The day I found I am pregnant I was on a business trip to a central laboratory down in England to collect data for my research as a part of my job as a research scientist at a University in Scotland. 30 years old, I was having a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend who I knew for the last 7 years.

I was so busy at work that week and it was just before leaving home to catch a train that I realised my periods were several days overdue. So I grabbed a glass jar from the kitchen and a pregnancy test at the train station pharmacy.

When I needed to wait for my next train for about an hour at a train station, I did the test. In a public toilet. When it showed the positive result, this train station, which was an ordinary one where you don’t want to spend more time than you need, turned into the most welcoming train station on this planet! I clearly was happy about the result.

It was not as straightforward for my partner. He wanted to do many other things in his life before having children. But he was also the most kind and responsible person I have ever met. So all was well.

I have started to eat healthier and went for walks for 1 to 2 hours every day. I sang to my unborn, borrowed books from the library on life after giving birth, and continued to have the psychotherapy lessons to deal with some long-standing issues in my life. I wanted to be ready to be a mother and I wanted to give the best I could to my future child.

As a Christmas present from my mother-in-law we got a three hour session with a midwife who helped women to give birth in their homes. I was 5 months pregnant with an evident bump. The midwife showed my partner how to communicate with the unborn by placing the palms of his hands on my bump. Also for the first time we’ve heard about an option of a home birth and were very inspired. Later we’ve learned that it is very supported in the place where we were going to have our baby, in the North Wales of UK.

Two months before the due date we moved in together with my partner in to a rented house with a garden 100 yards away from the sea, in a beautiful “postcard” village. About that time I have joined the prenatal yoga and aqua-natal classes that I felt were really helping me to prepare for giving birth.

Together with my partner we attended a parenting course of three evening classes. I still had little idea about what it would be like to be a parent, apart from the fact that the babies are cute! My partner had a more realistic understanding that it is a full-time job for many years and a commitment for life. During one of the classes we watched a movie on a water birth; we were hooked and soon ordered a birthing pool from internet.

We found out that where we now lived we could get married very easily with little paperwork. We have considered getting married before but it would involve too much paperwork where we used to live before. After three weeks of organising and 2 weeks before the due date we had our marriage ceremony and a celebration with lots of friends coming over and dancing until late.

Four days into our married life we went on an outing with several other people to visit a lifeboat station. I felt my tummy was getting hard and heavy. A girl who was on the trip and who happened to be studying midwifery later said she was sure I was in early labour that night. But I was oblivious to that.

We went to bed with my husband without any suspicion what tomorrow will bring us. That night I woke up several times from a “tummy ache”. At 5 am my “tummy ache” got worse so that I needed to wake up my husband. He asked if I thought it was the labour.

Well luckily few days ago, our witness and a dear friend asked me how I will know if the labour has started. I did not know so I looked it up in a book and it said “to time the periods between contractions.” This is what my husband did and got 5-6 min between my “tummy aches.”

Well, this was labour.

My husband phoned midwife. She insisted I should go to hospital because she was afraid she would not make it in time. But then a different midwife who was closer to us came relatively quickly to our house. When she came, luckily we knew her as she held the parenting classes for us just over a month ago, she checked me and exclaimed that I am fully dilated and ready to give birth. So yes, ladies, I dilated in my sleep.

After that it was basically waiting for my husband to pump up the birthing pool in our living room and to fill it with water. Again luckily we tried it out few days ago together with our friend and witness; my husband said it turned out to be crucial that he knew beforehand how to set up the pool.

I focused on the contractions and the moments between them, but noticed a bit of running around of the people involved. The midwife was trying to get hold of the other midwife in this early morning hour, but there was no reception for her mobile phone, so she needed to step out of the house and walk along the street to be able to talk. Also my husband needed to run to surgery to get some additional equipment needed by midwifes.

Within half an hour or even faster after I step into the pool, I felt the baby started to make its way out. I did not need any medication or pain relief. The pain of contractions was strong but sweet. I thought that earlier in my life I felt much stronger emotional pain. So now I welcomed the pain knowing that it is the baby making its way out.

