To begin my birth story of Finley, I first need to go back and tell you a bit about my first birth. It was an uneventful pregnancy; I felt great and was looking forward to welcoming my baby the way Mother Nature intended. I did yoga, ate well, exercised and prepared myself by reading lots of info about natural birth and active birth techniques. Unfortunately, I skipped the parts about cesarean, as in my mind I wasn’t having “one of those”. It wasn’t even a thought. I didn’t even consider it an option. That was a mistake. It made me very underprepared for what eventually unfolded.
My waters broke, contractions started a few hours after and we headed into hospital soon after that, as things seemed to be progressing quickly. I was coping well, until I got the urge to push. After being examined I was told I was “only 8cm” and so “couldn’t start pushing yet”. My baby was posterior. I changed positions, used the shower and changed positions again. I did all I could (because I didn’t think there was an option to question the midwife) to fight against what my body was telling me to do – PUSH! Eventually I could not fight anymore and asked for an epidural. Things went down hill from there. After another 3 hrs, some synto and still at 8cm I was told my baby was “in distress” and I needed an emergency cesarean. I was devastated to say the least. The worst part for me was the separation from my baby for over 2 hrs after she was born. The nurse in recovery was so nonchalant when I kept asking if I could go and see my baby—she casually answered with “all you cesarean mums are the same”!! I was too shocked and upset to say anything back to her. I felt so disconnected. I knew I’d just had a baby, but I didn’t feel her come out – did she come out of me? Did I just give birth? Does she know I’m her mum? I wasn’t even the first person to hold her. I put on a brave face and just got on with being a mum. Breastfeeding came easily and I really think it was my saving grace – it really helped me bond with my daughter. After her birth, I didn’t even consider having another c-section. I never knew the struggles I might possibly come up against. I just assumed that next time I would have a vaginal birth. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to happen?
So this led me on the path to my VBAC. I started reading lots of positive info about VBAC and joined a VBAC support group where I met some lovely mums, doulas and midwives who were all so supportive. It was so nice to be in a room talking with other women who had experienced what I had; who knew how I felt; who understood. I never really discussed my true feelings with friends and family as I just thought, “unless you’ve had a cesarean you can never fully understand how I feel”.
We fell pregnant when my daughter was 22 months. We were excited! We had been discussing our birth options before this and had decided that having a midwife was more preferable to an OB for a successful VBAC. I booked in to Gosford Hospital under the community midwives. At the same time I had met a wonderful independent home birth midwife and was interested in chatting with her about home birth and what it all meant. My husband and I had been reading lots of empowering and positive HBAC birth stories and we were starting to warm to the idea that we could have a home birth. I’d also been hearing of other women’s struggles with the hospital system for their right to birth how they wanted to and I just didn’t want to have to fight for what I knew my body could do. I didn’t want any negativity or doubt or hospital bureaucracy surrounding me.
If you’d asked me before I had my daughter if I’d ever have a home birth, I would’ve said no way!
Sadly, that pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. We took some time out to grieve and in the time before we fell pregnant again, we decided that when we did conceive, we would be having a home birth with the beautiful Lisa Richards from Bella Birthing and our beautiful close friend Lauren Horton as our Doula.
Five months later we were pregnant again! We contacted Lisa and set up a meeting so my hubby could meet her. We never looked back. Lisa was a constant source of information, support and woman centred care. It was so special having her come to our home for antenatal appointments, often for hours, to chat about anything and everything. Mina loved her too as she always let her unpack her bag and help with my blood pressure and let her use the Doppler to listen to bub. She knew us and we knew her. I did yoga with Lauren every week, I had regular Chiro, reflexology, I rested and I ate well. We did a birth workshop with Lauren and Calm Birth classes with a student practitioner.
We felt safe. We felt loved. We felt prepared.
The last couple of weeks of my pregnancy were tiring. By 38 weeks I really didn’t think I was going to make it to 40 weeks. I felt heavy, had lots of pubic symphisis pain, many strong Braxton hicks and a busy 3 yr old to look after, but I remained calm and relaxed. I never once doubted that I could birth this baby out of my vagina!
Saturday 6/4 – we had dinner at my parents place for my sister’s and daughter’s birthdays. I felt very irritable, heavy and tired. I couldn’t get comfortable. I went to the bathroom about 5 times in the hour we arrived! My mum noticed. She said to me before we left that she thought I’d have the baby on Monday. Well, mums know don’t they! She was right!
