My due date came and went on the 2nd of June 2015. I had convinced myself that I would go into labour early (don't we all...wishful thinking). I was feeling so many emotions, excited, nervous and anxious. As a first time mum, I had no idea what to expect from labour. It might sound strange but I was keen for it to start as I wanted to know what it would feel like. That pregnancy insomnia had me good, lying awake at night worrying about everything I had no control over. My birth plan was simple...go to the hospital and leave with a baby. I wanted to try a natural water birth, however was open to anything that needed to be done to bring our baby earthside. We were mid-renovations so I kept myself busy during the day by painting and cleaning, nesting was in full force. I don't do 'resting' very well. I had finished work at 37 weeks and by this stage I was starting to get bored.
Saturday the 6th of June, 2015. I was 40+4 weeks. Jakes dad had visited in the afternoon with cherries and champagne, as he had been travelling for 6 months. 6.35pm. I was relaxed, on the couch watching Netflix when I felt my first pain. They came every 10 minutes, on the dot, and lasted for about 45 seconds. My obstetrician told me if my labour started at night to try and get some sleep before coming into hospital, as I would need all the rest I could get.
I told Jake "I think this is it" as we went to bed that night. His reply was "oh fuck" ha, he didn't know what to expect so the whole thing freaked him out a bit. My contractions continued through the night, every 10 minutes, 9 minutes, 8 minutes etc. Getting closer together as the night went on. The pain was like an intense cramp, it would go up and reach a peak, before slowly subsiding. I didn't get much sleep, as soon as I would drift off another contraction would wake me. I was up during the night 3 times with diarrhoea, and, as my mid-wife later told me, this was another way of my body getting ready for labour. When we got up in the morning at 6am, I had been contracting for 12 hours and they were about 6 mins apart. I rang the hospital and we were told to wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart before going to in. Luckily our hospital was in our suburb so a very short drive away.
I went straight onto the fit ball while Jake ran around the house cleaning the kitchen, emptying the rubbish and making the bed, which I found quite funny as he was clearly nervous. After a quick breakfast of toast we were on our way, contractions now 5 minutes apart. We were admitted to hospital at 8am. We went straight to our room and I used the fit ball some more and also jumped in the shower and stood under the hot water for what felt like forever. Rocking my hips side to side and leaning on the bar. After the shower I did lots of walking around the room and hip rocking to help speed this labour up. I felt a lot of the contraction pain in my back as baby was posterior and never turned.
At 3pm we were moved to birth suite, I was keen for a change of scenery and wanted to get in the bath. My mid-wife was hands down amazing. She started her shift at 12pm and told me she finished at 8pm, and I said to her “I will get this baby out by then”. She knew I wanted to try a natural birth and active labour so she kept me moving. She helped me work on my breathing and was talking me through every contraction. Every time I forgot how to breathe properly, she would stand there and breath with me.
I was in and out of the bath, trying the gas, but at the time I didn’t really think it helped with the pain. I was more into holding the gas in my mouth than actually using it, like a security blanket. We got out of the bath and onto the bed. They raised it up so I was using the back as a support. I remember at this point I was over it, the pain was intense and I didn’t know how much longer I could go on. Bloody posterior babies! I had read a hypno-birthing book so I was zoned out and trying to concentrate on those methods.
It’s funny the moments you remember during labour. We had the TV on, David Attenborough of all things. It was the about the ocean and I remember looking up and seeing fish swimming calmly through the water. Jake kept turning the TV up louder and louder, and I was thinking “what the hell is he doing”. And then I heard it, a women SCREAMING like she was being murdered. It was a sound I will never forget. My mid-wife then said “oh the woman next door is crowning”. I looked at Jake with fear in my eyes, if that is what crowning feels like then there is no way I can do it. I want OUT. I already felt like I had reached my peak for pain.
