“I was 41 years’ old and had been told I wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally.”

Julia Rose Taylor, born at Genesis Clinic on 14 November 2009

birthjennyI was 41 years’ old and had been told I wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally. I decided against any interventions, so had been off the pill for about a year, when I found out I was pregnant. Unexpectedly. After a romantic weekend in the Magaliesburg with my hubby, Paul. We stayed in Rose Cottage, which explains our daughter’s middle name Julia Rose.  I battled the medical community to be treated like any other mom-to-be, and not have them freak out, or be over-cautious, due to my “advanced age”. The first gynae I called asked my age, and then gasped audibly. I put the phone down. I found Dr Naghmana Yasmeen on the Genesis site, and met with her. She was open-minded, and understanding when I refused the “triple blood test”, amniocentesis, a planned caesarian, induced labour, and all the other nonsense that comes with being an older mom, and the increasing medicalisation of birth. What she did insist on was a foetal anomaly scan at 22 weeks’, which was 90 minutes of fascination with a wonderful woman, Dr Ayesha Patel, at Garden City Clinic. All my scan results were plugged into her PC, which produced graphs showing everything as “normal”. Cue a sigh of relief.
I believe childbirth is one of the most natural, primal, awe-inspiring life events available to us, and should be carefully and consciously prepared for, to ensure the best outcome for mother and child. So daily yoga, meditation and chanting was my regime, along with a lot of journaling and mental, emotional, spiritual and physical preparation. I had the “Calm birth” book and CD, a number of other books about natural pregnancy, labour and birth, yoga in pregnancy, and the “In the womb” DVD, which was wonderful input to what was going on in my belly. Paul even got onto the floor and did some of the meditations with me! What a wonderful guy.
At about 36 weeks’, I made the decision to use a midwife and doula for my birth at Genesis, instead of my gynaecologist. I wanted someone there for the entire birth. Dr Yasmeen was very understanding, having read the double-sided, single-spaced, extremely detailed birth plan Paul and I agreed on. She put me in touch with Ruwaida Moola, a midwife practicing at Genesis. I had 2 sessions with her before the birth.
By 14th November 2009 I was 38 weeks’ pregnant, and it had been a very hot week. I was feeling restless, and went to Cresta for some last-minute baby things. Part of my nesting phase, I think. I literally walked the mall flat, from one end to the other. When I got into my car it said 32-degrees. It was boiling hot! When I got home mid-afternoon I stripped off and got into the pool for a wallow. I wasn’t feeling great, so I went for a lie-down, but I couldn’t get comfortable. At about 4pm I thought I should get into the bath; I just couldn’t settle down. I was also feeling a lot of pressure “down there”. The bath felt really good, but it didn’t help. I called Ruwaida, my midwife, and when she answered the phone I burst into tears. I was scared and didn’t know what to do. She reassured me, said get back into the bath for half-an-hour, and then call her back. Which I did.
While I was in the bath my waters broke. Such a strange feeling. I knew something was happening. When I called Ruwaida back at about 5pm, she said I must walk up and down the passage for half-an-hour. I tried doing this, but I was feeling a bit wobbly and very uncomfortable. I told her it was time, and I needed to get to the clinic. Paul and I looked at each other – this was really happening! All the thinking and planning and preparation for this major life event, and it was finally happening. I called my doula, Laura, who said she’d meet me at Genesis. Paul grabbed the bag with all my goodies – TENS machine, calming CDs, drinks and snacks for labour, baby necessities – we got in the car, and off we went.
Paul was very calm and comforting, keeping me sane all the way there. Fortunately the clinic is only 15 minutes from home. When we got to Genesis, at 6pm, I was very wobbly on my feet, and had to hang onto Paul’s arm to get to the room. We were immediately shown into Lavender, and everyone had big smiles on their faces. Ruwaida and Laura were both there already, which was a big relief. The lights were dimmed down low, Laura lit some essential oils, and Ruwaida performed a quick check to see how I was doing. Paul helped to attached the TENS machine to my back, which sent little shivers down my spine. A lovely distraction from the pain. Then he put on one of my favourite CDs, quite loud – Deep Forest. It’s very primal, with lots of drumming and chanting. Perfect for labour!
