Updated: Aug 8, 2019
Born on the 23rd of July 2018 at 41+6 in the comfort of our own home. Born peacefully in the water of the birth pool at 3.34am weighing 7lb 5oz (3400gms) measuring 52cm and with head circumference 33cm.
The events leading up to the moment somewhat intense. Another marathon in itself. A huge feat of inner strength and personal belief even when the odds were starting to stack up against us. I knew (call it mothers intuition) that you were perfectly as you needed to be. From the very beginning I knew you were going to be strong willed and somewhat stubborn and even in the womb you made your presence known towards the end of a beautiful 10 month journey with you living by my every movement. I have never known love like I do now. The love of my life, my greatest achievement, and I am forever proud of my inner strength to delve into the deepest part of myself, to find every bit of self belief to do this thing I knew my body was made to do, without the help of others, in the most primal and natural way I knew how. I knew I could, even with the doubts of others.
The 5 days leading up to your arrival was the biggest test. All my personal beliefs and values were dangled in front of me and I had the option to crumble as everyones doubt around me grew, or to rise above like I knew I could. I was made for this moment, and I’d worked up towards it for 10 months now, maybe even longer. A whole life worth of lessons and tests to get my mind and body primed for this marathon. The fear mongering had begun by ”medical” professionals. At some moments I almost did crumble. I was tired. How could I go on any longer. I understand how many women feel powerless in these moments leading up to the hugest feat in their life as when you’re told enough times how things are “unfavourable” you almost start to believe them. Me though, my beliefs are strong, unwavering so even in those very brief moments of self doubt I knew I had to dig even deeper to find strength. Doctors don’t believe in things like “mother’s intuition” or “psychic knowing” or whatever you want to call it as its unmeasurable, and that’s risky to them. But I knew. I’d known you the longest already. Our bodies moved together on a daily basis in harmony and I knew you were perfect, healthy and strong, ready for this journey earth side.
To set the scene, I was going into the John for almost daily checks as I was "post dates" which is not a medical indication to induce, however there was immense pressure. Unfortunately the reception I received there from numerous doctors was not the same care I'd received through Belmont Midwifery Group Practice. The process of induction was only discussed as being a positive process, and none of the risks were explained. However, with my background I already knew what they were and that was not the process I wanted to go through unless there was a medical emergency. From one day to the next I went from being "allowed" to birth at home to then all my power being taken away and that option was taken off the cards. This went on for 5 days leading up to bubs birth.The language being used was becoming quite negative and I knew this was beginning to have an effect on my mindset. I knew how deeply linked the body and mind are particularly when it comes to birthing and how any kind of fear/stress/tension was going to inhibit the birthing hormones from releasing to initiate spontaneous labour. After dragging myself to these tests on a daily basis in the lead up the Sunday was my last time at the hospital to get checked before things kicked into gear.
The Sunday morning I woke up to drinking another 3 litres of water in preparation for another day of tests (although I didn't know at this stage it was the last day). We got to the hospital with bags packed although I hadn't decided yet if I was staying and I was going to use the BRAIN technique (a technique we use for decision making in the Hypnobirthing Australia™ program). I got straight on the CTG and again another day of perfect rhythm in babies heart rate and excellent movement. Angela (midwife) explained that the Dr in charge would be in to discuss my options. She arrived to tell us about the induction process and that basically I had to be at a point where if I said yes to induction I was saying yes to every single method which I was not happy with. Every Dr told me completely different methods of what would be done and again I wasn’t happy with this wishy washy way of thinking, one minute it was this method the next minute it was something else. She started again with the “unfavourable” talk which for a second did get me, so I can see how women crumble at a heap and just do everything the doctor tells them. I knew at this point with mums background (as a nurse) that she would be starting to crumble at the pressure too. I lost it. I absolutely broke down in tears. I remember saying “no offence as you work here, but I hate this place”. I couldn’t open my eyes to anyone in the room it was all too much but I knew that mum and Tash were sobbing next to me too. It was way too much for them too, and even mum at this point asked me to consider being induced. At this point the Dr asked Angela to get the ultrasound machine to scan my results again. They were basically going to keep me admitted in hospital without even re-checking to see if my fluid results were high enough to birth at home. I couldn’t believe it. They had basically taken my power away and had just decided I didn’t need that scan again and that I should stay. Thank goodness she checked because my results were perfectly fine. There was hope. I was told if things happened tonight we we're all good to go. The doctor called the girls at Belmont and we were back in business again, so to speak. I asked Angela if she could do another VE and see where things were at as I was determined to get things moving now. I specifically didn't want any checks or sweeps, however with all the pressure coming at me to induce I was determine to get things going on my own. Our bodies are designed to do this, and mine just wasn’t ready yet. I’d already had another 2 sweeps with Nancy by this point (again something I was completely not wanting in the beginning). She checked me and I was already 2cm dilated. I was ecstatic at this point. We booked in for another appointment Monday morning but I’d told her that I’d hope not to see her again and that she’d moved things around enough. She held enough space for me to calm down again after the exam. We’d discussed doing happy things that I love doing and to spend the day with that to get the Oxytocin flowing. I was strong enough today to do so, but I wasn’t the day before. We ran into Erin (student midwife) on the way out of the hospital where she was on break for her other prac. I told her I thought things were moving now and if she was on call for tonight that I’d love her to be there. She told me she’d love to be. We went for lunch to Ground Floor to get an Acai bowl in the middle of having some more intense surges now and period pain that it was enough to make me stop what I was doing. Every time I’d get some sort of sensation mum and Tash would jokingly get excited at me being in “pain” that things are hopefully moving now.
