After I posted our birth story, a friend told me it inspired her to share her own story. I’m honoured that she not only shared it with me, but encouraged me to post it on my blog. We agree that women need to read and hear about these stories, not just the horror stories. Birth doesn’t have to be awful. In fact, as Crystal says, it can be beautiful. Read on…
The day my labour began was ordinary, but two weeks ahead of the guess date. I thought I still had at least a week to get things done.
But that night after getting home from work, I was on a mission. I pressure canned a bunch of chicken stock I’d made on the weekend, sewed part of a baby blanket and was a flurry of activity doing chores about the house.
Finally, exhausted at 11 p.m., I crawled into bed with a very slight, unusual ache in my hips and telling myself that I needed to get some rest as I knew I could have a baby any day now and would need energy in case the labour was long.
An hour and a half later I woke with a start feeling my waters release. I turned to my partner, Luke and told him my water just broke, feeling slightly bemused. I sent a text to my doulas who replied to try to go back to sleep. My plan was to labour at home for as long as possible as we didn’t get a midwife, despite getting added to the list the moment we found out we were expecting.
I couldn’t go back to sleep so I climbed into the bath and played myself the rainbow relaxation track from our hypnobirthing class. About 45 minutes later I felt a tightening cramp in my abdomen – a surge. I did the breathing exercises we learned and tried to get into a comfortable position in the tub but could not as the tub is built very deep and narrow. So I climbed out, texted my doulas about the contraction and got out my hospital bag list to make sure I was packed. I put on a sleeveless, loose dress I had chosen to wear in labour that I knew would be easy to breastfeed in.
I breathed through the surges as my partner, Luke, tried to help me finish packing. I then wandered the house trying to find a comfortable position to labour in. But I couldn’t seem to find one, and despite my legs being tired, I felt I needed to walk. So I walked in circles around the house, playing myself the rainbow relaxation. Luke had me eat a snack and reminded me to breathe and relax and tried to hold me but I felt a strong urge to stay moving. I felt quite animal, like my own brain wasn’t turning on and like we weren’t ready for this. I didn’t even think of most of the comfort measures I’d intended to try.
The surges took all my attention and were getting more intense, breathing through was getting difficult. I told my doula to come. At one point I went to Luke and asked if we had red wine in the house to help me relax. We did not. Thoughts of just wanting it to be over by any means crossed my mind.
My doula arrived and brought in a sense of calm and focus. She suggested I retry a position I had tried earlier, on my hands-and knees to give my tired feet a break, but added my exercise ball to the mix to lean on. She wrapped a hot water bottle to my abdomen with a rebozo wrap and breathing that way and rocking forward with the ball through a few surges and suddenly I felt good. There was no more pain. Just a feeling of tightening and focus to that area that I used a rhythm and breath to go through. Luke switched from the rainbow relaxation to a playlist of favourite songs we had been playing to the baby in utero and brought me water and juice to drink. I laboured that way for about half an hour before I started to feel the need to push. I started groaning as I focused my energy downward during the surges. I had some pushy surges for a bit before my doula suggested we go into the hospital to check where I was at and how the baby was doing.
I took my exercise ball with me. I used it for every surge along the way to the hospital, at the admitting desk, as we went down the hall to labour and delivery and up on the bed when they checked me. I was fully dilated and baby’s heart rate sounded good. They rushed me into a delivery room where I continued to labour on my hands and knees against the birth ball positioned on the bed with Luke holding onto the ball for security and my doula nearby. The lights were dim and I placed my iPod under my abdomen to continue playing the baby our music. The nurse came and periodically checked the baby’s heart rate as I laboured. They were very respectful and hands off.
Luke and I held hands and kissed, looked into each other’s eyes as I laboured. Pushing felt great. Pleasurable. It stung a tiny bit during crowning but it didn’t really bother me, we were going to meet our baby soon! They told me to reach down and I could feel the baby’s head. At that point they switched from me leaning on the ball to leaning directly on Luke so we could quickly change position when baby arrived and do immediate skin-to-skin.
An hour after getting to the hospital, at 6:47 a.m. on March 18, I gave a final push and our baby was born. A boy, I discovered as I scooped him up from between my legs and flipped over to my back to hold him skin to skin with Luke holding me. It was the most amazing moment and a fitting song by the Great Lake Swimmers was playing when he arrived. We gave him the boy’s name we’d had cemented in our minds for over a month, Lachlan Lorne Olaf – his middle names after dear grandfathers of mine and Luke’s. He weighed 7lb. 10 oz. and was 20.5 inches long.
After some initial bonding and me getting a few stitches, we did the breast crawl. With some help from our doula positioning me, and myself vocally encouraging Lachlan, he bobbled around until he found my breast and latched on for his first meal.
I feel so lucky to have had such a wonderful birth. Our son breastfeeds well, is thriving and lighting up our lives every day.