"At one point I look around and it’s beginning to get light outside – a surreal moment. As if the rest of the world was soon becoming a part of this – as if it had just been me and my baby and my beautiful support team in this little bubble of love all night. I started to become really excited again!"
December 30th 2015
As Mother Earth put on an amazing show in the sky, Rhys and I sat outside the local fish and chip shop waiting for our dinner. It was one of those nights where 10 months seemed to equate to 10 years! We were tired. We were anxious. We were waiting around. (And I wasn't even overdue!)
We'd been running around all day. I had my Midwife appointment earlier and I was exhausted. This appointment was different to the others though. I'd started crying when I heard Sage's little heartbeat on the monitor - and I couldn't stop! Rhys and Sue K (my Midwife) knew I hadn't been emotional throughout my pregnancy, so they both looked at each other and giggled.
"We might just have a baby arrive tonight!", Sue K said.
Sue also told us that she was taking a weeks leave from the 1st of January. This meant that the 31st of January was the last day she could be my Midwife, until she was back - and I was due on the 5th. I'd had Sue as my Midwife the whole time, and her amazing energy always made me feel so confident and assured - so I prayed and prayed that day, that Sage would come early so I could have Sue there with me!
I took several photos of the sunset, that night - in awe of the colours that Mama Nature had created. It was another hot Western Australian night, so we drove past the Ocean to have a look and then headed home to eat dinner out the back. I remember catching a reflection of myself in the glass door, turning to Rhys and saying “whoa, I’m really not sure how much more room there is in there. My belly is seriously ginormous!”
We went to bed pretty early. I was battling the heartburn that I’d had since the beginning of pregnancy, whilst hugging my preggo pillow - trying to get comfortable. Even just a little comfortable! I finally fell asleep - yet awoke at about 11:30ish, with a few niggly tummy pains.
Thinking I needed to go to the loo, I got up and went to the bathroom. What I’d been looking for (for the last 2 weeks!) was finally there!
But it wasn’t what I expected. It was the tiniest 'showing' you've ever seen. Nothing like what everyone had described! At first I thought, ‘this can’t be it’ – but then there was a little more. Like an insy winsy bit more.
I woke Rhys up straight away – but his reaction wasn’t what I expected!
I tried to tell him about what I’d found but he wouldn’t wake up properly. He was talking to me in his sleep and murmuring something like; ‘remember it might take agers. Maybe go back to sleep.’
Go back to sleep!? This guy had been anxious for months!
I can’t wait to meet our daughter! I wonder what she looks like! Hurry up Sage! I want to meet you!...so I knew he mustn't be awake. I shook him by the shoulders and said; “Bub! Wake up! I think we should call Helena (My beautiful Doula.)
Well... I think we should. Should we? Am I even in Labour? What if I'm not!?
I decided to call Helena - just in case. I told her I might be in labour. I also thought, if these pains come in waves, then I'll know. And they did. I woke her up when I called, and I started to feel bad, but whilst talking to her I had another of these tummy 'sensations'. I don’t want to say pain, because they didn’t hurt. (Hence the reason I doubted I was in labour in the first place!)
I told her what was happening. I told her I was fine, and that I was talking through one right then. I remember her saying; ‘Oh honey, how exciting! Now, this could go on for a while so just try and rest and keep me in the loop via messages. Try and conserve your energy.”
"Yep, no worries’, I said. “They're not very strong at all, at the moment. I can talk and walk through them so I’ll just relax or maybe lie back in bed.”
But as I hung up, something told me I wasn’t going to be able to do that - because I started to feel a little nauseous. I even calmly asked Rhys if we had a bucket somewhere, just in case.
December 31st 2015
Message to Helena
“Hey it’s Rhys. Just letting you know Neets said they've gotten pretty intense, pretty quickly. She’s feeling like she’s going to be sick each time and she’s naucious...naeseaus...nau...”
“Neet! How do you spell nauseous?”
