Getting pregnant after what felt like an eternity of struggle with infertility, was so very surreal.
I look back now and can hardly remember it. It went way too fast. Such a blur. It never felt real, and to be honest it still can’t believe I am actually a mum?!?
But that can be for another story...
My Belly Birth
Being an older pregnant woman wasn’t easy. There was way too much interference. nothing would get past the doctors and carers looking after me.
If I was 10 years younger, I would have absolutely had a homebirth with a private midwife.
I had a lot of idealistic dreams when it came to giving birth. Especially as it was such a long journey of infertility and IVF is such an unnatural way of conceiving. I just wanted to at least be able to give birth to my baby vaginally/naturally.
By 36 weeks the docs were not letting anything go unnoticed. She was still breech and not budging.
I tried everything to get her to turn!!! 37 weeks and little miss wasn’t going to bloody flip.
I knew then what was coming.
A caesar birth was booked in for two weeks time.
I surrendered to the universe and to my baby, that she was calling the shots, and had to give up my fight.
I broke down that night and grieved the birth, that I would never get to have.
Especially that this will be our one and only bubba.
I had done all the right things in the lead up to this moment too.
Ate extremely well, walked daily, acupuncture & hypnobirth classes.
So I revised my birth plan to a caesar birth & listed all my preferences, so I could give my little bubba the best start to life I could. And I still had a faint bit of hope, that in that two weeks, my baby would turn...
More acupuncture, Moxa, inversion stretches, even a wonderful private hypnosis, one on one for spinning babies...
But D day came, ever so quickly, and I was a numb ball of anxious, excited and shitting myself mess!
One thing reassuring in this whole process, was my beautiful midwife and birth support Rosie!
Somehow she wrangled her way into the surgery room with us. And for this, I will be forever grateful!!!
I didn't cope well at all through the whole process. I'm just such a sook and hate Hospitals, (due to too many traumatic operations as a child). And I suffer from a major needle phobia, (yep even after 6 years of IVF!) so you can imagine my joy with a crowbar drip shoved in my hand, then them trying to put the spinal in!!!!!
Well we got there and we finally got our little angel out safe.
I did nearly check out mid-way through, it was so full on and went from feeling pain, to numb, feeling like my entire guts was being pulled out, nausea, then headaches from all the drugs.
Sorry I hope this isn't turning anyone off the idea?!
I never got that euphoric moment when I got to push my babe into this world, but hey I got my babe, and that's all that matters in the end.
I have heard some women that loved there caesars and that's the only way they would go. Hats off to them, and all you beautiful mummas out there! You all did something amazing!!
I was truly so blessed to have Rosie right behind me the whole time, talking me through it and encouraging me to keep going. Thanks to her too, we got to do things like seeding and delayed cord clamping. Not to mention the most amazing photos of the whole process. Huge thank you Rosie, you're one in a million.
We got our little breechy bum out in one piece after a bit of interference, they were going to have to take her away, for respiratory assistance.
All I wanted was skin to skin, and Rosie helped them let me do this.
Amazingly as soon as she was on me, all her vital signs returned to normal. And there was no way I was going to part with her from that moment on. She stayed on my chest for hours, we were stuck together with her first poo and I didn't care one bit.
I had my baby, safe, well and absolutely perfect.
My little miracle
Cleo Honey Elderfield
Weighing just over 3kgs.
Rosie Fitzclarence is a Registered Midwife, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator (Geelong Born) and a Hypnobirthing Australia™ Certified Practitioner.
Rosie is based in Geelong and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0419170783.
To find out more about her Hypnobirthing Australia™ classes CLICK HERE or about Geelong Born Birth Support options CLICK HERE
Where to begin my birth story? Well technically the journey began in a little café in Waurn Ponds when I was 7 weeks pregnant. My husband had arranged to meet a woman he found on the internet to discuss our birth options. The “woman” was of course Rosie Fitzclarence, and the “random internet search” turned out to be the most fortunate stroke of serendipity. Rosie, in her beautiful way and without any bias, explained all the options available to us, and we walked away from that fortuitous meeting deciding on the Geelong Maternity Group (GMG) at Epworth. Unfortunately we decided we probably wouldn’t be needing Rosie’s services as GMG already had such a great team of midwives, so we said our thanks and left it at that.
Weeks passed and I was living in the land of “preggie brain” and I honestly couldn’t think beyond anything greater than my protruding bump, when a beautiful customer came into the store I worked with her gorgeous baby boy. We got into a deep discussion about her birth journey and she mentioned Rosie was her birth support and how she couldn’t have gotten through the most difficult parts without her. Then another pregnant customer randomly mentioned to me that Rosie was her hypnobirthing instructor and birth support woman, and how comforted she felt under her care. I didn’t need any more signs. We booked Rosie that night.
We chose to have the Hypnobirthing Australia™ classes in the privacy of our home in Aireys Inlet, and I 100% attribute my calm and easy attitude towards the approaching birth to these classes. All my questions were clearly answered and Rosie’s honest advice helped us to make some difficult choices, particularly when coming up against the conventional medical system whose methods may not be in line with our desire for a natural birth. So there we were, armed with our meditations, salt lamps, candles, essential oils, acupressure points, playlist and birth plan. I was equal parts curious, excited and apprehensive.
Fast forward to the 2nd of December, aka “D Day”. I was having what felt like period pains and I knew something was happening. I went for a long bush walk with my dog, treated myself to a massage, ate dinner, had a bath and hopped into bed feeling a little disappointed that things hadn’t kicked off. That night I dreamt that my baby was posterior and that my waters broke. I awoke to my waters actually breaking in bed. I quickly hustled my husband out of bed and we frantically made up my hospital bag and jumped in the car headed for the hospital. On examination, the midwives concluded that I had a premature rupture of membranes, and that I should go home and get some rest because whatever happens (induction or not) this baby was on its way. So that’s what I did. I slept. Ate some grilled cheese on toast. Went to the supermarket. Twiddled my thumbs. Watched Netflix. To say I was having a surreal day is an understatement. I was having a complete “failure to launch” experience.
