Olly was born on International Midwives’ Day 2012.
My husband, Olly and I had the perfect labour and birth for us. It was the ultimate experience in healing, faith, love, empowerment, fulfilment, patience and inner awakening. From conception and beyond, I felt intense gratitude for being privileged with the ability to grow and birth our son.
I was thoroughly looking forward to the experience and I felt relaxed about the prospect of giving birth naturally. Instinctively, I knew it would be one of the greatest experiences of my life. Other mothers attributed my positive attitude to naivety, but I knew and maintained my positive attitude throughout our pregnancy.
A major contributing factor to my positive perspective was working with my husband and our midwives to plan an assisted birth outside the hospital environment. I wouldn’t have hesitated to present to hospital if the situation warranted this (I held my baby’s and my own safety as paramount, which was why I made the decision to birth with the midwives at the Launceston Birth Centre), but as it turned out my pregnancy and labouring conditions were perfectly suited to our preferred option!
I am perplexed at the unexamined belief that birthing a baby should occur in the hospital environment if pregnancy and birthing conditions are uncomplicated. I was aware that the more relaxed we were, the easier our labour would be and the healthier our baby would arrive. The prospect of going to the local hospital did not make me feel safe. I spent hours researching natural, assisted home births. The research supported my intuition about what the three of us needed for the experience.
It was important to me that my husband honour his own journey during labour and birth, rather than focus on my needs the whole time. My husband watched his other three sons being born in a (necessarily) medical and stressful environment. I wanted him to have a journey that was relaxed, peaceful and loving this time. Although he worked very hard to support me, particularly after transition, he also had the opportunity to nap on the bed while I processed rushes in the same room with our midwives’ support.
During our pregnancy I expected our baby to arrive early and quickly. My mother and maternal aunty had all their babies between 3-5 weeks early/prematurely. I am also a very efficient person and I thought surely I would give birth efficiently too! Instead, Olly arrived on his due date and after 30 hours of labour (18 hours active). I was grateful for the length of our labour as it enabled me to ground myself in the experience and I believe it gave me enough time to physically, spiritually and emotionally birth our baby.
I had mild cramping during evenings for about a week before Olly arrived. Every night during that week I prepared for bed with an inner atmosphere of anticipation and enthusiasm. On the 3rd May I had a little bloody show – at last a sign things were progressing! I had light irregular cramping all day as I walked through City Park and wandered through town. The cramping increased in frequency that night and after a few hours of broken sleep that night it subsided.
Chad and I took a walk through our local reserve late the next morning. It was a perfect Autumn day. The transitional colours of the deciduous trees were spectacular! We stopped to photograph ourselves and a beautiful red and white spotted mushroom. I walked up and down a flight of steps for about 20 minutes and we took a walk to a small waterfall, where I meditated and Chad recorded the sounds of the water for us to listen to during labour.
By 2:15am the next morning the rushes were too uncomfortable to lie down through. I spent a calm hour alone alternating between leaning over the kitchen bench and walking around in the dark. I took a long hot shower and by 4:30am we were lovingly greeted at the LBC by our midwives, who had lit candles in the bathroom and bedroom.
Olly wasn’t born until 8pm that night and both of our midwives worked tirelessly the whole time. They achieved a remarkable balance between supporting us and allowing us privacy to labour together. They held the space for me while I processed emotional issues on a couple of occasions, they praised the intuitive movement and sound I made during labour and they offered insightful suggestions.
At 6:20pm I stood up in the bath and touched our baby through intact membranes for the first time! I was overwhelmed with love and awe.
Soon after, I moved to sit on the toilet to start the work of pushing him out. My waters broke with one of the pushes, startling my husband who ended up with splashes on his leg and shoes! We were fortunate that my waters broke during the pushing time as the Strep B test returned positive. The late rupture reduced the risk of transmission to Olly.
I spent the next 50 minutes working with rushes to gently push our baby out. By this time we were at the foot of the bed. I threw my head back and made a sound so loud, so powerful and so primal I wondered where it was coming from! A magnificent energy exploded within and out of me with the noise. This moment was an influential milestone, not only in our labour, but also in my life as a whole. I have referred to it many times with a sense of empowerment and release after giving birth.
I squatted in front of my husband and gripped his shorts while Anna coached me to push during rushes. My perineum and vagina stretched to accommodate our beautiful baby’s head and I felt like I was dying. Not in a painful sense, but in a life-force sense. Olly’s head pushed through with great relief and, as I resisted the urge to continue pushing, I felt his shoulders rotate. His left shoulder emerged with one push and the rest of his body slipped gracefully out.
Our baby was born! I felt reborn and filled with renewed vitality. I sensed an inner strength, resilience and capacity for compassion that I know will serve me for the rest of my life.
I had the sense I was reuniting with a person I hadn’t seen for a very long time when I looked at Olly’s face for the first time. I had the distinct feeling he was an individual and that I would spend the rest of my life loving him and learning about him with devoted curiosity.
The first time I reconnected with my husband after birthing Olly was exceptional! After the preoccupation of carrying and birthing our child, I felt returned to him anew. And a couple of hours later, as I watched over him sleeping with Olly, I felt a thorough sense of completion.
Our midwives helped us give Olly the invaluable gift of a safe, gentle birth. They cared for us for two weeks postpartum and I had the pleasure of sharing our happy baby boy with one of them a couple of months after his birth. We are indebted to their kindness, generosity of spirit and skill as midwives.”