Free Birth of Dara
Below is a chapter from one of my books - You Can't Get There From Here - I thought I would post for you to read. This one is about the birth of my daughter Dara, a free birth that took place at home with only myself and my husband. Best experience of my life which totally re-defined me and the things I believe in. - April Danann
Giving birth like this brought me into who I am and out of what I had been told about myself.
Free Birth of Dara©
I thought that I should start by telling you about my pregnancy, the last one, with my daughter. There is so much to talk about and this seems a good place to begin as it has been pivotal for everything else in my life. She was only born about 28 months ago, you know how time flies, especially with children, I was thinking just this past week, that I still haven’t gotten around to making her a baby book like her brothers.
So, the pregnancy. Well it was exceptional from start to finish, as is every single day of my life now. I had miscarried several times during the previous year and after the first one, braced myself each time that this too would be over soon. Besides, it was not like I was trying to get pregnant, it was exactly the opposite in fact, yet my body clearly had other plans.
I knew that I was pregnant right away, it was the last day of school for the year, and then I was off for the summer. What stood out right away was that I was queasy, and nauseous, completely unlike my other pregnancies, except one that I had long ago. By day 12-14, I was sick 24 hours a day, not once throwing up, just unable to tolerate smells, nauseous and generally tired. It never let up, even when I woke up in the middle of the night, it was still the same, this feeling of wanting to throw up, nothing moving and just dragging myself around.
As I am generally an active person, and have been consciously working on all aspects of my health and well-being, this was not on. I went about each and every waking hour looking for the trigger and seeking a way to feel better. This was not about to become my experience of pregnancy.
By 10 weeks, I was still pregnant, and had gained about 8 lbs, I was still feeling unwell, but coping. We had rented a house for a week late in July, so were looking forward to spending some time with friends near the sea. At this time, I was still not invested in this pregnancy, as I expected to lose this child as well, and I had told no-one. My husband and I were the only ones who knew and we were keeping it from our son, as he had been so disappointed the time we lost baby Jessie the year before.
I ended up confiding in my friend on our holiday as I who loved food and cooking so much, was constantly walking out of the house for air, and I must have looked a bit ‘off’ as well. By the end of the holiday, I was 11 weeks, and was beginning to wonder if this baby was going to stay and was letting myself get a little excited and even to plan a little.
Then I had a bleed and I knew that this was it, cramping, blood loss and all the usual signs that the pregnancy is over. I had been down this road a few times, and it was going to be ok. I do believe that if something is really not meant to be, then it won’t happen. And I am the sort of person to just get on with it and keep moving forward. The bleed lasted a few days, then stopped, yet I still felt pregnant, actually I knew that I was still pregnant- so what I was really wondering now, was what is going on.
A few of days after we got home from our little holiday, I walked into the local hospital and after explaining the situation carefully to the nurse (that I had been here before, previous miscarriage, DES daughter, blah blah) I found myself sent right up to ultrasound as they usually are very curious to see a bicornate uterus pregnant or otherwise.
I did not even have to wait long. Within about 20 minutes, I had 2 people with me giving instructions and setting up the Ultra Sound equipment.
The doctor was preparing me for the worst, as I knew full well, that in all likelihood, the baby was gone or dead and it was a matter of time for the fetus to leave. To our utter shock and amazement, we all saw the opposite! A clearly beating heart, with a tiny little baby in perfect proportions for about 12 weeks and an empty chamber where the other baby had been.
I now knew that when I was pregnant with my son, the bleeding that I had at 9 weeks, was the same thing, the other baby leaving so that he could live. Each time I had been pregnant with twins, and as my uterus is bicornate (sort of heart shaped with a split in the middle), for some reason one baby supported the other until the placenta was functioning and then this baby left.
This baby was fine, and I was now going to have to get used to the idea of another little one on the way. Even after 12 weeks, I still had very little invested in the pregnancy, I had just been steeling myself to be ready to lose this one too. I went back down to the ground floor to meet my husband and son as he had kept him amused all during the consult- they were downstairs and outside- we subscribe to the thinking that a hospital is no place to be if you are sick, well or otherwise!
