Henry’s Easy Home Waterbirth in Sweden is shared by his mother, Amy
I bundle up and waddle over to the neighbor with a bag of fancy granola and a small stuffed toy frog. It’s November 5th. Her baby is 2 months old, my family moved here a month ago and if I don’t go over today it may be Spring before we meet.
After a pleasant but quick exchange at her doorway, I head back to our home. Living in the countryside, next door is a couple hundred meters and on the way back up the windy gravel road my first wave washes through my body. I smile and tell baby I’m looking forward to this.
It’s getting dark fast as I enter the school yard. November is dark up here. I call my husband, “Write those last e-mails and cancel those meetings” I suggest with a smile. In Sweden, partners get 10 days off after the birth.
Yes, my new home country may be cold and dark in the winter but it is really family-friendly.
We eat dinner, I time my waves and call my midwife. As my husband reads to the children I lay beside them, enjoying these last moments with my baby on the inside. I calmly mention to my husband to read faster. We have a birth pool to inflate and fill.
Our three year old sleeps soundly in the family bed, but our five year isn’t having it. She is after all, my doula and doulas stay awake and reassure. She assembles all the most important stuffed animals and dolls and the contingency congregates downstairs in proximity to the pool to welcome the newest member.
Updating my family, rocking on my birthing ball and listening to music, I watch Mattias run back and forth and up and down, filling that pool. Ruby and her troop of dolls lay fast asleep and when Mattias pulls a blanket over the pool to maintain the heat, he carries Ruby to her bed and we take a sofa each and doze a little.
Around 2 am, I’m ready to get in the tub. Intense energy has collected in the middle of my body and I long for the weightless freedom of the water. It is sanctuary. Moving in the water allows me to direct the energy – to influence how and where it clusters.
For some moments, intense pressure swells in my back. Memories of my first birth with hours of excruciating back pain vie for my attention. That will not be happening this time. I know more and have great support. And I have water! “Call Carina” I announce. I want my midwife.
I sway in the water for 45 more minutes and then I NEED my midwife. Mattias calls and she’s ten minutes from our house. I’m pushing! No hours of back labor. Baby turned just fine and is on its way to me.
Carina enters the house and quietly descends the stairs.
“Baby’s coming” I tell her as I transform my body into a funnel, focusing all my energy downwards. Ten minutes later at 3:42 am, the amniotic membrane swells out from my body and I birth my baby into the water between my legs. Eyes open, he looks quickly left and right and directly up at me. I pause, meet him and gather him to me. Breaking the surface of the water, I draw Henry to my breast.
That feeling of gathering my baby to myself. That protection that the water gave us. Our space.
It was truly magical. I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when he was born.
Carina runs up to the children. The proud brother and sister hover at my side to meet their little brother, who lets out a cry and pees to greet them. “He’s a boy” announces big brother. We all giggle. We have that meeting recorded. That’s what birth can sound like – laughter and joy. That is what birth can feel like – love and strength.
I birth the placenta into the water. Carina rinses it and places it in a bowl. Upstairs we scent it with lavender, wrap it in a cloth diaper and lay it in a velvet purple bag, tied with a sash.
Our family lay cuddled on a pull-out bed in our living room eating Pringles and dark chocolate. I have a tradition of celebrating my births this way. Ruby says, “a baby is a treasure in mommy’s tummy.” I agree. Surrounded by treasure.
Lights flicker on in the homes by the lake, the sky changes from black to dark blue and cars drive by crunching on the gravel road. I sit, softly smiling. So present. I have everything.
The divinity of birth provides everything one needs.
Amy Neuhedel M.ED, CD(DONA), Dip HB Originally from NY, Amy Neuhedel, has lived in Sweden since 2000. A mom of three and inspired by two Hypnobabies home births, she certified in KG Hypnobirthing in London in 2011. In 2012, she trained as a doula in Indonesia with CNN hero Robin Lim and Debra Pascali-Bonaro at Eat, Pray, Doula. Amy supports families in person and virtually as an educator, doula, coach, blogger and podcaster. Visit her virtual home at http://www.amyneuhedel.com/thecord and reach out to her on social media. She loves making new friends.