2 Birth Stories (Part 2)
I woke up around 6am feeling gentle contractions. I felt super relaxed. It was my due date, and given Anna was 12 days late, I wasn’t expecting Giorgia to arrive today. It must be Braxton Hicks I thought.
The house was quiet. Michele was sleeping beside me, and Anna was surprisingly still snuggled up in her bed, and so I stayed where I was, digging a little deeper with my breath when a surge arose. Anna came in to drag me out of bed and I slowly showered, got us dressed, and had a little breakfast before suggesting a walk in the countryside.
5 mins away from home and Anna got upset and said she wanted to go home. I felt torn, I wanted to be with my family, and was sorry for Michele that he couldn’t have a walk too, but I needed to move. I went on alone.
As I meandered through the small walkways leading to the countryside, along side a stream, past the horses and through the paddock where cows previously grazed, I stopped at intervals to catch my breath as the contractions sped up. A couple of hours had passed and I made the decision to head closer to home, despite still being in denial that it was actually happening. Anna must have sensed my shift in energy because she become very clingy, but in a soft caring kind of way. We had lunch and then I lowered Anna down on the sofa so she could take a nap, with the intention she’d wake well rested and less emotional as the remainder of the day unfolded.
She pulled Michele and I in for a group hug. She paused and really looked intently at us both in the eye with a knowing smile, before I sang her to sleep. I looked at Michele, and then her, snuggled up in our arms, and shed a few tears. It was the last moment we would be together just the 3 of us, and she knew it. While she slept my contractions moved up a notch so I called my friend Stacey, who lives down the road, and got an overnight bag organised for Anna to go and stay with her. It would be the first time she’d spent the night without us. Anna woke from her nap, and as soon as Stacey turned up I could feel the intensity rising.
When Anna left I was holding onto the balustrade of the stairs, slightly bent over and catching my breath. I wandered upstairs for a shower to freshen up, put on some track pants and an old t-shirt from Italy that said “amore”. Michele busied himself setting up the birthing pool. I had made a hasty decision 4 weeks earlier to plan for a home birth because of Covid. While in the shower my contractions were suddenly 1 minute apart. It was like I had been keeping it together while Anna was home, and now I didn’t have her to take care of my body immediately relaxed.
I made it down the stairs and before I knew it was bent over the sofa, grunting and pushing. I could hear Michele in the kitchen swearing about not being able to attach the hose to the tap, the hose flicking off with the pressure of the water. I looked over to the empty birthing pool and tried to get my words out. Michele wandered back into the living room and saw me bent over. We tried to attach the Tens machines pads to my back but couldn’t get it to work so we gave up. We were in the thick of it. Michele called the midwife. She heard my grunts and said she’d be on her way, 15 mins. I hadn’t managed to pull my track pants off by the time I felt the pressure of Giorgia’s head. Michele called the midwife again and she was stuck in traffic by the train station. I could feel my baby coming. A huge pop with liquid and blood surged between my legs, and I managed to slip off my track-pants.
Michele rushed to the door, to wave the midwife into the house as my body heaved and pushed Giorgia’s head almost fully out. The midwife threw on her face mask and gloves, bent down to try and take the baby’s heart beat, helped me slip off my underwear and that’s when she saw we were there. I leaned back over the sofa with my knees on the ground, and with one more push the head was out. 6 minutes after the midwife entered, at 5.35pm Giorgia was with us, still attached to me, but laying silently on the floor. As the midwife rubbed her with a towel the time traveled in slow motion. I paused on my hands and knees watching, a gripping sensation in my chest, my throat as dry as sand as I waited for my baby to move, or make some noise. She had entered the world so quickly.
The relief that set in after hearing her cry, and watching her move was indescribable. I was helped onto a mountain of towels scattered over the sofa and I remained there, shaking involuntarily as adrenaline coursed through my body, and the umbilical cord continued to flow between us. Giorgia Isabelle, 3.44kg with a head of jet black hair arrived on a Saturday evening, 2 weeks after the first lockdown in the UK, and about an hour after I had handed Anna into the care of my friend.
My lovely midwife that had supported me in my decision to have a home birth ran in the door in time to deliver the placenta. It felt unreal, and as Michele and I lay in bed that night, wide awake, with Giorgia sleeping soundly in the bassinet beside the bed, I missed Anna who was having a sleepover with her little friend.
She would meet her little sister tomorrow.
I honestly don’t think I made peace with Anna’s birth until the months that followed Giorgia’s arrival. They were two very different experiences with the first one having so much intervention, and the second having none at all. Staying at home to have Giorgia was a decision I had made purely because of the pandemic. It turned out though that being at home on my own I learned how powerfully intuitive birth is, and when I was left to feel my way through the experience, my body new exactly what it needed to do without me steering the direction. Both incredible experiences all the same. Two experiences I will ever forget.