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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I’m ready to share some stuff that has been integral in my journey to this point in my life.  I make no apologies in not talking about this sooner…..but at the same time I kind of wish I had….I wish I had asked for help in the aftermath, purely in recovery….but I (and all of us are) here, in a good peaceful place now and that’s what matters……

So, I’ll be talking about birth (again) and the incredible importance of a woman’s birth experience and basically the amazing goings-on of Leo’s birth……if you’re interested, the first half of the story is here. My story in full was recently published in ‘Down To Birth’, the Queensland Home midwifery Association‘s magazine. I’ve shared it there so I’ll share it all here too.

To summarise, I had a awful birth experience with my daughter 4 years ago. A classic cascade of interventions where the end result was a bruised and battered woman both physically and mentally (I had a healthy baby though! *rolls eyes*).When we conceived Leo we made a vast amount of preparations so as to not EVER have to go through that again.

In short, I had a beautiful, incredible, BLISSFUL birth with my son last March. He was born into water at home after 7 or so hours of intense labour. It was the most joyful and AMAZING thing I had ever been a part of but……after a little while, I had what we like to refer to as the ‘placenta debarcle’.

Here is the second half of my story, I wrote this when Leo was a mere few days old and I was consumed by grieve and raging hormones-

“I’m marveling in the beauty of my son when I feel my uterus start to contract painfully. There’s blood in the water. I want to get out to expel the placenta. I get out with some help and sit on the birth stool. D swiftly grabs a bowl and slides it under me as a big gush and a “PLOP” sounds.

“That was quick!” John says, but it isn’t the placenta. It’s clots and blood. I’m holding Leo trying to breastfeed him. He isn’t interested. Bowls are changed. I’m saying “That’s a lot of blood”. More blood. The cord is flaccid. We cut the cord. Leo is separated from me. I’m feeling woozy. Drinking laboraide drinks. Placenta isn’t coming. D helps me to the couch. We discuss Synto. We have herbs. I’m gushing blood. Spreading out warmly beneath me, on the couch. D suggests we go to the toilet. Try and empty my bladder. I get to the toilet somehow with the help of D and K. I sit on the toilet. More blood. Synto’s in here somewhere. Gush. No placenta. I say “I feel faint”. I’m gone.

I hear voices, conversation. Blackness. Darkness. Peace. So beautiful, don’t want to come out of it. There’s a cold face washer on my head. A stab in my thigh. I come around. D is between my legs. More blood. We are talking of transfer. I say I think it’ll be a transfer. D tells John to call an ambulance. K gives me arnica. Laboraide. Everything is blurring. Leo is next to me and then he isn’t. The ambo’s are. They are trying to do all sorts of things to me. They can’t get an IV in. I am in SO MUCH PAIN!!!! I am sick. They drag me out of the laundry and John and the male ambo manage to get me onto the stretcher. I am lifted into the ambulance. It is all white. Cold metal. John and Leo are in the ambulance with me. Where is Ruby? She’s with K.

We take off. We pull over twice. I am sucking that green whistle thing. Every bump. Every turn. Incredible, incredible pain. They try to get an I.V. Theyhave no luck. It’s blurry. They are messing with Leo. Why?? Why? Leo’s fine. Just GO! I think. I’m still losing blood.

We are at the hospital. A midwife from my first birth is there. A female doctor. Leo is fine. It’s me that’s the problem. D is there. She’s there. More blood. Trying to get lines in for antibiotics, synto. Synto’s in. Doctors doing internals. Placenta is stuck. Partially detached? She applies hardcore cord traction. Told to push. I’m pushing. Screaming I think. Doctor’s pulling, wrenching Leo’s placenta from me. Such force, such force. I can’t do this. I want to give up. No. I’m too stubborn. Pushing, pulling. Placenta is out. Large clots. Bleeding. Synto doesn’t work. I gush. My uterus isn’t contracting. Leo is in John’s arms. D is holding my hand. I could not do this without her. I’m holding her hand. She is strong. She makes me stronger. They try ergometrine. They have fluids in me. They catheterize me. They say if ergometrine doesn’t work, we’ll be going to theatre. What will happen in theatre?Hours pass. It feels like hours. It eventually works. My uterus is contracting, hardening. I am not going home though. I finally breastfeed Leo.

