Alexandra at Innate Parenting Australia has a lovely series called Beautiful Birth Stories where she features the stories of empowered women, being in control of their bodies and bringing their babies into the world happily and healthily.
I love reading birth stories myself and wanted to give Alexandra the opportunity to share the story of her own baby’s birth – so over to her!
My darling, I finally got around to writing the start of your story!
Picture this: Daddy and I are snuggled up on the couch, the windows and doors are all open, the outside air is still warm, a gentle breeze causes the leaves to rustle, the street is quiet as it nears 10pm, the only lights on in the room are that of the Christmas tree we had put up the previous day. Exhausted from a long day of car shopping in the 37 degree heat, we decide that we will head to bed after one more episode of the box set we had been watching. Well, today was your EDD and I’d had many people calling and texting to see how I was feeling – but it seems you’re not quite ready. I headed to the bathroom for a last toilet stop and to brush my teeth while your Dadda put on the next disc. But something was different about this toilet visit. I’ve read something about this mucous plug thing. And that seems to be very similar! Hang on a second, what’s this funny cramp thing I’m experiencing?!
With a strange grin on my face – not sure exactly how I should act or whether or not I was even right – I went back to the lounge room and said to your Dadda “I think you’d better get Charles to work for you tomorrow”.
Sensing my hesitation, he looked up at me with gentle eyes and a reassuring smile and said “It’s happening is it?”
I just smiled. I didn’t feel anything. Or I didn’t know how I felt. I knew I had a job to do. Now how do I do it? I guess I’ll just lay back on the couch and wait. I looked at Dadda. I could see he was happy and excited, equally unsure of what to do and he looked very ready for bed!
My next contraction was about 20 minutes later. The one after was about 10 minutes. We were certain that tonight was the night. Within 2 hours from my toilet stop, contractions were 1-2 minutes apart. We called our midwife. We had a chat about how I was feeling and the details of the contractions. She said to let her know when I was ready for her to come over. I think she could tell I felt quite relaxed and content just hanging out with your Dadda. We called our parents. A late night phone call could only mean one thing! I could hear in mums voice that she had tears. I heard my sister in the background yell out “Go Al, Go!” – like I was about to run a race! It made me laugh. I was about to bring the first grandchild (and niece) into our family.
I’d positioned myself comfortably on the couch. Dadda was busy hurrying around setting up a video camera, charging camera batteries, lighting candles and just generally keeping busy. Of course, as a first time mum I had already organised nearly everything there was to be organised anyway! And anything else I needed, my beautiful midwife had organised or would bring. I don’t think he knew what else to do with himself though – he was too restless to just sit with me. And I was rather enjoying myself! This was way more relaxing than I thought!
We called our midwife again after a little while and asked her to come over. Contractions were becoming a bit more intense, and I had moved from my lying position on the couch, to being on my knees on the floor leaning forwards against the couch. Then I felt ready for bed. It was getting late and the novelty had started to wear off when I realised that birth actually takes time – it’s not just where you go into labour and push out a baby and everyone’s joyful.
Apparently that’s what movies had told my subconscious. My motivation was waning. I had spent 36 weeks being more excited about the process of giving birth, than the idea of actually having a child. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t wait to meet my baby, but I had become super excited about actually birthing!
It must have been after midnight – it’s all a bit of a blur now – contractions were a little further apart when our midwife arrived. In hindsight I’m not surprised. Strangely I became concerned that I wasn’t a very good host and should be offering her a coffee like we usually did when she visited! But she was just beautiful… checked in on how I was going, offered some soothing words and suggestions. She was just there. And that was perfect.
I thought I might hop in the birthing pool because I was getting a little bored and restless where I was, so when it was filled it I got in. Contractions had slowed down even more by now. I was so tired. It was only about 4 hours since my first contraction, but I was completely and utterly exhausted. I had some watermelon and a drink, felt a bit silly just swimming around the pool without much happening and soon got out again. Daddy and I went for a walk to try and get things moving again. It felt good to waddle around the empty streets in my pyjamas with the warm breeze around me. It was soothing. Every 50 metres or so I stopped and leaned on your Dadda during a contraction. A car of young boys drove past at one of these stops and yelled something out the window – I bet they had no idea what I was doing!