So, at this point, I switched into some sort of mode. Some sort of relaxed, completely in the moment, productive state. (And that's the best way I can describe how HypnoBirthing works.) I thought I’d better at least start to get organised - and Rhys must’ve had the same idea. Or maybe he'd also switched into his HypnoBirthing training at the same time. He went into the garage and pulled out the blow-up pool and our electric pump. Helena had given it to us ‘just in case’ I went early and/or fast. (Oh, we so knew!)
I went into Sage’s room to put on the birthing necklace and bracelet from my Blessingway, and grabbed the prayer flags and candles my beautiful sisters had also gifted me on the day. After experiencing only about 4 of those initial tummy sensations, I was hit with my first proper (and intense!) contraction.
I dropped the necklace I was trying to put on, leant forward over the cabinets and 'rode it out' - like I'd done it before, or something? Like I knew exactly what to do! (Thank you HypnoBirthing!) Rhys came in and asked if I was OK. I told him to call Helena - Like now. Not message. Call.
I knew this was happening fast. I wasn't panicked at all, but I wanted him to realise the urgency - so I said something along the lines of “if you don’t call her now, this might just be just you and I doing this” I then stood up, ran to the bathroom (straight past the bucket) and those hot chips projectiled straight up into the air!
Rhys came in after me. "Whoaaaaa...", he said under his breath.
“Did you call Helena? Call her Bub. You need to call her. This is happening fast.”
Rhys calls Helena.
In between the intense contractions, and the roaring of the electric pump attached to the car engine in the garage, blowing up the birthing pool (which I was sure all of our neighbours could hear!) - I do what needs to be done. On my own.
I go even deeper into some sort of weird-controlled-calm mode; where I call my sister, bring out all of my candles from the Blessingway, put them on the side table next to the TV, light them all and even get a small plate for one of them - because it looks like the wax might melt over onto the table?!?!
In between these ‘jobs’, I labour in the kitchen – and I'm sick a few more times. (This continues until Helena arrives later and gets me some of my Peppermint Essential Oil - this stops it immediately!) The intensity of the contractions are definitely up there - but I find a spot at the kitchen bench (a spot that will remain ‘the’ spot for the next 5-6 hours), hang onto it and breathe through every surge.
At some stage during these surges, with Rhys blowing up the pool and bringing it into the lounge room, I miss a call from Helena.
Helena messages me to ask for directions. I reply (I assume in between surges!) with the exact same instructions I give everybody who gets lost coming to our place, because of the lack of street signage. Seriously - the clarity of my mind was amazing!
Rhys messages Sue K, to let her know we need her. (She doesn’t see this until 3am because she didn’t hear her phone. Totally our fault for not calling her!)
I now interrupt Rhys’ pool setting-up to ask him to come help me put on my necklace and bracelet. I text all my Blessingway Sisters, saying “I’m in labour! Little Sage is on her way – time to cut the cord around your wrist!” My two besties light a candle for me at their place and Mum starts looking at flights from NSW to WA, to come over straight away!
Rhys is with me now, reminding me to breath. He was amazing. I felt like I was surging on my own for hours, but was totally OK to do so. I was in our peaceful home, with my beautiful man, candles burning and just the glow of a salt lamp lighting the room. It was perfect.
I have absolutely no fear, and the strength that gets me through each surge is primal. Instinctive. Like I knew that my baby and my body were working perfectly together.
I remember Helena arriving and saying “hi honey” - and as she did, I had two strong surges. One straight after the other. I knew she was watching me, whilst rubbing my back and I heard her saying; “Wow. Beautiful,” in her beautifully calming accent.
For the next little while (I’m not sure how long) I surge at the same spot on the kitchen bench and notice the clock on the oven (which is annoyingly 1 hour in front!) Each time I look at it, it reads 2:22, then 3:33 and later 4:44. I smile each time I see this. I could feel I had all of my Guides there with me.
