The Story of Francis
Part Four : Labour Day
Remember the following is written from my perspective and my recollection.
Wednesday 28th October 2015 : 00:15am
I was already in bed reading when Ananda came into the bedroom after brushing her teeth. She stood at the side of the bed and was just about to get in when with a resounding “splat” her waters broke on the floor. At first we were both a bit stunned, and then a little bit frightened and then a bit excited. “Did you waters just break?” I asked. Stupid question really.
As Ananda went to the spare room to tell Gay, and to get a maternity pad, I set about cleaning up. The waters had a slight pink tinge to them just as expected. We texted the mid-wives and then settled down to try and get a night sleep, knowing that the big day had started.
Wednesday 28th October 2015: 4:25am
I slept pretty well to be honest, and was woken up by Ananda who said the contractions were pretty intense. I got up and I think I remember eating a very quick breakfast before returning to Ananda. Gay was also awake at this stage now.
When I went back into the bedroom Ananda was a bit upset. The maternity pad she had worn through the night was showing some brown colouring – the dreaded meconium. We asked Gay for her opinion and then I took a picture and texted it to the midwife, and then called her and left a message.
At this point Ananda and Gay were saying that because of the meconium, we would now have to go to the hospital. I felt horribly shattered at this prospect, and extremely scared, nervous and very freaked out. I spent a long time in the bathroom.
Whilst waiting for a reply from our midwives, I started to get the birthing pool out and the hoses needed to fill it. “What’s the point I won’t be able to use it now” came the reply from Ananda. I wasn’t to be so easily deterred and plus it gave me something to do.
The midwife called and said, yep it looked like meconium, and that she had to offer us the possibility of going to the hospital. I clung to that word “possibility” as a sign of hope. She was on her way around to help.
Meanwhile, I was doing my best to comfort Ananda, and then we started going through our hypno-birthing routine of getting her to relax and let her body take over. It was much harder to do this time since she was already having contractions, not like just peacefully practicing in the comfort of an armchair. Still we persevered and tried our best.
My nerves were playing havoc with me, but then I remembered that in the homeopathy kit I had read about some pillules to take to help with relaxtion and stress, and further, it even said the father could take some too. So I looked through the kit and instructions. Aconite was what I was after.
I quickly scanned the instructions “Dissolve 2-3 pillues under the tongue…. Give a remedy up to every 10 minutes or so…….”. There, that was all I needed to read, so I popped three in, and every 10 minutes or so would pop another three under my tongue.
Meanwhile I was also giving different ones to Ananda based on what symtpoms she was showing or describing to me. For example, when she vomited I gave her some Ipecacuanha and she didn’t vomit anymore. Actually when she vomited I was way freaked out and wondered if this was going to be a long traumatic day. So I took some more aconite.
Ananda’s legs started shaking un-controllably. “Is there something for this?” she asked. I started searching through the instructions, and as I was getting towards the end if the list I had already pretty much made up my mind that if I did not find one, I would just say I had and give her another anti-nausea one. Power of the mind remember. But lo and behold right at the end was one for legging trembling: Gelsemium. “Bloody hell this kit has everything!" I thought, slipping some more aconite under my tongue.
Sarah, one of the midwives arrived just before 5am, and we talked about the meconium and what it meant in terms of going to the hospital. I asked what they would do at the hospital that was different from what she could do for us here at home, and also what the real dangers were. Sarah said that at the hospital they would constantly monitor the baby’s heartbeat which meant Ananda would be pretty much restricted to lying in bed and not allowed in the birthing pool even if one was free. Dangers to the baby seem to lie mainly around a possible lung infection if the baby inhaled some meconium.
Sarah listened to the baby’s heartbeat which was a good strong 130ish bpm. She then suggested a check of the state of dilation, which we agreed to. Anything to buy more time. But this showed Ananda to be only 2cm dilated. A long way to go. Ananda and Gay were becoming more resigned to having to go to the hospital.
Like I said I was freaking out inside, this was so not what I, or we wanted, and after another visit to the bathroom I passed by the living room and saw Sarah, nicely relaxed in our Lazy-Boy chair, feet up and clicking away on her smart phone.
My blood boiled. “What the **ck is she doing on Facebook in the middle of such a crisis?”
I’m glad I only thought this as about 20 minutes later she came into the bedroom. “I’ve been doing some research on my phone into meconium and its dangers,” she said. “Apparently almost 50% of women past their due date have meconium in their waters, and in only a tiny fraction of cases does it actually lead to any complications." I could and should have hugged her, and mentally punched the air “YES!”.
Wednesday 28th October 2015: 7:00am
Ananda and I spent some time discussing what to do, and then at 7am we told her we wanted to stay at home for the birth, as long as she thought there was no real pressing medical need for us to go to the hospital. Sarah called her colleague Sam and then they both said they were happy for us to continue to stay at home. Yeah!
At some point in between contractions I was making progress in getting Ananda into a very calm state, and I too noticed a fog of calmness and serenity descending over me.
