I was due on Christmas Eve and for some reason, during my whole pregnancy, I was convinced baby would be here before Christmas Day.
I had a newborn Christmas outfit ready and had made plans for the family lunch to be at my mums place just down the road so that we could just pop over with the baby for a short while. Christmas Day came and I was still pregnant.
Which ended up being a good thing. I got to watch my big boys enjoy opening all their presents and have fun with all of the family without recovering from the birth and tending to a newborn.
I’d had lots of pre labour type cramping for a couple of weeks. Which wasn’t very familiar for me as I hadn’t had any of that with Leo and Henry. Every time I would have cramping, it left me wondering if this was it. I was four days overdue and beginning to get tired of pregnancy. I felt so heavy and exhausted all the time. I wanted the baby to come just so that I could take a break from running around after Leo and Henry. That afternoon (on the forth day overdue) my midwife came for a home visit. We talked about how I was feeling, I asked a few last minute questions and she made sure Ant was feeling ready for our imminent birth. She also asked me if I wanted her to perform a membrane sweep. I had been lightly cramping all day and was feeling a little miserable so I decided to take her up on the offer. I felt like the baby was ready to come and I was more than ready to meet him!
I had decided on a homebirth for our third baby for many reasons. After the birth of my first beautiful son, which was full of intervention, fear and long lasting anxiety, I began researching all I could about birth. I stumbled across some homebirth stories and I was hooked. I read as much information on homebirth and birth in general and soon began to see childbirth in a whole different light. I felt like homebirth was something that I needed to do in the future. Not just for myself, but I craved the experience for my children too. I wanted to birth my child into their home, with people that loved them all around and for that baby to feel safe, secure and respected from the very first breath he or she took. When I became pregnant the second time, I badly wanted to have a homebirth. But my fear over the last birth, was still very present in my mind. I toyed with the idea in my head, but the fact that we were not really in the financial position to pay for a homebirth at the time and my residual anxiety left over from Leo’s birth, I decided to have my second child in hospital. Henry was born into the world healthy, calmly and without complication. I felt wonderful that I was able to have a gentle birth without any pain relief. But I didn’t like being in hospital, the same hospital where Leo was born in such stressful circumstances and I had to really push for the things that I wanted from my birth experience. After having HenrTransitional Wage Calculator | Australian Medical Associationy, I knew the next baby that I would have, would be born at home.
Anyway, back to being four days overdue. Our amazing midwife, performed the membrane sweep on a Friday afternoon. It was uncomfortable but bearable and I was excited/anxious/nervous about the fact that it might kick start labour. I spent the afternoon with moderate period like cramping. Ant, Leo, Henry and I took a short walk down the road and had to stop under a shop awning because it had begun to rain. It was refreshing and smelt wonderful and I remember looking at a beautiful tree with little white flowers and thinking how vibrant it looked while also wondering if I would remember looking at these flowers on the day of my third child’s birthday.
We got home and I still had the cramping. We put the big boys to bed (Henry took ages to go to sleep as usual!) and had some dinner. I spoke to my mum and told her about my appointment and the cramping. At about 9.30 everything seemed to stop. I was so disappointed and sent a message to my mum at 9.50 pm saying that I was going to be pregnant forever and that the cramps had stopped. Upset, I got myself into bed to try and sleep. Ant came to bed shortly after. As I lay in bed, thinking about my baby and when I was going to meet him, I became okay with the fact that tonight wasn’t the night. I was tired anyhow! Just as I was about to fall asleep I heard a POP. And then felt a contraction. No denying that contraction. I went to the loo and there was a small amount of fluid on my pad. Still wasn’t sure whether my waters had gone or not but I was definitely contracting. About every four minutes. It was 10.30 pm. I sat up for a short while making sure the contractions were going to continue (even though I knew this would be it!). I woke Ant up and said “I’m in labour. I think my waters broke”. He got up and started preparing the house for the birth. Meanwhile, I called my midwife (at about 11pm) to let her know that I was in labour. She said she would leave right away. I pottered around for a little while, gathering the towels and putting them on the kitchen table. Ant inflated the birth pool and cleaned up the Lego that Leo left scattered all over the lounge room floor. I got the birth ball out and sat on it.The contractions were coming pretty frequently and they were quite intense. I remember thinking how strong they were straight away and wondered how long I would be in labour for. My midwife arrived and listened to baby’s heart rate while I bounced on the birth ball. She also timed my contractions. Mum was actually the first to arrive but had to disappear for a short while to drop our dog off to my grandmother. She was getting in the way and I didn’t want the distraction. Mum came back and our second and third midwives arrived. We had very little lights on and I just sat on the birth ball, received a hug from one of the midwives and just tried to relax into my contractions when they hit. Everyone was pretty quiet and I felt comfortable and safe, knowing I wouldn’t need to go anywhere and I could be myself. I felt so supported by our midwives and Anthony. My mum hung out in the background, checking on the boys and just being there in case we needed anything.
