My First Catch – A New Midwife Story

from a very special midwife called Avery, who I met in a jungle in Vanuatu.

One sunny fall afternoon I was sitting at a meeting with the other midwives in my practice. Our clinic is in the same building as the birth centre and partway through our meeting we watched a car enter the parking lot, at a possibly unsafe speed. It was one of the other midwives’ clients in labour. The midwife went up to assess and came back downstairs to rejoin the meeting, as this momma still had some labouring to do.

The midwife went upstairs periodically throughout our meeting and labour progressed quickly. When the momma was almost ready to push, the midwife’s phone rang – it was another one of her clients, a first time mum, in labour. She was having strong, frequent contractions and was already feeling pushy pressure!

Guess who was nominated to attend this second momma’s birth? Me! The brand new midwife. I was terrified, but also excited. I had met this client and her partner once before and felt that we had connected well, but I never imagined I would be the one coming to her in labour!

It was rush hour and (of course) this client lived at the other end of the city (they were planning a home birth). I gave them a call to let them know I was on my way and said a little prayer to the universe as I made my way to them. I finally arrived at their house and the door was answered by their wonderful doula.

sun-in-the-windowI had a listen to baby (who sounded happy) and asked if the momma would be comfortable with having her cervix checked – she was fully dilated and the baby’s head was soooo low! I called my backup midwife right away and prayed she would make it for the birth.

I didn’t coach this momma to actively push because baby was doing well and I wanted to buy some time to set up my emergency equipment. With the quiet encouragement of her doula she continued to breath through her contractions.

The timing was perfect! I had just finished setting up when I heard her starting to grunt and bear down. I took a quick look and could already see baby’s head! My backup midwife walked in just in time welcome a little peanut of a baby boy. I brought him up to his momma’s chest and the next several minutes were spent watching the new little family get acquainted.

precious-momentsWhat a special birth for my first catch!

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Ruby’s Birth Story

Here I am on a Saturday afternoon, newborn asleep, toddler with Dad, and me actually drinking a hot cup of tea and getting to blog. Last Thursday we welcomed one beautiful little rainbow water babe into our world. I have been almost jumping out of my skin to write her birth story down. Once again I was blessed (GRIN) so here it is from me to you.

This story needs to begin 9 months ago on a glorious day in North Queensland. We are on our honeymoon after one incredibly epic weekend wedding, there’s gorgeous blue skies and clear tropical waters, we are spending the day floating and diving around the rainbow spectacle which is The Great Barrier Reef. As our boat heads back to Port Douglas I feel the familiar ache of ovulation (yes I am one of those people who feel it) and I smile…and know that we have a plan for this little egg, if only it is willing.

Back to present day, I am four days past due and wondering why these braxton hicks that have popped up sporadically for the past few days feel so intense. Surely they were not like this with Boston? I was so clear about labour starting with him and now I feel confused? Is it starting???? No, no rhythm or rhyme to these contractions but DAMN they aren’t tickles.

IMG_3261_fotorFinally around 1am on Thursday morning they come and wake me…I wait….yup there is another….yup and another. But still I am confused, they do not seem more intense so I wait. They bounce around between 5 minutes and 10 minute intervals but finally around 4am I decide this must be it and start letting my birth companions in on the secret. Steve has almost had a full night sleep so he bounces out of bed with a grin from ear to ear and makes some tea. I call Aurelia, my amazing bestie acupuncture extraordinaire, who answers with excitement and prepares to drive south “No rush” I assure her.

I jump in the shower for some warm water love, lighting a burner with birthing oils that smell so delicious, I have burnt them during meditation over the past months. Then all of a sudden contraction after contraction keep coming, and coming strong! I have a mini freak out..seriously…no no no… not yet I can’t give birth yet!! Then I take a few breaths and calm…let go, let it happen, all is well. I jump out of the shower, shoot Auie a message to…ahem…hurry, and tell Steve to ring Kirst.

Beautiful sunshine Kirsten, my bestie with positive vibes to boot, I have invited her along as another companion. It seems a little excessive but with our busy lives, children etc etc I wanted backup. I also wanted the chance to share birth with one of my friends who is yet to go down the road, I have spoken about how valuable this experience was for me and it is a tradition I wanted to continue.

Has anyone told you how your first labour messes with your expectation of your second? You think it won’t, you know they are all different, but my gosh do you think I could get out of my head?! Kirsten arrived 15 minutes after my freak out shower incident. As she sat with me and braided my hair my contractions all but stopped. Twenty minutes past and a few came but they were beyond mellow. Now I am worried the whole thing was a false start. This is nothing like my other labour! What is happening?

