You kept me waiting with your entrance to the world, it felt like an eternity but you were only a few days past your due date. I had been having tightenings and false starts and Braxton Hicks for weeks on end in the lead up to your arrival and every night I went to sleep for at least a week before you arrived I would think to myself, I hope it’s tonight. Every morning when I woke up and it wasn’t, it felt like groundhog day.
There was a big blue blood supermoon the week before you were born and for my whole pregnancy I had in the back of my head, the super moon or Waitangi Day, it’s gotta be one of those… when the moon came and went I was deflated and seriously felt like I might be pregnant forever. We finally got to do a homebirth this time, something I wanted to do with Jai but it was ruled out due to hemorrhaging I had with Josh’s birth.
The process of preparing for a homebirth was totally different than that of preparing to go to hospital, it felt more meditative, more relaxed and comforting. Transitions were responsible for delay my labours with both your big brothers by a considerable amount. I didn’t want to do that again unless I had to. Luckily I had an awesome birth team and midwife who helped make it a reality for us this time. Instead of packing a bag to head into the unknown in a hospital, I set up my space, a wee nest which we have barely moved from since. It was really grounding, a spiritual process in a way. Affirmations on the walls, candles, crystals and flowers adorning the space. A wall hanging made by a friend, a necklace and buntings made at the baby blessing we had here with friends a few weeks prior.
We had only ever planned two kids but after Jai’s birth I remember both dad and I looking at each other and saying, “we’re not done yet”. I wanted to do the whole process, good parts and bad, all over again. I read a birth story about a lady giving birth in the spa outside and later had a dream about an outdoor birth. This was well before you were conceived and while the idea struck me and left me curious and intrigued, even if at the time, it wasn’t something I really envision happening for us…
That was until I set up the boys paddling pool right outside my bedroom. There was shade and shelter from the trees, the fairy lights were up for Christmas, it actually all seemed very magical. And as I sat there in the paddling pool looking up at the sky I thought, why wouldn’t I birth here? In a birth pool, outside, under the stars? Surrounded in the sounds from the cicadas and moreporks.
So on the morning of Waitangi day when I had a midwife appointment I was more than ready for you to come. I was doing everything I could to remind myself you would come in just the right time, just the right way, just like my Hypnobirthing track repeated. The weather in the days leading up was way too hot outside, muggy still at night and we were concerned it wouldn’t be a great option for the outside birthing pool, there was also a Tropical Storm fast approaching, the days after your birth it was raining with howling wind. You really did chose the perfect night to be born.
With my midwife we were discussing the reality of that scan when I reached that 41 week mark in just a few days. I had declined other scans earlier in my pregnancy with the expectation we might need one later on but the fact we could not tell the ultrasound tech not to estimate your weight and size was of concern. We all knew you were a decent size baby and also that estimates of baby size in utero are notoriously inaccurate. I didn’t need the concern of how large you might be being put in my fore focus. All of this concern was making me feel even more deflated and impatient.
I asked Fiona, my midwife if we could do a stretch and sweep after shedding some tears about my impatience in the whole process by this stage. She told me we could try but also assured me that I shouldn’t get too disheartened by the findings of an internal exam, at the end of the day you were coming when you were ready and my cervix could still be high and tight yet you still could come that night… when she did the exam she found to both our surprise that I was actually already 2 cm dilated and my cervix was thinning. You kept engaging and disengaging in those last few weeks so the fact that things seemed to be almost ready to go and she could feel your head was like a huge sigh of relief for me.
I had been trying to be so patient waiting for your arrival but with the threat of upcoming scan date and the renewed hope that maybe you were that far away, it felt better to be actively trying to encourage you to come. When I got home from the midwives, the boys, your dad and I went for a big walk down the road. It was only about two kilometres but took us maybe close to two hours as I waddled down the road, side stepping on the few places we have a curb on our road. When we got home we juiced a whole pineapple and while the boys were distracted with an episode, had sex (ironically enough, the exact same way you were conceived). I was doing all the things to try and hurry the process along.
Not long after I lost my mucus plug, while a sign that labour might be imminent in some cases, it’s also kind of standard after a stretch and sweep to have some discharge so I tried not to get my hopes up. As I went to the toilet a little while later I was having some fluid and I spent time trying to guess if it was waters or wee! Satisfied I was definitely not wetting my pants, I let Fiona know that I thought maybe my waters had broken. She told me she would be surprised if it was my waters trickling because I was already 2 cm dilated, she expected in that case they would break with a gush.
