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Birth Story: “the most empowering experience of my life”

birthstory-lucyI am so blessed to be a mother of two beautiful girls, Marley, age 3 (and a half) and Reese, age 16 months. Giving birth the first time around is always nerve wracking and scary,  especially when everyone loves to share their horror stories of labour pain, what went wrong, how they almost died, etc. Unfortunately though, people are less inclined to share the good stories, hence my motivation to tell mine here for all those first time (and second) mums out there.

My first birth with Marley didn’t run as expected. Unfortunately I developed pre-eclampsia at 35 weeks and in addition to that, had whooping cough at the same time so there was a lot of intervention. Therefore, the second time around, I was determined to do it my way. I wanted a natural home birth but because I was considered “high risk”, I wasn’t given the all-clear to have a homebirth. Instead I hired a private midwife, Amy, to ensure I wouldn’t cave during labour and take the drugs.

It was the day before Reese’s due date when I woke up with mild tummy cramps. I didn’t think much of it, as I’d been having Braxton Hicks quite often in the weeks prior so I spent the morning getting Marley dressed and fed, doing chores around the house before my lovely in-laws took Marley for the day so I could rest.

I had to leave for an appointment with my OBGYN at 12:30. By this time, the “contractions” were still continuing but not growing in intensity or regularity so I still believed that they were false labour pains. When I saw my doctor, she was happy with Reese’s position and said everything looked good and that she’d expect me to deliver sometime that week. When I asked her about the labour pains I was experiencing, she said “Don’t worry, when it’s real labour, you’ll know.”

I left the doctor’s clinic and went about my day. I called my husband at around 1:30 to say that I was starting to think that labour was starting and he might need to leave work early for the day. I’d keep him posted on progress.

At 3pm, the contractions started to get a little bit stronger. I decided that it was time to call hubby (Daz) and get him to come home. I then ran a bath, lit a lavender candle and started playing songs from the ‘labour playlist’ I had made on my iPod. I then called my midwife, Amy, to see what she thought. I still wasn’t sure if it was real or fake labour and I didn’t want Amy to come over and find that it was false labour. So Amy left it saying “When the contractions get unbearable, call me”. I still felt that they were easy to manage and the intervals were not regular even though they were getting stronger.

I sat in the bath until 3:45pm while the contractions were getting stronger and more painful. So I called Amy and said it might be time to come over.

At 4pm, Daz arrived home and I was in a lot of pain with the contractions. There was minimal to no gap between the contractions by this stage but I still thought birth was hours away. So hubby helped me to get out of the bath and put some clothes on so that we could go down stairs and prepare for a long labour with the birth pool I had set up for labouring at home, my music and DVDs, etc.

As I was getting dressed, I crumbled to the floor when struck by the strongest contraction yet. It was right at this moment that my waters broke (all over my freshly cleaned pants!)

It was at this moment that I had a strong urge to go to the toilet. It was so painful to move but I managed to get from the bathroom to the toilet. At this point, Daz was saying “We need to go to the hospital!” but it was 4:25 and there was peak hour traffic building up so I knew it was risky plus the thought of being in the car for an hour in that amount of pain was not appealing. I wanted to wait for Amy to arrive.

As I was on the toilet, the pressure was so strong. I told hubby to call an ambulance. He was running around, screaming on the phone for an ambulance and grabbing towels to lay on the floor. I had the strongest urge to push and before I knew it, I could feel Reese’s head coming out. I yelled to Daz “I CAN FEEL THE HEAD!!”

Before I knew it, Daz put the phone on speaker and dropped it on the floor so we could both hear. The operator told me to get off the toilet and get on the floor. I managed to drop down into a squat position as the next contraction started. Then with one quick push, Reese’s little body came sliding out as Daz caught her then passed her over to me. As I held her to my chest, daddy wrapped her in a towel.

The operator on the phone was asking what colour Reese was, if she was crying, checking her vital signs. Everything was perfect. It was then that the 000 operator asked, “So what’s the sex?” Neither of us knew! We had been so preoccupied with making sure the baby was ok, that we had forgotten to check. So we unwrapped the towel a fraction – another girl. YAY!!

For the next five minutes, we just waited for the ambulance to arrive. I think during this time, we were trying to process what had just happened. I still couldn’t move as it was too painful, so it was funny when the ambulance arrived and the asked me why I was still squatting!!

When the paramedics arrived, they were absolutely lovely. They were really calm and attentive. The clamped my umbilical cord and asked us questions. Reese was in perfect health so there was nothing to worry about. Another five minutes later, Amy arrived, and helped me to get into Marley’s room when I lay on the floor and we waited to deliver the placenta. I was surprised by how painful this part was. I didn’t have the ability to push anymore so with the assistance of the paramedics and Amy, I was lifted into a sitting position while Amy gently tugged on the cord and gravity did its job – out came the placenta.

The ride to the hospital was relatively smooth until a dog ran out onto the road, off lead, and its owner chased after it blindly, right in front of our ambulance! There was a sharp swerve and brake and we all got thrown around a little, and then, BUMP! We feared the worst, but fortunately the man had only a minor contact with the ambulance and both he and his dog came away unscathed.

We arrived at the hospital and I was put into a recovery room where baby was weighed and measured. Dr Duncan arrived and gave me a few stitches but I was in good health and recovering well. She was put back into my arms and hasn’t left them since!!

Reese’s birth was the most empowering experience of my life. I am so grateful for having had this experience and hope to have another home birth one day (hopefully with Amy there). Labour doesn’t have to be scary. When people start telling you their horror stories, just remember this – their experiences don’t dictate yours. Best of luck ladies.


Thanks to mum Lucy for sharing her amazing birth story with us.
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