Rees Josiah Strydom


08 May 2018


Early Monday morning, May 07, I started having light contractions. I knew they weren’t just Braxton Hicks, as they involved slight pain. I was excited, but still wondered whether this could possibly be ‘the day’ as I had started to mentally prepare myself for going past my due date.

I had reached the 40 week mark the day before (Sunday).

I contacted Debby to tell her about the ‘pains’ that I had been having, and that I would inform her if they kept on coming. By about 12 noon, they had still been coming regularly (about every 15 minutes) and were lasting about 20-30seconds each. They also seemed to be getting slightly stronger, but still very manageable. Debby said that she was sure it was the real thing, and that her and Tara (the doula) would come through. Since I live in Worcester, it would take them about 2 hours to get to me. I was still sceptical that I could possibly be ‘in labour’, but felt a lot more comfortable knowing that they were on their way and that they would be here, should things progress quickly.

Debby and Tara arrived at about 15h30. We chatted a bit, and they got settled in. By this time my contractions were still very mild, but coming regularly. Tara and I went for a walk around the block a few times, to get things going. It seemed to help a little, but contractions were still quite mild and I was inwardly doubting if I was indeed in early labour or not!

We had something to eat, I did some bouncing on the birthing ball and my husband took our 2 year old son to my parents’ place, so we could have a bit of quiet.  I felt a little bit tired, so decided to go and lie down on my bed. As I lay down and relaxed, I definitely felt the contractions starting to come stronger. They were still very managable though, and I was praying that things would pick up and become more intense, as I felt like I was making no progress.

At about midnight, Debby decided that perhaps it would be best to do internal exam to establish how far dilated I was. I was pleasantly surprised and glad when I learned that I was between 4-5cm dilated, and that the baby was lying low (+1). After eating something, and doing some more bouncing on the birthing ball, I decided to go rest again. Contractions slowed down again, and we all took the opportunity to rest.

At about 4h00 I was starting to get a bit despondent, really wondering whether the contractions would ever get stronger and whether this baby was even going to be born that day! Debby suggested I get moving to try and get things going stronger. I paced the front room of our house, did some squats and climbed some stairs for about an hour. Contractions definitely started coming closer together. I just kept praying that things would get intense, as I was really anxious to meet this little baby, and things were moving way too slowly and going way too easily for me! I wanted the very bad pains.

I should probably mention, at this point, that my first birth was induced with Pitocin, so that was the only experience I had to compare with. I kept on waiting for things to get really bad, the way they were when I was induced! My first labour experience (hospital) was extremely traumatic, intense and definitely not relaxing. I think inwardly I was expecting those same kind of contractions, where one gets no rest, and which are totally unbearable. I couldn’t understand how I could possibly be in labour, and yet be so relaxed.

After my round of ‘exercising’, at about 05h40, I was feeling a bit tired again. I went and lay down on the bed once again.  Contractions definitely started coming much stronger and I felt optimistic that things were starting to happen. I texted a friend and asked her to please pray that I would get the ‘BAD’ contractions very quickly, as I really wanted to progress and have my baby 😀

At about 6h15 Debby and Tara said I should get into the birthing pool. By this time my contractions were definitely getting intense and I was very grateful. I felt quite exhausted, but Debby said that it was just the hormones kicking in. Once I got in the pool, things started picking up even more. My contractions started getting very painful, and the water was such a relief. The amazing thing though, was the lovely rest that I would get in between contractions. It was heavenly! With my first labour, I had almost no rest between contractions, it was excruciatingly exhausting.

Contractions kept getting more intense, they were quite long, and I knew that I was nearing the finish line! There were a few moments that I felt a bit regretful for asking my friend to pray for the bad ones!! But I knew that this was the only way to get my little one out, so it made them bearable and managable. Debby and Tara encouraged me and helped me so much. Soon, I felt a ‘pop’ under the water, and realized that my water had broken. After this, things really started picking up and getting very intense. At this point, my toddler woke up from his sleep, and my husband quickly took him across the road to my parents. Debby had to tell him to hurry, as the baby would be here soon!

Debby told me that when I felt the urge to push, and the ring of fire, I shouldn’t push, but rather breathe through contractions and let the baby gently ‘slide’ out. Those last few moments were beyond intense, extremely painful. Yet with each contraction, I knew that I was nearing the end.

At 07h32, little Rees Josiah was born. He immediately cried vigorously and loudly. I could hardly believe that he was not inside me anymore; and that he was born in my very own bedroom, in water! It was such a gentle experience, which could not even be compared to the experience I had in the hospital, and I feel so blessed to be able to have had the desire of my heart: a relaxing, gentle birth. Rees weighed 4.04kg and I was relieved to find that I did not even tear.

My husband and I are eternally grateful to Debby for her help in this journey of bringing our second son into the world. Her efficiency, care, caution and wisdom are invaluable. After Rees’s birth, he had a bit of a blue face that did not subside after four hours. His oxygen saturation was also a bit low. Debby suggested that we go and have him evaluated at a local paedeatrician or hospital, just to ensure it wasn’t linked to any oxygen/blood circulation/heart issues. Thankfully, it was not. But we are grateful for her caution and concern in advising us that way, just to make sure.

Debby is extremely thorough, passionate and knowledgable, and it has been an incredible priviledge to have the support of someone of such high calibre, through one of the most important events of our family. Her approach is very motherly and supportive. During the birth, she willingly gave me my space so that I could ‘labour’ in the way that I felt most comfortable, but it was so reassuring to know that she was close by and would be there when I needed her. I have even fuller confidence in her ability as an amazing midwife, and I would definitely recommend her to any woman who would like to have a home birth. She really made the experience of birth special and I’m grateful that I could ‘redo’ my terrible first experience, with this amazing one.

Talitha Strydom