A VBAC Journey and the birth of my 4.92kg baby girl

I had such a lovely experience at Genesis and if it can help someone else have the same, then that would be amazing.

My big, beautiful vbac baby birth story. My precious daughter was a big baby at 4.92kg.  It is such an empowering feeling for me to have birthed her naturally because with my c-section, as the gynae took my first daughter out, before she had even been weighed, he told me that there was no way I would’ve been able to birth a baby of her size naturally and she weighed only 4.5kg.

My vbac journey began a few months after my first daughter was born in March 2016. I began doing research and it soon became clear that Genesis was the place for me.

My team was so important to me and, I believe, one of the primary reasons my VBAC was a success. From the very start my midwives, Sarah and Elrika, made me feel so calm and in control and, crucially, that birth was not something to be feared or a medical complaint, but something beautiful and natural. They also put me in touch with other people who helped me in my journey.

Firstly – Sally Baker, who helped me deal with the trauma and issues that arose from my previous birth, an unnecessary c-section. I will admit I was skeptical at first as I’ve never been for any type of counseling before, but it really made a huge difference and I would recommend it to any woman who isn’t completely happy with her birth experience.

Secondly, a chiropractor, Dr David Peyton, who worked wonders on my hips and back and thirdly my amazing doula, Tertia Alkema Vd Merwe, who was an absolute rock for me and whose presence, and massages, made getting through contractions so much easier. On a serious note, Tertia made a huge difference in my journey, words simply cannot do her role justice. Throughout my journey her calm presence helped keep me grounded and I have no doubt it would not have been the same without her – she’s an earthside angel.

Now for the nitty gritty. At 40+3 on the Saturday night I had a few oddly-spaced contractions and said to my husband that maybe something was happening, but they went away and I dismissed them. I then started having more regular contractions from around 3:30am. They weren’t terribly painful and were about ten minutes apart. This continued until about 9:30am when everything suddenly slowed and became more irregular. I had also started to lose my mucous plug. I messaged Sarah and Tertia and just relaxed for the rest of the day as they came and went. Monday morning I had a check up with Sarah and the contractions were starting to come more regularly, but still only at 10 minute intervals, so I went home and relaxed. Luckily, my husband had taken the day off work and so he played with our daughter and let me sleep and rest.

By Monday evening things were heating up and, although the contractions weren’t getting much closer, they were becoming more intense. I couldn’t sleep and my husband stayed up with me, supporting me through each one. By around 2am I was really feeling overwhelmed and called Tertia, who agreed to come to my home. She arrived a bit later and, from the second she was there, I felt more relaxed and as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I carried on labouring at home until around 10:30am on Tuesday morning when Sarah and Tertia suggested that I go in to Genesis. We arrived at Genesis at 11:30 – not a fun car ride – thank goodness for the TENS machine from Tertia – and went straight into the room, where Sarah checked me out and to my surprise, and utter relief, I was already 8cm dilated.

My contractions started heating up at this point and for a few minutes I really lost it. I felt a bit woozy and remember having one contraction where I was leaning over the baby crib and I questioned whether I could do it. My husband was holding my hand and Sarah was kneeling monitoring baby quickly and I just remember saying I can’t. I felt exhausted. Afterwards, in chatting to Sarah, she said that I was in transition at this point and it’s quite common to feel like this.

Luckily the birth pool was now ready for me to get in and the sense of relief I felt when I did is beyond description. I love being in water generally – I am a water baby – but the relief I felt was palpable. It’s not as if the intensity of the contractions lessened or disappeared, but all of a sudden they felt manageable and I felt more in control. In the meantime my husband and Tertia had also, at some point, managed to hang my birth affirmations, light candles and set up my music and I could finally notice all of them. I just felt the tension leave and everything felt good. My birth affirmations really helped me. I had a few that spoke to me during the labour particularly – ‘Your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because they are you’, ‘I can do anything for a minute’ and ‘My body knows how to birth this baby, just as my body knew how to grow this baby’. 

Very soon after I had got into the water I felt the urge to push and Sarah said I could push if I wanted. I tried to see if I was more comfortable on my knees, but this felt really awkward for me and I felt a lot of pressure. I landed up feeling the most comfortable sitting up and bracing my legs against the sides. Pushing was tough and I completely lost all sense of time at this point – in a good way though. After the labour, speaking to my husband and Sarah, I was in the water for two hours and some of my contractions were close to 15 minutes apart. If they had told me that I was there for half an hour – I would have believed them. It’s amazing how the mind works to protect you.

Tertia and Sarah kept encouraging me to work with my body and trust the urges I was feeling and this really helped. My husband was also a real star and he became a rock for me. He kept whispering encouragement to me and it helped keep me going. Elrika had also arrived at some point, and I just felt the most amazing sense of peace in the room. No one was rushed or stressed, everyone was smiling and, even though it felt intense, I felt so content. I know that must sound contradictory, but that was my reality.

I pushed for a while and, at some stage, Tertia encouraged me to move to the narrower part of the bath so that I had more traction to brace my feet against and this helped a lot. Quite soon after this I could feel her crowning. To my surprise – now and I even remember thinking this during labour – I didn’t really experience the ring of fire – I felt a stretching feeling – but not nearly as intense as expected. I had built this up so much in my mind and I was actually worried about it.

You hear so many people speak about how intense and painful it is and afterwards this made me think – your labour is going to be your own – you can hear and speak to other people and this is key and really helps – but don’t assume that your labour is going to be like theirs.

 

Before I knew it her head was out and then very soon she was on my chest. The euphoria at this moment was infinite. As she lay on my chest while we waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing, I felt so powerful and intrinsically WOMAN (this has to be in caps, because that’s how empowered I felt and still feel). At this point Sarah remarked that she was a big baby and she reckoned probably over 4kg.

We all laughed and took some photos and then after a while, I delivered the placenta, wow – what an amazing organ.

I got out the bath and went over to the bed where they quickly checked me. I had a small tear, which Elrika stitched for me. I’m a real baby about needles – besides my c-section – these are the first stitches I have ever had. I think I was more unhappy and moaned about the stitches more than anything else during labour.

They then took the baby to weigh her and to our surprise not only was she over 4kg, but was a whopping 4.92kg. Sarah then gave me my baby and we enjoyed some precious cuddles. She latched for the first time and I vividly remember lying in the bed, watching everyone around me, and thinking how lucky I am and how I wouldn’t change a step of my journey because it all got me to this point.

 

And that’s my story – our precious Lily Emma was born at 14:57pm on the 8 of May 2018, weighing 4.92kg and measuring 57cm. I will never be able to convey my thanks to Sarah, Elrika, Tertia and my husband. They were invaluable and their part in my journey was life changing.

Even now, I can’t stop thinking about the entire experience. It was such a healing and beautiful experience and I find myself replaying it all the time, and wishing that more woman could experience it. I have had some negative reactions from people after her birth, and I wish that more people would educate themselves about birthing naturally and with midwives and doulas.

To anyone who is on this journey, I wish you all the best and can promise you that it is so worth it and you are starting in the right place by considering Genesis. Love and light

Kind regards
Kirsten Raath


Private Midwives, Elrika Knoetze and Sarah Jones, with baby Lily Emma at the postnatal follow up consultation.