We had been waiting for what seemed like months for our little angel to make her arrival. Since our first son was born at 38 weeks, we had been ready since then; pool blown up in the lounge room, fridge stocked with food, support team ready at the call and most of all I felt ripe and ready, big and heavy. Those last 3 1/2 weeks seemed to last for an eternity. I would wax and wane, between enjoying the final moments of pregnancy and feeling the eagle eye of all our friends and family, waiting, waiting, waiting. Well I was waiting too!!! From about 23 weeks during this pregnancy I would have regular braxton hicks surges, where my uterus would go tight for a moment and then subside, I always used this as an opportunity to practice my surge breathing. So when I got to my 40 week guess date and nothing was happening, not even a braxton hick surge, I was firstly disappointed, my husband quickly reminded me that this was a guess date and the baby would come when it was ready. He said “just relax honey, chill”. We did exactly that for the next week and a half (longest week of my life). Swims in the freezing cold water, many kilometres of walking along the foreshore of our amazing Gold Coast coastline, juices out, the odd catch up with family. But mostly we avoided people we knew – so we could focus on our baby and our birth, focus on; staying in our positive mindset and not letting anyone else stories, fears or experience permeate the beautiful positive birth bubble we had created for our incoming little soul.
On the morning of the 21st of July, I was 41 weeks and 2 days. Which is within the range for a normal pregnancy (38-42). I had hit the point where I felt like it was never going to happen. The day before I’d had a clary sage bath and tweaked my nippes a little. But I didn’t want to interfere with the way nature had intended labour to start, so I decided I would not have an acupuncture appointment or try any other so called natural induction methods, that I would let our baby decide when it wanted it’s birthday to be. So, on the morning of the 21st of July in the name of ‘letting go and surrendering to the process of pregnancy and birth’, I went for a pedicure and foot massage for an hour, while my husband took our 2.5 year old son for a play date with some friends kids. It was during the pedicure (which was very relaxing I might add) that I was having some tightenings, but had noticed they were different, they also had a very slight period cramp attached to them. In my mind I just thought ‘If this is it, it’s only early days anyway, so I’ll just continue on with my pampering and relax at home later’. An hour later at 11am I had finished my pampering and was in Aldi buying some groceries, when it struck me that these sensations have become slightly stronger and weren’t going away (like a lot of the other warm up/ false labour starts had). I called my husband Rory and said to come and pick me up – he said later, he just knew labour had begun and got a bit of hurry and excitement in his step.
We arrived home at 12.30pm. I decided to time a few of the surges and see if there was a pattern and how far apart they were. At this stage they were 8 minutes apart and lasting 30-45 seconds. I could easily breathe through them and was just bouncing on the fitball, rubbing clary sage on my belly and enjoying some toasted avocado and chicken sandwiches my husband was making. After lunch, about 2pm the surges had gotten a little more intense, I was using a heat pack on my abdomen and visualising an opening rose flower. I was having to focus all my attention during these surges, so I knew it was time to get organised. I called our Midwife Steph and she was at another birth, but said that the woman birthing was getting pretty close, but if I needed someone right away her back up (who I had already met and knew) Maria was only 10 minutes away. Steph instinctively knew I needed Maria to come and she sent her over. I told Rory to begin filling the pool, as I just had a feeling that I wanted to get in there soon and in the back of my mind was thinking ‘I don’t want to be one of those women birthing on the bed next to the pool!” I was determined to get my waterbirth.
At about 1.45pm while Rory was filling the pool, he had called the midwife Maria to come over and he also let our photographer know that my membranes had released. While Rory was filling the pool I lay down on the bed next to the birth pool and as I lay down, I felt a ‘POP’ and my membranes had released. It was like I realised this wasn’t my imagination, labour was really happening. I shouted to Rory “My membranes have released!”. He replied, “That’s wonderful honey, remember to breathe”. Rory gave me light touch massage and continued reaffirming my ability to birth. Which was very grounding. His constant encouragement kept me focused, calm and in control.
My Mum had arrived at about 2.30pm also and decided to take Noah for a walk, which sounded great to me, then I could just get into the pool and focus on getting into my hypnobirthing zone. Which I did. Easing into the tub of beautiful warm water, was so relaxing and like natures endorphins. It felt so great so just relax through the surges.
By 3pm our midwife Maria had arrived and this made my labour kick into gear. It was like the moment she walked in the door, I felt extra safe and secure. Like I could really just let go and immerse myself in the energy of labour. After Maria arrived, I hardly noticed she was there. She was like the lifeguard at the beach, watching over me, not interfering, just observing. But I had my own real life lifeguard, my husband, (Rory is a Gold Coast lifeguard!), whom held me the entire time and made me feel loved and secure. Which really helped when things started to get more intense.
