Home Birthing in the Inner West

Porpoise-built Home Birth

(Gerard Oosterman)

Home birthing.

In the same street but opposite, lived a man and a woman. She an artist, he an artist by exterior only. You know the type, totally esoteric in giving answers to even the simplest question. Unable to straight talk and everything imbued with a deep meaning but totally away from comprehension. He was on his third marriage and happily ignored his kids from previous encounters but always ready to criticise the terrible ‘middle classes’. His latest wife was pregnant and ready to ‘unpack’ the baby. Both were ardent believers in the alternative world of Bach remedies and early morning Chakras aligning themselves to magic columns and circles. The birth was going to be a ‘home under water birth’ in the garden and  after baby just born but still attached to umbilical cord, would be kept under water for the first five minutes of his or her life.  This was all part of the essential but incomprehensible deeper involvement of mysticism and very Sufism related multiple and opposite meanings.

The whole street would be kept informed and noise be kept to a minimum. The husband had rigged up an old cast iron bath with an empty 40 gallon drum elevated on bricks with a wood fire underneath next to the bath, and our old above ground pool pump would be circulating warm water from drum to the bath. The time had arrived and being mid winter the fire under the drum was kept up with a never ending supply of old timber remnants from renovations that seemed to be going on all year around everywhere.

Majestically and totally very hirsute, the huge form of the wife appeared. We had front stall looks from the upper storey of our house direct into their garden across the road. She plunged into the bath, ready for the delivery of this sub-marine baby. The moaning started and the husband was flat out stoking the fire and holding the wife submerged. The pump was revving at fever pitch circulating the water that was getting so hot at one stage that the wife had to get out letting things cool down a bit. In the meantime, the husband in an act of supreme solidarity, (his astral travel the night before had taken him to powerful and hitherto unknown regions) stripped off and stepped in the bath behind his wife. Both squatted down and he held her from behind, shouting ‘push, push’, you bitch, push!

She now had much less space and was holding her legs up in the air above the bath but also sometimes against the rim to help the pushing and straining. The screaming increased in intensity and volume, the timbre of her voice not unlike a badly tuned hurdy gurdy being played in a tiled underground rail tunnel in Moscow. Our kids and their friends were hanging out of the windows and still no sign of the underwater miracle. The dogs were howling and barking in tune with the screaming wife. This went on for a few hours with both getting in and out of the bath, adjusting the temperature and fire. Some of the neighbours were shrugging their shoulders and others voicing disapproval. Not a baby in sight and the crowds started dissipating. Out of the blue, a siren was getting closer and closer. An ambulance appeared, a stretcher was produced and the poor woman dripping and with skin like a plucked chicken was without further ado strapped in and carried to the ambulance. The husband still starkers standing on the road near the ambulance, with hanging testicles like walnuts in a sock, was muttering incantations, but the baby was delivered at the hospital, a little girl.

Up until this day no one ever found out who called the ambulance. I am still wondering myself!


3 Responses to “Home Birthing in the Inner West”

  1. Adrian Says:

    What’s more were the ambos or paramedics laughing when they departed the scene with the bloke in the bollkie.


  2. Keith Van Driel Says:

    An enjoyable read for a Dutchman that’s been out here 57 years.


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