My husband was prepared for the worst as well, but was shocked to see me coming around the corner with a smile and waving the familiar ultra sound picture that you get for the trauma you cause your baby by bouncing sound waves off of them. (It is not a practice I endorse as a matter of course), and would only do it under circumstances such as these. It was then and there that I presented the picture to my son and told him that we had a baby on the way.
I quickly received a call back from the hospital with an appointment to come in right away to see the consultant specialist for the department as I was DES (diethyl stilbestrol exposure as a fetus) with a bicornate uterus, had delivered my son by c-section, was close to 40 years of age and most likely this child would be breech like my first one. I dutifully went in to the appointment, mostly curious as to what they would say. I already had my mind made up as to what I wanted and how I was going to proceed, however. This was just a polite nod in their direction, and I also wanted to suss out if anyone had my best interests in mind as well as their own hospital policy and the fear based prenatal scare.
By the time they finally got around to making time to see me for my scheduled appointment, I had been uncomfortably waiting for over 3 hours, unable to walk around because I would lose my seat, my number and my place. I had been into the little office about 5 times, to remind them that I was STILL waiting, as was my husband and son. By the time my turn arrived, all the good humour had left me and I was not going to be beating around the bush with anything. I went into the consulting room, where I was promptly informed that the consultant was unable to attend me and there was in his place his assistant. OK. I then listened as I sat in the chair, as my case was being discussed outside the door where no name was given, I was referred to as the bicornate uterus.
Off to a great start. He came in, did not make eye contact, proceeded to write in the file, as I stated that I would not be interested in having another c-section and tried to get a discussion going. It all fell on deaf ears, without missing a beat he stated that of course I would have a section as that was the only policy in this case. It did not matter that I was very healthy, the baby was healthy, there was no other risk—- and that I had had a hospital infection (MRSA) with my son and was not prepared to go back down that awful road again.
SO, I took my leave and walked out the door while saying to my husband that I was not sure exactly what we were going to do, except that no baby of mine would be born in that hospital or any other, and that I was not having another section as I knew that I would not survive it.
I was formulating my decision as I walked and feeling lighter and better with each step. It was clear, I was having a baby, and my body knew how to do it, so now, once again I found myself in the position of having to allow my body to lead the way and show me how this was to be done.
I started by contacting every midwife in the area, was placed on everyone’s waiting list and informed that they were all completely booked and that at 12 weeks along, I was too late in seeking an appointment, not that I wanted a midwife, but at this point I was unsure of exactly what else to be doing. Personally, I feel that no one was needed to ‘make’ the baby and no one outside of the parents are required at the birth. I did not want anyone else there in my own private space which I consider sacred to the point of holy. If I had to have a midwife during the pregnancy I would make sure that it was someone who was non-invasive and hands off. But, alas, no one surfaced to take me on and that suited me just fine.
I did decide to attend one meeting that was taking place in town, held by the local midwives and this turned out to be the best thing that could happen. By this time I was 14-15 weeks along and feeling a bit anxious to figure out how I was going to have this baby and just having it all sorted in my mind.
Getting back to the morning sickness, I tried eliminating everything, one by one, every couple of days I would cut out something that could be causing this nausea. I was certain it was a food as I have come to find out that EVERYTHING is food, exercise and energy. I had long been suspicious of the Nightshade family of fruits and had not eaten white potatoes in some years as I know how toxic and lacking in nutrition they were. However, up to that point tomato and pepper were still regular features in my diet so I decided to start doing some research and conduct an Elimination Challenge on myself.
I cut out all tomato, peppers and aubergine immediately to see if there would be any effect. Within 24 hours I was feeling better, by 72 hours all nausea had gone, and most of the tiredness. It was like night and day. Even the cold sores which I had long attributed to eating anything with tomato in it, cleared up and my whole outlook brightened. I described it to a colleague during those first few days as being like a fog that had lifted off of my head.
