The birth of our first child Lincoln was clinical, degrading and I felt like just another person to birth and be sent away. Just another name crossed off their list. No support, follow up or even someone to talk to that about what I was feeling. No one had warned me how much I’d hate how I birthed. The commonly used phrase “you leave your dignity at the door, and collect it on the way out” is not true. I’m a very conservative person and HATED being looked at and checked. Making my dignity a non-important issue to them truly made me sick. I struggled with coming to terms that my dreams hadn’t come true. I had an anger within myself, making me feel like a failure to not only myself, but my precious new baby boy.
First pregnancy and labour, I will admit I was young (20) and uneducated. I had a 38 hour posterior/back labour with a baby boy who was on the larger side. I had a constant contraction that didn’t stop in my tail bone. I didn’t know how to control what I felt- so I just screamed, begged for drugs and was forced to lay on my back (which I believe prolonged my labour and made birthing Lincoln harder than it should’ve been). To be told when to push, how long to push for and yelled at to stop as I was doing it wrong- I was exhausted and I just wanted my baby out, I was sick of being poked and prodded. Then after he was here, the medical staff pushing on my stomach and pulling to try get my placenta out. Finally after 45 minutes of extreme pain, I delivered my placenta. I felt disgusting. For weeks after I was in pain. I couldn’t sit down and due to all that I struggled to get a proper breastfeeding bond. They supplemented him with formula in hospital as my milk took 6 days to come in. We didn’t leave the house for 6 weeks due to me being in pain and not feeling like myself. I knew then, I never wanted to experience birthing like that again. So when we were planning our second baby I started doing my own research.
My first midwife appointment I mentioned the name of Jasmijn, they told me she was still practicing- but also privately! I had Jas as my midwife with Lincoln. Except when I presented in labour, it was a shift change so Jasmijn was not able to birth Lincoln. The person who knew the most about me, wasn’t able to support me. This time I wanted her and only her! I continued to have my appointments at the hospital with Jasmijn. Each visit we talked in depth about what I’d like to do and how we could make it a calm and natural environment. My partner and I had chosen for the Launceston Birthing Centre. This provided a safe but non-clinical birth environment, I got to have Jas and my partner felt comfortable.
My partner, Sam was not a fan of me birthing at home. He was worried as they had told us Archie was also going to be on the larger side. I wasn’t scared of that, as I had birthed a big baby before. If anything I was so excited to do it right. To do it the way I’d always dreamed of. After our 20 week morphology scan the doctors were concerned with how large Archie was measuring. For Sam’s peace of mind I agreed to growth scans to monitor Archie’s growth.
At 34 weeks he was sitting in the high 90’s for his weight percentile. Jas recommended an appointment with the obstetrician to discuss the recommendations and options. I was nervous about this appointment as I didn’t want to increase the fear that Sam already had. I asked if Jas could come with us to advocate for us. During the appointment with the obstetrician, I only hear negative things. Inducing was a big recommendation as Archie was estimated to be around 5 kg (11 pound). No encouraging stories of birthing a larger baby. I wanted to follow my body and allow it to choose its own time, like it had done with Lincoln. I didn’t want anyone to interfere with my body. The appointment and discussion was intense. When I tried to express my feelings/motives, they were shut down. I felt broken. Sam didn’t feel safe giving birth at the Launceston Birth Centre anymore. He wanted to ensure we would both be ‘safe’ due to what we had just been told. Apart from his estimated size, my pregnancy was considered low-risk.
Once the obstetrician had left, Jas had a gentle conversation with Sam and I regarding birthing in a hospital. She was going to be my doula, and my voice. She was going to protect me and advocate for me when I was at my most vulnerable. This way there wouldn’t be a change of shift and she would protect me throughout the birth. She respected Sam’s feelings towards birth outside of hospital and the effects of his fear on my feelings. It was best if I didn’t sense his stress and worry. So I agreed- we were going to have a hospital birth.
I felt empty. I cried during the drive home. I was mad with Sam for his fear and I felt upset about my own feelings. I felt like a failure before labour had even begun. However, Jas had asked me to write down my wishes so she could voice them for me when the time came. It gave me something positive to focus on. I had so much trust in her- it made me feel like everything was going to be alright. She game me books to read on birthing and how I could mentally prepare myself on the labour ahead. To avoid another posterior labour, I visited a chiropractor who used the Webster technique to help keep Archie in an anterior position. Birthing a large, but especially posterior baby scared me as I had damaged my back during my labour with Lincoln.
