Holly’s Birth Story
Once my due date had passed, I felt like New Year’s Day would be her day. Before I’d gone to sleep on New Year’s Eve eve, I’d grabbed a towel to put by my bedside, I don’t know why that night felt different but I pictured in my head my water breaking before anything else.. I know it’s not as common for your waters to break prior to going into labour; but I felt that was how it would happen for me.
We joked that night about making it in time to installing our air conditioners the next morning (as we’d just moved into our brand new home a week prior in the middle of summer) and how new years would be just another day.
My partner had already started working on New Years Eve to get the air conditioners installed and at 7am on the dot, I stood up out of bed, feeling ready to take on the day. I felt a slow trickle down my leg and instantly threw the towel on the ground beneath me to save our brand new carpets. A small pool of clear liquid trickled and part of me had already convinced myself my bladder had finally just given way to the pressure and I’d wee’d myself.
As you do, I jumped straight on google “how do you know if your waters have broken”.. lie down and get back up again half hour later, it suggested. So back to bed I went. 20 mins later and I couldn’t wait, stood up and nothing. Will was in the roof of our new home madly trying to install air conditioning units in time for baby girls arrival. I went outside to help him get a cable through the wall and as I was standing there felt another sudden drop of liquid in my pants and had to dash back inside with a towel between my legs.
I felt completely calm, reminding myself that baby girl may not be here for another day or two but that she was on her way to us. I rang the midwife around 8am, no need for an out of business hours call when I was still doubting that my waters had even broken! During that time I had a slight sliver of pinky blood in a pad and had some dull period type pains and knew that was within the realm of normal. I assumed the midwife would make us venture to hospital to be checked although all I wanted to do was be comfortable at home (and I still had house setting up to do)!
I spoke to the midwife on the phone at 8.30AM. She could tell I was calm but we were both convinced that my waters were leaking and that things were starting to happen. She was happy for me to stay home and see how things progressed. The plan was for me to make contact again at 2pm. I had already purchased adult diapers and decided now was the time to make use of them so was wandering around the house in my nappy and sports bra for ultimate comfort.
I settled in, had some breakfast and pottered around the house. My dad and his partner had planned to come over for morning tea and I was managing the cramps just fine so didn’t change these plans. I also decided not to tell them what might be happening, there was no point in alarming them! I had around 3 surge type feelings whilst they were there but was able to talk through them and act indifferently.
Wills was finished installing the air cons about midday and was keen to finally relax with me. We put on Shrek, the movie like we had planned and made ourselves comfortable, laughing and quoting Shrek while we made some snacks. I had some clary sage in a roller which I was applying and smelling throughout whilst moving around on the yoga ball.
By about 2pm I was quite easily breathing through irregular surges but I wouldn’t have said they were contractions as such. I rang and spoke with my midwife who was happy that I was somewhat progressing. She was happy for me to stay home and touch base again in a few hours to see if things were coming on. She did mention that if it didn’t ramp up overnight I would have to come in in the morning and start making a plan for possible induction. She knew induction was something I was hoping to avoid and said that we could negotiate and discuss options of holding off another 24 hours to see if things kicked off.
At around 4pm I was still breathing through irregular surges and wanted to get out for some fresh air. I could feel my body naturally wanting to become tense and tight through the surges and focused on relaxing my mouth, jaw and pelvis. It took a lot of focus to not give in to the tense reactions but I knew I had practiced throughout my pregnancy and in line with the Hypnobirthing techniques for this. My partner would also use reminders, saying “ try soften your jaw” and “breathe downwards” as he started to pick up on my body movements and when I was becoming tense. We went for a walk down the road, it was a pretty hot day and on the walk the surges became slightly more intense where I had to stop every 100m or so, bend over and breath through them. When we got home I stayed on my yoga ball just gently moving my hips while we watched Finding Nemo.
At around 5.30pm, I rang the midwife to touch base. She could tell things were ramping up as I had a contraction on the phon
e, I wasn’t yet making any noises other than breathing and not talking during one. We started timing them but they were still all over the place anywhere between 8 and 15 mins apart. She was happy for us to continue and mentioned she had another women in labour that she sent home again that afternoon as she wasn’t far enough along. I hated the thought of getting to hospital and being turned back and was determined to keep pushing myself. The midwife suggested to get the tens machine on now in preparation so as soon as we were off the phone, my partner got it attached for me. It felt good, and I started on a fairly low level, experimenting with boost and higher levels as I had a contraction.