We got back to mums and I spent the afternoon pacing up and down her street and the stairs. I had to make every effort possible as I had a short window to get into a more progressive labour. We spent that night watching Kath and Kim, an obvious choice I thought when it came to laughter (get the oxytocin flowing) and walking up and down the street. At this point my surges were about 11 minutes apart, then 7 minutes, then down to about 5 minutes and I went up to have a shower. Things weren’t hugely intense I thought but just noticeable and every now and then one would be more intense that I’d end up in all 4’s rocking my hips which really helped. Tash spent the night doing Rebozo when I felt I needed it. I was willing to try everything as I knew her head was about 2/5 engaged but she needed to drop lower to get my cervix opening. After my shower I came back downstairs somewhat disappointed that I thought things had slowed down and maybe it was just like all the other nights and it was nothing. Mum thought it was different. I guess because I didn’t know what to expect I kept second guessing “is this really something?” “or is it nothing”. But then I kept telling myself if I was already 2cm dilated today then surely it had to be something. A little disappointed that maybe I’d end up going to the appointment in the morning I thought I need to at least get some sleep and got mum to take me home.
We got home and she was setting herself up on the lounge to sleep for a few hours until Jacob got home and I was getting ready for bed. It was about 10.30 at this point. I remember messaging Emily not long before that saying I thought things had subsided and maybe it was all nothing. I went in to brush my teeth and go to the toilet and after standing up from going to the toilet I remember dropping to my hands and knees with the most intense surge I’d had yet. It just hit me. At this point my thinking was maybe I’m still making it all up. The next half an hour of surges were so intense I remember not being able to find a really comfortable position and just trying to breath as best I could. I was breathing long deep breaths but they were shaky and I had to muster all my energy to keep them steady. There was this intense pressure I kept saying to mum maybe I need to go to the toilet and I’d sit there and nothing would happen. Mum helped me get into bed after setting up a bluey (those hospital pads) and a towel in the bed just in case my membranes released. I think at this point we both thought I was going to get a few hours sleep. The pace just kept picking up and we were having surges about 3 minutes apart at this stage mum thought I should call the on call midwife and just see what they thought. At first I wasn’t in a hurry to call and then all of a sudden I thought I don’t know what’s going on here we need to call so mum brought my phone over. Elise was on call that night and I remember talking through the situation then a surge would come on and i’d just start fidgeting to get comfortable. Nothing felt right and I couldn’t talk to her and mum would have to take over. She asked me what I wanted to do because according to the Dr today I could birth at home which I told her yes I wanted to be at home. Secretly the thought of being in a car at this point was unbearable. She told me to go and get in the bath and see if things settle down and to contact her again. I got in the bath and things progressively got more intense. I kept fidgeting to try and find a better position but it didn’t help with our bath being so small. We called Elise back again and she said she was on her way but would be about half an hour. Mum was re-heating the bath with water from the kettle as we were trying to be water conscious for filling the birth pool. Mum suggested that we call Jacob so we did and he said he didn’t have a manager to cover him and that he’d have to wait 45 minutes for another manager to arrive which would be another hour which I thought would be fine. Not even 5 minutes later I said to mum we had to call him back he had to come now which he did. At this point I’m in and out of doing my thing and I remember that we’d been so caught up with all these daily appointments nothing was properly set up and ready for the birth so I sent mum to go around and get the fairy lights on and the lights off and some music and hypnosis tracks playing. I didn’t even think about things like telling her what my password was to unlock my phone and get into the music or even how to set up the bluetooth speaker because that was all Jacobs job. I found myself doing this somehow in between surges. I’d wanted the camera and tripod set up to, which went completely out the window, I couldn’t fathom doing all that at this point we were too far in and everything had gone from 0 to 100 so quickly. I told mum I had to get out of the bath and I remember her questioning me as the water was what I’d wanted, we’d hired a pool for this. But I told her I was just too uncomfortable that I couldn’t be there any longer. I got back into bed completely naked with just a towel wrapped around me and as I lay there holding mums hand at this point through surges I remember saying to her “if I’m only 2cm still we’re going to the John I can’t do this”. I remember her very confidently telling me “you can do it Lauren and you already are doing it”. What I didn’t realize at this