For as long as I can remember I’ve known that I wanted to be a mum. That was my ultimate goal in life. Like most women daydreaming about this prospect, inevitably labour and birth came to mind, and I would think in a panic “give me all the drugs you can – this is going to hurt like hell!”
Then I lived my life. I studied, I travelled, I lived overseas, I changed my career path, and ticked off most of my to-do’s. Eventually, I met Sean, and found a kind and loving husband who would one day be the most wonderful and patient daddy to our children.
Now I had real, tangible thoughts of parenthood. The day I found out we had conceived our son was the second happiest day of my life. I was going to be a mummy!
I wanted to do the very best I could for my baby, and I knew that it started right then, not after his birth. As it was now a reality, it was not okay to just opt for a pain-free birth for myself. I had to do what was best for my little one, so I decided to do a bit of research regarding labour and birth. I was delighted to stumble across the Launceston Birth Centre website. This natural, drug free approach instantly appealed to me, and gave me a real sense of calm and contentment. Several aspects really stood out to me. I loved the idea of continuity of care. A midwife who would share our journey; who would really know our family and what was important to us. A midwife who would not disappear half way through labour because her shift was over; someone experienced who could share all her knowledge with us. And this is what we got. Our midwife’s faith in the natural birth process, as well as my ability to achieve this really consolidated in me that this was the very best start I could give my baby. Later we met our secondary midwife, and she was just as lovely and dedicated to our journey.
Other aspects I loved about the LBC included the lovely big bath which would be invaluable as a pain relief; the fact that it was a private house which would be dedicated solely to us when the time came; that it was so close to the hospital ‘just in case’ and that the whole place just exuded a calm and peaceful atmosphere. I decided this is definitely where I wanted to birth my child.
Sean and I learnt so much during our meetings with the midwives. They prepared us well and gave me lots of valuable advice and tips along the way. I enjoyed reading the books they lent me and learnt so much from them. Every page I read confirmed in my mind that I had made the right decision to use the LBC.
Every day Sean and I would talk to our baby, and tell him when he was due to meet us and that we were so excited to meet him. Being our first child, we knew he would likely come later rather than sooner, so I was so very pleasantly surprised when my water broke at 1am on his due date. What a clever little man we had on our hands!
The first half of the day went smoothly as I walked around my house using all the techniques I had learned from my midwife and the books I had read. Around lunch time both midwives visited to measure our progress. Just their presence in my home made it so real that it would not be long before I was actually going to be a mother. I was quite excited about the whole thing and because I felt so prepared for this next part of the journey, I felt calm and peaceful.
Anna and Becky stayed for about an hour and when they left, remained in telephone contact over the next few hours. We eventually made our way to the LBC as my contractions were becoming more intense. Becky gave me lavender oil for calming, candles were burning and soft music was playing. My brother who is an acupuncturist arrived and used acupressure to help keep my blood pressure in check and for relaxation. I’m not sure how much this helped, but he did manage to leave me with tender and bruised skin!
Shortly afterwards I decided to make use of the lovely deep bath. The water was so warm and inviting, and my husband poured containers of water over my back to keep me warm and comfortable. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I spent around two and a half hours in that bath. It made contractions more bearable and at one point I could reach down and feel my baby’s head – it seemed he didn’t have far to go before he would be here to meet us.
I decided to get out of the bath and moved in to the bedroom. I tried moving around the room, rocking and swaying. When a contraction came I leant at the end of the bed for support and worked through it. The midwives asked me if I had the urge to push. Being my first, I didn’t know what was ‘normal’ at this stage, but from what they were saying, it seemed that things had slowed down. Contractions were not coming closer together; in fact they were now at around 10-15 minutes apart. My baby’s heart rate was exactly as it should be, but labour had slowed down. By now I had been at the birth centre for seven hours, and it had been over 22 hours since my water broke.
I tried sitting on the birth chair while my husband sat behind me and supported me as I pushed. Anna asked if I had the URGE to push. It hurt a lot but evidently the push urge was not strong enough.
