THE CEREMONIAL CAESAREAN BIRTH OF HADLEY SPENDLOVE
What a journey this gorgeous family have been on.
Kathryn, a lawyer, was after the tools to embark on the most natural birth she could have. After a journey through IVF, Kathryn decided she wanted to leave the medical side of things behind her.
Paul, was there to support… and boy did he do that. Upon our initial meeting Paul was quite open in saying that he was slightly skeptical about the process, but was there to support Kathryn through and through.
A sudden turn in events left this family having to take a breath and find new meaning to the journey that was to be (albeit far from their preferences). An early morning call for a Fear Release (with Paul and midwife, Liz guarding the room for Kathryn to have space) had us all knowing that there was a reason for this, we may not know it now and we may never, but there was.
Hadley’s birth is a true indication of how mindset can completely turn your experience around, even if the birth you have is nothing how you had imagined.
A story of inspiration, mindset alteration and the knowledge that baby and body truly know how they need to birth.
Five years before...
I feel like my birth story started five years before Hadley came earthside. We started trying for a baby and got pregnant quickly.
But then we suffered miscarriage after miscarriage with no explanation. Finally we tried IVF and got one tiny embryo. Nine months later, I was headed into hospital to meet our miracle baby.
I developed high blood pressure at 32 weeks so the last weeks of pregnancy involved lots of monitoring and pressure to be induced early. With the support of our midwife, Liz, from My Midwives, we made the informed decision to continue to wait.
On Thursday, our guess date, I had some pain so we headed into hospital. My high blood pressure had become pre-eclampsia so we agreed to an induction.
Body and baby knows best...
Despite not going into labour naturally, I was still quite determined that we would have our calm, natural birth that we wanted. Over the next 36 hours, and the use of tape and gel to try to get things moving, there was no change.
My cervix refused to open and Hadley was not engaged in my pelvis. It was clear that she was not going to come on her own. I was terrified of the prospect of a caesarean and Liz knew it was the last thing I wanted.
So when she sat me down on Friday afternoon and told me she thought it was best, I knew her advice was not given lightly.
I was still quite determined that we would have our, natural birth that we wanted.
Creating space to grieve...
When my next check at 11pm showed no progress, I signed the consent form and spend some time grieving the birth I had imagined. I spent time talking to Hadley and explaining what was happening.
The affirmations of “I turn my birthing over to my body and my baby”, “I put all fear aside as I prepare for birth” and “I am prepared to meet whatever turn my birthing takes” rung through my head.
Deep down, I knew that there must be a reason things were going this way and I knew I just had to go with it.
I spent time talking to Hadley and explaining what was happening.
I put all fear aside...
The next morning, I contacted Brooke from Birth Your Way HypnoBirthing and she took me through a fear release over the phone. I was terrified about having the spinal anaesthetic and about being awake while I was being cut open.
I used the fear release to face these fears. After the fear release, I felt significantly better and started to feel really excited about my birth.
I listened to the Rainbow Relaxation as I was wheeled to the theatre. I started to imagine the procedure as a birthing ceremony.
I had imagined my birth as a beautiful, primal experience and while this would not be like that, I felt it should be just as magical and just as sacred.
I felt it should be just as magical and sacred.
Creating a ceremony...
As I was wheeled to the theatre, I imagined it as a procession to the ceremony. I was flanked by my husband, Paul, Liz and the orderlies.
When I arrived in the theatre, I met the participants in the ceremony (the medical staff) and moved to sit on the table. I continued to listen to the Rainbow Relaxation as the anaesthetic was done.
The spinal anaesthetic was tough and after 30 minutes and multiple punctures, they offered me a general anaesthetic. By this time I was very relaxed and calm and asked them to keep trying.
I did not want to miss Hadley’s birth unless there was truly no other option (before the fear release, I think I would have begged for a general anaesthetic as I was so afraid). They called the Head of Anaesthetics to come and try.
As we waited, I took my time to look around and meet the ceremony participants. I imagined them all there to participate in the sacred ceremony of Hadley’s birth.
A magical moment...
The anaesthetic was successful and the procedure began. By this time, I was really excited. I was fascinated by the feeling of the anaesthetic and marvelling at the process.
We had asked for delayed cord clamping and immediate skin-to-skin contact but were told that neither was likely to be possible.
Hadley emerged into the world at 9:59am on Saturday, 11 November 2017. The surgeon then held her aloft to announce her birth.
It was magic to see her, illuminated in the spotlight. She and I could have been the only two people in the room. We were both the centre of attention and it was the most overwhelming moment of my life.
She was placed on my legs to stay warm for a bit to allow delayed cord clamping. She was taken for a very quick check, and for Paul to cut the cord, before being brought over for skin to skin with me.
Looking back at the photographs, she was gone for several minutes, but in my memory it felt like only a minute.
Once she was placed on my chest, she reached her hand over and touched my face. It was amazing!
She reached over and touched my face.