I have heard many people talk about the pregnancy ‘fog’ of forgetfulness, spacey feelings and general brain melt- I thought that this was something that just went along with being pregnant. Now I knew different, my body was trying to deal with this group of foods which caused this specific reaction.
Thus began my extensive research into the Nighshade Family of fruits - and my new found dislike for each one of them. I have since carried on recommending to everyone that will listen to please remove these toxic plants from your diet and never go back to eating them. They contain a neurotoxin (affects the nervous system) and are a cousin to tobacco and are the most anti-spiritual, darkly energetic and vile group of plants that I have ever come across. If you want to know more, please just ask.
If your desire is to grow in consciousness, you must eliminate all Nightshades from your diet
So, now with the nausea cured, and feeling more like myself, I set out to be around only those who were positive about the birthing experience, to read all I could find and to stay as fit as possible. I went to the Home-birthing meeting that I mentioned with no real expectations other than to perhaps be around those of like mind. There was only one other family there, expecting their first child, and we each got a chance to explain our situations. I mentioned that I was there because I could not find a midwife and I wanted a home birth (I gave no other details of why others would want me to have a hospital birth) and that a hospital birth was out of the question and that was final. She (the midwife), looked at me point blank and said - “Free Birth, go and look it up, you did not hear about it here”.
The next morning, I got some time to go online and started doing research on Free Birthing and all the related topics, it opened up a whole new world for me. I am already a person who takes full responsibility for my health and for those of my family. I already follow a proper diet that will enable consciousness to develop and grow as a spiritual human. I exercise daily and would be physically fit- even after all that my body has been through. Now, this concept of Free Birthing- taking responsibility for my own pregnancy, health and the coming birth of my child was exactly the way that I live my life. This was it, we would have a free birth, without any outside interference whatsoever.
Right then and there began my dedication to read and re-read everything about birth- I read all the birth stories that I could find, about every kind of birth and especially those involving breech births and any breech free birth stories. I also worked my way through Spiritual Midwifery again after having read it originally when I was pregnant with Trevor. Now, that I knew I was going to be doing this myself, I felt a huge relief, I am good at doing things myself, I can rely on myself, far more than other people. And I take full responsibility for myself and my decisions. This couldn’t happen to a better person!!
During this time, I was still attending school, working a bit and a small number of people would have known that I was pregnant. I basically told next to no one what my plans were. I was very vague when ever questioned and would mumble something about a midwife and homebirth and quickly change the subject. It was none of anyone’s business, and I was planning to be my own midwife, so that covered all the bases. The couple of people who knew what I was planning, had their own misgivings which made me wary of allowing my personal decisions to be a topic for discussion. One of whom actually phoned me to voice her very clear opinion that I did ‘not know what I was doing’. Women have been giving birth for millennia without doctors, midwives and interference. I was absolutely certain that my body knew what it was doing, even when my mind still had to be convinced.
My husband was as always, supportive of anything that I choose to do and feels the same way - pregnancy and childbirth are natural processes, not physical diseases and do not require assistance or interference. From the beginning our relationship has been based on a mutual knowing and respect of the other persons wishes, we also try to raise our children in that same way.
By this point in time, I knew my body well enough to let it do what it needed to do, and I was going to have my baby, my way. As I do not have a doctor, I did not bother to try to find one and start going through a prenatal programme that would prove to be a waste of time and money for me. I know how to eat well, I take care of myself and I exercise. If I felt that I had a particular requirement for one nutrient or another, I would get it from the organic vegan whole food diet that I eat. I did not know of anything that a visit to the doctor could possibly add to my health and well-being, so that was settled.
I continued to exercise and adjusted my routine as my belly grew, I carried on doing all the things that I had done prior to getting pregnant, only in the last 3 months or so, I was a bit slower. I jogged every morning, did about 10-15 minutes of step aerobics, 20 minutes of weight training, Yoga every other day and walked every where as I did not have a car. I even bounced gently on a rebounder every day and did not vary my routine until I was actually feeling ‘heavy’ and slower. By that time I was nearly full term and had only put on about 21 pounds in weight. I felt fit and well the entire pregnancy and had a very active baby in my tummy. She would sleep though all the jogging and exercise and then keep me up all night bouncing around and stretching!
