Hellena Post - Creatrix
I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.
Monday, December 28, 2009
How to work towards an empowered caesarean Part 2
On the afternoon of the 27th of November I went into gentle labour, and hung out with Currawong slowly getting ready, resting between expansions, and being gently sexual. Later that night it hotted up and I felt like the baby/ies were gonna come before my midwives even got there. I made Currawong call everyone over, and wake two fellow community members to help him cart water for me. I was riding the expansions like I'd ride an orgasm, and my whole family and midwives and two community members were holding space for me in a totally honourable way. My waters broke while I was in the birthing pool, and the plug popped like a champagne cork against the pool. But I could only get to a certain point, which felt to me like it was just one step behind transition, and could go no further. My beautiful midwives gave me the time and space to come to my own conclusions within safe limits, and also gave me many suggestions about how to birth a breech baby, which it still was, not having miraculously turned at the last minute. It was a beautiful time, a fellow community member stroked my face in the pool and told me that I WAS the goddess, she also fed kids and made sure that everyone was ok. My mum was there gently in the background giving me her rock like support like she always has. All my kids were looking forward to meeting their new sibling. I faced one of my fears – to have expansions out of the water – and found it wasn't that bad. We hung a rope from the ceiling and I bounced on a ball, we walked around outside and did the labyrinth in our back yard. For the first time in my birthing history I masturbated through expansions, and found that this helped a lot. I also got into some raw sex with Currawong hoping this would help things along. My midwives were there the whole time, checking me and my baby/ies, making sure everything was safe.
At around 11 in the morning on the 28th of November, I finally faced the fact that my baby/ies weren't going to come at home, and we had to transfer to hospital. You know how in hindsight things make so much more sense than you thought at the time? Well for the first time in our birthing history Currawong had made a bed with a plastic sheet underneath in our magic bus, and all that was left was to pack a bag and go. That trip down to Flinders hospital was the longest and scariest of my life. Another fear faced. To have to transfer to hospital and be driven whilst in childbirth. One of the midwives came with me to hold my hand while Currawong and my big daughter sat in the front and drove, and another midwife met us there and stayed with my big girl while Currawong and my hand-holding midwife went in.
And from the moment I walked into the hospital, everyone just smiled at me. The front desk person who had been warned I was coming told me how calm I looked and was surprised I'd been in labour for the past 19 hours. Everyone in the halls smiled at me, and we got swept straight away into a room where they gave me gas and found out what details they needed, took off my birthing plan to read, (HA! Oh to have been a fly on the wall when they read THAT one...), and got me ready for the hospital process. The head obstetritian just happened to be available, and this tall strapping fella who reminded me of one of my brothers gave me an ultrasound and described to me respectfully and gently everything he was doing. He told me that I had just the one baby, and that the cord was around his neck with a high placenta, and that the only way he was going to come out into the world without dying was to have a caesarean. It was just as well that he hadn't engaged in the birth canal fully, because the pull would probably have strangled him. By this time I was so profusely greatful that the end was in sight, and that I couldn't have done it on my own, and that they were all THERE and being so sweet to me, that I just thanked him again and again, and everyone else who I came into contact with. Thanked them for being there, thanked them for studying so hard so they knew what to do, and thanked them for helping me. On this amazing slide through the hospital system, I also just happened to be there when the surgery was available, so we went straight in, and I found myself in a room full of smiling people who all introduced themselves to me and told me what their role was. The paediatrician shook my hand and told me that if all went well he wouldn't be touching me or my baby, to which I gave him profound thanks, and the anesthetist looked like a total dude. I thanked them all in as many ways as I could think of, and I think they were a bit surprised (especially after reading my birth plan) at how effusively greatful this strapping hippy earth mother type was being. I even managed to crack a joke when my spine was having a needle put into it and he told me it would feel like an ant bite. “What sort of ant?” I asked in a droll fashion. They all laughed. While all this was happening, the head obstetritian was in the corner on a computer googling 'placenta, lotus birth', and getting ready to be part of his first lotus birth, no questions asked, and no judgement given. My midwife was allowed in which I found out later was NOT the norm, and they seated Currawong next to me and told him he could look at what was happening if he wanted. The midwife who was with me told me later that I'd got the Gold Card treatment, and that she'd never before seen a caesarean where the staff were wanting to stand so close to the mother. I had a hospital midwife behind me, stroking my hair while it was all happening.