point was that I was already probably at transition as I was so agitated and going into that doubting myself headspace. Jacob got home and got straight behind my back and just kept telling me that I was doing so well even when I told him I thought I couldn’t do it. Elise finally arrived and was getting set up to check me (this was all at my request). I knew I only had a short window in between surges and I remember having to tell her to quickly stop during the VE as the next one was coming on. “What a quiet achiever“ she said “you’re about 8-9cm dilated”! I remember thinking holy jesus thank the lord. In my mind now I was locked in, this was happening and it was happening at home. The next surge came on and the pressure was so intense in the back and front of my pelvis I just remember really sternly saying “my back, my back” and Elise was the closest so she quickly started counter pressure on my pelvis. She apparently looked at mum and told her I was actually closer to 9-9.5 dilated. “I better get set up and call some other midwives here” as she didn’t think I’d be quite as far along. At this point I didn’t care if Nancy was going to be there or not. Like she said the whole way along, “you don’t need me, you know what to do on your own”.
At this point Elise went off to get herself set up and mum went to start boiling some water for the pool to give Jacob and I some alone time. We would talk in between surges just briefly and at this point he was rubbing my back on surges and doing light touch (part of hypnobirthing) as they were super uncomfortable and it felt like I wanted to do a poo at the same time. I was already breathing down at this point as I’d remembered from the Hypno bubs that when a surge breath doesn’t feel comfortable anymore to breathe down and I certainly new that nothing felt comfortable. I kept reaching up and grabbing the top of the bed head through surges. My breath felt like it went out the window completely. I knew I was still breathing but it wasn’t as long of a breath as I knew I was capable of. I remember telling myself theres no time for analysing Lauren ‘a’ breath is better than none. I couldn’t make noises as I thought if I do that I’ll make noise but I’ll stop focusing on breathing, I just knew I couldn’t do both. It took every inch of my strength to keep breathing but I knew that I had to. I remember repeating to myself “just breath” over and over again as I knew that was the most important thing for my uterus to work effectively. At the peak of intensity, I began reciting to myself my Hypnobubs affirmations, which blew my mind that’s what came to me because that track hasn’t even been playing. At this point Elise asked me about the birth pool and Jacob went to get up to start setting it up. I told them all no and at this point I wanted mum back to so I yelled out to her. I told them both that I needed them both here and I was squeezing both their hands. Through one surge I remember hearing chatter in the background and a bit of laughter and when I finally opened my eyes after it I asked what happened and I’d apparently been squeezing Jacobs bad hand (that was injured badly at work) so tightly he was almost in tears. I needed to change positions so I got up on my hands and knees and rocked forward into my stack of pillows. Being upright but slightly forward helped, and I wanted to keep my hips open. At this point I remember getting quite agitated that I was shaking my hand up in the air and Mum asked me if my hand had gone to sleep. I told her no I was just trying to distract myself in between surges. Erin arrived and came into the bedroom to say hello. Mum went off to boil water again and I told them I needed a position change again and Erin suggested the shower. “Perfect, I’ll try anything” I thought so Jacob helped walk me to the shower. My walking at this point was a bit of an awkward lean forward as I felt that being completely upright there was just way too much downward pressure. We put towels down on the shower floor for me to kneel on and at this point Elise came back in and asked me about the pool again. Our window was running out she said, and it would take some time to fill so she suggested if it was up and I don’t use it that’s fine but if it’s not and I want it that could be disastrous. I agreed so Jacob went off to help set up. The pool was being set up around 1am. In the shower, I remember Erin’s soft soothing voice talking me through. She was an absolute angel at this point. Her gentle reminders that everything is as it should be. Each surge she reminded me to breath through. “That’s it, your doing well, just keep breathing” were the words I continually heard. I hadn’t gone to the bathroom in so long at this stage but I didn’t think I could walk there so she suggested trying in the shower but nothing happened. It was like I forgot how, or maybe because there was so much pressure there I couldn’t. That was a subtle reminder to try and keep more hydrated so she kept bringing the straw over to me between surges. I wanted to move again. I knew we wouldn’t have much hot water and I wanted it for the pool plus my hip flexors were starting to give me agony, I’d been in flexion for way too long. I got out and made it to the bath mat before the next surge rolled in. I looked at Erin and said I’ve just completely forgotten all positions, everything’s gone out the