A common characteristic attributed to Virgos is that they like to do things in their own time. Aidan is a Virgo, he certainly likes to do things in his own time...
He decided to demonstrate this astrological trait right from the start. Michelle's waters broke on Saturday 6th September at 3am. With an excited tap on the shoulder she woke me (Dave) with the news. As we had been told that these things can take a while, my response was "great, go back to sleep".
That was the first night that neither of us got any sleep. Although we had the best of intentions, it was impossible to sleep with such an exciting prospect ... our baby was on his / her way ... and I might even get a father's day present like no other!!
Saturday and Sunday seemed to take an eternity ... the first labour pains kicked in at 6pm on Sunday night. I was still in with a chance for father's day! The night continued with pains niggling enough to keep us awake, but certainly not strong enough to worry about. We realised that there was a long way to go.
Monday morning came around and Michelle was still experiencing contractions at 10 to 15 minutes apart. I decided to go to work - with the hope that I'd be called home! The day progressed with pains coming and going - eventually ramping up later that night.
Later on Monday night (8th September), contractions were coming at 5 minute intervals and lasting approx 60 seconds. This was our queue to call Robyn - our midwife. Again, we thought that we were getting somewhere - however contractions continued to fluctuate - and our instruction from Robyn was to try and get some more sleep... we were going to need it!
Contractions seemed to be more intense throughout the night and eased off during the day. We continued through Tuesday and into Tuesday night - Robyn arrived at 3am.
On Wednesday (10th September) Robyn performed an internal examination upon our request to find that Michelle was approximately 2cm dilated. We considered a trip to Westmead hospital to speed things along - however decided to continue at home as both Michelle and baby's vital signs were excellent. Aside from lack of sleep, we were all coping remarkably well.
Determined to bring this baby into the world, we tried homeopathics, power-walking the neighbourhood, stair-climbing, chiropractic therapy, magnetic therapy, aromatherapy, reflexology, reiki ... and any other inducers we could think of!
We got a little nervous with September 11th looming - and had convinced ourselves that a September 11 baby would be a good thing... a reason to view that date in a good light. On Thursday afternoon the contractions picked up a few notches and we knew that Michelle was making progress.
Michelle had now been labouring for 4 days and everyone was physically and emotionally exhausted. Robyn had called in the back-up troops in Myra and Genine, who both provided amazing support as Michelle finally entered 2nd stage labour at 8:00pm on September 11th.
Our hopes of a quick 2nd stage dwindled away as the hours passed. Michelle spent time in the shower, on the birthing stool and in the birthing pool. As midnight ticked over, we let out a silent cheer ... at least that was one small bonus of this marathon!
At 1am on September 12th, Aidan David made his hasty entry into the world. After such a long labour, he surprised us all by sliding out head-to-toe all in one go! As you can see, he was just perfect! (and still is!). Everyone was cheering at such an amazing experience. Michelle was truly inspirational - to keep going for 5 days - keeping a smile on her face. The long labour hadn't worried Aidan in the slightest - his heart rate never fluctuated and he's now a very content and happy baby! Born in the comfort and love of his own home!
I woke up from a lucid dream that I had a baby kicking in my tummy. Within the week I had confirmation that what I had was no dream, I was expecting my 3rd child and was already 17 ½ weeks pregnant. Wow.
So I decided to visit my private obstetrician who had delivered my two sons Benjamin and Jonathan via cesarean. He however was on leave and had a substitute obstetrician temporarily standing in his place. Through her, I had asked and found that under no circumstance would he consider giving me a VBAC after having had two prior cesareans, despite the fact that I had no other contraindications for giving a normal natural birth.
My first son was breach, which left me with no option other than to give birth via cesarean according to my obstetrician's choice of practice. Of course he gave me the option of switching obstetricians, but at 36 weeks, this did not feel like a viable alternative at the time.