Contractions were coming regularly now, and after a “test push” on the bed so I could see what it felt like to bear down, I was helped onto the floor to lean over a big exercise ball, with a pad beneath my knees. I was just wearing a little tank top – no dignity for a laboring mom-to-be. I felt very safe, though, so it didn’t bother me. Every time a contraction came, Laura would get right into my face and say “blow the pain away”, Ruwaida would say “It’s fantastic! It’s bringing you closer to your baby!”, and I would press the button to increase the TENS machine’s intensity. Paul was helping by rubbing my lower back and saying reassuring things. I can’t remember what they were, but they really helped. He also helped me drink cold juice and water, which was very refreshing. All three of them were like my own personal cheerleading team. It was like they’d done this together before – no one got in each other’s way. Ruwaida was very clear on when I needed to push, and when I needed to stop. I listened very carefully to her, and followed her lead. I’m not normally a good listener, but that night I excelled!
When the pain got a bit much, and the contractions closer together, it was about 9pm by then, we decided I should get into the big stone bath built-in to the floor. It was deep and very hot, and as soon as I got in, I felt my whole body relax and open, like a flower. Paul was sponging off my face with a cool washcloth, and all three of them were encouraging me all the time. Ruwaida brought out her strawberry Super C’s, which were wonderful – cool and very sweet. Just the energy boost I needed. I was moving around quite a lot in the bath, from my knees to my back, and over again. The water really helped support me. All of a sudden the contractions got really hectic, and I had this strong urge to just puuuuuush. I’m quite vocal, and not very inhibited, which really helped, because I started grunting and moaning loudly with each new contraction. It really helped. I felt like a hugely powerful earth mother, strong and capable and vast. Completely in tune with Mother Earth. I felt like I was doing what women through the ages had been doing – bringing my child into the world. Just me and my body. No medical intervention.
Ruwaida had put her surgical pack on the edge of the bath earlier, and she opened it now. I saw a gleam of silver in the dim light. I remember saying “No!”, very loudly, as I had been very clear about not wanting an epiosiotomy. She laughed and said she needed something to cut the umbilical cord. This was just the impetus I needed to give one last huge grunt and push, and out slipped my baby girl at 10.05pm. Just 4 hours after we’d arrived. She was immediately put onto my chest, crying lustily. She was covered in slimy goop, and her umbilical cord throbbed a little. I remember looking at Paul, and thinking WOW. We left her on my chest until the cord stopped throbbing, and then Paul cut the cord himself. I was so proud of what we’d accomplished! No medication, no intervention, no cutting, no tearing. Completely natural, as God intended. Things were a little hazy for me after that. I know I got a Pitocin injection to help deliver my placenta, and when it came out, it gleamed scarlet in the dim light. It was beautiful and gory at the same time. It was what had held and grown my baby for 38 long weeks, and I remember feeling grateful to it.
I was helped out the bath and into a lovely warm shower, and I remember being surprised at how much blood there was. All pretty and red and flowing out of me. Nothing to worry about, just my body getting rid of the last of the childbirth experience. I then got into the bed, and was handed my baby girl, who immediately started rooting for my breast. We were told her AGPAR scores were 9 and 10, which was wonderfully reassuring. I have a photo taken of me just as we lay in the bed together, and I’m grinning widely from ear to ear. Happy mommy.
Here is proud Dad, Paul, holding his baby girl, Julia.
I stayed in Genesis for 2 nights, with Paul making frequent trips home to look after our dog and cat menagerie. We took a week to bathe our baby, as we wanted her to get the full benefit of the “baby butter” (as Laura called it) on her skin. And we took another few weeks to name her. We eventually decided on Julia Rose, which is a perfect fit for our little darling. She’s a very calm, content and happy little soul, which we attribute to the calm pregnancy I had, as well as to the wonderfully positive birth experience we had at Genesis.
We’ve been going to Claire Bracher at the Genesis Baby Clinic since Julia was 5 days old, and every time we go there, I’m reminded of the fact that we had the perfect birth experience there. Every chance I get, I recommend Genesis, Ruwaida and Laura to pregnant women I meet. My wish is that every expectant mom can such a wonderful, positive and affirming birth experience. And such a perfect start to parenthood.

Written by mom, Jenny Taylor.