Part 2 of 3. You can read part one of Clare’s journey (trigger warning: traumatic birth) here.
‘What do you mean there’s no sour cream??!’
The place was a small country town called Wagga Wagga (yes, for all the non-Australian readers there is a town actually called that haha!) the date was the 27th of December and I surprised myself by my absolute horror at the information that the restaurant we were eating at had run out of sour-cream…
My husband, my 2 year old daughter and I arrived back in Melbourne 2 days later and although I was not yet due for my period, the ‘sour’ incident in Wagga Wagga had me wondering… so I tested… and a perfect set of matching lines came up! Baking a Baby had begun!
The joy and exhilaration of the news however was soon overshadowed by growing fear and anxiety and soon enough I had to face the reality that my post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that had eventuated after the traumatic birth of my first child was beginning to creep in as I thought ahead to the birth of our next baby.
It had already been decided that I would not travel the same path as last time so as to avoid triggers for the PTSD, so quickly booked into a birth centre (last birth was in a private hospital and quite a medicalised environment). However, within 5 minutes of leaving the building after the information session I was having a full-blown panic attack. It was really frightening and left me, so I thought, with nowhere to go.
My husband, being the beautiful and supportive man he is, called my psychologist who I hadn’t seen for almost a year and we went in and saw her. She looked me straight in the face and told me that I needed to get out of the ‘hospital setting’. It took a few seconds to register what she meant, but the moment I realised it was as if a weight had been taken off my shoulders. And so the path was set to bring our baby into the world at home…
The weeks leading up to the birth of baby Marta were spent nesting like crazy (watch out skirting boards!) and preparing our home for the birth. Post-it notes were stuck up around the house to remind us what to do in the flurry of labour (like, unlatch the door and put the dog outside before everyone arrives… she is 36kgs of pure love!).
We had been laughing at how, no doubt our Virgo baby would like to be punctual and arrive on her due date. So when I woke at 4am on her due date feeling ‘different’ I wasn’t too surprised. Jumped in the shower, not thinking much of the early hour as I had been waking up at that time for weeks, but did take note of the fact that I had ENERGY to burn. Jumped onto a parenting forum I am part of for a wee bit of perusing and was posting in my baby buddies group when I felt the first familiar ‘wave’ of a contraction (about 5.30am). Again didn’t think much of it as it was incredibly mild and didn’t last long at all (maybe 15 seconds). I had also been having a fair amount of Braxton hicks in the last weeks and also had a bit of prelabour a couple of weeks prior, so assumed that this was probably going to be another instance of that.
My husband woke up around 6am and asked me what I was doing up and about so early and I casually mentioned that maybe, just maybe, Marta was thinking about coming. I didn’t believe it myself, but the big grin on his face helped reassure me that it was all a bit exciting lol.
Spent the day experiencing mild, intermittent waves of contractions. Most were coming at 12 minutes apart, but never lasting more than 30 seconds. Occassionally I would have a cluster of contractions, but yet again, nothing intense that couldn’t be overcome by the ‘calmbreathing’ exercises that I had been practising since our course a couple of months prior.
Called my two beautiful midwives around 10am to give them heads up, but reassured them that I felt too happy and energetic and well, not in labour, so don’t expect to be needed until maybe that night, or even the next day…
It was such a lovely sunny day (totally unusual for Melbourne that week lol), so my husband, Lorenzo and I took the chance to take the dog for a walk around the streets, both of us smirking like cats that got the milk as people passed us by, knowing that ‘cool’ things potentially were happening.
At about 1.30pm I headed out the backyard to prune some flowers and hang out a load of washing… so domestic of me lol. And did quietly note to myself how I was leaning a bit heavier than normal on the wall during a contraction. But it would pass and the thought left my mind.
At 2pm I found myself lying on the bed reading a tacky mag (thanks mum for the supply!). And every-time a contraction would come I would roll over onto all fours and breath through them. Lorenzo and my daughter Leila were lying on the bed with me all reading our various ‘literature’ (Leila had ‘diary of a wombat’ lol). Lorenzo told me that he thought I should call Nic our midwife again as he felt that things were ramping up. I told him to stop panicking that it was all good and that I can’t be close as I felt fine and the contractions weren’t strong or long.