It just so happened Hannah had come over for a visit after we went for a walk and while all this was happening. It was so perfectly timed, I had moments of being excited and nervous that things were finally looking like they were happening. Hannah and I sat down in the glenn under the trees, talking and listening to the birds while V slept and the boys played with dad. When I had spoken to Fiona and she said she thought the fluid may just be another side effect of the stretch and sweep and not necessarily an indication of labour, I felt deflated and disappointed. It really felt like I was going to be pregnant forever and the logistics of actually birthing you and having to know when to call people and the threat in the back of my mind that your labour could be as long as either of your brothers, it had all started to mess with my head.
Hannah being there and able to reassure me and talk me down off my ledge was so perfectly timed, it really felt like it was the universe’s planning. We had been trying to organise a catch up around life and all you kids for the whole week prior and the fact she was here as all this was happening was a god send. In between my elation and disappointment at various stages, Hannah read stories to your big brothers and played with them in the yard as dad and I set up the birth pool and last few pieces for the birth space just in case it was all go later on.
When Hannah went home a few hours later I went to bed and listened to my Hypnobirthing tracks and rested. Dad got Josh and Jai dinner and gave them a bath and I woke up to a few stronger tightenings which were indicating to me that maybe labour was indeed going to get underway tonight. As I dressed your older brothers for bed and went to get food for myself, I had a feeling that it might be my last night pregnant and checked with the boys that if you did decide to arrive overnight that they wanted to be woken up to meet you. Josh was shocked at the possibility that I might not wake them, reminding me of our plans for him to cut the cord.
I reheated some vegetable curry, put on an episode and bounced around on my Swiss ball while I ate. Getting my head around the fact the tightenings were starting to get rather rhythmic and regular at about 15 mins apart. When dad walked down the hallway less than an hour later and said your brothers were asleep, things really quickly started to progress. Dad hadn’t even had the chance to eat his dinner when they progressed from 15 mins to 10 mins to 5 mins apart and I spoke up and said, “you really better start filling that birth pool I think or it’s going to be too late”. I don’t think he even realised how close they were getting, it wasn’t until I told him to start timing them while I laid down for a bit with the Hypnobirthing music playing.
He said at one stage, what felt very soon later, “they are about 3 mins apart now babe and lasting for nearly a minute, do you think we should call the midwife?” By the time we were talking to her and trying to assess where I was at, they were two mins apart and suddenly more intense. Fiona quickly decided it was definitely time for her to come over and set up her stuff. When she got here and checked things, I was 8 cm dilated and finding it harder to get comfortable. As I stood up from the bed, there was a gush of fluid. I told dad it was time to get in touch with Hannah and the photographer, Belinda.
I really kind of went into a zone then, things had picked up quickly, much quicker than I had expected. I had a wrap around my hips, squeezing through tightenings as I bounced on the Swiss ball as dad went to Jai who had stirred in his sleep. Dad pushing acupressure points on my back and the Hypnobirthing track became anchors for me to keep focused. All I wanted to do at this point was get in the water. The pool takes quite a while to fill and it wasn’t anywhere near ready yet, the hot water cylinder had run out early into the process and everyone had done turns going back and forth with pots of water off the stove and boiled kettles.
As the second midwife, Lisa arrived she helped Fiona with the hot water runs. Belinda and Hannah both arrived shortly after. The birth pool was warm enough to get some relief but not hot enough for a baby to born into so there was a bit of a rush to either get it heated or get ready to get out again. The water finally started getting warmer and I had began to get more vocal and focused. Dad was in the birth pool with me continuing to put pressure on my sacrum and squeeze my hips. My body was shaking in the lead up to every contraction, it was a great indicator to dad to start applying pressure.
It also made me think of the birth affirmations on the wall, the one that said, ‘it’s not pain, it’s power’ kept repeating in my head. It was this crazy rush of energy going through me. I kept closing my eyes, clinging to the sound of the Hypnobirthing music and the sound of the moreporks which there were lots of that night. In Maori folklore the Ruru (morepork) is apparently a watchful guardian, symbolic of the spirit world, it felt a bit like those who have left us in recent years were there watching over us.
