THE BIRTH OF Violet
Melissa de la Croix had planned a VBAC in hospital, but with an unexpected speedy labour, she landed up giving birth at home
My labour started on 17 August when I was 40 weeks and four days pregnant. My husband Mikhail and I got into bed at 10:45, and just five minutes later I had a contraction so strong I couldn’t move. Mikhail helped me into the bath. My contractions were strong and three minutes apart. Mikhail called my midwife Mandi and her assistant Mandy, and when they arrived I was so happy to see them! I’d never expected my labour to start so fast and strong. I didn’t have time to process or ease into it, or get my head around breathing for that matter. But I knew once they arrived I was in good hands, and could labour along without worry.
WHEN PLANS CHANGE
Our original plan was for my midwives to come to my house, check that I was properly in labour, and then transfer to Bayview Hospital in Mossel Bay with our birthing pool. Because I was having a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) this was the agreed plan between us and my backup gynaecologist. When we did my first internal check, an hour into labour, I was already 5cm dilated. My hubby and Mandy packed the car for the hospital, and my daughter Zoe was picked up to spend the rest of the night at my father’s place. By 12:40 I was crying out through contractions. I stood leaning against the kitchen counter with Mandi massaging my back, and I was already having strong bearing down urges. I found great relief in the massage, and moving my hips from side to side helped ease the pain. I could feel my baby moving inside me, moving into the correct position to find her way out.
At this stage, we had decided to unpack the car, because my contractions were coming fast. The hospital was half an hour away and Mandi was concerned we wouldn’t make it. At 12:50 I was 8cm. I’d always thought the first stage and labour would take hours, and I would have time to focus and get to hospital. It was now only two hours after my first very strong contraction and
I already wanted to push. Two hours in at 1am, I had the urge to sleep! I’d sit up in a squatting position during a contraction, and when it was over I’d lean back against the couch and fall asleep. I went with what felt natural. I could feel when my body wanted to change position, so I just naturally went with it. Mandi and my hubby were by my side; she would help massage me, and bring me water, and my hubby would take turns helping me up and holding my hand during the strong contractions. This went on for a while and at 1:48am I was 9cm dilated and my cervix had formed an anterior lip. I remember Mandy doing the internal and positioning my cervix into the right position and over the baby’s head – it was extremely painful, but I got through it, because I knew it was necessary to get through my labour. Mandi suggested I lie on my side on my bed, to get my cervix positioned right. We considered packing for the hospital again then, because it seemed as though my labour was slowing down.
THE HARDEST PART… PUSHING
Three and half hours into labour, at 2:30am, I was lying on my bed, which was conveniently in the lounge due to renovations, fully dilated. I curled inward towards myself with my chin tucked in with each contraction, and focussed on pushing all my energy inwards, instead of just screaming out with pain. This was the most painful part of my labour. My waters still hadn’t broken, and I could feel the sac when I touched my baby’s head. I remember hilariously asking for something for the pain, even a Panado! But, I continued unmedicated throughout my labour and birth. Mandi tried to massage my back, but I had to tell her to stop because it felt like a ton of bricks. It was truly the hardest stage, and I remember thinking I wouldn’t be able to get through it. I looked at Mikhail and said, “I can’t do this, I can’t!” I was entirely in my own little world, totally unaware of what was going on around me. Mandi had called my gynae to check if she was comfortable with us birthing at home. Thankfully, she said as long as I was coping we could stay at home, as it was also too late for hospital anyway.
HELLO BABY VIOLET!
I got up and stood by the fire, and I didn’t even think to tell anyone I was about to push her head out. I started to push hard with each contraction, and I could feel with my hand where her head was. When it popped out, I caught it! It was strange because she was still in her water sac and it felt like I had caught a water balloon. At 3:08am I shouted, “The head is out, the head is out!”. Mandi helped hold the head and the rest of little Violet just slid out with ease. As her feet came out, the water sac broke and splashed over my feet. My beautiful baby Violet let out a good cry and I was beyond overjoyed! It was the most amazing feeling of confidence, achievement and relief ever. The pain disappeared in an instant and it was all over. My baby was immediately alert and her beautiful eyes were wide open, looking around. My hubby kept saying how amazing it was that she was so awake. We sat by the fire, and Violet latched easily. We waited 40 minutes for the cord to stop pulsing before cutting it. I felt better than I ever had; I didn’t even feel like I’d just given birth. I wasn’t in any pain, and compared to my C-section with our eldest, this time around was an absolute dream. I’ll forever be grateful to Mandi and Mandy for the support they gave us. Without them by my side I’d never have had such peace of mind to give birth the way I did. I never felt stressed knowing I was having a VBAC. I was just happily focused on birthing my baby girl, and I believe it’s because of this that my labour went so wonderfully and so quickly.
Melissa had a VBAC at home – unexpectedly.
Melissa laboured with the help of her two midwives and her husband.
A tired but happy crew enjoy Violet’s first moments.