Giving birth in Denmark
It is 2 month since my son came to the world. Two month since I gave birth in our house one warm and sunny day in October. The first, last and only time.
I still feel fuzzy and warm inside thinking of it. But this is not only a story about one homebirth, it is also a story of a woman transforming into a mother and entering in a new stage of her life. This is also a story about my children beautiful transition and finally it is a story about general birth praxis in Danish health system. Finally it is not only a story about the last birth but also the story about them all.
Disclamer: I had 3 perfectly normal, uncomplicated pregnancies. My view and story is personal and therefore also very subjective.
My first pregnancy came at the end of a very hard and sad period in my life. After fertility treatments and many failures I could celebrate the first positive test. Other than normal common worries there was nothing to worry about. Pregnancy wasn’t a sickness but all a normal stage in a life and like that it was treated. I had 3 ultrasounds in total, couple of general practitioner consultations commonly only urinary and blood pressure check and several midwife consultation – most of them at the end of the pregnancy. I went 13 days over my due date and was offered an induction. It was only a recommendation but I took it as a normal procedure feeling I needed to say yes.
I was checked before and was given “Angusta”- hormonal medication to start the process of birth. It is different how many pills are needed but as I had my own contractions the night before, 2 were enough to be pushed longer in my birth process.
It went pretty fast and I was “promised” that she will be here in no longer then evening time (we came to the hospital around 2 p.m.). We had “our” own midwife and a room fully equipped with everything needed for a normal uncomplicated birth. I also had a birth tub that I used and enjoyed the most of time in the early stage. Midwifes and students were professional and I felt confortable and secure in their hands. My husband was with me all the time. I had a great relief being in the water and I remember it as the only point in the birth when I could be in my body, fully letting myself to go with a flow of very powerful contractions. I remember as it felt that I am drowning in my inner piece and I wasn’t aware of time and people around. In one moment I felt my water broke and I dived even deeper inside of my body.
It was wonderful.
I don’t remember why they wanted me out of the tub at some point but out on the ground I couldn’t work with the pain. It showed that the baby wasn’t moving longer down and was probably positioned wrongly not being able to rotate fully. Her head was pressing my nerves and it made it even worse. I got an epidural and felt a moment of relief. Midwifes changed and everything took longer time than predicted. At some point I got a fever and every inch of me made a horrible pain. I shook and couldn’t more. I ended giving birth with a c-section. I was tired, freezing and feeling noxious at the very end. My red haired girl came to the world in the light of operation room with to many unknown people around in the middle of the night. It was a nice and warm late summer day and I will always remember the sunset over hospital window and the feeling that everything stands still when a child is born. It was not my perfect imagined birth and it took a while to accept it fully and without any regrets.
Second pregnancy was my absolutely best period ever. I didn’t have any symptoms and I loved every single bit of it. I had wonderful midwife I went to my regular consultation and I was fully and truly determined to get a VABC (vaginal birth after c section). I went over my due date and it made me sad but this time I knew that I could wait and not except yet anther induction. But baby decided to come before that was necessary. That was precisely 11 days after my due date. It was a warm summer that late June and my contractions started just around midnight. I walked most of the early contraction at home a whole night long while our daughter and my husband slept peacefully. We drove to the hospital early in the morning while town was still asleep. Our first midwife was one of them I met before and she could remember me. I couldn’t be in the water this time and the procedure was to be monitored all the time because of the risk of having a uterus rupture. That made it less confortable and somehow more unnatural. Even though I could move and be in my body, it was only partially as I imagined. Yet again I felt secured and respected in a hands of very competent midwifes. I learned that every time my water broke I got very powerful, painful and fast contractions and I was weak enough to yell after the epi.
It was also the epidural that made it much easier but at the same time it also made me feel less so when the time to push came, I didn’t feel that much. That I learned first after my last birth. But even though I was more medicated than I expected and wanted to start with, I gave natural birth to our second daughter. It was beautiful, peaceful and emotional. She was a little perfect blond lady. I remember the same beautiful sunset that evening when she came. We got home 4 hours after and snuggled with her in our big king sized bed. Our big girl came to us in the morning and greeted her little sister for the first time.
The last pregnancy happened after one early miscarriage in the end of the year. I didn’t know how body will react after that and how long it will take to get pregnant again. But it took only one cycle. This time I had nausea all first trimester and after that occasionally dizziness as summer heat lasted long. But on the other hand it was wonderful and as peaceful as with the girls. Halfway through we got to know that this time we are expecting a boy and we were looking forward to meet him.
I decided early that I wanted a homebirth. I read, I informed myself and I had a several consultation both with caretakers from the public sector and those private midwives that I hired.