Over the next four hours Anna and Becky tried many strategies to help me, including herbal drops and fundal massage. Things were simply not progressing. They were at a loss to explain why things had stalled and discussed transferring me to the hospital for extra help; that an oxytocin drip would help speed things up. By this stage I was tired, but in my mind I was thinking “No, we are not going to the hospital. Everything is fine and he will be born soon”. It just didn’t seem real to me that it would come to that. I simply dismissed it. I kept labouring for another hour or so, but it eventually became apparent that birth was just not going to happen any time soon and Anna make the call to the hospital. I was very upset. This was not my plan. I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I didn’t want any drugs. After all the meetings at the LBC, all the books I had read and all the knowledge I had gained, after the hours of waiting for my baby to be born – to me it seemed like such a shame to go to the hospital. I was not going to get the birth experience I so desperately wanted and had worked so hard for!
We drove across to the hospital where I was hooked up to monitors and drips, and poked and prodded. I was miserable, but I had to let that feeling go so I could help my son out. Anna didn’t leave my side for the next two hours as I continued to labour. She was my rock and my advocate. I really needed her and she never left my side.
Unfortunately, my little man needed even more help, and an instrumental delivery was discussed. Sean was able to demonstrate intelligence and reasonable understanding in front of hospital staff, which I believe made them actually listen and respect our wishes, and try their best to follow these.
A doctor explained the options. A forceps under spinal would be attempted. If it was not successful they may have to perform a caesarean section. This terrified me. This doctor was speaking to me about the worst thing I could possibly imagine at that moment in time. I didn’t care who she was or that she was simply doing her job, all I could think of was she was telling me this terrible news. I remember I kept saying please do your very best to avoid the c-section. It was bad enough I was here but now you present that possibility? I hate this.
As I was taken to theatre my midwife promised to be back later. After being in the dimly lit and calming environment of the LBC, I was now suddenly in a bright operating theatre with lots of staff doing whatever they were doing. I was sullen and miserable. I had lost control of the birth that I wanted.
The obstetrician was there, and he spoke so calmly and with a caring demeanour to me, and I asked him to do all he could to avoid a c-section. I asked him to give me my baby as soon as he could and to not cut the cord. He promised to do the best he could for me. I felt he really cared and would honour his word to me. I relaxed a bit at this point, and put my trust in him. As I leaned forward in to his support, the anaesthetist performed the spinal, and I was helped back on to the bed. I was numb from the chest down, and asked to push! It is extremely difficult to push when you can’t feel anything! I concentrated on visualising what muscles I needed to utilise, and pushed. Unsure if I was doing anything at all, I was assured when someone said your baby’s head is born.
Oh. My. God! In minutes I would have my son. Another push and my baby was given to me. This beautiful little soul with plenty of dark hair was laid on my chest for mere seconds, and I was in love. Suddenly the 30 hours and 13 minutes since my water broke disappeared and I stared at my amazing little miracle. Here he was – finally in the flesh. Because he was so low in the birth canal, the forceps delivery was successful and we managed to avoid the dreaded c-section. I let go of how he was born, so that I could simply enjoy this moment. This was without a doubt, the single most happy day of my life.
They showed me his cord – he had managed to make a true knot in it. He was quite the acrobat throughout my pregnancy and here was some evidence of that! The doctor started saying something about cutting the cord because of the knot. I managed to keep the doctor talking for ten or fifteen seconds, knowing even that amount of time would benefit my son. They took the baby away and Sean cut the cord. It took a little while before they brought him back to me. Sean was able to catch the first few minutes after his birth on video. I can’t watch that video without tearing up! Our beautiful son Zander was here. Not the way we had planned his entry to this world, but here he was – healthy, safe and sound, and in no distress. A gorgeous little bundle ready to be loved. I had the child I had wanted for so long, in my arms, and I was happy. My husband and I had created life, and our family became three. I was overjoyed. A few hours later Anna visited me in the hospital and met the little man she had been instrumental in preparing us for.
At the LBC my midwives were so supportive; they tried so many strategies to help me along the way; they were patient and caring; they put me and my baby’s needs first. My husband was just as wonderful. He was a real support and did all he could to help me. At the hospital, my midwife and Sean continued their advocacy and support of me and the baby, and ultimately a healthy child was born.
I am at peace with my birth experience. Although it didn’t go completely according to plan, Anna and Becky went above and beyond for us and that’s all I can ask for. Sean did all he could for me, and I did all I could for my son. He and I just ended up needing a little more help.
I have been a mum now for just 13 days. It has been the most incredible 13 days of my life. Zander is magnificent. Sometimes I just look in to his beautiful little face and I can’t help shed a tear at this little miracle. He is the most important thing in my life – he is my world. I have the midwives and the LBC to thank for their help in preparing me for his birth, and the magical journey of motherhood.