Our first pregnancy was very exciting. It was overall easy for my wife
– apart from constant headaches in the first trimester – and we
travelled a *lot* in the second trimester. She didn’t get sick once
during the whole nine month (or the following year). I thought it
would be brilliant if everyone was pregnant all the time! Early on, we
had attended a rather useless pregnancy course at a well known
institution in Singapore, which conveyed almost zero content (‘eat
healthy’, ‘don’t drink alcohol’, ‘when the nurse says push, then push
etc.’). My wife’s first gynea failed to detect her iron deficiency
(partially explaining her headaches) and afterwards he told us the
baby was rather big, so we should consider a cesarian, something my
wife wanted to avoid. So we changed doctors. When my wife suggested to
attend a hypno-birthing course I was skeptical at first, but went with
it, because my gut told me that she should be in charge when it comes
to these decisions. The content resonated well with us and we enjoyed
those weekend trips to Holland Village. Every night we diligently
prepared for the upcoming birth, going through the scripts, doing
perineum massages, listening to the exercises etc etc. Eventually my
wife decided for a water-birth at home, mainly because she wanted the
birth to happen in a relaxed atmosphere and also because she thought
the chances of having a cesarian were increased for hospital births.
To be honest, I was very skeptical at first, but after reading up on
it, I started liking the idea more and more until I was sure it was
the best choice for us.

It was a rainy, quiet and relaxed weekend when the surges started.
They came slowly and there was no pattern at first. We even managed to
go for walks outside. We had a really nice and special, almost magical
atmosphere at home. Surges where erratic and their intensity didn’t
increase much. I think we were already 12 hours in when we called the
Doulas. Things were manageable and we were in good spirits, but
thought we could use some support nonetheless. When hours later the
doc arrived the first time, we pretty much already knew the baby was
sub-optimally positioned (back to back) so my wife did lots off all
fours (even putting on knee guards at one point) and we also used the
rebozo jiggling hoping to turn baby. When hours later the doc showed
up again my wife hadn’t dilated much further, which was a huge
disappointment for her. My wife was exhausted and rupturing the
membrane seemed the only way to get things going again. Unfortunately
it only increased her pain level several fold and getting her into the
pool didn’t help much. After a few more hours we simply had to go to
the hospital. The taxi ride was – let’s say – memorable: my wife on
all fours, facing backwards, blankets over her wet head to keep her
warm and moaning like crazy. The experience at the hospital was
surreal and I remember everything as being bathed in bright light.
After what felt like ages the anaesthetist arrived, asking ‘darling,
on a scale from one to ten, ten being the strongest, how would you
describe your pain? Let me repeat. On a scale from one to ten…’. The
epidural gave my wife a much needed rest and we did our best to ignore
the discouraging comments of one of the nurses. Those last hours were
emotionally draining. When our son was finally born (vaginally), I
felt such a surge of incredible relief, happiness and love at the same
time, I thought I’d collapse. We left the hospital after the first
night, eager to get home. I am forever grateful for all the help the
doulas gave us on all levels at all times.

The second pregnancy was difficult. We all were constantly sick,
thanks to our then already two and half year old first born, who
constantly brought back all sorts of germs from Kindergarden. We
obviously didn’t have as much energy and time as we used to have the
first time around. So the pregnancy was for a good while simply a
background event. We nevertheless eventually went for a hypnobirthing
refresher and enjoyed what were almost timeouts or quality time for us
at Ginny’s. This time, my wife was not so sure about a home birth at
first. In the end the decision was quite simple though: if things went
‘wrong’ we would just go to hospital again. So what was there to lose?
My wife’s chances for a fast and successful home birth were of course
much higher as a second time mother, but I knew that this was probably
something stressing her even more, since she ‘had to succeed’. What
was also stressing was the fact that baby was in transverse for the
last couple of weeks, so we were afraid that this might again become a
back-to-back labour. Even though we left a lot of things until the
very end (including finding a name for baby) we managed to do the
rebozo jiggle a few times and she pedantically exercised the
polarbear, all-fours and inversions up to a point where I thought she
might overdo it. I have to admit I didn’t feel 100% ready this time
around.

One day she called during lunch time and told me to pick her up at a
chiropractor in the city centre because her surges had started. I was
mentally prepared for another 48 hour ordeal. Arriving there I was
quite surprised to find her on all fours with strong, shortly spaced,
even though erratic surges. Apparently she had had surges all morning
and had first gone to a toddler musical and then to the chiropractor
to find some relief for here hip pain, all without telling me. People
in the clinic were pretty relaxed and the chiropractor showed me some
hip opening exercises. At some point we managed to get her into a taxi
and drove home: again moaning and on all fours, memories coming back
of the first birth. Once home I naively thought I could make her lie
down and listen to the relaxation exercises for a while or even make
her sleep (our son was asleep as well then). How wrong I was. Surges
were strong and came every 3-5 minutes. I couldn’t move an inch from
her site and had to constantly press her hips together during the
surges (which left me with sour muscles for days after). Shortly after
our arrival she had – surprised by the intense surges – a weak moment
where she doubted herself and asked me if we should go the hospital.
Well, how would I know? So I just followed protocol (‘fake it til you
make it’) and said there was no need. At some point we went into the
shower, she not fully undressed and me still in office clothes. I was
sweating profusely while she was shivering like mad, all the time on
all fours. We called the doulas 1.5 hours in. Our son woke up soon
after and I told him that baby was coming and that mommy’s loud
moaning was actually her calling the baby. That made him happy enough
and I convinced him to go shopping for mommy with our helper. After
they left we frantically tried to fill the pool, but after a while we
ran out of water. At some point then Ginny said we won’t be able to
fill it in time anyway. It should have hit my by then, but for some
reason I just understood this simply as ‘this will take ages to fill,
let’s not bother’ even though she had simultaneously also said that my
wife’s water had broke. I sat down before my wife, who was still on
all fours and she leaned her head on my lap. When Ginny announced that
the head was crowning I was still in denial. After all the doctor
wasn’t even there, so how could the baby be coming? My wife asked what
she had to do now and Ginny simply said: ‘Nothing. Baby will come out
with your next surge’. And that’s what happened. My wife beat the doc
by ten minutes. We were completely zonked: everything had happened so
fast. My wife’s only tear didn’t need stitching and she was up and
running around pretty much the same night. I’m immensely proud of her
and incredibly happy and thankful for this experience.

Pro tip: If you love your wife, buy her knee guards.

Andreas