My pregnancy with Nicholas had been relatively uncomplicated. That was up until about 34 weeks when I felt anxiety creep its way in with the impending challenge of birthing my boy into this world. As a result my blood pressure began to creep up at every clinic appointment with my midwife. Even though I knew my babe and I were fine, I still needed to be monitored every time my blood pressure was taken if it was up. Spending so much time being hooked up to monitors, having bloods and urine taken weekly sometimes twice weekly was doing absolutely nothing to help bring my anxiety and therefore my BP down.
It was at 38 weeks the discussion of induction came up if my BP didn’t begin to come down and stay down. It was this that spurred me into action as this was not what I wanted, and I knew that my low/no intervention birth would be much harder to achieve if I was induced. I knew I needed to lower my anxiety around the hospital to bring my BP down, so after consulting with Michelle, I began arriving to my appointments 30 minutes early and listened to the Hypnobirthing Affirmations or the Rainbow Relaxation track before having my blood pressure taken. Low and behold it stayed down every single time and the subject of induction was dropped.
Getting to 40 weeks felt like an absolute eternity. My days were filled with late mornings, long showers, HypnoBirthing and naps. When the day did finally roll around, I went in for my clinic appointment and we discussed induction options should I reach 42 weeks and still not having any sign of movement. I took the leaflets on induction options but declined scheduling a date as I didn’t want that kind of pressure being put on my body.
41 weeks rolled around and my husband Andrew and I went in for our 2:30pm appointment. My midwife checked my cervix and to my delight I was 1.5cm dilated and my midwife could feel our babies head sitting on my cervix. I asked for a stretch and sweep to be done and we discussed induction again. We agreed that if by 42+1 weeks nothing had eventuated we would be induced. Little did we know, 33 hours later we would be holding our babe in our arms.
That evening around 9pm I said those words I had been waiting to say for 41 long weeks, “I think I might be in labour.” I was having inconsistent lower back sensations, it came in waves and at this point was more annoying then anything. Andrew suggested we give Jo our midwife a call just in case. Jo suggested I take some Panadol and try and get some sleep, if it was labour, I may have a while to go and rest was important at this point. I tossed and turned until about 2am when my surges became too much for me to sleep through. I made the decision that if I couldn’t sleep the next best thing was to relax.
I gathered my twinkle lights, my affirmations, my diffuser and my music and began setting up my labour space in the lounge room. I woke Andrew and told him that our baby was on his way and that I needed him to rest and sleep as much as he could and that I would come and get him when I needed him. I put my affirmations on and tried to get myself into the beginnings of deep relaxation. I was concerned that I was only getting sensations in my lower back, I knew my babe was posterior but assumed that he would flip once labour began. I started using positions to try and help him along and rotate him. I spent hours on my hands and knees, leaning on my birth ball, doing hips circles on my ball, with one leg on my coffee table and in a pregnant version of child’s pose, all the while listening to my relaxation music and the Rainbow Relaxation hypnosis.
By 6am, when my surges were getting stronger, I could feel my relaxation slipping away and anxiety creeping in. I woke andrew and asked if he could come and sleep on the couch and keep my company. Having him there I immediately felt safe and secure again and could focus on my breathing and try to spiral inwards again. By 7am I was moaning through each surge which were now between 4 and 6 minutes apart. I was finding it hard to talk through them and needed lots of counter pressure on my back. Andrew kept in contact with Jo who suggested a warm shower might be of some relief, I stayed in the shower for roughly 30 minutes until I felt things amp up.
At this point I was getting concerned about the drive to the hospital as it was 9am and peak hour meant being stuck in a confined space, unable to have counter pressure for 30 minutes. We waited another hour before beginning to get the car ready to leave. It was at the point, midway through packing, Andrew came over to me labouring over the coffee table and said “Australia said yes!” I smiled and inwardly spoke to my baby and told him that today would be a great day to be born, the day our country voted for marriage equality.
The car ride wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, I put my noise cancelling headphones on and moaned through 3 surges. We arrived at 11am at the hospital and were taken to our birthing suite. As I was over 40 weeks, I was told hospital policy is to be monitored throughout the labour. I agreed as long as I could freely move around.