My partner was hungry and ordered some Mexican, and I assumed that I might not even get to hospital til tomorrow so thought I’d best eat something – loaded fries. A choice I soon regretted! I ate the fries between regular contractions. I suffer with severe period pain regularly and I kept telling myself “this feeling will be over in 1 minute, that’s nothing compared to the period cramps that don’t ease up for ages!”
My partner was timing my contractions and they were becoming more and more regular and between 45 seconds and a minute long each. I kept getting up to go to the toilet and every time I’d move around, the contractions would come on even quicker and stronger, to the point I very uncomfortably got stuck on the toilet having multiple contractions.
I rang the midwife around 7.30pm and had a contraction whilst on the phone saying that things were feeling quite intense. She said that she’d likely see me tonight but to try and stick it out a little longer at home if I could. Again, I didn’t want to be sent home from hospital if I wasn’t progressed enough so bumped up the tens machine and continued on the yoga ball and leaning over the couch. My partner was applying counter pressure on my back whilst also trying to pack the car just to make sure we were ready.
Not long after the phone conversation, I felt a vomit coming on during a contraction and yelled for a bucket which my partner somehow got to me just in time as I heaved over the kitchen table. Loaded fries coming up was not pleasant and it was at that point I decided we had to get to hospital. The contractions were coming on at intervals of about 3 minutes and I was leaning over the couch whilst my partner was trying to dress me. I thought I’d poo’ed myself at one point but it was just the pressure feeling taking over! I couldn’t even dress myself I was just so focused on getting through each contraction.
It took my partner about an hour to get me dressed and out to the car. I went to
get in the front seat but there wasn’t much room due to the car seat being installed and instantly got back out yelling “I can’t sit there”. I was hunched over the window as the surges kept coming and my partner hustled me into the back seat where I was on my knees leaning over into the boot of the car. I shut my eyes and just told him to drive.
I think I was just so out of it and don’t really remember the drive, I was just trying to breath and at that point the tens machine wasn’t really doing much that I could feel despite it being on permanent boost mode. I do remember my partner put on the Hypnobirthing meditation track we’d been listening to and I tried my hardest to focus on the voice.
I’ve been told it was around 10.30pm when we arrived. I remember driving into the carpark of the hospital and wondering how on earth I was going to even get up the lifts. Luckily my mother, who was attending my birth too showed up at the same time in the carpark. She could tell things were very intense and offered to go and get a wheelchair but I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to wait and basically told them to drag me up there. All the bags stayed in the car and I moo’ed and moaned my way through the carpark. Mum had to hold the lift open at the birth suite level as I pushed through another surge. A midwife appeared and I vaguely remember her saying “Oh I heard you coming from the carpark, you’re with me, head straight to room 13 but it’s a bit of a walk”. I winced at the thought of having to move myself any further but in the arms of my partner and mum and through closed eyes we got there.
I hunched over with my hands on the bed as the midwife left the room to get organised. I could only just make out the midwives face through my blurred mind and hadn’t caught her name as my primary midwife was on leave. Within a minute, I felt a huge pressure as my body was bearing down and I felt like I needed to push with it. I yelled at my partner to get the midwife as I needed to push. They cut my nappy off me and somehow got me up on all fours on the bed.
Everything I’d read and watched about the “transition” phase played out in textbook fashion. I yelled for drugs and an epidural and could hear my partner saying “you don’t want that darl, you can do this” but in my head I’d decided I couldn’t at that moment. The midwife said I’ll just check you and that might determine where we go from here. She instantly realised bubbas head was right there ready to make her way out and made it clear to me that bubs would arrive before midnight, making her a 2022 baby. She offered me gas and air which I said yes to and after using it through two contractions, it helped me calm back down but also made me feel quite spacey. The midwife said to me that I wouldn’t be able to push as easily with the gas and air so at that point I threw it away and was determined to push.
