As my son’s second birthday nears I’m becoming a little nostalgic, where has my tiny newborn gone? It feels like only yesterday I gave birth to him, so I thought as I have not yet shared his birth story I would. I apologise for the length, but I love sharing all the moments of Theodore’s birth. A birth I am still on a high from and what started this incredible journey of now teaching other couples how to have a positive, calm and empowered birth.
Tuesday the 16th January 2018 was the day we met our beautiful little boy. I was 39+2 weeks and had a very healthy pregnancy, despite the first 20 weeks of morning sickness or ‘all day sickness’ as I refer to it.
The weeks leading up to Theodore’s birth were crazy with Christmas and New Year celebrations, from 35 weeks, time just flew by. I went under private care with Theodore, a decision I always wanted for my first baby as I only wanted one person looking over my pregnancy. I knew I would also want the five-day hospital admission, call me crazy but for me that was a huge comfort, particularly around breastfeeding support. I went with an Obstetrician who my friend used for her two babies and could not speak highly enough of, plus I also liked the sound of him when researching many in Melbourne.
Throughout my pregnancy my Obstetrician would always recommend calm birthing or hypnobirthing, I had absolutely no interest to begin with because like many I thought it was all hippie and weird birthing rituals, I also knew my husband Ash would not be up for it. Funny thing though I was adamant I was not doing hospital birthing classes, all I had been told was that they were a waste of time and money and I had no interest in being told hospital policy crap. I had a good understanding of medications that could be used and what would happen in special circumstances. So, I had the mindset of what will be, will be. Thankfully my Obstetrician gently kept encouraging me and at 26 weeks I decided to book into hypnobirthing classes. Ash and I loved them, they were held over one weekend, a lot of information to absorb but Ash and I came out feeling confident and excited for the birth of our baby.
I had been preparing for the birth from 34 weeks with hypnobirthing techniques, mostly using the relaxation tracks and breathing techniques and I continued pilates right up until the night before I gave birth. From 37 weeks I noticed period like cramping, it wasn’t uncomfortable just a little annoying at times and I was reassured it was my body preparing to go into labour. Each night I kept thinking when I got up to the toilet were my waters going to break, I was getting excited to go into labour and the anticipation was driving me a little insane.
On Tuesday the 16th January I met Ash at the hospital, and we had our routine appointment at 1pm. I had a regular scan and I remember my previous one at 38 weeks my Obstetrician was very chatty throughout, this time he was quiet, minimal chat. The amniotic fluid had reduced from 9cm to around 4cm if that. My Obstetrician was great, discussed the risk and benefits and gave lots of options for us going forward.
1. Induce that afternoon
2. Induce the following morning but he wasn’t going to be around as he was flying interstate.
3. See how the next 48 hours goes, he believed I would go into natural labour by this time but again he was out of town.
Being a Paediatric critical care nurse, I knew far too much on things if they went wrong, plus the idea of having another Obstetrician who I had never met or knew my birth preferences also did not sit well with me, so I was happy to be induced that afternoon with my supports all around me.
I had a vaginal examination done in the consulting room and I was 3cm dilated! I was so happy, and my Obstetrician was very confident I would have a successful induction. I went home and gathered my hospital bag, at this point the nerves settled in, I couldn’t believe we were going to meet our baby that night. I started having moderate cramping on the drive home and lost my mucous plug in the toilet. After a quick shower to calm myself down we headed back to the hospital. It was 5pm when I arrived, my Obstetrician got in the lift with us, he grabbed my hand and I cannot remember what he said but instantly it calmed me down. He had also called me on our way home to make sure I was okay, we really hit the jackpot with our doctor!
We settled into the birth suite and I had my waters released not long afterwards, as expected there was pretty much nothing that came out, even throughout the labour I wore just one pad, it was dry as a bone! I was 4cm when my waters were released. I had heard many horrible stories of waters being released, I used my relaxation techniques and before I knew it the procedure was done. Not one ounce of discomfort felt. I was also required to have continuous monitoring throughout my labour, we knew we had a small baby and my Obstetrician wanted to make sure we went very gently with the induction so not to distress bubs.
