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Max’s Story… a New Beginning

By Sue Horton

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon.  Lunch had been cleared away, visitors had departed, and a buzz of industry settled over the house again, as construction on the extension continued.

It was 2.00 pm and I was ambitious to dust, as the plasterers had recently sanded and fine white powder covered everything.  But first, I decided to take a 30-minute rest before tackling the living rooms.  I was experiencing ‘Braxton Hicks’, as I had daily over the last week or two, though they never developed into anything regular.

This time, however, during one of these contractions an almighty ‘punch’ hit me in the lower abdomen, and for a moment I wondered if the baby was under distress.  Another contraction followed, and I decided that I’d had enough of lying down. But before I could reach the bathroom, my track pants were saturated down to my ankles.  My waters had broken.  The time had finally come.  Now, I just needed to delegate that dusting, get rid of the decorators, and ensure that my husband was ready to start filling the birthing pool!

I was so excited.  We had been waiting for this baby for almost fifteen years.  Having started our family in my early twenties, I was now 38 years old and more than conscious of my age, and the ever widening gap since the births of my other children.  I couldn’t afford to put it off any longer.  After enduring nine tedious months of morning sickness and packing on a considerable amount of weight, I longed for the baby’s arrival. 

Our two girls, now 15 and 17, were born in small country birthing centres and were delivered by our GP.  My first labour lasted over 24 hours, after which I delivered a 61b 7oz baby girl.  My second labour brought with it a 2 ½ hour second stage, due to a posterior delivery, resulting in our second daughter being born, weighing 71b 4 oz. While they were both fairly traditional births (delivered on my back on a hospital bed), I still thought of them as positive birth experiences. 

This time we had decided to be pro-active and pursue a home water-birth… something I had never considered with the older two as we lived in fairly remote areas at the time.  Now living in town, the option of transferring to a hospital, should the need arise, gave us that little bit of extra confidence to have our third little one at home.

By 4 o’clock I was in established labour.  The contractions were intense from the onset, as the cushion of amniotic fluid had gone.  I had managed to fold some washing, in between visits to the toilet and kneeling on the floor against our bed.  It was a rather messy operation though, every time I had a contraction more fluid would leak out, so I went through lots of clothes before resorting to wearing a dress and kneeling over a towel!

My midwife arrived and assessed my progress, then gave me something to help empty my bowels… hey, anything to get this baby out faster!  It was becoming more and more difficult to return from the bathroom as standing and walking brought the contractions on hard and fast.  Around 6.30 pm I started feeling a little nauseous and needed some relief from the intensity of the labour.  It was time to get in the pool.

The portable pool we had purchased was perfect to labour in.  Leaning into the large cushioned sides, Clayton and my midwife, Carol, poured warm water over my back as I breathed through each contraction.  I felt my body move effectively from the first to second stage of labour, as my uterus began to force the baby’s head down through the cervix into the birth canal. 

Within an hour, my 91b 5oz boy was delivered and I lifted him up out of the water where he gazed inquisitively around the room that he was conceived in.  His dad ran out to fetch the girls, announcing the arrival of their brother, and, as young Max exercised his lungs for the first time, his sisters, the cat and the dog (breaking his chain in the excitement) raced to the bedroom to celebrate the new arrival.

The placenta delivered an hour and ten minutes after Max’s birth, giving the girls a special time to bond with their baby brother.  By 9.00 pm I was showered and tucked up in bed.

My weight and measurements throughout the pregnancy had indicated a big baby, and this was confirmed by a late scan.  Being advised that I shouldn’t go past my due date, I had spent the last week or two trying every natural course of action I knew about to encourage the labour to begin. Yet I had reached the end of those options (four days past my due date) with a quiet peace that if I were to be given a 10lb baby, I would also be given the ability to deliver him safely and naturally at the right time.  This quiet trust had proven true, as I experienced an uncomplicated delivery, requiring no ‘repair’ work, and, in the days to follow, experienced a remarkably quick recovery - something I attribute to the relaxing effect of the warm water during the later stages of the labour and delivery.

A frightening percentage of women who attended my ante-natal and aqua-natal classes experienced medical interventions, from induction to caesarean section deliveries.  This made me even more grateful that I had trusted my body’s ability to birth naturally and safely into a welcoming and secure environment. 

Max is doing well, and the smile on his face when he takes a bath tells me he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!

Sue lives in New Plymouth with her husband Clayton and daughters Rebekah and Sarai.  Clayton operates a landscaping construction business and Sue is a freelance writer.