The following is a series of extracts from Elaine’s story “A Mother’s Love” – a beautiful story for Mother’s Day. The complete story of “A Mother’s Love” is published in the Birth Journeys book.
Pregnancy, birth and the experience of motherhood changes Elaine, giving her new confidence, trust in herself and trust in birth. Elaine’s love for her children drives her to speak out and become an advocate for her family. Elaine shares the story of her second birth and the hurdles she overcomes to have the birth she wants: missing out on her preferred model of care, disagreement over the estimated due date, and a transverse baby.
Elaine handles each situation with confidence and calm determination. She takes an active role in her care, trusting her body, her knowledge and her experience.
During labour, Elaine is supported by a gentle, encouraging midwife, who reminds her to trust and let go. Kiah’s birth in hospital is calm and peaceful.
Disagreement over the Estimated Due Date
I had learnt in the two years since Kiran’s birth that I was more than capable of dealing with anything and everything. I had realised that I owed it to my children to look after myself and to be their advocates. It was amazing really, because the ‘old me’ hated confrontation. I would usually back down and go with the flow. Since becoming a parent, I have found that I will not compromise on things involving my children.
Kiran’s (my first baby) induction played on my mind and continued to niggle at me. When he was induced (13 days post-dates) he didn’t appear to be ‘overdue’ at all. I’m sure my baby did not like this forced exit from the womb before his time. I certainly didn’t!
This time I had done my research. I knew my dates and I was prepared to stand my ground. I had kept a diary with my cycles in it. My periods were like clockwork, exactly 31 days apart, and had been for six months. I also knew exactly when we conceived – we didn’t have many opportunities with a toddler in the family!
When my calculations put the estimated due date a full week later than the ultrasound dating scan, we made our views clear.
“No, we are adamant the estimated due date is February 20 and not February 13 as the ultrasound suggests.”
“No, we aren’t budging. We know that there is a margin of error of a week anyway.”
“We do not wish for an induction based on dates as with Kiran’s birth.”
They listened and they agreed. The obstetrician even changed the estimated due date. I felt at peace and empowered. I had done my part and the rest was up to bub!
A Transverse Baby
The weeks flew past and my belly grew. Kiran thought it was hilarious when the baby kicked out at him and he loved stroking my tummy and talking to ‘his’ baby. Week 34 came and all was well. My bub was in position – head down. Week 36 came and she had turned to lie sideways. There was talk of a caesarean if she didn’t turn.
I was scared. The thought of having a caesarean and needing to be in hospital for more than one night was awful. I was so nervous about being away from Kiran. I had never been away from him before.
We were scheduled for an external cephalic version (ECV), where the obstetrician would manually coax my baby to turn. It was explained to us that there was a very small window for them to perform the ECV and be successful. We had less than 48 hours!
I jumped on to the internet, spoke to my friends and found the Spinning Babies website that had information and techniques to encourage baby to move. It was the funniest thing. I had to kneel on the couch and lean over the edge with my hands on the floor. Then I had to crawl forward on my hands so that my bottom would be higher than the rest of my body. The idea was to give bub the extra space needed to turn.
This was not easy with a pregnant belly, and even less so with a helpful toddler who thought climbing on top of me was a wonderful game. I did a few sessions of these acrobatics and we did lots of praying and prodding to encourage bub to move. I just kept talking to bub trying to persuade her to turn.
We arrived for the ECV. The midwife hooked us up for monitoring and then she said, “Hmmm, that’s funny. The heart isn’t where I expected.” The obstetrician confirmed that bub had indeed turned and was now head down. No ECV was necessary! Apparently, it was quite a rare occurrence to have a baby turn in such a short time.
I was overwhelmed with joy when I realised that no intervention was needed. Together my body and my baby were firmly in control and we were on the home stretch now.
I focused on every breath and surge bringing my baby closer to being in my arms. There were no words. I was aware of my surroundings, but I was in a world of my own.
Soon I felt the need to bear down, so I got upright onto my knees. I visualised my uterus contracting and pushing downwards as I breathed out. With Kiran, the midwife had told me when to breathe and push. This time, I was the boss and it worked much better.
I’m pretty sure it only took five or six pushes for Kiah to be born. From the first contraction to her entrance into this world, barely two and a half hours had passed.
When Rohit caught her and told me we had a girl, I was a blubbering mess of pure joy. I wanted to call my sister and ask her to bring something pink for Kiah to wear home! I had always imagined myself with boys and never dared to believe that I might have a daughter, so much so that I had not even prepared for the possibility.
Kiah was placed on my chest and we had our first cuddles. There was a lovely sense of peace and tranquillity in the room. We started our breastfeeding journey together soon after.
Kiah did not leave my side for a single minute. We stayed in hospital for only one night and Kiran coped beautifully without me. We went home the following day – our little family of four!
Throughout my pregnancy, I doubted if I had any room left for more love, but the minute I saw my beautiful girl, I knew that love has no boundaries or limitations.