My second son, Jonathan, was cesarean by choice. I suppose it was a matter of 'going with the devil you know.' Besides, I had felt like I had recuperated rather quickly from my previous cesarean, and that this time should not be much different. I also had fears about a bad and long bout of respiratory flu that had befallen me a couple of weeks before my due date and that I would not be able to recuperate as well from a trial of labour that turned into an emergency cesarean. Thus, my choice for a second cesarean.
I felt most comfortable with my obstetrician's skills, however, to my surprise, he decided to let his assistant/partner in training perform the 2nd cesarean surgery. I also found that I did not heal quickly from my second cesarean at all. As a matter of fact, a year later I still suffered debilitating pains from walking medium to long distances in my lower abdomen where the cesareans occurred. This made parenting my two boys for the 1st year extremely challenging as I was going through a number of issues including recuperation from the pain of major surgery, bonding with new baby, and trying to deal with the guilt I felt from not being able to give my No 1 son the same level of attention I used to be able to give him. Between my long and painful recuperation and the demands of a new baby it was really too much for me to cope with on my own as my husband and I are a nuclear family with no extended family to request any assistance from.
So, when I found I was pregnant with my third, I realised I was going to have to have a much more in depth look at my options, to see if I really did have any options at this point. Thank goodness that I live in The Information Age. I didn't even know what the term VBAC meant before typing cesarean + natural birth into Google.
So at 18 weeks, I started visiting obstetricians, with the creeping knowledge that I was going to have to interview quite a few to find out their views, beliefs & opinions as well as practices in the case of VBAC after 2 prior cesareans. After having been recommended by my obstetrician's substitute obstetrician to the head doctor at RNS, and discussing my choices I would now move toward a public hospital system which would support a 'trial of labour' before considering moving me to the more extreme option of a 3rd cesarean. I was also appropriately warned by the head doctor, that although he supported my choice, it would be rather difficult for him to enforce as everything depended upon the beliefs and practices of the doctor on duty at the time of my delivery. So he recommended I choose a private doctor who would be more likely to comply with my wishes in the public hospital setting.
In the meantime, I had heard through other mothers at my oldest son's school that there was such a practice called independent midwifery, and that many of the mothers utilised their services with very positive outcomes. Thank goodness for word of mouth. At about 24 weeks I decided to employ the help of a private midwife and drop the private obstetrician.
I found a local midwife, Robyn Dempsey, who had extensive experience in the field, and who seemed to have an open yet conservative approach with regards to safety and an ability to work within hospital settings. I had no idea at the time how invaluable her presence and input would be until that last hour when we actually delivered within the hospital setting and the following days my bub and I spent in hospital.
Robyn had told me she wouldn't be surprised if I went past my due date, as this was common in first time deliveries.
Perhaps I didn't feel ready. Perhaps there was just too much on with my eldest's 5th birthday to prepare for and mom and dad staying with us and all the new and strange family dynamics that sometimes come into play when grandparents meet and integrate with their grandchildren for the first time. I also found that my mother's natural concern and anxiety for me was causing me to feel anxious about having them around during a home labour & birth.
The Braxton-Hicks came for the first time on the 28th of February. Robyn looked with a hint of merriment when I told her I thought "Is that all there is to labour? This should be a breeze!" My due date was March 9, so I felt sure I would deliver at or prior to the time. Mom and Dad arrived from overseas for 3 weeks on the same morning, and I thought I had plenty of time to deliver. As it turned out, I wouldn't deliver until 26 of March (21/2 weeks after my due date and 6 days after mom and dad went back home to the US).
So Tuesday night on the 22nd Braxton-hicks started at 10pm and ended about 4 hours later. I thought this was the beginning of labour, but my midwife knew otherwise from the sound of my voice on the phone. The following night I felt my first labour pains. Now I understood why Robyn looked with a hint of merriment when I told her I thought upon feeling my first Braxton Hicks back on the 28th of February. Real labour pains were quite an intense experience. Robyn told me to try to sleep between contractions, which was great advice, but I wondered how anyone could do such a thing when the pain was so intense. I ate very little on Wednesday as the contractions continued intermittently. A few grapes, some yogurt and water. That night when the contractions intensified and were coming every 5-9 minutes I took a warm/hot shower to relieve my lower back pain and threw up what little I ate earlier.
