Gerda's Birth Story - Baby #3

Updated: Mar 15

It took a while before I started longing to have a newborn in my arms again. To be exact – when baby number two was about to turn four, I realized we are almost out of time and if we wait any longer, it might not happen at all. I was convinced that there must be a baby number three for this family and of course I knew exactly how I wanted the birth to be.

My dreams came true. I fell pregnant soon after the decision was made and it was good to feel all those familiar feels – I even appreciated the fatigue and nausea of the 1st trimester.

After a very hectic and stressful first three months (I was writing exams and had a lot of pressure at work), I was ready to explore my options for caregivers. I found a GP (a man this time) who was open to hearing me out and helping me find ways to have another peaceful homebirth. Some of our challenges were that we lived in a communal set-up at the time and that the doctor was about 40km away from there. Together we found a solution and as the time for this birth approached, I got more and more excited. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there was no estimated due date – just an estimated birth month: September! I should have known that this was not a great situation – in our immediate family alone there were already 7 other birthdays in September and the pressure about how this baby must miss or hit one of those dates increased daily!

According to plan, our little family settled into a house in town that belonged to friends of ours who (conveniently) were traveling around this same time. The clock started ticking. I was trying not to let it get to me, but in hindsight it really did. And then other things started to happen – our friends unexpectedly returned, and we had to move back into our own little house further away from the doctor again. My parents came to wait with us and then had to leave again before baby showed up. The entire birth-plan had to be revised, but I stayed hopeful that somehow my baby and I will get the peaceful home birth we envisioned. Until at one of our last scheduled visits in the last week of September. After doing an ultrasound, the doctor shared his concerns about an aging placenta and a perceived heart murmur. He wanted me to be at the hospital early the next morning for an induction. I was devastated. I cried all the way home. I was out of options. Everybody was anxious because of what the doctor said. I had nothing to stand on. Finally, based off the responsibility I felt to do what is best for my baby, I set my disappointment aside and started to focus on receiving him or her the very next day.

We left home early that morning. The older siblings were very excited, and baby even got an early “happy birthday”-serenade. Although we were adamant to have a similar experience as we had with the previous birth, we did not quite know what to expect and/or how my baby and my body would react to the induction. The doctor did the procedure and we settled to wait. The next few hours were unbelievable – it was as if time came to a halt. The contractions started almost immediately and were very strong right from the word go. Since our request for privacy was honoured, we had freedom to move and find our own groove. About two and a half hours later a nurse came to check on us. She gave me one look and decided to get me to the labour room. It was as if everybody suddenly jumped to action and in their rush to prepare for the birth, hubby and I were momentarily left on our own again. Remembering how well it worked the previous time, he got on the bed behind me to grip my hips during a contraction. Unfortunately, it must have triggered a lever somewhere, because at that same moment the hospital bed started to fold in onto itself. How I got off is unclear, but the next thing I remember was landing on my feet and water streaming down my legs. I was overcome with the urge to push. Back on the bed I remember thinking, “this baby needs to come NOW” followed by one big push… my thinking mind must have seen how the doctor was still struggling to get his gloves on, because baby hesitated and then arrived with rosy, pink cheeks and a healthy glow! It was exactly three hours later.

Daddy was holding his baby girl!

She came into the world and captivated us with her chocolate brown eyes, her belly laugh, her joy for life.

Some years later a friend said, “your family needed this one…”

Two last memories from that hospital labour room – the moment when the doctor said, “we could have had her at home…” and how I kicked at him because he forgot to give me something for pain before the stitching began… yes, I needed quite a few stitches after that powerful uncontrolled push… Even though it wasn’t exactly the way I dreamed about it, we had a great birth and by six that same evening we were back at home with our new-born baby girl in our arms.

Lessons learned from baby #3:

1) Nothing is guaranteed. A birth plan cannot be set in stone because unexpected curve balls ask for flexibility. Hold your goals lightly. In the end you can only control your own heart, your expectations, and your attitude.

2) Doctors are human too. They are not always right. But they also need to feel safe to be able to support you well. And they are mostly doing the best they can.

3) Every birth experience is unique. Just as every baby is their own person. For a mother they become part of her story and her life is richer for having lived through those moments.

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