Homebirth of Harper – HBAC

I have lovely pictures to add to this story but blogger has a problem at the moment. Will add them when I can. Until then here is………………………………

The Birth Of Harper

When pregnant with my first daughter Kaija I had planned to birth at a birth centre. I attended the information sessions and thought this would suit the needs of myself, my partner Pete and our baby. We had an appointment to make the booking and I was told I was not suitable because I weighed 100kg which was the cut off weight for the centre. This was regardless of the fact that I am 6 feet tall. So as the good patient, not complaining, I was then put under the ‘care’ of the various obstetricians through the hospital antenatal clinic. I never saw the same midwife or doctor twice, and was not informed enough to think this was perhaps not such a good idea.

I went into labour on a Wednesday at 3 in the morning. I laboured at home until 4 the following afternoon and we made our way to the hospital. I was admitted to labour and delivery suite where the cascade of intervention began which ultimately led to a caesarean section at 3am on the Thursday morning. The epidural block was unsuccessful, and after numerous attempts I was knocked out with a general anaesthetic. I woke up in recovery without my baby and the first thing I said to the recovery nurse was ‘She’s going to be an only child’. Not the words I ever thought I’d say, and certainly not the way I invisioned my birth to be.

I didn’t meet Kaija until 12pm on that Thursday afternoon, and even then I was made to feel thankful as a midwife from the nursery had brought her up to see me very briefly only due to Pete’s request. I didn’t even have enough time with her to initiate breastfeeding. Hence
I found breastfeeding extremely difficult to establish after being separated for such a long time. I pursued breastfeeding with all my strength and thankfully we both worked it out. The whole process at the hospital was horrendous. I was totally out of control. Surely this was not how was meant to be.

The recovery from the caesarean was long and hard especially emotionally. I was so confused. How could this happen? The thought of me having to have a caesarean never once crossed my mind. I have a wonderful childbearing womanly figure, what went wrong? My dream of birth had been shattered. I felt like I had failed myself and especially Kaija.

So I read, and questioned and read some more, and became fully aware of why I ended up in this situation and how I could avoid it in the future. I was determined to have my future babies come out of my vagina!

I found out I was pregnant with Harper at 5 weeks and by 7 weeks I had been in touch with the fabulous Lisa Barrett to arrange a time to meet and discuss whether homebirth was the right choice for our family. Lisa had her friend Honey working with her at the time. Honey is a doula, almost a registered midwife, and she is awesome. So lucky me got two for the price of one, what a bonus! I needed to protect this birth and ensure it was going to be everything I had dreamt it would be. I was going to be at home surrounded in love with total support, knowing everyone there held the belief that I was awesome enough to push out my baby. It was amazing to feel so sure that I had made a perfect choice.

I read book after book and felt so powerful and connected to myself and my baby.

I was in charge of my mind and body, and it was my responsibilty to ensure I was prepared in all aspects of life to be able to achieve a glorious birth.

Right on time almost to the day labour began. It was early Friday morning around 6am and I began having regular though very mild pains similar to a painful period. I had a shower and made some breakfast. I sent off a few text messages to my friends to light the candles I had given them at my blessingway. I got out my own candles and my necklace that I made from the beads my mates had given me. I remember looking and touching one of the beads from a friend who had had a VBAC not long before. I drew strength from all the wonderful women who had supported me whole heartedly throughout my pregnancy.

I rocked around most of the morning on the fit ball which felt fantastic. Pete, Kaija and I set up the birth pool. I thought the day would never come. I remember going into Harper’s room for a few weeks before, and everytime I’d look at the pool and wonder what the day would be like and how I would feel. It was just so exciting and emotional when I finally got the pool out and knew that we would be meeting our girl sometime soon. I sent Pete and Kaija off to the shops to get food for lunch, as my friend Liv and her daughter Molly were coming over. They arrived around 11.30 and the kids played as Liv and I chatted and laughed for most of the afternoon. The kids played beautifully, those two usually have an expiration time, but not today. They were totally tuned in. Pete’s mum Margy came over in the afternoon and played with Kaija and Molly for what seemed to be ages. Then everyone packed up and left so we could get stuck into making Harper’s birthday cake… and having a baby!

