call Keith’s dad to drive all the way from work to come and take them all home. Not ideal.
Olive spent the first 24 hours skin to skin with me and we spent 2 days in hospital cwtched up in bed together covered in a patchwork blanket from home. Nobody asked me to put her in her goldfish bowl, nobody asked me to take her out of her sling when we went for walks to get a cuppa, we were just left to quietly fall in love.
Sometimes a good birth can take the strangest forms.