Sunday 7/4 (39 weeks 2 days) - I went to prenatal yoga as usual. It was heaven. I came home and we went about our afternoon as usual. That night Lauren came over to do some Reiki on both hubby and I. She worked her magic and told me after the birth that I had looked like someone about to go into labour.
Lauren left at about 8.30pm and her partner came over to watch some cycling on TV with my hubby. I went to bed after showering around 9.30pm totally disinterested in watching the cycling. I checked Facebook and returned some emails and text messages and turned the light out around 10.30pm. I was woken briefly at 12.30am by the guys’ muffled cheering but went back to sleep quickly.
Next thing, I woke up with a slight cramping feeling. I think I’d just had a few more of those in my sleep. I glanced up at the clock; it was 2.55am. I closed my eyes and waited. Again, I felt a period like cramp creeping in. I glanced at the clock again. It was 3.10am. This got me wondering….. again I closed my eyes but to feel that cramping sensation once more. I looked at my phone; it was 3.22am. Mmmmm. I think today is the day! I opened my contraction timer app and timed a few more “cramps”. They were coming pretty much every 12 mins. After about an hr, I still hadn’t been able to go back to sleep, I think I was too excited. My hubby woke up from the light on my phone and I told him that I was having mild contractions. He brought me a hot water bottle, which felt nice and eased the sensations. I wanted to stay in bed for as long as possible as I didn’t know how long this was going to take and it was the middle of the night anyway, so I put my earphones in and listened to my positive birth affirmations.
Two hours passed; it was now 5.15am. I decided it was time to text Lisa and Lauren. I said to my husband that I thought it was a decent enough hr to wake them! I can’t believe I was concerned about waking them – I’m pretty sure given their job titles that they’re used to being woken at all hours! Oh the things a labouring woman is concerned about!
Over the next 45 mins my contractions had moved to 9 mins apart lasting for about 60 secs. I was still listening to my birth meditation. It was 6.05am. Lauren and I text back and forward a bit more about how I was going. I was still lying on my side breathing through the waves. Lauren talked about Mina being at kindy that day and that’s when I thought “there’s no way she’s going to kindy today, we won’t be driving anywhere”. I knew it would be soon. The last message Lauren sent was at 6.30am. I didn’t reply to that one. I was now unable to just lie on my side; I was on my knees, head down over a couple of pillows. I was now putting all my focus into my contractions. In 25 mins they had gone from 9 mins apart to about 4 mins apart! I had hubby call Lisa as we hadn’t heard back from her yet (funny story – she’d done a “dream” text!). He was casually telling her that my contractions “were about 7 mins apart” – he wasn’t even timing them!! I was bent over a pillow next to him getting cranky saying that I’d just had 2 in the time that he’d been talking to her and another as he hung up! They were definitely about 3 mins apart now. I told him to call her back and ask her to come. I was concerned that now it was after 7am, by the time she got ready and left she would get stuck in school traffic (it was Monday morning) and she had to come from 30 mins away. Lisa and Lauren were both now on their way.
7.05am – I was now out of bed leaning over pillows propped up on the side of the bed. I spotted Mina at the bottom of our stairs looking a little shocked. She’d just woken up and came up to see what was happening. I was vocalizing by this point with my ahhhs and ohhhs. I asked her to come up and told her that mummy was having the baby today. We had prepared her well for this so she knew what was going to happen (to some degree!).
I don’t really recall times from now on but I now had the urge to use the toilet so I made my way through to our ensuite and sat down. I couldn’t go. Now that I was upright things ramped up again. I had the longest contraction whilst sitting on the toilet; I’m sure it lasted about 2-3 mins! I got off the toilet and ripped off all of my clothes. I felt so hot, clammy and flustered! I went straight onto my hands and knees; the cool tiles were heaven! Loz had arrived at this point and kicked into action putting pressure on my back with each contraction and bringing me drinks. It felt great! I was so relieved when she arrived as hubby was running around trying to finish blowing up the pool (apparently it wasn’t firm enough – I didn’t care at that point I just wanted to get in!!), filling it, reassuring Mina and putting pressure on my back every 2 mins! I felt irritable and hot and asked for a face washer. Hubby lovingly tried to wipe my brow, but I just snatched it off him and wiped my whole face roughly and threw the washer back at him! My wrists were also starting to hurt from leaning on the hard tiles so hubby brought me 2 pillows to put under them. I put one under my hands and threw the other one out the door, frustrated. I was now in transition!! I was starting to feel pushy at the end of each contraction and only for a minute, wondered how dilated I was?
Lisa arrived around this time. She just slipped in and it felt like she’d been there all along. I felt relieved she’d arrived and I think I relaxed a bit in my mind knowing she was there. I had a few more contractions on the floor then Lisa suggested we move to the pool; it was ready. I think it was about 8am?
With Lisa’s help I walked back into our bedroom and eased myself into the pool. AHHHH it was bliss! It really felt like what I’d imagined. How all the birth stories I’d read described the feeling of the warm water. But for a split second I thought “Oh no, it’s too hot, I feel claustrophobic” and then that feeling left as quickly as it had appeared. I had a few more contractions and then during a break opened my eyes. The fog had lifted, labour land seemed clearer. I looked at Lisa and said “Hello!”. They reminded me later that I had also looked at Lauren and commented on how beautiful she looked!! I looked around our bedroom – my birth space looked calm, serene and birthy! Lauren had done a wonderful job setting it up; candles lit, music playing, birth flags hung.
My husband, my daughter, my midwife and doula, all there; supporting me, nurturing me. Pouring warm water on my back, stroking my arms, kissing me, talking to me, bringing me drinks and wiping my face. All of them there, all for me – I was a birthing goddess!
Lisa noticed that I was glancing at the clock after every couple of contractions so she suggested that it be turned around. I don’t really remember taking much notice of the time but it was in my view. I got back to the task at hand!
My body was so powerful; I couldn’t believe the intensity of what it was doing. I didn’t consciously push, not once – my body did it without instruction, it was unstoppable! It was overwhelming at times and at one point I even tried to get out of the pool and push his head back up! What was I thinking!
But all along Lisa, Lauren and Nick echoed their reassuring words around the room. At this point Lisa suggested that I feel down there; I was hesitant at first but then after the next contraction I put my fingers inside and felt a squishy head! Oh my, what a feeling! I was doing this! This baby was coming down and out of my vagina! From then on I couldn’t keep my hand away – during each contraction I felt him coming closer and closer. I could feel the pressure of his head; I could feel the burning as he, bit by bit, made his way out. I was vocalizing quite loudly during the whole pushing stage and used all sorts of noises that if I made now would make me feel very silly! But there in that pool, in our bedroom, surrounded by my birth team it felt right, I felt empowered, and I was uninhibited! I was vocalizing with the word “OPEN” when Lisa gently said “I think you should use DOWN now Brooke, I’m pretty sure you’re OPEN!”. This made me laugh. It was so nice to be reminded to laugh and smile.
I had been leaning forward over the pool since I got in and I felt ready to turn over and lean back with my arms over the pool. I wanted to see my baby being born. I’m not sure how long it had been, but I had relaxed a bit by now and had my eyes closed. Lisa had let Mina use the torch and once she saw the head starting to emerge she called out “BABY” and stripped off her clothes ready to jump in. I asked hubby to get her to wait till the head was out as I was really focusing on getting through that. Not long after, I felt his head come through and what a relief that was! I put my head back on the pool thinking I’d have a little break before the next contraction brought his body out, but bubs had other plans. He kept on coming and swam quickly into his daddy’s hands!! He was out!! I did it; I just birthed my baby! Hubby passed him to me (we didn’t know the sex at this point) and I brought my baby to my chest and kissed him and talked to him as I cried and smiled and cried! He let out a cry and hubby kissed me and we looked to find that we’d had a beautiful baby boy. We watched in awe as he pinked up and cried and stared at us in wonder. His eyes said “I know you, you’re my mummy!” I was in love! We stayed in the pool for about half an hour drinking up our new baby boy. He was just perfect! His cord was quite short so we hopped out and got cozy in bed. About 45 mins after he was born, Nick and Mina cut his cord and we snuggled up for our first feed. Mina and Nick had cuddles whilst I was birthing the placenta. Unfortunately, my placenta was a little stubborn and I was still bleeding so had to have the synto injection to help it out. When it finally came out it wasn’t all there – I had retained some of it and I was still bleeding. It wasn’t an emergency and the bleeding did stop but the issue remained of the retained piece of placenta. Lisa and Megan (second midwife) discussed our options thoroughly, and we came to the decision to transfer to hospital for follow up care (but that’s another story!). I spent 1 night in hospital and was home in my own bed the next day snuggled in with my beautiful boy and to celebrate our daughters 3rd birthday. Yes, they are only 1 day apart!
I’m so grateful to my amazing birth support team. That, in my opinion, is the most important part of a woman’s VBAC journey.
I’m forever thankful to my amazing husband Nick, our beautiful daughter Mina, my wonderful midwife Lisa and gorgeous Doula Lauren.
And most of all to my son Finley, I thank you for being born! X x x
Published on the 10/07/2013