Jett’s Birth Story
Today is Thursday 15 April 2010, a little over two days since the most amazing experience of my life. God saw it fit for me to be the vessel for 40 weeks, 4 days for our little baby boy and bestowed upon me the privilege of participating in the birth of Jett James Self. I am overwhelmed by all the incredible emotions within me… So many new feelings I have never experienced before and which English has not been able to name so instead, I am going to summarise the last day I was granted to harbour the life inside of me, the life of our unborn child.
I had my first of two acupuncture sessions scheduled for today at 10:00, Monday 12 April 2010. I had my first session on Saturday, 10 April 2010 as our baby was due on 9 April 2010 and I wanted to be proactive in helping our baby on his way to this world. After my 10:00 session I felt a bit tired but didn’t have much time to rest as I needed to run a few errands, just in case baby came and so I wouldn’t have to worry about these errands at a later stage.
I took Joyce, our domestic worker to the police station to certify her ID and then I took her to the bank as she needed a letter from them. By the time I had finished running these errands, it was time for me to head off for my second session of acupuncture. The session ended at about 15:00 and by the time I got home it was almost 16:00. On arriving home, I immediately got onto my chest and knees to make sure our baby was lying on his left hand side. (During my whole pregnancy Jett was in this position but by his due date on April 9 he had moved into a posterior position, with his spine on my spine which makes for a very difficult birth, so since Friday 9th, Jett and I had been working very hard together to get him into the right position).
At about 16:30, I had a feeling I should go to the bathroom as I might have had a show which on inspection my suspicions were confirmed. Toby got home at about 16:40, took one look at me and said “I think we are having our baby by tomorrow. By 18:00 Toby offered to take me out to dinner to keep my mind off the light contractions I had started having, which I declined as I didn’t want to be out in public so instead we started watching a marathon of a TV series, The Office to keep my mind off things. What was really funny was that the last episode we were watching was of the labour of one of the characters in the series.
At 20:00 Toby and I decided it was time I got into a hot bath for an hour to confirm that I was in fact in labour. Before getting into the bath Toby checked to see how far dilated I was which he confirmed I was 3 centimetres dilated. I then got into the bath and Toby made me a mac and cheese so that I could carbo load. While I was in the bath, Toby started setting up the birthing pool in the lounge. I called my mom and Robyn to let them know that I thought the time had come for our little boy to enter this world.
During my bath, my contractions began to become more powerful and closer together. They were coming every two minutes and were lasting for 40 seconds and definitely taking my breath away. I was so excited that this was real and that I would be meeting our little boy soon.
After an hour had passed, I got out of the bath and asked Toby to check how far dilated I was before he called Andrea, our Doula as I was pre-empting the questions she was going to ask. Toby confirmed that I was 5 centimetres dilated and I told Toby to call Andrea.
Toby tried calling Andrea a few times but wasn’t able to get hold of her, so I told him to call Sharon, our midwife who he couldn’t get hold of either. Toby and I had a chuckle that they were both probably with Stacie, a friend whom we had met at our Antenatal classes and who was also just about due to have her baby. Toby and I knew already at this point that we probably were not going to be able to have our birth at home as we originally wanted and that this is obviously what Jett had wanted. We were happy to fall on our back up plan of going to Genesis Clinic.
I decided to send Stacie an sms asking her if she was with Sharon, Stacie called back immediately and said that she wasn’t but that Clara, who was also in our antenatal class was in labour at Genesis Clinic and both Andrea and Sharon were with her. Toby and I thought this was really funny and we had a good laugh again.
It was now 21:20 when Toby got hold of Genesis Clinic who called Andrea to the phone after much convincing on Toby’s part. When Andrea finally got to the phone she asked Toby how long my contractions were lasting and Toby confirmed that they were lasting 40 seconds. Andrea said that I should get back into the bath as I might be in false labour, or that I was in very early labour and that we should wait for the contractions to last longer before we came into Genesis.
As advised, I got back into the bath and Toby started dismantling the pool, just then, Andrea called back and said that Sharon said that I should get out of the bath and we should get to Genesis. I got out of the bath immediately and Toby started to pack the car, remembering all the elements from our birth vision, from my affirmations to pictures that inspired me to the aromatherapy candles while I attempted to pack an overnight bag in between contractions that were 2 minutes apart.
My contractions were getting more and more powerful and with each contraction, I was instinctively assuming the squatting position or going onto all fours. Although I was left alone to deal with each contraction, I felt confident in my power.
Toby had now finished packing the car and was now trying to get me into the car which wasn’t the easiest or quickest of things to do as I needed to stop for a few contractions along the way, which was making Toby very nervous. When I eventually got into the car, I had to sit in the front seat as there was absolutely no space for me to be anywhere else in the car. I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to be able to sit on my bum so I got onto my knees with my back facing the windscreen and held onto the headrest. While Toby was driving I said that I hoped that the move from home to Genesis didn’t interrupt my labour, which it didn’t. I also managed to remember to sms our neighbour to ask her to feed our kitties in the morning.
