Here is my story. I want to challenge the birth narrative and show how you can have a positive and empowering birth experience, regardless of age or circumstances.
Here are some of the key points I hope to highlight in my blog post:
- The Importance of having a supportive team in the lead up to, during and post birth
- The Importance of Education
- The Importance of Bodywork and Optimal Maternal Positioning
- The power of positive thinking in overcoming challenges
- The beauty and joy of childbirth, even when it is not easy and how clever womens bodies are
I hope my story will inspire other women to question the birth narrative, advocate for themselves and ultimately have the birth they envision.
29th January 2023 @ 4:30am
I woke to moderate tightenings that were enough to make me breathe consciously. These continued till 6:30 AM. Then, once I was up and about, they died down (life with a 4.5yr), possibly because my to-do list consumed my thoughts. We all went to our favourite cafe for breakfast (because when I went into Labour with my son (5 years earlier) we went there and I felt that if this was "it", I wanted to have the same nourishing start). We ran some chores, picked up some items I purchased from FB Marketplace, and walked around our village. Then headed home and get up to the pool - which, let me tell you, was the best fun my son could have had. His excitement was building, and it was infectious!
During this time, I stepped back to assess where I might be and why the tightenings had fizzled out. The idea of the birthing Mumma cat (who finds a quiet spot for Labour and Birth) came to mind. I wondered if the 'busyness of life' was getting in the way….. to remedy this, I decided to take some melatonin, put an eye mask on and lay on the couch to relax, breathe meditate. During this time, we sent my son off to a mate for a play - thank goodness for good friends; this time was so good for all!
I dive deep into myself, my intuition during this quiet rest time, I listened to the strong hip pain I was getting and called my Chiro. Alignment is critical in birth, and I knew my pelvis was out; if this was Labour, I didn't want anything interfering with the baby's descent, particularly after shoulder dystocia and a traumatic first birth with my son…..
So my son went to a friend's for a play while I tried to rest. During that time, my contractions started to get stronger and more consistent, 6-7 minutes apart, but I was still sure this was not Labour.
Around 5 PM, Hubby calls my Midwife. I'm in denial. I thought there was no point bothering anyone; it's probably not Labour. Still, he wanted to be cautious....and my Midwife had instructed him to call her because she knew I was deceiving (she birthed with me during my first birth, and she knows that I show none of the "normal" signs of Labour; I sign, chat, joke and give no real sign of pain).
Half an hour later, contractions were at 5mins, and she immediately called the troops in; they all arrived around 5:30 PM / 6 PM.
At this stage, contractions are totally manageable. Interestingly they stay at 5mins the entire Labour. When they happened, I felt a muscular spasm in my psoas (not my TFL like my son's birth), and I was moved to stretch both my hips forward, arching my back. I did this until 7 PM, repeatedly stretching, pushing the hips forward, and arching my back. The TENS Machine is incredible - I LOVE IT! It makes the contractions feel like a muscle cramp, but it is manageable! I breathe and move through each one without issue.
From the perspective of my birth team, there is a feeling in the room that this will be a very long birth because I look like someone in early Labour...... I am chatting, smiling, cracking jokes, and interacting with my son, who is back and bouncing around (SO EXCITED!!)….. I don't look like I'm in Labour; I don't believe I am in Labour! But My Midwife Janine does and smiles and says to the birth team, "Don't believe what you are seeing; she is deceptive; there will be a baby here really
7 PM I feel the need to go to slow go within to lie down. The tens machine is working a trait. Up until this point, I have been chatting and interacting with everybody. The pain is manageable, and I'm just breathing and stretching through it all, slow and steady.
My Midwife suggested I get in the pool, but I felt hesitant. There's so much light. It's still daylight outside. There are fairy lights everywhere that are pretty bright. I'm starting to feel watched, exposed and on the show. I wasn't sure if I was in Labour, and it was hard to get into a trance like my first birth. Despite this, I got into the pool, and it felt amazing. I think there is something about water safety, but I wish my genitals weren't so high on display... if it was dark, I wouldn't be so conscious of this and could let go more. I continued to move through contractions and transitioned to asymmetrical stretching in mermaid position, stretching my quads and TFL/Psoas, changing sides every few contractions.
*NB* It's fascinating to stop here and talk about stretching. I've since learnt from my Doula that my stretching movements were due to my baby's posterior position. I was amazed that the symmetrical (hips pushing forward, back arched) stretching helped get her head into my pelvis. In contrast, asymmetrical stretching in a mermaid position aided her rotation. It's incredible how our bodies instinctively know what to do when we let them run freely!