By about 25 weeks, I knew that the baby was still breech and that in all likelihood would not turn. In my heart, I knew that it has to do with the shape of my uterus, the baby can’t turn, she could only grow and develop head up. There would not be room for her in a head down position. But I still decided to sit upside down for 10 minutes each day to see if the baby would turn at least to give her a chance if she could. I did this mainly to prove to myself that there was not something wrong with me- I had read somewhere that breech babies are born to mothers who are fearful of losing the connection with the baby after the birth and the baby compensates for this by staying up close to the heart. This is nonsense I know, but I did at least entertain every concept of breech babies.
Near the end of my pregnancy, I was looking forward to the baby being born. I started having dreams that I have since come to call ‘conscious’ dreams. I would wake up in the morning knowing that I had dreamed something and that it was strong or important. During the day, insights, flashes, or a full recall would move into my awareness as if it was sliding from one part of my brain to another. Then all of a sudden I would just ‘know’ something. Now, I am an Intuitive and I just ‘know’ a lot of things (LOL), but this was different, in that the information was like a file with many things contained inside. This was to become more and more important as the birth approached.
So now I know what it is like to go over the ‘due’ date and if I were ever to get pregnant again I would avoid this nonsense all together. It is an arbitrary date assigned for the modern convenience of doctors and hospitals with schedules. It should not be adhered to for the rest of us, especially the Unassisted and Home birthers. I was expecting to have the baby around the end of February according to the 40 weeks plan. However as the 40 weeks came and went, I did some reading up on this subject and discovered just how much this is an average and babies come when they are ready- usually anywhere from 36 to 44 weeks. Apparently anything within that time frame is considered normal within the context of an uneventful pregnancy.
But, as all you mothers know, by about 40 weeks, you can’t wait to meet the baby and it would be nice to have it at your convenience. We were living at the time in a summer home that belonged to people who would be coming at the end of June to use it for a few weeks. So we had been looking for a place quite intensely for some time. Then into my 42 week we found a house that would be perfect for us- out in the country, fenced, dry and cosy and lots of light. I kept thinking that as soon as the baby was born we would move…..then woke up one morning and realized the baby was waiting for us to move so that she could be born!
We quickly rang the landlady and as the house was empty and she knew the situation, it was agreed that we move in as soon as possible. In the next 4 days, I packed, cleaned and moved from one house to the other finally getting the last box in late on Sunday night. By this time I was 43 weeks and 4 days. I was tired, yet it felt good to be moved. The sun was shining and the days were warm, so it was all ok. I got up Monday and spent the entire day putting things away and getting organised. My husband had started his 2 weeks holiday that day (as he was certain the baby would come shortly) and I was afraid that he was wasting days off!!
The following day, which was a Tuesday, I awoke at about 7 am to fairly strong contractions. I had been having them off and on for about 6 weeks, so I was not too alarmed at the beginning. But, you know how they all say, it just ‘feels’ different and it did. I could not lie there so I got up and started in with my day, got breakfast ready and was busy unpacking more rooms and boxes of stuff. By 9 o’clock I knew that this was it and I told Max I was sure that the baby was coming today. We had been moved into the house for less then 36 hours.
I moved around between contractions, walking up and down the hallway outside of my bedroom. I had filled the large jacuzzi tub and tried to get in, only to find it way too uncomfortable to lie back or to be still. I am not a sit still kind of person anyway. The only way that I could get through each contraction was to bend over and let my belly hang down, taking the weight off of my back. Pretty soon I had a system worked out where I was holding on to a big chair in a semi squat position with each contraction, but moving around and walking between them.
My water broke in the washroom at about 10 o’clock, but it was just a trickle, and the mucous plug had been coming out for a few weeks, so there wasn’t much of that left. The day and the hours seemed to pass very quickly, before I knew it, it was noon and the neighbour was ringing the doorbell to welcome us to our new place. She knew I was expecting and was quite amused to learn that I was in labour upstairs. During all this time, my husband was keeping Trevor busy with DVD’s (he thought it was great!) and going down to get him food a couple of times.