My obstetrician called and informed us that I would be induced at 24 hours and it was strongly encouraged that I get the intravenous AB as I was GBS unknown. This scared us into action. Out came the Swiss ball, the sage essential oil and the acupressure point “cheat sheet” and BOOM! At 21 hours post membrane rupture we had lift off! It was 10pm.
The contractions began strong and fast. There was no gentle build up with long extended beaks that we had been expecting. It was almost as if the ‘failure to launch’ was really a flood gate keeping at bay the power of those surges, and once those gates began to open, all that built up energy radiated from my back through to my front and literally took my breath away. In fact, the pain was so intense and isolated to my back and pelvis I knew my baby was posterior, and this frightened me. After 2.5 hours of labouring at home, we decided the contractions were too strong and close together, so we made the decision to leave for the 30 minute drive to the hospital.
That drive will be etched into my memory forever, as it is the closest I will ever get to being shot through time and space. Memories come back to me in flashes. I remember opening my eyes to see my husband driving and timing my contractions. I remember pulling up on the seat handle with each surge (which were coming every 2 minutes and lasting for 45 seconds by this stage). I remember seeing the ocean, a field, street lights and the turn off sign to the hospital. I remember stumbling into the hospital with the help of my husband and the security guard. Falling onto the bed (I could only lye on my side, any other position was agony). I remember Rosie running in, putting her bag down and coming straight to my side to hold my hand. The room was completely dark except for the phone torch the midwife Jo (AKA “Head Torch Jo”) used to examine me. My amazing obstetrician walking in and coming straight to my side to whisper encouraging words into my ear.
My birth plan requested that I have “minimal examinations”, the theory been that it might discourage me if I wasn’t as progressed in labour as hoped. However, I was sure that I had transitioned either during the drive, or when I walked into the hospital and swore to high heaven that the baby was posterior. In retrospect, this was probably my “fear moment” (the moment when I wanted out), so I really wanted to be checked for progress. My obstetrician was sure that I wasn’t far along and was therefore hesitant to check. At 2am (4 hours since the beginning of active labour) I was 9cm dilated! All five of us laughed! Me, Rosie and Phil cried tears of joy! This was the greatest news I had ever received (besides finding out I was pregnant). And I was right, my baby was previously posterior, however my obstetrician said she watched him swing around to the favourable occipito-anterior position during her examinations.
For the next three hours and 15 minutes I put my head down, breathed and let my body intuitively ride the contraction waves. The only pain management I had was the gas, and it helped me to breathe deeply through the surges. My husband was by my side the entire time administering ‘light touch’. There was no sound other than my deep primal groans and the gentle words of encouragement coming from my team. At 5.15am, just as the sun was rising, I gave birth to our magical baby boy Jamieson. And that’s when the adventure really began.
Em, Phil, Jam and Moggy (the dog!)
Rosie Fitzclarence is a Registered Midwife, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator (Geelong Born) and a Hypnobirthing Australia™ Certified Practitioner.
Rosie is based in Geelong and can be contacted by email at email@example.com or phone 0419170783.
To find out more about her Hypnobirthing Australia™ classes CLICK HERE
Well here goes… It’s taken awhile to share this story for a few reasons, but one of them being that I kept writing how lucky I was to have such an empowering experience. There were no obvious complications or interventions required, so I guess that was lucky, but in terms of the actual birth- building my dream birthing team was nothing to do with luck, but careful consideration and planning.
I had a pretty massive phobia around hospitals and wasn’t sure that the sterility of the place would assist me in bringing my “A” game to labour. I missed out on the shared care midwifery program that Barwon Health offers and knew that I would need someone there that I felt comfortable with. Enter the magic of social media. I stumbled across Rosie’s Instagram page (@geelongborn) and immediately contacted her to see if she would be available to support Johnrey and I during our birth adventure.
At our first casual meeting, I instantly felt at ease and confident that Rosie was the perfect addition to our birthing team. Our three sessions prior to the birth were so informative. We were able to ask questions and discuss concerns. We came up with a loose birth plan, keen to embrace an active and natural birth, with minimal intervention, but also open to the prospect of things not going to plan. We attended a Movement, Mindset and Making Space workshop, also run by Rosie and her colleague Jo, and learnt about acupressure, relaxation techniques and different active labour positions. I read many positive birth stories and practised my breathing techniques and visualisations. I had a very dear friend, Mel, who also encouraged and inspired me with birthing tips.
THE BIG DAY
The night before had been muggy as hell and I’d eaten a big salad packed with sauerkraut. By midnight I was experiencing some unusual cramping and bowel movements, which continued throughout the night. I was certain it was food poisoning and felt like a right fool for allowing myself to get ill so close to my due date. It was quite comical, as well as annoying at the time. However, by 7AM the next morning, the cramps had intensified and my Mum said “I think you might be having your baby, darl”. The pain was like nothing I had imagined; not worse, not better, just different. I’d imagined making really primal sounds, but that didn’t work for me.
I focused on my breathing, moving into comfortable positions and Johnrey began applying some of the awesome acupressure techniques we’d learnt at our workshop. One in particular, two hands pressing firmly on the sacrum, worked tremendously. He was AMAZING! We started timing contractions and when it got to three in ten minutes, we called Rosie. She told us we should probably make our way to the hospital, so we also called the hospital and requested the room with the birthing pool. We had planned for Johnrey to drive us in, but by this stage his hands were so essential to my pain management that we asked my parents to drive us instead. Quite funny now looking back at it!
The trip to the hospital seemed to last an eternity, but we arrived around 2PM.