Every time I surge Helena and Rhys are right there with me. And when one gets tired, the other takes over. They massage me, remind me to breath and let go of the build up of energy from each surge - so that I am renewed and strong for the next one. They never tell me what to do, they know I know. They follow my lead, but give me gentle and calm reminders when I need them. I could not have done it without their support.
When I do have a really strong surge, I talk myself through it in my head – saying something along the lines of “it’s OK, you know this will eventually pass and when it does you will feel nothing. You just need to get through it.” With each surge getting stronger, I find myself saying that more and more – and my position on the bench goes from leaning over it, to gradually bending my knees and lowering myself, into a squat. I'm not sure why, but that's what my body wanted to do.
At this stage I am so tired that I close my eyes – having little sleeps whilst I’m standing!
Rhys catches me doing this at one point, he grabs my arm and says “Neet!” I tell him calmly that I’m OK, I’m just resting. (I think he thought I was passing out.) He's right there next to me - and I smile and say to him, "we're going to see our baby soon!" And I am just so excited!
I attempt, several times, to change positions from the bench onto the bouncy ball and then to the lounge – always resulting in a “no, no, no, no – help me up! I have to stand here.” For some reason the only place I could ‘work through’ these surges is at the exact same spot at the bench. It’s almost as if I knew I got through the last one there – so I know exactly how it will go every time, from here on in. Not once did I consider the option of pain relief - it never even entered my mind.
In between surges I look around to see if the pool has filled up yet – it’s no where near full! All I wanted to do was get into it! I'm not sure why? I ask several times if I can get into the pool yet, even thought it’s clearly not ready - and Helena gently reminds me that I’m not allowed to get in it until the Midwife gets there.
The next little bit is a blur of surges with oils being rubbed into my neck and shoulders by Helena. Lower back massages from Helena and Rhys were offered - but ended up with me shaking my head and murmuring ‘uh, uh, uh, uh, uh!’ I couldn't bare it for some reason.
I think Helena can see, or predict, that my surges are going to get even stronger (and maybe I also knew and that’s why I keep asking to get into the warm soothing pool!), so she suggests I get into the shower while we wait for the Midwives.
Her intuition was right, the surges did get stronger. A whole lot stronger! I held the shower head to stream the warm water onto my tummy - and lean against the wall when the surges come.
Then it gets intense. Rhys is standing there watching me, reminding me to breathe and relax - but I slip into another mode where I know I need him now. I ask him to help me. He jumps in straight away. I put my head in his chest during each surge (which are now getting closer and closer together) and grab around his neck whilst I let my knees bend and my body drop. I must have been so heavy around his neck, as I let him take my whole body weight.
And then...“I feel the burn Rhys! Tell Helena I feel it!”
This is the moment my body takes over and starts pushing on my behalf. This is the moment I feel everything is going to happen very very soon! These 'pushy' body impulses are tiring, but also relieving in a way.
It’s clear to me that I’ve reached a different stage of labour. I get out of the shower, after about 40 minutes or so, I dry off, start heading toward my ‘spot’ at the bench and see people walking in. It’s Sue K and my back-up Midwife.
Sue comes straight over to me, holds me by the shoulders and says; “Hello you strong woman you!” - and I'm immediately filled with renewed strength and energy!"
I turn to Rhys and ask him to get me a towel. Rhys being Rhys, he wants to know why - and kind of takes his time in hearing what I say. “Just get me a towel – quick Rhys.” He rushes to get me one, I direct him to put it under my feet and literally 2 seconds later my water breaks. I hear a “yay!” from everyone around me. Rhys tells me that I said I felt SO relieved once this happened – yet I only have a slight memory of this.
How did I know it was going to happen?
I can't explain it. I don't remember feeling any different physically - something just told me it was about to happen.
Sue then asks me if she can check my BP etc. I stick my arm out but another surge comes on and I start walking toward the bench. She quickly moves out of the way and tells me to 'do what I need to do'. The perfect words to hear when you’re in labour – because I really did know exactly what to do!