window that I knew. She gently suggested leaning forward over the ball which although still in flexion it was enough space in the front of my hips to give me a little break. Hollie arrived at this point and she just very quietly said hello. It was at this point I actually looked up and could see the pool being set up in the lounge room. Little did I know that the water hose wouldn’t adapt to the kitchen sink and thank god for Jacobs quick thinking to lead out into the laundry otherwise we would‘ve had no pool. I was only over the ball for a few surges and I wanted to go back to the bed for a while. She helped me back there and I remember saying there is just so much pressure in my front and back. She said when the time comes and your ready the pressure from the front will go and it will all go into your bottom, like you need to go to the toilet. I told her that I’d already been breathing down for a while as it’s all that felt right. Something came over me and I felt that I needed to be back in the water now so I asked if the pool was ready which it was.
Jacob helped me from the bed to the pool at around 1.30am. I hopped over the side of the pool Jacob holding onto one arm. I told him I was right and that I could still move okay. I sat on the little step in the pool and it was way too small and as soon as I was completely upright the pressure went up so much it was too intense. I knew I needed to be upright but not completely so I moved around to where I could sit somewhat upright leaning back onto the edge of the pool with my legs out in front and my arms pressing back behind me. At this point I just shut my eyes. The intensity of surges backed off now. I was getting a little bit of relief, everything was calmer. I’d already passed the peak and was headed back down. The 3 girls were at the dining table doing paperwork and mum and Jacob around the pool hovering. I maybe only opened my eyes 2 or 3 times over this 2 hour period. At this point I was in another realm, a place of higher consciousness maybe. Probably what happens when you go into a deeper part of the brain, the most natural and instinctive, a primal place. A sense of calm washed over me. It was no longer taking every part of myself to breath in a way that was somewhat productive and not forced (although there was a little force and grunt involved each surge breath). I felt only pressure now in my bum and I knew each breath I had to just bear down again and again. All instinctual, my body just knew what to do, no one had to tell me. The vibe in the room was quiet, I could only hear small whispers in moments that I tuned back into the room although it was as though the things I could hear I couldn’t respond to. I was there, fully present and completely encompassed by this experience women had been doing for centuries and centuries before me. The water was so soothing. I knew I made the right choice being here. It felt natural. I remember at one point something changed. It was different to before. I could feel something there that I couldn’t feel before, her head as it was now emerging through the birth canal. I briefly opened my eyes to the girls calmly doing their paperwork at the table. “There’s a head” I very calmly said as if it were nothing and I closed my eyes again. I heard 3 chairs all being dragged back against the floorboards and footsteps moving closer towards me. I opened my eyes again to Elise in front of me and I asked “can you see her” to which I closed my eyes again and went back into that place, I didn’t hear the answer. I then remember the words from Hollie asking if I wanted photos to which I said yes definitely and nothing more was spoken of it. At this point I was looking forward to each surge as I was putting a little more grunt into each bearing down and I could feel movement happening. I was making progress and I knew it wouldn’t be much longer until the end. At this stage a minute on and a minute or two off. Each time I’d rest I’d let my head loosely flop back over the edge of the pool. I could start to feel more of a stinging than a pressure. I knew her head had to of been there. This was the sensation that everyone had been talking about. “Breathe your baby down Lauren” I remember hearing from Hollie and I knew I was doing it, I was on the right track. I didn’t need help, my body knew, I knew, like Nancy had said all along, “you’re a strong woman, you know what to do”. I got to the peak of stinging and I knew to go slow, don’t rush, pant a little, slow your breathing right down until the next surge. The surges were doing all the work for me. The next one came and her head was almost out. There was no rush. Her head gently emerged and I waited for the next surge. I was completely unaware of the whispers going on around me that were of Elise telling the girls to set up the oxygen as she thought her hair might have been meconium stained lycore. The next surge came, the expression on my face changed as my head dropped back over the pool. Erin gently said “good job, your doing well” and with a further “push” her whole little body slipped out one hand reaching out into the world rupturing through the sac she was born in and out into the water. From crowning to being born took all of 13 minutes. The girls said to me keep going to make sure her whole body was out and I opened my eyes still completely in shock and still in that place