Baby Bakers Birth – A Gift From Anna – Her Surrogacy Journey
Anna McKie is one of those rare gifts to the world. A selfless human that had a dream of helping another family (or many families) have the chance to love and raise a child, just like she has been blessed to.
Anna was a HypnoBirthing mum, previously attending HypnoBirthing classes for her 2nd pregnancy in 2016, and birthing her little boy Ewan at home, in the water using the HypnoBirthing techniques, experiencing a birth she expressed as life changing! Anna felt so empowered by this birthing experience, that she shared her birth video with us for our classes, and also wrote her birth story for the website.
Since Ewan’s birth, Anna has shared with us that she has been an egg donor for a beautiful South Australian couple (intended parents, Mel and Dave), with a surrogate (Simone), that carried and birthed their baby. Their touching story story featured in the TV show ‘This Time Next Year’.
Anna then met Intended Fathers, Matt and Brendan (from South Australia), and knew that this was the couple she would carry a baby for, and birth for, so that they could realise their dream of being parents. They all attended HypnoBirthing classes together with Lauren Daw, one of our SA Educators. Even though Anna had attended classes for her previous birth, it was important that Matt and Brendan (Intended Dads) were part of the preparation, and felt confident in supporting Anna, and being an integral part of the birth of their little boy.
Anna has so generously shared her journey (or Surrogacy Safari, as she calls it!), with us. Anna has gone on to support other intended families and surrogates with www.surrrogacyaustralia.org, and hopes that this birth story will not only inspire you for your HypnoBirth, but also raise awareness about surrogacy and the incredible gift that can be shared with those that aren’t able to carry or birth a baby of their own.
Anna wrote the following birth story 5 weeks post birth!
It has been 5 weeks post birth and I’m finally getting around to writing my birth story. Our team has had some lovely opportunities to debrief and relive this story, with midwives, our HypnoBirthing teacher and friends and family, so I feel ready to summarise. This will be a long post, and the main reason for writing this is for my own future reflection, so no offence taken if you don’t read it all!
I have collected birthdays for over 20 years as I want to have met enough people who are born on every day of the year. I didn’t have anyone in my birthday book on September 25 (our due date was the 27th) so I sent my wish to the Universe and went out walking on Thursday to try and bring labour on. It worked! Or maybe my body was ready.
I was messaging fellow surrogates Madeline with updates about walking every aisle of the supermarket when I had 20 minutes to pass while I had a script in at the chemist and also messaging Amanda to discuss other home style techniques for inducing labour. My oh my the things you end up sharing with other surrogates At 4:30pm, I wanted to walk again and do curb walking, but due to the pouring rain, I improvised in the shed with some bricks for an uneven surface. We were definitely on after that, if only mildly.
5-7pm is the normal madness of a household with a 4 and 6 year old, so Glen and I pushed on with dinner and bedtime. I then called my IFs, soon to be just Fs, Matt and Brendan at 7:00pm and filmed myself making that phone call. One of the best phone calls I’ve made in my life!
At 7:30 I then called the midwives to let them know of my early labour. We went through the Midwifery Group Practice at our local public Lyell McEwin hospital as we prepared for our planned home birth. The team leader for the night, Zoe, was new to the practice (but not new to midwifery) so she had to eventually decide later that night when to call the accredited home birthing midwife on shift that night, Jo, to accompany her to our birth.
8:30 the boys arrive and start setting up the pool for the water birth. There was lots of excitement and then I got them cracking on my jobs list. Having a home birth, I wanted things done like taking out the rubbish! Our 6 year old Emily was still awake and cheekily popping in and out, and Glen was helping with the pool set up as he’d done that for our previous home, water birth of 4 year old Ewan. Glen eventually had some sleep from 10-12 as he was on ‘kid duty’ while M&B were my support people during labour and birth.