We arrived at Genesis at 22:40 and I was checked in by 23:00. Toby and I were taken to our room which was named Sage. Shortly after Andrea came into the room and said that they were still busy with Clara but that they shouldn’t be more than an hour before Sharon and her were able to focus on me as Clara would be birthing her baby soon. This didn’t bother me as I was confident that I was managing my contractions very well. Andrea introduced me to Ntombi, a midwife at Genesis who would keep an eye on me for Andrea and Sharon. Ntombi said that Sharon had asked her to examine me so that she knew how far along in my labour I was. Ntombi confirmed that my contractions were lasting for 40 seconds and I was 5 centimetres dilated. I was so proud of Toby that he had been so spot on with his examinations and I was so proud of Toby that he had taken such excellent control of looking after me and attending to my needs and for being my constant pillar of strength. I remember shouting this out to everyone that would listen, over and over again.
By this time, Toby started filling up the pool and was now able to be with me during some of my contractions and Ntombi had started running me a bath. I was enjoying my contractions and the power that was surging through my body – I felt one with the Source during each contraction.
While in the bath, I started feeling nauseous. I had become hypoglycaemic and I wasn’t dealing with the contractions quite as well as before. Andrea said to Toby that she hoped that he hadn’t let me become hypoglycaemic to which I replied that he hadn’t had a second and he had been running off his feet taking care of me and that he couldn’t do everything. Andrea said that she would try and organise some food for me which she did, she managed to organise dry toast and she had blended the lemon barley I had brought with us.
At one point Andrea suggested that I might find taking a walk outside beneficial. While I was outside squatting with Toby, I started to bleed and I was concerned, when Andrea got back I asked her if the bleeding was normal and she said that she would ask Sharon. I went back to the room and Sharon came and checked in on me and said that the bleeding was perfectly normal which I was relieved to hear.
Andrea came back a little later to say that Clara had birthed her baby but had retained her placenta so Sharon would be with me as soon as she was out of theatre with Clara. Shortly after I was told that Stacie had arrived and was in labour. I immediately knew that Andrea and Sharon would not be with me to birth our baby boy and I was not concerned. Sharon came in and told me that she would be next door with Stacie as Stacie was having a VBAC. I understood completely and sent Stacie all my love.
Ntombi came into the room and said that she would stay with me. Andrea came back into the room and told me that Sharon said that I need to walk around as this would help speed things up. Toby and I left the room and went for a walk; I was then told that if I ran it would have an even better effect, so I started to run down the passage. Just as I got back to the room, the most powerful contraction hit me and I was on the floor, howling with the deep sounds of primal creation. Shortly after that contraction, my contractions didn’t stop but instead just kept intensifying. As I was on the floor, everyone kept asking me if my knees were okay, and I was perplexed as to why everyone cared about my knees.
My contractions were so powerful I was battling to breath and a deep primal force was taking over my body. I was pushing and Ntombi said that I need to control my urge to push as my baby wasn’t ready and I would hurt myself. While I was pushing I was screaming that I couldn’t help it and I wasn’t in control of what was happening and this scared me. Andrea got Sharon to come see me and Sharon said that I should get onto my chest and knees as this would take the pressure off and would help control the urge to push. This helped, but only for so long.
My breathing was becoming very strained again and Ntombi said that my baby needed the oxygen that I wasn’t providing to my baby – this really scared me as I didn’t want to hurt my baby. Toby also kept telling me to breathe which I was finding really hard to do.
I was in the pool and then on the floor and then in the pool again and then on the floor in the bathroom. I wanted to lie on my side just so I could have a break from the one long, continuous contraction but I kept being told that I couldn’t.
I started getting very scared that I was hurting my baby by not getting enough oxygen to him and by pushing when my body wasn’t ready that I wanted someone, anyone to get Dr Mia as I needed an epidural, more so I could start breathing properly for my baby than for the power of my contractions. Ntombi said that she would check how far dilated I was and when she told me that I was 9 centimetres, I knew that no one would give me an epidural.
The next thing I knew, Ntombi and Toby were telling me to get into the pool and I replied saying that I couldn’t move. Ntombi asked me if I wanted to give birth in water to which I replied yes. She said that if this was my intention I needed to get into the pool before my next contraction as Jett wasn’t going to wait for me. So at the end of my contraction, Toby helped me into the pool.
Ntombi said that I would need to push through about five contractions and our baby should be here. I was so excited; I couldn’t believe that I had gone from not being ready at all to five contractions away from the journey being over.
I got onto my hands and knees and started pushing but with each push my sacrum would lift out of the water. Ntombi said that I would need to change positions. I moved into the squat position, with my back up again the edge of the pool. Toby climbed into the pool with me and my next push Ntombi asked me if I wanted to feel my baby’s head which I said I did. Toby then felt our baby’s head and then with the next push, Jett, our beautiful miracle was birthed into Toby’s hands. Toby then passed our baby to me and in that moment I knew that I had been born again. I knew that I had been born to be Jett’s mother and that I would move heaven and Earth to protect my little angel. To love and guard this gentle, beautiful soul who had chosen me to be his vessel. At 03:27, 13 April 2010 I had come home! With Jett in my arms I started to sing a song to welcome him into our lives.
Toby then cut Jett’s umbilical cord and stayed in the pool with him while I delivered my placenta. After my placenta was delivered, Ntombi checked and confirmed that my perineum had remained intact. I had a shower and then got into bed and Jett was put to my breast. For the first hour, our baby was grunting a little and wasn’t taking to the breast but after he was over the ordeal of his birth, he latched to my breast perfectly.
I would not change anything about this story. Jett’s birth was everything I hoped for – A gentle, welcoming birth for Jett and an exhilarating, powerful and magical experience for me, where I was shown my true creative power and strength within me.