Oliver’s Home Birth
Oliver Byron’s Homebirth – By Heidi Casey
Photographer Georgia Brizuela - www.documentingdelight.com
I have been trying to write your birth story for over two weeks now little Oliver Byron. I know I must not take too long for although I will never forget your birth I want to write down everything while it is so vivid and poignant in my mind. Your sisters are both asleep and I look at you curled up on my chest nuzzling into my neck -this is one of your favourite places. You are so settled and content…..so perfect your little fingers and toes, your cheeks which get chubbier each day. I look at your precious little face that I tried so hard to imagine for 9 months, I am so glad you are here and that I brought you into the world exactly how I wanted to. I wanted to give you a calm, gentle journey; as I know you were so comfortable and warm inside your little womb home. I wanted the first face you saw to be mine and your dad’s, the first touch to be my hands cradling you. I wanted you to enter into a place we call our home, surrounded by those who love and care for you, this was not a simple decision or plan we always had but we achieved it and I am so glad we did. I had originally been booked into a Birth Centre and although I attended my first few appointments there I knew I wanted desperately to have you at home.
I started researching every spare moment I had as to how I could be able to have a homebirth as I knew this was the right choice for me. I began contacting local midwives, attending the Brisbane Home Birth Queensland meetings. I began to educate myself in the politics surrounding homebirth in Queensland. It upset me that the reasons making it difficult to have a homebirth was because QLD had no publicly funded homebirth system and the controversy regarding the prior and current restrictions placed on independent midwives and private homebirths and of course the financial implications of affording it. Hiring independent midwives for a homebirth was not as easy as I thought as there were not that many around where we lived and many of them already had full caseloads and all were above our budget; but I knew there had to be a way. I spent many late nights conspiring ways and means to be able to afford it, I shed many tears in the weeks leading up to finally finding our beautiful midwives. We contemplated having a free birth, or just hiring a doula. I knew I could do it but I wanted the support of midwives. I started making and selling heat bags, children’s skirts and tops to be able to save a little extra and worked out the most frugal budget we could survive on to pay for your homebirth, it was going to be a tough and tight few months but I knew it would be worth it; thankfully your Dad supported my decision. I showed him research and evidence supporting home birth and explained why this was so important to me and for us as a family. To have his support behind me was awesome. We would never remember the take out dinners we missed out on or a holiday we could have had but we would always remember your birth-I kept this thought in my head. I was so happy once the decision was made and Teresa and Hazel were my midwives, this decision was made when I was 24 weeks pregnant, now I could relax, thankfully they were happy to organise a payment plan for us. The one on one care with Teresa was precious and how it should be. Being able to have visits in my home, that were never rushed and in a place where I felt the most relaxed and comfortable was wonderful. To sit and chat over a cup of tea in the privacy and comfort of my own home, where your sisters were happy while getting my checks done was a new experience and one I loved especially in last few weeks when I was so big. I had a beautiful mother blessing a couple of weeks before you were born; it was a lovely afternoon of women, support, connection and love.
My due date came and went and 6 days later, in the early hours of the morning on the 26th of July you let me know you were ready to meet us. I awoke to a surge, I am sure I was waking to go to the toilet anyway as it was so mild that I am sure I could have slept through it. I was excited. So excited I had been waiting for some sort of sign that you were on your way out to meet us. I went to the toilet and had a small show, yes I thought to myself another good sign. Everyone was asleep it was 2.30am in the morning I thought about waking your Dad, but decided against as 1) he would need his sleep for what was soon to come and 2) he had been begging me excitedly to let him put the birth pool up every day for the last 2 weeks – so I certainly did not want him to start doing that now. I made myself a cup of honey and chamomile tea, it was freezing so I wrapped my dressing gown around myself and found my woolly socks which I only just managed to put on myself as your home was just about at its growth limits. I sat on my fit-ball, and read some more of Jenny Blythes’ Down to Earth Birth Book. I had a couple more surges but their mild nature assured me you were not in a hurry. I was so excited and started to visualise your birth but knew I should get some rest as I would surely need it soon. I was woken in the morning by your beautiful sisters and not long after felt another gentle surge, I was happy they had not disappeared.
I told your Dad, he was excited, I wanted him to know that it could still mean I could labour into tomorrow. Your Dad had already started his leave from work so it was nice having him home already. I had a chiropractor – Webster technique adjustment booked in for 9am on the other side of town and tossed up whether I should still go and decided I would like to be aligned the best I can before birth anyway so we all got ready and headed off to that. My chiropractor was amazing, the pinching muscle spasm pain in my bottom went away after seeing her and I felt good. I was still having surges not really interested in timing them but about 10-12mins apart. We took your sisters to the park and I remember it felt good to be out but knowing you were working your way down to meet us. I had a midwife appointment in the afternoon and phoned Teresa to say we would come to her as we were out and about as she had been coming to me for the last few weeks.
