Welcome to Empowered Parenthood's first birth story. Birth stories are a wonderful way to connect to birthing women all over the world, and discover the mystical power we all hold within us. No matter what kind of birth you have had, there is power in sharing. Sometimes they are traumatic and painful, sometimes they are empowering and blissful - but they are all raw, powerful, real. That's what being a woman is. We create life within us, we surrender to universal life source to endure more than we have ever experienced, and bring another being into this world. Our hope is you find encouragement, empowerment, understanding, connection, and courage within the words of women sharing their most intimate adventure with you. So grab a cuppa, snuggle down and let's share this magical journey together..
All birth stories are shared, exactly as they are written by the strong women who share them. This is their journey, their words, and their experience. We are simply the vessel to share far and wide the magic that comes when women own their experience.
It’s the afternoon of Saturday 3rd July and I’m vacuuming the cobwebs on the ceiling. I should have known that was the start of something because I have never done that before! Nesting was next level! I was having Braxton Hicks that night and thought hmmm I wonder if something was going to happen but didn’t want to get my hopes up! I woke up at 1am Sunday morning and realised I was having contractions. I started timing them using my trusty Contraction App on my phone. For an hour I was having contractions every 10mins lasting for approx. 45seconds. Yeeee I’m in labour! Ok, must try to go back to sleep as my research told me to rest and try sleep as I might be in for the long haul! I drifted on and off to sleep until the morning and got up like normal. Contractions are still regular – moderate in strength. I finish off the last of our wedding thank you cards (because what else do you do while in labour, right!). Husband wakes up later that morning and I excitedly tell him that I’m in labour – again, my research had me thinking there’s no point in waking him up in the night as he needs his rest too! So we carry on the day, timing contractions like it’s some kind of game – are we winning? I text my midwife that afternoon “I’ve been having regular contractions since about 2am, spacing between 10-30mins. I don’t think they are increasing in strength and frequency at the moment. They’re intense enough for me to concentrate on my breathing to work through them.” I was feeling calm and had complete faith in my body’s ability to do what it needed to do. I was in no rush as I knew that my labour would take as long as it needed to. I was still in good spirts as the sun went down, albeit I was tired and worried that I wouldn’t sleep overnight. I assumed that exhaustion would take over and I’d get some rest…..not quite! Sunday night comes, and goes. Wow that was a loooooong night! A sent a message to friends that morning “Contractions ALL night. No further than 10 minutes apart but not quite 5mins yet! I am exhausted! Thank god the sun is coming up”. My contractions were regular but never getting down to that magic 5-1-1 (5mins apart, lasting a minute, for at least an hour). An update text to my midwife “I’ve been up all night having very strong regular contractions but not quite at established labour yet! Very tired and resting in between, although unable to sleep with them coming so frequently. Started losing mucus plug about half hour ago.” I’m tired. Hubby is tired. We ran out of hot water from the baths I was having overnight. Crap. It’s Queen’s birthday Monday and my sister comes over to pick up one of our dogs. She stays for a couple of hours to give hubby a nap. I’m falling asleep on the couch in-between contractions. I message my Dad around midday “Labour has stalled a bit so the contractions have slowed down which allowed me to have a few naps. Life savers!” I remember messaging my bestie that I managed to get a 5 minute nap and felt so much better – she thought I was crazy but that’s sleep deprivation for ya! By 4.30pm it is all back on and I send an update “Back to regular contractions now. Hopefully they turn into active labour. Don’t know how I’d cope with another night like last night”. Well, I did another night. I don’t know how, but I did! The hardest part was those early hours in the morning, 3-5am when you felt like the only soul on the planet. Time seemed so distorted and I wished for the sun to rise. I was beginning to worry about how much sleep deprivation a woman can handle and still have the energy for the active stage of labour. I knew the body was capable of some extraordinary things, but come on – there’s gotta be a limit? Hubby and I laboured at home together from 1am Sunday morning until we went to the birth centre at 3pm Tuesday afternoon. We gave my midwife updates via text and phone but only at necessary intervals (Sunday afternoon, Monday morning, Monday night, and then regular contact from 7am Tuesday). We knew there was nothing more that my midwife could do for us and that we needed to keep calm and relaxed while labouring together at home. I knew the moments that I felt I needed to update her and that there was no point in being on the phone to her 24/7. I needed her to be at the birth and I did not want her to be exhausted from being up all night, like I was! My midwife came over about 8am on Tuesday morning and did a Vaginal Examination. Our birth plan was not to have any VE but considering I’d been in labour for 2 days, we felt it was a good idea. I was 2cm dilated and 70% effaced however I was not discouraged to hear this. My baby had always been hanging out of the right side of my body and he was not quite centre on my cervix. My contractions were trying to get him straightened up and ready