Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

The Birth of Galileo - homebirth after two caesareans

First Caesarean .... T-incision ... "You must never ever labour again."
In 2004, I was induced at 40+10 with my first son. The induction was painful, humiliating and terrifying. My epidural did not work entirely leaving me a window of pain next to my crotch throughout. I had a foetal monitor that wasn't giving clear readings, so the hospital staff attempted and failed to attach a monitor to my baby's head. Despite having no way to be sure, they told me my baby was in distress and took me to surgery where the Dr gave me an inverted T cut to remove my son. I required a T cut rather than the lower transverse because my baby had progressed so far toward birth, that they needed to do a breech extraction. My baby could have been born, was heading toward being born - but the Drs couldn't wait and I got a T scar and a warning never to have more than one more baby and never ever labour as a result of their impatience. Oh I was also told my pelvis was too small to birth my son.

Second caesarean ... 'Elective'
So with my second son I decided to go through the private system hoping I would have more choices or some relationship with my care provider. It turned out not to be the case. I had an "elective" caesarean at 39 weeks. I did broach the idea of a vaginal birth with my Obstetrician but it was ruled out entirely because of the type of scar I had and at that point I didn't pursue it further.

Third pregnancy ... negotiating ... "You are insane! We'll wash our hands of you!"
With my third pregnancy I started out assuming I would have surgery again, but I wanted more so I read about 'active caesareans' and attempted to arrange one with the hospital with no luck. I tried to negotiate being "allowed" to go into labour before I came in for surgery, to not have my baby taken away whilst I lay in recovery, to do a lotus birth... a senior staff member of the women's health clinic told me to sit down and proceeded to yell at me and call me insane. It was revolting. I was told if I did wait until I went into labour, the hospital would 'wash their hands of me', so any chance of a vaginal birth in hospital was clearly impossible.

Research leads towards homebirth ...
I did more reading, did more research and then set out trying to find an independent midwife for a homebirth. I was turned down and cautioned against a homebirth by a few midwives. I had one consider taking me but her fear of my situation would have made it a problem for me and my hopes for a birth. So I gave up until I was pushed to contact one more - and thank goodness I did. She was instantly lovely, warm, had a great laugh (very important) and didn't treat me for a moment like a time bomb, rather she was honest and direct at all times and respected me and my choices. We could not have found a more perfect midwife for our family or for the hopes we held for the birth of our baby.

Just a boring, normal birth ... at 45 weeks gestation
I had a few dramas with this pregnancy but in the end I got exactly what I wanted - a totally boring uneventful birth. At 45+ weeks pregnant*, in February 2009, I was having small contractions all day which ramped up round 7 pm. I had asked Dh to buy a stop watch because I was frustrated trying to figure out if there was a pattern to it all, so we timed contractions. From 7 pm to about 2:30am, they ranged from 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1min30, 20 seconds. It seemed I would have one big one, and an 'echo' one but there wasn't a pattern to them or the length at all and D & I both said a few times "I wonder what real established labour is going to be like" as we assumed things would settle into a pattern.

In between each contraction baby was moving and kicking hard as was his usual habit. Round 2 am he stopped moving in between contractions and we waited to see if he would start again but there was nothing, so Dh decided to call our Midwife just to let her know that was what was happening. She decided to come over.

As she walked in, I had a long contraction but then only small ones after it and they were further and further apart which made me think it was all just pre-labour and that I'd been making a lot of noise and fuss! The Midwife listened to the baby's heart rate through a few contractions and it was rather low. She suggested we go for a walk and come back and see where we were at.

So we went for a walk, made it down the street but I had to wait there swaying and making quiet (totally insane) noises. I decided I couldn't be outside any more because I was tired and it was starting to rain, so we walked back up and I had a contraction in front of every house we passed . The closer we got to home the more they hurt and the more terrified I became, thinking - "Crap, if this is early labour I'm going to be a wreck in second stage and broken for transition!!"

Sure something was WRONG
I was finding it harder and harder to be I didn't. As we got to next door's place, something overwhelming happened to my body and I was SURE something was going "wrong". My legs started to buckle and I felt such an incredible painful/intense sensation I told Don something terrible was happening and I had to get home right now. But that I couldn't walk and refused to move so he had to do something else about it (levitation? Wheelbarrow?) I started thinking about how I couldn't even get into an ambulance if one arrived and that no drug I could think of would work fast enough to stop this wildly intense sensation. I specifically remember thinking "If I get in the ambulance they'll have to give me an epidural because I will not have a general, and I can't stand still so they'll for sure botch the epidural and I'll end up paralysed!!!"

"Something terrible is happening!"
My legs kept buckling and I started pushing uncontrollably as if I was going to the bathroom and since I assumed my cervix couldn't possibly be dilated because I wasn't "really" in labour. I tried to stop pushing and couldn't. At the top of our drive I was really stuck, our driveway is really steep pebble creek stuff! It was hard to walk down in the rain, in labour, in wet birkenstock clogs (the Midwife said for sure I wouldn't have had the baby on the drive which is a relief. ) We managed to make it down and our Midwife met us at the door (I thought we'd been gone 10 minutes - we'd been gone over an hour). I saw her and told her something 'terrible' was happening and then the pushing/grunting thing happened again and she said, "You are going to have a baby!" which I didn't believe!