I was sitting on the birth ball, unable to quiet my mind in between contractions. My mind was racing with thoughts on how strong the contractions felt and how much longer I would have to birth for. But when a surge began, I would let all of my thoughts go and try and let the contraction wash over me. I didn’t try and fight against them. I just breathed my way through them and tried to visualize my baby becoming closer to being born. (According to my notes that my midwife gave to me, at 12.30am I was having mild to moderate contractions based on her assessment. I was actually having VERY strong contractions but was not really showing it). In my head, I told my baby I loved him quite a few times. I felt very connected to him. While I had been sitting on the ball, Ant and the midwives had been busy filling the pool. As soon as it was done, I asked my midwife if I could get in (12.40am). She agreed that my contractions were pretty close and that it would be okay if I did. By that time, I knew I was pretty close to the end. I got into the warm water and WOW! It felt so amazing to be weightless. The contractions kept coming strong and close together. When I birthed Henry, only 2 years ago, I felt as though I was meditating in between contractions. I was able to totally block out my thoughts. This time was not the same. In between contractions, I was constantly thinking about things. Mainly about how much longer I had. In hindsight, I think I was thinking this way because I was actually very close to the end and it was getting very intense. I also believe that I was so much more myself during this labour because I was at home. I felt like I could think, feel and be the way that I wanted to be. In the pool, when a contraction began, I put my head back and just breathed my way through it. It hurt… A lot but at times I was actually able to appreciate the contractions for what they were. Ant gave me water when I needed it and my midwife checked the baby’s heart rate every now and then. He was doing great. After a few contractions in the pool, I felt like I wanted to poo, so I got out of the bath and sat on the toilet for a contraction (1am). Nothing came out and I knew that it was a baby causing the pressure not a poo! So back in the bath I got- and I was in transition. I knew that I was and I remember thinking in my head that I was in transition and that’s the only reason I’m going to say this but I said it anyway- “I can’t do this” followed by something like ” help me”. Even after I said this, I knew in my head that I was only saying those things because I was almost ready to push. It felt like this moment lasted for quite a while but I’ve been told it really was only one contraction.
I then started to feel lots and lots of pressure (1.12am)But I still wasn’t quite ready to push. This was a hard thing for me as with the other two, as soon as I felt pressure, I pushed and out they came (with lots of tearing as a result!). But this time, it felt as though baby was just sitting there, without a contraction and I could feel the whole weight of his head and body resting against me, just waiting for the next surge to come. And it did and I fought against the urge to push. I felt my own body bare down and open up. I felt every little inch of his head moving down, stretching me out and it was such an overwhelming, amazing feeling. I was biting the side of the birth pool to stop myself from pushing. His head was out in one contraction at 1.14am. I was kneeling in the pool and I had my hand on the baby’s head. It felt so tiny and small and his hair was so soft and swishing around in the water. I couldn’t move my hand from his head. I just felt so much love and protectiveness already even though I had yet to see his face. It felt like a long time before I felt another contraction but it was only a couple of minutes. When it came, I pushed and out he came, quite easily and into my arms at 1.16am. I lifted him out of the water, and cradled him in my arms. I also checked between his legs, and yep, he was a boy- our lovely Oscar Noel. He took a couple of minutes to take some good breaths. He was looking quite blue but Hazel checked his cord and it was still pulsating so we knew he was getting some oxygen. I then realized that his cord was hooked over the back of his neck, so I unlooped it and turned him over. Hazel then gently blew in his face and I did too and then he let out a little cry, followed by a bigger one. What an amazing sound! I stared at him and just couldn’t believe he was here. And that he was mine. It felt as though I was the luckiest person alive in that moment.
Soon after he was born (less than 10 minutes I think) I felt more contractions and knew that I was ready to birth the placenta. I tried pushing it out while still laying in the bath but it didn’t want to come. It was actually getting quite painful so I stood up in the pool and right away it started to come out and Hazel caught it in a bucket. I then got out of the pool and sat on our couch which was only a meter away. I felt so amazing. And couldn’t believe that I’d finally done it. I had wished for a homebirth for so very long and I finally did it! I sat with our baby boy on my bare chest, not able to look at anything else. I felt so happy and content. Within minutes, our new little guy made his own way over to my breast. He knew exactly what he was doing and with very minimal help from me, he attached himself and started feeding. What an amazing little creature! And, one of the best bits- no tearing!!! Not even a graze!
