Ella’s birth story…
It’s so true what they say about no two pregnancies/childbirths being the same. My second pregnancy couldn’t have been more different to the first. Lucky for me, I was sick the whole way through. I wouldn’t go as far to say I had hyperemesis, but I had a spew most days, if not every other day – I remember thinking “why did I do this to myself” almost daily, but I can assure you it was ALL worth it the moment Atari Grae was put into my arms for the first time.
This labour felt completely different too, in many ways, which is perhaps why I was in denial for the most part? Who knows… Melissa, you’ll remember the email I sent you shortly after attending your hypnobirthing class in Robina talking about my unease around the idea of a hospital birth after our amazing unplanned homebirth with Archer. While I have more than enough respect for the wonderful work maternity units do for birthing women the world over, I just knew this wasn’t for me. So Melissa pointed me in the right direction and I met my soul sister midwife Mae’t who worked alongside Jason, Archer and I to come up with the perfect home-birthing plan for us. With that aspect underway, I was able to see past the “pregnancy from hell”, and start to get excited for another amazing hypnobirth. My affirmations were on repeat every time I entered my car, I had my chosen images posted on my wall, and would practice my guided visualisation/hypnosis most nights. We had plans for a beautiful home water birth and got stuck into preparing the perfect birthing space. After hours of late night painting (favourite affirmations, a lotus flower and a sprouting seed splashed across the walls) we ended up with the perfect area where we’d get to welcome our little bundle.
Along came week 37, and Mae’t delivered the pool, things were becoming so real! The next two weeks passed, then on the 22nd of July, as I was driving to my physio appt (I’d managed to injure my ribs by simply turning to respond to Archer while sitting on the couch, heavily pregnant, this was my 3rd week of treatment and I was finally feeling some improvement) I started experiencing tightening. I thought to myself hello braxton hicks, my body is getting prepared! I messaged Jason just to let him know but was ADAMANT it was just practice runs, because the first bout of surges I felt with Archers birth were accompanied by an obvious period type cramping, whereas these weren’t (thinking about it now though, I was probably just labouring while asleep last time and only woke when they started to intensify…) I told him he needn’t worry about coming home from work and I’d just keep him updated. He thought straight away “this is it” though, and came home from work anyway, although I continued to insist it wasn’t the real deal (denial much?!). Turns out I was wrong!
As the day progressed, the tightening continued. I’d let my midwife know I was experiencing “braxton hicks” and kept going about my day. It wasn’t until about 8.30pm after hours of Jason insisting that I was in labour, (“na babe, I’m pretty sure this isn’t it…”) and the tightening sensations being accompanied by that classic “period pain” that I thought okay maybe this is actually happening and contacted Mae’t. She said it sounded like things were getting ready, and asked if I wanted her to come round. I said no I’ll just head to bed and try to get some rest in preparation for the long night ahead, I also messaged our organised babysitter to tell her we may need her assistance.
Not long after hitting the sack, Archer woke up so I spent a bit of time settling him back to sleep as things gradually amped up. At around 10, I’d resigned to the fact that sleep wasn’t in my immediate future and decided to get up and jump on the exercise ball to help me through my surges – I remember the first time ’round having all the intensity in my back, but this time it was all frontal in my abdomen so I had to figure out a new way to position myself to be as comfortable as possible. I was tracking them on my phone and they were steadily increasing in intensity and frequency, so I called upon my breathing techniques to assist me through them – as with my first childbirth, the breathing techniques were my go-to. I insisted Jason stay in bed as Archer was really unsettled so it was best someone be there with him. At one stage he was crying out for me so I had to disrupt my focus and head back to bed and snuggle him til he was asleep again. I think it was around midnight when I had to quickly jump out of bed as I felt something strange in my pants – I’d passed my mucus plug.
I informed Jason and he suggested getting the pool ready and I decided to take myself for a shower. A message to my midwife to keep her updated and she was on her way, as was our babysitter. This is when things got really intense. I got out of the shower and onto the loo as I got the incredible desire to poop. At this stage, the pool setup had to be put on hold as Archer had woken again and Jason was tending to him. It was only a few moments after whisking Archer off to sleep yet again that I called out to Jason who met me in the bathroom as I was bearing down. He could see the bulge and insisted I get off the toilet and on to the couch. With his assistance I made it to the end of the couch, and positioned myself knees on the ground and elbows on the couch. Jason was on the phone to Mae’t who was in transit to our place, talking her through what was happening. She instructed him to put towels on the floor and it was within moments of him placing them down that my final surge brought Atari earthside – 12.26am on the 23rd of July 2016.
I was in absolute shock that it happened again. A totally unassisted home birth, with Jason “catching” our baby. I was so shocked in fact, that it took me a couple seconds to really register what had happened and ask Jason to tell me what it was. A GIRL! Jason immediately scooped her up and placed her on my chest as I just sat in awe and shock.
My brother and his gf (organised babysitter) arrived just moments after her birth, and Mae’t followed just after them, along with another midwife who lived locally. The next hour consisted of skin-to-skin bonding with Atari and I, and my placenta was birthed during that time (my poor brother!) By this stage, the pool was ready for action so Jason, Atari and I all jumped in and we gave her her first bath, along with her first feed. It took a while for the shock to wear off, and although it was the second of two incredible birthing experiences, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down by the fact that I didn’t recognise or admit that I was in labour all day, and didn’t insist my midwife come earlier.
Yet again, I didn’t get to experience the waterbirth that I was so set on, with the support of Mae’t who we’d bonded with so beautifully while under her antenatal care. I know she felt that she’d let me down in a way, but I did not feel that way at all – if there’s a next time though, I’ll be getting her over at the first signs and we’ll just hang out all day. We spent a while in the pool, and eventually cut the cord separating Atari from her source of sustenance for the first 9 months of her life, cleaned her up and dressed her. It was 4am before we retired to bed with the newest member of our family.
We were SO excited to introduce her to Archer when he woke later that morning, but not nearly as excited as he was to meet her! He’s been the most amazing big brother since the moment he laid eyes on her – seeing our children together for the first time brought about the biggest heart explosion! It was an incredible feeling like no other that intensifies each time. Atari has just slotted into our family perfectly, it’s like she’s always been here! And in true hypnobirthing style, she’s such a chilled out little thing – she didn’t even cry for the first four days of her life! We are so very blessed to have her in our lives, and thankful for the incredible experience strengthened by the philosophy of hypnobirthing. Bring on round three! (One day…) who knows, maybe we’ll fiiiiinally get that waterbirth.
Biggest thanks Melissa, and Mae’t, Love from Ella, Jason, Archer & Atari.