Gerda's Birth Story - Baby #1

Updated: Mar 15

Birth. When I grew up, it was clouded in mystery… in the same way that nobody talked about how the baby got there in the first place. Pregnancy was whispered about and there were lots of big-eyed knowing looks between the aunties in the room… (Let me just clarify – the internet wasn’t a thing yet back then.) Suffice it to say that when I fell pregnant with my first baby, I was clueless… and unfortunately, I have to confess that I remained that way – looking at the experts to tell me what to do, when to do it and how it is done… I was lucky. I was healthy and had no obvious issues that indicated the need for a C-section. This was almost 28 years ago. Of course I relied heavily on the gynaecologist and his experience to guide me and my baby safely through this “unspoken about” event – I actually wanted to just close my eyes until it was all over.


And then I found “The womanly art of breastfeeding” in the public library. I had no particular feeling about how I wanted to feed my baby, although something in me always leaned more towards the no fuss, least effort, most natural ways of doing anything. So I guess in this case, I was interested, because it felt natural. (And I’ve seen what formula cost – even in those days…)


This. Book. Changed. My. Life. And my parenting.

A fire was lit inside of me – there was a voice of inner wisdom that wanted to be heard and it got my attention. But it was a voice I had to discover and it came to me slowly and gently, nudging me to trust what is inside and follow where it leads.


I read “The womanly art of breastfeeding” in the last week of my first pregnancy – in fact, it was during the 8 days

between my due date and the day I gave birth to my son. It made me excited, gave me confidence and invited me into the journey called motherhood. I saw my gynaecologist on the Monday, two days after my due date. He was kind and reassuring, but very clear that if I don’t go into labour before the next Monday, he will have to do something to make it happen. I didn’t like the feeling of that and hoped and prayed for baby to come by itself. Sunday mornin


g came and still nothing. I was tired and disappointed, so I stayed in bed a bit longer. I felt weird and had funny sensations all morning that could or could not have been contractions… I mean, how do you know when you don’t know...? Finally, after “timing” these for a bit, we decided, this must be it and we better get ourselves

to the hospital where they will tell us what to do. And they did. I went through all the “standard procedures” of the early 90’s – without any explanations or me questioning it at all… it did include several unmentionables like an enema and being confined to the bed with constant foetal monitoring.

I was only 2 cm’s dilated when we got there and I settled myself comfortably on the bed to listen to my music and finish my cross-stitching project for the baby room. And then everything changed. I


was swept up in a kind of pain unlike anything I have ever experienced before and as the waves kept coming, I found it harder and harder to breath. I panicked, hyperventilated and remember vaguely hearing the decisions being made over me. It all progressed mechanically from there – first the epidural, then the commands to push, the episiotomy, the forceps, the rushing away of my baby boy… I remember lying there, shaking uncontrollably, when the nurse came to tell me - he weighs 3.36kg, he

measures 50cm, and his eyelashes are one centimetre long. And then they put him in my arms – he was crying – I spoke to him. Responding to the sound of my voice, he turned his dark brown eyes towards me – and I drowned. My baby was here. I remember feeling that this is what I’ve been made for. The circle was complete.



My firstborn was delivered from me in a hospital, many years ago. On Mother’s day! After the birth we spent two more nights there. I was happy that it was over. My being was in complete shock after what was considered a very “normal” birth experience and I went home totally unprepared for the time it was going to take for my body to heal. I was thankful that my mom came to run the household and drink tea with the aunties from the congregation who were eager to love on their new, young pastor’s young wife and their sweet little baby. (Being stubborn, for the first two weeks I never got out of my pajama’s and stayed in the bedroom, snuggling with my newborn…) Breastfeeding came to us without

a struggle. Looking back, I realize just how lucky I was. I was overwhelmed by the hugeness of having become a mother, but my instincts kicked in with great fanfare and I was prepared to give my life to protect and nurture and nourish and love this precious tiny human being that was entrusted to me. My La Leche League book was right next to my bed to answer the questions that came up around every corner.


And then


there was the morning my mom gently encouraged us to stop cooing and fussing

with night-time feeds and diaper changes… it literally changed everything… for everybody! We were a happy little family. And everything went really well. Parenthood suited us. For the first year or two, I didn’t think too much about my experience in the hospital and the way the birth of our son was handled “on our behalf” - until I fell pregnant with baby number two. It quickly became very clear to me – this time I want it to be different. The journey towards an empowering birth experience was about to begin. I was finally ready to trust my inner voice.


Lessons learned from baby #1:

1) Find your inner voice. Practise listening to it. Learn to trust it. Everything you need is inside of you. Your body. Your baby.

2) Educate yourself. Educate yourself. Educate yourself.

3) Find a support person who has the knowledge and experience to journey with you – through pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Nobody expects that you do this on your own. You and your partner need a person in your corner. Reach out – you deserve it.




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