This is not your average birth-story post. Mainly because you’ve probably heard every funny, gory, wonderful birth detail about a hundred times and you might be a little over it. This is actually a post about the importance of a good Obstetrician.
If you don’t know – where have you been – I have two beautiful daughters, Rosie (3) and Cece (11 months). Both born in South Africa, at Panorama Hospital. Both natural births.
Before having kids, I was very determined that I wanted to be in complete control of my birthing experience, and I wanted a home birth or a water birth. Once pregnant with my first, both options proved to be near impossible to orchestrate but I am glad to say that both experiences have been empowering and calamity-free…overseen by the care of a fantastic Obstetrician, Dr Van Zyl.
Your Obstetrician should be your coach
Finding the right Gynecologist & Obstetrician in South Africa is so much harder than I thought it would be, especially finding one that is passionate about natural births. I feel that C-sections are championed more than natural births here – I am comparing this to births in the UK.
Dr Van Zyl was recommended to me and I am so grateful for that because, through all my crazy irrational thoughts and the moments when I felt at my absolute worse, he supported me rather like an athletics coach. He knew my fears and concerns and always established a plan of action for each eventuality.
From the beginning I said to myself, this guy is gonna see my vagina so there is zero point in me “pussy footing” around any of my feelings so, from the get-go, I told him exactly what I wanted, what I didn’t and what I was afraid of.
You must know, by now, that I have opinions. Strong opinions:
And he listened. He always listened. But he made sure I knew what the options were should anything go wrong because a healthy baby was the goal…not a ticked-off birth plan.
Whenever I felt anxious about something I would phone his rooms and Luzaan (the best office admin ever) would reassure me and quickly get in touch with Dr to try and squeeze me an appointment.
At 41 weeks, Rosie would still not leave my womb and I was OVER it. I was having to “sleep” in a chair, with my feet in buckets of ice from 8 months on thanks to terribly itchy skin and a lack of sleep does terrible things to a person’s mind. I remember telling Dr that I needed options. I needed this baby out. He booked me in for an induction and gave me the honest low-down on all the options I had and what it would not only mean for baby’s health and mine, but also for my mental state.
After having my water’s broken, the pain started instantly and it was ruthless. I dilated like I was trying to win a race against Usain Bolt. After 3-4 hours (I have no idea how long exactly) I begged for an Epidural and I got it just in time…if I had been my own Gynae, I would have thrown in a “I told you so”.
I didn’t know what to expect during the pushing stage. I knew it would be horrific pain but I didn’t know how my body and mind would cope. For each push, Dr was encouraging and instructive. He told me exactly how long I needed to push for and when I needed to take a breath. He explained every step, every moment – he coached that baby out and he let me have my first minutes of heaven with her on my chest before he did any downstairs clean up.
When Rosie reached a year and a half, we decided to try for another. I fell pregnant pretty quickly.
Then I had my miscarriage.
I don’t know if he will appreciate me saying this, if he will even read this at all, but as he was confirming what we all suspected, he told us of his own personal stories of miscarriage and it meant so much to be able to commiserate over a shared experience,and for my husband to actually talk to another guy about it.
Getting pregnant again was wonderful and I was so overjoyed to have it confirmed by Dr and to see that first scan and know that this little baby was safe.
I should actually call this birth “the one with the lack of drugs” coz there was NOTHING. And yes, the downstairs still tenses up whenever I think about it.
Cece came without aid. It was a ridiculously quick birth and labor and because of this, I missed getting an Epi – I still maintain that Dr owes me one.
It was the most physically painful moments of my entire life and I thought I couldn’t do it. I think I even said that I was failing, but Dr gave all the right instructions and motivation and she was born healthy, happy and again, with zero issues.
You deserve the best
So this isn’t a post about my choices, or what I experienced in my births, you can read those stories here and here.
This is definitely not a post about natural versus C-section.
I’m not trying to tell you how to birth.
I am also not down-playing my husband’s part in the birth because he was 100% a hero.
This a post about how you need to find “your person” and get the very best people in your corner.
Having a baby is a poop-show (literally, for some) and it is terrifying and exciting and the last thing you need is someone who doesn’t understand you or support your decisions.
Ask all the questions. Look at all the options. Get connected with someone who has your back…and your vag.
This isn’t a sponsored post. Dr is probably super mortified that I’m even bringing him up. Ha. But I’m totally getting him back for all the times I have had to spread eagle 😉
To find out more about him and his practice – especially if you’re looking for “the one” you can view his website here