I don’t know about you but I love birth stories! There is something so special about the time when your baby comes into the world (no matter the type of birth) and how it really is also about the mother being born as well. This is our story about the birth of our youngest daughter, Isla.
1am I woke up with a massive POP of my water’s breaking on the 7th of September, Isla’s due date. It was definitely the gush that I heard described and hubby and I had a mini freak out as we really weren’t expecting her until past her due date like her sister. We notified our support team, our Midwife Marlene, and our Doula, Peta who both encouraged us to rest and keep them informed once labour started progressing. Poor Sam is then running around the house packing our bags and fitting in Isla’s car seat. Rest wasn’t easy for us!
1pm 12 hours have passed and STILL not much happening at this stage. I am averaging contractions that are 10 minutes apart but they are so irregular in their frequency and intensity. I start to get excited about 3 intense ‘I need to stop what I’m doing and breathe’ contractions that last a minute each but then I don’t get anything for another 20 minutes. Our wonderful midwife, Marlene, comes over to check on me, baby and to provide us some support. I am getting a bit frustrated by this stage thinking that labour is NEVER going to establish! Thankfully Marlene talked me through everything, encourages me and reminds me at some point she will be born. We get some tips from her about how to get things moving which is helpful as well.
2pm So off we go on our list to get things moving including going for a lovely family walk. Even Emily doesn’t think her sister is going to come and tells us how bored she is. The walk was great but still in this infrequent/irregular state that feels less than the Braxton hicks I experienced over the past two days. Surely she is going to come at some point!!
3:30pm Both Marlene and Peta are encouraging me to just rest and relax in the hopes that my body will just take over and get things moving. I go upstairs and have a lie down, trying to rest but of course using my contraction app to see if things are moving (so probably not the most relaxing idea haha). I also put on my ‘relaxing’ playlist and try to just breathe and surrender to this whole process.
5pm I’m averaging contractions that are 7 minutes apart but they are still so mild and only lasting about 20 seconds. I am not the most patient person so I decide to move and dance this baby out! It’s getting dark and my usual Braxton hicks time so I put on my ‘upbeat’ playlist and start busting a move as much as my 40 week pregnant body will allow! After about 30 minutes contractions are definitely increasing in intensity but are still only lasting 20 seconds for one and then a minute for another. It’s now getting to the point that I stop dancing in a contraction, lean over the bed, breathe and rock my hips. Sam comes in and offers to provide some of those amazing massage techniques which feel great apart from him being way to hot. I actually tell him and Emily to go downstairs and make their dinner as being alone and in the dark seems to be working for me. Marlene also recommends heading to the Spinning Babies website and do an abdominal lift and tuck during a contraction. This REALLY helped things!
6:30pm Things are definitely progressing but I’m still experiencing contractions that are about 4-5 minutes apart and lasting infrequent time amounts. I’m worried that we will arrive at the Birth Centre and I will only be 3cm again and I don’t think Emily will handle being there for hours and hours. I may have been in denial a little bit haha. Sam decides to call the midwife and get her to come over anyway so she can help with deciding whether to head up to the hospital.
7pm So things are definitely happening now! I am now utilising my vocalisations and rocking on the yoga ball as I was getting tired standing and dancing. I don’t want to stop my vocalising or rocking but in between contractions when I can focus on Emily, I can see she is getting a bit distressed so I tell Sam to take her and set her up with a movie. When I was preparing her, I would talk to her that mummy might look like she was in pain but really she was just working hard to get her sister out. I reminded her of this and she happily went on her way. I actually thank Sam for calling Marlene over! Sam has also called Peta and she is on her way to our place as well.
8pm Marlene arrives and she can see that I am definitely in active labour. We attempt an examination but I am really struggling to lie on my back so we make the decision to just go up to hospital anyway. Marlene heads off to prepare the birth centre and to start filling my pool/bath. Sam starts packing the car and Emily is all dressed and ready to go. At this point, my contractions are coming very frequently (not sure how regularly as I don’t have the ability to use my app). We have a very high bed so I am pretty much using the bed to help me squat. While I am waiting for Sam to tell me he is done, I experience another huge gush and I can feel her head move scarily close to coming out. I start yelling to Sam to call the midwife to get back her and have a mini freak out that this baby is coming right now and I don’t even have a towel under me!