It was great to see Teresa, she checked bubs position – he was engaged for the first time- YAY- still a little LOP but neither of us were concerned, your heart rate and my blood pressure were all fine, we chatted and hugged and knew we would be seeing each other pretty soon. We went back home to relax and get ready. I had told your Nanny to come as she had to travel from the Sunshine Coast and had let your aunty and my friend/photographer Georgia both know that I was in early labour and left it that I would let them know shortly when to come. At around 4 in the afternoon the surges were getting a little closer together and occasionally forcing me to stop to breathe through them but still manageable.
Dinner, baths and organising was all happening in our house – it was nice having your Dad and Nanny there just helping and allowing me to wander around when I needed to. I was excited and relaxed. I loved the feeling of knowing that I was not going anywhere that this is where you were going to be born. I felt safe and comfortable, your sisters were happy especially Scarlet who really knew what was about to happen. We promised to wake her up as we put her to bed for the night. The surges were getting closer together and increasing in intensity. Your Dad suggested I ring Teresa after I had four surges in sixteen minutes; I had rung her an hour before just to chat and let her know how things were going but they had stepped up quite a bit during that time. Teresa said she was coming straight away, I let Georgia know and she was also on her way. I felt more relaxed now I knew they were coming. I tried to put your sister Willow to sleep but lying down during a surge was too uncomfortable, I really wanted to be walking or standing or rocking, so I gave up. Your Dad took Willow for a walk in the pram to hopefully get her to sleep- I was thankful. Georgia arrived followed by Teresa then Hazel. It was just after half past seven my surges were now requiring me to stop and breathe through them. I chatted with everyone between them, Georgia lighted my candles, I set the iPod up and pressed play on the playlist I had prepared. My birthing space looked beautiful – I had hung a quilted wall hanging I had made at a ‘sew birth workshop’ and prayer flags made by the women at my mother blessings, drawings by Scarlet and Willow were also on the wall. Photos of our family surrounded me. Your Dad had started setting up the birth pool before he took Willow for a walk. Teresa and Hazel took up where he had left off with the birth pool and began filling it. It was so nice to have your Nanny here and she was so helpful with your sisters. Your Dad came back which was good because I was beginning to feel like I wanted him with me. Willow was still not asleep, she knew something was going to happen I am sure. Nanny took Willow down the end of the house to go lie down and watch Baby Einstein. Your Dad and I retreated to our bedroom, I leaned into him and we rocked back and forth almost like a gentle dance. I felt so safe and supported in his strong arms; I felt happy and peaceful, when we came out Teresa asked to listen to you and took my pulse, I moved to my fit-ball after this. I was now in a place of surrender and openness and I was enjoying it knowing I was getting closer and closer to meeting you. I had my eyes shut and focused on my breathing; my pelvis wanted to be rocked and make circular motions. I did this. Your Dad was right there with me putting pressure and rubbing on my lower back just when I needed him to, we worked together. Teresa checked in with me in between a surge to see how I was going, I remember saying I felt I was doing well but I knew I had not hit transition yet. I knew you were not far away, you were making your journey down. I was half aware that the birth pool was still being filled but was unaware we had run out of hot water quite early in the piece so did not realise Teresa and Hazel were boiling four pots and microwaving water all at once and pouring it in as fast as they could, running back and forth trying to get the birth pool filled up in time.
I leant over the couch and rocked from side to side as your Dad placed heat packs on my lower back. Georgia took over holding the heat packs on at one point when he had to attend to Willow. Your Dad was back, I was glad to have him by my side again. I wanted to kneel now I found a spot in front of the couch near the pool, leaning over the couch I buried my face in a cushion it felt good – another surge came longer and more intense, this was transition, the great intensity of each surge came and went the pressure on my sacrum increased. Your Dad continued to place pressure and make circular motions during each surge. I wanted my dress and my cardigan off now. I buried my face in the cushion again and allowed myself to release the deep primal sounds which came so naturally and felt so good. I was focused; I trusted my body, I knew it was working just as it should. I felt strong and confident. The sounds I made were deep and low and in control, I was doing this, I had surrendered and my body had taken over, I felt like I was in a good place and my mind focused, all the mental preparation I had done were paying off.