As I was waiting for the syntocinon to be started I began having very regular surges three minutes apart, they were bearable, and I was managing with breathing techniques. I really didn’t think I needed the syntocinon and looking back now I would have just asked to see how I progressed over a few hours but at the time I just went along with the process (I was happy to do this). Approx. 5.45pm the drip went up and not long afterwards it was game on. My surges were coming strong, long and fast, this was the part of my labour I did not enjoy. I found it difficult to focus or use any of my hypnobirthing techniques because of the intensity of my surges. I just could not get a break to refocus, I asked for the gas about one-hour in. I did not find this took any edge off my surges however it did help tremendously with my breathing. I started feeling quite nauseas with it also and was dry heaving a lot, in the end I tossed it away and didn’t want to see it. My Obstetrician came in around 6.30pm and I was 6cm dilated.
I remember asking Ash frequently for an epidural and each time he encouraged me I was doing great and to hold off a little longer, I was getting frustrated with this but I was so thankful as he knew I didn’t want one and deep down I knew I didn’t want it. I got to a point though where I really wanted it and on my second vaginal examination (6cm) Ash said to ask our Obstetrician for one, but I just couldn’t bring myself to ask for it. I think I knew I could do it deep down, I just needed to find my inner strength. I continued to labour on, really not enjoying the process but determined to continue on medication free (stubborn me) Ash used light touch massage on my back and I remained standing, leaning over the bed the whole time, I did not move from this position. I do remember heading to the toilet and sitting on the toilet for ages, I just couldn’t get off, maybe this was my body telling me I needed to stay that way to allow Theodore to move further down.
At around 7.30pm I felt my surges getting stronger and I began feeling the pressure! It was intense, and I knew I was getting ready to push soon. I had three of these surges and got the midwife to come in, at this point I was losing my mind big time…hello transition! Ash at this point also applied the hip squeeze, an acupressure technique that was amazing and really took the edge off the surges as I transitioned.
I got up on the bed for a vaginal examination, I was fully dilated, there was just a small cervical lip, the midwife said another hour before I would be pushing. I remember thinking no bloody way, I cannot do this for another hour, I was squirming, moaning, groaning the sensations where so intense. The midwife called my Obstetrician at 8pm and he was to receive an update 30 minutes later, when the midwife came back in to tell us the plan I believe 10-15mins later I began to push, my instincts just took over, it felt right to go with my body. My Obstetrician was called again and was on his way. When he arrived around 8.30pm, I was pushing with each surge but still not calm or in control. I should mention I did not have a very supportive midwife for my labour, she just did not want to be involved or even cared about our preferences. At least it felt like this to us. I remember my Obstetrician coming in and standing at the end of the bed, he caught my eye and calmly told me to breathe and that I could do this. Ash said it was like he flicked a switch and I was instantly calm. It’s true, because I remember just having this shift and all of a sudden I felt in control and calm. I believe this was because I knew I had all my supports at this point around me. I beared down on my own accord with each surge and was not listening to any guidance or prompts.
The only time I took guidance with pushing was when Theodore was crowning, my Obstetrician instructed my pushing at this stage to prevent tearing and it worked! He also provided warm compress on my perineum throughout the entire pushing phase, later we were told he is the ‘king of intact perineum’s’ Ha.
Ash was also given the opportunity to deliver Theodore, something he never wanted to do prior to the birth, but I guess he just got caught up in the moment. He guided Theodore into the world and onto my chest. After 45 minutes of bearing down our little baby entered the world calmly and quietly only making a little cry of hello. I was worried something was wrong, but my Obstetrician reassured me everything was fine, he was just super chilled out. I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know how to react, I never cried, all I could do was stare at my baby and then a few minutes later I asked Ash what we have had? A BOY he said!! I couldn’t believe it, I was convinced I was having a girl but I got my little boy! We rested in the bed having skin to skin contact for almost two hours before I showered, and Teddy was weighed etc.
It was such a challenging, overwhelming experience, but I honestly would not change a thing about it, it was beautiful and so empowering, and I am so excited to do it all again in May!