9:00 the birth photographer, Beck, arrived while I was having a chance to take stock for what was to come. In that time I did one last video of my pregnant body and most importantly ….went live in the surrogates’ facebook group! Didn’t end up live streaming the birth but going live for a little bit was the next best thing. I felt the love from my surro sisters and I think that happiness helped to have a smooth time in early labour.
9:30 I called Zoe again as I felt things were ramping up a little. We were both hesitant when to make the final decision for the midwives to come over because if you haven’t progressed too far in labour, they might go home and come back. Based on last labour, once I got in the pool that time, it was about 3 hours until birth as I felt the contractions slowed down. So we came up with a plan to let it ramp up a little more, then as I got in the pool, I’d call them to come. Upon debriefing with our main pregnancy midwife (Kelly) weeks later, being a second time home birther, and having done HypnoBirthing, she probably would have come at that first call. But hey, all part of the fun of the night, and we loved that the Universe sent us Zoe on the night. After that phone call I gathered the 3 amazing members of my support team and did a mission debrief. I love that photo in the slideshow.
Over the next hour I continued to breathe through contractions, or as we call them in HypnoBirthing, surges. There was still lots of laughter and chatting and ultimately trying to stay relaxed during labour. We used the fit ball, pressure points, rebozo and I’ll say it again, lots of general chat and laughter.
10:30pm Matt (shorter of the two dads and with the darker hair) called midwife Zoe this time as I decided I wanted them to come regardless. Zoe told us later that she still wasn’t sure I was in established labour at this point as she could still hear me in the background – talking and laughing. Some great photos of Matt on the phone to Zoe with some of the surges getting more intense….but then me laughing again! I don’t remember being in pain as such ever during labour, more a sense of very hard work. I’ve learnt a lot about the Natural Expulsive Reflexes of the body so I didn’t fear labour and birth. There was certainly a lot of pressure and stretching just before birth but I don’t register it as pain.
11:00pm the midwives arrive and one of my favourite photos of my labour story is me standing with my hands on my hips, smiling, while head midwife Jo asks how I’m going, what’s been going on etc. I remember being a bit cheeky and asking them how far back in the story they wanted me to go, “so I was born….” No wonder they didn’t think I was really in labour!
I had planned for no internal examinations to tell me how many centimetres along I was because like last home birth, I wanted my body to tell me when it was ready. However due to the change of midwives late in pregnancy, I decided to allow this initial examination as a baseline for how far along I was…..except I asked them not to tell me how many centimetres dilated I was. Us girls went up to the bedroom for this and student midwife, Lucy, arrived during this time. This left M&B in the lounge room with birth photographer Beck, and the boys were slightly worried that the midwives might go home. Not a chance as it turned out. The midwives told me after birth that I was 5cm dilated and fully effaced at that examination and, from memory, to stay at a home birth they like the woman to be between 3-5cm dilated. For some context, this was about 11:30pm and Baker was born 80 minutes later at 12:49am. Needless to say, I’m glad they stayed!
12:00 midnight – I made it to the 25th! I did a dab at the clock
12:10 For some unknown reason I felt like I needed permission to get in the pool, so I was waiting for the midwives to come back to the kitchen/dining room. They were in the bedroom calling the hospital to say they were staying, so that meant they couldn’t attend another birth that night. Another favourite photo of me near the coffee machine breathing through a tough surge, and then I decided F**k it, it’s my house, my pool, my birth…..I’m getting in the pool. I whip off my dress and dive…..ok not quite…..slide into my nice warm, 37 degree, pool. The temperature needs to be about 37 degrees so it matches body temperature. This way, when the baby is born, the temperature of the water matches that of our bodies, so the baby doesn’t notice the difference. They don’t drown from the water as they have been in water for 9 months. I believe it’s once they start reacting (air temperature, other stimuli etc) that sends the message to their brain to start breathing.
