Birth of Reverie (07-10-2017)
Updated: Apr 23, 2020
On Friday the 6th of October, 2017 I was 38 weeks pregnant with our third, much longed for baby. At 10:30pm as Josh was leaving for night shift and I was heading to bed, I remarked that I felt scared going to sleep knowing that I might wake up in labour. He reassured me that everything would be fine and headed off to work. Sure enough my intuition was right and at 2am I was woken by mild stomach pains. I attempted to ignore the discomfort and go back to sleep, but instead could only manage to doze on and off for the remainder of the night. As Josh arrived home around 7:30am I confidently told him that we would have our baby within the next 24 hours.
While Josh slept, I found myself stuck in a weird no-mans’ land, waiting for a life changing experience to begin, but not yet able to let it because I still had my two older children, Romilly (6) and Rafferty (3), to look after. Whilst I attempted to keep our Saturday as normal as possible for them, I was having random contractions, sometimes only minutes apart but sometimes nothing for hours. I could sense my body was ready to go into labour, but my mind knew I needed to wait until the time was right. I was also struggling to accept that this pregnancy was coming to an end, 2 weeks short of my due date. I adored being pregnant and wanted it to last forever. I called my sister who lives in Canberra and has given birth 4 times herself, we chatted for a while, both getting emotional when reflecting on the distance between us. She made some suggestions about how I could help take my mind of things during this difficult pre-labour stage and sent her love. By lunch time I wasn’t coping with managing my discomfort and emotions while at the same time looking after Romi and Raff and decided to wake Josh. He got ready and took the children to the Burnie Show so I could have some much needed rest and quiet. Still having irregular contractions, I had a very long soak in the bath where I was able to finally feel at ease with today being our baby’s birthday. After the bath I put myself to bed for what I hoped would be a peaceful sleep in preparation for the work ahead (having already been awake for more than 12 hours), but instead just as I was drifting off I had a very strong contraction which forced me off the bed and promptly broke my waters.
I sent a text to our lovely homebirth midwife, Jasmijn. She said they would visit soon. They arrived late afternoon with the birth pool and other equipment. They checked me and the baby. As I wasn’t yet in established labour they said to keep in touch and visit again after our children had gone to bed. Josh and I had been noting down the times of my contractions and by this stage my back was aching and the contractions were slowly but surely getting closer. As I was sweeping the floor I had to pause for a contraction – this was the first time Romilly and Rafferty had noticed anything and asked me what I was doing! At some point I sent a Facebook message to my mother and father-in-law who were in transit after a holiday in Japan. They were two of only a handful of people who knew we were planning a homebirth and Stephanie (my mother-in-law) had agreed to be here to care for our older children. We were both upset that she would miss the birth, but I was confident that if we stuck to our usual nightly routine we could manage on our own. At 5:30pm we had dinner as a family then gave the kids their bath, read books and tucked them into bed. I felt emotional as I realised that these were our very last moments as a family of four. As I was kissing Romilly goodnight I whispered in her ear “your baby sister will be here when you wake up” she flashed me a huge smile as I swallowed a lump in my throat. After a quick tidy up Josh and I sat down on the couch to wait for Jasmijn and Jenny. We nibbled on some chips and chatted, relaxed and happy - it was just like any other Saturday night! That is one of the many benefits of a homebirth – there is no stress or pressure about when you should go to the hospital. To pass the time in between contractions we started googling middle names for our baby girl. Being a Spring baby I was keen to find a name to reflect the time of year, such as a flower name or even Bloom or Blossom. But Josh didn’t agree to any of my suggestions! We then realised it was a full moon and I mentioned that the date she was due on would be the new moon – there was an obvious connection to the moon for this baby so we decided on ‘Luna’ as her middle name.
Around 7:30pm Jasmijn and Jenny arrived, we chatted as they set up and I decided to light the candles I had placed around our open plan living area. Moments after finishing I found myself on the floor in established labour with back to back contractions! This came as a huge shock and I started to shake in a panic that the baby would be born too quickly for my body and mind to catch up. Some calm breathing and reassuring words from Josh and our midwives were enough to help slow things down. Soon after, our wonderful birth photographer, Anna arrived and she was like a breath of fresh air with her wonderfully positive aura. With a homebirth, dilation is not usually checked, but it was clear that this would not be the mammoth 15-hour labour that I experienced with my second child, Rafferty. As I waited for the birth pool to fill - which much to my dismay would take up to 2 hours - I tried to remain calm and in control, but at times struggled with the strong, close contractions. Having already experienced a drug free birth with my son, there was little question that this is what I could and would do again. I instead relied on natural methods to manage the pain. Jenny massaged pressure points on my lower back whilst I breathed in the scent of a tissue soaked in clary sage. Josh kept me cool and relaxed by fanning me with a hand held fan. Jasmijn had hung fairy lights around our lounge room window above the birthpool and burned more clary sage in a diffuser on the kitchen bench. And with the flickering candlelight, the atmosphere was calm and beautiful. With the contractions still on top of each other, Jasmijn and Jenny convinced me to get off the floor and onto the couch which they had prepared for birth, just in case. This was not a happy time or place for me. I started with the “I can’ts” a sure sign that the baby was well on her way. During those almost unbearable contractions I clutched on to Josh and bore my teeth into the leather of the couch. I was desperate for the relief of the birthpool, but our midwives said that the pool wasn’t ready yet – the temperature and the water level weren’t how they needed it to be for the baby to be born in the water. I could labour in the pool, but not give birth there. I quickly suggested that if Josh got in too, it might help raise the water level – Jenny said she was astounded by my ability to problem solve whilst in the very late stages of labour!