My lower back felt like it was on fire during each contraction. I was starting to understand how some women recommend "drugs." Contractions are not a very pleasant feeling at all. They are highly difficult to mask and simply impossible to ignore. It is a very deep pain, like very very very bad menstrual cramps that never seem to end. I found this quite difficult to cope with alone, and my husband, Martin, was a tremendous source of support and relief. Although other birthing team members were extremely helpful, I found that no one seemed to have the same soothing capacity as my husband. I think this was due to our decision and belief that we could go through this together as a family and I believe there was also a highly emotional element to my requirement for his support. His availability and willingness to physically support and massage my lower back whenever I beckoned - despite his exhaustion due to a heavy work week - helped immensely. When my contractions were at their worst, it was him I would call for relief.
The birth support team was small enough to manage without distraction, and Martin's Mum became a tremendous and constant support throughout the whole process. We could not have gotten through it so well without her, and our relationship has deepened since the experience. Robyn, was a pillar of strength and totally focused, as you would expect any professional in their field to be. But she was more than just a professional. She was facilitating and sharing a very unique and intimate experience with us all. Her assistant, Margo, joined us toward the last stages, and I found her extra help very comforting (and probably a relief for the rest of the birthing team.
My two sons, Benjamin (who had just turned 5) and Jonathan who was just under two, adjusted to the whole event as they heard their mum moaning, groaning and trying to sing, coo, (whatever would get me through the process!). They went between watching movies and coming in to check on me and talk to me or see if I was okay.
Toward the end, as the baby's head was crowning as I sat in my birth pool at home, Benjamin was logically explaining the process of birth to me and telling me to relax. Jonathan insisted on holding my hand and singing Bob the Builder to me. I will never forget how tremendous they were. At times I felt concern for the boys and how they would be able to take watching me go through labour to the point of distraction. Jonathan seemed the most concerned about me going through labour pains. But in the end I can see - and truly believe - we experienced a very important milestone together as a family.
After 38 hours of labour and what seemed to Robyn to be a long 2nd stage of labour we decided to head to the hospital. I think back now about how truly magnificently Robyn managed the whole process. Both from a technical and psychological perspective. Always allowing me to make the decisions and feel like I was in control.
Once I was in hospital it was a different matter. That last hour I was put under time pressure to have the baby - otherwise a VE would be used), I also became engaged in an 'argument' with the junior pediatrician, who was loath to give in to my request for Martin to cut the cord and for the baby to remain close to me as long as there were no other contraindications. These were the kind of pressures and battles I was trying to avoid, and it was this clinical urgency and lack of respect for my requests or birth choices during the process which led me to decide to do as much of the birthing process as possible from home.
Robyn and Margo were an amazing asset in the hospital setting. Margo went with us in the car and explained to Martin and I what was happening and assuring us both that everything was fine and going well. Robyn drove behind us on the way to hospital. After the birth Robyn stayed with me and Margo went with Martin and the baby so both could support and interpret what the doctors 'in charge' were saying or suggesting we do so that both Martin and I were empowered to make the best decisions for us and our baby.
I also found that Robyn's diplomatic, yet inquisitive nature in the hospital setting, got us to avoid unnecessary interventions even to the point of getting my baby 'released' from ICU early so he could be with me. Her inquiries had actually revealed that nurses were only keeping my baby in ICU because of low staffing ratio to patients on the floor where I was staying. 15 minutes after she left, they delivered my baby to my room to be with me, saying as a 3rd time mum I would be… "low maintenance" I finished the nurse's sentence.. and she agreed.
I wasn't upset that the final hour of the birth process had occurred in hospital. Delivering the placenta is a rather messy event and I was glad the hospital was left with the sheets to clean! I also had a chance to rest away from duty's and distractions at home.
