What goes through our head when we give birth.. Rose Aurora’s Birth Story
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
I met Rose's mom in what I call 'my previous life'. It was her who gave me inspiration to give my daughter name Lily. I liked the name, I like her, so it worked :-)
Lily comes originally from US where she grew up with an idea of birth being a medical event. And here she was, about to give birth in one of the most homebirth friendly countries around: The Netherlands. The shift which both her and Chris made was amazing. I will never forget Lily sharing about her birth in one of our Mama Chat & Chai calls - she talked about her experience it as it was: extremely intense, she doubted herself on the way multiple times, was thrown out by the change of midwives 3 times! Yet, they did it! The expression on her face, the feeling of a super hero - that is exactly what I would wish for all of us. Cause we simply deserve it.
Below Rose's birth story including raw and honest thoughts of her mom giving birth. Beautiful and inspiring <3
Rose was born swimming underwater, looking up at us with her big blue eyes through the surface. That first image I have of her is the most incredible moment of my life. She is the most amazing thing I have ever seen. My daughter, I carried her for so long, yet didn’t know much about her, in that moment I finally got to see her. I kept whispering to her, “I’m your mama”. Like I was introducing myself!
The start of labor
My labor started the day before, I was 4 days past due. Around 16:00, I took a bath and felt some cramps similar to period pain. They were spaced about 15 minutes, sometimes 5 minutes. They went on into the evening. We called the midwife and asked if this could be labor. She told me to take a Paracetemol and if the cramps persist it’s labor. I took the Paracetemol and the cramps continued.
We were excited. I was feeling confident. I ate a massive dinner because I thought I need to prepare! Hamburger, shake, and fries. This was a big mistake as I had horrible reflux all night and barely slept. I could have slept through the cramps, they weren’t that bad!
By 5 AM they started to get more intense. I timed them with an app on my phone and they got to 5 minutes apart. It’s an American app and it was telling me to GO TO HOSPITAL, but we weren’t going! We jumped the gun and called the poor sleepy midwife at 5:30. She told us to call back when they’re under 3 minutes. It still felt like period pain to me but I felt it in my legs, back and lower abdomen. The midwife came over at 8:00 and checked my dilation, I was at 4cm. She was impressed and said she expected the baby to be there that afternoon. I was still feeling normal and calm at this point, but I needed to pause talking or thinking for each contraction. It wasn’t hard for me to breathe through them though. I wouldn’t even say it was painful, just intense. I thought a lot about what my body was doing, stretching my cervix, pulling and stretching. And that helped me to consider it differently than “pain”.
When the labor established
Later we had another midwife come, they had changed shifts. I hadn’t met Inga before and at first I thought she looked so young and tiny I wasn’t sure she could handle everything! My dilation hadn’t progressed. She mentioned breaking my water if I didn’t progress before her next visit. When she came back 3 hours later I still hadn’t progressed. At this point I was in the bath and thinking was more difficult. I was more in the “zone” coping with the surges and focused on breathing.
I really struggled to make the decision to break my water. I had to ask my husband to lay out a framework for me why we need to make this decision. I knew logically breaking my water was the right thing to do if I wanted to give birth at home. It would speed things up and I would still have energy to push. But I was scared. I worried that I would have to cope with more pain and wasn’t sure what that would be like. I worried about it going fast, because the speed things were going so far was working for me. And I also just didn’t want another internal exam because they are uncomfortable and it meant getting out of the nice warm bath. I knew I wasn’t being rational. I had a breakdown and a cry about my mom not being there. Basically I was thinking way too much!
Even though we had talked about how I would try to give birth at home unmedicated, if I changed my mind and wanted pain relief that would be okay too. At this point a hospital transfer sounded very difficult to me. I did not want to get into a car and leave. I knew that if we broke my water I was really committing to doing this at home without pain meds. That decision was a real turning point for me. I think it helped me to get through the next stage. I had already committed.
The next stage & transition
Inga broke my water in bed. It wasn’t that bad. Things got more intense but I kept finding new ways to cope. New positions, Chris or Inga massaging my back. They had to do a lot of work! Each time it got more intense I found a way to handle it.
Then it got so intense I felt like I lost control during each contraction. I couldn’t hold myself up, I couldn’t control my breathing, I had to make a roaring noise. The only thing I could focus on was keeping the roaring noise low pitched and then breathing after. I felt what felt like a sledge hammer wham down inside me. That would be my uterus! And I was afraid I had shat the bed (I hadn’t). Inga checked me one more time and I was fully dilated. She told Chris to get the bath ready.
