Cornelia Owens’ second birth healed the scars and disappointments of her first traumatic, experience. As told to Marysol Blomerus
IMAGINE BOOKING a trip on economy class, and then being upgraded to take a ride on Air Force One. That’s how my birth experience felt the second time around. I planned the birth of my first-born, Sadie, to aT; I even prayed that it would rain on the day she was born – and it did. But my birth experience was a negative one, and it impacted on my ability to mother her, as feelings of fear, disconnectedness and disappointment filled my early months of motherhood. Two years later, staring at a positive pregnancy test, I knew that this birth would be different – different healthcare providers, birth setting and labour companions. My husband Andrew and I took the road less travelled; one that some might perceive as scary or dangerous – we decided to have a home birth. I carefully researched loving and supportive midwives who would be there for me throughout my pregnancy and birth.
It’s 1am on 9 October 2014. “Could this be it?” I thought to myself, after waking up feeling my belly tightening every 10 minutes. “Should I call the midwife? What if she drives all the way to my house and it’s false labour?” I’m 40 weeks and three days pregnant, so denial is part of the package. I took a bath to try and ease some discomfort, and it worked! I went back to bed and tried to rest, but I was too excited to sleep. Months of preparation, hypnobirthing classes, and all the techniques I required stripped away any fear. I thought about my two wonderful midwives who took care of me during my pregnancy, and my birth photographer, Marysol Blomerus, with whom I felt a connection from the moment we met. Everything really was prefect. At 5am I called Marysol. Perfect birth photos were more important than having skilled professionals attend the birth of my baby – what was I thinking? It would take my second midwife Debbie around two hours to get to my house, but I didn’t panic. My husband began tidying the house and things started heating up. I asked him to fill the pool for me – seriously, who cares about dirty dishes; I’m about to have a baby! At 6am my midwife arrived. She checked my baby’s heartbeat, and
THE MIDWIFE HAPPILY EXCLAIMED, ‘NO, MY DEAR, YOU DON’T NEED TO POO – YOU NEED TO HAVE A BABY!’
it was perfect. I was doing fine, still laughing and joking in between surges (contractions). They were bearable, but I relied on Andrew to be there for me to support me through them.
BIRTHING IN WATER
At about 8am, Debbie suggested I get into the water, and I felt great as soon as I did! My daughter Sadie woke up and joined me in the pool, but she was distracting me and I asked Andrew to take her out and get her ready for school. At 8:30am, I suddenly had the urge to poo! The midwife happily exclaimed, “No, my dear, you don’t need to poo – you need to have a baby.” The pressure was immense, and the urge to push took over. I remembered my hypnobirthing instructor teaching me to avoid pushing, but to breathe baby out. I would prevent tearing this way. But she also said that if I needed to push, then I should go with what I feel. It was so amazing – the urge to push only came with a surge, and in between I could calmly breathe and rest. I remember “pushing” with Sadie. This time, my body and baby were in complete control, and I was the facilitator to the process. Then the unexpected fear came of having to be transferred to the hospital, while feeling like baby was stuck. I looked up and saw Debbie’s eyes. Calm, happy, reassuring, and she said, “You’re doing great, everything is fine.” Things got loud as I could feel the baby’s head. A few surges and some hard pushes and some gentle breathing – and there it was, the burning sensation. I knew in my mind that this was it! By 8:55am, I felt huge relief as I birthed his head. And with one gentle push, I felt a slippery little body glide out. I lifted my baby from the water, and I was only interested in finding out the gender. It’s a boy! I grabbed him and instinctively wanted to hold him against my chest. When I looked up at Marysol, I said, “I did it.” Complete silence filled the room. No bright lights and loud voices. I could actually hear my sweet baby breathing. I could feel his heartbeat on my chest, I could smell the sweet smell of a newborn.
Debbie and Andrew helped me out of the birth pool, and I sat on the edge of my bed. I breastfed Jordan for the first time, and not once did he leave my arms. I still had to birth the placenta and Jordan was still attached to his cord. Delaying the clamping of the cord was very important to me. As I was lying in my own bed minutes after Jordan was born, with him in my arms, I felt so blessed to have experienced natural birth, moving around freely in my own home, only surrounded by the people who love me. YP
Hubby Andrew Owens comforts Cornelia through her labour
Big sister Sadie meets her new baby brother