At the hospital we were greeted by Rosie with such a warm welcoming smile, that I instantly felt at ease. We were taken into our birth suite (which Rosie had managed to make look less like a hospital room) with the midwife on duty, Kath. From there, things are a bit of a blur. I moved into different positions, including the shower (that was lovely!) and over the fitness ball. I really got into the zone, finding my own rhythm, and time just seemed to fly by. As per hospital protocol, there was certain monitoring required. This was able to occur with minimal disruption and no internal examinations were needed, allowing me to maintain my rhythm and flow, and handle the pain.
All of this time, Johnrey was vigorously applying acupressure during contractions and soft massage between. We had a hypnobirthing soundtrack playing in the background, but all I can remember from it was the “oxytocin bucket” references. I did have some moments of extreme clarity, where I imagined other women around the world giving birth at the same time. Rosie offered gentle encouragement and suggestions of changes of position/location. Just looking at her for reassurance when some of the monitoring took place helped me to understand what was going on. I really did feel so safe and so loved.
Eventually, my waters broke (all over Johnrey’s legs!). It was rather spectacular and that’s when birth pool was set up. It took a while to fill, and in some strange way, I experienced something akin to intermission. I recall climbing into the pool with Johnrey and excitedly realising we were close to meeting our baby. The water relaxed me immensely and I was overcome with tiredness. I felt almost drunk. Rosie told me this was the “rest and be thankful” stage. So I rest my head on the edge of the pool for a little while, until I felt the urge to push. I asked Rosie to hand me my phone, so that I could put on some pre-selected tunes to get the job done. I remained on all fours, slowly rocking my hips.
Little Audrey’s head seemed to come out and then retreat, around a dozen times. This freaked me out a bit and I asked Rosie to remind me how to breathe. She reassured me that I was doing beautifully and that my body knew exactly what to do. After a few more pushes, over several minutes, Johnrey finally caught Audrey. And with our midwife’s help, guided her to the water’s surface just after 7PM. We fell in love instantly. I felt like superwoman! There are honestly no words to describe the “love bomb” feeling that followed. This feeling continues, even through the sleep deprivation and some initial difficulties with breastfeeding.
Every birthing mother needs a Rosie (and Johnrey!) on their team!
My name is Rosie Fitzclarence and I am a Registered Midwife, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator (Geelong Born) and a Hypnobirthing Australia Certified Practitioner.
I am based in Geelong and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0419170783.
To find out more about Geelong Born Birth Support options CLICK HERE
Or to join the next Movement, Mindset and Making Space Workshop CLICK HERE
Wed 31st May: Our last day at home before we become parents…. Forever. The feeling that our lives are about to change in a way that we can only imagine. James finishing our birth plan, printing my affirmations, last minute cleaning and packing. Me making my birthing goddess necklace, feeling my women friends and family, generations of them holding me. Farmor’s ring on my finger, my maternal grandmother's watch ready for my birthing alter; the heavy, fossil crystal from Kate, affirmations and crystals from Manjit, photos and letters…my holding circle was solid. Feeling strong, a bubbling mix of anxiety and excitement. The unknown…. Knowing that anything could go down, and feeling ready for whatever cards Mama deals me. There’s nothing more we could do now; no need to paint the cot, what we were about to do was way bigger than that. It’s time, I’m ready… let's do this thing, our baby is coming!!
Left the house, had one last acupuncture in Newtown- open cervix, down baby… we’re ready; we can do it. Lunch on pako; James and I feeling relaxed; aligned, ready. Stopped at Kates for a little yoga pep talk circle with her and Ari; last minute reminders for both James and I…a beautiful Shakti mantra sung by Kate; energetic high fives; headed to the hospital with so much juice in our tanks, armed with all of the physical and energetic tools we could muster. Got to our room; checks, monitor on Marley’s heart rate; always makes me anxious- Marley not moving much… noticing my heart beat faster and breath become shallow, but knowing, trusting we are in the right place. Rosie arrives; beautiful breath of fresh air and smiling positivity… All is well. So many midwives and doctors breezing in and out. Almost time for the balloon; I need to poo! This could be my last chance! Rosie bought me 15 mins, left the room so I could relax enough to relinquish my bowels; success. Lay down, doctors arrive; lay back, legs in stirrups, don’t know how many people peering down my most intimate entry point with bright lights shining down on her; about to become a birthing canal for the first time. Me surrendering to the process; this is our choice, we are doing this for the safety of our baby. But severing any feeling association I may have developed to my cervix; I cant feel this… I’ll just be strong and make jokes about it… I’ll look the doctors in the eye; I’m not scared. Any pain is part of my marination for the birth. I got this. James by my side, sure and strong, steady and present, as always at these times.