The night before was one of the nights where I had a ‘conscious’ dream, I woke up quickly with the sharp contraction but I felt as if something had been uploaded within my energy field. I was too busy to pay much attention then, but I could feel it around me. I was also aware of the blue light of Brigid, and distinctly felt that when Max had opened the door to the neighbour at noon, Brigid had arrived too. I was able to completely relax at that point. I have not yet mentioned that one of the bonuses with the location of the new place where we now lived was that Brigids’ birthplace was less that a mile away. I have long felt her presence and only a short time prior to that came to know her as my Mother in a previous life. So for me, my midwife had arrived and that was all I needed.
I did not want Max to leave me, not that I felt fear or anything, just that with each contraction he added counter pressure to my lower back and it alleviated the discomfort. The couple of times that he was not there during a contraction or surge as Spiritual Midwifery would call them, was quite painful, whereas when he was there applying counter pressure, together with the position I was in, there was no real pain, just an intense tightening that I could breathe through and then my body would relax.
By 1 o’clock the contractions were on top of one another. Just rolling through me without much of a break. I kept closing windows and must have been so focused on what was happening to my body, because I did not notice each hour as it went by, and I felt vaguely aware of Max and Trevor. It was a bit dream-like, as if some other part of me was in charge and I was observing, yet I remember each and every detail as if it was yesterday. The next couple of hours went by very quickly with each contraction I could feel my body responding, it was a deeply raw feeling of being taken over.
I recall saying to Max at one point that I had had enough, I was tired of standing in this position all day and that maybe the baby was not going to come out after all. I was starting to get a bit disappointed as the last place I would be going was to a hospital, I felt so strongly that I would not come out alive this time.
Actually, this feeling was given credence just the week before when a woman who was having twins contracted MRSA and died with one of her new babies less than 48 hours or so after the birth, in the local hospital with the only birthing unit between here and Dublin. I shuddered to think of this monster lurking in the hospitals waiting to prey on healthy flesh and to steal souls. I would endure as there was no other option.
During this last 1/2 an hour or so, was when I could feel the uploaded instructions playing out in my mind. I could feel encouragement and precise words as to how to stand or move and adjust my body at this time. I knew by now that this must be the transition phase as it was a ramped up kind of intensity with all my senses on full alert. Have I mentioned that I am an Intuitive? Do you have any idea what this felt like??(LOL) Now I know what it must be like to be a dog or an animal with a multitude of sharp senses. I could feel the forces of the Universe and the breath of the fairies at the same time, all the while a calm part of me was observing my body push out a baby.
And the baby was helping! This much I do know, she had moved down as far as she could in the days previous and her bum was engaged in the pelvis. Now I could feel her sort of going limp and allowing my uterus to push her down and out, it was as if she made herself small or narrow in order to fit through. I had one powerful contraction at about 3:30 and I just felt something slide out, I reached down as I was holding onto the chair with one hand and could not see because of the seat of the chair. My first thought was that well now you’ve done it, your intestines have just fallen out of you. As I reached around I could feel this long thing and asked Max what is it? Of course he answered ‘a baby’. We still laugh at this!
I had already reached around and was holding on to the baby’s bum that was out, Max quickly put his hand down and supported the other side, just as he did my body gave one more big push and out came the rest of her, arms, shoulders and head. I knew from all the reading that I had done, that a breech baby would be born quickly, from the time her bum came out to the time her head was out was a mere minute. There was only time for Max to barely grab hold and out she slid into his and my hands.
The first thing was to get the baby breathing and as we did not want to do the bulb suction thing we had already decided that one of us would suck out her mouth and nose if needed. She was a healthy pink colour from the back and we just started rubbing her down and wrapped her in a warm towel heated on the heater. At this point I still did not know it was a girl, once Max had sucked the mucous out and we had her noisily crying and eyes wide open only then did we unwrap the towel and take a peak and see that we had a little girl. By this time, only about 2-3 minutes had gone by and she was looking around, safely tucked into my arms, at the 3 faces staring at her in wonder.