Another fear faced – having a caesarean. It was freaky. Made so much less freaky by the respectful and gentle attitudes around me, but freaky nonetheless. From the moment the anasthetic hit me I shook uncontrollably, teeth rattling in my head. Most of it is a bit of a blur because I was so totally focused on the person inside me and when he was going to be in my arms. There was a sheet between them and me, and to this day, the most traumatic part of the whole experience was hearing him cry, and not being able to touch and comfort him instantly. Still. Because I was having a lotus birth, they only held him till my placenta was out, and gave him straight to me then, which was only about 3 minutes, and by all accounts a HUGELY shorter time between birth and arms than most other women having a caesarean experience. And when he was handed to me I only had one arm with which to hold him as the other was strapped down with a drip, and he was laid across my chest with his head on my lips. After gusty screaming during the separation, he laid face down with his hands by the side of his face, and settled down to almost sleep, as soon as my lips touched his head and I murmured a welcome to him. And he didn't leave my arms except for when Currawong or my family held him for about 6 weeks afterwards.
And I'm positive that this experience was so positive BECAUSE I'd birthed as much as I could at home powerfully, sexually and spiritually, doing the labyrinth and the rest and BECAUSE I didn't know what the outcome would be before it happened and I walked into the experience open hearted and expecting the best ( I may have been tempted to book in for a caesarean if I knew before hand that it was the only way he was coming out ), and BECAUSE I'd written such a kick-arse birthing plan before it happened, and BECAUSE I trusted in my body and my life experience and surrendered to the experience. All these factors combined just picked me up on a big beautiful wave that bore me through the whole hospital experience.
Healing took a long time. Gone forever were my illusions about caesareans being an 'easy' option. I went into the hospital a vibrant young woman, and came out middle aged. I had less patience than usual, felt like I'd gone back to my teen years in terms of insecurity and having a low body image, and things that I'd usually let slide made me ravenously angry. In lots of ways I was depressed, insecure, and low. About 5 months down the track I self diagnosed Post Natal Depression from the Edinburgh scale, and at least felt like I had somewhere to start in making it right.
I sought a consultation with Russel, the Ayurvedic Masseuse, and he explained to me that my major meridian had been cut, which resulted in symptoms very close to post natal depression. He also said that the scalpel being steel was a conductor, so whatever energy the surgeon had, or mood they were in, was left as a memory in my body. He gave me a massage and showed me how to arch my fingers over the scar to heal the meridian. And then I was fortunate enough to meet the beautiful Andrea Hart, acupuncturist, who happens to be one of the few acupuncturists in the country who knew about how to heal caesareans, as she'd had one herself when learning. She went on to confirm what Russel said, as well as add to the meridian information the knowledge that where they put spinal needles in caesareans, is a place that acupuncturists never go near, as it locks off the power to the bottom half of your body. Sessions with her helped to restore my 'chi', as well as repair the damage done by the spinal and the cut. I also sought a few sessions with a psychologist, who showed me some ways to help heal my head. But I'd have to say that the best healing occurred when 4 of our children and my mother got whooping cough, all moved into our house, and all needed love. Currawong and I were going through one of the roughest patches we'd had in a long time before whooping cough hit. And realised that whooping cough was all about love and we had to put our fighting in our back pockets. We noticed that the kids got sicker when we fought, and that old saying 'fake it till you make it' proved true. By the time whooping cough was over we were in love again, and because the fear had been so strong, other issues like post natal depression paled into insignificance. On Balthazar's first birthday I realised that I was back to my old self, fit and strong again, and all the issues around a caesarean had abated.
We sat around our home with the people who were at our birth and talked about what had happened, how we realised that the caesarean had taken over Balthazar's birth story, and we hadn't talked about the powerful birthing at home. We reclaimed our home birth, and when Currawong was crying and talking about the most intense part of Balthazar's birth for him – which was driving me safely to the hospital – a tree branch cracked and broke outside our house, and it felt like the experience was released. We realised that we'd all been enriched by the experience, and learnt so much that the whole birth became a valuable nugget of learning. Some of my deepest birthing fears had been faced, and we were all stronger and wiser for the experience. Thank you Balthazar, and thank you my beautiful and strongly loving partner and family, and thank you to our community......