I started having contractions on the evening of the 29th of May just before bed. I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I managed to close my eyes and wiggle myself around my pregnancy pillow in the hopes that somehow I would miraculously give birth in my sleep. It was an odd night as I fell in and out of sleep through contractions, to wake up in the morning feeling very different than I had any other morning. We were due to catch up with some friends for brunch, but I knew that I wasn’t up for that. I told Dylan to head out to meet them as I stayed home, trying to find some comfort in the discomfort.
Everything that I usually loved about mornings just didn’t appeal to me and I noticed that I had to start focusing on my breath. Once Dylan got home we thought it may be time to let the midwife know that things could be starting. That day, our Midwife was off however her partner was on call and already at a birth. If I was to birth with her I would have to head in to hospital which was something I had accepted could potentially be an option but something I hoped wouldn’t have to happen.
Shortly after updating her on how I was feeling we got a call from our actual midwife who said she would come over to check up on me. We were so grateful and relieved that she was able to be with us on her day off as that meant we could birth at home.
She arrived with her beautiful chirpy smile at around 11:30am. She did an internal and told me I was about 4-5cm dilated and that my cervix was paper thin. I was taken by surprise as the over thinker in me was worried I had called too early. She explained that she would be back around 5:30 pm, however if things ramped up and Dylan felt that my manner had changed or I wasn’t handling things any more, to call her.
Dylan and I spent those next hours working through the contractions. With every surge I found myself breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. I wanted to move. To walk. To rock side to side. I needed fresh air at times. We lit candles and had music playing.
We slowly started to fill the pool. Things were really starting to intensify and my focus on the breath was becoming more and more important. At around 5pm thoughts of doubt started to seep in to my head - “Im not sure I’ll be able to do this. These contractions are far too painful already”. I felt it all in my back. Each wave stronger than the one before. Dylan’s words gave me so much strength “each contraction is one contraction closer to you meeting your baby boy.”
I held on to those words.
Our midwife arrived at 5:30pm. She measured me again and said that I was between 6 -7cm dilated and that I could get into the pool. She did explain that my waters had not yet broken and could feel that this wasn’t allowing baby to fully engage which is why things were taking their time. At 9pm we would reassess and talk about the option to have my waters broken.
My contractions were pretty consistent by this point but after entering the pool, the relative relief the water gave me caused them to slow down. I had to stand up and keep moving in the hopes that my waters would break. Dylan and I went out into the cold fresh air again for a walk. The pain was unreal. Even trying to lift one leg up in the hopes of helping position baby through a contraction felt impossible.
9pm came along and the midwife did another check. Things hadn’t quite progressed and she explained that we had the option to break my waters. This would allow baby’s head to engage and ramp the contractions up, however it would put us on the clock for infection risk. I also had the option to wait another three hours and we could reassess again.
I was already so exhausted but the thought of things ramping up more than they were at that point scared me. I honestly didn’t know how I would be able to handle any more. I knew I would have to come face to face with going deep into that pain and intensity at some point so I figured better sooner rather than later when I was even more exhausted.
Dylan and I decided to go ahead with breaking my waters. I did have a mini panic attack just before the midwife was about to break them as that fear of the unknown overtook me. I started shaking. I pulled Dylan close to me, breathed into his chest, balled my wee eyes out as the midwife went ahead with my consent. Wow what a relief as the clear fluid rushed out of me.
As explained, things definitely did ramp up and very quickly I wanted out. I was done. Dylan and the midwife had a little giggle when I shared my desires to peace out and leave. Where to? I’m not quite sure. I honestly thought I couldn’t do it anymore. My body could though. And it did. It continued doing what it was so magically made to do.
The midwife was still eager to have me standing up as opposed to in the pool to let gravity work. Every time I stood my wee legs buckled under and I found myself back in the water. She mentioned that I could head to the shower. I loved showers through my pregnancy so this seemed doable. It took a few tries but I finally made it.
This is where it all changed. I became vocal. I felt like my body took on a life of its own. Dylan had to hold me up as I didn’t have the strength in me to stand on my own any more. The noises that came out of me were so raw and real. They gave me relief. They were the only way that I could get through the contractions. The midwife asked if I felt the urge to push and in that moment I genuinely had no clue.
It was time to do another internal and as the midwife was doing so I yelled “I’m having a contraction” and she responded “No Laura, you are having a baby. You are fully dilated”
It was time to push.
I almost dove back into the pool as the second midwife was called on. I finally felt the need to start pushing. My body was ready. My head needed some help. Dylan reminded me how close we were to meeting our little boy. We were at the final stretch.
The second midwife arrived soon after. As intense as everything was, I felt so safe with the support around me. I felt safe at home. The surges to push were incredibly intense but the feedback of feeling baby as he slowly began to descend was such a motivation. I had quite significant breaks in between contractions and found myself drifting in and out of sleep in those moments. Complete exhaustion. Each contraction brought baby a little closer to me, working with the fear and pain as opposed to running from it.
I understand the “ring of fire” now as Koa’s head was born. I was so relieved. I knew that the next contraction would birth his body. One of the most surreal moments was feeling him turn on his own in preparation for his shoulders and body to be born. It was incredible feeling how naturally my body worked with his to bring him earth-side. He was so alert in the water checking out this new world he was about to be part of. The next contraction brought our little boy into our arms. His eyes wide open and my heart completely his.
On the 31st of May 2021 at 1:57 am we welcomed our baby boy Koa into the world.
It was magic.
We waited until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing before cutting and clamping it. Koa was handed to Dylan for skin to skin. I birthed the placenta soon after. A fair amount of blood was lost that had me feeling a bit dizzy but the midwives took such good care of me making sure that the bleeding was under control and that I was safe to stay at home. I had a quick shower before getting into my own bed. Koa was handed to me for his first feed. He latched right away.
His warmth, his smell, his wrinkly little fingers and toes, they had me completely besotted. Completely in love.
Birth wasn't easy but wow was it empowering. I would undoubtedly do it all over again if I am lucky enough to do so one day.