……continued… from memory
They are ready to poke and prod; I ask them to wait, till I give them permission to enter with their cold, sterile tools. Deep breath, ok; now you may enter. Doing my best to hold onto my empowerment, my dignity. They check my cervix, 1cm dilated already, impressive, all that acupuncture must have worked! Now for the balloon…It’s cold, it’s mildly painful, they inflate the balloon with water, I’m not really present. Just squeezing James’ hand. They remove the tools, tell me I did such a good job, like a good girl I suppose… toughened up, didn’t make a sound, didn’t make a fuss. They offer pain medication, I don’t need it.. Rosie gives a final embrace, her big smile and advice to get a good nights sleep, take the pain medication if you need it.. you need sleep! James stays with me, we talk, I sway, still monitoring the heart rate; They want to know the balloon isn’t effecting the baby. We eat some dinner (?).. James says goodbye. It’s just me, on a plastic coated bed, with the painful moans of birthing women next door to put me to sleep. I put my headphones in, music usually helps. The bed is cold and uncomfortable, the pain is getting worse; I can't sleep, it’s nearing midnight and I still haven’t slept… Rosie’s words help me to surrender to the pain medication, sleep is a priority; they bring me something and I drift into a deep sleep, only to be woken at 6am to be told I need to get the IV cannula in my arm… hmm, ok, I’m too sleepy and submissive to protest. It goes in at 6.15am. The room is freezing cold and I’m shivering. James hasn’t arrived yet and a young female doctor walks in and tells me we need to start the induction drip before 8am, and it’s time to break my waters. I don’t want to birth in this room, it doesn’t feel right, and it’s so cold, there’s no way I can relax. It’s already moving too fast for me, this doctor is pushing the fear card…. ‘we need to get this moving, your baby is at risk if we wait too long’… I let her speak but I did not let her fear permeate my being, James arrives. We ask to move rooms, they don’t listen, it registers of no importance compared to hospital timeframes and agendas. It’s time to break my waters.. the young female doctor gloves up and gets to business, sometime after 7am.. she takes out the balloon and checks the dilation, 4cm..apparently very impressive. And soft, my cervix is soft, so soft the doctor with spindly arms and tiny hands is doing her best to get a handle on her with the little hook and becoming increasingly frustrated; she’s using all her might, her arm starts shaking; after what felt like at least 10 mins of trying, I ask ‘does it usually take this long? ‘Your cervix is very floppy’ she replies… floppy hey? Nobody calls my cervix floppy… ‘slippery perhaps?’ I offer ‘well, I haven’t yet emptied by bladder this morning, so I could do that, and then we could try the stirrups as well’ feeling the need to interrupt the unconscious assault on my poor cervix , and buying time to avoid the doctors impatience to start the drip. I get up, wee and get in the stirrups.. ok, now, on my watch lady… you may break my waters; done. Just in time for this weak wristed doctors end of shift, what a shame.. pressure off, dodged a bullet.
We get a midwife called (Andrea/ Ange, who starts her shift in tic toc robot mode, glances at our birth plan and has no interest in finding us another room… we start chatting, she warms up…. Maybe she can find us another room, with the wireless monitors too- miraculous! We are transferred to a room on the other side, it’s bigger, warmer and lights easily dimmed- this is where our baby will be born. Yes! We make it ours; salt lamp, oil diffuser, music, yoga props, affirmations on the walls… now we’re talking. Rosie arrives… always a breath of fresh air. Andrea loves our music, we get to know about her son, a musician.. we’re warming to each other. Rosie helps to stall the drip… we wanted a few hours post membrane rupture to find our flow and get things moving; Rosie makes sure we get at least this.. I start to find my flow, drop in, on the fitball.
We’re all chatting, relaxed. Around 10am Andrea asks are you ready? Contractions haven’t started, can we begin the drip? I’m ready. It takes at least an hour before contractions start, some very mild tightenings, Andrea has a motherly hand on my belly asking if I can feel what’s showing up on the monitor- yes, just some a pleasant tightening sensations, I’m enjoying it. James opens the snacks which I was adamant were unnecessary, and I have some crackers and dip. This is fun, like our own little birthing party. The contractions begin to intensify, just a bit; Andrea finishes her shift.. feel like I’m saying goodbye to a friend. Then we get Sarah (with the help of Rosie’s behind the scenes wizardry)… and oh my, did we hit the jackpot. Sarah turns out to be like the midwife from the Red Tent… wise, experienced, strong, empowering and a passionate lover of normal birth. Thank yoouu! This is the woman who will be present to receive our baby, and ward off the fear mongering doctors.
Contractions keep intensifying, strong tightenings, my uterus working hard in response to the syntocinon… each contraction getting more painful, but I’m still on top of it, just managing to adjust to each rise in sensation, keeping my head above water, definitely intense, but manageable… needing James on my lower back doing the pressure points for every contraction now, and the heat pack, my noises are accompanying every contraction and getting louder. Fitball is good (?), then Sarah needs to do an internal- takes 3 contractions to get me on the bed. Her face says it all, I knew it wasn’t good news according to the hospital protocol checklist, but according to my body, I knew it was great news… the baby and I were doing this, and doing it well, I knew. “You’ve done some really good work, and the baby has moved down a lot” Sarah said in her encouraging, delightful British accent, “and I know the doctor said you were 4 cm dilated this morning, but now, you are only 3cm dilated”. I think she expected me to be deflated, but I felt in no way deflated.. I had a lot of juice in my tank, and I knew enough from Rhea Dempsey to know that dilation is not always a true indicator of birthing progress. I get off the bed and get back to work, staying with my body with each contraction; James there for every one. And managing to heat the heat pack and get icypoles in the interim. I have no awareness of what’s happening in the room; I’m going in.
I find myself on the toilet; drip following. Sarah comes in ‘the doctors are happy with how you’re going, but they’d like to see some really good progress in the next hour. Are you happy for me to turn the drip up?’ ‘Yep’ I’m good, I got this. Drip goes up, the next contraction king hits me. It comes from nowhere and hijacks my entire body.. the pain takes my breath, blurs my vision and bowls me into a crisis of confidence. Fuck this, no way.. I’m out, where’s the caesarean. I try the sympathy card with James and in a voice laden with defeat, I manage ‘I can't do this babe’… he gives me a huge playful grin, and with full conviction replies, ‘yes you can’. Ok, the only way is through, fuck it, the next one is coming.. get back to work. IT takes full presence to stay with each contraction, and lots of vocalising... open the vocal cords, open the cervix. The rest in between is blissful… silent, peaceful respite from the intensity.. if Farmor can do it as a tiny 19yo birthing my dad in Copenhagen, then I can do it. I felt all the mothers before me; I harnessed that power. It wasn’t long before I felt the bum, YES! Bum, bum, bum, bum, bum! In the words of Rhea Dempsey. This baby is coming; that was so encouraging it gave me a second wind, and I knew I could keep going for much longer. I spy Rosie sitting casually on the perimeter of the room “I’m pushing’ I manage to say at the end of one contraction, not that I was really pushing, but the bowel pressure was intensifying. Rosie was completely unphased… apparently thinking I had much longer to go. I’m leaning on the bed; vaguely aware of some confusion about the heart rate monitor but not caring at all (turns out my heart rate was going down to 50 something in contractions and they were amazed)… Sarah suggests I get on the bed for some rest, she lies me on my left side, it helps to open the cervix apparently. The contractions slow down a bit, I get longer in that blissful place, and the contractions are different, the uterine pain is barely there, it’s just the bowel pressure, and that is primal and totally manageable. Now they believe me, the baby is coming. I hear them getting the trays and tools ready. Rosie keeps assuring me, your body knows what to do. At no point did they tell me to push; they said they would only do that if they were concerned about the heartbeat; I feel some impatience and push anyway.. it stings. I’m rushing, I kind of know I am, but I don’t stop it. I feel this beautiful weight coming into my vagina, I talk to the baby, ‘beautiful baby’ The head is coming, James is ready to receive our baby. My noises are primal. I think it took two contractions with pushing and our baby was here.