of relaxation. They kept repeating to me to reach down and “pick your baby up” to which I just stared at her for a few seconds before I came to and realize my job wasn't quite done yet. I picked her up and brought her straight up onto my chest where the girls helped to peel back the layer of the sac that was still covering her little body. She was born so peacefully. Jacob came straight over and kissed me on the forehead. I knew that was his way of telling me I'd done well. I was stroking her back to help her come to. I think she really liked her time in there and didn’t want to open her eyes to this world yet. Elise was rubbing towels over her and checking the cord and Erin tickling her feet to help her into the world. Hollie told us to “blow on the babies face" and Elise to “talk to her”. I didn’t know what to say at this point but “hey baby” as the tears were beginning to well up and I was still in shock. She eventually let out a little cry which progressively got louder. She was here. So very alert. Her big blue eyes stared right through my soul. Such an intense gaze just staring up at me. I didn’t want this moment to end. She laid on my chest in the pool for another hour waiting to birth the placenta naturally (physiologically) which things were happening quite slowly at this point. I was so focused on her I wasn’t quite in the zone for continuing on. I laughed that “I can’t believe I did it” and Elise said “you haven’t done it all yet let’s get this placenta out please”. I tried to get her to latch in the bath to help move things along but the water was too deep and I was too weak to kneel so I made the decision after about an hour to cut the cord so Jacob could have skin to skin and I could continue with the job at hand. Erin helped to clamp the cord while Jacob cut and Erin passed her straight over to him. Hollie asked if I had some clary sage which I had a few sniffs of that and felt a small surge come on. I pushed a little and it felt strange after birthing such a hard little head. I sniffed again. I felt it was working but I needed something different. I remember Nancy talking about putting a bag over the toilet so I suggested to the girls we do that. Although I remember her even just talking about jiggling your hips side to side so I half stood up and jiggled and jiggled and out plopped this beautiful healthy placenta rich in nutrients turning the pool red. I was in awe of this amazing organ that I picked it up myself and handed it to the girls while we all inspected it.
While I was still in the pool we were recounting the events of the evening and I said I felt like I was really loud with all my breathing to which they told me I wasn’t at all and that I was just internalising. Hollie asked me what couse we did as they were all looking at my notes from the Hynobirthing Australia Program and I told the girls we just did it all online. They all laughed in disbelief. Erin was ecstatic that she was able to be part of the experience of a completely unassisted home birth being a student midwife. I was beyond grateful for all the girls support in just holding space for me. I got out of the pool to have a shower and again Erin suggested I try and do a wee in the shower as I hadn’t been to the toilet in 5 hours. It really took a lot of thought and not much came out so we decided to check if I needed stitches first and try again after. I came back to the lounge to get stitched up. 6 stitches for a right 2nd degree labial tear, probably from how she shot her arm out so abruptly. Although to be honest it really didn’t worry me. Bub was on my chest again wrapped up in my dressing gown and she had her first latch where she crawled to the breast herself. It was beautiful to watch her nuzzling around. That probably took her a few minutes to really find it and at the same time Erin and I begun to discuss breast feeding, cord care, care or my stitches etc. My midwives were with me until about 9am just going through all the ins and outs of care and ensuring we were doing okay before they left.
I found feeding in the first few days with a bit of practice not too bad. I spent everyday doing a warm oil breast massage and breast compressions while feeding to keep the potential for mastitis at bay with all the engorgement. One of the components of the Hypnobubs program was all about getting informed and I did so preparing myself for after birth too. I spent hours upon hours reading up on breastfeeding and watching videos on latching, positioning and particularly the ”laid back” position for the early days when babies head control is minimal. My healing went really well, and I’d made a decision prior to birth to escape social media for a while and for the first few months of the postpartum period as well as adopting the principles from Chinese “sitting the month” tradition which definitely helped contribute to a slow and nourishing recovery period. This involved staying at home for a month, eating really easy to digest food and drink that was only warm, daily warm oil body rubs and keeping my feet and body really warm. My stitches all healed really quickly and had dissolved within about 10 days and my bleeding had gone from 4 days of heavy bleeding, to another 5 or so days of medium flow and tapered off by about the 10th day also.
Giving birth was the most beautiful, intense, raw and powerful experience of my life.