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Toby’s Birth Story

By Carla Moore

It was a rainy, stormy night in the middle of June.  Inside, the oils were burning, soft music playing, heaters cranking – the scene was perfect – for either making love, or having a baby!! 

After having had an uncomplicated hospital birth with Abe, 23 months earlier, I was very keen on having this baby in an environment wherein we could feel totally relaxed and let nature do its thing.  Deano took a little more persuading – frightened by the ‘what ifs’ and everybody else’s horror stories that they are always so willing to share as due date looms closer!  However, a chat with our very capable midwives (Jan and Jan), and some reassurance from me that I would agree to transfer if either one of us felt at all uneasy at any time, was all it took to start feeling excited about the prospect of welcoming our little person into the world, at home, and hopefully in the water. 

Five days before the due date, I woke up with period-like cramps – which I had already had three times in the past three weeks – but felt pretty sure that today was the day.  Not wanting to cry wolf again, I kept it pretty quiet, and by 11am when things were still happening, I started quietly potting around getting Abe’s bag packed for him to go and have a holiday with Gran and Grandad, and getting all the ‘stuff’ ready and laid out.  I was feeling exceptionally calm and clear and really ready. 

We filled the pool at 2pm, which was a tricky decision – needing it to be 38-39 degrees for the baby to be born in.  We filled it at 40 degrees (using our wonderful new infinity gas hot water system, with dial up temperature, and constant hot water!!), and covered it.  At 4pm both our parents were around for coffee’s, which I happily made, as sitting chatting wasn’t exactly what I felt like.  By now I was having pretty gentle, regular contractions, about 4–5 minutes apart.  It was lovely to then say goodbye to Abe as he naively leaped out the door getting into ‘Gran’s car’ to ‘go for holiday at Gran’s place’ – no idea that his life would never be the same again!! 

Deano and I then had lovely quiet time just with ourselves – no building, painting, people popping in – just us – this had become a bit of a novelty unfortunately!  I had phoned Jan leaving her a message that she may have some work to do tonight so not to go making too many hot dates, but I phoned her again at 6pm saying that I was ready for her to call in sometime soon.  I was still feeling too good – knowing that things had to get a lot more uncomfortable before this baby would arrive.  I had my caulophylum ready for me to tuck into, to encourage this baby to make his way out, but I wanted Jan to check me first, and to be here if I chose to take it. 

The Jan’s arrived around 6:30 ish to find me almost apologetic for possibly getting them here too soon – as I knew I still felt too good.  I was happily surprised when Jan told me I was 6cm dilated.  We decided to break my waters, hoping that this would encourage a bit of action too!  I then hopped in the pool, more for the sake of it than anything else – perfect evening for a hot swim in the lounge!  But this slowed things down even more, so I had to get out. 

I then decided I was really keen to have this baby, and didn’t fancy hanging around all night, so I took the caulophylum, and Deano and I retreated for a little ‘nipple stimulation’ – under midwives’ orders!  Within about 10 minutes I was definitely feeling a lot more like I was going to have a baby!!  It was about 7:30pm by now.  Between contractions we still were having lots of laughs and generally having really special time together, until about 8:30pm when things heated up.  I shifted into the bathroom, where I planted myself firmly on the loo for the next 30 minutes – remembering how much I hated this bit!  The Jan’s were quietly chatting in the lounge, leaving us totally to ourselves, but were no doubt totally tuned in to the noises I was beginning to make! 

About 9pm they suggested we might want to start moving out to the pool again.  One push outside the pool, and then I climbed in with Deano – once he’d put on the café del mar c.d. to which Abe was also born.  The pool was 39 degrees – you beauty!  I lay with Deano under me/supporting me, while I held onto the sides, making all sorts of primitive sounds right in his ear!  The water was really calming, and felt so right to be giving birth in it.  Lovely to be able to be so close to Deano too – like he was really going through it with me.  Jan was reaching over the sides, gently encouraging me and giving me updates, along with the other Jan, who was also holding a mirror for us. 

At 9:17pm Toby Russ Moore Larsen swam into the world.  I felt so in love with him immediately – which I hadn’t felt with Abe.  I didn’t feel at all sore, comforted by the water no doubt, and instantly forgot the pain I had just been through.  We had hoped to let Toby have a little swim under the water, but my hips were up too high, bringing him to the surface.  I tried to feed him while he was still hooked up to me, in the water.  This was a nice idea – but not so practical, as he took on a bit of water, and started to get too cold.  The cord was snipped in a jiffy and he was out to be suctioned and dressed by Jan.  The placenta came away really easily, much nicer than last time, and plopped to the bottom of the pool. 

Ten minutes later, I was in my yellow fluffy p.j’s snuggled up in bed, sipping on a hot blackcurrant drink, with Toby snuffling away on my boob.  Meanwhile, the Jan’s and Mum, who had turned up within a few minutes of his birth, had cleared away any signs that a baby had just been born.  Our lovely midwives then snuck out as unobtrusively as they had been the whole time, once we were all in order, leaving us to our own bliss.  Toby was so wide-eyed, and lay in his bed close to us, looking around at his new world, so calmly and looking totally peaceful. 

I raved about my first birthing experience, figuring I was really lucky and well guided – but this time was way lovelier.  It felt as though Deano and I had done it all ourselves, and that it was all such an amazingly natural process.  Of course, Jan and Jan had been so well organised and calmly confident, that they were easily able to support us unobtrusively and totally empower us to ride with this amazing experience.  I pushed when I felt like it, and had a rest when I felt like it – all my pre-conceived ideas about ripping heinously if I was to push at the ‘wrong’ time were thankfully unfounded! 

The true testimony to our birth experience is that we can already talk about ‘the next time’ and that there’s no way I’ll be going anywhere near a hospital if there is no reason to!  We are SO lucky!!

Carla Moore and her husband Dean Larsen came back to their home town, New Plymouth, to raise their family in 2000, after travelling extensively for four years.  Carla has an M.A. in Educational Psychology and Deano an Honours degree in Ag. Science.  Along with their sons Abe and Toby, and now baby Annie, they love living by the coastal walkway where they ride, run, play and hunt for crabs. As well as being very involved in Playcentre and Active Birth Taranaki, Carla is also a consumer representative on the Midwives Review Committee.