BirthAurelia arrives, phew…she pops some needles in and assures me that this baby is coming today and she will make sure of it. I smile, relax and we dig into some delicious birthing cake made and delivered by our gorgeous sister. Contractions are being shy.

Alright well I am getting back in that shower because we are all here now and I am ready for this gosh darn it. Ahhhh WOW there they are again and holy moly call the midwife I think it is time to go. I decide that I need to be where we will birth if I am to fully embrace these strong contractions and so we all pile into the car. I pop my head phones in and listen to a hypnobirthing rainbow relaxation while we drive along the highway.

As we stroll down the ever so long Tweed Hospital corridor I feel like a bad ass birthing posse. Passing doctors give us confused sideways glances. The contractions have eased and I shake my head but I am glad I can glide down this hallway looking oh so comfortable.

Our wonderful midwife from Murwillumbah Birthing Clinic arrives shortly after. I am so happy to see her and even more happy when she informs us I am 6cm dilated and the cervix is really soft. “Oh thank the heavens I am not crazy and this labour is as advanced as it feels…when I am in the shower”.

IMG_3268_fotorAt my belly blessing we did a binding ceremony with some pretty rainbow wool. The idea is that each woman leaves the band on until they hear mum is in labour. It is a really beautiful ritual and a great reminder for close friends to have you in their thoughts. Cutting the bands symbolises the separation of mother and child, and the beginning of a new stage of life. Two minutes after that text went out my labour exploded.

I was having contraction on contraction with barely a minutes rest. I was aware of the others and could feel their relaxed mood, they asked me questions…I didn’t bother answering. Before long I was feeling irritated and annoyed. The contractions were overwhelming. I braced against the bed, head in my hands, squatting like some mad cross fit demon.. resting on the birth ball for what seemed no time…then back to the bed…REPEAT!

The thought entered my mind “no no no, I can’t do this…it is too much” and seconds later a light bulb moment! “oh my god! if this is too much and I feel like I can’t do it that means I am in transition! That means I am nearly there!” and all of a sudden I turned a corner. Two contractions later I had that instinctive muscle contraction that pushes down 🙂 HOORAY

IMG_3298_fotorHypnobirthing advocates breathing the baby down so I was surprised to feel that insane all encompassing urge to push with Boston, and pushed I did. Boz flew out in one, so I wanted to make a real effort this time around to take it a little slower. They call it the Natural Explusive Reflex, that “urge to push”. For those who have not given birth or did so with an epidural it sort of feels like (sorry to gross you out) that uncontrollable response that happens when you vomit…yup…only it goes down not up and its more intense. So technically you don’t have to try to push, your body just does it. So I concentrated on relaxing my muscles as much as possible and letting that uncontrollable reflex just happen. It was pretty cool (she calmly types after grunting like a gorilla at the time).

So there I was standing up and feeling a familiar burn and knowing our baby would be here soon. Steve was in front of me holding my hands, I spotted Kirsten darting around taking photos while tearing up and muttering “oh my gosh”, Aurelia was whispering in my ear “you can do it, nearly there”, I assumed someone was catching my baby…surely…and then from behind I hear one of the midwifes excitedly exclaim “oh wow she is in caul!!”…I am thinking that sounds great whatever the hell it means.

IMG_3318_fotorThen with one last surge our baby is born and water splashes all around. I burst into tears as she is handed up to me. “In Caul” turns out to mean with membranes intact and so our little babe, who started her journey as a tiny egg travelling The Great Barrier Reef, was born surrounded by water till her legs entered the world. Ruby Jean, born 4th June 2:47pm…with absolute perfection.

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Boston’s Birth Story

Despite the trepidation (aka slightly poo scared emotions) Boston’s birth is one that I feel blessed to have experienced and love to share. Steve and I had a clear picture in our heads about how we wanted the birth to go….which means we knew the people we wanted there, the ways to deal with pain and the groove* we wanted to create. Almost every parent will tell you the plan goes out the window on the day, so I was more then ready to throw my three page masterpiece in the bin. It turns out, to my surprise, our birth plan became Boston’s birth. So here is the day from us to you (whoever you are), it is a bit of an epic but read as you wish.

