Lately I’ve been reflecting on the past a lot, and this is one moment that has been on my mind a lot. In just a few weeks, my wee baby will be turning 1. I can’t quite believe how fast that time has gone. I know people say it all the time, but seriously – it’s true! Everyone has their own unique birth story, and Maia’s is definitely one I didn’t expect.
The day you meet your midwife, you realise this person is going to be the narrator in your birth. You’ll write your birth plan with her, and she will make it happen. Want a water birth? Candles and essential oils? Want to give birth standing? On all fours? Whatever your preferences are, she will do everything she can to ensure it plays out safely. But what happens when your birth plan goes out the window? Seriously. Not a single thing goes to plan. Like the time I had a baby in my parents hallway. Yea that wasn’t planned.
My first baby was born in the hospital, with an epidural and ventouse (suction) assistance. I wanted to be braver second time round and try for natural, but I had this nagging disbelief in myself sitting in the back of my mind. I needed pain relief the first time round; it was likely to be the same again. I told my midwife I would try for no interventions, I would try for gas first, and we would try start out at the birthing centre. I’d known her for years, she knew me well and I trusted her to do the right thing.
Second time round, I knew what I was looking out for when contractions began at 10am on a Thursday. I recognised them for what they were, and tried to ignore them. You know when they tell you in ante-natal classes to just continue going about your day? Do some gardening, bake a cake, go for a walk? I ignored all that and lay on the couch. I watched TV all day. I breathed in, and breathed out. I timed my contractions. 30-35 minutes apart. I had a few naps, 30 minutes apart because you know – that stabbing pain appeared like clockwork and woke me each time. By the time these damn contractions were igniting a fire inside me, it was 5am on Friday morning. I couldn’t breathe, could barely talk and I was hating life. Apparently that’s a “stage” of labour.
My mum drove over to pick me up and we agreed to meet my midwife at my parents’ house before making our way to the hospital. I wanted an epidural pronto. I didn’t want the detour to my parents, but apparently an examination was necessary before we got to the hospital. My husband would drive in his car, with our then 2-year old, because the last thing I wanted was to scare our little girl with my exorcism impersonation. I had 100% lost the bloody plot.
My birth plan was already null and void; I was bypassing the birthing centre and heading straight to the hospital with all the drugs available. I couldn’t handle the pain, like I knew would be the case. I had tried, but I was throwing the towel in. Too hard. Too sore. It needed to end immediately. But this little baby had other plans in mind!
It was nearly 6am and my 2-year old nephew was in the lounge watching Max and Ruby while I was screaming in the toilet because my waters had popped. My midwife had to physically lift me off the toilet, scared I might push my baby out into the toilet. My body was definitely contemplating it. She gave me the terrifying news – we weren’t going anywhere, this baby was coming any minute. What the actual fuck?! I couldn’t have a baby at my parents’ house! Home birth was definitely never anywhere near my birth plan. It wasn’t in back up plan B, C or D either!
I’m so very privileged to have had such a wonderful midwife, how she wasn’t screaming along with me I have no idea. That was some seriously stressful shit. My parents conveniently had an air bed up in the hallway, so that became the birthing spot. There’s a reason they tell you to sip water during labour. It’s because when you’re yelling so damn hard and loud, your throat dries out, and you might just dehydrate yourself in a matter of minutes.
The TV was blaring in the lounge and I was yelling on the other side of the door, as this wee little baby entered the world. In my parents hallway. On an air bed. She was 100% perfect and healthy, ten fingers and ten toes. Towels were on rotation coming from the dryer so she was warm and dry. I whimpered to my parents “I did it all by myself”. I cringe now at the sound of my voice, but I think I was in some form of shock. And elation. I had just done what I had been counting on myself to absolutely not be able to do. I hadn’t once truly believed I could do it without pain relief, and here I was with a gorgeous baby, proof that I had done exactly that.
A birth plan is a way of communicating to those involved in your labour what your preferences are and what you wish to happen. But honestly, sometimes your body and your baby have a different plan. The majority of labour is completely out of your control, so if the situation changes, so does your plan. Try to be flexible, because at the end of the day you want the safest possible delivery for both you and your baby.
And just so you know – home births aren’t nearly as messy as I always thought they would be, not a speck of blood on the floor at all!