Wolfie’s Birth

Wolfie’s Birth by Rebecca Reynolds

About 10 weeks ago my son Wolfie was born. It was a lovely normal birth. I gave birth to him at home, on my bedroom floor. Only myself, my wonderfully supportive husband David and my very inspiring midwife Lisa were there. I had had contractions overnight, which helpfully stopped upon Lisa’s arrival at 5am. Everything got moving again at about 9:30am, and after a good 45 minutes of what I consider to be pretty hard pushing, Wolfie made his appearance at 1:25pm, weighing in at 10lb2oz (4.6kg), 55cms long with a head circumference of about 37cms. 13 days past my due date. One final piece of information – my first two children, Neve and Kai, were born via c-section.

As strange as it might sound, the normality of Wolfie’s birth was almost an anticlimax. I always knew that I could give birth to him. What I hadn’t always known, and really the journey for me in this third and probably my last pregnancy, was whether I could find a safe place to birth and more importantly find a support team that shared my conviction or was at the very least able to help me find the information that would allow me to make my own decision on the safety and feasibility of this birth.

This was particularly important given that I started my birth and baby journey in a very well known Melbourne Private Hospital, with a well regarded obstetrician who in hindsight viewed birth or at least my birth prospects as being a very risky. Given that I was 28, of average weight, in good health and with a completely uneventful pregnancy –other than I measured slightly larger for dates than average, I am still not sure why I left so many appointments worried about how things were progressing and my chances for a natural delivery. I did fight not be induced once I went post dates (I come from a long line of women who all go post dates, I myself was born 10 days post dates), but even after I went into labour naturally on day 10, the emergency c-section that took place after a whole cascade of interventions once we arrived at the hospital was not even remotely unexpected. Still, I was very thankful that I left the hospital with a beautiful, healthy 3.75kg baby girl and assurances that I could “probably have a go” at a natural birth next time.

Next time came around after we had moved back to my hometown in country SA I mistakenly thought that maybe a country public hospital with a GP would be more likely to deliver the outcome of a natural birth. I found a GP who seemed very supportive of my VBAC, my “trial of scar”. Physically I had a great pregnancy. I looked great and felt great and I was sure that I would have a great natural birth. That is up until the last couple of weeks when I suddenly found myself facing what I felt to be a very non-supportive medical team. At an appointment quite late in the game, my GP broached the subject of a “cut-off date” i.e. at what point would we decide that we had waited long enough and if I hadn’t gone into labour on my own, we would have to look at an elective c-section because with a scar we couldn’t induce, etc etc. I immediately said definitely not before 10 days and I think that in my mind I thought that even if we got to 10 days it would be easy enough to go a couple of extra days.

As was to be expected I went post dates, and came under increasing pressure to book in for a c-section. There was rather upsetting maneuvering by the GP clinic, phone calls to book surgery earlier because of hospital policy and convenience, sudden changes of appointments, cancelling of appointments with my doctor and rescheduling with the surgeon. I really felt as though I was being pushed into a corner and there was nothing I could do but have this baby by c-section. No wonder I didn’t go into labour on time with all the pressure. I knew an elective c-section was not what I wanted or needed, but with all the stories of the longer overdue you go the higher the chances of placental failure (bearing in mind no one ever suggested that we should do a scan to check the condition of the baby/placenta) and a highish, unengaged baby (apparently 2nd babies rarely engage before labour anyway) coupled with a previous section, my GP said it was better that we scheduled a c-section.

Actually what I really felt was that this c-section was being suggested not because it was what I needed, based on the evidence, but because it was standard line recommended regardless of the individual circumstances. I also felt that I had no choice and no other options. I think I may have actually asked the day before Kai’s “elective” c-section birth what my options were and I was told that actually the elective c-section really was the only option still available to me. I submitted to the surgery, but not before I had walked down to the theatre, changed my mind and turned to walk away only to be “led” by both arms by two nurses over to the operating table. My poor husband. Seeing me so visibly upset and being led to the OR put him in such a difficult situation. I remember him saying “hey isn’t it ok if she just goes back to her room” but we were swept into the OR, the spinal administered and Kai was born. I was excited to meet my beautiful 3.8kg baby boy but felt quite empty and cheated. After Kai’s birth it was suggested to me that I quite likely had a narrow pelvic inlet, that meant I probably couldn’t have given birth to him naturally, and now that I had had two c-sections I couldn’t have a vaginal birth anyway.

