At the start of my pregnancy, I very much had the attitude of, whatever happens happens for the labour and birth. I was then accepted into the MGP program and it wasn’t until then that I began thinking I might as well go labour and birth with as much knowledge and power as I can to try and have the birth that I want. I researched, listened to podcasts, and prepped my mind and body for birth. I found Calmbirth and I knew it would be the right education for us. As I started learning about labour and birth, I became so fascinated in the whole process and learnt that I wanted an unmedicated vaginal birth/ water birth. I knew that Calmbirth education aligned with the labour and birth I was hoping to have.
We attended our Calmbirth course with Amy, I was 35 weeks pregnant with our first baby. Calmbirth was amazing, Amy was fantastic, so relatable, knowledgeable, professional and real. Mat and I got so much out of the course, it sparked important conversations for us around tackling challenges that might arise during labour and birth, being on the same page and Mat knowing how to advocate for me. But more than anything we walked away with more confidence around what we were doing and we knew all of our options. I am a big believer in “knowledge is power” and Calmbirth provided that to us.
At 36 weeks pregnant I started doing “all the things” to get myself ready. At 40 weeks and 2 days I woke up with period like cramps at 2am. After an hour they were still happening, but I was still not convinced it was labour, so I fell back asleep. When I woke up the cramps were still there but I was in denial. I deep cleaned the house for a few hours and it was a nice sunny day so Mat and I walked to one of our favourite cafés for lunch. We took our two dogs, the round trip was 7km. When we got home it was about 2pm. I could feel the contractions becoming stronger and closer together. I decided to put all of the things I needed to take to hospital and around 3pm the contractions were becoming more intense. I thought I had better let my midwife know that I was in labour, so I called.
She didn’t answer so I got into the shower to freshen up and get myself in the zone – water was a massive part of my birth plan and pain management.
The contractions were getting more intense and I was having to focus more on what I was doing during the contractions and my breathing. I jumped out of the shower and put my TENS machine on. I called my mum to update her on my labour. During the phone call whenever I would have a contraction, they were too intense for me to be able to talk and I was well and truly using the “boost” on my TENS machine. My mum suggested calling the birth suite, I shrugged it off, saying “I bet I will go in and only be a few cm’s dilated and then be sent home” which I really did not want. My mum suggested I should at least try calling my midwife back, which I agreed. Mat came into the living room and told me that he had packed all of our things into the car (I think he could see that things were ramping up). By this stage I had cranked up the TENS machine and enjoyed working during the peak of each contraction.
I was still in denial about going to hospital too early, even through my contractions were 60-90 seconds long and 4 within 10 minutes! I spoke to reception at the birthing suite, within a few minutes I got a call back from my backup midwife, I updated her on what was going on. I continued to labour using my TENS and bouncing on my fitball, I also sat on the toilet backwards as it felt comfy and was meant to help with dilation.
Mat was great, offering me water something to eat between contractions but I was truly in the zone, focused on breathing and getting through the ebbs and flows of each contraction. I have come from a long-distance running background and was using my labour mentally like I would if I was running a 100km event, each contraction like a hill or a tricky section in a course and that worked really well for me, being present for each contraction and not looking too far ahead in how much longer I could be labouring for, just like I would in a long distance event.
Mat knew that for me being left alone to do my own thing, in my own zone is how I would labour best and we had discussed this. I then got to the point where I started to doubt myself, how much longer could I do this, the contractions were getting so intense, I was really having to work through each one and I was having less breaks in-between contractions, the pressure was building with each contraction. I started saying things to Mat like “this is getting really hard now, I don’t know how much longer I can keep going like this”. I started to become emotional as I really did not want to go into hospital early.