I had another surge in which I called out to Teresa – I told her you were coming, my pelvis and my body were opening, I felt this – Teresa was sitting beside me already, I had no idea she was right there, quietly and gently supporting me and allowing your Dad to do this also. She told me the pool was now ready if I wanted to get in. I did want to but my legs were shaky, your head felt so far down that it made it hard to move. Your Dad and Teresa helped me to my feet and I was just able to get my legs over and collapsed into the pool. It felt good I remember thinking. I again resumed my position of kneeling and leaning over this time over the edge of the birth pool. I grabbed hold of the side of the pool with my fingers as the next surge came. Your Dad stroked my back and hair and I welcomed another surge. Teresa asked me kindly to listen to you, I nodded. I put my hand down to feel your head coming as I could feel you were so close to being here. It felt all squishy and fluidly as I touched what I thought to be your head – it was not hard as I had expected, in this intense moment I kind of realised you were in your waters. I gripped the side of the pool and welcomed another surge- it felt a little strange, almost like you were moving in and out a little; as my body was working hard to bring you down. The next surge brought your head out, and then the rest of you quickly followed, with barely a break in between. You were born in your caul, you swam out between my legs. It was 10.09pm, your Dad watched and told me how amazing it was to watch you come into the water in your caul and watch it float off your face, “Almost like a veil lifting” he said. Teresa encouraged me and coaxed me in my still shocked state to reach down and pick you up as I stated I wanted to do this (Your Dad was about to dive in if I didn’t). I looked down and for what seemed like much longer than it really was I saw your gorgeous face looking up at me, eyes open, arms moving slowly. The moment you and I shared staring at each other will always be imprinted firmly in my memory and the overwhelming feeling of love and pure joy as I reached down and brought you up out of the water, into air and into my arms where you took your first breath. I looked at your Dad, his eyes fixated on you and moved to meet mine, they were eyes filled with happiness, his face beaming with joy; the love exchanged overflowing between us all. “I caught you” I exclaimed “and you are perfect”. Teresa was right there and supported me with you so I could sit back against the edge of the pool comfortably and encouraged me to give you a rub on the back, leaning you forward a little and she congratulated me.
You were perfect, we had done it together, “you are perfect and so beautiful I told you” again. I sat back into the loving arms of your Dad. Your aunty, Amy, had woken Scarlet and brought her straight in to meet her little brother and Nanny came in with Willow to meet you. We were all there, your birth was beautiful and to just sit there and relax taking you in surrounded by family and your midwives as we relaxed and got to know each other and recovered in the pool was just beautiful. Your Dad cuddled me and kissed me and held your hand and asked me if I thought you were Oliver Byron, I agreed. We sat there in awe of you and your journey. I looked up at Georgia and smiled, she was kneeling in the corner, she smiled back at me, our eyes exchanging words we didn’t need to say.
Scarlet fell back asleep in her Aunties arms, Nanny took Willow back to bed after meeting you and I decided I wanted to get out of the pool as I was getting cold. Your cord was still attached as I had not yet birthed the Placenta. I was helped out of the pool still holding you and sat down onto cushions leaning against the couch next to the pool. We were wrapped in towels and I continued to cuddle you on my chest. You snuffled and made gorgeous sounds, I couldn’t take my eyes off you, you attached to the breast for a short period, a few times. I birthed the placenta fifty six minutes after you were born and we placed it in a bowl next to us to allow it to fully finish transferring all the amazing nutrients and blood from it to you. Eventually after another hour your Dad cut the cord. Teresa weighed you – 8lbs you were, we dressed you and wrapped you up warmly. Then your Dad held you while Teresa helped me have a wash and get cleaned up and into some clean and warm pyjamas – it felt nice. I put Willow to sleep as she had still not gone to sleep, intent on waiting for me. Georgia made me the best hot chocolate and vegemite toast which I devoured. Your Nanny gave you a cuddle and Teresa and Hazel together with your Dad started emptying the birth pool and cleaning up. I hopped into bed with you and it was just how it was meant to be.
We gave you that journey that entrance into the world, into my arms, into our hearts and our family and you gave us so much more. You gave me a sense of empowerment, a feeling like I could do anything; your birth allowed your Dad and I to work together uninterrupted to support you into this world. The intensity of childbirth is not one you can explain but to be able to birth how and where you feel most comfortable, being present and surrendering to your body while being supported is truly the most amazing empowering experience I have ever had. Being a mother to now three beautiful children is unquestionably the most rewarding gift I have been given.
I really want to thank: You – Mr Oliver Byron for your amazing birth and for being my son, I love you so much. Your Dad, my amazing husband who has always trusted and supported me in everything I choose to do, who is an awesome Dad and is by far the best labour support I could ever need – I love you. Your gorgeous sisters; Scarlet and Willow-who are a constant delight and keep me on my toes teaching me so much about myself and life. My beautiful mother, your Nanny who brought me into the world and of whom I love dearly. My lovely, gentle sister, your aunty Amy who was a constant moral and emotional support throughout my pregnancy in achieving my homebirth. Georgia my dear friend, thank you for being the truly special friend you are, who knows more about me than most and now has seen everything – she gave us the beautiful gift of capturing your birth into the world, I love you. Also all my beautiful friends and family who also supported me and our family and continue to do so, I love you all so much (you know who you are). Our life would not be the same without you all. I feel truly blessed to have such a lovely network of friends and family. Lastly but not at all least – I want to thank Teresa and Hazel, my beautiful midwives who supported me and cared for me through my pregnancy. Thank you for always listening and for helping me achieve the birth I wanted, I cannot thank you enough.