Mostly when we tell people that we had a surprise home birth they are
completely horrified and say, "that must of been awful" or "no midwife? no
doctor? no drugs? how on earth did you do it?" and always, "Peat must have
freaked out completely."
To tell you the truth it was great. It was beautiful. Peat was
absolutely fantastic and I honestly cannot imagine it any other way. The
key being that we felt totally prepared for the birthing process and yet
still aware that it would be something surreal, other worldly and
unpredictable. We had prepared a fairly extensive birth plan and we both
trusted and had faith in our support person, Ambika. We also had been
going to Lina's classes for 5 months and had completed her workshop which
I fully endorse especially for partners (it definitely made a difference
We had planned to have Polly at the Royal Women's Birthing Center which
we had both felt very comfortable with, until we passed the official due
date of expectancy, June 26th. I had always felt that the baby would be a
July baby so I was not concerned but then appointments were made for
foetal monitoring and placenta measurements and blah, blah, blah, a
doctors appointment on July 6th.
At this appointment I was prodded inside and out, offered to have my
waters broken, offered some castor oil and told I was 2cm dilated. This
meant nothing for all I could hear was "you could be endangering your
baby," (all test results were healthy!), "We have to induce you on the
10th July no questions asked...hospital policy...it will be a male
doctor." Right then and there I wanted to head to the hills and give birth
in a cave. No way was I going to be induced and especially not by a
stranger. No way was I giving birth in the labour ward. And no way was
some doctor I had never met going to deliver me of my child. Final.
The midwives were great, suggesting Peat and I go out for dinner
(something spicy),have some wine, a good talk about any issues, a long
bath, make love and they reassured me that they'd probably see me later
that night in labour.
Well that night passed and the next and the next. It was Monday the
9th. We were quite pissed off and anxious about the birth, now being under
pressure to perform in about 24 hours. Peat anguishly decided to go to
work. It broke my heart for the first hour or two but then I set to
welcoming this babe into my life. I got out my homoeopathics, set out
Lina's information from the workshop, got the castor oil out, lit the oil
burner, cast a circle of welcoming for the babe and got to washing baby
clothes. I found myself grateful for this solitary time to allow in the
essence of who I was to become, to welcome and pray for the babe and to
take one last final breath for the lifestyle I had known.
Peat called at lunchtime. He was a mess. He had accidently smashed a
glass, somehow broken a computer and was generally fumbling his way
through the work day. We now had less than 24 hours until our 11am
appointment for induction.
2:40 pm I decide I have to take some desperate action to help
bring on labour. I did something I swore I'd never do. I drank some castor
oil. (absolutely disgusting).
3:30 pm I kind of felt something which I thought maybe could be
a contraction but my body had been doing interesting things for a few days
and it felt nothing like the contractions brought on by food poisoning
earlier in the pregnancy. I also had a small show. I'd been having these
for a few days
4 pm I called Ambika to decide whether to go to Lina's class. I
am totally in two minds about it. Lina said that she would dedicate the
class to bringing on my babe and I have faith that it would work. However,
I just didn't feel like seeing anyone. I decide not to go.
4:20 pm I go a little tight again and this time feel a bit
In the next hour the castor oil went straight through me.
5:30 pm I greet Peat at the door and tell him we're in labour.
Peat makes a big pasta meal in preparation for the long night. I cannot
6:30 pm I casually call the birth center just to let them know
things have started.
Then I was spending most of my time in the bathroom on the toilet due
to the initial castor oil reaction and the now seemingly constant urge to
push out a pooh.
7 pm My waters break. Peat calls the birth center. The waters
are clean. The midwife asks if we want to go into the center.
During contractions I say, "yeah, maybe we'll go into the birth center
now," but as soon as they fade, "no it's cool, let's stay home longer."
Peat calls Ambika.
Ambika arrives all smiles but I don't want to see her. I don't much
want to see Peat either.
It all happened very quickly from here on. We decide I'll have a
shower. So I get up from the toilet and my vagina is burning. "Get me a
hot flannel," I call. I put it against me. Mmm, feels good. I hop in the
shower. I don't really enjoy it so we think a bath. Yay! Then we remember
something about not having a bath once your waters have broken, (we
realize later that's only in hospital), so I start to hop out of the bath
and as I'm hopping out I have a desire to feel what's going on. I touch
between my legs and say to Peat, "I don't know if it's me I'm touching or
something else" and then I'm out of the bath and leaning on Peat and
saying, "fuck. if it hurts this much now imagine how much it is going to
hurt in 10 hours!" Phone rings. Peat leaves the bathroom. Ambika enters
for the first time. I'm standing at the basin, (no thoughts, pure
involvement), with my hand between my legs supporting the babe's head as
it enters this life. "Beautiful," Ambika says and calls for Peat. Peat
enters. I now have thoughts again. I have a thought of the out dated
pregnancy book I was reading that morning. It said if you are in an
emergency situation where you go into labour at the office or at home call
an ambulance immediately. And so I said dramatically, "call an ambulance!"
Peat calls his sister Pauline. Peat returns to the bathroom and squats
behind me and tells me to do whatever I have to do and with that Polly
slips out to be caught in the cradle of Peat's shirt.
There is blood everywhere. I remember thinking it looked like Pulp
Peat held Polly and we watched her instinctual reflex of out stretched
arms and then she gave a tiny cry. We were happy that Polly was safe and
I then lifted my leg over Peat and Polly to sit on the toilet and Polly
was handed to me and put to my breast. (We realized later that Peat could
have simply passed Polly through my legs.) I asked what time it was...
8:07 pm Pauline arrived and gave me a well deserved cuddle and
kiss and wrapped a blanket around me for I was shaking uncontrollably.
Then the ambulance arrived. The attendants left the front door open and
then complained that it was cold in the house. They decided that we should
cut the cord. Regular procedure. I questioned it but at the time I didn't
really care what happened. At least they offered for Peat to cut the cord,
which he did. Then they took Polly. I told Peat to go with her. One
attendant suctioned her even though she was breathing perfectly. The other
attendant questioned the suctioning. And then off we went, Peat, Polly and
I, in the ambulance to the birth center to continue the birth...of the
The midwives were very excited to see us and were so very proud of the
home delivery. The placenta seemed like an annoying afterthought which I
had to try really hard at delivering, unlike Polly which was very
instinctual, an overwhelming force.
9 pm Placenta is finally delivered on a birthing stool.
The most painful bit - stitches. I sucked down gas and focused hard on
Peat and Polly.
12 pm At last a happy family.
We stayed gratefully at the birth center for 2 nights where we were
well loved and shown numerously how to breastfeed and change nappies and
we ate 3 course meals!
If I could turn back time I'd like...
- visual and audio documentation
- my support people to stick sternly to the birth plan
- to be guided in breathing Polly out when I said I could feel her, to
help avoid tearing
- the ambulance not to be called unless Polly and I were in danger
- the cord not to be cut until the placenta was delivered
- Polly not to be unnecessarily taken away from me
- to be driven to hospital by Ambika with everything we had packed for
- to have arranged with friends to prepare meals for us in at least
the 2nd and 3rd weeks of family life, when my mum had gone home and Peat
had returned to work.
Polly's birth was a very new and surreal experience for Peat, Ambika
and I - our first birth! It was a wonderful and magical event which we
each superbly responded to. I'd like to give special thanks and love to
Peat, Ambika, Pauline, Lina and the Royal Women's Birth Center for aiding
in the safe and enigmatic arrival of beautiful Polly.
* * *