True stories about birth and giving birth

Day 376. The story of a healing birth (Barnus)

We had prepared for home birth even with our first kid. My husband supported me in everything. But we were living with his grandmother, who was 96 at the time, and we were looking after her. To put it in a nutshell our surroundings were not hygenic enough for homebirth. And also the hospital births I had seen 10 years before as a medical student had their frightening effects and I was full of fears of labour.

It took me almost eight years to collect the courage to give birth to my own child. I thought it couldn’t turn bad, we would come home from the hospital after the baby was born or it would sort out somehow, everything would be alright.

Unfortunately not everything happened as we had planned. We had discussed all the details with the doctor in vain. We had told him we wanted the labour to be as peaceful as it could be, just like being at home – as our original idea was homebirth – it seems he couldn’t understand what it meant.

So I had the episiotomy, the enema. I wasn’t shaved only because I had done it at home, and of course I had the oxytocin injection, too. It was useless to say I didn’t want it.

Gergő spent two hours with us, his dad was rocking him while my doctor was stitching my cut telling jokes to an unknown doctor who had entered without even saying hello, let alone introducing himself. We learnt later my doctor had been sued for a maternal death, and he had also been suspected of several scheduled inductions of labour. Of course he has been cleared of the charges since then.

At the time we didn’t know anything about it. Later we were really shocked. I still don’t understand how it was possible that he didn’t say anything about it. Now I think we might have not changed doctors if he had told us. But you can’t expect that much honesty from obstetricians today. With a few honourable exceptions – if there are any. I know only one exception – who I had my second child with.

After spending one day in the hospital we left for home amid lots of threatening remarks, and we returned after four days as the negative predictions by the nurses, doctors and other health care assistants came true. I couldn’t breastfeed my child, he developed jaundice, we needed infusions, etc – what a surprise, all the benevolent prophecies were right.

It was horrible. My faith in medical assistants faded. And then I wished I myself hadn’t been a nurse. I didn’t want to be one of them.

Our only luck was when after having been in labour for three hours I got a new midwife. I could trust her and I didn’t feel alien in my own body anymore. She was so human I could depend on her in a minute. She was my great luck. She left me on my own, monitoring from the distance, suggesting something from time to time – and her suggestions helped. The good memories I have about my hospital stay are in connection with her. (Not talking about my baby of course.)

When we went home we said thank you to her for being such a great help, and she started to cry, she was so happy that she’d been able to be of any help and said sorry for the regular CTGs during my labour, which were part of the hospital protocol.

I felt really weak and helpless after the labour, but not more than during it.

Four years later I was expecting our next baby and as we had already moved to the little village next to the Pilis the homebirth project got the green light. What’s more, during the preparation week at the birth home I asked if they would come to my village and I got the answer yes, so I was over the moon.

It was such a great feeling that we had found the team who would help us with homebirth and who knew how to do it. Anyway, in our village there are several families with children who were born at home.

When the big day arrived we were some days after the due date and I was afraid that Ági would be staying abroad and I would have to get hospitalized so we had been going on outings to the neighbouring hills and taking big walks with our elder son, or only the two of us with my husband. The result was that on one night it finally started.

When my husband called Ági that labour was likely to start that night Ági thought it was early to leave. But they had just finished talking when I asked my husband again to phone as my contractions weren’t 10 minutes apart anymore but seemed to be continuous.

Gergő, who was four and a half at the time, was sleeping peacefully in the little room. We had asked a friend to come over and look after him. She had had one of her babies with Ági. One hour after the last call Ági and her helper arrived. I was sitting on the sofa in the living room looking into the fire and rocking myself from side to side when another wave hit. It was the only way to survive.

I was over the cleansing processes, luckily I hadn’t been sick, unlike in the hospital. The doctor on duty had dilated me during the contraction; I wonder why he had to… Looking back now I feel sorry that at the time I jumped off the examining bed to avoid to hit him in the face with the thing that was about to come out. Now I know he would have deserved it on his head. I am still mad at him for not leaving me alone and for hurting me. He deeply hurt my soul and I am still injured. As if he had raped me… I have worked a lot to get over this thing, but unfortunately I am still not able to forgive him.

When Ági and her helper silently entered our flat, the door of which leads directly to the living room, I had the feeling as if they had been here before. It was so natural that they came as if they had been at home. We didn’t have to be polite, and they just naturally took our pace. They didn’t disturb my peace and it was such a great feeling. As if they had visited us from week to week. These might seem tiny details but they seemed very important to me. I didn’t have to worry about saying them to take a seat, or feel embarrassed and explain things, whatsoever. It felt as if we had been friends for ages. It was a good feeling. My husband showed them around, they went to the kitchen, which wasn’t difficult to find as it is almost part of the living room, to the toilet, the room and he showed them the whereabouts of our things that had been prepared for the big date.

It was night; the only light was that of the fire from the fireplace and a small lamp. I had a great feeling to see our flat like this, the furniture, our pictures on the walls. As if they had known that it was a special day. And Ági and her helper had been surrounded by humbleness and I can’t explain what like the three kings, who had gone to see little Jesus.

So I went on rocking myself on the sofa and I felt everything was all right now. The midwife looked me in the eye and said happily “Wow, you are in labour!”