We watched the Simpsons and I made Kaija and Pete left over meatballs and spaghetti. I had cold rolls that margy brought over from the asian shop at Glengowrie… yum.

Margy came back and picked up Kaija who was crying saying she didn’t want to go to nanna’s house. This is totally out of character for her, all she wanted to do was hug me. I was crying because I knew it was the last time we would be a family of three, and because I was so happy to be meeting Harper soon and welcoming her into our family. Margy ended up bribing kaija with chocolate and they headed off.

I could hear a deep base noise and realised that there was a party starting next door. I was so mad and jealous watching the boys rocking up with cartons of beer. I shut the windows but didn’t draw the blinds because i was loving the ocean views at dusk. My contractions had taken all afternoon to slowly creep from 10 to 5 minutes apart by 7pm. Pete called Lisa and let her know how we were going, and that we felt ready if she and Honey wanted to come over when they were ready. So we played a bit of wii but I couldn’t get into it. Around 9.30 Lisa and Honey arrived, and of course things seemed to slow right down almost to a complete hault. I felt like they would think nothing was happening and that they would be in for a long night. Lisa reassured me this was normal, for them arriving had changed the dynamics. We all played some more wii. Lisa playing wii golf with a left hand swing on a right hand setting was hillarious.

Not a lot was going on by 10.30 so Lisa suggested we go for a walk, I wasn’t so keen. I definitely wasn’t putting runners on. Pete and I walked up and down the hilly streets of Marino and it did the trick. I had 12 contractions during our 40 minute walk.

We got back home and I saw a spider run under the lounge when we walked through the door. I really hate spiders. I wanted to go rest in the bedroom for a while and asked if they saw it again if they would kill it for me. Honey came in a short while later and gently rubbed my back and whispered that she’d killed the spider. Thank god, I kept having visuals of it running up the hall into our room and me losing it. When Honey said she’d killed it I remembered that I had heard the slapping sound of a shoe.

I laboured on in the bedroom in the dark, Pete was resting on the bed an I was leaning against the bed head in between contractions. Sitting up and leaning forward was the most comfortable position for me during contractions for I think it was an hour or so. The pain was increasing in length and intensity but I was totally in control. I was so focused and used my breathing to centre myself when I felt the pain start to get too powerful. I was weeing often and drinking plenty of water for most of the evening. I had indigestion but no nausea, I was a belching machine.

Finally I could no longer get comfortable in the bedroom in any position so I decided it was time to get into the pool. I asked Lisa if I should get in yet and she told me that if that’s what I felt like doing to do it! My wonderful team had the pool beatifully warm and full and I slipped into bliss. I only got a few minutes to soak up the amazing relief and weightlessness when boom. I had a contraction that did not feel like the previous ones. It was very strong and staying still was the only way not to intensify it. With the following contractions I could feel Harper descending, how incredible. I looked at Lisa not long after I had gotten in and said I thought I needed to push. I was confused, surely it wasn’t going so quickly now. The whole day had progressed slowly and now it seemed to be happening so fast. I pushed for a few contractions and then suddenly I could feel a squishy little head opening up my vagina… Oh my god! I was actually going to have my baby… out my fanny! Pete had gotten in the pool, been abused, had gotten out and then back in again. I was leaning on him and he was a champion to support me especially between contractions when I was a dead weight.

Around 1.50am I was pushing really hard with the contractions grabbing onto the side of the pool, it was an indescribable feeling. After each one I could feel more of her head, and then finally with a force i can now only imagine, i managed to push out her head. What a relief, but I still had her body to come. I was pushing and didn’t seem to be getting anywhere so I asked Lisa to help me. Lisa guided Harper the rest of the way out and into her mumma’s open arms.

I did it!!!! (Insert profanities of disbelief here). Aparently these were the only words I could say for the next few minutes.

I thought I was having a wonderful dream, but I was actually awake.

Lisa told me to give some breaths on Harper’s face as she hadn’t taken a breath. One minute I am deep within myself listening to some distant roar of a beast, and the next with pursed lips blowing so gently it was laughable. A bit of a rub and she was screaming loudly. I sat in the pool with my beautiful baby, my awesome partner and my amazing midwives and felt elation one can barely imagine. I could have stayed in that moment forever.