for the grand reveal! As I understood why contractions happened, I was not scared or fearful of them. There was no confusion or anger about the pain I was in. My body was doing what it needed to do. Yes, I worried that something may have been wrong but seeing my midwife put my mind at ease and I had complete faith and trust. She empowered me and made me feel safe. I was prescribed a sleeping pill and pain killers to try and help my body rest. This came as a surprise to me as my midwife is not quick to prescribe drugs and I did not think there was anything that could be done to help me. I didn’t even ask. I was comfortable to take the drugs as I’d taken them on numerous occasions in the past (not pregnant). She also said to stop timing the contractions (yep, we were still playing that game but not advancing to the next level!!) and really try to relax. I popped the pills, put my eye mask on and got into bed. 20mins later I was awoken to the incredible pain of another contraction. They were so much worse lying down and being rather big (at 9months pregnant!) I would struggle to quickly get up in time. I felt paralysed lying down and trying to breathe through the pain, counting down for the wave to pass over. And it did, they always did. But then another would start to build and we’d go through it again. Contractions are a funny thing. You feel it coming, it’s like the tide being drawn out to sea, building up into a wave, peaking at its highest peak, and again at its actual highest peak (you think it’s the highest first but it gets more intense!) and then it starts to fade, and doesn’t come crashing down but slowly goes back down and you can resume life as you were, continue the conversation you were having, the cup of tea you were drinking, or in my case continue applying make-up before heading to the birth centre! 12.42pm I sent my midwife a text “unfortunately contractions are overpowering the meds. I’m delirious but contractions are painful.’ I don’t think this text quite made sense, probably from popping a sleeping pill 2hrs earlier….oh and the sleep deprivation! Hubby is on the phone to my midwife and we’re told to come to the birth centre at 3pm. During this time at home I feel like the contractions are coming more frequently so I decide to start the game again and press stop/start; 5.14mins, 5.07mins, 5.06mins, oh my gosh they are getting closer!! I continue timing for the next hour and all the contractions are approximately 5mins apart and lasting around 1 minute. YUS established labour!!! Make up is applied (I paid a lot of money for a Birth Photographer, I haven’t slept for 2 days and I brought water proof mascara just for this event so the makeup is pivotal!) and Hubby puts the packed bags that have been waiting patiently for the last few weeks into the car. We wait for a contraction to pass and then get into the car to make the 2 minute car ride to the birth centre (that probably includes parking and walking into the building!) so I’m lucky to not have to experience a contraction in the car.
We arrive at the birth centre and are greeted by my midwife. Unfortunately our preferred birth suite is not available but I’m not bothered at all – both of the suites are beautiful. It’s 3.30pm and my midwife performs another VE and I’m 6 cms dilated and 90% effaced. I’m given an enema to empty my bowels and I pass more blood and mucus plug. I decide to have a shower before getting into the birth pool. Hubby has got the hypno-birthing Spotify playlist going and the lights have been dimmed. The atmosphere is beautiful, like being at a day spa (minus the beauty therapy treatment!). It’s 4pm and I get into the pool. Our birth photographer is there and taking photos but I barely notice her presence. I’m continuing to sip on water and attempt to eat a cracker and a soft lolly (one bite and I’m done!). I’m moving around in the birth pool a lot to find my ‘optimum’ birth position. Hubby is constantly near me, helping me, guiding me, loving me. Now the birth affirmation hypno-birthing track is playing. I can hear ‘breathe your baby down’ ‘I trust my body’ ‘I trust my body to birth my baby’ and hubby reminding me to relax my jaw. 4.40pm and I’m feeling hot, like you do after being in a spa pool for too long (though the birth pool temp was 36c) and a fan is brought in. I’m feeling so much better with the cool air blowing on my face and cold flannel on my forehead. 4.45pm and I’m feeling nauseous and wonder if I’m going to vomit. The surges are feeling more intense and my midwife encourages me to trust my body – acknowledging that I am tired but clinically well and to loosen my hips and rock through the surges. Just after 5pm I pass a decent amount of mucous plug (I thought I’d passed some earlier but that was nothing compared to this!) along with poo and wee! Yip, the sieve (or pooper scooper!) was used several times and I was totally OK with that! I’m feeling more bowel pressure and it’s intense. Hubby continues the loving hypno-birthing affirmations and my midwife praises the amazing job I am doing of bringing my baby down. At 5.46pm more hot water is added into the pool and I say ‘I can feel him coming down’. My midwife encourages me to slow my breathing and let my body stretch. More blood comes with each contraction. I concentrate on taking the biggest poo of my life because that is what it feels like and I had comfort in knowing how to push a big poo out; I wasn’t so sure how to ‘push’ a baby out – turns out, it’s the same thing haha! I feel for the head but it’s not a head that I can feel. It’s squishy and I’m thinking that I’m having some kind of prolapse! Is it my uterus? Turns out my baby is still in the caul and my waters broke once his head popped out! One more contraction and the rest of his body comes out and he’s guided by me and hubby up to the surface.
