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Homebirth to Cesarean Valentina's Birth Story 4th August 2009 (St George Public Hospital)

Valentina's Birth 4th August 2009
I had first heard of doula’s and the wonderful role they play through a friend of mine who went through her pregnancy and birthing of her child without a partner and who had espoused how fantastic it was to have a doula involved in her birthing process. I remembered thinking at the time what a great idea to have a support person there and even in the event of having your partner there. Personally I think there is nothing else like having a woman by your side at the birth who can cheer you on, be more objective with you as they are not related and who understands what you’re going through because they have a wealth of experience and as a woman and a mother, have been there themselves.

I never thought that I would bear a child but when I met my wonderful partner and we decided to get pregnant, I knew that I wanted a doula at my birth immediately. This was largely attributed due to my friend’s experience and remembering how much it helped her through her own pregnancy and birth.
I did not know if finding the right doula would be easy as what I was looking for in a doula was by no way conventional. I had had a conversation with my grandfather a few years ago who was quite spiritual and he had said that he always wished that he had been chanted and sung to as he was birthed into this world. As it turned out, my grandfather passing away during the pregnancy of my child and so I wanted to honour my grandfather’s desire by birthing my own child into the world the way he would have liked to be birthed. So I started to look for a doula that I thought would be open to the idea of singing and chanting while supporting and birthing my child into the world, I thought that this might seem like a strange request but when I saw Jenny’s synopsis on the website, and the fact that I am a facilitator of expressive movement and wanted somebody who also had some experience with body centred practices, Jenny, whom was also a pre-natal yoga teacher, seemed the perfect fit.
Upon meeting Jenny, I found her very warm and open hearted. Jenny also seemed excited at the prospect of learning some chants to welcome our baby into the world and I just knew that she was the right person to support my partner and I in birthing and chanting our child into the world.
I did not find my pregnancy very easy and with 5 1/2 – 6mths of extreme nausea and morning sickness which then transformed into heartburn like I had never experienced before, my spirits often waned throughout and I often wondered why on earth had I wanted to bring a child into the world. Jenny was available by phone or email with support and information and I would feel real encouragement each time I spoke to her. My spirits felt lifted every time I spoke and met with her. With the ending days of my pregnancy in sight and with my anxiety growing at the prospect of my baby being too overdue to birth at home which was my first preference, Jenny was very supportive and suggested many ideas to stimulate the birth naturally.
After a 2nd session of acupuncture, my waters broke and unfortunately there was meconium in the waters which meant that a home birth was now out of the question and I had to birth within 24 hours at the hospital.   I was quite disappointed with this news but accepted this as necessary for the safety of both my child and myself. Jenny turned up at the hospital and I felt such relief that I had a woman by my side with much experience together with my partner being there. I was artificially induced with progesterone gel and then after a few hours was disappointed to find my cervix did not respond at all. I was then put on a drip with syntocin to stimulate artificial contractions for a marathon 18 long hours with no pain relief. Without Jenny, I am sure I would have not got through this arduous time but together, my partner, Jenny and I chanted sung and laughed in between lots of active breathing with the contractions and massaging for pain relief without drugs. After this time, my cervix had still not dilated at all, not even ½ a centimeter, I became very despondent and it seemed that I was not the only one, the registrar at the hospital then informed me that I would have to have a cesarean section as there was no point continuing with the syntocin drip and continuation would have posed risks to both the baby and myself.
So I was then faced to accept the next stage of surrender – to have my baby cut out when I had been working towards a beautiful home birth in a water pool all these months. Jenny spoke to the registrar and nurses to ensure that there was nothing further possible to naturally birth and then helped both my partner and myself readjust our psyche to the next stage of the birthing process – the cesarean. I was so exhausted and disappointed that I finally broke down in tears as it felt surreal and it was like being faced with a 2nd labour, all for the same birth.
I pleaded with my midwife to let my doula come in with my partner to theatre while the cesarean was taking place as one of my wishes in my birth plan was for my partner and doula and I to chant our baby into the world and that (not that it was anyone’s fault but nothing in my birth plan had been adhered to due to circumstance) and the chanting of my child into the world was an opportunity to still meet one of my birth wishes, albeit in front of all the medical staff in theatre.
I was very lucky as my midwife was able to convince the doctors to let my doula come in with me. At this point, I felt so surrendered, I was ready to die but I knew that I had Jenny and my partner Daniel at my side and that everything was going to be ok.
After what seemed like a very short time, I was presented with a beautiful baby girl and then complete in hospital gowns and hats we all chanted the special chant that I had taught my partner and Jenny to welcome my beautiful girl in the world.
I cried tears of joy, what a journey and I felt so privileged to have someone like Jenny with me the entire time. I think my partner also felt grateful she was present as it was also a support to him and a relief to have someone else to give me emotional support especially when the best laid birth plans seem to quickly fly out the door.
Jenny always said to me during the pregnancy that birth plans should always really be referred to as ‘birth wishes’ and after my experience, now I know why!
Even though my baby was not born naturally, Jenny helped me adapt and accept the unfolding of events and to really see the positive in the situation. After all I was now the proud mother of a beautiful and healthy little girl.
Thank you Jenny.
Alena & Daniel