Charlie is wonderful. He's making Lego with Janine, George and Danae, and they all take turns building with him. It's beautiful. Every time I make a sound, he comes over with excitement. He says to one of them, "Oh, I'm just going to check if Baby is coming", and he would rush over to me and give me a big hug or words of encouragement and then go back and say, "No, no baby yet." ♥️
Maybe 8 PM… I've lost track of time, but around this stage, I start having doubts; I feel like I'm not progressing - I don't feel different. The pain still feels manageable, and I'm not getting deeper into this trance state I had through Charlie's Birth.
I'm relying heavily on my affirmation cards now, constantly looking at them. I'm saying them out loud and in my head repeatedly. My contractions are still roughly five minutes, and I think I'm not progressing. I haven't gone any further and expressed this to my team.
The next thing I remember, my husband and son come over and give me a huge cuddle, and Janine, my Midwife, quietly says, "You're safe, Sara", and I lose it. I start sobbing, sobbing and sobbing. I realise I have to give birth to this baby, and I'm scared.
I'm scared of the trauma. I'm afraid of the pain. I'm scared of doing this tricky bit (the one we all hold silently in the back of our minds, trying desperately to not acknowledge it or else it might come true). It's bigger than me, and I know I've reached the foot of the mountain......And I'm in a bit of mourning over my son's birth; I know I need to release this fear and all these held and stored emotions I've carried the last five years. I just let it all out! It's time to face those fears and jump.
After releasing my emotions, a sudden and unexpected guttural sound emerged. It comes out of nowhere, and I feel like this other woman has turned up and gently pushed me aside, and she says, "I'll take it from here!"
But my analytical brain is still clinging, trying to take control, and she can't work out how Baby will be born. I'm scared of tearing again that searing pain on my pelvic floor being torn from my public bone, bleeding, all that blood (because I lost a so much last time).
I turn to my blank affirmations. The whole deck has been so helpful up until now, but the 3 custom ones I've created are the ones I draw strength from. They are "Different body, different baby," "My body stretches like a rubber band", and "I am huge." I stare at them and start pep-talking myself (I have this picture of a coach in the corner of a boxing ring motivating and coaching his student). "Come on, it's time to let go," "It's now or never," "Release."
My movements change again, and I return to arching my back, pushing my hips forward. I grip the pool and stretch as much as possible to relieve the spasms.
And the primal sounds take over me. I'm bearing down. I'm shocked (where did this come from? It's not time!!) I say to @danaebirthdoula, "I don't know what position I'm supposed to be in; how am I supposed to be?" She gently says, "Whatever feels right." In my head, I'm annoyed. I'm feeling out of control and need to be told what to do to feel safe.
George and Danae hold my hands, saying, "You've got this; just breathe, relax, breathe." Knowing I have my boys close brings so much comfort, but sometimes I feel isolated; They are on one side of the room, and I'm on the other, but this is home birth. A child brings a different energy. Still, whenever they came over, I felt safely held, and this made all the difference, as was having my Doula and Midwives!
The pressure building in my bum is intense. I pull my knees together quickly (like @janineatibirth weeks ago had shared how @midwifethinking says this position is hugely protective on the perineum). My hand goes there to slow her down.
There is this intense pressure; I start recoiling, panicking, yelling a very loud "No, no, no!"....... then POP! My waters broke. Oh, what a relief! I breathe still in disbelief I've reached this point.
Another contraction (they are still 5 mins apart), and then that crowning burn happens. I clearly think, "I hate this. I want out!"
I can vaguely hear Charlie say, "I can see her head, mummy!" Wow, how incredible for my boy to be born at home and now witness his sister coming into this world in our home too. What positive repercussions will play out in their lives down the track?
Before I know it, her head is out in my hand. I am so relieved…like so relieved!!! It feels easy from here. A break, I feel calm and happy, then all of a sudden, my body is being lifted up up up up. I ask, "Are you lifting her?" Janine my midwife replies, "No love." I realise Blake is restituting inside of me. It is the most incredible feeling I have ever felt. I feel every inch of her body turning; this is wild. I've heard women say they can feel a baby moving and never understood how. With my son, I just thought that he was so enormous; He just took up every inch of space in my body, and I felt nothing, no movement, no descent, nothing, so this is shocking.
She moves over my G spot briefly, and I feel static joy, orgasmic, as it intensifies for a moment, as I say, "This is the most amazing feeling!" I'm smiling so much, and I realise this is so odd, so different. This is not how birth should be …for me! The only thing I've known is Charlie being pulled from me in a medical emergency. Oh, how different this is!!