I threw up sometime around here. It was the transition period. Throwing up wasn’t as bad as when you feel sick, it was more of a reflexive thing. It actually made me feel better after.
Waiting for the bath to get blown up and filled felt like an eternity to me. I really wanted that warm water and any relief. When I got in I was a bit disappointed. I don’t know why but it wasn’t filled up very high. I didn’t feel weightless, it was too hot, it didn’t cover my back. They put a wet towel over my back to keep it warm. Someone had to keep wetting it and replacing it because I moved around so much. I really wanted to find a position where I could surrender fully to each contraction. But I couldn’t, I had to hold myself up over the edge somehow. If I could give birth in a big pool with just a donut around my neck I think that would be ideal. Or maybe weightless in space. That would be sick. That’s what I wanted. Instead I got partial weightlessness and a cushy blow up pool edge. But it did the job.
Inga’s shift ended early that day and a new midwife arrived. I was really upset Inga was leaving. I had grown attached to her and trusted her by now. The new midwife Hana was excellent, but I felt lost when Inga left.
The sledge hammer feeling kept going. In my head I was thinking, “I'm not sure I can keep doing this”. Hana told me to look at her. She said, “Lily, you can do this.” She said that to me several times and it really helped. I was doubting myself and she told me what I needed to hear. I think the affirmations my friends had written for me would have helped as well but I had forgotten about those completely. My brain shrunk to just the part that was focused on what my body was doing and if I needed to say anything or do anything to help.
They told me to push and I pushed along with my body. It felt like trying to do a big shit. Honestly. Once I pushed when my body wasn’t having a contraction and that was true pain. There was a real difference to me between feeling my body work very hard and the pain of something not working right.
I could feel her moving down but when the contraction was over she would go back up. I thought something was wrong. I thought me roaring rather than serenely breathing and meditating was doing it wrong, my losing control was wrong, that she was stuck at the bottom somehow and someone needed to pull her out. I had a lot of doubts. The whole time Hana just told me to keep going. I am doing it. It is working. Something that she said that really helped me was “Lily, your body is doing this with or without you”. That was very comforting. I couldn’t “do it wrong” I didn’t have to do anything but breathe. If I pushed too, that might help. But I don’t even have to push.
Sometime around there the kraamzorg and her student arrived. They introduced themselves to me and then sat at the table and quietly watched. I didn’t mind but I hadn’t known what to expect when they arrive.
It felt like hours but it was only 45 minutes of pushing. And at 23:23 Rose came out swimming underwater, looking up at us like a scuba diver, she still had the umbilical cord she didn’t need to breathe yet. Hana put her on my chest and she took her first wheezy breaths. She found my breast and latched! After that breastfeeding would be a big saga but she nailed it on the first try.
I was helped out of the bath and into the bed. After that I got really cold. I birthed the placenta, Hana stitched me up. But I lost a lot of blood and needed a couple shots of something…oxytocin? To help my uterus contract back down and for the bleeding to stop. They were all a bit worried about me. My lips were blue. I couldn’t stand or even sit up without getting dizzy and faint. I really wonder why no one dried me off or put blankets on me after the bath. I had to ask for something and Chris got me his bath robe. It was just laying over me, I was still wet. I didn’t care much about any of this though I was just happy to look at Rose. I really wasn’t in a state of mind to ask for what I needed. I was actually so happy and relived that rose was okay and I had done it, I didn’t care about looking after myself at that time.
They stayed late to make sure I had eaten enough and my blood pressure looked better. They set up a bucket next to the bed and instructed me to pee before 6 hours had passed. This all went fine. I needed to stay in bed a lot the first week though.
They tucked us into bed and Rosie too in her little crib next to us. We didn’t have the right size clothes for her or the right type of onesie. We had no idea what size she would be. Her onesie was huge on her and they swaddled her in a burp cloth.
We slept about 5 hours Rose made a little cry and we just shushed and rocked her like they showed us and she went right back to sleep. When I woke up I had no strength but somehow I picked up Rose and sat up with her at the top of the bed. I just held her and stared at her while she and Chris slept. I couldn’t believe how cute she was. I expected her to look like a little potato!