I remember saying to dad, “this is getting really intense now, I think I’m keen to go to bed soon” to which he snickered, “not yet babe”. Transition under the stars right next to my own bedroom was much less overwhelming, I didn’t want to run away or give up like I did in past labours, it just suddenly became very real that it wasn’t that long till we could meet you! In some cultures they believe that birth is a process of a woman transcending her body, travelling to the stars to collect the soul of her baby before coming back again. With that thought in mind, this phase was like our return to earth together.
I then felt you really drop into my pelvis more, quickly followed by a strong popping sensation. Finally my waters had broken properly. All of a sudden I could distinctly feel your head and shoulders turn in the birth canal and your wee feet press hard against the top of my uterus. Feeling you help in this process gave me a rush of energy, if my baby is pushing I guess I can give it a good effort too… The next contraction was a next level intense one, the shaking through my body as it started made ripples in the birth pool. I let out what felt like an almighty roar and felt your head pop out.
With the next contraction your body followed and I felt you slide into the birth pool and around my legs. Fiona said to me, “Jess, you can pick up your baby now” and I remember looking down trying to find you. This was my first time birthing in the water, you had kind of swam around my legs, it took me a second to be able to find you with my hands and pull you up. Pulling you up to my chest and getting to hold you for the first time, well it’s an experience that’s hard to describe. The utter relief that you were here and healthy, that I could finally hold you in my arms, the achievement of what my body had accomplished, it was all very overwhelming.
I caught my breath, Hannah came out to see you, everyone took a moment to marvel at the brand new wee person right in front of us. Then it was a bit of a quick shuffle out of the pool, the water still wasn’t that warm, the night air was cool, no one wanted you to be getting cold, it was 1213am when you were born, you narrowly missed that Waitangi Day birthday. As Fiona and Lisa set up the bed for me to come inside, Hannah went and woke up Josh and Jai. They came through into the bedroom filled with excitement just as I was getting out of the birth pool with you in my arms. Josh asked with anticipation, “did I get another brother like I wished for?” when I told him he did indeed get another brother both he and Jai jumped up and down in excitement. My heart literally skipped some beats while I cuddled you close to my chest.
We made our way into the bedroom and I sat on the bed with you on my chest wrapped in towels around us both. The five of us all huddled up in the bed together, your big brothers proudly welcoming you to the world while dad and I caught glances at each other, hearts full to the brim. Josh was very intrigued by the placenta and was anxiously waiting for that to come out too. You latched on my boob for a feed so quickly, less than 20 mins after you were born.
It wasn’t much longer after that I birthed the placenta and Josh was helping Fiona inspect it and make sure it was in tact. We all marvelled at the life force that had kept you alive and growing inside my belly. Fiona checked me and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. We had a cord tie for you and because Josh wanted to cut the cord, we thought it best to cut it long first with a clamp on the end before Fiona attached the tie.
Josh was so excited and proud to be handed the scissors. It was the ultimate icing of the cake of such an amazing experience. We all watched and helped Josh with his hugely amazing job and marvelled again at you in my arms. The boys went to the lounge for a little while where Hannah read them books while dad and I took a moment to soak in your newness.
After another feed I handed you over to dad and Fiona who weighed and measured you, Josh came back to help cut the cord again after Fiona set up the cord tie. Dad dressed you and had some cuddles of his own. I was in the ensuite having a shower and getting dressed. I really loved and appreciated that all this happened and not once was I more than 5 metres away from my own bed in my own home.
When I had put a dressing gown on and come back into the room to feed you again our amazing midwives had already sorted out most of the linen and mess, you literally wouldn’t have known what had happened in there only ten minutes earlier. V woke up sometime around then and Hannah brought her into the room to meet you too. It’s so special that Ruby was here with us when Olive was being born and now Violet was here as you came into the world. Not long after everything was done, we had added you to our lives. Everyone packed up and went home, before 230am the boys were back asleep again. The whole process from when I was sure I was in labour until when you entered the world was about four hours.
It was much faster than I had anticipated, it was magical and special to be in the space we were and have the experience we did. It was intense and hard work but it wasn’t scary or even painful in the way society tends to make us think birth has to be. It might have been three very different birth experiences until I got to truly experience the kind of magic that birth can be like, but they do say third time’s a charm.
Love to the furthest quasar and back my littlest monkey. Welcome to the pack ❤
Photo by Belinda Coles Photography – http://www.belindacolesphotography.co.nz/
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