I've decided to share my birth story. I found reading birth stories when I was pregnant fascinating and it gave me reassurance and confidence, especially the positive ones. I especially loved the book, "Having a great birth in Australia." Thanks to the internet and mum blogs there are lots of positive stories and experiences around but no two stories are the same so here is mine xo
My pregnancy wasn’t completely planned. I took a pregnancy test in the disabled toilet up at the local shops as I couldn’t wait until I got home and it was positive. I was a little overwhelmed, and then felt guilty as I walked out to find a disabled person waiting to use the toilet.
My husband was away at the time and we were meeting in Sydney the next day to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I was excited but nervous to tell him and thought I’d rather wait and tell him in person. I was thinking of how I would tell him but in the end I just said we’re going to have a baby. He was ecstatic after the initial surprise as we had always said we wanted a family but hadn’t really got into the nitty gritty of it. I was working at an IVF clinic at the time and I felt blessed that I fell pregnant so easily.
I went to the doctor and she wrote me a referral for the local public hospital as we didn’t have maternity care as part of our private health insurance. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of going through the public health system, to be honest mostly because I don’t like waiting for appointments! So I started looking more into different options. I found a tiny bit of information about homebirth, enough to peak my interest and discuss it with the doctor at my next appointment. She dismissed it and said maybe you could do it with your second baby but definitely not the first as it’s too risky. Luckily for me, my sister in law had given birth to two of her babies at home and we went to visit her newest addition that weekend. I chatted to her and she put me in touch with one of her midwives who came over the following week and I immediately knew that I wanted to give birth at home. Hubby wasn’t so sure but came on board after meeting Hannah, our amazing midwife.
The pregnancy was mostly easy and comfortable, I did have PGP (pelvic girdle pain), which was mostly exacerbated by exercise. (Which is why I went on to focus on pre and post-natal exercise) I did lots of meditation and reading, joined the Australian Breastfeeding Association and went to a breastfeeding class so I felt prepared for the birth and the arrival of my baby girl. Visits were amazing, our midwife came to our house and it was always relaxed and we could ask as many questions as we wanted. I wasn’t forced to do tests I didn’t want to and we were given lots of really useful information and books from our midwives. I loved all the reading and it inspired me to go and read a lot more. I read and I read all about natural birth and active labour and great births. I had confidence in my body to give birth. My midwives kept my sometimes “over confidence” in check but I felt well prepared.
I saw my midwife a couple of weeks before my due date to borrow an ergonomic chair to help with optimal fetal positioning and after doing a quick check she said casually maybe you’ll have the baby this weekend. I told my husband joking about it and he freaked out and went and got our TENS machine organised. Lucky he did, the next day at 6am I got up to go to the toilet and a whole lot of liquid leaked on my way. I came back to the bedroom and said to my husband “I’m not sure if my water broke or if I just wet my pants.” He was surprised I wasn’t able to tell (like couldn’t I tell if I wet my pants or not?) and went to sniff the wet patch for further inspection and confirmed, no it’s not wee. I went back to bed and woke up at 8:30 and we called our midwife. At that stage I hadn’t had any contractions so she said let’s wait and see what happens and just check in later. Then I started getting light cramping sensations, yes it really did feel like period pains so that was good – it looked like labour was going to start. My husband and I went to the park with the dogs and after he came back started organizing the pool. My dad came over to collect the dogs and drop something off – he was surprised I was so calm and collected. Nothing much was really happening at that time so I was just trying to stay relaxed and conserve my energy. During the day contractions started, occasionally I’d go and lie down and have a rest and they’d slow down. I put the tens machine on and used that when I had contractions but mostly I would just breathe through them.
In the afternoon, I did some light stretching – stopping while I had a contraction and then continuing on when it finished. At this stage they were still 8 or so minutes apart. I went for several walks around the block, had several phonecalls with my midwife and at about 6:30 I was talking to her while I was walking around the block and she noticed I sounded different. I stopped for a contraction and she asked “Was that a big one?” It was. She said OK, I’m going to have some rest and head over at about 9pm. After that the contractions started to become more intense, the TENS machine was no longer providing any distraction and just felt awful and cold. I was listening to my hypnobirthing meditation and was getting really frustrated at the phrase, “every breath you take is like an anaesthetic” I was thinking no; no it’s not actually! At 9pm I told my husband to call the midwives and get them to come over now; actually they were already on their way. By the time they came I was too into it to even acknowledge them as they came in the door. They reminded me to move my hips through the contractions; the gentle swaying of the hips helped a lot. The pool was ready to go but I hadn’t hopped in yet because I was waiting for the midwives to come, I was afraid of slowing things down. After a brief conversation I asked if I could get in the pool and it was like instant relief. It was like taking a load off. The contractions were getting stronger and coming closer together. I felt very lightheaded and strange but not in a bad way, it was like a floating sensation. Then my baby’s head moved down and it felt was like a bowling ball was trying to come out of me – I felt like it was trying to come down but my initial instinct was to suck it back in. I was afraid, I started screaming – it was a very overwhelming feeling. My midwife started to reassure me and reminded me that we’d discussed this part and it was all normal. I regained my composure and found my breath again; we were back on track. I honestly don’t know how long I pushed for, to me it felt like about 6 or so pushes but apparently it was more. The hardest part of pushing was working so hard and then she would slide back in after the contraction. Finally her head came out – there are some amazing pictures of her under water with her eyes open (the photos are of a mirror) It was the strangest sensation as I felt her body turning inside me ready for her body to be pushed out and it came out in the next contraction.
Wow, I had a baby in my arms, she was tiny and had dark hair. I didn’t really know what to say, they were like you can talk to her. I just rubbed some of the vernix into her skin and looked at her. I felt amazing, like I had achieved something so incredible. She didn’t cry much and then I started breastfeeding her with the help of the midwives. The cord was really short which was making feeding uncomfortable so Namdo cut the cord. About an hour later, the midwives said we should try and get the third stage happening. I stood up and gave a push (the same as when I was trying to get my baby out) and the placenta came out straight away. As I write this birth story a month before my daughter’s second birthday and preparing for the birth of my second baby it is still in the freezer. I got out of the pool after about an hour and a half, it was so good to be able to get into my pjs and just relax. Everyone headed off and the three of us went to bed, although not much sleeping was done by us, we just couldn’t believe what was lying there in between us – lots of sleeping done by Sianh though. She didn’t wake up until about midday!