Despite all of the horror stories, I was genuinely excited to give birth. I thought of it as the ultimate physical experience and I felt privileged to be able to undergo something that was so sacred. I was nervous about the unknown though I fully trusted my body and the natural physiological processes of birth. I couldn’t wait to see what my experience would be and what my body was capable of.
I felt relaxed during pregnancy. I was one of the lucky ones, experiencing only a little bit of morning sickness in the first trimester and then some pubic symphysis discomfort as my baby grew. My partner, Alec & I lived slowly and were mindful that these moments we shared as a couple would soon incorporate another little person.
As we approached 38 weeks, I was anticipating any sign of labour beginning. I felt ‘big’ and everyone I met told me that my baby should surely come any day now.
My due date came and went and despite being told that we would need to be induced at 40 +10, I intrinsically knew that labour would begin spontaneously for us.
At 40 +8, early labour begun with some dull energy whirling around my lower belly, a sensation I’d never felt before. My Mum and Alec were by my side as the most ultimate support. All three of us got very excited and set up camp in the living room with blankets, pillows, aromatherapy and music, going inward with every contraction. As each contraction crept in, I would close my eyes, breathe deeply, and visualise my baby dropping down, until the contraction faded out again.
This was lovely for the first eight hours, but little did I know that our baby was taking her sweet time. It was a slow burn to say the least. After two whole days of early labour I was dehydrated, lacking sleep, and questioning my ability to birth my baby naturally as we had planned. I surrendered to the potential of our birth wishes changing, caring purely for a healthy, happy baby at the end of it all.
We walked to our local cafe, along the beach in the hot sun, and as contractions got more intense, I felt the need to go into hospital for an internal examination. It was 7pm - the end of the second day. At 10pm we were told that we were 3cm dilated and fully effaced but that it would be best to head back home to continue labouring. This was tough to hear. I told the midwife that I wouldn’t be able to sleep through the contractions and she said there would be no need for sleep as I would be back in hospital within 2-6 hours to have my baby! I honestly didn’t believe her. But I continued to trust the journey that my body and my baby were taking, and knew that this entire process could in fact be a manifestation of my baby’s personality.
As we slowly walked back to the car, the surges began to ramp up. The intensity was too much for my bladder and I needed to let it all out with a contraction before hopping in the car. As we drove back through the city, I was beyond uncomfortable and I knew the return trip to the hospital would be extremely intense.
We arrived home and I headed straight for the shower - hoping that would help relax me a little. Alec ran hot water over me for about 15 minutes but that soon became too much. I moved to our room and my Mum came in to feed me yoghurt, which I almost brought back up. I began to cry helplessly. Little did I know that I was in transition! Through tears, I explained that I wanted to go back to the hospital and hop in the bath. As Mum was packing strawberries and grapes, and Alec was getting the bags in the car, a huge surge of energy moved through my pelvis and I felt the slightest yet surest pop. My waters broke in the middle of the kitchen and straight away, I began bearing down. For me, that pushing sensation was the most undeniable physical urge I’ve ever felt.
The craziest part of my birth experience was lying on the back seat of the car as we raced to the hospital, the city lights blurring above me as I tried with every inch of my being not to push my baby out! We called ahead to let our midwives know that we would be there soon. I thought to myself, whoever opens the car door is going to have to catch this baby!!
We made it to our birthing suite where instinct took over. I stripped off my clothes and saw a tub chair in the corner, where I dropped to my knees, held onto the sides and buried my head. I didn’t think about doing anything at this stage. I had total confidence in my baby, my body, and my support team. The midwives had seen me run in and stopped running the bath, realising there would be no time for me to get in. Our precious baby was birthed ten minutes later, after some intense pushing. Alec watched as her head was birthed. As her body slipped out on the next contraction, he announced she was a little girl. Mara was passed straight through my legs and placed on my chest where Alec sat behind me to hold us both. It was the most real I have ever felt. Mara began to suckle in those first few minutes after birth, which helped my uterus to contract allowing a natural birth of the placenta.
I needed some repair work after the quick delivery. This faded into insignificance over the next few hours as Alec & I were left to be alone with our baby. We cuddled, cried tears of joy, and watched Mara learn to feed as we watched the sun rose over the city.