"OK, Love, reach forward and pull your baby to you." my Midwife Janine says. I reached down between my legs, and I grabbed her body, and then two things dawned on me:
- I'm about to get the water birth experience I've only seen on Instagram.
- I realise I am recreating the moment I've visualised for months (a photo from @flowbyemma home water birth. The picture is beautiful - mum is pulling her baby up through a clear pool of water.
I slow everything down and take a moment to soak it all in. I reach between my legs and, grab Blake, & start pulling her through the water. She's in my hands, floating to the surface, and we lock eyes; I'm creating that moment I had visualised from Emma's photo. She's so peaceful and calm. I look at her as I pull her out, say, "This is a dream come true", and then place her gently on my chest.
Blake is on my chest & I'm in awe, in love, and on such a high! I look at George, and he's holding his head in disbelief, and he is sobbing. Charlie is beaming. Later I asked George what he was thinking, and he said he was shocked because this was not how the birth goes for us. He couldn't believe his eyes, what he is witnessed. When playing back the best video, I've been watching Charlie and what he does in reaction. There's this beautiful moment when he steps away from the pool & he wipes his eyes. It's a lovely moment. I have no idea what he's thinking, but I like to think he's just overwhelmed with love, and maybe there's a little tear of mourning that we will no longer be a 3 and now a 4 - in the back of my mind, I'm certainly feeling that.
I am beaming, laughing at what has just unfolded. I look around the room; everyone has tears in their eyes. The oxytocin high has infected us all; there's so much love in the air.
They got me out of the pool 13 minutes after Blake with born. I say, "I feel pressure, like an egg, a large add egg is pressing….." AND Splat, my placenta hits the floor. It's pretty funny because it took over an hour during my son's birth, and I had to have Pitocin to ensure its safe delivery.
The team help me to the couch and rug me up while my placenta does its thing, transferring all of Blake's blood and stem cells to her tiny body.
Time stands still...or it's a bit of a blur; I lose track of time completely. Blake is placed on my chest, and she attempts her breast crawl. This always blows my mind that a tiny baby minutes old can move its way up and find the breast. She latches straight away, and we are off.
Once my placenta's cord has stopped pulsing and is white, @janine takes to access and get it ready for @georgiejhet, who will collect in the morning and encapsulate it (my secret 💪🏼 postpartum weapon).
Turns out my placenta had a Velamentous Cord Insertion. That’s where the two veins that enter the placenta are positioned on the side of the membranes (instead of at the centre of the placenta). It was never picked up on any of my scans. Thankful for where my bag of waters ruptured - it did on the opposite side of the insertion so i had nothing to worry about. But, this does explain why my contractions never went under 5mins, my clever body knew it was there and was managing the pace to keep me & my baby safe.
So Blake, George & I are tucked into bed while the birthing team cleaned and packed down our birthing space; haha, you don't get that in the hospital! What a treat to wake up on day one with a new baby and your house is clean!
We had waited five years for Blake; she is Charlie's twin. Both are IVF miracles! So laying in bed that night, holding this tiny, squishy baby, George and I are overwhelmed with love. We are now complete, a family of four and this water birth, water baby (born in the year of the water Rabbit and under the sign of Aquarius), has been so cathartic for me (Charlie's Birth was a beautiful homebirth but trauma did run deep), this one healed all of us!
Blake was born at 9:37 PM, weighing 4.16kg. Active Labour was roughly an hour. I am so relieved she was smaller than her brother, who was 4.5kg. I am a geriatric Primiparous (40 yr old second-time mum), and I've just birthed a big posterior baby with no real pain. What an orgasmic birth to heal my first birth?!
So much gratitude, love, and respect must go to my birthing team Janine, Danae & Mel. Without your knowledge, passion and respect for natural physiological birth, this birth would not have happened. Thank you for all that you do. I love you.
*NB* Given that this was my second birth and I work in the birth world, don't be fooled into thinking I didn't research and educate myself for this birth. As my Affirmation Card said, "Different Birth, Different Baby", I approached this with fresh eyes and ensured I left no stone unturned. Knowledge is power, and in birth, it ensures you know and have options. There was so much I learnt that empowered me to make better decisions with this birth, and I believe they resulted in the birth I got.....it was NOT luck!
And for those who are pregnant and preparing for your own empowered, positive birth, I hope this story provides inspiration to know that a pain, free, orgasmic, particularly posterior birth is possible. I believe in you!