“Hi Charlie” I greet my baby and wonder at his hair on his head. I’m in awe. I’m amazed. I’m shocked that he was inside me! I try to move around the birth pool to the seat and get comfortable. ‘Blow on his face’ my midwife tells us. We’re smiling and so happy but then I can hear the concern in my midwife’s voice. She grabs the Neopuff mask to help Charlie breathe. It’s no good. The emergency buzzer is pushed, a staff midwife enters and my midwife cuts the umbilical cord to take Charlie onto the table. I’m in shock. What’s happening? Is my baby OK? I’m still in the pool, watching as my helpless baby lies on the table with a breathing mask over his tiny face. My amazing birth photographer sits with me and tells me everything will be OK. Do I believe her? My midwife returns and gives me the injection to release my placenta. I’m freaking out and just staring blankly. I can’t speak. What feels like a lifetime turned out to be a matter of minutes and Charlie’s breathing improved. I exited the pool with the help of my midwife and birth photographer and lay on the bed. Charlie was brought to me for skin-to-skin and breastfeeding.
From there, our journey has continued to be the most amazing experience and I can honestly say that I cannot wait to give birth again…..next time at home! While I endured a two and a half day labour, I still consider myself to have had a positive, beautiful birth. Not everything went to ‘plan’ – taking medication (sleeping pill and pain killers Tuesday morning), emergency cord clamping and cutting, synthetic release of placenta, unable to have continuous skin-to-skin for 48hours (due to sleep deprivation). I was concerned of how I would feel in the days after the birth and whether I would experience some degree of post-traumatic stress (from Charlie’s resuscitation). However, after reading my midwife’s notes of the labour I felt at peace with everything that happened. Her chronological timeline of events helped me process what had happened and clarify my distortion of events – the cord was clamped and cut after 6minutes (not straight away like I imagined) and Charlie was away from me for less than 10mins (it felt like forever for me!). The mind is a powerful thing, and it can play tricks on you!
I am blessed to have had a positive and beautiful birth; however I do not consider it luck. My husband and I did a lot of preparation, starting with our hypno-birthing class (which we attended when I was around 28-33weeks pregnant). No, we didn’t listen to the Rainbow Relaxation every night, or practice the breathing and visualisation religiously. But we did continue our positive thinking, affirmations and excitement of the upcoming birth. Mindfulness can be so powerful and if you believe you can, your chances are a lot better than if you believe the opposite. I took comfort in knowing how confident I was about giving birth, without arrogance. I knew if I needed help, I would receive and accept it. However, that was to be considered at the time, not decided on before I was in labour (e.g. pain relief, transfer to hospital etc). I had the right team around me to support and guide me through the experience. Yes, I gave birth to our son, but my husband gave me strength during my weakness, confidence during my doubts and love during my pain. “I can’t do this” “Yes, you can and you will. Breathe our baby down.” “Please help me!” “I love you”. We did it together and our birth photography portrays that so well. He was right there with me, connecting with me and sharing the experience together. That is why I believe it is so important to have the right team around you, the right birth partner and midwife whom you trust and know has your best interests at heart. I’m thankful to every person that had a positive influence during my pregnancy, birth and early parenting journey as they have contributed to the mother that I am today.