After having a previous traumatic emergency caesarean, it had been nearly a full ten years since I gave birth to my first child. When my husband and I decided to try for a baby this time around, I have to admit I was terrified at the prospect of giving birth, knowing due to my previous complications all our pregnancies would be caesarian births. Pushing through this fear we fell pregnant within three months and after a pregnancy filled with ups and downs we were well into our third trimester heading for birth. Although we had chosen a reputable obstetrician I wanted something more out of birth, something special, something that would allow me to bond with my child the way I had been denied in my first birth. Not having skin to skin or being able to hold my son for several hours in our first birth contributed (I feel) to the severe postnatal depression I suffered and the failure of my attempts to breastfeed. These fears were things I also felt terrified in facing, even at the start of our third trimester. It was about this time that we found Melissa and started reading about Hypnobirthing. Although much of the research we did promoted non-caesarean birth, I found much hope in the ‘Preparation for Caesarean’ course we discovered on Melissa’s website. I immediately showed my husband and sent off an email trying to book as soon as we could. With only weeks until my caesarean date (which had now been brought forward to baby’s 37th week) we had not much time! Suddenly I felt I could focus on preparation for birth so I began taking positive steps, buying and preparing things for my recovery that I knew would help. My husband booked three weeks leave from work, to be by my side all day, every day and night in hospital and when we came home. We purchased the items we needed for our baby and suddenly everything seemed real, including the date for our course with Melissa coming closer each day. With our hospital bags packed and in the trunk of our car (just in case I went into labour) we drove the hour to the Gold Coast in almost complete silence. I didn’t know whether to be anxious, excited or scared. I was scared to face my fears. The pain of my last birth, the things I felt ashamed about and that I felt I had failed at as a young mother last time, only 17 years old with no voice and no choices in my son’s birth. We arrived at Melissa’s house and immediately I felt at home. With children’s laughter greeting us she opened the door, I realized Melissa and her husband were both trained teachers like myself. It turned out Melissa had done the exact university degree I had completed. I felt this was the first sign we were in the right place at the right time. As our session began, I felt my fears coming up. My heart raced as Melissa talked about a fear release. I was scared to face my fears- would I cry? Would it hurt me too much to go back? I didn’t want to come face to face with new or painful memories I had pushed back for so many years this close to the birth of our new baby. The things we learned that day were not painful, in fact, they helped me release in a gentle and natural way things I didn’t realize I was holding onto. The fear release was not scary, nor upsetting. In fact, it was calm, just like I now realized the birth of my baby was going to be. After what seemed like only minutes but had been in fact hours, we were walking out (floating out!) of Melissa’s home, now armed with many methods of relaxation and calming techniques for what I truly for the first time believed could be an amazing, calm and special caesarean. I had a birth plan ready to show my obstetrician who had previously not taken much time to listen to my concerns and wants for our birth. Overriding me with confirmation that the birth would be fine and very manageable was not what I needed to hear. I wanted more than just a successful operation. I felt confident with our choices Melissa had helped us come to a decision about and felt ready to discuss these with our OB on our next appointment. As weeks turned into days, we practiced our massage techniques and visualizations each day. On my iPod I listened to the affirmations and Surge of the Sea each night, to go to sleep and also as I slept. I believe subconsciously I could hear these words as throughout the day I could hear these tracks almost word for word playing in my mind. I practiced my breathing techniques whenever I felt anxious. Our next appointment with the OB was just a day before our scheduled caesarean. We had decided on a family centered caesarean, something I had previously mentioned to our OB. He had brushed it off and not really discussed it much. I since had found some medical journals and online videos with other obstetricians talking about the method, especially the benefit to mother and baby. I felt confident as we entered our OB’s office. As we ran through the ins and outs of what sounded to be a very surgical caesarean plan, I felt my heart begin to race. I felt our doctor wasn’t hearing what I wanted and knew I needed to speak up. My husband was supportive and ready to back me in my choices, and so I asked our doctor once again if he would listen to my preferences for birth. A little confused he paused and I went ahead, asking him for the following: For one of my arms to be free of drips etc to hold our baby and for immediate skin to skin after the birth. For our baby not to be washed or cleaned before being placed on my chest. For our baby’s head to be allowed to sit free from the incision until he could breathe and cry, with the rest of his body being gently walked out after this point. This was where our OB stopped us. He was clearly concerned and listed the many dangers including some fatal. He looked bewildered at my husband and asked if he was supporting me in this. My husband stood his ground with a resounding “yes”. I silently handed over the medical journal article I had printed out which outlined the procedure and we sat in silence as he read each of the three pages in silence. He didn’t agree to our ideas. We walked out of his office and as soon as we rounded the corner I buried my face in my husband’s chest and cried. I felt inside a surrender that no matter which way our birth turned out, I could remain calm, and loving, and that this was best for our baby. We went home and I put my iPod on and fell asleep to surge of the sea, imagining myself back in the sunshine on the beach we had found in Thailand during our honeymoon just nine months ago. The morning of our caesarian I woke excited and scared. A little nervous and overwhelmed, we had a full house with my mother and 10 year old son very loud and excited. I needed space to be calm and quiet which I couldn’t get at home. Luckily we were due at hospital at 10am and we were on the road by 9:30am. Arriving at hospital knowing our baby would be in our arms in just a few hours was a surreal feeling. As we took the lift up to our room, we prepared ourselves for the upcoming operation. Not knowing what to expect, or what our OB planned to take from our preferences we put Melissa’s CD on and I sat on my hospital bed, covered by a quilt my grandmother had hand-knitted for our baby. We had chosen our baby’s name- Fox- and had a little fox ear beanie ready for him in my husband’s pocket.
As the nurse prepared me, with compression stockings and scrubs for my husband, the first few preferences I had checked with the hospital were crossed off our list. I had asked to wear my own hospital gown which they said was ok, however the nurse discovered my clips had metal, which meant I couldn ’t wear it. Changing in the bathroom, I breathed and let go, knowing that whatever turn our birth took, I could remain calm and filled with love.
Click here for a beautiful slideshow of The Birth of Fox
Jessica and Sam, Tingalpa, Brisbane