Our student midwife, Katie arrived shortly after, at around 11:30am. I was struggling to stay focused and positive at this point, it had been roughly 9 hours of back labour so far and baby had not rotated. My back was feeling super sore and sensitive from counter pressure and the strong surges pushing on my tailbone, I felt myself beginning to crumble. Through each surge I felt myself let more and more fear in and I was beginning to get teary and emotional after each. We decided a bath might be just what I need to regain some control and relax into the sensations. It was the most amazing feeling to be have the weight taken off my back. For a good 2 hours I relaxed and felt more positive about everything. My surges began coming every 2-3 minutes and I was beginning to vocalise loudly. Jo asked to check how dilated I was and I was keen to know how much I had progressed. I was sure at this point I must have been at least a 6 or 7. I made the mistake of finding out, something I promised myself I wouldn’t do, and I was so incredibly disappointed to find out I was only a 4.
I felt so defeated and it was at this point I felt myself move closer to giving up. I got out of the tub and Jo suggested that we try “sterile water injections.” The idea is to create a small pocket of fluid around the pain receptors in the lower back, cutting pain signals from the brain and give my back a break. The only down side, 4 injections needed to be administered mid contraction to the lower back, while on all fours, a position I was not comfortable in. They also feel like a bee sting, considering my one and only phobia is bees, you can understand my reluctance. I agreed that this was best to try first before any other interventions. All I can say is they hurt like a bitch.
The next parts feel like a bit of a blur, I was in my labour bubble and time seemed to move much faster for me. I laboured for what must have been hours on my hands and knees leaning over the birth ball. I could only focus on the next contraction and breathing the gas deeply into my belly. Andrew and Katie surrounded me and each contraction Katie would whisper calmly “send the surge through your head, down your body, out your hands and into mine and through your feet into the floor.” After each wave passed she had me relax deeply into the birth ball and I could feel my body becoming liquid and melty after each one. I savored these moments and felt myself falling more and more inwards with each.
Another 2 hours passed and Jo asked if we could check my progress, as I had only progressed to a 5, she suggested we consider releasing my membranes. I was really scared at the point as I knew this would intensify everything and I was struggling a lot at this point. We discussed why it was felt it needed to be done and honestly I was ready for it to be over.
It was only a matter of hours (maybe 2) when my vocalizing became that of transition and Jo asked to check my progress again. I was at an 8 and progressing quickly. I can distinctly remember the moment when everything changed. I was lying on my side, Andrew hugging me from behind and having surge after surge with a new intensity. I felt like I could no longer see or hear anything, I felt as though my body was cracking, like something really powerful was happening. I screamed so loud at this point that the next day my chest and throat were so sore, and my voice was husky. I could feel pressure building in my bum and all of a sudden, I instinctively knew I needed to push. The first few surges I stayed on my side, I was terrified (I now know that was probably the adrenaline). All the things that I feared about birth, tearing, baby getting stuck, hemorrhaging, they were all about to either happen or not. I was screaming with fear and not determination. Jo and Katie both at this point reminded me to make low sounds and suggested I stand leaning over the bed. I lumbered myself over the side and immediately felt a lot more pressure really low. I looked Andrew in the eyes and said, “I can’t do this” to which he smiled and said “you are doing it!” I grunted through another surge ineffectively, that’s when Jo said to me “trust your body Eloise.” It was then I accepted that there was no going under, around or over this, I had to go through it. I focused on nothing else in the room apart from Andrews eyes and said over and over “I trust my body, I trust my body, I trust my body” until another wave came, and I grunted and breathed downwards through it. I could feel my baby ride over my cervical lip and begin his journey earth side, it was surreal. I continued my mantra and felt myself open and stretch. Jo asked if I wanted to feel his head before he came out, I reached down and felt the spongy top of my baby’s crown. The next surge and his head was out, he began to turn, right at the end so Jo asked me to pant “like your blowing on hot chips.” I could feel him turning and with one more grunty breath he was here and Jo handed me my baby boy. I said to no one in particular “I did it, I can’t believe I did it.” I looked at Andrew, with tears in his eyes and fell completely and utterly in love with my little family. We had immediate skin to skin in the bed together, the three of us and I had an assisted third stage, by this point I didn’t care, I was euphoric. I had a minor labial tear that required 3 stitches and a small graze, but other then that I came out unscathed and my recovery was straight forward.
I have so much love and respect for my soft, mothering body now. What was once a source of resentment for me is now my biggest source of pride. It is an amazing feat to grow and bring life into this world. I had so much fear about birth and what I was capable of and I can say without a shadow of a doubt, without hypnobirthing my experience would have been very different. Thank you, thank you, thank you Michelle. You educated Andrew and I and we were able to bring our bright eyed baby into this world in the most meaningful and loving way.