Birth of Noa (17-05-2021)
I am naturally a sceptical person. I like my medicine and my choices in life to be logical and backed by reason. But when it came to pregnancy and birth preparation, I was happy to admit that I didn’t know anything. I started reading and learning, and so did my partner. But there is a lot of information out there and knowing what to follow was intimidating and overwhelming.
Our first meeting with Jas and Jenny brought immediate relief and reassurance. Here were two women who had seen, learned and dealt with it all. They were caring and informative and had an obvious chemistry together - you could tell they were an amazing team. Every time we saw them after only reinforced and supported how we first felt. Their huge amount of practical experience was apparent, and they had a great balance of Western medicine and more alternative therapies and ideas.
Usually, I might have dismissed some of the alternative ideas, but knowing so little about this huge, intricate, and deep subject I decided to basically just shut up and do what they suggested. And honestly that was very freeing. Now when people ask us what the best thing we did to prepare for the birth was, I just say, “hire Jas and Jenny”. They know the answer to every problem and have seen and dealt with it, and worse before. They are better than Google - several times we looked up things on Google and got worried before talking to one of them and getting different, better advice.
No matter what time we called or messaged them, we got a response or a visit and all problems and stress seemed minimal. I feel like we had the safest birth we could have had. All the benefits and safety of Australia’s medical system were available if we needed them, but our birth never felt medical or sterile (metaphorically, not literally).
I never have been very good at doing nothing. I finished work at the end of my 38th week on the night of Friday 14th May, enjoyed the weekend, and on Sunday night I complained to my partner, Lewie: “What am I supposed to do with myself now? I’ll need to get a hobby or something”. Four minutes into my official maternity leave (12:04am on Monday 17th), my waters broke. I thought it was just one of my 6-7 trips to the toilet for the night to empty my already empty bladder with a disappointing 3-drip pee. However, moments after climbing back into bed I felt an odd wetness between my thighs. I remember thinking that it couldn’t possibly be urine, I haven’t peed that much in months. I climbed back out of bed, hoping that the wetness wasn’t blood, although it did feel very similar to that untimely period that decides to come early and wreak havoc on your bed sheets sometimes. In the light of the bathroom it was clear that it wasn’t blood, and it was especially clear when the second wave flowed out and onto the bathmat, and the third onto the cold tiles of the shower. “Leeeeeewwwiiie, I think my waters just broke,” I called out. A half asleep Lewie took a moment to process before sitting up with a start. It felt like we both went blank on what to do next until we remembered that we had two incredible midwives who could tell us exactly what to do. “Try and get some sleep,” Jenny advised calmly, “and tell us when the contractions get more frequent and intense”.
Get some sleep!? How was I supposed to….zzzzz. I fell back asleep with surprising ease considering what was about to happen. I spent the next few hours drifting in and out of sleep in between contractions and vomiting. The vomiting was an unexpected, and an unwelcome surprise. At several points in the night, I was bent over the toilet desperately needing to poop, vomiting, and enjoying a fierce contraction all at once. The worst was the mid-vomit contraction that made me tense and close my mouth, leaving the vomit only one exit point – my nostrils.
It wasn’t long before the contractions were too intense for me to deal with alone, especially while Lewie slept peacefully by my side. So I enlisted his hand so that he could share in the surges via crushed knuckles. By 4:30am I couldn’t be in bed anymore. I went to my happy place – the hot shower. Thank goodness for hot water. I spent a long time bent over, hands on my inward facing knees with my feet out as wide as possible and turned in. I had seen a woman on Instagram stick googley eyes onto her butt cheeks to demonstrate how this opened the pelvis, and so held that image of my ‘butt eyes’ looking out sideways as I breathed through more contractions.
