Chloe writes the story of the birth of her first baby, Melody. It was an absolute honour to support this family as they welcomed their baby earthside!
In Chloe's own words...
As someone with a chronic pain condition, I don't have a good history with hospitals or pain medication. I was so scared I would need an epidural because I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain and then I didn’t want a needle going in my spine with my history of back problems. Just the thought of going to the hospital was making me very stressed out, at about 28 weeks I had been crying and just terrified of what the birth was going to be like.
After reading in a hypnobirthing book that doulas are worth their weight in gold we decided to contact Sandy. After our first meeting with Sandy my husband Pete and I felt so much more ready for the birth and my fears already started going away. Sandy provided amazing support throughout my pregnancy, not only in the prenatal visits but also being there to listen to and discuss any worries we had, and problems with the hospital policies.
We were so ready for labour, we had so much stuff ready to keep me busy and calm in labour, I had a huge bag packed and all my birth affirmations and music ready. We felt like the boy who cried wolf calling her many times in the middle of the night as my labour was on and off for two weeks and not once did she sound annoyed to be woken for nothing. She calmed our fears and frustrations as we went to 42+1 weeks pregnant also helping Pete to know the right things to say to me.
As we approached the 42 weeks we tried every home induction method available to avoid a hospital induction. We went in to the hospital for monitoring every day from 41 weeks in a deal we made with the hospital so we could push back the induction. I didn’t know anyone personally who had gone more than 16 days over so that was our final limit.
I was 4cm dilated a few days before labour and had 5 stretch and sweeps (I would avoid them in the future). We booked in for an induction the next morning, but after going home and giving the home induction methods one last go, my contractions finally amped up and they did so quickly! I remember having about two contractions at 10mins apart, then a few at 5 mins apart, and then they went to about 2 minutes then back to back. Pete rang Sandy when they were about 2 minutes apart and she asked if she could come over (since they had died off many times in the past) Pete said they would be okay, but very soon after I told him to ring her back and for her to come NOW. I was a bit shocked by it all as all the books I had ready had told me first labours are long and make sure you rest in the breaks, but I wasn’t getting any breaks! Pete quickly put the tens machine on and I spent a while just running back and forth from the toilet as I just kept feeling like I needed to do a poo.
Sandy arrived very soon after and at first I just wanted to be left on the toilet until I would get a break. Eventually I realised it was just going to get stronger and came into the lounge room. The lights were all off and Sandy and Pete were helping keep me calm through the contractions. I was struggling so Sandy suggested I have a bath. Once I was in there I did not want to get out! I am normally such a prude but I felt comfortable enough to just be naked and ended up doing my whole labour (except for the drive/walking through the hospital) in the nude. Sandy said we needed to leave if we were going to go to the hospital and if she wasn’t able to come in the car with us to rub my lower back I don’t think I ever would have gotten out of the bath! I felt like there was no way we’d make it to the hospital. Pete rang the hospital just before we left and luckily it was night time so there was no traffic. Sandy and I went up to the triage area and the midwife wanted me to lie on the bed in a lit up room. There was no way I would be able to lay down with these contractions (I don’t know how most women give birth on their backs). I asked for the gas and air and then Sandy asked the midwife if we could turn the lights off, so they moved us into a dark birthing room which made me feel so much better. I think they were a bit surprised by how far along in labour I was. I heard Sandy get the midwives to check my birth plan before doing anything.
The rest was a bit of a blur, I know there were cables everywhere; I had the tens machine on, the gas and air, they were trying to get my blood pressure/pulse, monitor the baby and give me a cannula for antibiotics (I was GBS positive). Pete then arrived from parking the car, I was so glad I had Sandy with me because I probably would have run out of the hospital after the triage room. I spent the whole time with my arms on the bed and knees on my yoga mat on the floor.
Before I knew it the baby was coming and because of some bleeding they got me up onto the bed in the same position and told me to push the baby out fast because they were worried. She decided to come out like superwoman with her first next to her head, once out she took a few moments to take a breath and I think I yelled out “What colour hair does it have?” Before I knew it, it was 11:45pm and I was holding a super slippery 9lb 14 ounce newborn in my arms. I had a physiological third stage and was allowed 1.5hrs for the placenta to come out. This gave us time to find out we had a girl and decide on a name.
I got the birth I wanted; the non medicated birth, lights off, time alone with our baby afterwards, delayed cutting of the cord. They said my birth took 6hrs start to finish but to me it felt like 1. I remember just after Melody was born saying I could do that again, no worries. I felt so empowered, I was able to birth without any fear! I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to use any of my birth bag stuff and the giant snack bag was left in the car, but if that’s the worst of labour I think we did pretty well. I ended up with a third degree tear and Sandy stayed and helped me through that time (so much worse than labour). She made sure we were all okay before going home. The midwives left us alone in the dark room for an hour afterwards to just soak in our newborn, Pete ended up getting covered in Melody’s first meconium poo! Good thing he had brought a change of clothes for the bath. We didn’t ring anyone until later in the day as we just wanted to rest and enjoy our initial moments as a new family.
Overall it was a great birth and we are so glad that we had Sandy to support us. It meant Pete could do all the practical things while Sandy was keeping me calm and then he could be by my side when I needed him. Her massaging hands, supportive words and advocating for us with the midwives really made such a difference. I had read that doulas are worth their weight in gold and I believe that to be true!