At 3pm I rolled up onto my fours for a contraction and when it passed I told Lorenzo that I needed to wee (oh the TMI lol) and as I threw my leg off the bed… POP! My waters broke!!! Leila’s eyes just bulged when I yelled out to Lorenzo to get some “frikkin’ towels” before the bed is ruined lol. So, with the delicacy only seen in the best ballet schools of Russia, I heaved my 40 week pregnant self off the futon (ohhh gotta get a Big Person bed someday lol) and waddled with towels towards the shower with my Mum and a very excited Leila in tow. Lorenzo called our midwives Sue and Nic immediately as I remembered them clearly stating that I shouldn’t wait until my waters broke to call them lol. Nic was a fair distance away with another client in the mountains so I was told that it would be half an hour before they got there. It was a good thing in the end as my adrenalin had kicked in and I needed some time before people arrived to get myself re-focused and to finally realise that this was the Real Deal. My baby, Our baby was coming!
Both our midwives arrived within minutes of each-other 3.40pm. By this stage I was in the birth pool (thanks to DH for speedily filling that baby up!) and Leila was sent with my Mum to the neighbours for a play-date (we had organised it so they would be back for the ‘exciting’ bit of seeing Marta being born).
My first realisation that they had arrived was a lovely chilled washer put on my head smelling faintly of lavender… I looked up to see them both sitting there with smiles on their faces. Oh what a beautiful sight! Lorenzo was flitting around trying to get things in order and burn off his excitement, but within 10 minutes of them arriving he had the chance to sit down beside me and hold my hand while I floated around in the birth pool.
One of my midwives, Sue, was also my calmbirth instructor and when I started to make the familiar noises of a woman getting close to birth she helped ‘guide’ my conscious mind back into relaxation and focus. All this time I had been using my calmbreathing and in between contractions felt completely ‘normal’ and jovial. During the contractions, I would turn away from everyone and stare at one of my affirmations that I had stuck up on the wall that read: ‘breathe with the pressure’. It seemed that out of all of them it was the one that was resonating with me. I also had a picture of my Oma on the wall who, loved babies and sadly passed away only a couple of months beforehand, but I knew that she would of loved to be there holding my hand, so her picture was my best attempt at having her there and it really helped during this stage.
To be honest, I didn’t realise that those contractions were the ‘gruesome’ transition stage… I remember so vividly with Leila’s birth that this stage was full of fear and agony, and the fact that I found myself this time laughing as Nic took a bite of a yellow (read: gross) jellybean and almost gagging didn’t give me a heads up that Marta was close to birth.
Apparently I went quiet for a minute or two and Sue later told me that I declared that Marta was coming down (I don’t really remember that). I instinctively said this as my hand reached down to see ‘where’ she was. Nic saw me do this and realised that I was A LOT closer than they thought. Lorenzo tried to run next door to get Leila and Mum, but I looked up and with the primal roar of a woman NOT to be messed with demanded that he stay and not move as I realised right then that it was only going to be a matter of moments before she was going to be earthside. At this point I was on my knees kneeling in the water and Lorenzo sat directly in front of me and gave me a big phat kiss and put his hand on my shoulder…
I don’t remember where my midwives were standing or doing, all I remember is feeling Marta slowly move down and after two big moves I put my hand down and felt the familiar bulge of a baby’s head… and what appeared to be a vast amount of long, long hair floating in the water… Nic had a look and said, ‘wow, she’s got a head full of hair!’. Both Nic and Sue gently reminded me to breathe her out rather than push and to use my calmbreathing to achieve that. But it was so instinctual (the best way for me to describe it really) to just that that pushing hadn’t crossed my mind. I remember that at one point I started to laugh as Marta had taken to nodding her head… a rather, interesting sensation lol! It didn’t hurt but gosh almighty it felt w.e.i.r.d.