In one way it was a great and inspiring process of learning about a women body and this huge transition we go trough by giving a birth. It opened my mind and channelled a great amount of energy. It gave me the power of intuition and believing in myself. It was a very healing process where I both learned my new self and accepted the one I already have been.
With my son birth I also gave birth to this women sitting here being a mother of three.
The actual birth started in the evening hours on my due date in the middle of a big discussion with my husband. It was very strange as my body gave a sign of upcoming birth in several occasions in weeks before. I was feeling very tired in the days upon. I didn’t even realise that I had regular contractions until my husband mentioned that I am taking more and longer breaks so I could focus on breathing. We agreed that he will go to bed with girls and that I will keep going to see what happens. I also wrote to my mother in law and prepared her on the possibility of driving in the late hours.
As my contraction got more regular and lasted longer I called my midwife. It turned out that she had “break to rest” at that point and my call got transferred to the hospital. The midwife there believed that I was supposed to meet there as she could see from my journal that I had a c -section before. After figuring out the situation she promised me to find another midwife that could come home to me. She promised to call back.
But every time my phone called it showed as a missed call and I couldn’t ring back so in panic I woke up my husband so he could assist with the phone as by then I mostly needed to focus on my contractions.
Shortly after he informed me that the midwife is now on her way. It would take her around half an hour but she sent taxi with all her equipment from the hospital so everything should be here shortly after.
My mother in low was also on her way and my husband started to prepare the last ting in our kitchen where our birth tub was supposed to be installed. When midwife came and examined me I was already in the active stage of the birth as being 5 cm open. The birth tub was ready so I could jump in the water and relax cooping with the pain as best as I could. Midwife student was on the way and she called an extra midwife as planned. At some point they all came together with my mother in law. There was playing music from my birth play list and there was a scent of coffee and tea and sound of water moving together with me. At some point they made some breakfast and I could smell the fresh roasted bread. The daylight was showing out over our garden and as sun slowly hit our kitchen windows I could relax in the sight of the wonderful dawn. We woke up our big girl that was supposed to participate in her brothers birth. Our little girl slept until 7 a.m. and when she stood up girls sat and ate breakfast in the living room near the kitchen watching the morning kids show. My mother in low took the little one to the kindergarten and the big one stayed with us. Around 6 a.m. my midwife came on the duty again and she came to assist the other one.
By that point he should have been born but it showed that he couldn’t rotate and I was missing the last cm to be fully dilate and ready to push. It took some effort to get there. It included rebozo massage, sitting on the toilet, laying on the bed with my belly hanging over the bed while three people was holding me. All that and huge amount of patience allowed me to move slowly to the very end. One hour before I actually gave birth the midwife announced that she is giving me one more hour otherwise they will move me to the hospital setting. As that was the last ting I could imagine at that point I was ready to do almost everything to make it happen. So when she suggested that she holds the rest of my cervix while I push all I can, I gladly said yes.
She had a birth chair with her so we decided to go with it to start. My husband was sitting behind my back, I had the midwife student on the one side and my midwife in front of me. The extra midwife stood with our daughter holding her ears as I was screaming quite loudly at that point. My mother in low made beautiful footage of the whole thing. In one point I could feel that his head moved through the birth channel and I was sure the ending was close. At that point I needed it badly. Birth monitor showed that our sons heartbeat slowed at one point and with his head tipping out I have been asked to move to the madras on the floor near me. As that felt like a mission impossible, the 3 of them took my body in their arms and moved me in the middle of the contraction. I pushed one more time and his head was out and the second later the whole body came with a scream from the top of his lungs. He was a dark big boy with these narrow dark eyes. At that point I realised that my daughter stands beside me and my husband was looking over my head. In the next moment my placenta was born and as the cord stopped pulsating my daughter bravely agreed to cut it. It was the most wonderful moment of them all as it came to me that we made it and as hard it was as perfect it was. In one way this cycle closed with delivering to the world my last child with the first born holding my hand. It was emotional and huge and just perfect in every matter.
It was better than imagined.
They asked me where I wanted to rest with him and I moved to our sofa while they started to clean the house and my mother in low made us a lunch. I lay there in my bobble while he was breastfeeding for the first time. Our bodies were still connected outside of each other while he nursed and I could feel his warmth.
I drank my favourite coffee and ate my first meal and after that I was examined and sewed on the bed in our bedroom. I took a shower afterwards and joined my son on the sofa again. We took a tons of pictures and then midwifes packed their things and moved on leaving us all in this wonderful fuzzy bobble. We ate cinnamon buns when our little girl came home from the kindergarten and talked about the details of his birth.
It was so peacefully and easygoing. It was wonderful.
Now three month after the last birth I still feel overwhelmed but also very blessed as I embraced this process and let it happen to us all.