So, in the end I was extremely happy with having experienced the entire process and the beautiful outcome, our son Yukon Isaak Curiel Aranovitch
Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond - Genine's Story
In August 2000, Rob and I discovered we were pregnant - 5 weeks to be precise. We were together when the news was confirmed and God we were happy. I was so sure the baby was a girl - I don't really know why that was, just a feeling, not necessarily because I wanted a girl, I was actually more partial to a boy - but in the end, it didn't matter, I was pregnant and we were thrilled.
Carrying my child and being aware of the baby filled me with the most delicious sensations and excitement - I was in love with the idea of being pregnant but my size six frame at the time was a little reluctant to becoming large. I could see how caught up I was on staying trim but the feeling of carrying a life inside me was miraculous - I greedily gloated on the inside. I had a lot of days where I felt revolting - I figured the hormones precipitated a lot of those feelings. I suddenly began feeling 'out of control' in a lot of ways and needed to rethink my life. It was like having a complete makeover and an opportunity for me to deeply consider my roles as a woman, partner and future mother.
The greatest lesson for me was to begin depending upon others for support. My background had conditioned me to be the independent woman of the century and to not, under any circumstances, rely on others. WOW, the terror that filled my soul around this issue was monstrous. You see, I believe every woman's pregnancy is different. Physically, my pregnancy was truly beautiful but the emotional issues began showing up from about 8 weeks. My pregnancy was highly emotional. There were plenty of books on physical effects and only 2 sentences on the emotional journey. I truly felt isolated, I couldn't understand why so much of what I was experiencing had not been written about - then I wondered whether my journey was what I needed to experience so that I could assist and help other women under similar circumstances in the future?
Me being me was determined to 'do' pregnancy in an unconventional, natural and radical way. I refused to 'do' morning sickness (and pleased to say I didn't) or wear maternity clothes. Instead, I bought sexy, hot little numbers which emphasised my beautiful bump, received massages every week, ate organically, slept and slept and slept and told Rob we were birthing at home and he better get ready because he was delivering the baby!!! I made this decision based upon two notions: to me, you go to hospital if you are seriously ill or requiring surgery and as I have never experienced either couldn't entertain the idea of birthing in one and secondly, my body was built to birth naturally and I had the confidence to do this at home.
Rob agreed with my perspective and actually took all this well in his stride - reality for him had by no means set in - he was pregnant with his own journey - the provider journey.
As I was to birth from home, we shopped around for an independent midwife and for months couldn't find one compatible - where was she I wondered - I knew she would be someone I could trust and who could understand me on the level I really needed. I asked for one and got TWO! We then met Robyn & Nicole.
Robyn, on introduction, is the most petite lady I have ever met but God she is a powerhouse!! Her feminine/goddess energy beams beyond her and being in her presence really made it safe for me to express how I was truly feeling. Nicole was youthful, gutsy and utterly loving. They were so ready to listen, empathise and practically explained the ins and outs of where I was at. Their faith in my ability to birth this baby naturally was paramount. Robyn handed me a book at the end of our session and said, "I think this is just what you need to read". It was called 'Birthing from Within - the spiritual journey of birthing'. I knew in that moment that I had come home; I also knew that I no longer had to worry about what was going on within my heart and soul - this pregnancy was preparing me to birth my own spirit to a much deeper level. And the remarkable being in my belly was telling me (with kicks) that it was these two women who would guide us through.
Financially, we had created a lifestyle where it was possible for me to leave work when I was 6 months pregnant and spend the last 3 months holistically preparing for this new person to enter our lives. Looking back, that time was precious. I believe I connected deeply with the child growing in my belly, spending much of my time in silent reverence, meditation, peaceful and yet hell-bent on creating my nest. And what a nest it was - mother hen went wild - scrubbing, cleaning, stubbornly moving furniture, rearranging the entire house - Rob would leave for work, come home and not recognise the place!!! It was a beautiful time for me and I look back with gratitude.
There is nothing more sacred in this world then to know and feel the essence of your unborn child. The calmness, joy and sunniness of this soul often struck me with wonder and bliss. As the months progressed, Rob gently put to me his view about the baby being a boy - 'really' I said, 'but we never seem to agree on a name'! So a boy's name was considered and yet still not negotiated!!!
