It was the morning after my due date so to stay active and prepare for labour I agreed to play a game with my two children where one of the players had to dance… And strangely still most of the times I was the one who was dancing. So each time the music was on I had to spin like a crazy and my children found it rather entertaining. During one of the verses I felt clearly the head of baby descending and a part of the mucus plug coming out. As I felt these things happening, I probably looked slightly insane. Then, in the early afternoon, we went on a trip and I had packed a bag with tons of food and unnecessary things, and for three hours I watched my children entertaining themselves in the playground and park. As they called, “Mom, come to see something!” I did not hesitate as usual during pregnancy and rushed to them. I felt that every step brings me closer to the beginning and the end! During the walk I started to feel slightly different, but still did not care too much about it. It felt like passing through a different state of mind in the company of my children.
When we came home, I felt a bit sick, so I really wanted the children to go to bed quickly. Around 8pm I started to feel the first tightenings, every 12 to 15 minutes. I knew this was beginning of labour, but I couldn’t tell know how long it would take, so I didn’t even text my husband Marcin not to make him panic. I watched a calm, two-and-a-half-hour long movie, changing the position from time to time as the contractions didn’t stop, although they didn’t become more frequent or intense.
When my beloved husband came back around 11pm, I let him know that in a day he would be able to hold his new baby and he was very happy.
When Marcin came and talked to me, the contractions stopped (as it usually happens when something or someone new appears at birth) so soon we went to sleep.
Half an hour latter Marcin fell asleep and my contractions came back, which made me happy, but they were stronger than before, so it was getting harder to “nest” in bed. At 3am contractions got really hard and poor Marcin woke up, and then I informed that he is not going to next today. I also wrote to my client, whom I met two days ago, that I was in labour today and will not be able to come to help her in the near future as I was her doula. This probably made me take this birth seriously! I wanted to move to labour in the other room, but my husband encouraged me to stay in the bedroom and went to sleep, which calmed me down. I took the birth ball, but didn’t have strength to sit on it vertically, so I invented my own movements to help me deal with contractions laying down. I slept minutes in between them and when a contraction came, it seemed to me as I was swimming or doing something else…
Every time I opened one eye and saw our beautiful mandala hanging on the wall and sleeping Marcin I felt comfort, security and everything made sense to me. And so I was labouring on. In a different state of consciousness I “slept” through some of the contractions between 5 and 7am.
At 7am I wrote to my doula that I was in labour, but that I did not want her to rush, I also felt that I had to get up and then the cascade of contraction literally attacked my body. I had to move, twist, crouch and bend not only during them but also in between. I had to let my hair down. Every visit to the toilet to wee literally scattered me from inside. I was getting mad, but at one point I had everything under control despite the amok. I knew what was going on and was not scared. This was completely different comparing to my previous births, when someone constantly talked, did and decided for us, and we were giving into it. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of these births, or maybe it is good? This amok was something else, it was not like drilling holes in the brain, but rather sharpening awareness and senses. So far, I’ve only read about such mental states.
I told Marcin around 8am that I want a birthing pool so he prepared it for me. I whimpered something about the cold water, but got in right away. Children went in with me, they had already woken up and were so excited. It didn’t make any difference to me, but I think Marcin felt sorry for me that I don’t have enough space and somehow persuaded them to get out of the pool.
Then I reached the transition phase, sat down and suddenly felt like an animal, in a good sense, of course! For a few minutes everything calmed down and I was still zoned out. I remember everything perfectly and it’s amazing. I was swaying to the music that came from the living room. And suddenly: bah! Pushing stage.
Marcin asked if he should call the midwife and I said yes, but only tell her that labour is progressing so she wouldn’t come straight away. In a minute, however, I started to shout, which seemed to be overwhelming my husband, and he rang midwife second time, though, as he admitted later, he didn’t know what she was supposed to do.
The contractions took me away like a tornado, but everything was going on by itself, I did not put any effort into it, I just remembered not to shout too much to avoid getting a sore throat!
Children were watching a cartoon. At one point, I felt – that was it I couldn’t do it anymore! I wanted to get myself out of it! But something motivated me to check where baby’s head is and to touch it with my fingers. It was just there… And it will be out in a moment. What a relief! I was kneeling, holding his head, muttering something and in a few seconds my eyes saw a pale pink body and a silver cord under the water. Jesus, there he is! But then, of course, I was still far away from some rational motherly joy. I instinctively picked up my baby and assessed his health. It seemed to me that he didn’t move, nor breathe. Which was absurd because the baby had already made a little cry which my husband heard. “Who is it?” I asked about his sex. Then, after lifting his leg, I decided that the existence of the penis should indicate that we have another son! Our son Gustaw was born around 8.30am.
Our children, Feliks and Lila, came, they went crazy from happiness and excitement and I began to slowly return to normality. Kasia, my doula, came, Marcin helped me out of the pool and then placenta was born. My husband took it, wrapped it in some sheets and we went to bed together. I held my naked baby close to me. I do not remember when exactly but somehow shortly after he started to breastfeed very well. Soon midwife arrived and our eldest son triumphantly announced her on the doorstep: “You are too late!” And I relaxed in relief that only now the check up begins, not an hour earlier, that is, my plan succeeded perfectly. It was a bit uncomfortable to have our baby tied to the placenta on a quite short umbilical cord and I couldn’t move properly. As nothing was pulsating anymore we decided to cut the magic cord. Midwife took some notes, talked to us, told us to put a hat on baby, she weighed him and wanted to check if I hadn’t torn, but I did not consent to it. I said if in the evening I feel the tear is serious, I will call her, but I never did. Then she went.
Read this story in Polish.
Maria Block is a postnatal doula and a mum of three, a nine year old boy Feliks, a seven year old girl Lila and 14 months old baby boy Gustaw. While her eldest two children were born in hospital in Poland, the youngest one was born at home in Croydon in February 2017. Maria unschools her children and they love life as much as possible. At the moment Maria’s main focus is fertility doula course as she is fascinated with it.