Ha I don’t even know where to start this!
So maybe I’ll just get right to the crux and chat to you about the good shit..
After a really long, mentally challenging wait for our little baby, I was induced 10 days over my due date. On Thursday 14th of June, after a week of heavy monitoring by my obstetricians and the Epworth Geelong Maternity team I was admitted and had a prostaglandin gel administered to get things going. After having lots of pre labour signs for the two weeks prior, my body was gagging to labour but was just struggling to get over the line.
After the gel was administered and Ben was sent home, I got set up in my ridiculously massive room (one of the reasons people have nicknamed it ‘Hotel Epworth’) and put on one of my Hypnobirthing affirmation meditations to send me to sleep.
Ben and I had taken on the incredibly lovely Rosie from Geelong Born as our birth support who also runs the Geelong Born Hypnobirthing Australia™ course which we were always keen to do. So over two Sundays a couple months prior we learnt all about acupressure points and how breathing would help me through the labour. Having had my fair share of health stuff over the past couple of years and been pushed to the highest levels of my pain threshold, I knew where I could go in handling pain and knew that I could either freak the fuck out and let it go to my head or I could calm the hell down and breath through it and get it done. Anyway, more on that later.
After cramping pretty heavily all night I had one more CTG at dawn to check the baby was happy, which it was and then at 8am I had my membranes ruptured by my wonderful obgyn Dr Emily Huning. After a few cracks to burst them (they weren’t going to pop anytime soon given their thickness) I felt a strange release and a big gush of fluid. We were on our way!
Contractions started immediately but were super manageable, so I bounced happily on my favourite thing ever and the thing that got me through the pregnancy- the exercise ball! Chatting easily in between contractions I was then given Syntocinon via a drip to really get things going and BANG! It was all on. The contractions immediately went from zero to hero and I was deep into it. I spent the next hour bouncing on the ball or leaning forward onto the bed riding the waves, whilst breathing in my aromatherapy and having my pre made music playlists guiding me through.
After an hour and a half of this things started getting really serious and without anyone really knowing, I went through the transition phase. If you don’t know what this is, it’s just before you start pushing but you don’t realise and you are flat out trying to pack your bags to leave the hospital because you just don’t want to do it anymore. My reaction was to demand where I was at and how dilated I was. Because the baby was so far down and engaged it was really hard to monitor and her heart rate was so relaxed the nurses still thought I had some time to go. Nope, in my usual style.. my body was in no mood to dick around and just wanted to get things done! After an hour in transition of me kneeling over the ball on the floor, my body started to naturally push and I went with it.. 20 minutes later as my husband continued to rub my lower back as my only form of pain control and with the midwives were around the front of me trying to get the babies heart rate he was astounded to so quickly see the head crowing and just as he looked up to let the nurses know, by the time he looked back down- the baby was lying on the towel covered floor!
It all happened so quickly that no one was prepared for it and the baby and my body were so ready, out came a tiny little baby girl much to everyone’s surprise! As she was handed up to me I was in total shock.. what amazingness just happened??
Had I really just given birth to this vernix covered little ball of baby, in 3 hours, naturally with no drugs?? Yes I bloody did.
I don’t say this proudly as a boastful thing, as I know so many of my friends and other mummas have had really tough labours but I say this because I was genuinely so shocked at how much I loved the experience. Especially because the whole pregnancy I had been freaking out that I was having a caesarean after a medium had told me I was!! Note to all mediums- don’t tell mums to be they are having a caesarean!!! A sure as hell way to destroy their confidence!! But I was chuffed to have proved her wrong and to have had such a wonderful labour.
And I did with the help and support of my incredible man, who calmly and reassuringly supported me the entire time and Rosie, who was so gentle in her support. It was with her experienced guidance she was able to stop me getting into a higher state and allowed me to sink into myself and go deep with my experience. As she knelt in front of me and Ben behind, these two wonders kept me calm and empowered.
And the result of those incredible 3 hours was our little baby girl Adelaide Lily O’Connor, weighing 7.2pounds (what, me.. give birth to a small baby?!) and 47cm long with big feet like her mumma!
The 6 days following that spent at the Epworth was a blur of no sleep, constant staring at this little bundle of magic we had created and overwhelm. Man, how overwhelming it all was. Especially the breastfeeding side of things!! Nothing prepared me for how hard this was going to be. Addie and I were learning together and we both had no idea what we were doing! I hadn’t done any classes on how to breastfeed, which in hindsight I kinda should of because I had NO idea how to get her to latch and she too, sucked.
We eventually got home and the past 5 weeks have been a roller coaster. It took 3 weeks for me to get the breastfeeding down and man, I have never been pushed into a dark corner so quickly as what I did trying to get through the pain and stress of it. But once we both finally got into the swing of it things started to settle and as she grows daily I see her starting to interact more, smiling & gurgling and our time together doing this makes all of it make sense. A big shout out to my two lactation consultants.. Donna at Epworth Geelong and Margie Neyland for when I was home. These two women saved me!