By about 4.30 I was certainly in transition, looking back it was like I didn’t realise. My legs were shaking and I felt slightly nauseated and only once said to my husband that I didn’t think I could do it anymore. He just kept saying “Yes you can. You are doing it.” and I remember Maria also saying “It’s just your body doing what it’s designed to do” and Rory kept reminding me to do my slow breathing and to relax my jaw and body. The repeating of these affirmations got me back on track.
I was so in my zone that I didn’t even notice the second midwife and our birth photographer arrive. It was only when I started bearing down, feeling that uncontrollable urge to push (I didn’t ‘push’ though, I breathed calmly and worked with the urges) that I acknowledged their presence or at least I felt like I did – up until this point I felt like I was just inside myself, eyes shut and in embrace with my loving husband.
The bearing down surges seemed to have breaks long enough in between that I could actually acknowledge that my birth team (including our 2.5 year old Noah, watching with great intrigue) were all lovingly surrounding me. This feeling of love really helped move our baby down. I was kind of lying sideways on the bottom of the pool and this is where I stayed, it just felt right. During pregnancy I had always visualised myself kneeling and leaning over the front of the pool, but I tried this position and it felt really uncomfortable, so I went back to side lying. I was almost on the bottom of the pool, because it wasn’t yet entirely full – we had run out of hot water and they were boiling big pots of water on the stove. Every time they poured pots of boiling water into the pool – I felt a massive relief.
5.15pm The surges were really productive and I could feel her head in my pelvis. I really enjoyed this part of labour – it felt like we were getting closer to meeting our new little baby. It was this last hour of labour that time really was blurred, it felt like 10 minutes but really it had been an hour. One big surge came and I placed my hand on my vagina and said “I can feel her head”. I heard the midwife say “That’s fantastic, your baby is nearly here”. I had another 3 surges where her head would come out and go back in, come out and go back in. This was where I kept telling myself, “Don’t rush this, just work with your body, my baby knows what to do”. On the 3rd surge her head came out, which was a massive relief and I could feel her head turning when I reached down to feel it. Her head was out for a few minutes before the next surge came, which birthed her body, in what felt like a massive woossshhh (i’m sure it was a lot slower and calmer than it felt) and out came her body. I think for a second I was in shock that I’d done it – because the midwife said “Reach down and pick up your baby”.
At 5.50pm on the 21st of July, I birthed my baby and reached down into the nice warm birth pool and carefully lifted her onto my chest. I felt so accomplished. I’d achieved my healing beautiful home birth.
It took me about 10 minutes to have a look at what sex she was. Everyone was hanging to find out – but no
one said anything, they just waited for me to look. I lifted her up and with shock said “Oh my god, it’s a girl’. Our entire pregnancy, we were certain it was a boy (goes to show how wrong you can be). She was covered in white slippery vernix, I thought to myself ‘she’s certainly not overcooked, she’s perfect’. As soon as she was put on my chest, she lifted her head up and with big wide open brown eyes, she looked at us all. Willow’s head then began bobbing around, searching for the breast, she crawled her way onto my right breast and stayed there suckling for the next hour. It was like she’d always been here. I sat in the birth pool for an hour marvelling at our little Willow and bonding with her, Rory and Noah. Noah said “Where’s her penis Mummy”? I replied “She’s a girl, she doesn’t have a penis, she has a vagina”. We all laughed at cute comment and the innocence of children.
After 1 1/12 hours I got out of the pool, because of the position I was sitting in my placenta wasn’t coming away. So I decided to get out and birth the placenta on the toilet into a bowl. Gravity must’ve helped, because my placenta came away very easily. While I was sitting on the toilet holding little Willow, we carefully cut her cord. Noah was watching on and this was the only part of birth that he was concerned about, he got very upset, because he thought we were hurting his baby sister. She’d had 2 hours of delayed cord clamping and you could see from the colour of her cord that she had received all of her cord blood. My midwife placed the placenta on a plastic sheet and examined it, showing and educating us on all the parts – such an amazing organ. It felt very special to honour the life giving purpose of this organ. We then put it in the fridge, ready to be picked up for encapsulation.
Rory took Willow for some skin to skin, while I had a lovely warm shower. I came back to the lounge room and lie on the bed we had made, spent the next 3 hours snuggling with my 2 beautiful children and loving husband. The midwife stayed for about 3 hours to check over Willow and myself.
We weighed her and measured her about 4 hours after birth and I was very shocked to find out that she was 4.83kgs/ 10lbs 6oz and 59cm long! She certainly didn’t feel like a big baby while she was in utero or while I was birthing her – that I accredit to not having any fear and knowing that my body would grow a baby to fit. Nature is perfect!
Rose and Rory (second time hypnobirthing stars!), Palm Beach, Queensland
Rose is a certified Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner.