Her birth was much anticipated, especially as I had been having braxton hicks contractions on and off for over a month before labour started, and gone past my “guess date” by two weeks.
On Friday morning I woke up around 4:30am with bad back pain and couldn’t get back to sleep. It came and went and seemed to settle in a pattern of waves every 5 mins or so. I found that sitting on a fit ball and leaning over the end of the bed was a fairly comfortable position, so Craig kept a heat pack on my lower back as I breathed through each contraction. We kept going like that until about 9am when I just felt exhausted as we’d gone to bed after midnight the night before. I needed to lie down even though my lower back was hurting a lot – I didn’t care anymore. Craig called our primary midwife to let her know that it looked like things may be starting, and then he curled up next to me with the heat pack still on my back and somehow we both fell asleep.
When we woke about an hour later the contractions were still happening but were much more irregular in timing. I felt dispirited but reminded myself that it was going to happen eventually and so we both went downstairs to hang out and find a distraction. We watched some Will & Grace DVDs and had a good laugh and then Craig suggested we bake a cake. When we had been to Calmbirth classes one of the couples whose stories we watched on a DVD had baked their baby a birthday cake during her early labour as a distraction – and we had bought a “0” number candle a few days earlier with this idea in mind for my labour. So we baked a yummy chocolate cake and popped it in the fridge and then had a quiet evening in, all the while my back pain contractions were becoming more and more staggered and easing off in intensity.
We called our midwife again to let her know it looked like it there was no action that evening, and she suggested coming over to check on me and bub. When she arrived we had a good chat and she had a feeling it would start up again over night so suggested we get straight to bed and get some rest. That was about 9pm. My midwife was supposed to go up the coast (an hour away) for the weekend with her family, but decided to stay home on Friday night just in case.
Saturday morning I had been up to the toilet at 4:30am and again at 6:30am and nothing had happened over night, so I sent a message to my midwife and told her she may as well go up the coast for the day with her family. She replied saying she was having brekky and then would head off. I went back to bed and sulked myself back to sleep – I was so tired of waiting to meet our bub!
Around 8:30am Craig and I woke up and he suggested getting some fresh bread to make French toast for brekkie to cheer me up. While he was gone I got up to go to the bathroom and noticed a lot of thick clear mucous tinged with a little blood on the toilet paper. I felt excited that there was another little bit of progress! I had a contraction not long after that was quite sore in my lower belly, and took me by surprise. Craig got home not long after and I excitedly told him the news. Then I had another contraction and this one hurt a lot! Ouch! He noted the time and I decided to try sitting on the fitball again – I jumped straight back up as it hurt too much to sit down! Then I had another contraction and felt that I really needed to kneel down and lean over the bed. I had pillows under my knees and one on the bed end that I propped my arms on. I had a couple more contractions like that and then decided I wanted to move into the bathroom in case my waters broke – I didn’t want the carpet to need cleaning later, especially as that spot was where the pool would be going.
I set myself up in the bathroom with my pillows on the floor and l leant over the bathtub, trying to breathe through the contractions but they hurt so much that the breathing just wasn’t doing it. I tried making a low roaring sound like I had heard women talk about using during labour and it felt really good! In between contractions I was jumping up and using the toilet to empty my bladder and bowels, twice I got caught out on the toilet and those contractions were so much worse!
While I was in the bathroom Craig jumped onto my parenting community forum Joyous Birth for me to let everyone know I was in labour, and then tried to send an sms out to close friends and family but it was taking too long to send each message (phone would only let him to send to each person individually) so he gave up after a few messages as I needed him to help me. He was busy running around getting the pool filled in the bedroom, and ducking back in to support me through contractions, and I was oblivious to what was going on around me.
He gave me my blessingway necklace and bracelet to wear and showed me a printed page from Joyous Birth that had a lovely message from one of my friends which was beautiful to read . I really felt like the circle of women was around me then.
Craig gave my midwife a call to let her know it had started up again and contractions were 5 mins apart. She had just arrived at the beach with her family, and put on her sunscreen and bathers! She asked him if I wanted her to head back and I yelled out YES! I had no idea how long labour was going to be but it was already hurting so much and I felt like I needed her for emotional support.
At about 10am the pool was filled, and I told him I wanted to get in right away – I didn’t care if it slowed the contractions down, I just needed something to help with the pain. I tried lying on my back in the water to immerse my belly but it was really uncomfortable so I leaned over the edge of the pool instead and continued to roar through each contraction. We have no idea when my waters broke – I never noticed any popping or gushing sensations.
My midwife arrived about 10:45am and I felt reassured she was there, it was all moving very quickly but having her there alongside Craig seemed to help me feel centred. Our second midwife arrived not long after and sat down in front of me to see how I was going. After she got up to go and chat with our primary, Craig came over to sit with me and I told him Jo’s perfume was really strong. Another contraction hit and I went within again. After it was over I remember hearing my second midwife said it must have been her body wash – apparently quite mild but my sense of smell must have been really strong, and she had she changed into one of Craig’s t-shirts. They were all quietly encouraging me during the space between contractions, reminding me to slow down my breathing and to take sips of water as I was so thirsty – the water was really refreshing and I think I drank several bottles during labour. I also had a damp face washer I would rub over my face when I could – I didn’t want anyone doing it for me as they weren’t firm enough on the back of my eyelids!
At some stage my primary midwife asked if it was ok to check on bub’s heartbeat with a doppler, and I was fine with that so she listened between contractions. It was lovely to hear it and to take the focus off the pain for a moment and remember that I was soon going to have my baby in my arms!
I reached a point where I felt I couldn’t do it anymore, and then not long after I said “I feel pushy!” but I wasn’t sure if that was right as it felt too soon! My midwives encouraged me to go with how I was feeling and remember to breathe and just let it all happen. A few contractions later I felt the urge to push so I helped my body push but it hurt more, so I stopped and just let my body push by itself which was a bit easier. It felt really good when my body was pushing then – I was yelling “oh yeah” and just going along with it. It felt like the pushing stage went on forever – the pain was so intense that I don’t remember feeling her move down at all, but I do remember telling bub once or twice to stop moving as her wriggling was very uncomfortable and felt really weird! I had my knees spread out really wide to open up my hips and I ended up with leg cramps, so Craig had to rub them for me to knead out the tightness.
When I felt like I couldn’t possibly stretch anymore, and each contraction was burning but didn’t feel like it was progressing further than the previous one, I started helping my body push again. It hurt more, but I didn’t care – I just wanted it to be over with. Apparently bub had crowned to her forehead and gone back in several times. They could see that she had one hand over her head so as she started to come further out, My midwife helped ease her hand to minimise the risk of me tearing and Craig cradled her head in his hands as she slid all the way out. Then my midwife told me to sit back and take my baby between my legs and lift her up on to my chest.
Craig said she came out with a big smile on her face. It was a totally surreal moment to hold her in my arms, and she just lay there quietly for a minute gazing up at us both with a little smile. Then we encouraged her to take a breath and she started to pink up and had a little cry.
Both my midwives went downstairs and let us have some quiet time together in the pool, just the three of us. It was a really special time to start our bonding as a family. She started to bob around a little on my chest, so I helped her to find my nipple so that she didn’t dunk her head down into the water. It felt weird but wonderful at the same time.
The water was getting cool and we wanted to take her out of the pool but I felt a bit shaky and wasn’t ready to stand up yet. The cord was rubbing on me and it really stung, so the logistics of trying to hang the cord up and over the pool with bub still connected to me was not very comfortable and I decided to cut the cord. I hadn’t chosen beforehand whether to lotus birth or not, so I was a little disappointed but my comfort and bub’s warmth was more important at that stage than a lotus birth. Craig cut the cord while I explained to her what we were doing and gave her a feed, and then she snuggled up in his arms. It took 1.5 hours to birth the placenta as I was feeling really shaky if I tried to kneel or stand. I hadn't eaten anything all morning, so they gave me a drink and a cheese sandwich and I took my time in the pool to rest a bit. When I felt able to, I stood up and it only took a few gentle pushes to birth the placenta, no pain at all which was a relief!
Then I was bundled up in bed and they checked me out – one 1st degree tear and some grazes - we decided to leave them without stitching as they were minor. I got snuggled up with pillows and then gave bub her first proper breastfeed. It felt great to be holding her and feeding and be so comfy in my own bedroom! We had a look at her placenta which was really interesting, and then my midwife put it in the freezer for us, to plant at a later date.
Craig brought up her birthday cake which we had made the day before, complete with the "0" candle and we sung happy birthday to her. The midwives packed up their gear and tidied up for us and went home, and we spent the next couple of hours snuggled up in bed gazing at our beautiful baby. Around 5pm we decided we should go through our list of names, so we crossed off all the ones that didn’t suit and we agreed on Jasmine Kayla. It suited her perfectly.
For the first few days after her birth I just felt really really calm. I think my mum was more hyped up about Jasmine’s birth than I was! To me it just felt “right” and I was peaceful. I didn’t feel like the birth wasn’t a big deal or anything, it was just how it was supposed to happen. Then I remembered the birth stories I have read of friends – who didn’t get to experience birth at home, without intervention, with only loving support around them – and that’s when I realised how lucky I was to have this for our family. I feel pure joy for our experience!
At my motherway on Sunday 7th Feb 2010 I shared my birth story, and we cut our wrist ties from my blessingway. We defrosted the placenta and made prints onto paper with it, then planted it beneath a dwarf jasmine plant along with the wrist ties. Everyone that came to the gathering helped place some soil into the pot as well as place a stone or rock on top to honour Jasmine’s birth and placenta. Mine was a piece of brick from the house she was born in. It was a beautiful afternoon and I felt honoured to be among strong wise women as we closed the circle for Jasmine’s birth.
I feel so grateful to have had the loving support of my husband Craig throughout the pregnancy, birth and our new adventure in parenting Jasmine together. I also want to thank my wonderful midwives for their wise words and wonderful advice. The beautiful women I have come to know so well at Joyous Birth have given us a true community to feel a part of, as well as our loving family and friends. Homebirth rocks!