What a surreal feeling it is to be sitting down to write our birth story. It feels like yesterday we were in HypnoBirthing class, hearing the stories others had shared and wondering if it was really possible to bring a baby into the world in such a peaceful, calm way (spoiler alert, IT IS!).
We have now reached what feels like a special milestone in our journey to becoming parents, writing our story and signing off on the chapter of preparations for our first borns arrival. Today, I have a phenomenal 19 day old daughter sleeping on her equally phenomenal daddy beside me and it is a privilege to share the story of how she entered the world early one Friday morning…just in time for the weekend!
Our ultimate goal for the birth was to have a healthy baby, and we were prepared to do whatever we needed to to ensure this outcome. If that meant intervention, then we would accept that path if it was medically necessary, but i had always hoped for a natural birth and this was definitely our ‘Plan A’.
At 40 + 3, just before 4am I awoke to subtle pains, much like period cramps. I listened to rainbow relaxation (which I had been falling asleep to most nights) and tried to go back to sleep. I relaxed, practiced my breathing and wondered excitedly whether this could be ‘it’. I decided to let Warren continue sleeping as I figured if it was, one of us may as well be rested!
Fairly quickly I knew I was in labour and at around 5am I felt like I needed to start actively managing the increasing surges. Feeling very relaxed and calm I got up and did the washing (a great distraction!) and bustled about around the house. At 5:30am I woke up Warren and we started timing surges. At this time I was managing well using my breath as well as distraction and movement – two techniques I found incredibly helpful throughout the labour. I relaxed in bed or on the couch between surges to conserve energy then when I felt one coming on I got up and paced around, focusing on my breath, the sound of my footsteps, counting my strides, the nails in the timber floorboards, the rows of bricks in the wall…anything that could distract me.
At 6am things were progressing quickly. Warren and I felt very calm and in control as we watched the sunrise and knew that today our lives would be changed forever. The best way I can describe it is, as the intensity of the surges increased I dove deeper into a very focused state and matched the pain with my techniques – breathing, visualisation, movement, affirmations, etc. I kept trying different positions with my body. We also did a few exercises from class, progressive relaxation and ‘lavender’. At 7am we contacted our amazing midwife who was going to come and check on us at home. I hopped in the shower briefly and when I got out I started using the TENS machine we hired which was fantastic!! It helped me stay focused, in control and manage the increasing intensity of the surges. During the surges I asked Warren to count from 1 up to 30 at a fast pace as I found this helped me break the surges down into manageable blocks of time. Between surges I was focused on gathering myself, resting and staying relaxed and hydrated. Warren and I were communicating in a natural shorthand with me mostly gesturing or using single words to tell him what I needed.
By about 8am the sensations had started to change and I was breathing loudly, matching the discomfort with my voice and visualising the baby coming to me, all the while Warren was coaching me through the surges – reminding me I to breath, counting, and reciting our affirmations (‘baby is coming’, ‘you can do this’, ‘open).
Our midwife arrived around 8:30am and I had I was sitting on the toilet as this was the most comfortable place for me at the time. She checked me and calmly told us that I was 10cm dilated and we could either have a lovely home birth or we could go to birth care right away. We were surprised and happy as things were going so well we had no idea we were that far along!
Shortly after 9am we hopped in the car and made our way to Birthcare (a very surreal drive!) I was still using the TENS machine and finding it a really helpful tool to stay in control and make the surges pass faster. When we arrived I got straight into the pool that they had filled for us…bliss! We had little LED candles and played the birth affirmation track on repeat in the background. Warren was right there with me coaching me with breath, affirmations, encouragement, counting, lavender, shoulder touch, cold flannels, water, etc. There are no words to describe how connected to Warren I felt in that moment, we were a dream team!
We were both completely focused and it felt like there was no one else in the world except us and soon, our baby. Simply amazing. We had decided not to find out the gender before the birth and at 10:28am our baby arrived into the world completely naturally, into a beautifully peaceful and calm environment. We were in absolute awe and almost forgot that we still didn’t know whether we had a little girl or boy. After several minutes staring at this phenomenal little miracle we had created I peeled back the umbilical cord that still connected us and announced to my partner and our amazing midwife that we had a daughter.
Birthing her was truly the most empowering and immersive experience I could ever imagine. I am so grateful we got to experience it the way we did and my wish is for every woman to know that she is powerful, capable and can have an overwhelmingly positive experience like we did. Believe in yourself, your body and your baby! And for the partners — do not underestimate your value, I know I could not have done it without Warren and our bond has been strengthened by such a powerful and emotional shared experience. He is my rock and already the best father imaginable.
We worked hard to have our dream birth but it wouldn’t feel right sharing our birth story without acknowledging that we feel exceptionally lucky that we had a relatively short labour (6.5 hours from 4am – 10:28am) and complication free birth.
P.s. In our class with Helen when we made a guess as to how long we thought our labour
might be, I said 1-2 hours for second stage labour – it ended up being spot on!
P.p.s. One of the best things we did was get a birth photographer! I knew there would be a lot going on and we likely wouldn’t be able to recall the details with complete clarity. If you are considering it, don’t hesitate! I can’t recommend Liv Buchanan enough, at the time we didn’t even remember she was in the room and we now have the most stunning images of our daughters first breathe and our first moments with her. www.livbuchanan.com