I felt a bit sick and very tired when we got back so Dadda and I went to bed at around 3am. That was such a restful sleep! And boy did I need it (as did your Dadda by the way he was snoring)! I woke every 45 mins or so for a contraction but the sleep in between was brilliant. I woke up in the morning at about 7:30am and the contractions became closer together.
Dadda set up a little area for me to lean on – I was most comfy on my knees leaning against something. The time between 7:30 and your birth is a little hazy to me. I know Dadda and I had a chat. I told him I couldn’t be bothered going through the process of the contractions building up again. It wasn’t as relaxing and exciting anymore. He said all the right things. But it wasn’t really up to me – my body was working its way through this birth anyway! In hindsight, it seems like common sense but the words that impacted me the most (said by both our midwife and Dadda) were something along the lines of “it’s up to you to birth your baby – we can’t do it for you”. This inspired me more than you’d know. I knew I didn’t want anyone else to touch me, or to ‘help’ me get out my baby.
That’s when things really picked up again and the waves became more intense. I tried different positions to get comfortable. I was on the floor. I was on the bed. At one point I was on the toilet. Then I was back in the birthing pool. I felt like pushing. I pushed. Not much happened. My midwife said “push like you’re doing a poo” and finally it clicked! Ah! That makes sense. Clearly I still had my head in this, instead of just feeling my way through it! So I did that. I was too concerned about pooing that I hadn’t thought of that before.
I realised soon after I’d woken up that morning that I needed to keep my eyes closed. This helped me block out my surroundings and focus on my body. I was still incredibly tired (looking after myself ended up becoming a big priority for my next pregnancy so I was physically stronger… instead of car shopping all day at 40 weeks in the heat!). I was now leaning back against your Dadda in the pool, and dozing off between each contraction. I felt my head gently flop to the side as I rested, only to be woken again with the next wave.
Not long after I started pushing, my waters broke. After what felt like some time pushing, with your head gently stretching me open and then going back in again, our midwife suggested that I reach down and feel you but I wasn’t quite ready to. Dadda reached down and felt you and whispered to me “Our baby has so much hair Al!” I smiled and then I birthed your head.
After another contraction, the rest of your body popped out and I reached down and brought you up to my chest. 11:30am. And there you were! In your mummy’s arms, and your mummy in your daddy’s arms. You looked tiny, with a little head of black hair, testing out your lungs. I could feel Daddy crying gently, in total awe of what had just happened. You looked up at us. I hadn’t even thought to see if you were a boy or a girl – then Dadda said “we have a baby girl Al, we have a girl”.
I couldn’t say much. I mainly just stared. There you were. There was my baby. Incredible! I don’t think we could believe that we had his baby there in our arms.
When I watch your birthing video now I think “why didn’t I get out of the pool sooner, she must be freezing!” or “Why didn’t I offer her my boob straight away, she is crying!”… but it was all so surreal at the time. We got out of the pool after 5-10 minutes and our midwife wrapped us up on the couch and made us some food. You had a feed and a big cuddle with mummy until I birthed your placenta at about 12pm. Dadda cut your cord when you were ready and we called our families. Oh the tears! Everyone was so happy. I felt so proud, and Dadda was, well, I don’t know what Dadda was, but for the next year or so he regularly told people how amazing I was. After a couple of visitors, the three of us snuggled up in bed for a very long and restful sleep.
My darling, you made me a mummy. I’ve found strength, wisdom and love that I didn’t know existed before. It’s up to you to write the rest of your story, in your own unique way that you live your life. Love Mummy x
Thank you so so much to Alexandra for sharing her beautiful birth story! I was so lucky to have the opportunity to labour in the pool with my second baby and it was such a magical experience.
I had exactly the same thoughts as Alexandra when I met my baby for the first time, it really is incredible!
You can find out more about Alexandra’s Beautiful Birth Stories series here and follow her on Facebook and Pinterest.