I got out of the pool pushed out my placenta before settling onto the lounge. I walked to the lounge right after birthing, how amazing! No painful inscission to worry about, and no one taking my baby from me. Pete got to cut the umbilical cord which was tied with some lovely merino wool, thanks to Lisa and her spinning skills. I then breastfed Harper for the first time, all snuggled skin to skin feeling like I was an absolute ledgend. This was confirmed when we weighed her later and found that she was 4.7kg or 10lb 6oz. What a woman! Lisa and Honey helped clean me up and Honey gave me a wash, I felt so pampered and loved.

What a way to heal. I can’t wait to have more beautiful babies at home in peace.

13 responses to “Homebirth of Harper – HBAC”

  1. Billie

    I had my first little baby boy just 6 weeks ago. When reading this story I was filled with a mixture of fear, dread, worry, but then relief and joy to hear it had been such a wonderful experience. The birth of my son, though wonderful, was not what we had expected or planned, despite starting out at home and having the wonderful and amazing support of our beautiful midwife Rose. After the birth I remember also thinking that this would be an only child. I’m so relieved though to be reminded that births do often work out the way we hope and that having amazing midwives and being at home is the best way for that to happen. I don’t even want to imagine how our birth experience would have been if we’d started off in the hospital and not had Rose there for support. So this is my long winded way of saying thank you. Thank you for sharing this with us and for helping me to not be so afraid of the future.

  2. Rebekah Costello

    Thank you so much for sharing, this was just a precious, telling!

  3. Joy Johnston

    Thankyou to the mother who wrote her story so beautifully, and for sharing it.

  4. Marianna

    Thank you for sharing your story. Just beautiful.

  5. Sarahaha

    What a beautiful story – thankyou for sharing!

  6. Baby Keeper

    Very nice birth story.

    Lisa, wanted to show you my video entry to Birth Matters Virgina contest

    my entry in contest.

    watch it while you can … it’s been removed twice on youtube for objectionable content …. which i think is because of Dr. Fischbein and my message. He is ACOG fellow who wrote open letter to ACog confronting them on VBAC stance, Dr. Morely also ostracized by ACOG … and midwives and me saying wait til the mother decides!! That’s what is objectionable.

    Also, wanted to let you know about my film, The Other Side of the Glass. Trailer at

    I love the statement in the story when the midwife asked the mother to give baby a breath. Thanks for the great work you are doing with mothers and babies and families.

  7. Gloria J. Lemay

    Wow, Lisa and Honey together. This is such a triumphant VBAC story. Just curious? How far did you get dilated in the first birth?

  8. Lisa Barrett

    Gloria you met this fantastic woman at the retreat.

  9. Jo Baulderstone

    After having an almost identical first birth, and then a ‘planned homebirth-but-resulting-in-another-C/S-but-this-time-totally-better’, I feel like I may have experienced a little of what it might have felt like by reading that story. Wonderful. What a wonderful story – thankyou for writing it.

  10. namaaraalee

    hey gloria,
    i was 10cm with kaija and coached to push for almost an hour before they decided on the section.
    i had the unbearable urge to push on the way to the theatre but no one really took much notice.

  11. Gloria J. Lemay

    Yes, I know I met you at the conference because there’s a lovely photo of Harper and me.

    I was curious about how far you dilated because I have a little rule (my rules always get broken but, hey, I can still try to have some, right?) that “if the woman gets past 5 cms, it will be just like any other fast second birth”. You made my rule correct but I attended a VBA2C the other day where the woman had had two previous births with no real dilation and she gave birth in 5 hours, so, there goes the rule. Oh well, I prefer to have a gorgeous VBA2C any day to a lousy rule.

  12. Lisa Barrett

    I attended a Vba2c last week also and she birthed a brow presentation. Great pics to show of the caput on the forehead. She had previously had a failed ventouse and a failed forcep due to her prominent ischial spines preventing her for giving birth!!!

  13. Rose

    Oh, how beautiful! i love how you have written this! I love your humour!

    Congrats again