A brief introduction to me and my life, my name is Chaya Sara Burke, my husband and I got married on December 1st, 2015 and we welcomed our first child, a son, Uriel Elazar Burke on August 25th, 2016. My pregnancy was a hard one with constant nausea and pre-term labour, hospital stays and bed rest. It was not an easy pregnancy, but I loved every moment knowing we were starting our family. Our son was born via C-section, 25 hours after my labour had started but not progressed beyond 2cms dilation. I was so upset and emotional that I was unable to achieve the natural I had so longed for. For the 6 weeks after my C-section I was in so much pain I could not do much. The recovery for C-sections is long and hard especially when you planned a natural, were unprepared mentally in the event of a C-section and ended up with the unwanted and unplanned C-section. We lived in Cape Town for our first year of marriage and our son was born there.

We moved to Pretoria in 2017 and found out around Pesach of 2017 we were BH expecting baby number 2. YAY!!! BH! For me this was my chance to get the natural birth I had been hoping for, PG the first of many and only natural births further! I started to investigate having a natural, for me the most important thing to have is a dedicated support group. My husband and I discussed me having a natural and BH without a question he was on board. I then got our families involved and everyone was so supportive and encouraging with words of wisdom and confidence in our ability to birth this baby naturally, when I say we I mean Hashem, me and my support system. We need to remember that none of this is possible without Hashem’s help and guidance. I then started to look for a gynae in Pretoria, I was suggested to look into birthing with midwives based at the Netcare Femina Hospital. I got their details made appointments and our Vbac journey had begun. I spoke to our midwife Heather Pieterse, an amazing woman! she began guiding and preparing me for a natural birth. It took a lot of preparation of the mind, body and soul to get the Vbac I desired. I went to gym every day, ate healthy, took my supplements, although I often forgot I did take them as often as I could, I read books that the amazing Doula Tzippy Orkin loaned me and started writing affirmations, quotes that would get me through my birth, I davened so much to Hashem to guide me and help me achieve my Vbac, I had complete Emunah in Hashem that we could do this and that we would achieve the Vbac. I prepared as much as I could for 9 months, my due date was 18th February 2018.

Then on Friday 9th February 2018 I had strong, close together contractions, they were only Braxton hicks, that came on and off the whole week till Friday 16th 2018. Shabbos the 16th /17th was approaching and we prepared the bags, got them into the car and sorted everything out that we would need if this baby decided to come on Shabbos. Shabbos came and went, and nothing happened. I was working on my computer on Motsei Shabbos, Saturday night 17th February, and decided to go relax with my husband on the couch, we had separated a book of tehillim between us which was almost complete, our son woke up, so my husband went to attend to him and I completed the book of tehillim. 4 minutes after I completed the book of tehillim I started having contractions, these were irregular but strong in the beginning.

The contractions, early labour, started at 22:34 on Saturday night 17th February. I managed the contractions till about 23:16 when I contacted my midwife to let her know something was happening but that I wasn’t sure if these were real or still Braxton hicks. I continued to labour, I walked around and took a bath, by 00:37 I updated my midwife again, I tried to sleep with no luck, by 01:32 I messaged my midwife again to let her know I was now struggling with the pain, she suggested another bath for about 40 minutes and to breath and relax, I did my best! I sat in the bath from about 01:39 to 04:20 and laboured, at 04:00 I was in active labour. At this point I messaged my midwife again to let her know I wanted to come to Femina for a check. She suggested we meet there at 5am, she then suggested to come see us at home in case I wasn’t dilated enough and would allow me to continue to labour at home if I needed to. When Heather got to our house it was 05:05. She did the doppler on the baby, all was good there, she then proceeded to do an internal, to our surprise I was already 5cms dilated. We decided it was time to go through. Heather went ahead of us, we organised our son with our neighbours, had something to eat and my husband davened sunrise and we left home at 06:15 to get to Femina. We got there around 06:30ish. Heather had run a bath as that had really helped me labour well. She checked me when we got to Femina and I was 7cms dilated. I got into the bath and laboured there. At about 08:00 Heather checked me again and I was about 8-9cms dilated, again at 10:00 Heather checked me, and I was about 9-10cms dilated. I laboured in the bath, on the ball, I walked up and down the room, I used a wall to help me and breathed. Around 11:00 Heather suggested breaking my waters to help get the baby’s head completely down and to get to the complete 10cms needed to push the baba out. At 12:00 I was fully dilated and the second stage (pushing) started at 12:15. The pushing stage took about 2 hours. It consisted of pushing in the bath, when baba wasn’t coming down enough Heather suggested sitting on the toilet and pushing like I was using the toilet, this helped so much! When baba was down enough I got back into the bath and continued to push, this was it I was about to push our baby out. It took many pushes. I remember using my hands to pull my legs toward me and put my chin down and pushed with everything I had, this for me was the best and most painful of the whole labouring and delivery process. With each contraction I pushed and moaned and groaned and even screamed at points. It was a pain I was not used to but the adrenaline that comes is euphoric. It was my natural pain medication, note I did not have any pain medication at all for our birth. I remember being tired and dozing off after each contraction and I remember the point where I gave a push, felt a pop and looked down and saw a black mop of hair, I began to get excited to meet our gorgeous child! I pushed with the next contraction and the head was almost out, the next and the head was out, the next and the shoulders were out and another push and her torso was out, I looked down and stuck my hands down into the water put them under our baby’s arms and with one more push I pulled her out of me, through the water and up onto my chest. I was holding our baby, my midwife looked at me and said, well what do you have? I looked at her and went ‘oh’ I lifted our baby up and shouted to my husband ‘pup pup we have a girl! I began to cry tears of joy and thanked Hashem first and fore most and then Heather for all she had done! Heather congratulated us.

We waited for about 10 mins for the cord to stop pulsating and then Heather allowed me to try cut the cord, it wasn’t very easy, so Heather cut the cord. I delivered the placenta and the backup midwife took the baby, wrapped her up and handed her to my husband, I was cleaned off and transferred to the bed to check for tearing. I had 2 tears and received 4 stitches. Soon we were off to the maternity ward and the next day we were discharged. This birth for me was the most amazing experience. It was my healing for my C-section and it was proof that I can birth my children naturally and without pain medication. I called on Hashem every step of the way, without Him first and foremost, as well as my midwife, family and most of all my amazing husband Hashem blessed me with I would not have been able to do it. It takes a great deal of strength and one needs a source to draw from – my source is Hashem. With abundant Gratitude to Hashem and all those He blessed me with through this process, we welcomed Temima Esther Burke on Sunday 18th February 2018/3 Adar 5778 at 13:19. Thank you Hashem, Paysach, Heather and everyone involved for all that you did!

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