All birth stories are different and we want to empower and support all kinds of births. We all have individual reactions to reading birth stories; some make us happy, laugh, cry or feel sad. Here at The Merge Journal we hope to give the mother who writes her birth story a sense of empowerment. A time for reflection. We respect all the different types of individual birthing stories.
Liz has bravely shared with us here, her birth story of daughter Clover:
My due date came and went, and although I knew that my baby would come when she was ready, and that a normal gestation was anywhere from 37-42 weeks, I had been so sure that this baby would come right around her due date. Week 41 rolled around and still no baby. I had tried everything. And if one more person told me “sex is the trick” I was going to scream! “Trust me, its not!!”
I knew if I went past 42 weeks my home birth could be in jeopardy, and my midwife had an operation booked, so I was beginning to get a little nervous.
Finally, I woke early in the morning on the 11th day past my ‘due date’ with mild contractions around 10 minutes apart. It was around 3am and I timed them for an hour or so and then drifted back to sleep until 7am. When I woke they were still there, and I knew it was game on. I never had any false starts with my first pregnancy so I was confident that this was the real deal. I sent my midwife, Helen, a message “Something is happening!!”
We got up and started pottering, making breakfast, getting excited that no, I wasn’t going to be pregnant forever! My mum had been staying with us from interstate (I was sure the baby would have arrived before her arrival!) and she hurried around tidying up and making herself scarce (she went to her sisters house as it wasn’t the plan for her to be there for the birth).
We went for a walk to the beach with Isla – our three year old, and our dog. I picked flowers along the way and tried to walk with one foot in the gutter, which I had heard can make baby get into a good position as I knew she was posterior. My contractions were still comfortable but regular and I was able to maintain conversation through them.
Not long after lunchtime my sister arrived to take Isla for a few hours so I could fully relax and hopefully get things moving. My first labour was very long, so I was expecting that this baby would be born the next day, maybe early in the morning.
We cooked a roast pork (which is totally random I know, but it was in the fridge and needed to be cooked!), had a snuggle in bed for a while, ate the roast at about 4pm, and then at around 6pm my husband, Lachlan, went to pick up Isla. At around this stage I think I started to go into proper active labour. I was sitting on my exercise ball drawing circles with my hips and really needed to concentrate through contractions, which were maybe three minutes apart. I was still in total denial that I was very far along in my labour and was really conscious of not wanting to call my midwife to come too early. I sent her a text saying “I think things are getting pretty serious but I’m not sure…” and she phoned straight away. I had to put the phone down during each contraction and breathe through them. She asked how many I was having in a 10 minute period and I wasn’t sure, so she asked me to hang up and time them. I sent her a text 10 minutes later to say that I had had four contractions. She was on her way. I sent my sister, Georgia, a text and asked her to make her way over after she had finished dinner and was ready as she was part of my birth team.
Lachlan and Isla arrived home around 6.30pm and hopped in the shower to get ready for bed. Not long after, my sister arrived and started to fill the pool and boil kettles (to add to the pool water). We hadn’t done a practice run of filling the pool and the hose didn’t fit the tap properly so the poor thing filled the pool with a bucket. I hugged Isla goodnight and told her that we would be waking her up during the night to see the baby be born.
It must have been around 8pm and my contractions were so intense by now all I wanted to do was get in the pool but I was worried that might slow things down. Helen had told me that if I was under 5cm dilated and got in the pool then labour would likely slow down, but if I got in and it stayed the same then I was probably over 5cm.
Nervously I stepped into the pool and was immediately so much more comfortable. To my relief (which is weird to say!) not long after I got in, I had another contraction. Hooray! I wouldn’t have to get out! Helen and Amy – my second midwife, arrived shortly after and quietly set up their things in my birth room.
My baby was still posterior and during contractions I could now feel her head turning against my pelvis as she tried to get into position. It was the strangest feeling. My back was killing me and my sister was pressing on it during each contraction. I was bruised the next day from how hard I had her pressing and her thumbs took a few days to recover!
Just after 9pm I started to feel a little pushy and started slowly pushing with each contraction. I noticed that the urge to push didn’t seem as involuntary as I remembered it being during Isla’s birth. I was on all fours leaning over the pool wall, which is the only position I can tolerate with my posterior labours! I wanted Isla to be there for the birth but didn’t want her to have to witness too much of the pushing and wanted her to be woken up just a couple of contractions before the baby was born. Helen told Lachlan to go wake her up at this point which totally took me by surprise, as I thought surely I couldn’t almost nearly be done! I had only been in active labour for a few hours and had only just started to push! I insisted we wait until after another contraction, and after the next one, despite my insisting there was still ages to go, he went to wake her up. She had only been asleep for a couple of hours and was confused, but sat quietly with her dad as he held my hand.
Another couple of contractions came and went, seemingly on top of one another, with me slowly pushing and at last she began to crown. I was scared to push as I remember tearing at this point during Isla’s birth and was desperately hoping to avoid that happening again. The pain of the tear for a week or so after Isla’s birth was intense and I also knew I would need to go into hospital to be sutured if I need them this time – which I really didn’t want to do. Helen instructed me to stop pushing and pant, which I did, but her head popped out anyway! Sweet relief! And I felt no tear – Hooray! With the next contraction I gave one last push, kneeled up and pulled her out of the water and onto my upper stomach (she had a short cord). She came out screaming!
That feeling is like no other, utter relief from the marathon my body had just been through, and pure joy at finally seeing the little person I had been getting to know for the past 41 weeks and 4 days. I couldn’t believe it was only 9.27pm! I had been in active labour for only four or five hours and pushed for just 11 minutes.
After 10 minutes or so we hopped out of the pool and got straight into bed. I can not even tell you how amazing it was to get straight into my own bed with my family and our new little girl. She latched onto the breast easily right away and stayed that way for most of the night. I birthed the placenta and we left it attached, in a bucket next to me while Helen and Amy cleaned up and emptied the pool. The cord was then cut and the placenta sealed up in a tub ready to be encapsulated. I hopped in the shower, which was cold after having used all the hot water for the pool, while dad had some skin to skin.
Before midnight Helen and Amy bid their goodbyes and we all settled in for the first night as a family of four. I couldn’t believe how beautifully the whole birth had played out – right down to the timing, which meant we were able to get a decent night of sleep that night. Not that I could sleep with this new little person to stare at.
The next morning Helen arrived to check in on us and weigh and measure the baby, as we had decided not to do it right after the birth because I consider constant skin to skin the priority for us in that time. She weighed 3.64kgs and was 54.5cms long. Later that day we finally agreed on a name, Clover Rain.
I couldn’t have planned a more perfect birth if I had tried and will be forever grateful to have experienced such an empowering and magical birthing experience.
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