The next thing that I knew the next wave of a contraction came and her head gently slipped out into my hand (I had my hand there holding her head from the last contraction). This was the only time that I actually felt a real yuck pain sensation. I am guessing that it was the shoulders turning?
The next contraction and the rest of her body slipped out and into the water and into my arms. An amazing experience and totally unexpected as we hadn’t decided either way whether I would be ‘unassisted’ with catching her (or if for that matter that I was catching her at all lol!). But again, it felt like the natural, normal thing to do at that moment and my midwives just let me go with that.
I brought her up to my body, but soon realised that the cord was short and she had a loop tightly wrapped around her neck. Nic, calmly told me to lower her close to the water and she scooped the cord up and over and finally I was able to bring her up to me and cuddle her close. Lorenzp ran out and got Leila and Mum and they came running in with big wide grins. We were on cloud 9!
We had a physiological third stage and I was shown how to guide the placenta out and wow, they are HUGE bahahaha!
Our little family has been on a high ever since. We are all so happy and joyous of her arrival and since this experience, having our baby at home has brought so much healing and love that we couldn’t of asked for better or imagined a more ideal way to bring our baby earthside…
Soooo, the official stats were all up:
Established labour: 2.15 hours. Second stage: 9 minutes.
Marta was 3.43kgs and 52cms long. Have no idea of HC… forgot to check lol!
Born 7th September 2010 (her due date no less!)
And boy oh boy does she have a serious head of long blonde hair!
Part 3 here.
SOOOOO very happy to read that this wonderful mother had such a beautiful healing second birth. The first story stayed with me for a long time – such an awful, unacceptable, just plain wrong experience. Thank you for sharing the follow-up!!
Maybe this can be me next time. I still have a lot of anxiety and fear surrounding labour, hospital environments and birth after my first two experiences. I would desperately love one more crack at it to heal myself after all the trauma. What an amazing experience it must have been!! I’m glad you found a way to move past the birth of your first child.. inspiring.
Beautiful birth story! This is how birth should be, and how all Midwives should be. As a fellow Australian Midwife I was horrified to read your first birth story but am so happy to be reading this birth story. Just beautiful x
This is a much better story then the first one! You really put the emotions in your story 🙂 I absolutely loved reading this! Can’t wait to read part three, you did an amazing job thank you for sharing your stories.
J o s e y
This was SO much fun to read! I had a good experience at the hospital the first time (thankfully), but I still always knew I wanted to try a home waterbirth if we were blessed with a second child (we struggled with Infertility). I’m currently 14w pregnant and planning our home waterbirth, and stories like this give me SO MUCH HOPE for such a wonderful experience!! Beautiful story.
This story was amazing! I am so happy that you had a much better second birth experience! You first story had me sobbing endlessly for about half an hour, so much so that my husband came in worried that I had hurt myself!
I sincerely hope that the ‘medical professionals’ in your first story were karmaly(I couldn’t think of a better word!) brought to justice for the trauma they caused you.
So glad you got a better birth the second time around!! Bless you, and congratulations!
What an amazing story of bravery and overcoming trauma.
I too suffer from PTSD because of the birth of my first daughter. Despite my want for another I have not yet got to a point where I see myself being brave enough to go through it all again. Hopefully this story will stick with me to gain the confidence I need.
I too had a traumatic birth with a horrible ob. Sadly enough he was my actual ob and had me fooled into thinking he was going to be supportive and helpful during my birth. He pressured me to be induced, and after 16 hours of labor and only pushing one hour he bullied me into an unwanted c section. I have spent the last six months trying to heal from my awful experience & have learned so much since then. I am so glad this mama got the healing & beautiful birth she wanted the second time around. I pray someday I can be that lucky. This was such a delight to read after reading all the horrible things that she went through with her first birth.
What a redeeming birth, so thankful for you that you are able to wipe away the bad memories of the past with this new experience of how your body really does know what it’s doing. Good for you mama! Beautiful 🙂
Ha, I started reading this thinking “Fantastic! An Australian homebirth story!” then I recognised a couple of the names and realised I’ve read the story before and even met the people in it 😀 Wonderful to read this again!