November 3rd 2017. 2.45am I woke to go to the toilet and as I stood, I felt wet and a small trickle of water. I rushed to the toilet extremely excited that something was happening! I woke Samuel and told him I thought my waters had broken. I didn’t have any pains or niggles so we went back to sleep. 5.30am I woke with a massive sharp pain in my lower abdomen. I stood up and more water gushed out. I could feel my stomach tightening and releasing. I was very excited as this hadn’t happened with Lincoln. I woke Sam again and told him I was going to call Jas. Jas told me to go for a walk to help my contractions become more regular. So I snuck out of the house and took our dog for quite a large walk. 25 minutes into the walk the contractions were starting to take my breath away and they were 2 minutes apart. By the time I got home, my body was taking over and I was moaning with every contraction. I called Jas to let her know what was happening and she was coming straight over. 7.30 am I went and had a shower while Samuel got Lincoln ready for child care. By the time I’d had a shower- I was leaning on a wall and moaning, swaying through my contractions. It was beautiful, they were coming and going in waves! I was still laughing and talking when my contractions had a break, still holding Lincoln and laughing with Samuel and Jas. I was scaring Lincoln with the noises I was making. I couldn’t concentrate on my body while I was worrying about Lincoln. Lincoln was picked up for child care at 8.30am. Once he’d left I was on my hands and knees rocking, moaning and breathing. I was just following what my body needed me to do. Jas suggested to go to the hospital. Samuel wanted to have a quick shower before going. While Samuel was in the shower I felt the urge to push! I yelled out to him and he met us in the lounge room where I was trying to push. While I was doing this, Samuel helped me breathe and concentrate on my body. Jenny arrived at 9am. I didn’t even know she was there. She rushed around our home and got everything she needed without interrupting me. Both Jenny and Jas suggested they should check how far along I was as I wasn’t sure where my body was at. They both knew my feelings towards being touched during labour and how I felt about being looked at. I consented as I wasn’t 100% sure where my body was at. I was so comfortable with them. I was 9.5cm dilated. My body wasn’t quite ready for our baby to be born. They suggested to get into the bath. I tried but couldn’t. I felt too uncomfortable as we have a small and shallow bath. I climbed out of the bath and tried the shower, I hated that feeling also. Once I stepped out of the shower, I crawled into the hallway.
It was happening! I was about to birth our baby. I couldn’t move, I didn’t want to move. I was for some strange reason so content with our hallway! While Jenny held my head, and Jas rubbed my back with Sam I let my body take control. Jenny gave me the strength I needed to push and to listen to what my body wanted. Jas helped by giving comfort in such a gentle way. I beared down with all I had to birth our baby- being held by Jenny giving me such power to continue. I birthed our beautiful baby, at home in our hallway. The feeling of accomplishment and knowing that I had just done the most powerful thing a woman can do, at home drug free- was the most empowering moment of my life. My placenta delivered itself only minutes after. Even though I had been scared about it becoming stuck as had happened in my first birth. Samuel and I snuck into bed, soaking up our magical experience and staring at our beautiful baby boy. I couldn’t stop crying tears of joy. I had never been prouder of myself. I had followed my body and let it do what it was designed to do! The birth of Archie healed me. It fixed a place in me that struggled with guilt and anger. Jenny and Jas helped get him to latch straight after he was born. His first feed was just bonding and it was such a rewarding feeling. We spent a couple of hours in bed cuddling and bonding with our new arrival. No interruptions, no one poking my baby or me. Just allowing Samuel and I to enjoy meeting our baby boy. Jenny and Jas cleaned up, (even washed up!) and made themselves a cup of tea and relaxed in our lounge room while letting us bond with our baby!
Archie Ray arrived quickly. He allowed Samuel to also see how natural a home birth is. Archie arrived at 9.45am in our hall way. Weighing a beautiful 4.3kg (9 pound 10.5 ounces) at 39 weeks & 2 days. He was extremely bruised from his fast delivery. It was only 10 minutes of pushing. After his birth I wasn’t in any pain- I could sit, lift and enjoy both of my children. I didn’t even get after-pains. We went for a walk the next day! I felt amazing! I felt like the most powerful woman in the world. I listened and trusted my body. I put all my energy into birthing Archie and I trusted my midwives. My milk came in within 24 hours. Jasmijn had encapsulated my placenta for me. Something I truly believe has helped my healing process and energy levels- especially my mental health. They continued to come and check on us weeks after Archie’s birth. Making sure breastfeeding was mastered (Archie had a severe tongue-tie), I was healthy and on top of everything and most importantly- that as a family we were coping. Which we were. Archie is a breath of fresh air- I believe it’s because of the environment we birthed him into.
If we were to do this again- we would be doing it in the same way, with the same amazing midwives. They made us feel loved, connected and informed throughout Archie’s pregnancy. They educated me and ALWAYS listened to my needs, wants and wishes. Giving me access to natural products to help with pregnancy and in the postnatal period. Amazing little goodies that will never be wasted!
I couldn’t fault a single thing.
Thank you for healing my heart and bringing Archie into this world safely!