Kai’s birth was definitely the hardest, most traumatic event of my life and I still feel quite violated by the whole proceeding. I really struggled to get on top of the emotions I felt as a result and actually suspect that there will always be a small part of me that will never forgive either myself for accepting or the caregivers that pressured me into accepting that birth experience. Having said that I think it has also been quite a pivotal point in my life and I have grown an awful lot as a person because of it. Back to Wolfie.

14 months later I finished breastfeeding Kai, had a period, and maybe the day after a discussion about whether we could handle a number three (and whether we could handle another birth if it was like the last one and the soul searching that followed), Wolfie was conceived. We knew almost immediately.

And almost immediately I began the journey that would lead to his very normal birth at home on the floor in our bedroom. I must say that at the beginning all I wanted was the chance to have all options on the table and vaginal birth as one of those options. I started researching, read countless articles and websites on VBAC, spoke to the very helpful and supportive CARES contacts and made appointments to see a couple of OBs, one Brian Peat at the WCH and another who worked out of a well known Adelaide Private Hospital. I should mention I actually went back to the previous GP to get referrals. When I asked for two referrals, he questioned the appropriateness of “interviewing specialists”. I just repeated that I’d like the two referrals. I got the referrals and changed GPs and GP clinics.

The private hospital OB said that he would only consider an elective c-section for me. Brian Peat said a vaginal birth could be a reasonable option. The decision on Obstetric support was made. Given my background the validation and support of my desire to have a natural birth was quite important for both David and me.

The next step was what began as some extra support. I suspected that midwifery support would make a huge difference and felt that was what had been missing in both of my previous births. My biggest challenge here was my location. There are unfortunately no independent midwives in my neck of the woods. Then I spoke to Lisa Barrett. Second decision made. Now we could get on with the business of growing and having this baby. Again I had a fantastic pregnancy, I glowed and certainly grew. I had one seriously big tummy by the time Wolfie was ready to emerge.

It maybe somewhat of a cliché, but while it takes somewhere in the vicinity of nine months to grow a baby, it also takes nine months – or in my case nine and a half months to get the mother organized and in the right head space to give birth and be able to care for her newborn. I had a lot of previous trauma and a reasonable amount of trust issues that I had to work through in this pregnancy and I really can’t thank Lisa enough for listening and offering a different take on my previous births and advice on how we could make sure this one was different.

Independent midwifery services should be available to everyone. I would go so far as say fully funded. The research on best outcomes for mother and baby supports it. Not to mention a highly cost effective use of health funding. Excellent evidence based Obstetric care should also be available for those who need it – those who do not have normal healthy pregnancies. Even then I can see that the advice and counsel of an independent midwife could be highly beneficial for many women and complementary to a medicalised birth.

Knowing what I know now I would never choose the carers that I had for my first two births again. Then again maybe that was what I needed to do. That was my journey so to speak. And at the end of the day being able to make choices about how we birth is a really important aspect to making women feel that they are in control of their bodies and the place and the way that they birth their babies. However I would like to think that it isn’t ideal or necessary for so many women to be scared or pushed into making extreme choices over the births of their children, birth should be an empowering experience. Empowered women must surely make the best mothers which is at the end of the day what having a baby is all about.

Again back to Wolfie and his birth. There is one final element to this story and that is how he ended up being born at home. Quite frankly I never thought I would have him at home. I thought he would be born at the WCH. I think I said it as late as the day before he was born and although home birth had been discussed, it was certainly never an agreed upon option. In the end the agreement between the main parties, was as long as there were no indications to the contrary, all options remained on the table. On the day Lisa joined David and myself at our home and we simply never got in the car and went “down to town”. There really was never a point (other than about 30 minutes before Wolfie was born and I had a lapse where an epidural and vontouse seemed quite appealing) that I thought about going to the hospital.

My husband and I joke that while my first two beautiful children, Neve and Kai, were born to the very tranquil and relaxed sounds of Café del Mar, Wolfie made his entrance to the very non-tranquil and really quite primal sounds of his mother. Having said that, he was born with his eyes wide open. He didn’t cry, just looked calmly up at me as I picked him up off the floor and said hello. Straight away he was Wolfie, my beautiful number three baby and my journey to motherhood was complete.

2 responses to “Wolfie’s Birth”

  1. Anonymous

    thanks for those inspiring stories

  2. Anonymous

    What a great thing, I am on the verge of tears. Well done.