Hamish's Birth Story

Sarah was half way through her pregnancy when I first met her. She had contacted me over Facebook and expressed her desire to have a natural birth in a local hospital, and decided that a Doula would be a great way to become as prepared as possible for birth.

This is her story of her sons birth which I was so honoured to attend.

"My estimated due date was May 27th 2014. At prenatal appointments, the baby had been consistently measuring small for gestational age. Fundal height had stayed at 33cm from weeks 34-38. A special growth ultrasound was done at 36+2 weeks, which estimated a weight of only 5 pounds. This placed the baby below the 10th growth percentile (only on the 5th). Dr Michael Bardsley (our OB) was concerned, and despite having an active baby inutero, perfect fluid levels and CTGs, I was scheduled for induction of labour on 20th May at 7pm (He even made me sign a consent form!!)

I was determined to avoid this at all costs, and decided I needed to try and bring on labour. After a visit from Sandy (our amazing doula) on Sunday 18th May, I felt even surer that induction was the wrong path to take. So Sunday afternoon/evening consisted of sex, lots of bouncing on the swiss ball and 2 lots of breast pumping.

At 3.30am on Monday 19th I woke needing to wee (again)! I had “stomach cramps”. I fell back asleep straight away but woke at 5am. The cramps kept coming and going, and I wondered if this was Braxton Hicks. I was unable to go back to sleep due to the discomfort. I tried using the swiss ball and doing laps of the bench – having to pause and sway each time a cramp came. Just for fun I decided to jot down when they were coming in the back of the Ina May book I was reading: 5.50am, 5.56, 6.05, 6.13, 6.16, 6.20, 6.23, 6.28 ect. I also thought I should check my cervix. After googling how to do this, I gave it a go: I felt a hard golf ball like mass when I felt as far back as possible. It felt slightly ‘open’.

Just before 7am I woke Justin and said my tummy hurt. He told me to “suck it up” and stayed in bed watching Malcolm in the Middle.
At around 7.20am I messaged Sandy a photo of my pad and questioned if it was the ‘bloody show’ we had spoken of yesterday. She rang at 7.45 and we chatted that it could be.
The cramps continued to come and were getting more uncomfortable. At 8.55am Sandy messaged to say she could come out if we wanted her to. Justin replied saying I was “starting to groan in ‘pain’... didn’t realise they would be so close together from the start .... won’t eat because she feels sick”.
The cramps were coming every 5-7 minutes.
We sent Sandy another photo of my pad – this time bright red blood. Sandy informed us she could come at any time we wanted her. We still weren’t sure if this was the real deal. Justin messaged Sandy saying I was “Still bleeding a bit, starting to scream and say she can’t do it. I’m reassuring her”. At this point I requested Sandy make her way over. As she left to come to our home, she rang at 9.29am to get an update and this time the golf ball mass was only a knuckles distance from the vaginal opening.

During this time, I was on all 4’s with my head over the end of the couch. Each cramp Justin put a heat pack on my lower back and squeezed my hand. Between cramps, he was frantically trying to pack my hospital bag. I was laughing so hard at one point when in desperation he tried to stuff a whole bathroom drawer into my hospital bag. He was trying to feed me a pear and force me to drink but I couldn’t focus.
Sandy arrived at 10.05am. I hadn’t moved from the couch for an hour! (It felt like only minutes). The cramps were coming every 1-2 minutes and lasting for about 60 seconds. They were very methodical and Justin could count down almost to the second how long they had left. I can only describe it as a surge, I had warning they were coming. Sandy asked to check if I had a purple line above my bum which is an indication of cervical dilation. She said I had a very large purple line, indicating dilation was close to complete.

Sandy suggested to Justin that we could head to the hospital now if we felt ready  – he rang to give them a heads up. During these minutes I felt myself transition. The cramps slowed and I felt euphoric, smiling and laughing for no reason. An oxytocin surge! (Apparently at some stage I got up and walked to the laundry bathroom – I don’t recall this at all). We loaded the car, Justin fed the lambs and grabbed some towels – Sandy was preparing for a possible car birth.

