2 months and 23 days ago, I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl, Daisy. While I would love to write that I had a perfect birth, followed my birth plan, birthed in a birthing pool unmedicated and in under 24 hours, I can't because sometimes things don't go according to plan, but that doesn't mean I didn't choose my birth journey and make informed choices throughout the whole process. The night my contractions first began, I felt so at peace. Before they started, I recall saying to my husband, "are you ready? Because I know we're going to meet this baby really soon". That night, the sunset gave me goosebumps as though my body was telling me, take it in, gaze deeply, this is a transformative going down of the sun. 11pm that Saturday night I woke to strong sensations. The moment I had been excitedly anticipating had finally arrived. I lay in bed allowing the waves to come and go. I tried to sleep, but was so excited I couldn't. See, at this point I had no fear. I had watched gentle birth after gentle birth on Instagram, listened to Hypnobirthing tracks, practised mindfulness and meditation, read up to date birthing education blogs and articles, spoken with my midwife sister for countless hours about this very day and attended a holistic birth ed class at Body, Birth and Baby. I was ready. I trusted my body, I trusted my baby. I wanted to feel every sensation and let her (gender was unknown at the time) decend in her own time and be welcomed into the world gently, using water as my only pain relief. The birth ed class was a fabulous tool for my husband and I. After the class he was on board with all my preferences. After learning about the stages of labour, he had a good idea of what to expect and how best to support me. At 3am he got up and put the TENS machine on my back. I continued to contract throughout the wee hours of the morning, but sleep was not an option now. I was determined to keep these contractions strong and consistent so walked and bounced and danced and swayed. Sunday was spent doing much of the same. Contraction=TENS machine activated, breath in, breath out, repeat. This went on all day. The contractions came closer together then fell further apart. The strength of the waves grew with time but the pattern was irregular. By 7pm my sister, Joy (an incredible midwife) and mum, Jackie came to join my birthing team and support me and my husband, Rob. My mum massaged me and gave me space when a contraction began. Joy ran a bath for me and set up dim lighting throughout the house to enhance oxytocin. I worked solo through most contractions until about 9:30pm when they began becoming so strong that I would often need support with a hug, back rub or words of affirmation. Joy checked my dilation at this point (which I didn't want disclosed as I thought it might disrupt my groove) and she discovered I was 3cms. I rang the hospital at around 11pm. They told me I would have to go to their sister hospital because they couldn't accommodate me. What was going to be a 4 minute cruise down the street, now was a daunting half hour car ride. Fear crept in and I made the decision to leave for the hospital around 1am as I was adamant I didn't want an Eastlink Freeway baby! Monday morning rolled around and I continued to labour. I was most comfortable in the birthing pool. I had one of my team members use the shower head on my lower back with each contraction. 8 hours passed quicker than usual and the midwife requested I hop out for a vaginal examination. I had chosen to have minimal intervention, knowing that with every intervention it could prolong or stop labour. After discussing the pros and cons, I chose to have the examination. Again, I didn't want to be told how many centimeters dilated I was. I didn't need to be told, but the look on my sister and husbands face was enough to know that I wasn't progressing. At that point, around 11am on the Monday, I was 4cms dilated. I also found out through the examination that my baby was posterior. Two nights of no sleep had started to get the better of me as I continued to breath through the waves, fear then got the better of me. I knew at that point, something had to change, my birth plan would have to deviate. I looked at my sister and said, "I don't think I can keep going, I'm exhausted, it's been two days, how am I going to push?!" Joy turned to me and calmly talked about my goal, to meet my baby that day. Together, we came up with a plan. I would have an epidural so that I could rest and be refreshed for the pushing phase. While that was devastating at the time and I felt like a complete failure, I now know that was the right decision and have found peace with the choice as this was a circumstance in which epidurals were made for. Joy helped me spin my baby by lifting my belly off of my pelvis through ten contractions to allow baby to move to an anterior position. We cried together through
We cried together through each move, the pain was intense but a necessary option. One hour after the epidural was in, I had another examination to discover that I was nearly ready to push as I was 10cms dilated and bubba was in the correct position! The spinning moves had worked and the epidural had allowed me to rest, ready to meet my baby. The obstetrician suggested they break my waters, but I declined knowing that it was best for them to break naturally in their own time. A few hours later, I felt an urge to push. Within 25 minutes of pushing, my absolutely beautiful baby girl, Daisy, was in my arms. I did it!!! The feeling of accomplishment was like nothing I'd ever felt, I had never been more proud of myself. The abundance of love I felt when her little new body slowly, in our sacred golden hour crawled up my chest to find my breast to suckle was like a love I couldn't begin to describe. Through the fear, uncertainty, doubt and adversity I used all I had learned on my journey to birth my baby girl. I made informed choices, knew my worth, my rights and my birth team were my absolute heroes. A quote that resonated with me recently, was from Tracy Donegan from Gentle Birth- "A positive birth is not just about an intact perineium. It's about a mother emerging from her birth experience with an intact spirit, both matter". My spirit may have been tested, but it's intact because I owned my choices and birthed my baby knowing that.