"Something's happening!"
Whilst we were out, with her magical Midwife intuition powers - she had known I'd need it - had filled our pool with beautifully warm water. So I got in - but didn't undress entirely because I couldn't be bothered. My body pushed and I tried to believe I was having a baby, that this was it! I chanted a variety of really crazy stuff really loud, clenched hands, wailed and focused on having a cup of tea in bed when it was over. Our son D came out but I really really didn't want him there at that point and sent him back to bed.Then I felt what HAD to be the ring of fire and I tried to avoid it - couldn't, felt between my legs and found 'something' (that turned out to be the back of my baby's head!) my body kept pushing until there was a huge rush of a body gliding out from between my legs, I thought 'head-shoulders-legs!' and then a RUSH of fluid and a pulling sensation, it was so intense and I was still so shocked I didn't turn to see the baby who really shot out and slid along the floor of the pool. I was frozen feeling this sensation and I once again told my MW "something was happening" and then added "D pick up the baby!!"

D had no idea and didn't realise our baby had even been born! Partly because of my huge skirt but also, we were both expecting things to take longer. However, our Midwife said it was about 25 mins either in the pool or from when we got home. So D picked him up and started crying saying he was beautiful. I finally turned around and there he was, beautiful quiet, lovely and incredible. I thought his head would come, and then a pause then the rest of him - but he came out all at once!

So amazed by him
There are two photos of me in labour but the flash was too much for me at the time so I asked Midwife to stop, I regret that now - but couldn't have seen under my skirt anyway! So he was born at 5:19am on the end of a long cord and without much noise, he didn't even feed for the first 12 hours. When he was passed to me he was incredibly slippery but so clean - no vernix except in his chubby chubby thighs and a patch of blood on his beautiful head with it's pudding face. I was so amazed by him - still am.

7 hours later - a placenta
The rest goes just how you'd expect. I have no tears, a tiny graze which seems to be gone now, and the most affected area is my butt which is sore, but otherwise - no problems! We intended to lotus birth, but I was having trouble birthing the placenta and we decided to cut his cord about 4 hours later, and I managed to push the placenta out 7 hours after he was born. Once again I was amazed at the sensation of using my body to push something so large out - yes, I got emotional about pushing out a placenta, I'm a sook.

11 pound 12 oz baby - and no tears
I just wanted to add this little bit in, because it was something I always wondered about. Having had two c-sections and being told I could never expect to have a vaginal birth, I internalised the idea that I would never use my body in this way and that conditioning is hard to overcome. Also...well I don't know how else to put it, but a rather uncooperative vagina over the years, I was sure I would tear top to bottom. I tend to tear and bleed a little during normal vaginal sex, but I had an 11 pound 12 baby and no tears.

He had a nice long cord with a knot in it. His head is 40cm, body 62 cm long, weighing 11 pound 12 ounces. He is exceptionally chubby and beautiful and I was sure he was tiny until told otherwise . I was expecting an 8-ish pound baby. His placenta wasn't huge, it was well used but otherwise great.

This has been one of the absolute best things to ever happen to me. Despite all the regrets I carry from my first births, and always suspecting what I missed out on, I could never have know how fantastic it could be till it happened and I just feel so so grateful that it did. I specifically feel grateful because this only happened as a confluence of events and circumstance.I have friends/SIL who believed in birth (and one who went on to birth beautifully at home a few months before me) as well as share their knowledge and experience and most importantly - their support. My wonderful loving partner who never stopped supporting me and actively pursuing this birth for us all as a family. Finding the incredible Joyous Birth - meeting many of the members, reading their stories and being inspired, meeting their children, having their support. Finding the absolute best and most wonderful, professional, caring, brilliant midwife we could have possibly found, one with excellent ideas and values of birthing and the experience and needs of women.

Vaginal Birth after T-incision
Also, hugely important and inspirational was finding Jessica's birth story on her website and joining her yahoo group for birth after inverted-T inscision. Until her story, I never heard of a T-scar vaginal birth, and hers is so lovely too . I hope my homebirth after two caesareans with a t-scar at 45 weeks helps other women seek out this experience for themselves with confidence and excitement as all these influences helped me and made it happen. (I'm also happy for anyone to contact me if they would like to!)

* Since the question has been raised, I just thought I'd add - yes, the gestation period - 45 weeks - is exact to the day . A few months of recorded ovulation/menstrual cycles + ultrasound at 6 weeks all very neatly confirms it.

It's taken me all my hands free moments over these past 6 days to write this out, and over this time 'Baby' had not been officially named. During our pregnancy we had a lot of people bring their fears to us, from Doctors to family to the woman who did my acupuncture (!) and many many others, and the discussions of the wildly irresponsible risk, and how could we know we were doing the right thing... Almost every conversation would be Dh and I saying "Well, he moves. So we know he's ok." The name we finally settled on is Galileo.


Anonymous said...

Great story! It really affirms what we know about post dates etc. Question, did you have a midwife in attendance as well as your Doula?

Anonymous said...

she does make mention of her midwife throughout her birth story

Anonymous said...

FABULOUS STORY LOVE! WELL DONE FOR BEING BRAVE AND GOING AFTER YOUR DREAM!! i kind of know what if feels like to really 'feel' giving birth. i had an epidural with my first baby but it was so amazing with my second as although i took on lots of gas and air, it was so much more real to me as i felt everything. i dont think id ask for pain relief either if i have any more babies.

Louise Parsons said...

Someone just shared this with me, I have just had my second cesarean after trying to attempt a VBAC. I was absolutely devestated, I felt my heart break when they told me I couldn't do it. Yet these last few days I've found so many stories and encouraging words by others that I have so much hope for a vaginal birth with my third baby.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart thank you so much for sharing your courageous story. My heart yearns to be able to experience what you have and I am thrilled in the fact that you were able to! Even if I don't end up getting what I want, I know there must be many amazing mothers who did and will!
How magical is the miracle of a child birth.