I have failed to mention that the whole time I laboured and birthed, our two other precious boys slept soundly in their beds. Not a peep from either of them which is actually quite strange as Henry is a very light sleeper. I thought that maybe I had made some noise during the labour but apparently I was very quite. Perhaps I was yelling in my head at certain points! Anyway, shortly after I had birthed, Henry woke up was surprised at what he found. He saw my mum there and was immediately happy. Grandma was here! Never mind the baby in my mums arms over there! So he had cuddles with my mum and glared at the baby every now and then. While sitting on the couch, I started to feel a little light headed but didn’t say anything. I thought maybe I was just feeling a little overwhelmed and exhausted from the whole experience. I tried not to show that I was beginning to feel really tired and breathless. I then started to panic a little because I knew that I was losing blood. I asked hazel to check and I was losing a bit. She got me to lie down instead of sitting up. I wasn’t feeling too bad but I knew I was losing a little too much and my mind was playing tricks on me. I had flash backs to Leo’s birth when I had had a pph of over 2L. I started getting the same feelings that I had gotten at his birth. And in hindsight, I never really realized the depth that these feelings went. After I had Leo and I had the pph, I felt so unwell and so sick that all I could think was that I was going to die. And I actually thought to myself well of course that’s going to happen because this is all just too good to be true. A beautiful baby with the man that I love- how could I possibly deserve all of that. And I’ve come to realize that I have had that terrible thought in the back of my head all of these years. All of my life, I have wanted nothing more than to be a mother. It felt like I was born to have children. They have been the very best thing that I’ve ever done or will ever do. And some part of me, deep inside has always been frightened that perhaps I don’t deserve all of this. And surely something bad has to happen to take it all away from me. I never really understood that I had these feelings lurking deep down beneath. I remember after having Leo, having to turn away from him while I was feeling unwell, unable to even look at him because I was so devastated that he was going to grow up never knowing me, I would never get to know him and what it was like to be a mother. I honestly thought I was going to die. And although I knew Leo’s birth was traumatic I never really knew how entrenched these feelings were.
So when I knew that my blood loss this time was a little more than desired, all of those deep down thoughts and feelings resurfaced and punched me in the face. I wondered how I possibly could have THREE healthy beautiful children as well as the birth that is always dreamed of. How could I possibly get away with all of that?! On the inside, I felt a little out of control for a few minutes while I battled with these thoughts and feelings. I asked my midwife to check my loss many times over the next little while. I could see that the midwives weren’t too concerned. They were monitoring me closely and I knew my blood pressure was a little low but I was desperately trying to not let my past experiences taint this birth. My midwife eventually said that they were going to give me a shot to help the uterus contract down more. I also swallowed a small amount of placenta. I had that and the bleeding slowed. I felt more in control of my thoughts by now and realized that if my midwives were not panicking, then I didn’t need to either. I calmed down and started to focus on my baby again and not all the things that could go wrong. All of this happened within a pretty small amount of time, perhaps half an hour and after that, I began to feel wonderful again, like it was all completely forgotten. I no longer felt worried about my safety and I knew I was going to be okay. I don’t feel like this part of my birth experience tainted the whole thing at all. In fact, I think I needed to go through this to fully understand my past births (especially Leo’s) and work through those lost feelings that I had buried for such a long time. When I think about Oscar’s birth now, the small amount of bleeding I had does not even enter my mind. I am totally at peace now.
Anyway, it was then time to weigh and measure our precious little boy. He was 4.3kg and 52cm long. Another big one! Big and absolutely perfect. I had a shower and Ant cut up some fruit for me. I had a delicious mango ready to eat but Henry toddled over and stole it off me and proceeded to eat it all (at 3am in the morning!). Leo woke up at 3.45am and although he was at first confused about what was going on, he became very excited when he saw his new brother. It was such a nice feeling having my beautiful husband and children sitting around in the lounge room, chatting, laughing, playing. All the while, our new little member all snuggled up in my arms.
Then it was time for two of the midwives to leave (lucky because they delivered another baby only a few hours later!) followed by my main midwife. I really cannot describe how life changing it was having this amazing woman care for me during my pregnancy, birth and post birth. I felt so supported and loved and listened to. After having Oscar, the midwives visited my home for 6 days in a row just to check on me and the baby, talk the birth through and just make sure I was okay. In those days following Oscars birth, I talked for hours with my midwife about my thoughts, feelings and concerns (although I had not many of those!). I have never really felt more listened to in my whole life. Three weeks later and I’m still seeing my midwife once a week just to check how things are going.
And what can I say about my little Oscar Noel. He is just an amazing little soul. So content and sweet. He seems like he was born happy. When his eyes are open, he seems to just be looking around with a lightness and a happiness that is infectious. He has also smiled quite a few times since he was born only 3 weeks ago. Definite smiles, not just wind. I just feel so grateful that I was able to birth Oscar into such a calm, peaceful and loving environment. I feel like I have given my beautiful third son a wonderful gift. In these three weeks following the birth, I have been happier than I have ever been in my life. I have had no tears, no anxiety, no feelings that are negative at all. I have been on a high ever since he was born. I look at Oscar and can’t stop myself from smiling. I truly feel like the luckiest woman alive. I feel so blessed and so fulfilled.