After the shower, I found my new happy spot in the lounge room kneeling over the couch. My eyes closed and remained closed basically until our baby girl was born. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,” became my mantra as I rocked back and forth on my knees through each contraction. Lewie ran outside to get the birthing pool and the birth pack given to us by Jas and Jenny. He flicked open the pressure points book to the first page. Either side of the neck! He ran over, pressed his thumbs into my traps, “GAH! No, not that one!”. He ran back, next page! Two thumbs either side of the tailbone. He ran back over, dug his thumbs in and waited for the verdict. Much better. He continued to run around setting up the pool, fairy lights and music, and collecting a selection of random things I could squeeze, smell or whack him with if I needed (I didn’t). By now the contractions were only a few minutes apart and when they came I would call out to Lewie and his strong thumbs for help.
Jas arrived around 7am and immediately got to work setting up and doing everything she could to make me feel better. She asked if she could check my cervix for dilation because we would need to decide whether I would take the antibiotics to prevent any complications from GBS. I agreed, but the contractions were so close together that the idea of lying still for long enough for her to check seemed impossible. After another wonderfully hot shower standing in my yoga position gone wrong, I managed to lie down, spread my legs and invite Jas in for a peek and prod. “Do you want to know? I don’t want you to be disappointed,” Jas asked. Of course, I thought this meant that even though I felt like I had already been riding epic contraction waves, I was about to find out that I was still paddling in the shallows. Or not. 7-8cm! No time for antibiotics, let’s gooooo! My eyes were still closed, but I could hear and feel Jenny’s wonderful presence. Soft caresses, firm squeezes, a kiss on the forehead, quiet words of encouragement and cheeky chuckles with Lewie as they cracked ‘Dad jokes’ together. Into the birthing pool I climbed. Ohhhh what sweet relief. Everything slowed down and I could finally catch my breath and thoughts. When the surges returned, they returned with a vengeance. Up until this point I had worked through them mostly in silence, but now they reached a new, extreme level. Jenny whispered in my ear something along the lines of: “If it comes before you’re ready, it will overwhelm you”. And she was so right! If I was prepared for it, I could breathe through it. If I wasn’t, then I would feel myself panic, squirm and squeal.
“I just want a bowl of ice cream”. I was so tired. So very tired, and hungry, and hot! Oh how I wanted to be slurping ice cream from a big spoon right then. I had Lewie on my right arm, Jenny on my left and Jas on my behind. Lewie and Jenny held me up out of the water while I hit the dreaded ‘transition stage’. Even though I knew from conversations with my midwife sister-in-law that this was a great sign and that above me Jas and Jenny would be sharing smiles, my new mantra became, “I can’t do it”. I started to feel the urge to push, but before long, I felt like I had nothing left to give. No juice left to squeeze. I had a quick feel inside and much to my amazement, there she was! The urge to push became stronger and I found a new energy to push. I had been told that it would feel like doing the biggest poop of your life, and I found that to be the most remarkably accurate description.
Each surge started in my back, spread around to the front, and then shot down my thighs. More pushing. I knew that to get her out I would need to push harder than I wanted to. The next not-so-wonderful sensation to grace my body was the aptly named ‘ring of fire’. Thank goodness for the calm coaching of Jas and Jenny. I gently pushed and eased through her head crowning despite the urge to panic and suck her back up inside. “FUCK ME, THIS IS AWFUL!” I exclaimed. A few more pushes accompanied by primal screams and out she slipped! I navigated the umbilical cord, turned around and there she was! Pink, plump and crying. Our little baby girl!
I thought surely it was 5 or 6pm. I had been in birthing land forever! It was only 11:30am. Less than 12 hours from waters breaking to the birth of Noa Wren Lizotte. She was born one week before her due date, but right on time.
I would never consider a pregnancy or birth without Jas and Jenny by my side. Ever since we first met with them, they have provided an endless feeling of relief, support and comfort. With them on our team (and now in our family), Lewie and I were free to simply enjoy the whole experience from the first trimester to holding our baby girl.
Everyone needs a Jas and a Jenny in their lives and most certainly in their births!