It has taken me 6 months to put pen to paper and write Mika’s birth story.
Mika was born in November 2015 and 6 months later to the date it was International Midwives Day and the following weekend was our first Mother’s Day together – so it felt like the perfect time to share our story.
Birth is an intimate, emotion filled and momentous experience – there are plenty of belief systems, passionate opinions and “professional advice” that come with the birthing process.
This is none of the above – this is a story about a Mama’s deep desire to birth her baby in a space she felt, safe, warm and nurtured. I set out to birth in a space that felt safe, with a team that believed in me and acknowledged my body’s innate ability to birth my baby. I was educated about my choices and proactive in ensuring my mental and physical body was open, prepared and at peace.
A little back-story, as hindsight is a wonderful tool.
My first baby was posterior and his journey into the world took 36 hours – he was born at 7:47pm and it certainly felt like I had taken a long-haul flight in a 747 to arrive at our final destination.
My hope was to be in the birth centre, and virtually unassisted welcome our little guy earth side – instead his story ends in a hospital with an epidural, episiotomy and forceps.
I felt disappointed and that I was continuing to play out a long running storyline of “non completion” in my life.
I share this part of my journey to highlight that there was some shifting of perspective and healing to do for me to be able to “complete” the desire to birth my next baby without medical intervention.
So that’s what I did – I used my gestation period to attend monthly Positive Birth Movement meetings, I saw a hypnotherapist, listened to Hypnobirthing tracks nightly, and attended a weekend workshop specifically directed at rewiring inner held birth trauma.
I also educated myself on who the BEST birthing team would be for me – and decided to hire our own Private Midwife Jacqui (from MAMA – Midwives and Mother’s Australia – clinic in Caulfield VIC) to be by my side through pregnancy and beyond.
This truly was the best money we have ever spent – having Jacqui’s love; expertise and dedicated personal support enabled me to feel absolutely at peace and in my groove throughout the journey.
I was yet to discover that my deepest desire was to birth at home.
Due to my conditioning and the loud social values around ‘home birth’ this just hadn’t been an option for me – armed with my private Midwife, I booked into the nearest hospital and continued to have my prenatal visits at the beautiful MAMA clinic.
Somewhere at about 34 weeks, Jacqui asked me what was the hardest part of my first birth experience, my answer surprised me – “having my first night with Bowen in a shared hospital room without my husband Elton, fighting to keep my newborn chest to chest as the hospital staff insisted there was to be no co-sleeping”. I respect the nurses for doing their job, but I politely told them “it’s not considered co-sleeping, if I am not sleeping!’.
My answer got me thinking – what would I have preferred? Best cast scenario where would I want to be?
And the image I received was crystal clear –
At home in our bed with my husband, our 2 and a half-year-old and our newborn baby.
I sat with the image over the next 2 weeks before having my next appointment with Jacqui, and once I shared it with her it was decided that we would do our very best to make that picture become my reality.
The morning of November 4th 2015 was like any other – I walked and Bowen rode to our local café/park – we met my Mum there, had a cuppa and ran about the park. It was a lovely sunny day.
At 12PM it was naptime – I took every opportunity I could to snuggle with Bowen during his midday nap and today was no different.
I woke around 1PM needing to pee, I quietly crept out of bed and headed to the loo.
I remember thinking something felt different, I felt more open down there. But I quickly shook that thought off as I was only 39.2 weeks and Bowen was born 10 days late – in my mind I still had 2 weeks to go before baby would make an appearance.
Climbing back into bed as gracefully as a heavily preggers lady can, I popped my earphones in and listened to one of my Hypnobirthing tracks to soothe myself back to dreamland. Only to woken by slight cramping a half hour later.
Another trip to the loo and this time there’s some blood and water – this is exactly what happened at the beginning stages of labor with my first – so at this point I am pretty sure this show is on the road.
I looked at the long list of To Do’s we still had in the pipeline for that weekend and prioritised the ones that needed to be ready for baby’s imminent arrival – like putting the car capsule in the actual car!
I felt clear and eerily efficient, this feeling also confirmed to me that we were indeed in the beginning stages of labor.
I knocked on Elton’s home-office door, opened it and he took one look at me –
“We’re in labor, right?”
“We are! I’m not ready, I hope I can do this”
“You are as ready as you’ll ever be honey, you’ll do great”.
It was a Wednesday, which was my primary Midwife, Jacqui’s day off. I phoned Jan the other Midwife who would be at my birth to inform her of where we were at. Jan alerted Jacqui, who generously decided to be at the birth even though it was her one day off!
Buoyed by the news that Jacqui would be here to support me, I danced around the house with a broom cleaning the floors and dusting the corners getting rid of those spider webs that had been bugging me for days.
At this stage I was having contractions about every 9 minutes apart– I would stop, sway and breathe my way through the surges and then go right back into what I was doing.
The distraction of house keeping and preparing dinner for the family was welcomed. I went slow and remembered that we could be in for a long night and morning ahead if it was anything like the marathon first birth experience.
At around 5ish, Jacqui arrived at our door with her two little girls – Bo was happy to play with them while Jacqui prepped the space with her equipment and Elton blew up/filled the birth pool.