The baby was due on April 12, 2001 just before Easter weekend. When the due date came and went my frustration grew. At that stage, I felt confronted with my impatience and need to be in control. Over the next few days people were ringing constantly to find out if baby had been born. NO, NO and NO!! My frustration exploded and I insisted that we drive to our favourite spot in Wollongong to get away from the phone and to help 'bring baby on'.
Sure enough, that being the case, around 4pm on Easter Friday I began feeling it time to head on home because I just knew that this was the start.
Persistence, endurance, resistance, control and commitment are the words to describe my labour. Labour for me was a true reflection of my relationship to myself and life in general. I had to confront my fear of pain, death and my doubt about being a 'good' mother. And yet through the struggle, the baby inside me remained calm, peaceful and secure. Sometimes I wonder whether labour is a prerequisite for mum to be or for baby. Baby was so close to birth and yet dilating to 1cm took me 24 hours. I was heartbroken when Robyn examined me and shared the news - she of course was proud and celebratory with this effort. In that moment I said goodbye to Hollywood birthing and hello to reality. The midwives disappeared into the night to let me labour alone, with Rob. I write it that way because I truly felt that although support was there, I was doing this by myself.
There were moments of total and absolute consciousness - true connection with the divine, within and without. Moments of bliss, moments of struggle, rage, and calmness - they were all there, visiting me one by one. I didn't always embrace those moments, I didn't always surrender but I did do my best. Sometimes I forgot what I was doing, the monotony and arduous endurance of each contraction, movement and thought of struggle. Rob's loving kindness and conversations with God kept me on track. I held strong to the thought about Jesus taking 3 days to resurrect and be made new - was this my symbolic walk from crucifixion to resurrection? From maidenhood to motherhood? Yes, it was.
I surrendered into second stage after 43 hours of labour. I determined the birth would be in water - I had made that decision and nothing was going to stop that intention. I pushed with gusto; I pushed with power, each contraction I worked with, feeling baby move, feeling my sacred centre open like a lotus and trusting my body's inherent wisdom.
Our son Luke Robert Jeffrey Dietrich, the bringer of light, gently and yet oh so powerfully was born at 9.08pm on Easter Sunday. He was big, beautiful and so calm. Our eyes locked immediately and I was mesmerised. I decided in that moment that this boy, the bringer of light, would teach me about myself and motherhood in joyful, loving ways.
I am so grateful for Luke, my teacher of unconditional love. I am so grateful for my labour because it was perfect. It has taken me three years to write this story, to overcome my feelings of inadequacy and questioning why I needed so long to birth - didn't I 'do' it right or something? The length, shortness, pain, no pain does not make up what determines a 'good or right way to birth'. I now realise that a good birth is what you make of it. I clearly see that I needed a 43hr labour to help me birth the qualities of endurance, persistence and determination, to give me the strength to stand on my own two feet, raise my child and heal myself from an instinctive space rather than feel compelled to do what another person or text book theory thinks is best.
In truth, I know the length of labour was partially due to the inner struggles I carry due to a very painful and challenging childhood. The pregnancy, birth and beyond has given me the opportunity to know that I can heal and reclaim the life of my own inner child by creating a functional and loving environment for Luke. This experience has become the greatest gift and most humbling of my life.
Ladies, please do not deny yourself this gift because you are afraid - rise to the strength in yourself, surrender to the fear and embrace your womanly wisdom - let yourself challenge all that you are because you are more than you possibly can ever perceive - you only learn this through the journey of birthing, the journey of opening your soul, body and mind to the divine nature of femininity.
I want to thank from the depths of my soul, Rob, Robyn, Nicole and all the family and friends pitching for us. It was indeed a miraculous experience and one that I would recommend to any woman or couple planning to embark upon the birth of a child. Trust your instincts, trust your heart and know that there are wonderful midwives out there to help you.
My love always,
Mother and Natural Therapies Practitioner
(02) 9988 0105