This is the HypnoBirthing Story of Amanda and her daughter, Fabienne.
“It’s never like they said it would be. It’s the things I’ve never seen before I recognize.” -Diane Arbus
“Oh, Homebirth is BAD!” said the doctor with consterning disapproval. “Bladder incontinence, high risk of tearing, ” he began to list all the afflictions a western doctor was trained to expect in a woman who birthed naturally. Of course to him, and thousands of other doctors, birth is a medical condition, something to allopathically “make better”. Little do people know, that this view of birth and subsequent technological intervention causes far more harm than just simply assisting a woman giving birth naturally. Thanks to my early exposure to the teachings of Hypnobirthing and Dr. Michel Odent, I knew that the best place for me to have our baby was in the comfort and convenience of our own home. I left the doctor’s office that day in tears. I knew I had to find a new doctor, but who would support my decision in Korea? This is a country, in sway of the western medical conversion, which has quickly forgotten it’s homebirth tradition. Any Korean I told that I was going to have my baby at home looked at me like I was totally crazy and then told me I was very brave. Interesting to note that after this being said, they then told me they were actually born at home!
I suppose it does take some courage for any woman in a “civilized” country to have her baby at home. Why would she do that when she can go and be “safe” in a hospital? It is not easy to go against the common perception that birth is dangerous. We have been programmed to believe so for many generations, going back to the dawn of Puritanical times when pregnant woman were considered the worst of sinners (they obviously had had sex since they were pregnant!) and left to give birth alone.
Overshadowed by this shame and lack of support, we are left today with plain misconceptions about one of the most common and natural events known to female mammals.With firm determination, I sought out resources that would support my instinctual knowing. There was really no choice in the matter for me, once I considered homebirth. It was the only choice. Thankfully, I received an e-mail within the same time frame from my step-mom, who was a Hypnobirthing Instructor.
“Amanda there’s a HypnoBirthing Practitioner in Seoul!!!!!!” I was thrilled to read those words and soon met Patricia Cumming, an amazing woman who eventually played a significant role in the birth itself. Her classes were an oasis for me from my busy worklife and it was there that I began to really learn to relax again and learn that relaxation itself is fundamental to a calm and easy birth.
Throughout this time my husband supported me. Although he approached the homebirth with some underlying trepidation, he stood by me and saw to the more technical details of having a baby at home. I will always be thankful to him for trusting my instinct and taking such wonderful care of me before, during, and after the pregnancy. If approached in a spiritual sense, birth is a healer for all involved. Any major wounds my husband and I had in our relationship were healed through this birthing process and our love for one another mutiplied. I don’t know if it would have been as powerful if we had had our daughter in a hospital. We were able to be very intimate at home.Thankfully, through some friends I found Dr.Jung, affectionately called “Doc”. He is an obstetrician GYN and had attended their homebirth, his first, as a friend. As soon as I met and talked with him I felt relaxed and trusted that he was the right person to be there. He later told me, “Just consider me as a friend being there and in case anything happens I can help you.” That is what I needed to hear. He was a doctor who trusted in a woman’s ability to give birth and understood that a calm supportive atmosphere is essential to a birthing woman.
It was on October 26th when I woke up with some cramping sensations. The week before I had been talking to Fabienne, telling her that I was ready, even though it was a little early. She co-operated! That day the surges were very light, almost like menstrual cramps, but I knew that it was the day!! So, my husband suggested that we go to a horse farm and walk around. I put on a beautiful dress and hat and we headed out. It was a lovely day and the outdoors were just what we needed. We held hands, admired the greenness, and patted the friendly horses. For some reason I felt they knew I was in labour. We had to pause every so often so I could breathe through a surge, but then we carried on peacefully. On the way home we stopped at the supermarket to pick up the supplies Man Bae needed for cooking—lots and lots of seaweed!
In Korea, a woman traditionally eats seaweed soup after giving birth to replenish her blood. He also wanted to cook for those present at the birth and also buy a cake and champagne. Then we went home and I lay in bed and practiced my HypnoBirthing relaxation and breathing. I called Doc and he asked me how far the surges were apart. “About two minutes” I told him calmly. “Oh, I’ll be right over!” he said. Then I called Trish, who had offered to be there as a support person. They both arrived soon thereafter. We lit candles, finished filling the kiddie pool with warm water and practiced some light touch massage–which activates the endorphins and gets the labour going more.
The surges were becoming more intense, but I practiced my birth breathing and really enjoyed them. When I got into the pool, the water felt like heaven. It was wonderful! I can’t recommend waterbirth enough! Slowly slowly, my perception of everything began to change. There was no time, no thoughts. I was looking at my husband and suddenly I burst into uncontrollable teary laughter! I was in ecstasy! The feeling that I had was indescribable, but I was ecstatic and so in love with everything. I was higher than I had ever been. Shortly therafter, things began to get more intense. I paced around from the pool, to the toilet, to the bed, to the Pool.
At one point in the bathroom I hung off the towelrack and had a vision of a what I can only say now was some sort of birthing idol. She was black and had wild hair, her tongue stuck out and she had huge eyes. I used her image to start making primal noises and I stuck out my tongue. At that point I had the urge to bear down. I was alone in the bathroom and I think in hindsight, if I had stayed there, I probably would have birthed right then. But ouT of fear I came out again. The atmosphere in the room had changed a bit, I think people were feeling a little nervous, and I could feel it. I got back into the pool and Doc told me to breathe more quietly so I wouldn’t hurt my throat. “Oh god, can I do this?” Trish looked at me right in the eye and said seriously, “You are doing it! You are doing this!” That’s all I needed to hear.
Her presence at the birth was very important and helped me so much. I called to my baby, “Come on baby!” over and over again. Who knows what the neighbours thought! The baby’s head began to emerge. Doc said, “Reach down and feel your baby”. I reached down and could feel a head full of hair! “My baby!!” I screamed empathically. Doc told Man Bae to reach behind me and hold me up under my armpits. Within a couple of pushes Fabienne ‘swished’ into the world and Doc put her right onto my chest. I had seen birthvideos before. All the mothers had screamed, “My baby!” when the baby was placed on their chests. In my arrogance, I had vowed never to do that. And what was the first thing I screamed when Fabienne was placed on my chest? “MY BABY!! MY BABY! OH MY BABY!” Man Bae laughed, we kissed, he kept laughing and I kept saying, “Look at her! Oh my god, we DID IT!” It was a moment I will never forget. All women say that the love they feel at that moment is beyond compare. And it’s true. I had gone from maiden to mother in four and a half hours at home. Fabienne was beautiful and healthy. I did not tear and we waited until the cord stopped pulsating to cut it. I then got up and walked to the bed and awkwardly tried to nurse my Fabienne for the first time. Much later, Doc massaged the placenta out as it was taking too long and he had to go home. I lay with Fabi in the candlelight and felt the happiest I had in all my life. We fell asleep in that loving energy, in the comfort of our home in the mountains, side by side transformed.
My life has been inconceivably changed from that point on all levels, and yet I’m more myself than I’ve ever been. The birth and becoming a mother has healed me in ways that I could not imagine. Trusting my instinct, I did what I had to do.
Trish Cumming from Trish Cumming HypnoBirthing helps Brisbane Mums-to-Be create a positive birth experience through group HypoBirthing classes, private HypnoBirthing classes, and her services as a Child Birth Doula. Your no obligation Positive Birth Experience consultation with an experienced Doula and HypnoBirthing instructor is just a phone call away. Call Trish now on 0413647109 to learn more, or visit: www.TrishCummingHypnoBirthing.com.au