After this, Sue asks to examine me. She puts a towel down on the lounge and I lie down. I later find out that I was 8cms dilated – but she never tells anyone this. I’m glad too – because in my mind I really have no idea how much longer to go. (In reality there was only an hour!) But that was amazing, because I was just always in the present moment. Not too far ahead of myself. Not predicting anything coming. And not holding onto what had happened.
I can now get into the pool!
Yay! I hop in and it is so nice and warm. I sit on my butt and get through the surges in this position for a while – leaning back, legs out and my arms behind me holding me up. I then switch to my knees, sometimes leaning over the side of the pool – until my legs continually start to cramp in this position.
In between surges (where the pushy part at the end is making me grunt and make noises that I think are extremely loud – but am later told I’m not at all!) I notice Sue and the other Midwife are making cups of coffee - and asking Rhys where the cups, milk and sugar are! Everyone is so chilled and I think to myself that I must have a whooooole lot longer. But I'm still OK with that.
I surge and push in the pool, on my own, and everybody just lets me do my thing.
It’s amazing. I have this warm, safe, space - for me, for my baby and for my body to work together. I start to feel more 'burning', and when I’m kneeling I actually think it’s all about to happen – but then I get tired, change positions and I feel like I’ve slowed down the process, or even gone a few steps backwards. For what seems like forever (but is only about 30 minutes), I lie back in the pool – my arms supporting my weight, my legs out in front.
There are moments where I’m in and out, switching from a feeling of relaxation to a moment of working hard!
Rhys and Helena remind me to release my shoulders after every surge – from being up around my ears. Sue gets me to hold the heart rate monitor onto my body again, to check how bub is going in there. I put the little device on my belly again but Sue tells me I need to put it much much further down – “THIS is where your baby is now!” I reach right down and become extremely excited that she is so close now!
At one point I look around and it’s beginning to get light outside – a surreal moment. As if the rest of the world was soon becoming a part of this – as if it had just been me and my baby and my beautiful support team in this little bubble of love all night. I started to become really excited again!
And then…everything started to feel very very different and I knew exactly what was happening.
There was more ‘energy’ down there, and I KNEW what stage we were at now. I look at Rhys and we smile at each other - saying to each other; "she's nearly here! what a trip this all is!" Without actually saying it!
I let my body do the work - and with each surge I feel myself expand more and more down there. At one point I think “this is it!”, but as I relax after the surge, I feel Sage’s head slide away again. “She’s going back in again!” I say. Sue reassures me that this is my baby’s way of helping me – by getting everything ready. So I relax and go with it.
I’m in and out at this point, which I believe people could put down to exhaustion – but I believe it was much more than that. It was almost a meditative state. With my eyes closed, I hear Sue ask Rhys if he's getting into the pool and I know this is it! Rhys had always said there was no way he was getting into that pool, but I heard him say 'yep!' - without any hesitation.
The next thing I know; Sue is at the other end, I'm being told to 'pump the brakes' and Rhys is being instructed on how to bring Sage out of the water! He grabs her under the shoulders, pulls her out of me and out of the water and places her on my chest. He is laughing and crying all at the same time - and I am now holding my baby girl in my arms. She takes a little moment and then she lets out her first cry. She sounds like a little lamb!
The next little while involves me feeding Sage - and working hard to release the placenta. Once I do, we wait. The delayed chord clamping fills Sage's face with a bright pink colour and she is now officially a part of the outside world - and not just a part of me.
I let her go with Rhys to be weighed and checked over - and then we get to lie in the comfort of our bedroom to feed and cuddle. Skin to skin. 10 months to see her beautiful face and it was worth every headache, every bit of morning sickness, heartburn, skin pigmentation, weight gain, aching back and restless sleep! She is just beautiful. Just perfect.
And I will be forever grateful that she chose us to be her parents.