I’d be lying if I said this has come as naturally to me as I thought it would. I might be quite a maternal person but my independent soul has struggled with staying home all day and being her life line. But that’s ok. I realise that it's ok to feel like I've been slapped in the face by the experience. It is fucking hard!! And I’m proud that I don’t pretend that I’m mum of the year, I am going to keep it real because I love when other women portray their truth and not hide behind the perfection of life. So I’m gonna do the same!
I’ve really appreciated other mums who have reached out to check in to see how we are, particularly how I am. I guess they too understand how challenging and isolating this experience can be and women who stand strong for others when they stumble inspire me constantly. We have the power to change someone’s day so rather than beating them down with judgement or their own opinions on how something should be done, its been really lovely to see women simply offer support and a cooked dinner.
There is no one road, I’m learning that leads to success or a well raised, happy child. Everyone will find their own path and as rocky as it may be, its their path to walk. And how amazing the path I’m walking is and I cannot wait to lead Adelaide down it for a short while until she takes the reigns. I will empower her to see the world for the beauty and magnificence it has but most importantly showing her all the beauty and magnificence she holds within herself.
Hilary's birth story was first published on the Hilary Holmes Makeup blog page on August 7, 2018
Hilary's birth resources...
Rosie at Geelong Born www.geelongborn.com.au for birth support & the Hypnobirthing Australia™ course in Geelong & the Surf Coast.
Epworth Geelong Maternity https://www.epworthgeelong.org.au/our-services/maternity/
Geelong Maternity Group http://www.geelongmaternitygroup.com.au/
I woke suddenly at 4am. This was not unusual and usually required a trip to the loo. I got up, peed and waddled back to my cosy, warm bed. I was full of anxiety, which was normal throughout my pregnancy - but this time it was intense. And then I felt it. At first it was a warm trickle in my undies. I closed my legs tightly and pretended to ignore it. I couldn’t. So, I stood up to check. As I stood, water gushed everywhere; like a bucket had been thrown over me. My waters had broken. I was 35 weeks pregnant.
And so began the birth that would last over 40 hours. At first I had no contractions and the doctors at Geelong Hospital hoped bub would stay in there another 2 weeks - with me loaded up on high doses of antibiotics, of course. I hadn’t finished work (and work for myself) so I was frantically wrapping things up from my hospital bed; much to the amusement of the nurses. Laptop on my knees, tethering wifi through my phone - I must have looked a little nuts.
And then the contractions started. Oh my God. There was no more work happening now. We were on!
Back and forth I went, from the birthing suite to the shared ward, and back again (3 times in total). I broke down in tears after a night spent writhing in the hospital bed (listening to other woman birthing in rooms nearby), when the doctor said to me bluntly - you’re not in labour yet, so you’re going back upstairs. I was beginning to regret my strong views (for myself) on pain medications and the epidural. To help deal with the pain, I took the advice of my amazing birth support, Rosie. I moved constantly, squatted, had the lights off, sat on the toilet, stood in the hot shower for hours… and breathed, and breathed and breathed.
After almost two days of pre-labour and 5 hours of pushing, I was done. My contractions slowed down to every 15 minutes, and I had no energy left to push. The wonderful doctors offered help by performing an episiotomy and applying suction to bubs head. A few more pushes, using all the strength I could muster, and there he was: My beautiful boy, Banjo.
My birth plan was detailed and informed, especially on pain management; skin to skin contact; cutting the cord; and birthing the placenta naturally. But I always knew my fate was ultimately in the hands of the midwives and doctors. I was stubborn (probably too stubborn) about the pain medication, until it was too late and so I birthed by baby naturally - a vaginal birth with no pain medication (except a bit of gas). Having beautiful Rosie helped me stay strong, and guided me in decision making when I needed it. She gave constant support and advice to my mum and partner, and they all worked as a beautiful, supportive team, along with the incredibly strong, caring midwives, to bring my boy into the world.
Beautiful Rosie being part of our pregnancy and birth helped me more than I could ever imagine. She was a constant support, offering us guidance in all our decision making. If i’m ever lucky enough to give birth again, Rosie would be by my side. Her calm, caring, compassionate and understanding nature made us all feel at ease, even when I went into labour at 35 weeks! By the end we felt like Rosie was part of the family.
*Because he was premature, Banjo Ted was in the Special Care Nursery for 2 weeks after birth. The little champ started kicking goals immediately, and is now the happiest, healthiest little 8-month-old. He makes us smile every day.
Hi, my name is Rosie Fitzclarence and I am a Registered Midwife, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator (Geelong Born) and Hypnobirthing Australia Certified Practitioner. I am based in Geelong and can be contacted by email at email@example.com or phone 0419170783.
To find out more about Geelong Born Pregnancy, Birth and Postnatal Support CLICK HERE.
I was one of those mythical pregnant women you hear about - the ones who I didn't believe existed until I became pregnant - the ones who have breezy symptomless pregnancies. Apart from a few waves of nausea in the early weeks (nothing that a fruit tingle couldn't fix!) I pretty much got through my pregnancy 'scot-free'.
But don't start to hate me - I had my share of trials and tribulations - it was the whole getting pregnant bit that I struggled with, after 8 months of TTC I found out that I had (and still have) polycystic ovaries. Anywho with the assistance of my brilliant gynaecologist Dr Sam Sabary (the baby maker) and a god-send drug called Clomid - I became pregnant within 8 weeks of starting medication.
I arrived at my due date on Thursday the 27th of July after 30 days of nesting, beach walks, cappuccinos and countless episodes of 'One Born Every Minute' (The UK version, not the US). I was excited, eager and ready to meet my babe. I'd spent the better part of 40 weeks researching, reading and learning everything there was to learn about birth and I felt... well... ready!
I cruised into the weekend with anticipation and hope that he or she would be coming soon! I cleaned out the bathroom cupboards, the linen cupboard and made last minute dashes to Kmart for storage boxes. On Saturday morning I noticed a small fluid drop - thought nothing of it and got on with my day. That night it happened again, and then again on Sunday morning.