Maybe it was because we were now back in control of the situation and had decided to stay at home. I was starting to be nice and relaxed. Ananda was sitting on the edge of the bed with me sat next to her. I could feel myself slouching further and further back onto the bed and ended up lying down pretty prone, just rubbing Ananda’s back nice and slowly. I saw the homeopathy kit and instructions, and in a lull decided to read it again so I could be ready for the next stage of Ananda’s transition. I actually read the instructions fully this time. “Dissolve 2-3 pillues under the tongue…. Give a remedy up to every 10 minutes or so for up to 4 doses”.
Woah, no wonder I was feeling so calm and serene, I was overdosing on Aconite. I had taken, way, way more than that and had kept taking them once I felt the first effects, several hours earlier. Whoopsies! I shared this little oversight with Ananda and she did reply that she thought I was being a bit too relaxed about the whole process!
So, now we were back to our home birthing hypno-therapy plan. I felt so relieved and filled with belief and my gut instinct was telling me that this was such the right thing to do. And it wasn’t just the aconite talking.
Sam, the second midwife turned up at about 9:30am, and reassured us that only once in her many, many years of delivering babies at home had meconium ever caused a minor issue.
At about this time the “mucous show” was making itself known to us and so we started filling the birthing pool, and just after 11am Ananda got into the pool, and I hopped in there with her about thirty minutes later. Bugger it was hot in there.
In between contractions Ananda was very relaxed and calm, and we kept going through the hypno-birthing practices we had learnt. The relaxing music was also playing, the aromatherapy fan was on and everything was nice and calm. If only we could get Gay to stop chopping cheese in the kitchen! LOL, the only time Ananda swore in this whole process was to tell her mom to “stop **cking chopping cheese”. (That's almost a direct quote.) Poor Gay was only trying to keep us all fed and watered as the hours in the pool came and went, and also probably just wanted something to do, to help.
The midwives were monitoring the heartbeat every now and then, and keeping the water in the pool at the correct temperature – 37 to 38 degC (98.6 to 100.4F), as well as scooping “stuff” out of the pool.
I would get out of the pool every now and then because the heat was exhausting me, but Ananda was really content in there, letting the water take the weight off her body and the heat of the pool helping her through her surges. The top of the babies head was visible at about 3pm. “Almost there” the midwives said. “We’ll be done by 3:30pm” I told myself. Foolish boy.
I started the hypno-birthing script that encouraged Ananda to breathe the baby down and out through the birthing canal. To breathe them down with love and light, ease and grace.
At 4:30pm with the help of the midwives I was able to encourage Ananda out of the pool and to try squatting to let gravity help us out. For the last few hours progress had been a bit slow, mainly because the baby kept crowning, but then slipping back in. So, once out of the water Ananda spent the next 50 minutes squatting in all sort of positions and rooms, sometimes with me holding her, sometimes all by herself.
Eventually at about quarter past five we were in the bathroom. Ananda tried squatting against the toilet bowl, and then with one foot up on the bath tub.
Wednesday 28th October 2015: 17:20pm
The babies head is born. From my position at the side of Ananda I can see the tiny little head, eyes closed facing the ceiling. Baby is very greyish looking, but that’s what we’ve been told to expect. The baby’s features resemble my next eldest brother Leonard. The midwives encourage Ananda to give one last big push the next time she felt a contraction.
Wednesday 28th October 2015: 17:23pm
As Ananda gives one last push, the midwives help to ease the baby’s shoulder out and they come sliding out in one easy motion – followed by the rest of the baby and an awful lot of gloop that splattered all over the floor, which had been wisely covered in medical pads by the midwives.
“It’s a boy!” Gay shouts and then switches on the lights so that we’re all stunned by being illuminated by about 16,000W of heat lamps! This shocks the baby awake, and he takes his first cry. (Midwife’s notes actually say “…initially grimaced/cried then stunned!”) He, for we now know it is a he, is passed to Ananda who grabs him and sobs and smiles the biggest smile. I’m standing behind her as she sits down on the toilet, a massive lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
I had thought that at this point I would totally lose it emotionally, and completely breakdown especially with my mother’s recent passing still very fresh with me. I was a split second away from that, but then I just felt a wave of joy wash over me, and that this magical moment, the long awaited birth of our child was not a time for melancholy and “if onlys”, but a time of great joy and peace and excitement and thankfulness.
We, and by we I really mean Ananda and the baby that was to later to be named Francis, had done an amazing job, of giving birth and of being born. Especially to such a big baby. To us he look like a normal sized baby, but the midwives kept saying how big he was. Big he certainly was, weighing in at 9lbs 6oz with a 37cm head.
Our midwives Sarah and Sam were also super supportive and the experience was made all the better for having Gay's calm presence, love, support and joy with us at every stage.
So that’s pretty much the Story of Francis completed, and fittingly ending on Thanksgiving Day. Of course it’s really only the first chapter in what will be the novel of his life, figuratively speaking of course.
Although the whole experience was not as super calm and quiet and peaceful as the video we had seen on line, it certainly was a far cry from the screaming, stressful encounters you see on TV and hear about people having in hospitals. And at birthing centres. Ananda tells me that even though her contractions were painful (despite the pain-free experience the hypnobirthing advertises! But that could have something to do with the massive baby size), in between them she felt super relaxed and that the whole day passed in a blur.
I know if we are ever to be blessed with having further children, home hypno-birthing is DEFINITELY the way forward.
Thanks to everyone for reading this, and for the kind comments you have made.