8:30pm Thankfully Marlene is only about 10 minutes away and she quickly turns around and comes back. After a successful examination, she tells me I am actually at 9-10cm and this baby is coming very soon. We quickly talk about our options as Sam driving me alone is no longer viable. We can either have a homebirth and Marlene will arrange a second midwife or we can call the ambulance. Recently we called an ambulance (Emily had a febrile convulsion) and it took 45 minutes for them to arrive and the journey in the back of the ambulance was the most uncomfortable thing I had ever experienced! With that in mind (and as I originally wanted a home birth anyway) we decided to stay home. Thankfully we had a bath tub which Emily and Sam quickly started to fill. Sam also called Peta who had to double back and come to ours. The contractions feel like they are on top of each other but I still feel in control and a little bit excited that I am so far along!
8:50pm The bath is finally ready but I am in transition, dry heaving and feeling overwhelmed. With help from Marlene I get in the bath and it is instant bliss! I feel like I can catch my breath and that I get a couple of minutes to feel in control again. At this stage, I don’t want my music and I still want to be in darkness. It is very squashy in the bath tub (this is why birth pools are much better!) but I feel supported and safe. Peta and the second midwife arrive. I am still using my vocalisations and I can feel Isla moving down. At this point, Sam is next to my head, holding my hand, Marlene is next to him listening to Isla on her doppler, Peta is next to her holding my leg up so Isla can come out underwater and my precious Emily is down the end holding the flashlight telling me how good I am doing. Surprisingly she is absolutely loving this and no longer feeling distressed.
9:05pm I can feel a difference in my contractions and I know it is time to push. As I had an epidural with Emily, I couldn’t feel this stage and so found it a totally different experience. When I go to push, I felt it start in my stomach and work it’s way down. I was still in the zone and loving darkness so I had my eyes closed but I could feel her head crowning (uncomfortable but no ‘ring of fire’). Then her head was out!
9:20pm A couple more pushes and then she was completely out! The relief was overwhelming and once she was placed on my chest a multitude of emotions happened from love, joy, shock, happiness, amazement and exhaustion. I could see Emily absolutely beaming and Sam was so happy as well. I couldn’t believe I had done it, at home, in my bath, surrounded by my family and my midwives and doula who were all so calming and supportive. Isla was literally born smiling and so peaceful. We delayed her cord cutting until it had finished pulsing and we noticed a significant difference in her colouring especially compared to our jaundice Emily.
After some beautiful skin to skin with me, Isla then had some with Sam as I was taken out of the bath tub to ensure no excess bleeding. I was assisted onto the toilet to birth the placenta which happened about 15 minutes later. During that time, Isla was cooing like I had never heard before it was really beautiful. Sam was holding her while Emily was gently stroking her hands. She got her Dad a good one when her first meconium poo happened during this time. Isla was then brought back to me and had her first breastfeed. She latched so easily and this time there was no intense pain like with Emily.
We then moved to our bed (which was amazing) and we got acquainted as a family. We were left alone at this time and unbeknownst to us, our midwives cleaned up our bathroom and Peta cleaned our kitchen which was so amazingly helpful!
Soon afterwards Sam put Emily to bed while Marlene and Melinda checked my bleeding and if there were any tears/grazes. I had one tiny graze that required one stitch which happened in my bedroom while Isla lay sleeping in my arm. Once that was done, Peta helped me eat and drink and it was time to attempt my first pee after birth (always a little scary). While trying to get to the bathroom, I felt dizzy and my blood pressure was a bit up and down so I laid down, rested and tried to eat and drink more. I sent Sam out to get me some powerade as I sweated SO much in labour and I ate corn chips where were surprisingly all I wanted.
Isla continue to breastfeed however her latch was beginning to hurt and both Marlene and Peta noted that she had a tongue tie (as Emily did). Thankfully Marlene let me know that she could snip her tongue tie the next day.
My blood pressure was still a bit up and down and I felt slightly dehydrated so we again talked about my options including going to the hospital to get an IV drip. I decided to stay at home as I had drunk about 2 litres by this stage and was feeling better. Marlene decided to stay a couple of hours more to keep an eye on me but Melinda and Peta left as I was going to rest. Isla was asleep so Sam held her while I had a sleep.
Two hours later I felt amazing, my blood pressure was normal, I was no longer feeling dehydrated (thank you powerade). Marlene did her final checks and then went home but would come back to see us later that day. Isla’s first night was full of cuddles with Sam while I rested.
Isla born 9:20pm, 7th of September 2017, 3.5kg and 51cm long.
Now usually this is the end of the birth story but to be honest, the aftercare I got was so amazing and integral to supporting me recover and for us to become a family unit. So stay tuned for Part 3: Aftercare
Missed Part One – Preparation? Check it out HERE
If you want any information about my amazing support team please head to:
Marlene Morgan at MIDWIVES FIRST
Peta Tuck at PETA TUCK BRISBANE DOULA