This story is a bit bittersweet. It’s my last birth story as Siobhán is our last baby. I hope I can do it justice.
Saturday, 13 June, all day, I was feeling a bit odd. Not ill, just different, although I didn’t think anything of it. Later in the evening, I experienced some sensations that I wrote off as strong Braxton Hicks. A few times previously I had felt the same thing, and it went away (but not without alarm bells going off in my head that I might give birth prematurely). Towards 8 p.m. that night, as we were watching a movie with the children, I could not get comfortable. I was feeling these “strong Braxton Hicks” more regularly. I went to lie down in the bedroom but that didn’t help, either. Our house is small, and there isn’t much space to roam, and really; that’s what I needed to do. I should have gone for a walk!
After the movie was over, we got the children to bed (it was close to 10), and I realised at that point that this was it. Labour was picking up pace, although the sensations were still pretty irregular. I thought I might get some rest, but that wasn’t likely, so I walked the house and used an app I found to time the contractions. Now, I am not a big fan of monitoring labour, but I thought this app was kind of neat, and it was interesting seeing the time between sensations decrease, and increase and then decrease. I was spending more time in the washroom at this point, and needing to concentrate. I focused on breathing and relaxing and yes, it worked. Closer to midnight, I wanted to be in the shower. So I got in the tub and turned on the showerhead, which, unfortunately is a low pressure one and doesn’t do much more than provide moisture. Either way, it felt better.
I could feel the baby moving down, and the contractions were strengthening. When I felt a strong one coming, I relaxed as best I could, and started to vocalise. It really does help to do this, during transition. I visualised opening up to let baby move downward. I can’t recall what time it was that I asked Kim to get in the tub with me, but before this, he was paying attention to the time between contractions, although as it got closer, we abandoned this method of monitoring. I remember thinking that as this was my last baby, couldn’t it be less intense? That did not happen! But baby knew what she was doing, to be born. As it got closer, I knew it would only be 2-3 more contractions before she emerged. But even so, she didn’t crown. Kim couldn’t see her head, and I couldn’t even feel the bag of waters bulging. My water did break, though, and previously I had seen bloody show. The water literally released only a few minutes before Siobhán was born. It was after 2 am at this point, although I didn’t know the time then.
One strong contraction and Siobhán came shooting out into Kim’s arms. He didn’t see her coming. She didn’t stop and turn, she was born in one fell swoop and started crying immediately. I think the shock of the air made her cry, because she didn’t stop until I covered her in a towel shortly afterwards. Siobhán has lots of dark hair like her sister Aoibheann had at birth. But her little face looks akin to that of her sister Aisling. Not exactly though! She’s her own girl.
I had been standing, once more, to give birth (honestly, it is the best birthing position!). Kim handed her to me, after telling me we had another girl, so he could get out. He did so, and then went to clean up and get dressed. I climbed out and sat on the toilet to await the placenta. There was a knot in the cord, but it wasn’t too tight, although it limited how high I could move her;I had to lean over. Within a few minutes she latched on and started nursing. Her older siblings all waited a long time to do that! A little bit after this, Kim woke the children up to let them know baby was born, although he didn’t tell them she was a girl; they had to see for themselves. We phoned our parents to share the news, as well.
About half an hour later, the placenta was born; I remained on the toilet. We cut the cord a bit earlier than the others, about 45 minutes after, as I wasn’t sure if the knot was impeding flow or not. We should have waited at least an hour, but that’s alright, she was still good. Kim took her, shortly after this, to clean her up, weigh her (we have a baby scale), and get her dressed.
Siobhán Willow Grace Pauline Siever came into the world at 2:27 am on Sunday 14 June 2015, weighing 6 lbs 14 oz. She’s a sweet little beautiful addition to our family. I’m very grateful for my children and how they have been born.
As I come to the end of a journey in pregnancy and birthing, I have been reflecting on the past couple of decades and how Kim’s and my desires to grow a family have been realised in wonderful ways. Since before we were married, I wanted to have homebirths. Kim was not quite there, until we miscarried our first in 1996. By that time, he had not only decided he liked the idea of homebirth, he wanted to birth unassisted.
I remember that my first reaction was alarm, but I did look into it and slowly came around to liking the idea. Although, with Sinéad we originally planned a midwife, I am forever grateful that said midwife was not able to attend. Sinéad’s birth was a defining point for us, and I was committed to the idea from that point on.
Our decision to birth unassisted has met with some scepticism although I don’t recall a lot of backlash (except from strangers, and one family member who expressed disagreement after Sinéad was born. Later others spoke out, especially as some felt we were “promoting” it. That was never the case). However, none of this changed our personal desire and view to birth our babies in a quiet, peaceful, home atmosphere. Birthing unassisted has always been about our own connection to our babies and to each other. It is something that we felt drawn and inspired to do, with the assurance that our Father in Heaven was happy with our choice to do this. It was never about anyone else, it wasn’t about bucking the system, it wasn’t born of a hatred for the medical community. It was born from a trust in my own body and ability and a desire to have say in how my births will proceed. If I had needed medical help, I would have sought it out. However, I was very fortunate that each birth went exactly how I wanted it. I have no regrets. But this is about me, not about anyone else. It was never about putting myself above anyone else’s birth experiences or telling others how they should birth. Birth is an incredibly personal, intimate experience and my greatest desire for anyone is that they are well informed and have a beautiful, satisfying birth. Always.