Big yawn on the first day of his amazing life
Big yawn on the first day of his amazing life

Approaching our due date I had been feeling the subtle tightening of pre labour contractions on and off, they would come for two hours then disappear. Each time I wondered if it would kick into the real deal.

Then on Sunday the 15th of July not long after I climbed into bed I felt something a little more intense. I waited…it came again. I slowly slipped out of bed and made my way to the lounge. I am going to describe them as someone did to me, just like pimped up period pain. I could not sleep but I knew if this was labour I would have a whooper of a day ahead so it was keep it groovey mode I went to. I made a tea, put on our birth day playlist (mellow tunes that make me smile), dimmed the lights, lit some candles and gathered some cushions. Sounds romantic doesn’t it?

Time to put hypnobirthing techniques into action, a couple of rainbow relaxations and breathing exercises, resulting in me dozing off on occasion but the contractions kept coming. I woke Steve at midnight to let him know showtime was here, but reassured him the most helpful thing he could do would be to go back to sleep and save his energy for the coming day. Most dad’s would have jumped up to attention or become so excited they couldn’t sleep, Steve just grunted and rolled back over, bless his chilled soul.

My awesome fantastic bestie/acupuncturist Aurelia was on call as birth companion number two. Calculating the Brisbane traffic and my contractions we decided calling her at 3am would be the best plan. By 5am she was at our door step needles and a smile from ear to ear in toe. My first acupuncture treatment followed shortly after which increased the intensity of my contractions causing me to put the foot down, it was time to head to the clinic.
Cuddles with dad at the Murwillumbah Midwife Clinic
Cuddles with dad at the Murwillumbah Midwife Clinic
We choose to birth at the fantastic Murwillumbah Midwife Clinic where we made our selves at home with cheese and crackers, Gatorade, drawing the curtains, setting up our music and relaxing into the space (getting our groove on pretty much). Our midwife was there to greet us and check on progress, already 5cm dilated! Holy cow now we are in the room our baby will be born in = EXCITEMENT! Everything was going so well, I was able to breath through my contractions and bring myself back into relaxation with each exhalation. The hypno techniques kept me super duper focused and really did allow me to relax as much as possible.
Steve and Aurelia were doing amazing as my companions, I felt like a queen with two ever dutiful servants. Each contraction was accompanied by light touch massage, encouragement and positive affirmations. I had read about the up side of an active birth, benefits or not there was no way I wanted to lie on my back, I would have had to be tied down. We moved from kneeling to the shower, to walking, squatting, the bath and the birth ball. I even managed to fall asleep between contractions, waking with a start as I began to tip into Steve or Auie. For a reason not known to my self I was dreaming of feeding pigeons (what sort of omen is that???).
The pressure of our baby moving down came, yes it does feel like you are going to poo, and we moved to the birthing stool which looked like a purple space age seat. It was here that my waters broke or as I saw it… exploded. I must admit that although the contractions had become stronger (think period pain added to cramping) and at times very challenging this was the point I felt the most intensity. I was leaning back on Steve, tightly squeezing his hands and I felt him beginning to squirm. I knew his legs were cramping but there was no way he was going to move, I was in the perfect spot and I told him to suck it up.

Aurelia had dreamt about the moment of birth. She had seen the light of a sunset streaming in the window, so as the room was bathed in golden light she looked at me and said “this is it…”and it was. With one last kick from inside the womb our little super star son came into our world. Boston Richard Gow, born 4:40pm on 16th July, 6lb11 and 51cm.

I know we were lucky to have the experience we did. Don’t get me wrong it was probably (aka without a doubt) the most challenging physical thing I have done. At one point Aurelia kept saying “you’re nearly there Nell” and I kept thinking nearly there seems an awful way away, where the hell is the light at the end of this tunnel?? But you’re head does this weird time warp, zone inwards, mask it with wicked love hormones thing that is really amazing.

Maybe it sounds extreme to go natural and have no drugs but in all honesty I didn’t feel like I needed them. Was it the preparation, the hypnobirthing, the acupuncture or just the amazing support I had from two wonderful people in my life and our fantastic midwife??? Who knows…but I do believe it was a combination of everything plus a little bit of luck.

Here ends the epic story of Boston’s birth. There is so much more I could write about, like Steve falling asleep or the shock when our prophesied girl turned out to be a boy, but you could be here all day reading. In the coming blogs I will go into more detail about the wicked tools we used complete with contact details if you are interested. If you have any questions shoot me a comment or a message and I will answer them asap.

Proud parents heading homeUntil next time it’s boobies, poop and smiles…