At 5pm my mid-wife wanted to check how dilated I was, finally! I’ve only been in labour for 23 hours! After a quick internal, she mistakenly told me I was 9cm, when I fact I was only 2cm. She yelled out "Ow wow I think you are 9cm, oh no wait you are only 2cm!". How that fucked with my mind. Thinking I was almost there and then being knocked down realising I wasn’t even close. My mid-wife could tell that I was about to give up. She said “come on, let’s get up and moving” and bought a step in for me to step up and down and then also swing my hips like I was salsa dancing. I remember thinking how ridiculous I would have looked, but at this point, I really couldn’t give a fuck. After moving around for an hour she check me again, I was now 7cm. Hallelujah! At this point they broke my water and that’s when things started to move quickly.
My contractions got even more intense, I didn't think that was possible, and I remember crying out that the pain in my back was unbearable. I was on the bed, back raised and on my side with Jake pushing my legs up to help with the pain in my back. At this point I have one very vivid memory “I AM NEVER (ever) FUCKING DOING THIS AGAIN”. But at the same time I was determined to keep going. I had come this far. Another quick internal and I was 9cm, I was stoked. Almost time to start pushing and I was so relived, I could finally do something.
I got back in the bath and I could tell it was time to start pushing. I was so calm at this point. The contractions had really slowed down and we were talking and laughing in between. My mid-wife commented how well I was going and how calm I was. At this point it didn’t hurt as much and it was a relief to be able to push. I was in the water in a squat position, and she was talking me through every contraction helping me push. Jake was sitting behind her in a chair. It was such a nice calm moment. I was so tired at this point, but I was so determined to get it over with I gave it my all with every push. I can’t even remember how long I was pushing for, it felt like 5 minutes however Jake said it was about 45 minutes.
Finally his head was out. I was so excited, and it was the strangest feeling as he was spinning around. The mid-wives told Jake to have a look and I can tell me was a bit uncertain as I had told him not to look, but at that point I didn’t care. He told me after that it was the most real thing he has ever experienced. Next contraction I put everything it, the only energy I had left, and he was out. The BEST feeling in the world. I could not wipe the smile from my face. I did it. I looked up and said “oh my god” and then they all yelled “grab him!” as he was floating around the bottom of the bath. Haha! I was in such a state of relief that I didn’t even think to grab my newborn. The cord was wrapped around his neck however they were able to free it quite easily. And then I had my first cuddles, sitting in the water, just staring at him. AMAZING!
8.02pm and he was here. I looked at my mid-wife and said “told you I would have him before your shift ended” and she gave me the biggest hug. From the time my contractions started to the time he was born I had been in labour for almost 26 hours. I was exhausted.
They took the baby to weigh him and I walked out of the bath back to the bed. My legs were a bit wobbly as I was been in a squat position for a while. The obstetrician checked me and I had second degree tearing, requiring 5 stitches. I wasn’t in pain at all at this stage, I was on the biggest high. Jake had some skin on skin time before handing the baby back to me so we could try lead to feed. We placed him on my chest and let him wriggle down and he latched straight on. I had a shower and then we walked back to our room at 10.30pm. I was straight into my SRC recovery shorts and we tried to get some sleep. Pretty hard after an experience like that with so much adrenaline pumping through my body.
He was 3.6kg and 53cm tall. We hadn’t named him yet as I was too tired to make a decision as important as that. It wasn’t until the next morning that we settled on his name, Knox Austin Schiffermuller.
Even though Knox latched on fine the first time, I had trouble feeding in those early days. The damage to my nipples was so bad I would bleed and couldn’t bare the pain of feeding him. The mid-wives helped me express and then we would feed him through a syringe to give my boobs a break and a chance to heal.
I was so worried about birth and how I would heal after. I used to watch TV shows like One Born Every Minute and be absolutely terrified of child birth. But having gone through it, it was no where near as bad as I had feared. I had such a positive and amazing birth experience. I had also heard a lot of horror birth stories which contributed to this fear, which was a reason for sharing my story. I had a positive experience and thought it would help others to read it.
Looking back, I know how lucky I am that my birth was free of any complications, although very long, and not all women are as lucky. Nothing went wrong and I was able to have the natural water birth that I had wished for. It is a very trying thing to go through, no matter what your birth experience is. I am proud of myself. All women, no matter how we have our babies, are amazing. Our bodies are incredible for growing, birthing and then nourishing a baby.