Liz came over and I will never forget the look on her face. She told me that my decision to have a caesarean had likely saved Hadley’s life. My other midwife, Sharon, held up my placenta so I could see the large veins travelling through the amniotic sac.
I had a velamentous cord insertion. It is so rare it is not routinely checked for but it has a terribly high still birth rate, particularly where your waters are artificially ruptured.
My body knew if my cervix opened even a tiny bit, that my waters would be broken and the haemorrhage may well have killed both Hadley and I.
A pink, button of joy...
As I was wheeled into recovery with Hadley on my chest, the staff remarked on how gorgeous and pink she was. We had our first breast feed within minutes of arriving. I was on a huge high. I couldn’t stop smiling. I recall looking at Paul and telling him I was ready to do it all again.
My recovery was also super quick. Within a couple of weeks, I already felt fully healed. I could swear that having been calm and relaxed also contributed to my quick recovery.
Words From Mum...
I am 100% certain that without HypnoBirthing I would be dealing with the after affects of birth trauma. Instead, I recall Hadley’s birth as the most amazing day of my life.
I was calm and excited in the face of one of my biggest fears. I was so relaxed, I could visualise the whole procedure as a sacred ceremony and could create in my mind all the magic and beauty I wanted for Hadley’s birth.
I didn’t see the medical equipment or the doctors, I saw props and players in the sacred ceremony of birth. I wouldn’t change a thing.
The ceremony commenced on the morning of 11 November 2017. It started with a cleansing shower in preparation for the ceremony. I had been fasting for several hours as required. Following the cleansing, the ceremony participants gathered ready to start the ceremony marking the separation of joint souls and the welcoming of our daughter earthside. I was placed on a bed and we began our last journey as joint souls, flanked by my husband, Paul, my birth companion, and my midwife, Liz, who had been with me throughout my pregnancy. I relaxed and meditated as we travelled to the theatre to commence the ceremony.
On arrival, the ceremony participants, dressed in ceremonial clothes of greens and blues, representing nature and new life, greeted me. I was placed on the table and Paul was taken to another room to don his ceremonial clothes and to have time to contemplate his last moments before completing his entry to fatherhood. Our other midwife, Sharon, arrived to sit with Paul in this transition.
While Paul was having his own time, I was sat on the side of the table. Standing in front of me to the left was a stranger, an orderly. To my right was a friend, my midwife, Liz. They represented the strange and the familiar, the way my new daughter would be both strange and familiar to me as she entered the world. They each took my hands. I bowed my head and they each laid a hand on the back of my head. As the anaesthetic was administered, I had a moment to quietly reflect on the miracle of my body and pregnancy and to mourn the passing of my pregnancy into motherhood; a chance to thank my body for her service in growing and birthing my daughter.
As the anaesthetic took effect, I was laid down on the table and my husband came to stand at my right hand. We were side-by-side, hands joined, as partners in our new life as parents.
The surgeon announced the commencement of the birth as she unsealed Hadley’s first home to release her into the world. Together we birthed Hadley and the surgeon held her up so all participants could see her. Hadley let out a cry and the gender announcement was made. Everyone was happy and gave me their congratulations. Hadley was placed on my thighs while the surgeon assisted me to birth the placenta and then both Hadley and the placenta were moved to a separate space for Paul to cut the cord, officially separating us.
Hadley was then bought to me for our official introduction. She was placed on my chest, skin-to-skin for us to enjoy time together. She was the most magical little being I had ever met and I was instantly in love with her.
We then had the viewing of the placenta and a chance to acknowledge its life-giving service and thank it for keeping Hadley alive and healthy for the last nine months.
By this time, the surgeon had finalised resealing Hadley’s first home and completed the birthing ceremony.
We were then moved from the table to the bed and wheeled into the recovery area. Here, we continued to bond through skin-to-skin contact and Hadley was able to latch for our first breastfeed. I was reconnected with my body as my own again as the anaesthetic wore off and I was able to debrief the ceremony with Paul and Liz.
We then commenced the journey back to our room marking the end of the ceremony and the beginning of Hadley’s life earthside and our new relationship as two separate souls and a family of three.
Kathryn truly embraced the journey her birthing day and Hadley took her on. By trusting the process, eliminating fear and changing the mindset she was able to create the most glorious of ceremonies.
Because of sudden change in how Kathryn and Paul needed to birth, Kathryn undertook a beautiful process. She grieved the birth she knew wasn’t to be, listened to her Rainbow Relaxation, immersed herself in a Fear Release and began to create a spiritual caesarean ceremony for her to take joy and pride in.
Here, Kathryn shares with us her thought process and the creation of her sacred ceremony.
A dedication to the birth of Hadley
By mum, Kathryn
A Caesarean Ceremony
Thank you to Kathryn and Paul for sharing their extraordinary and inspirational journey in creating a sacred space for Hadley to be born in.We appreciate our couples taking the time to share their honest journey's. B x