Giving birth at home was amazing for me, I couldn’t imagine any other way now. It was a cathartic experience, it helped me connect with my purest essence. Since then I know myself better.
I can’t remember how a home birth came about. The only births and pregnancies that I had known weren’t people close to me and always took place in a hospital. I’m sure I heard stories while I was pregnant, experiences of friends of friends and something lit up inside me because as time went by I met more people who had had or had been present at a home birth. I started to feel like it was a feasible alternative. At the same time things started to appear in my life, books, articles, interviews and meetings that introduced me to lots of new ideas that also felt familiar…as if I was rediscovering wisdom that already existed inside me. And it was all related to the same process I have spent years exploring: to live with acceptance, understanding and responsibility.
Many months went by without saying it out loud, but my body knew what it needed. I had one definite idea: the most important thing for me was to choose what made me more comfortable, more me. Without expectations or ideals.
Throughout this process the midwife from the public health system was key. Both her and the hospital, La Maternitat de Barcelona, are representative of a new model of birthing, respecting the process, having the most adequate facilities to maintain an intimate environment, minimum intervention…But in the end it was this same midwife who helped me finally decide with one phrase “Have you thought about having a home birth?” Everything fell into place and I was so grateful to life for this moment! In the end the two worlds which seemed so far apart, and even against each other, were joined. After that I met another midwife who had had both of her children at home. Thankfully she was so professional, she told me about an alternative to the public health system that she had worked for, without telling me about her particular case.
So, I followed my instinct. We got everything ready to give birth in the way I wanted, in my home, in my cave. Well, almost everything…Itai arrived 11 days ‘early’. On July 7th the midwife who was assisting me on the big day came to visit, we spoke about the preparations and observed that the pregnancy was going well, calmly, there were no signs that birth was close. The next day I went to walk on the beach with a friend. We were talking and talking, I walked much further than I was used to at the time. The next day, July 9th, I went for a planned visit at the hospital. I really didn’t want to go; I didn’t want to go out. When I got back for the first time, I felt tired of being pregnant. That afternoon I thought about getting everything I needed for the home birth, but I decided not to. I was on my own and too tired. I would leave it until the next day. But I never got the chance.
Just two streets away from house I felt wetness on my legs, my sandals and feet were covered in water. I felt a little nervous and between laughing and rushing I got to my house, I sat on the toilet and phoned the midwife. My waters had broken, I had to wait for the contractions.
At that moment I felt very alone, and I loved it. This moment, the moment that everything started, I don’t know how to put it into words. I could just feel my body would guide me all the way. I was so grateful that that there was no one there to speak with!
I showered and in the shower I begin to notice new sensations, more intense and at the same time familiar, I felt like my body was ready. I washed and dried my body carefully. I stroked my whole body. I put on a short, white dress, soft on my skin and nothing underneath.
I chose where to prepare my nest to give birth. I lit candles, dimmed the lights, and put on a little music… and then I realised that I didn’t have the things I needed to give birth at home!
I phoned Mattia, my partner but he didn’t answer. He was really concentrated in a capoeira class. I phoned the civic centre where he was doing the class and spoke to the receptionist. I was excited to explain to this woman that she had to interrupt the class to tell Mattia that his partner was in labour. At last he phoned me and we decided that before he came home he would buy everything we needed, but the shops were about to shut! It seemed like an impossible task. He got home after one hour, soaked in sweat. He had gone about 8kms on his bike from one place to the other, lining up in all the queues to get everything. Only he could have done something like this. My hero, the father of my child!
When he got back, I was calm, clean and ready in the bed between waves of pain. At that moment I was relaxed, and it was him that finished getting everything ready. When the midwife arrived, he took a moment for himself, showered and went to eat a pizza. When he got back my contractions were closer together and the pain more intense. Mattia brought me a rose, his friend in the pizza place had given it to him for me. I think it is one of the only material gifts he has ever given me, maybe the only one and it was the best.
I remember he was standing, leaning against the door frame, with a small 80’s style cup of coffee. He was so gorgeous. When he finished the coffee he was ready to give everything to me and the arrival of our son. The process was both of ours, he was there the whole time doing what I asked him. Sometimes in impossible positions and with lots of strength.
While I was riding the waves of pain my friend Laura, a photographer, arrived. I can’t even remember how the idea of having a photographer at the birth arose. It was like something already written, it became part of the scene and experience in a natural way. Laura is like a cat when she takes photos, very very quiet. I am so grateful to her that I have this beautiful moment immortalised forever.
Between the waves of pain I came back to reality, breathed and sang the immense pleasure of the calm of my body and sometimes expressed in words my fears between laughter “What is the point of the pain? What is pain?”
I felt like the pain made me more present. Pain and Pleasure make me connect directly with the present moment. My mind is not in control, all of the emotion, fears and thoughts are valid, vital and therefore don’t affect me, I feel them from a place of calm, without making them a part of me, they are like ‘things’ that pass through me, I see them, it is life passing through me.
The next time I give birth, if life gifts me the chance, I want to experiment with the thin line between pain and pleasure which I have already perceived in sex and physical activities that take me to my limit.
The pain grew and I decided to walk around in my home and there, in the middle of the hallway, clinging to Mattia, I started to push. I went back into the bedroom.
The midwife had not intervened much at this point, some checks, she had listened to the baby’s heartbeat which a machine that looked like a toy and answered my questions and my fears simply saying “it’s normal, let it out, it’s ok”.
That must have been the hardest moment, when I went back into the bedroom pushing. I didn’t know where to put myself. Sofia asked me “What position do you want to be in?” and I shouted, “I don’t know!” This was the only moment in which she told me what to do. She helped me to lie on my side on the bed ready for the big finish.
You know the famous advice “push, push!” No-one said it to me, and I was so grateful…It was my body that knew when to push and when to relax. No-one rushed me, no one thought they knew better than my body, no one said a word when my body wisely did what it already knew how to do. The midwife massaged my perineum so it wouldn’t tear and assisted the arrival of Itai, who my body pushed out from my insides and plunged into life.
At that moment I felt the greatest peace I have ever experienced.
Mattia put Itai onto my chest, he moved to find my breast and stopped crying. Happiness!
Mattia laid down next to me. I felt Itai for the first time, I smelt him, touched him, explored him. During my ecstasy the placenta came out, I didn’t even notice and Mattia was surprised, he didn’t even know it existed. I let Mattia cut the umbilical cord sooner than normal. It was at that moment that we understood why Itai had decided to arrive now, there was a knot in the umbilical cord and the placenta had stopped working.
And this is what showed me the intelligence of life, the wisdom of Itai and the perfection of my body.