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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The Newborn Haze

I have come to that stage where I am exiting what is referred to as The Newborn Haze. All of a sudden you start to see the world a lot clearer, start to regain some clarity of self, look around and go “oh holy crap the world has kept moving without me!” I have realised it, and I must must must write about the haze before the experience loses freshness. Because I know soon enough the memory will grow mould, decay, turn into amazing fertiliser, then sprout some gorgeous garden of eden so that when I look back I only see roses. IMG_3274_fotorBirth is intense… I don’t care if it is good bad or ugly…it is still a huge physical and emotional journey. And a bloody amazing achievement, GO YOU GOOD WOMEN OF EARTH! But to be honest the bigger challenge for me is those first few weeks.

Day and night blur into one as a cocktail of hormones engulf every corner of my body. Oh my body… that “squatting like a cross fit demon” I did during birth…ahhh yeah I didn’t train for that… and I can now feel it in every muscle running up my legs and around my gorgeously squishy postpartum butt. The screaming muscle awkward shuffle walk (as I like to call it) is also increased by giant absorbent pads stuffed in oversized pregnancy undies. Nothing like a month long period to keep a woman in good spirits.

BONUS! this time around I had only the tiniest of tears, but lets be honest peeing is still a deep breathing exercise. Plus I know somewhere along the line I read about the post labour contractions that get progressively more intense with each pregnancy. Ahhhh WOAH Intense…like WOAH! Nothing like a birthing flash back every time I breastfeed.

Oh and my breasts…oh wait they are not mine any more they are Ruby’s… they may be cracked and leaking and swollen into GIANT milky mountains, but they are hers and she LOVES them.

Thank all the goddesses in the heavens I am exiting the haze, and damn that gorgeous newborn in my arms has my heart one thousand times over and growing daily. But from one mum to all you others out there, when you’re shuffling around like you’ve run a marathon, feeling like a leaky old house, covered in milk and spew, eating breakfast for dinner, donned with out-of-control super soaker breasts that just shot your friend in the face… I feel you…I get it…you are AWESOME.

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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