Later I am in a ward, a private room. My partner and our new son. My daughter at home with the amazing D and K. Split apart. The staff are amazing. Respectful. They have all read my file from Ruby’s birth. They are absolutely wonderful to us, even being home birthing hippies. We get a lot of genuine questions about our water birth. They say we are brave. They know we are responsible. We know what we are doing.

The next day they say I need a transfusion. We debate this. Hemoglobin is at 60. I need a transfusion. I have 3 units of blood. Hemoglobin at 88. I can go home the next day. I feel shattered. Smashed wide open, but I did it. I did it. I birthed our son at home in the most gentle way”.

Yeah, so there it is. My homebirth didn’t go exaxctly as planned. I had a partially detached (retained) placenta, with substantial post-partum haemorraging. I suffered mentally and physically after the birth of Leo. The recovery was gruelling, particularly from losing such a large amount of my blood volume. I didn’t tell anyone what had happened as I didn’t want anyone to think it was just a homebirth that went wrong……..because it wasn’t. We were prepared, safe and utterly responsible.

This can happen anywhere. Let me make it clear that- It can happen at home. It can happen at hospital. I am eternally grateful to my birth support team, who’s swift action ensured that am here today.Support is everything in matters like these.

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with all of this but I wouldn’t change a thing, well, I would…..I would of had my placenta slide straight out and to curl up in bed with my family and babymoon away but that’s not what happened and that’s ok now. Home birth is absolutely life changing and I would like to point out that this experience is a perfect example of how wonderfully home and hospital could balance if they only worked together. Home birth is as normal as anything else, but when things take a unexpected turn, you do what’s best for your body and your baby. That’s what we did. The hospital was there for us when we needed it. I will home birth again, no doubt……

So, if you’ve read this far, I congratulate you! I wanted to talk about this though because it has changed my life, after a few months in the funk of PND, I can finally see straight again. I can see the light!

Reflecting back on my own experience has shown me in many ways just how important a woman’s birth experience is. It’s huge. You are not just having a baby……you are birthing your baby… are birthing yourself. Brand new beings on a incredible new journey. So much is invested by women in their birth experiences. They should be supported, loved and utterly cherished. They should be safe.

So, this is why I have decided to work with birth. Why I have decided to train as a doula (childbirth attendant)……and who knows what else? It’s an incredible new road to take. I’ve started my studies with Childbirth International and am completely passionate and excited. I want to help and support women in this incredible time of their lives. I want to help make it safe for women. I want to help hold the space in the sacred act of birth. There is no other choice.

It’s a brand new day!!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Danielle permalink
    Sunday, January 25, 2009 11:56p01

    It IS a brand new day! Over and over and over…a bit like groundhogs day really…but there is nothing like drive and passion to wake you in the morning, eh? (Well, other than Ruby and Leo of course!)
    I am so, so happy for you and glad to be part of your journey.

  2. sneetchgirl permalink*
    Monday, January 26, 2009 11:56p01

    Thank you.Thank you. I’m certainly in fantastic company ;)and I wouldn’t be here without you (many meanings to that one!!). xx

  3. Ursula permalink
    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 11:56p01

    Ellie! I read everything, thank you for sharing your journey..I had no idea what you went through. You are an amazing woman and I admire you. I went through such a traumatic time having Ciana, it’s the one reason why I never went back to have more. I wish you were around then, so you could have talked to me about birth and the way it should be. You’re right about hospitals – no consideration on what is ‘actually’ happening here at this amazing time of giving ‘birth’. I continue to remain fixated with birthing documentaries on Foxtel as I find them facsinating, and as you know just absolutely adore babies – children. Love to you my friend, may I hear lots more stories of birth and I think studying to be a doula is way more interesting than a librarian! Urs xx

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