Jacqui was pretty sure that the waters I had felt in the afternoon wasn’t my waters breaking but more likely a spontaneous rupture of my membrane, she also predicted that things wouldn’t go into “full swing” until Bowen was fed, bathed and happily asleep in bed. With everything in place and my surges still sitting at 9 minutes apart, Jacqui and the girls left.
We completed the nighttime routine; I read books with Bo on the couch, relishing the moment of it just being the two of us. Then I crawled into bed beside him, Bo fanning my hot face through each surge as we talked about the baby being on it’s way, then he finally nestled in to fall asleep.
As soon as his eyes closed my surges stepped it up – I managed to quietly find my way to the wall and hung out there resting against it’s cool, solid support as I recruited my breath to flow through the heightened intensity of the contraction.
Elton popped his head around the door to see me dancing with the wall – he walked me out of the room and suggested I give Jacqui a phone call; it was around 8PM by this stage.
Jacqui stayed on the phone with me to listen as I rolled into my next surge – all I wanted was to find another cool, solid wall to ride it out with. I landed at a small piece of wall by the couch and next to the archway into the dining room. I had pinned positive birth affirmations all around the house and this small piece of wall had 4 quotes and a diagram of the optimal birthing position.
Believe you can and you will
Birth is Joyous
I am not afraid
My baby is healthy and strong
I truly felt I embodied all of these qualities as I journeyed through the next 4 hours of active labour.
Elton informed close family that we were in motion, then lit the candles and started playing the birth playlist we had created.
I was now in the full swing of active labour and I would be for the next four hours – I clung onto the wall and didn’t move – I felt at ease, supported, joy filled and in the zone – my body was doing the work and my mind had taken a vacation, it was a potent feeling of embraced surrender.
Jan and Jacqui sat quietly at our dining room table, the back fly screen was open and the warmth and darkness of the evening felt like it was quietly cradling me through each surge and each rolling wave of intensity was bringing me one step closer to holding my baby in my arms.
I sang the birth song, loud and powerfully through every surge, opening my throat and roaring out the guttural sounds. Unfortunately this kept waking our little guy, Elton spent most the time in the bedroom with Bo, who had decided he would come out and see Mum once the baby was born. Elt came back every now and again taking my weight through a surge and then Jacqui would take his place.
It’s said that each layer of clothing taken off by a birthing women is a sign that they have dilated another centimetre, at this stage I wanted everything off so I guess baby was getting close.
The next surge had me fall to my knees – transition had arrived. This was a undeniable full body reflex to bear down…Jan took up camp at the business end and Jacqui held my weight as I pushed into her through the mammoth impulses.
I spat the words “This is HARD” at Jacqui. “I know” she lovingly replied “but, you’ve done the hard work, your baby is almost here – so get on with it”. It was just what I needed to hear – the honesty, acknowledgment and directness that led me into the next surge. A giant roar and the expert hands of Jan assisting me through as I answered my bodies need to expel my baby out.
“pull back, don’t try so hard” Jan whispered, “your baby’s head is here, now let baby do the work” and with one more full body ejection baby was out.
“We have an en-caul baby” Jan declares, “en-caul?” I query, “Your baby is still in its amniotic sack, still swimming in the waters”
Baby is placed in between my shaking legs, sucking on its hand in fetal position –
I am looking at exactly how baby would have looked inside of me. WOW!!
I asked if I could pick her up – Jan responded “it’s your baby!”
Jacqui moved her fingers through membrane and baby took its first breath. Elton apparently asked me if I wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl – I was so in awe of this precious creation I didn’t even look until I was nestled up on the couch with baby on my belly and cord still attached to the placenta that was yet to be delivered.
Elt asks again “ do you want to know what we had?”, I reach down and take a look, A GIRL!!
Bowen raced out and kissed my forehead “I was saying in my bed…you did it Mum, you did it” his smiled stretched from ear to ear.
Our generous, birth nerd photographer Angela Gallo had been notified earlier that we were in labour, but Elton hadn’t given her the green light to travel the hour drive from her place to us – he thought we would have hours before she was needed.
Angela arrived right after our baby girl was born and was of course gutted to miss photographing an en-caul baby! Angela added a celebratory, elated sweetness to our intimate birth space, as she quietly and gracefully danced around our family capturing the most precious and exquisite moments behind her lens, moments that we will treasure for a lifetime!
The rest of the early morning hours flowed by with close and loving attention from my midwives.
Mika Lily Brown arrived on November 5th 2015 at 12:34am, weighing 3.2kg.
We were now a family of four and the vision that had solidified my decision to birth at home was now my reality. We were all quietly snuggled in our bed together, it was about 4am and the rain had started to fall outside our bedroom window. I lay there wide-awake, on a bliss filled high as my boys and my new daughter slept soundly – a dream realised and a vision completed.
YOU HAVE CHOICES IN BIRTH – know what they are and do what feels right for you.
I am a Mum, wife, life coach, yoga teacher, creative, and life enthusiast. I write to share, I read to stay curious, and I talk so as to connect with people from all walks of life – the unique brilliance within each and every one of us blows my mind. I love that we each have a story, a passion, and a path and I am committed to ‘Feel’ my way through this life.
The Feel Project: thefeelproject.com/author/callie-brown/
Beautiful photography by Angela Gallo: www.angelagallo.com