Mat offered to call the midwife, I said let me just go to the toilet and see if that makes me feel better before we call. Looking back now I was actually going through transition at this point!!! I went to the toilet and saw a large amount of blood, this panicked me as I was pretty sure I had already lost my mucus plug earlier in the day. I yelled out to Mat to call the midwife as I could barely speak by this stage around contractions. Mat explained to the midwife about what was happening, as I was on the toilet in the background working very loudly through a contraction. The midwife explained that if I felt any pressure down low or the urge to push to give her a call straight away or to just come in. As soon as Mat hung up the phone my body started to involuntarily push, I could not help it. I said to Mat, “I am pushing and I can’t help it”. The pressure was like nothing I had felt before and my body was just pushing the baby down, I could not move from the toilet during the contraction as it felt like the baby would just pop out.
Finally the contraction passed and I walked to the kitchen, Mat grabbed some clothes and quickly dressed me. I kept saying “I am pushing, I can’t stop it, I am going to have this baby now, I am going to have our baby here”. Mat was so calm and kept me on track, he said “we are not having this baby here we just need to get you into the car”. He grabbed my expressed colostrum from the freezer (good job Mat) and encouraged me to get to the car. I got into the garage and another really strong contraction came, I froze, I could feel the babies head wanting to come out. I remember standing in the garage just screaming, I didn’t care who could hear me I was ready to have this baby, my body was pushing her out, I kept saying that I could not move to get in the car. I opened my eyes and looked at Mat, I could see the tears welling up in his eyes and he was looking around for somewhere he could put me to have the baby. The contraction finally passed and I quickly got in the car and we took off. Mat later told me that he had 000 ready to call the whole time! I shut my eyes in the car and could not sit down, my body was like a stiff board across the front seat. My TENS machine was nonstop running on boost mode. I was trying so hard to not push, which is something I never thought I would have to do in labour.
All of a sudden I felt a pop and big gush of water, I opened my eyes and saw we were just about to get onto the freeway. I started to become really erratic with my breathing and out of control, I could feel the babies head well and truly coming. I asked Mat to pull over, he remained so calm and told me I wasn’t breathing anymore and got me back on track with my breathing and we did some breathing together. Mat kept telling me to try and not push and that we were almost there, to keep my eyes closed and focus on my breathing. Let’s just say Mat got us to hospital pretty quick!
We pulled up to the front entrance, we got into the elevator and I had a rush of relief that we were at hospital, we got to the maternity ward and no one was around, then like an angel from the heavens a voice said “you must be Nicolette”. Mat got me into the room and the midwife raised the bed so I could stand and lean over the bed. The midwife took my pants off and could see the babies head, Mat had a quick look too and said “yep, I see the head”. Another contraction came and I finally was able to push, it felt amazing to finally be able to push! Before the midwife could put gloves on my baby girl was born. Within 15 minutes of being at the hospital and 2 big pushes my Rosie girl was born. I reached down and grabbed her with the help of the midwife. I heard her first little cry and I was so relieved. Mat helped me take my jumper off and I held my baby to my chest, I walked around the bed with Rosie in my arms and we got on the bed. Mat and I cried and just stared at our perfect baby girl, half me and half Mat. We couldn’t believe she had been in there all along.
The midwife checked Rosie while she was on my chest and she was just perfect, Rosie had done amazing! I got hours of uninterrupted skin to skin time with Rosie, she crawled her way down my chest and we shared our first breastfeed, she was a keen feeder. It was a surreal and magical moment. We enjoyed the time just us three, we waited for optimal cord clamping and Mat cut the umbilical cord. It was not the water birth I had hoped for but my labour and birth was everything and more. Besides the stress of getting to hospital it was the most amazing, empowering, euphoric and beautiful experience of my life. It was epic. I would not change a single thing. I was so extremely proud of Rosie and myself, we did it and we did it together. I can’t wait to tell her all about it when she is older. Mat was an absolute rockstar, he made all of the right decisions, he got us to hospital safely, kept me calm and played his role perfectly. Our birth made me appreciate and love Mat on a whole new level seeing him with our newborn.
I am so thankful for Calmbirth as it honestly helped me so much prepare for my labour, birth and I don’t think Mat would have been as well equipped to get me to hospital without it, it honestly helped me so much to achieve the labour and birth of my dreams.
Thank you Amy.