· By Tiny Hearts Education
Meeting Baby George
If there's one thing I knew after my first birth - it's that I never wanted to have a caesarean section again. At 41 weeks, I was induced because my blood pressure was a bit up and down. All of this was happening around the new years. If I had my time again, I would have wait until the 3rd of January - but being too excited to meet our bub Charlie we locked in the 1st of January.
After 13 hours or so of labour, I was 9cm dilated, and Charlie became distressed, so a code green was called and I was rushed to theatre for an emergency caesarean.
The next day the doctors visited and said I would be a great candidate for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) next time I gave birth because my body got to 9cm. From that point, I knew that's what I was going to have next time around.
Days after Charlie's birth, I got a spinal headache and had to have a blood patch to block the air bubbles from the epidural. I had suicidal thoughts days after birth; I couldn't stop crying; the hormones and birth trauma were out of this world for me. I got a mental health plan and saw a physiologist.
But that was Charlie's birth; this is George's birth.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant again, I applied for the midwife program at Box Hill. I explained to them what my previous birth had been like and how my goal this time round was to achieve a VBAC. I was paired with a lovely lady named Christina, and we clicked instantly. I felt safe and comfortable with her. The two appointments I had with 70-year-old Dr John Neil, were also incredible. After I had my medical team sorted, I sought out my close friend Donna - she's both a talented photographer and beautifully nurturing doula. I remember messaging my partner Chris while he was drunk away at a bucks saying "I'm having her". It wasn't even a discussion; I needed her!
From about 30 weeks I began to take yoga classes and did so weekly. At around 33 weeks, I started getting weekly acupuncture or cupping treatments, and I also saw a remedial massage therapist and a chiropractor. I was previously doing this fortnightly, but I fell off a quad bike at 33 weeks - so I increased my appointments to weekly.
It was around the 23rd of April, on a Tuesday and early labour had been commencing for about a week. I was 1cm with a 2cm long cervix. I relaxed and breathed so that the cervix could soften and I had a successful stretch and sweep. By Thursday, I started to lose bits of my mucus plug - they were about the size of a 10 cent coin, and I was also experiencing some cramps at night. By the next morning, I was experiencing similar symptoms. I went to acupuncture and Box Hill hospital for some monitoring. George was quiet, and after 40 minutes of him being quiet, he went crazy again - feeling relieved, I went to Ikea for some quality nesting time. Later that night, I experienced cramps again.
On Saturday, I decided to spend the day at home. I had a feeling I might be giving birth soon, so I decided to take a few last belly shots and some pictures with Charlie. I remember having a crap sleep that night. I had heartburn and bad cramps to which I treated with a heat pack and Panadol overnight. Finally, Sunday came, and after having a bath, I decided to start tracking my contractions. They were still pretty far apart at 30-40 minutes and were irregular. We dropped Charlie off at Chris's parent's house late in the afternoon and went for a beautiful family walk as the sun was setting. By the time I got home, my contractions were now 10-15 minutes apart. I messaged Donna who lived in Kinglake - she was keen to travel down the mountain but because I had never been in natural labour before I wasn't sure if it was the real thing. I felt fine in between contractions. By 7 pm, I tried to lay down, but the contractions were too strong.
Donna arrived not long after 9 pm, and I was still doing well between contractions - we were having upbeat conversations, and we watched Ace Venture Pet Detective while I bounced on the fit ball. I also decided to turn on the TENS machine. Once the movie finished, we put some music on - the playlist included sounds from City and Colour, Bon Iver, Active Child, Gang of Youths and Nick Murphy. At some point, I changed it up to a frog legs position. I was on the ground leaning over the fit ball and then my noises while I contracted started to change.
Donna and I chatted about when we should leave for the hospital I was worried about heading in to early and then being in the hospital for ages before I gave birth. We decided to give it another 30-60 minutes. My mind relaxed - I couldn't believe how comfortable I was at home. I can now fully understand why people choose to have a home birth. My contractions picked back up, and my noises changed to more primal. I hate decisions and kept telling Donna "you tell us when we should go." She made the call, so we jumped in the car, I had three contractions on the way to Box Hill, one in the car park, one in the hall between the lift and one in the birth suites - it felt like a movie scene.
My midwife was rostered off, but I wasn't concerned because the midwifery care program had a small, close-knit group, and they are all amazing. I had met two other midwives at my other appointments when my main midwife had days off. I hadn't met Naomi in person, but I instantly felt comfortable with her and dug her vibe. Chris said to me that Naomi went straight into the birthing suite, turned off all the lights and just had the birthing tub light on and a handheld dolphin torch - perfect. Since my arrival, my contractions started to ramp up and it made me feel so much better to know what we were tracking along.
I moved from walking around to sitting on the fit ball, leaning on the end of the bed to being in child's pose on the ground. Donna showed Chris how to hold my hips in while I had a contraction, which helped immeasurably. He did that for every fucking contraction for the next 6 hours - my hero, he honestly deserved a slab of VB.
I started to feel like I wanted to be sick, so the beautiful Naomi suggested Chris, and I head into the dark bathroom for some quiet time. He sat on the toilet, while I sat on the ball leaning on him through contractions. I did vomit and instantly felt better. We both felt so calm in there; we were both falling asleep. I wanted to change positions, so we left the safety of the bathroom. Time was going so quick, unlike Charlie's labour. Because I was spending so much time close to the floor, George's CTG kept coming off. Every time Naomi went to adjust it, I would tell her to fuck off as the contractions were starting to come strong and fast, I would apologise as soon as they would finish. I was definitely beginning to transition; everyone helped me onto the bed as my body was starting to suffer exhaustion from labouring on all fours.
I was leaning over the top of the bed, and I started to give up. Everyone kept reminding me that it was normal because I was so close to the end and so close to meeting George. Internally, I tossed up a few times asking for pain relief, but then the wave would go, and I'd be okay for a bit longer. I remember needing to vomit, and Donna was reassuring both Chris and I that it was a great thing and that my body close.
I started needing to burrow into Chris, but I also needed him to hold my hips, and I was literally leaning half off the bed - not being able to hold myself up. Naomi suggested I sit on the toilet. I don't think I was keen on having to move but tried my best to slide off. I remember having the urge to get back to my favourite yoga position - child's pose. That's where things got next level - the ring of fire. His head was coming down; I was waiting for each surge to go quickly so I could get him out. It felt like it was taking forever!
Everyone kept reassuring me the head was coming, but the head felt like it took so long to come out. Naomi asked if I could bring my legs back in. My legs were so far apart that George's head would have hit the floor hard. I tried to sit up, and the gravity helped. I could only hear mumbles behind me because my head was in another world, and I had to just let my body take over. I remember Naomi saying to resist the urge to fully push because she didn't want me to tear, so I started to just breathe him out.
Naomi had Chris guide him out, and I heard a tiny cry, and they tried to slide him through my legs so I could hold him, but my body was so fucking wrecked! They helped him onto my chest and pretty much had to lift me onto the bed.
I remember kissing Chris and just kept repeating "I did it! I fucking did it!" Then ten minutes later I realised I also did it without drugs which I was even more shocked at!
The placenta came out rather easy with the help of the injection. They opened the blinds and it was morning. He was born at 6:33 am after being in active labour for 6 hours and 12 minutes, pushing for only 20 minutes. I was also never checked to see how dilated I was pre-labour. I was in two minds about knowing where I was but in that birthing moment, I had no urge to know. I never planned not to use drugs and was always open to the idea, but in the moment of George's birth, I just surrendered to the process, and it turned out I didn't need them.