I called the hospital and they suggested that I come in for a quick check as my obstetrician was already in delivering, I was advised that it was probably nothing and I could go home. I started to plan where we could have brekky while we were in Geelong... that brekky never happened!
Upon being examined I was told that I was already over 4cm dilated and my labour was halfway over... (insert shocked face!), I hadn't had a single contraction! My waters were broken and I was in the delivery room faster than you can say 'yourehavingthisbabytoday'!
I had written a birth plan and was pretty open minded for my labour - however I wanted it to remain as natural as possible. My open mindedness was quickly tested when I was told I needed the drip to bring on my contractions as the pre labour rupture of membranes meant that bub could possibly have been exposed to infections. My contractions started naturally prior to the drip being administered which made me happy - I was in labour!
I used yoga breathing techniques to get through labour - I was surprised at how well breathing could get me through contractions! I remained active throughout my labour - on my feet and my knees. I can't remember exactly but the contractions remained around 1 minute apart and lasted about 30 seconds - it was a very intense and overwhelming few hours.
I knew it was almost over, with each contraction I could feel the baby pushing down lower. The contractions had gotten to their 'maximum' and were of a similar strength and length each time. I knew what to expect from each one and my mind and my husband Ryan pulled me through the last of them until our son was born.
After just over 4 and a half hours of labour we gave birth to a very healthy 8lb 12oz boy named Bass Harper Jamieson. I really did have a birthing dream team: my obstetrician Dr Sam Sabary, St John of God Hospital, Rosie Fitzclarence at Geelong Born and of course my husband Ryan.
I had requested delayed cord clamping so that our babe could have all of that beautiful nutrients returned to him before the cord was cut, so he was on my chest having a cuddle before the cord was cut at a later stage.
My placenta was collected by Earth Mama who encapsulated it and returned it to me the next morning in pill format - I'm still having these today! It's done wonders for recovery, milk supply and hormone settling!
Strangely, I look back on my labour fondly, it was such an empowering experience. It really is amazing what your body just does - it's almost as if the body acts before the mind does. I was proud of the strength of my mind and my body. Sure I had some battle scars but I have a beautiful now 4 month old boy to show for it!
Morgan, Ryan and Baby Bass
My birthing story starts 18 months prior to the arrival of our amazing little guy “William Sunny”.
On the 24th of June 2015, I delivered my first beautiful babe Amelia via a caesarean section. This experience was everything I didn’t want and plan for. I was prepared physically and mentally for a natural, drug free, unassisted birth. My husband and myself had dedicated a weekend to undertaking Calm Birth, we had worked out a birth plan and I had planned out in my head what the arrival of my first baby would look like. All of this was taken away when I went to my weekly regular check up with the Obstetrician.
At this appointment, the doctor initially expressed concerns about the size of the baby and my blood pressure was elevated. I was sent to the hospital for bloods, urine sample, blood pressure monitoring and a fetal heart scan. The fetal scan showed baby wasn’t as active they would have hoped and admitted me to hospital for bed rest. At 6pm when the doctor did his rounds, he indicated that my bloods were of concern and that he believed baby needed to come out sooner rather than later. I was 37.4 weeks. At this point my husband was not yet at the hospital and I started to panic. The doctor assessed me to see if my body for favourable to be induced, however my body was not ready. The only option was a caesarean. I was prepped for theatre; I still waiting for my husband to arrive and my anxiety was heightened. All that was running through my mind was “I’m not ready to have a baby yet, I still have a few weeks to go”, “this is not what I had planned.” At 8.20pm my baby girl was “born.” After birth the doctor diagnosed me with HELLP syndrome. A condition that is only associated to pregnancy, with little information about what causes it but can make you critically unwell very quickly.
The birth of Amelia was very traumatic for me; I mourned not having the natural birth I had wanted. I felt guilty that I could not provide my baby the best possible start in the outside world. Although I loved her, I did not bond with her immediately. At day three post birth the “three-day blues” kicked in and they did not go away. My anxiety was always heightened and everyday tasks were difficult, I had no joy in becoming a mum. I had post-natal depression. This took a long time to ease, for my emotions to become stable and life to become manageable again. About seven months later I was being to feel semi-normal again, and begun to become the mum I had hoped I would be.
A few months later I discovered I was pregnant again. This wasn’t a part of the plan. My body and cycle had not gone back to normal, so we did not think there was any chance of falling pregnant. This discovery was a huge shock. The timing was wrong. It was too soon between babies and I was about to celebrate my 30th birthday. I spent the first eight weeks emotionally eating and crying my way through first trimester nausea.
When I went to the GP to confirm I was pregnant, I decided I needed some emotional support. I was linked into an amazing Psychologist Cath Corcoran. I spent time with her working through my initial experiences, and she helped me find ways to begin to connect with my baby. Cath suggested yoga as a means of having time for baby and me. I was recommended to try yoga with Erin Mieszkowski from Womb 2 Move. From the initial conversation with Erin I knew this was what I needed. Erin listened to my story and empathized with my experience of post-natal depression and associated anxiety. During my time with Cath I decided I want to try for a vaginal birth after a caesarean (VBAC). After a chatting to Erin at yoga one night I asked her if she knew of anyone who would be suitable for birth support and was in favour of VBAC. Erin suggested Rosie Fitzclarence from Geelong Born. From the moment I spoke with Rosie I knew she was the right person to have on our team. She came out and spent time with my husband and myself. She actively listened to our hopes and desires for this birth, and her knowledge and experience was amazing. I was well supported in preparation for a success VBAC experience.
At around 37 weeks, I started to feel symptomatic of pre-eclampsia and I spent a bit of time at the hospital getting monitored. My anxiety started to heighten; I needed my body needed to make it past 37.4 weeks. Rosie’s support and reassurance during this time helped me to ask reasonable questions and logically work through my anxiety and decision-making. The hospital staff were well aware of my desire for a VBAC, and made me feel empowered and supported in working towards this. They made suggestions such as, a stretch and sweep at 38 weeks but were respectful of the decision I made which I declined. Through my work with Cath and discussions with Rosie, I knew that I needed to allow my body to spontaneously go into labour to ensure my chances of a successful VBAC. I had mentally prepared myself to get to 41-weeks, and if I didn’t go into labour I would be at peace if a caesarean was my only option.
