Alexandra writes over at ‘Alive and Blogging: The life of a modern day cave-mama‘. She is mother to nearly 2 year old Evangeline, and step-mother to 5 year old Grace. She writes about her journey towards living a more conscious, natural and back-to-basics lifestyle, including everything from her parenting choices to what her family eats to how her family lives.
I have always been concerned about writing my birth story.
Firstly, it is very personal and special to me and it feels like a sacred experience that I like to keep snuggled in close to me. I love that my partner and I could share it and that it is unique to us and our baby. I then realised that if I can share it with other women, it may provide some support and inspiration to birth how they choose, just as other womens birth stories did for me.
Secondly, I have never known what to write. It feels like I am telling you a story that you already know the ending to! It wasn’t the dramatic and eventful birth story that we are all too familiar with – it wasn’t anything like the horror stories that people insisted on sharing with me when I was pregnant. Then someone reminded me that that is exactly why I SHOULD share it!
Thirdly, I have felt scared. And vulnerable. What if my close friends and family read it? What if they know about my most treasured moments? Strangely, I feel more comfortable sharing my story with strangers! Don’t even ask me to explain the logic behind that one! And what if my family are embarrassed or ashamed that I have posted photos of the birth on the internet? But I have come to realise that these are my own fears and projections. Nothing to do with anything they’ve said or done! So, as my partner often says “if you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly”… I’ll go all out and add in my birthing video for good measure!
Right now seems to be the perfect time. Today my baby is 9 months old. Her birth is smack-bang right in the middle of now and the start of her existence – although I can definitely see the argument for her existence starting even before then. Let’s just say, she has now been out longer than she was in!
So, my girl, this is our story…
Picture this: Daddy and I are snuggled up on the couch, the windows and doors are all open, the outside air is still warm, a gentle breeze causes the leaves to rustle, the street is quiet as it nears 10pm, the only lights on in the room are that of the Christmas tree we had put up the previous day. Exhausted from a long day of car shopping in the 37 degree heat, we decide that we will head to bed after one more episode of the box set we had been watching. Well, today was your EDD and I’d had many people calling and texting to see how I was feeling – but it seems you’re not quite ready. I headed to the bathroom for a last toilet stop and to brush my teeth while your Dadda put on the next disc. But something was different about this toilet visit. I’ve read something about this mucous plug thingy. And that seems to be very similar! Hang on a second, what’s this funny cramp thing I’m experiencing?!
With a strange grin on my face – not sure exactly how I should act or whether or not I was even right – I went back to the lounge room and said to your Dadda “I think you’d better get Charles to work for you tomorrow”.
Sensing my hesitation, he looked up at me with gentle eyes and a reassuring smile and said “It’s happening is it?”
I just smiled. I didn’t feel anything. Or I didn’t know how I felt. I knew I had a job to do. Now how do I do it? I guess I’ll just lay back on the couch and wait. I looked at Dadda. I could see he was happy and excited, equally unsure of what to do and he looked very ready for bed!
My next contraction was about 20 minutes later. The one after was about 10 minutes. We were certain that tonight was the night. Within 2 hours from my toilet stop, contractions were 1-2 minutes apart. We called our midwife, Lisa. We had a chat about how I was feeling and the details of the contractions. She said to let her know when I was ready for her to come over. I think she could tell I felt quite relaxed and content just hanging out with your Dadda. We called our parents. A late night phone call could only mean one thing! I could hear in mums voice that she had tears. I heard my sister in the background yell out “Go Al, Go!” – like I was about to run a race! It made me laugh.
I’d positioned myself comfortably on the couch. Dadda was busy hurrying around setting up a video camera, charging camera batteries, lighting candles and just generally keeping busy. I don’t think he knew what else to do – he was too restless to just sit with me. And I was rather enjoying myself! This was way more relaxing than I thought!
We called Lisa again and asked her to come over. Contractions were becoming a bit more intense. Then I felt ready for bed. It was getting late now. Contractions were a little further apart when Lisa arrived. Strangely I became concerned that I wasn’t a very good host and should be offering her a coffee like we usually did when she visited! But she was just beautiful… checked in on how I was going, offered some soothing words and suggestions. She was just there. And that was nice.
I thought I might hop in the birthing pool because I was getting a little bored and restless where I was, so when Lisa and Dadda had filled it I got in. Contractions had slowed down even more by now. I was so tired. At some point I went for a walk, but I can’t remember if that was before or after I was in the pool. Either way, it felt good to waddle around the empty streets in my pyjamas with the warm breeze around me. It was soothing. Every 50 metres or so I stopped and leaned on your Dadda during a contraction. A car of young boys drove past at one of these stops and yelled something out the window – I bet they had no idea what I was doing!
I felt a bit sick and very tired so Dadda and I went to bed. This must have been when we got back from our walk. Maybe around 4am. That was such a restful sleep! And boy did I need it (as did your Dadda by the way he was snoring)! I woke every 45 mins or so for a contraction but the sleep in between was brilliant. I woke up in the morning at about 7:30am and the contractions became closer together.
The time between 7:30 and your birth is a little hazy to me. I know Dadda and I had a chat. I told him I couldn’t be bothered going through the process of the contractions building up again. It wasn’t as relaxing and exciting anymore. He said all the right things. But it wasn’t really up to me – my body was working its way through this birth anyway! In hindsight, it seems like common sense but the words that impacted me the most (said by both Lisa and Dadda) were something along the lines of “it’s up to you to birth your baby – we can’t do it for you”. This inspired me.
I tried different positions to get comfortable. I was on the floor. I was on the bed. At one point I was on the toilet. Then I was back in the birthing pool. I felt like pushing. I pushed. Not much happened. Lisa said “push like you’re doing a poo” and finally it clicked! Ah! That makes sense. So I did that and stuff happened. I was too concerned about pooing that I hadn’t thought of that before.
Not long after I was in the pool, my waters broke. After some time pushing (and some time sleeping in between), Lisa suggested I reach down and feel you but I wasn’t quite ready to. Dadda reached down and felt you and whispered to me “Our baby has so much hair Al!” Then I birthed your head.
After another contraction, the rest of your body popped out. 11:30am. From that experience, I will never understand the idea of a baby needing to be pulled out – you shot out and Lisa had to remind me to reach down and pick you up out of the water. And there you were! In your mummy’s arms, and your mummy in your daddy’s arms. I hadn’t even thought to see if you were a boy or a girl – then Dadda said “we have a baby girl Al, we have a girl” followed by “do we have an Evie?” (we had been discussing that if we had a girl, we would call her Evangeline – if it fitted when we saw her).
I think I nodded at this – or maybe I said yes. I can’t remember. I couldn’t say much. I mainly just stared. There you were. There was my baby. Incredible! Dadda cried. I don’t think he could believe that he had his baby there in his arms.
When I watch your birthing video now I think “why didn’t I get out of the pool sooner, she must be freezing!” or “Why didn’t I offer her my boob straight away, she is crying!”… but it was all so surreal at the time. We got out of the pool after 5-10 minutes and Lisa wrapped us up on the couch. You had a feed and a big cuddle with mummy until I birthed your placenta at about 12pm. Dadda cut your cord when you were ready and we called our families. Oh the tears! Everyone was so happy. I felt so proud, and Dadda was just in awe. After a couple of visitors, the three of us snuggled up in bed for a very long and restful sleep. It felt incredible sleeping with my baby in my arms – it felt so perfect having you there.
That was the beginning of our life together. When I look at you now, I still feel emotional about that day. Words can’t describe its beauty!
If you would like to share your birth story, please send it along to me via email.