The car ride took about 25 minutes. We were stopped in road works a few times. During the trip, Sandy sat behind me with her hands on my shoulders talking me through the contractions. She reminded me to breathe deeply, relax my jaw and fed me pear in my rest periods.

We arrived at the hospital just on 11am. Justin went ahead of us to inform ED that I was here. He said he stood there for a minute in the ED foyer, then yelled that “my wife is having a baby in the car park!” A nurse and ED doctor met us, followed by a stretcher and a wheelchair. I sat, but had to stand as soon as a contraction came. I braced myself against Sandy’s shoulders and focused on my breathing. They cleared an elevator for us and we arrived at the 3rd floor. I was led to labour room one.

I braced myself on the side of the bed. Sandy applied deep pressure to my lower back as the contractions came. I felt a need to push and wee’d all over the floor. Everyone was insisting I get onto the bed. The most comfortable position was on all 4’s with the bed head elevated and me leaning over the top. Michael was operating in theatre and the midwife phoned him, trying to be a discreet as possible when she rang. He asked for the CTG to be connected. I was feeling the need to really push from about 11.30 onwards.

My body became primal in noises and instincts. With each contraction I felt the urge to bear down. It wasn’t painful or unpainful – just pressure. My visual image was of a stretched perineum with a soda can being forced out (strange)! I was sweating profusely and watched it drip off my forehead. I was squeezing Sandy and Justin’s hands tightly. I started to feel weak in the legs and Sandy gave me a lollypop and lemonade between contractions for energy. Our midwife Kate said she could see the head. She asked Justin if he wanted to see. I continued to hold one of Justin’s hands and one of Sandy’s. Using her phone as a torch, Kate and Justin watched as I pushed. Kate left the room for something and when she came back my waters broke suddenly like a balloon popping. I knew I was getting close because the CTG transducer kept being moved further down until it was at the bottom of my vagina. 2 contractions later I pushed as hard as I could and baby slid out all at once.

It was an amazing feeling and relief. Justin started crying and I heard the baby crying. Relief and pride rushed over me. They kept telling me to sit back and grab my baby but I was frozen and couldn’t move. After what Justin has described as forever (only a minute), I carefully sat back and my baby was handed to me. I grabbed him to my chest and started crying. I had done it!!

Our beautiful baby boy Hamish Graeme Burnett was delivered by the midwife Kate. Michael never made it in time. I was asked to turn onto my back so Michael could deliver the placenta. Another midwife said she would give me an injection to help deliver the placenta but I told her no. In total it only took 27 minutes of 2nd stage labour (according to the hospital paperwork).
Michael gave a gentle tug on my placenta and asked me to push. It slid out intact only 7 minutes after birthing Hamish. We waited until the cord had gone white and stopped pulsing before Justin cut it. It looked like an old-fashioned telephone cord, so tightly curled. Michael inspected for bleeding and said I had a right labial haematoma which needed to be drained and sutured. Before he could do that he had to race off and deliver a baby in delivery suite two, then another across the road at BHS. When he returned I was put into stirrups, given local anaesthetic and had the haematoma drained and stitched.

I held Hamish the whole time and was in awe. Justin sat and ate lunch. Once Michael was all finished, I gave Hamish to Justin for some skin-to-skin time and had a long shower. It was the best shower I have ever had! Hamish had a small breastfeed in the labour suite before we moved to our room.

Hamish weighed 5lb 12oz, measured 48 inches, and had a head circumference of 31.0cm. He was given hep B and vitamin K injections in the birthing suite. Dr David Tickell, the paediatrician, came to inspect Hamish as per Michael’s request.

We were able to achieve every single preference in our birth plan. It was exactly what I had envisioned birth to be: drug free, intervention free, natural, allowing my body and hormones to take over. It was the most amazing moment of my life!"

If you are interested in having a Doula for your pregnancy, birth and newborn days I'd love to hear from you!

Much Love,
Your Ballarat Doula