[Thank you Jessica Douglas-Monks for sharing your story and beautiful pictures with us!]
I had been having pre-labour pains and contractions since 37 weeks, so by the time Arya’s due date rolled around, I was well and truly ready to have her.
On the Monday morning I was having some sharp pelvic pain and some semi-consistent contractions so I went in and saw my midwife Leila so she could check me out. As soon as she had a feel for Arya’s head, she told me that her head wasn’t even engaged despite the fact that it had been the week before, so the pain I was feeling was Arya trying to get her head back in position! I nearly cried!! I was soooo over being pregnant and running around after my sick, 15 month old, I just wanted to have my baby!!
So I went home and told my husband (who had stayed home that day, as he works an hour away and we thought something might be happening) that I was going to try castor oil.
We went and bought some castor oil and I took it at 3pm. I had no action until 7pm, when I had to go to the bathroom once and that was it, so we sat and watched tv for a while and by 9pm I started to have some consistent, strong contractions!
I live 2 minutes from the hospital, and I was always wary of going in too early, and wanted to labour at home for as long as possible anyway, so I went and took a shower then went to bed, because I wanted to make absolutely sure I was in labour (as I’d had so many false alarms!).
By midnight I was about 98% sure I was genuinely in labour, so we called my midwife and let her know (she lived 45 minutes away) and I also called my mum to come and stay with our daughter, Evie.
Mum arrived not long after I called her and by 1.15am my contractions were only a few minutes apart and getting stronger, I was happy to stay home but mum was anxious for me to go so we left for hospital!!
Leila arrived at about 2am and things were still very calm, I was just breathing through my contractions using the hypnobirthing breathing techniques, so the room was pretty quiet! Leila ran the bath but asked if she could check me, given that I was still doing pretty well and Arya’s head had not been engaged earlier in the day (she didn’t want me to get into the water too early).
When she checked me, I was surprised to find I was only 4cms, given that I was 2-3cms a week before and my contractions were feeling quite strong!
When she was checking me, Leila gave me a quick sweep and said she would leave us for a while before I hopped in the bath. I was happy with that because I still felt like I was probably a while off having Arya. Well, within a short period of time (not sure exactly how long) I said to my husband that we needed to get into the bath because things amped up very quickly!!
I was still able to breathe through my contractions , but they were beginning to really hurt, and Leila could tell things were getting a move on rather quickly.
At this stage it was about 3am, and Leila told Dave he should probably call our photographer because it seemed like Arya was not too far away. Kellie, our lovely friend and photographer arrived within about 20 minutes and not long after that, I had a great big, involuntary push!
I told Dave and he called out for Leila, saying I wanted to push, to which I apparently replied “No, my body wants to push, I don’t!!”
After that, things happened very quickly, I had a 9 minute second stage!! I had maybe one or two more involuntary pushes and Leila got the mirror underneath me and said she could see Arya’s head, and that she had hair! (I was happy!)
I could no longer really breathe through the contractions, I was quite uncomfortable by this stage and was waiting for the ‘ring of fire’ but it never came! I asked Leila if I could push and she said if I felt another contraction, I could breathe her down gently, so I immediately started because it felt like I was having continuous contractions by that stage and she came out almost all in one go, straight after my waters – no one was quite ready for her! My husband was supposed to catch her but it happened so quickly that I caught her myself!
After I had caught her, we waited for me to birth the placenta naturally, which happened very easily after about 15 minutes, and then we just waited for the cord to go white and floppy so my husband could cut it. My midwife also believed in delayed cord clamping so she put the placenta in a dish and sat it on the edge of the bath, above Arya and I so that it had the best effect possible. One of the coolest things was when the cord was looking quite empty and Leila told me to just feel it to see if it was still pulsing, and it was! Such a cool thing to feel while it was still connected to Arya.
It was important to me that we waited until the cord had stopped pulsing and was clearly empty of cord blood because I had done quite a bit of research this time around on delayed cord clamping and decided that it was something I really wanted to do.
I was very happy to have got through the whole labour and birth without any drugs or interventions and it has given me a lot of confidence going into any future births which I hope are all water births with physiological third stage and delayed cord clamping.
All in all I feel very lucky to have had the birth that I did, not only did it give me a beautiful, healthy little girl but it went exactly how I wished it would and I felt absolutely amazing afterwards.
Arya Ruby came into the world at 3.59am on Tuesday, September 4th 2012, which was her estimated due date!
More photos here: Kellie Crosier Photography