By now I was sitting on the floor in what looked like a murder scene. Now I know why your body gains up to 50% more blood when pregnant, its because you probably loose it during the birth. There was congealed blood everywhere and I was sitting in the middle of it. The baby’s cord was still attached and I was just going to sit there until I felt that I could move around and the placenta would release. I felt that the placenta would be awhile as the shape of my uterus (like a heart) had caused the placenta to grow into the V part in the middle. Now, in a hospital, this would have been deemed a ‘problem’ and would have required a team of doctors to poke around and ‘assist’ my body in doing what it already knows how to do.
I would wait and when I felt that it had separated, I would pull it out. I lay there as Max cleaned up the room and got me some water and made me comfortable as I fed my baby for a couple of hours. Just being with her and enjoying watching Trevor being completely taken with this new creature is something I will never forget. She was wide awake and very alert, not much crying, did not seem tired or anxious, just hanging out with us and taking it all in. Max went down to cook some food and I endured the first real pain of the day- the after pains of the placenta detaching were awful, but once again this file inside my head moved into my awareness and I knew exactly what was taking place and felt reassured.
By this time we had cut the baby’s cord and had tied it off. We still had not washed or dressed her, she was lying next to me, skin to skin covered on the outside with a warm towel and was dosing or watching each of us as she suckled away. I must have dosed off too because the next thing that I knew it was after 9 pm and I knew to just sit up and gently tug on the cord as I reached up carefully and pulled the placenta out. It was sitting at the top of the cervix, complete and fully intact. I pulled it out by following these instructions inside my mind and placed it in the bowl we had brought upstairs for it. It was actually smaller and more compact than I thought it would be. And the cord was shorter as well.
Now, I could get up and get moving around and get to bed. It was quite a chore to move that first time, I never realized how sore I would be and that I felt as if I had been run over by an elephant or at least sat on by one. Every muscle in my body ached, my stomach muscles were on fire and I could not even sit down. I got quickly cleaned up with Max’s help and got the bed ready for me to recline in with the baby. It was heaven. Even with the aching muscles, I was moving (slowly!) and alert, the baby was perfect and I was climbing into my own bed in my own home with my own baby. It does not get much better than this.
As I am one who always wants the story to go on for a little bit longer to fill in the rest of the details, I will tell you that within 48 hours I was downstairs, baby in a sling, cooking a bit and outside sitting in the spring sunshine. Even though the house was up in slings with everything still in boxes, I fully intended to take it easy those 2 weeks with Max at home and I did. On the Saturday when the baby was 4 days old, our land lady came to the door to see us and as she came in, Dara, who was in her Dad’s arms, saw me coming out from the kitchen and smiled the brightest smile and kept on smiling!! If there had not been other people in the house to witness this, we would have seen it and not believed it. Trevor did not smile like that until he was about 5-6 weeks old, and here was this tiny baby smiling at me in recognition.
We got around to weighing her the day after she was born and she was the same as Trevor had been, about 7 pounds even. I had no tearing or problems and was pretty much back to myself by the end of the week. My joy in this whole experience comes with the fact that my baby who is now nearly 29 months old, has still not ever been poked or prodded, needled or tested, or touched by anyone that does not love her. A gentle entrance into waiting hearts and hands with no interference or discomfort and careful attention paid to her every possible need and request.
From the time she has set foot on this earth her life has been pure, that is the best gift a Mother can give her child. Not only the birth of the child but also the birth of the Mother, into a new level of power and life force. Since this time, I have used this experience as my benchmark, I now tackle each mountain, with the attitude and mindset that if I can give birth in such a way, by trust and complete faith in my body, I can surely accomplish anything. There is no task too hard or problem too difficult anymore. For months and months after Dara was born I swam in this wave of energy. It has subsided somewhat, but can be recalled as needed when the going gets rough.
This is something that every Mother should feel about the birth of her babies, empowered, alive and surging with the force of the Universe. I would do this all again in a heart beat and would not change a thing.