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, I was able to climb into the lovely, soothing warm water. Thankfully my idea worked and with Josh also in the water the level was high enough for the birth. Once in the water I was able to sway my hips, relax and in turn the contractions felt much more manageable. Josh continued to provide incredible support and I relied on him immensely. He enjoyed being in the water with me and joked that it felt like being in a hot tub and all he needed was a cocktail to make it the perfect Saturday night! I was eager for the baby’s birthdate to be 7/10/17 because I liked the idea of a ‘neat’ date so I asked Josh to tell me the time because I was keen for her to be born before midnight. It was 10:30pm – still plenty of time.
Soon enough Jasmijn said that I could push if and when I felt like I needed to. With each contraction I gathered up the courage to push. It was the first time I would deliver a baby’s head myself and the thought occurred to me that you really need to be brave - you know it’s going to hurt, but it simply has to be done. I could feel the baby descend and after what felt like the longest time, but in reality it was only minutes – her head was born. I could then feel her head turning from side to side as she decided which way she wanted her body to be born – it was the strangest sensation. I panicked slightly, worrying about how long this was taking and if our baby was ok, but Jenny assured me she was happy in the warm water and likely didn’t realise she had even left my womb! I’m not sure how many pushes it took to birth her body, that part seems a blur, but I do remember thinking it took more effort than my son who seemed to just fall out! I had given birth on my knees in the water with Josh supporting me at my head so as soon as Jasmijn lifted our baby from the water I very quickly turned around to see her. She was handed to me and I rested back against the birth pool, clutching our tiny bundle to my chest. I remember exclaiming ‘oh she’s so sweet’ as my eyes absorbed her perfection. She was calm, just as she had been in my tummy and I recall asking if she was ok because she was very still and had barely cried. Our midwives assured me this was simply because she had such an easy entrance into the world. A flood of relief washed over me as I realised what I had just achieved – a quick, smooth, drug free water birth - AT HOME!
Anna asked if the name I had shared with her a few weeks earlier was the one we would use – Josh and I looked at each other and I said “well that was a dream birth” to which he replied “that’s exactly what I was thinking” and so she was named ‘Reverie’ meaning “to be pleasantly lost in one’s own thoughts – a daydream”. It seemed to suit her perfectly – our little dream baby.
After the umbilical cord stopped pulsating and Josh had cut the cord he enjoyed skin to skin time with his newest daughter while I climbed out of the pool to deliver the placenta. Whilst standing I was instructed to start pushing and luckily, it didn’t take long before I felt those all too familiar waves of pain as the placenta signalled it was on its way, after a few very uncomfortable pushes it was delivered into one of our stainless steel mixing bowls! Jasmijn took the placenta to our kitchen bench to examine it while I was helped to the couch and wrapped in my dressing gown. With our newborn back in my arms I offered her first breastfeed, which she eagerly accepted. Looking at our healthy, happy and beautiful little baby girl I felt like the luckiest person in the world.
In those moments of euphoria, I was not oblivious to the amazing birthing experience that just occurred – with my extraordinary husband by my side every second, holding me up both physically and emotionally, I simply could not have done it without him. As a woman, birthing a baby is one of the most challenging and vulnerable times I’m likely to experience in my life and I felt blessed beyond words to have two incredibly attentive, positive, kind and wonderful midwives, Jasmijn and Jenny. I was also exceptionally lucky to have a birth photographer in attendance. Not only did Anna shoot the most exquisite photographs to treasure forever, but she also provided doula-like support and a beautiful presence in the room.
This child was our third and last, so to end my birthing journey on such a high was the most amazing feeling, especially after having two unpleasant hospital births previously – an emergency c-section and then a long, highly monitored labour ending in a forceps delivery. To birth at home was most definitely the BEST decision I have made as a parent – it was what dreams are made of; simply magical! And so - on the 7th of October, 2017 at 10:50pm after 3.5 hours of active labour we welcomed our third child and second daughter into the world, our hearts and our family - Reverie Luna - weighing 3090g and measuring 50cm. She joins besotted sister Romilly and adoring brother Rafferty. Our family has been completed in the most perfect way possible.
Birth photographer: Anna Davis (www.thesmallfolk.com.au)
Family photo and cover photo: Murphy Photography (www.murphyphotography.com.au)