I did not need to “do” much work I just focused on “not resisting” to what was happening to me. I remembered that a friend of mine and a mother of two said to me several years ago, that the baby pushing through is like a giant orgasm. So I was just embracing that feeling.

We did not do any ultrasonic scans during pregnancy, and for the birth we opted not to use any ultrasonic devices to monitor baby’s heart beat. Midwifes respected our wish and used the good old pinard stethoscope putting it on my tummy and listening with their ears. For this I needed to get up from time to time from my comfortable position of sitting in the birthing pool. It was then few pushes and the baby came out like a rocket into the pool which quickly filled with blood.

Apparently I was making funny giggling noises like an unknown animal, those were my happy noises. The baby was born in a membrane, or “in a shirt” as we say in Russia, which is a sign that the person will be lucky in life. When the membrane was removed, the midwife exclaimed “It is a boy!”

Our wish was that the cord is not cut off immediately but left connected to the baby until it stops pulsating. One of the midwifes insisted on cutting it off pretty soon after the birth, I was overwhelmed and did not feel like arguing.

Midwife suggested I held the baby next to one of my breasts, and Oh magic! The baby started to suckle! How did he know this? This was a wonder and it was wonderful.

After that I had a slight problem with placenta not wanting to be born. We waited for 2-2.5 hours for it to come out, but it was stuck there. Later we blamed the fact that the cord was cut off too quickly? My husband was holding the baby sitting right here in the living room on the couch, while I was snacking on banana and getting board in the pool that was getting cooler and cooler.

Initially I did not want to have the injection midwifes routinely offer after birth to stimulate the placenta to come out, we wanted the birth to be all natural. But if I waited any longer they said they would take me to the hospital. I certainly did not want this, so I agreed to have the injection that immediately stimulated placenta to be born.

With this the process was complete. The midwife checked for tears, there were none. The baby was the healthy 8.1 lb (3.7 kg).

I went upstairs to the bed room to rest together with the baby, while my husband took care of tiding up the pool, and midwifes were finishing the paper work.

The sun was beaming through the windows that morning, flowers were blossoming in the garden. It was the end of April and an ideal time for welcoming our first baby to this world. Looking at the newborn that morning my husband knew that his name will be Thomas.

So there was life before Thomas’s birth and the life after his birth.  It was marvellous. And we started to learn how to change nappies and cope with the lack of sleep. For 7 days I had an agony of cracked nipples, but after that it was my second nature to breastfeed. And almost four years down the road, I still do it now in tandem with Thomas’s younger brother.

Thomas kept us occupied with his colics that lasted for three months when we learned that nothing helps and you just need to live through it. Thomas also did not like to be put down in the crib, he would only be happy on our arms. Now almost four years later he is still a child who we can call a “strongly spirited” one as he requires a lot of our special attention and extra patience in comparison to what we’ve been experiencing with his younger brother.

Having this first child was VERY empowering and amazing learning experience. We learned that you don’t need to go to hospital to give birth, you don’t need to have ultrasound scans and you don’t need to put your baby to sleep in a crib if you don’t want to.

We have learned about home birth, water birth, the prenatal yoga and aqua-natal classes that put the power back into your body empowering you to give a natural birth. We learned about baby-wearing (clings etc) and re-usable nappies (I ironed (!) each washed nappy for a while until I got too busy after the birth of the second child). We learned that you can put your baby over the toilet (or sink) to do pee-pee pretty much soon after the birth and don’t HAVE to use nappies, it is called elimination communication.

We learned about family bed (we all still sleep in one giant bed and everyone is happy), breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding (anything between 2 to 7 years is normal) and tandem breastfeeding. We leaned that you don’t have to vaccinate your baby all at once; you can postpone it, choose your own schedule or choose to opt out. After reading an immense amount of literature and discussing it through with my husband we decided not to vaccinate our children.

May this be an inspiration for you to take charge of your birth and raring your child, to claim your power back from doctors and computer screens with scan results and to put this power back into your body.

Olga Degtyareva
An award-winning scientist and a mother of two
Peaceful Productivity for Creative Types