Luca’s Birth Story
My beautiful boy was born on 19 Jan 2012, and this is our story…
Wednesday 18 Jan
40 weeks and 4 days, so effectively my bump already on 4 days extended time. I was still working since I felt so comfortable and well during the last weeks of my pregnancy. On the previous day, my midwife gave me a stretch and sweep and I booked with an expert reflexologist to start helping things along.
I was warned that these interventions can cause false labour pains, something that is very common at the end of any pregnancy. With much excitement and anticipation, I went to bed that evening…
Thursday 19 Jan
6am – 2pm
Is something happening or not? I experienced mild, regular cramps in my belly throughout the night (very similar to period pains), not being sure if this is the real deal I decided not to wake Pierre and rather try and get as much sleep as possible thinking that I must be imaging things (yes, a probably a bit of denial J).
The next morning was the dawn of a beautiful day and there was a strange feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air that I just couldn’t explain. It was almost as if this was not just going to be another day. It was such a beautiful sunrise that we decided to take a photo to capture the beautiful colours in the JHB sky, looking back I think intuitively we both knew this day will change our lives forever.
Pierre decided to stay at home just in case this could be the day we have both been waiting for and we went for a long walk to see if it would have any effect on the contractions I was now clearly feeling and seeing on my tummy. As mid-morning approached it continued with regular intervals and that this must be the real thing. I advised my A-team, which includes Nicolette my midwife and Tertia my doula, that this might be the start of things. I booked for a pedicure around mid-morning and the staff was so amused by the fact that I am actually in the early stages of labour and sitting in a beauty salon! My therapist and I were laughing at the way my bump expanded with every contraction while she was busy painting my toe nails!
When I got back home I started putting my ‘to do list while in labour’ into action. First we baked a birthday cake for our precious little gift that was making his way to this world. Although this seems very corny, it was actually the best thing to keep us busy during this time. It was such a special time for us both, doing things together as a couple alone for the last time and counting down the hours before there will be three of us in our family.
2pm – 7pm
Things started getting more intense during this time. My doula, Tertia, arrived at our house 2pm and it was great to have somebody that offered so much support and have gone through this so many times with us to keep us calm, relaxed and focused. We followed her lead in terms of when to make our way to Genesis, and I am sure if we were on our own steam we would have hopped into the car much earlier! We tried to fill this time with more ‘labour to do list activities’ (a must-have for anyone doing this. I actually had a whole host of things on my list I could cherry-pick from during this time which came in very handy as I could really choose what I felt like doing to keep my mind occupied).
When she arrived the three of us watched a really cheesy movie and around 5pm decided to go for a walk around our estate. Walking was really funny at this stage as I had to stop walking with every contraction and went into a squat position where either Pierre or Tertia rubbed my lower back as I concentrated on my own breathing through each contraction. We had a good laugh when I ended up stopping right in front of a house of a guy working in his open garage on the way there and back. I had a good giggle about what he must be thinking with me squatting and other people rubbing my back, it must have looked really funny! I think he would have been shocked to know that I am actually in active labour!
At this stage, my contractions were varying between 5 and 10 minute intervals and it was relatively easy to relax between each one and I tried to practice my breathing as I knew that the intensity will increase significantly over the next few hours. I had great company which made the world of difference. Back at the house, we sat with our feet in the pool to cool down and I could feel that I was starting to access my ‘birth zone’, a place where nothing else exists, on a more regular basis.
7pm – 11:14pm
Ok, things started really heating up. The great thing about having a doula is that you are not panicking about when to leave for the birth clinic, we took her lead and ended up leaving for Genesis just after 7pm when my contractions were 3mins apart and 1min long. From here onwards time and the external world really stopped existing as I transcended into my birth zone to keep focused and stay on top of my contractions. Breathing deeply through my abdomen (as I practiced the few weeks before) made such a big difference in managing the pain, and it helped to keep my mind focused on something other than the cramps. Like waves, they came and they went and the secret was to really focus and live in that very moment.