Matt then starts to read me the Rainbow Relaxation from HypnoBirthing to help me relax, and stay relaxed, between surges. I had been listening to this nearly daily in the last month (or more) of pregnancy before I went to sleep each night. My body remembers it and associates it with being relaxed and sleepy. This worked for a while…..until an almighty HISSSSSSSSSSSing sound comes from the lounge room. The oxygen tank, which is supplied for home births in case the baby needs some oxygen, began to piss out air while Jo was demonstrating to the other middies how to attach the apparatus. The sound was so loud, I was shaken from my state of relaxation and actually thought I had punctured the pool and air was escaping. Lots of laughter (and apologies!) followed and jokes about scaring this baby out of me.
12:30pm I remember everything starting to get more intense and my groaning increased. By this point I wanted to make sure Glen was up and asked Brendan multiple times to make sure he was. I guess this was a sign of impatience from me…..which was a sign to the others that birth wasn’t far away. Jo said at one point “and here I was settling in for the night”.
Our daughter Emily had said during pregnancy that she wanted to be there for the birth, but since she was asleep, she sleepily changed her mind when asked. Although she did come out for a bit shortly after birth. Our son Ewan had said “I don’t want to see the baby naked”. Oh kids!
When I eventually get a chance to edit the video footage, at the 12:30 mark I look at the clock, and jokingly say, “we’ll have this baby by 1”. Our student midwife Lucy also had a plane to catch at 7am, so had to leave by 5am. So we decided that Baker would have to be born after midnight, to satisfy my birthday book, but before 5am so the birth could count for Lucy as one of her continuity births. Thank you Universe.
These last 20 minutes are a bit of a blur for me. I remember lots of pressure, lots of groaning. Light touch massage on my back from Brendan and then Matt being my captain towards the end. Steering me through the rocky waters of slow breaths, hands on my shoulders so I would release tension, and encouragement. At some point I said to myself “slow, slow, slow” which I’m proud of as this was my aim. Middy Jo said some words of encouragement at the right moment and there was never any coaching to push. The building of pressure was definitely intense and let’s not beat around the bush here, pressure like the biggest poo you’re ever going to do. There is no doubt that your body knows what to do, just like big #2s, but by god it’s hard work. Speaking of #2s……ok maybe I won’t divulge all of the details…..let’s just say my friendship with Brendan in particular reached a new level…..as his duty was Pool Cleaner.
12:45am (approx) Just writing about birthing the head is transporting me back to that moment! I had a mirror this time which helped. Once Baker was born I thought he was a little babe, but no, my biggest yet with a head of 37cm, no wonder I felt that ring of fire this time around. So I grunted and breathed his head out and then it just sat there for minutes. The relief was amazing. I remember saying to everyone “there’s a head between my legs”. More laughs! There is a photo where you can see my waters break, and turns out this happened after his head had been born. It’s a pretty cool photo where there is a cloud in the water. With the next surge, I breathe him into this world and bring him up from between my legs.
12:49 Happy Birth Day! Baker is born with a veil on his head which is part of the membranes which hadn’t washed away. So not quite en caul but pretty special nonetheless. I lifted him out of the water and wow, he was here. Life. A baby. A son for my friends. Not my child, but my third birth and baby. Everyone clapped me which was so lovely.
We then stayed in the water for at least 10 minutes just enjoying that moment. Matt and Brendan were next to my shoulders and a mixture of every emotion. Amazed at how quickly and smoothly it had happened, nervous that their part was about to kick in, proud of me on a calm birth and overwhelmed that Baker was here after everything we had been through over 2.5 years. If ever you’re wondering if a birth photographer is worth it or not, our slideshow should convince you. For surrogates, it is a priceless way to remember what everyone else was doing and feeling in those moments. Matt and Brendan did say that birth photography was something that they originally didn’t value but agreed to it because it was important to me. Now they are overwhelmingly pleased we had Beck present as our photographer.