I was hardly able to speak and said only short sentences, because unlike during my previous labour, now I had a terrible pain in my abdomen not only in my lower back, which wanted to tear apart. Then she sat by my side and with her warm oily hands started to massage my back at the very point where it hurt and burnt the most. The spasm caused by the pain immediately weakened. There are no words to tell how relieving it was.

The other Ági examined me, listened to Barni’s heart. Everything was fine. Then I got the poultice on my abdomen, without which I couldn’t imagine to be able to survive anymore. It was extremely pleasant, I didn’t feel it to be too hot, I would have done with some hotter one, but it was burning their – especially Juli’s – hands even at this temperature, poor things. Later I learnt that it had burnt my abdomen too, but by the time it was over nothing could be seen.

And the contractions hit again from time to time, they were more and more painful and seemed more and more continuous. Then I was rocking on the working chair, the handrails of which had been removed so that I could rest my legs peacefully. By the way, the screw thread got destroyed so much that the left hand rail can’t be fixed – but who cares about it anymore. It is a good feeling to look at it, brings back memories.

Then I couldn’t feel well anymore anyhow. Not lying, not sitting on the chair and I badly needed Ági’s warm, oily hands and the poultice, which I felt cold immediately after the contractions and I threw away. Poor Juli couldn’t bring the new ones as quickly as I wished.

Geréb Ági told me to try to go on my knees, and when I felt the baby asking for my strength and I had to push just let him come and feel free to help him. And there he came, Barni’s head gave me the feeling of tearing apart, it was such a hard job, but the birthing chair proved to be of great assistance. The other midwife gave a little oily massage to my perineum, which was extremely taut and I was afraid that it would tear but in the end it didn’t. I didn’t need stitches; there was only a small tear.

The thing that I can clearly remember is that before taking my place on the birthing chair I had been on my all fours on the floor and Geréb Ági was under me. The weight of my full body was on her and she was crouching under me watching if Barni was coming out. Poor thing, I was afraid of breaking your fine bones. I had had an aversion to this kind of body contact, but Ági was so accepting and helpful that I was completely moved. I felt that she was supporting, serving and accepting me with her whole body and all her movements. I have never experienced such deep self sacrifice and humbleness. I have never seen anyone behaving like that, let alone experiencing this behaviour. It was unbelievable. It was the time when I really started to put faith into myself.

From time to time I said that I couldn’t take it any longer when it was unbearable, but I felt that I was able to do it. Everybody trusted me so much that I might not have trusted myself. Those who have experienced something like this know what I am talking about.

At the same time I had my fears, of course, because I felt the happenings would decide our fate. We would die or be born again. I had the clear feeling that we were really close to the other side. That was a real transcendent experience.

And then, when I wasn’t fighting anymore for our lives, I felt we succeeded. When I surrendered to it all and I didn’t resist anymore, everything got smooth and when I was able to say “Thy will be done”, Barni was born. He was beautiful, clean, bloomy and scented.

I wanted to hold him immediately, to comfort him, to make him feel that he still wasn’t alone. Soon he started to eat, which was incredible especially as Gergő hadn’t wanted to do it after his birth. Barni started to suck my breast with such strength that I was shocked at his vital instinct. I even said to Ági “Can you see, can you see how he is sucking?” I was almost out of my mind.

Juli, or I can’t remember who, helped me to the sofa with Barni, at that time the cord still connected us. When it stopped pulsing, it was cut. By my husband, or Ági, I don’t remember it.

And Barni went on sucking as if he never wanted to stop. When the placenta detached, he was still resting on me. Then Ági and her helpers made the bed for me in the bedroom and helped us to bed.

Meanwhile Gergő woke up, I was still in labour when he first came out but then he returned with our friend Iza to his room. I can remember clearly that he said to his father why he was caressing my back, only God could help… or something like this… where did he get this idea???

It turned out later that Iza had been reading him stories and she read one in which little bunnies were born. (When we had been talking about my labour, I had thought it wouldn’t be a problem for him to be there. But when I had the contractions it was disturbing because I was a bit afraid that seeing me suffering would have bad effects on him. So the labour stopped for a short time while he was out with us, but I didn’t feel it a problem. Neither did Ági, fortunately. )

Then, the next time he came out was only when Barnus was sucking peacefully. He had a look at him, but the real encounter between the brothers was only some hours later, when Barnus woke up too, and had a look at Gergő, too.

For me it was good that I didn’t have to leave him behind for days and then turn up with a strange kid. He was part of his brother’s birth and as I can see it had a good affect on their relationship.  He still keeps talking about it. And when we put on the “Free Geréb Ági” armband, he asked for one, saying that he was there when Barnus was born. He is extremely proud of that.

Barnus became three in April. Not long ago, when I was reading the article in Magyar Nemzet and he was being breastfed – he still does it before having his afternoon nap – he looked up at me and asked who that woman was and I said it was Gerég Ági, who had helped him to be born. And then he caressed the photo and went on sucking…

Even today we consider Barni’s birth a defining experience in our lives. The only sorrow I have is that Gergő couldn’t be born at home. This second birth was a healing one. We are more than grateful to Ági and her helpers to be with us and help us on this way.

Unfortunately the “fantastic” law about homebirth doesn’t allow us to have our third child at home and if conditions don’t change in the near future, I believe we would rather adopt a little brother or sister, or might just stay the four of us, thought I have always longed for a family just like mine as a child. I had three brothers and sisters.

H. E.

Véletlenül kiválasztott mesék.

This post is also available in: Hungarian