My husband, Scott and I, came to Karen McClay’s Calmbirth class in the Southern Highlands a few months ago and I felt that I needed to email you and tell you our story and how much Calmbirth influenced our journey, and how we brought our beautiful daughter Monica Grace into the world.
We were so inspired after our weekend of learning and I felt extremely empowered to take on the rest of my pregnancy and birth. We particularly loved how much we learnt about what Scott could do to help on the day and in the lead up to the birth and the fact that we were a team experiencing this together.
I attended your Calmbirth class in Bowral in September last year with my partner Stefan and I found it incredibly informative and very, very, useful during my labour and birth. We had a gorgeous baby girl named Agnes, born on the 10th of October, delivered naturally and completely drug free (apart from two panadols that I had about half way through my labour!).
I was also inspired by one of the women whose video you showed us during the class, we made an orange cake during the labour, which was a very welcome and satisfying treat after the birth!
About 45 minutes after the birth everything went a little awry, my placenta was stuck and I ended up having to have emergency surgery to remove it, and lost about 2.8 litres of blood.
This is partly the reason why I am writing this story, as the other very helpful thing I took away from the Calmbirth program was the idea that every birth is unpredictable and different. During the epic recovery from the blood loss, I found this thought incredibly useful!
It is perhaps tricky to explain, but thinking about this idea gave me a more positive perspective on the experience. There were times when I felt a little sad that I couldn’t really walk without feeling I was going to faint, or it was difficult because holding Agnes was tricky and exhausting, but I kept thinking, this experience was still incredible, and you never quite know what might happen, but I was lucky I had an amazing staff of doctors and midwives looking after me, and Agnes was extremely healthy and an excellent baby!
During the labour and delivery, and even as I was being taken to theatre, and the lights were getting very strange and blurry, I never really felt scared and I attribute this to the techniques I learnt at Calmbirth. It was this lack of fear which was the reason I felt so empowered, inspired and amazed at the entire experience of the labour and birth.
So, I wanted to say thank YOU for everything you taught us on that Calmbirth weekend in Bowral.
From the day we got home from the course I was doing my daily meditations and visualisations and Scott and I would practice all our breathing techniques each night when we got into bed. The breathing became easier and easier the more that we practiced and my visualisations became clearer. I was feeling very calm and felt that we could take on this birth as a team.
One Sunday morning when I was just over 36 weeks pregnant I woke to the left side of my face paralysed. I have a pre existing facial neuroma on my left facial nerve which could eventually cause permanent paralysis, so we went straight into hospital to see what was happening. The doctors suspected Bells Palsy on the same side as my neuroma but wanted to keep me in over night for some MRIs to confirm that it wasn’t the neuroma causing the paralysis and to monitor bub.
When I first arrived in emergency they were taking my obs and my beautiful midwife reminded me to practice my calm breathing. I did and was able to halve my respiratory rate so quickly that it set off the alarms on the machines.
My meditations and breathing became even more important over the next couple of weeks where I had high levels of stress around the prognosis of my face and different advice from every person I spoke to. So I made sure every day I took time out to practice meditating and breathing and found that it helped me cope better with those few weeks.
At around 9:30pm on Thursday 10th, August I started feeling some period type cramps which I assumed was Braxton hicks contractions. We went to bed and by then they were becoming fairly regular and I began thinking it was early labour. I spent the next few hours breathing through each contraction. I did my rhythmic focused breathing and found that I was coping fairly well. At 2am I woke my husband as the contractions were coming every 5 minutes and lasting close to 1 minute long each. We lay in bed together and read over our Calm Birth notes. We then rang our midwife who told us to come into the hospital. We were calm all the way to the hospital and spent most of the drive laughing and joking together.
At the hospital the midwives suspected that I was 1-2 cm dilated based on how I was coping and how calm I was. They recommended that we go back home to labour in the comfort of our own home and come back in a few hours. By this stage the contractions were fairly intense and I wasn’t sure if I could make it back to the car. I was breathing through each wave and was fairly quiet and focused. The midwives could tell that I couldn’t decide whether to head home or not, so they offered to perform a vaginal examination to confirm how far along I was which I agreed to. To their surprise I was actually 7cm! They couldn’t believe how calm I was and told me that I wasn’t going anywhere and that I should do whatever I wanted to get comfortable. They started filling the blow up bath.
My wonderful husband never left my side, massaging me, rubbing my arms and whispering reassuring messages to me. He set up my favourite smelling diffuser and put some relaxing music. Once the bath was full I hopped in and had Scott hugging me from just outside the bath while I leant on the edge and our beautiful student midwife pouring warm water over my back.
The midwives were then surprised to see that I was ready to push when they examined me again and with 3 pushes I birthed our incredible little girl in the water. Not once did pain relief cross my mind during the whole process and there was never a moment where I didn’t think I would be able to cope. The midwives were talking about our birth for days afterwards saying how beautiful it was. Our little girl came out very calm and relaxed.
I am so proud of my husband who supported me so beautifully through the whole pregnancy and birth and really took on everything that we leant at the Calm Birth weekend and helped me feel safe, calm and private throughout.
We cannot speak highly enough about your course. The strategies you taught us over that weekend set us up for the most incredible experience. I look back on our birth with pride and accomplishment and with all positive memories. Thank you so much!
Love from Caragh, Scott and Monica