I heard the midwife say “Oh look, fireworks, happy new year” as she held up her Apple Watch. I think the light heartedness helped and a wave of excitement rushed over me that our girl was going to be born in 2023.
2 hours of intense pushing and bubs was still not out. After spending most of the time on my hands and knees, the midwife suggested I move to my side which I did, and had someone hold my leg up on one side. I spent a while in that position until she suggested to move onto my back. She knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do but said that I was getting tired and so was bubs and she needed to come out. I could feel her head moving out and then slowly retracting back in as the contractions stopped and such an intense holding of pressure. The midwife was using a warm compress to try and prevent tearing. My partner and Mum kept telling me how close she was and they could see her hair!
At half past midnight the midwife suggested an episiotomy as my perineum was quite tight and both bub and I were exhausted. I tried with everything I had to push her out with the next few contractions without success until I finally conceded that an episiotomy was my best option. I felt that she was so close that this wouldn’t lead to further interventions at this stage which was what worried me most.
From what my partner told me, her head was already crowning so much so that the midwife somewhat was struggling to put in the local anaesthetic but made the small cut quite quickly. Within minutes I believe, and on the next contraction, I pushed with everything I had, feeling the immense pressure and all of a sudden I heard a cry. She was testing her lungs before her body had even slid out. Her body sliding out of me was such an odd sensation but also a huge feeling of relief as they pulled her up towards my chest at 12:41AM. My whole body felt a huge wave of emotion and I looked toward my partner who eyes were also filling with tears and we just sobbed to each other. I think I was vocalising a huge rush of relief but also love and amazement. It took me a minute to adjust my gaze and focus on the little girl I had in my arms. Covered in her own poop, blood and all my fluids and looking slightly purple, she started to turn shades of pink and I couldn’t hold her close enough to me if I tried.
The midwives gave us a few precious moments together, as a family for the first time and my partner and I just sobbed into each others arms.
Our preference was optimal cord clamping and the cord turned white quite quickly. The midwife handed my partner the scissors and he cut her cord.
As I’d had recurring low blood platelets, potentially increasing my risk of bleeding or haemorrhage, the midwife recommended an assisted third stage delivery of the placenta by injection. With my little girl in my arms, I didn’t want to risk any complications after what had been the most amazing birth, and agreed to ensure I could spend time focusing on her. The placenta came out easily within 18 minutes and the midwife began stitching me up. With both my legs in stirrups and my little girl still on my chest, the pain of the stitches was intense but again I breathed through and focused on staying calm. The stitching felt like a lifetime but eventually it was done and we had the room to ourselves to just enjoy our little girl. We had at least an hour of uninterrupted skin to skin, and little girl had her first feed, before the midwife came in to perform her checks.
Ruby was 3.54kg and 46cm. Being the first baby born at the Mercy Hospital in 2023, we were asked to feature in a morning news story. I was on such a high, with so much adrenaline and pride that we agreed (with an added bonus of a private double room for recovery). Ruby was to be a TV star at 8 hours old!
The first shower after birth felt glorious, like the best shower I’d ever had in my life. My mum held the two shower heads over me and I just stood in the warm water. I was up and walking slowly and carefully about an hour and a half after giving birth. By around 2pm that day, we both felt ready to go home and start our life with Ruby. Both checks on me and Ruby were all normal and we were discharged at around 4pm. Walking out of the hospital towards our car with our tiny little baby in my arms was surreal.
Watching back the videos and photos that my mum took of my birth was crazy, I feel such pride and relief and love. I feel so grateful that my birth was such a positive experience but also believe this wasn’t all just luck and came down to all the preparation and work we put in to make it so. I couldn’t thank Megan form Hypnobirthing with Megan in Lilydale, Victoria, enough, who’s course we did when I was 32 weeks pregnant. My partner also credits his strength, calmness and ability to help me through, thanks to her classes. He knew what to say, what he could do to help, what was happening and feels he also had such a positive experience. I was also so grateful to share this experience with my mum, who took some amazing videos and photos of this truly special moment in time. She’s a pretty proud grandma!
Our little girl, Ruby, certainly made a grand entrance into the world at 12:41AM on 1/1/2023 and is already so so loved.