At 39 weeks, I was feeling very, very over being pregnant and started to worry that my body wouldn’t be ready to birth my baby in time, before the hospital doctors would want to book a caesarean, Rosie continued to reassure me that my baby and body would know when the time was right. I started focusing on this. I used a mantra card that Erin had given us at yoga and played this over in my head “Just like my body knew how to grow this baby, my body knows how to birth this baby.” At my 39-week doctors appointment, I did decide to have a stretch and sweep, as it was the most natural form of intervention. However, at this appointment, the Obstetrician that completed the internal did not believe my cervix was yet favourable and suggested we try next week if I hadn’t already gone into labour. I was preparing myself for another week of being big and uncomfortable.
At 3am the next morning, I rolled over in bed to attend to my toddler, and I felt like I had wet myself… I stood up and realised my waters had broken. There was so much fluid I needed to shower. I rang Rosie immediately. She was so excited which immediately took away my fear of unknown. Rosie advised to call the hospital but encouraged me to try and rest at home for as long as possible, and to let her know when I was planning on going to the hospital. I called my mum to make her way to our place, I needed to know that my little girl was safe and happy before I could start to focus to delivering our little man.
About an hour after my waters broke, the contractions had commenced but they were very irregular. Once mum arrived I spent some time relaxing and preparing myself mentally in the bath. I played mediation music that I had heard weekly at yoga and began to focus on my breathing.
Around 9am we headed into the hospital, as I was classified as high risk, due to my previous caesarean birth and they wanted to begin monitoring me and baby closely. My contractions were very irregular and at this point the hospital did not consider me to be in labour… I was in labour… I felt every contraction, as infrequent at they were. During the initial contractions or “waves,” I focused on these waves helping to open my body and move baby down. I visualised a flower opening and focused on breathing down to baby, as Erin had taught us during yoga.
By about 11am I was taken to a room on the labour ward, Rosie helped us set up and make the room as comfortable as possible. During this time, I stayed very mobile. Walking, rocking, swaying my way around the room. We set up the TENS machine and I used it to support me during my contractions. Rosie left my husband and myself at this point, giving us some space and time together. After about an hour, my contractions were still irregular, the midwife decided to organise a room on the maternity ward for me, as no one knew how quickly I would progress. Once I went up to the maternity ward, my husband went home for while for a break, and my mum came and sat with me. At this point I was becoming tired and decided to lay down and rest. During that time my contraction went from being very irregular to 1minute on, 4 minutes off. Mum rubbed my arm and talked me through my breathing with every contraction. The intensity of the waves were increasing and it was becoming more difficult to breathe through the contractions. We waited for about an hour before calling midwife, she believed that my labour had now started and took us back to the labour ward. My husband came back and mum left.
For the next few hours I sort refuge in the shower, again we had the familiar meditation music playing, I swayed my hips between waves and used my husband as a physically support to hold me up during the contractions. After showering my husband was becoming concerned with the level of pain I was in, he wanted me to try and use “gas” to provide some relief. The midwife set it up, showed him how it was administered and left us to it. During my next contraction, he wanted me to try it however it needed to be breathed in and this was the opposite process to the breathing I had spent 9 months practicing at yoga. I couldn’t use the gas!
By 6pm Rosie had returned, the contractions were so intense I had reached the point where I’d had enough… a crisis of confidence. Rosie reassured me I was doing a great job and to continue focusing on my breathing. We decided that an internal examination would help determine the next course of action. I was 6cm dilated… I turned to Rosie and said “that means 4 more hours, I can’t do this! I need an epidural” Again she reassured me that I could and reminded me of my breathing. The pain in my back was too much to handle, and TENS machine was irritating me, so we took it off and Rosie directed my husband to massage my back.
I was still trying to stay as active as possible between contractions, swaying my hips. During the waves I was hunched over the side of the bed. I tried to visual some of the important and inspirational women in my life and their successful birthing stories. I kept reminding myself that my body knew what to do. I focused on keeping my jaw and shoulders relaxed. Erin had emphasized the importance to staying relaxed to ensure the pelvis would open up. My husband consistently told me how amazing I was doing and how proud of me he was. He played music that was familiar and of significant to us both.
The hospital midwife had been having some difficulty finding baby’s heart rate with the external monitor, as a result an internal one was required. By the time they had successfully attached the monitor and I became mobile again I felt very heavy.
Very soon after that I began to have the urge to push. During this initial pushing phase, I felt a very strong burning sensation and a little blood loss. Rosie helped me to remain focused on delivering my baby as I was so close. I used the proceeding contractions to guide me in pushing and I allowed myself to use my voice to be a strong “warrior Mumma.” After a short time of pushing, the hospital midwife requested I lay on the bed to deliver due to some blood loss appearing. It took me a while to find a position on the bed that made me feel as though I had enough power to push. Once I found that position, it was only a couple more almighty pushes, and our little man arrived into the world.
I did it! I birthed our baby, naturally, without intervention and drugs!
He was bought immediately to my chest. I had an instant connection with him. We had delayed cord clamping and my husband cut the umbilical cord when the time was right. The final stage of labour, birthing the placenta, took some time as I was really tired and the contractions were still intense. We spent time bonding with our little man. I required some repair after the birth however, my husband stayed with our little man, having skin-to-skin contact the whole time.
The birth of William was the most wonderful, painful, surreal, beautiful experiences of my life. I was very lucky to have an amazing team (Erin, Rosie and Cath) behind me and the on-going support of my husband who respected my desire to have a VBAC; because of the faith they had in me I felt empowered to birth my baby naturally.