Arriving at Genesis my wonderful midwife Nicolette was already waiting as I waddled in hunched over with a bean bag held to my tummy. She checked me when I arrived and was 6cm dilated. I was not overly excited since at this stage I have been in labour for a good 15 hours. Anyway, I didn’t let it phase me since I kept my focus on the here and now. My water sack was bulging in front of his head and we decided to break it in order to speed things along. And boy did it speed things along! The contractions clearly became progressively more intense as the hours ticked by and before long I had the opportunity to get into the bath. I understand why they do not let you in before 7cm as the warm water definitely slowed down my contractions and I had a good few minutes of ‘breathing time’ where I could actually engage and have a conversation with the people in the room. But soon enough things started heating up again and I was back in my zone, no talking just breathing! By now I was also very surprised by my ‘birth chanting’ J which felt so natural as I accessed my primal brain and energy. This most definitely also helped me to focus during those very intense moments.
There is something to be said for my support team. Pierre was absolutely amazing in his focused and channeled support from the first to the last minute of labour. He literally took every breath with me throughout the process and even though I couldn’t show it at the time I felt so supported and loved and that I am not doing this alone. I can honestly say there isn’t really anything that makes the feelings that are flowing through your body any better, but to have that emotional support gives you the ability to deal with it one breath at a time.
Eventually Nicolette checked me again and announced that I was now fully dilated and when I feel the urge the push I can go ahead. It was weird, it was such a long journey to get there, but getting to that point seemed so soon and sudden. Nevertheless, I was happy that the end was in sight. She explained how this should be done and we had a few practices pushes. I got into a squatting position as I knew gravity would assist this phase. And boy once my body starting getting into pushing gear there was no stopping. Nicolette was brilliant in the way she coached me through the last pushes to ensure I have the best chance of no tearing. Pushing lasted about 30mins and I remember this as being a really intense time, hands gripping, me moaning, pushing will all my might, Nicolette coaching…This was probably the worst bit for me since as he was crowning we had to wait for the next contraction before I could continue pushing. It felt like forever and it was an overwhelming burning sensation, however, it didn’t last very long as I was adamant that with the next contraction this baby will be out. Pierre and I both had the opportunity to feel his head crowning, which was really amazing!
And one of the best phrases I heard was when Nicolette said ‘ok get ready to take your baby’, and before I knew it I was able to reach out and take my beautiful baby boy into my arms – wow! What an amazing feeling that was! Almost surreal! I felt like a true birth goddess! He quickly took his first breath and he was a real screamer to ensure we all knew he has arrived into this world. I had an overwhelming sense of relief and joy to finally hold little Luca in my arms. And he was so perfect!
Once finished pulsating, Pierre had the opportunity to cut the umbilical cord while we were still in the water. According to him the cord is much tougher than you can ever imagine. Again, this was another special moment. After this they gave Luca to Pierre to have some ‘skin-to-skin’ contact while I birthed the placenta – I was little nervous about doing this, after the great accomplishment of delivering Luca I was now faced with delivering my placenta as well, whew! But it was actually so quick and painless.
The benefit of natural birth (without drugs) is that once it over you are fully mobile and I was able to get out of the bath myself and take a refreshing shower.
After that we got into bed and started the breastfeeding journey for the first time. Luckily all went well and Luca was a real star, latching and drinking quickly.
We were on such a high from the whole experience, not only that evening or the next day, even for weeks after the birth we continued reminiscing about what an amazing experience the whole ordeal was. I can honestly say that there is nothing I would change: I had the perfect birth experience!
My take-out from this whole experience is that delivering your child naturally is a precious, life-changing gift all us women were given the privilege to experience as human beings. That our bodies have an intelligence none of us can fathom. That we are limited only what we are led to believe and that we are far more capable if only we had the courage to truly surrender to our own abilities as women.
Miraculously I had no tears thanks to the caring experts that shared this experience with me. Without them and a birth clinic like Genesis, this would definitely not have been possible.