After birth, due to a short umbilical cord, Brendan cuts the cord in the pool. We then make our way up to the bedroom to birth the placenta while I’m on the bed. I had a physiological third stage which means I birthed the placenta without the syntocinon injection. The injection was in my house if I did have a postpartum bleed, or needed help to birth the placenta, but I wanted to try first without it as I have done with my other two (first baby in a private hospital too). It was only about 15 minutes after birth. And what a placenta! Can one have too much placenta?!?! Am I an overachiever? I later got it encapsulated as I have done with my other two. We then initiated a breast crawl which is where Baker tries to crawl to the breast for his first feed of colostrum. He was a bit sleepy/relaxed, which promoted another laugh as Brendan said “he’s just like his Dads – doesn’t like boobs”. He eventually had his first feed and then I was ready for his Dads to have cuddles, which was by now about one and a half hours after birth.
Matt had first cuddles and there is a video of this hand over moment. Wow. I actually got a chance to soak up this moment and the enormity of what that meant. Sitting next to me was my friend, Matt, and he had his son in his arms. I had pictured this moment where the baby was in their arms, not mine, and suddenly it was here. Matt, who used to be awkward around babies with their heavy, newborn, wobbly head, was holding his child. I did that. I created that moment.
I made him a Dad, a Pa. Me.
He had this little (not so little 4.11kg, 9lb 1oz) bundle in his arms and we were all healthy. We had dreamed of this moment and now it was here. I hand my hand on his knee, as I sat there naked under towels on the bed, he sat there with his shirt off, so much vulnerability between us all, and it was all good in the world. Brendan was at the other end of the bed filming this moment and just an arms length away. Our team. Our Surrogacy Safari. In the warmth of my bedroom in the wee hours of a rainy morning, a new little person had gone from inside baby to outside baby. The gift of life. I did that. The swell in my heart consumed me. It still does as I recall this moment.
Other beautiful moments were when my own children came into the room to see what was happening. Looking at my boy Ewan, as he looked at their boy, was delightful. Ewan remarked that he “liked his wiggly fingers and toes” and also “Mum, you still have a big tummy”. From the mouth of babes!
The support crew (Glen and M&B) packed up the pool and wet/dirty towels, while I recovered and was checked by the middies. Only the slightest tear which didn’t require any stitches – phew. The dads then took him to the lounge where Baker was weighed, measured and dressed in his first outfit.
The midwives stay for about 4 hours after birth, so there was time for them to complete their paperwork and to chat and debrief. One extra special moment for us all was when Zoe was left, waiting until that 5am mark when she could leave (although she stayed after that for a bit!), and she was sitting on my couch, holding Baker and just chatting. A beautiful first home birth experience for her, and for us to have her present on the night.
Welcome to the world Baker Luke. It takes a village to raise a child, and sometimes it takes a village to make a child. Welcome to the Village.
Baker Luke Campbell-Davies, Born 12.49am, Friday 25th September, 2020
Weight: 9.1lbs (4.11kg), Length: 53cm, Head: 37cm
Gestation: 39 weeks, 5 days
Thank you for reading and for sharing in this journey with me. 4 years in the making for me, definitely a marathon not a sprint.
Thank you to Anna for sharing these special moments of the birth of Baker. The words and images display so much love and commitment to ensuring Baker entered this world feeling loved and supported. Anna, Matt, Brendan, Baker and Anna’s husband and children will be forever connected from this pregnancy and birth of Baker. Anna has given Baker and his father’s a special gift, one that so many couples here in Australia and around the world desperately yearn for.
Anna is now working with our Executive Team to ensure we can better support Surrogate Families in the HypnoBirthing program! We are working toward having specific materials for Surrogates and Intended Parents. We are very grateful for her input and dedication to ensuring the Surrogacy journey is a positive experience for everyone.
Anna McKie shares her Surrogacy Safari at www.surrogacysafari.com
If you are interested in learning more about surrogacy, please visit www.surrogacyaustralia.org
Anna can be contacted directly by email: email@example.com