It was 5pm on a Friday, when I simultaneously dropped off our co-op organic veggie box, and dropped my bundle, at my dear friend and doula Julie’s house. At 38 weeks and 6 days, I was not the chilled out birth mama I had been channelling throughout my pregnancy. I felt overwhelmed and underprepared, even though I’d had a beautiful birth (in hospital) once before.
This time it was different. I was having a daughter. Facing pieces of myself, and my own mother. Our lineage. My fears. A pregnancy spent hustling and showing up in the world, made me realise how much, at this eleventh hour, I wasn’t showing up for myself, and facing my disowned parts. And like some kind of divine intervention, there were three missed calls and a message from my midwife when I got back in the car: “Bridget, can you ring me. Your results are back. I sent them to Jenny. You need to be reviewed at Frankston. Thanks, Lou”
And with that the emotion spilled out of me. I unbuckled my son from his carseat, and hauled my body, heaving with tears, into Julie’s house, and her arms. As I sat on the couch, I knew then that the homebirth I had been planning for and dreaming of, visualising as I lay in the bath each night, was not going to happen. I was now ‘part of the system’ and would be treated as such. I wasn’t going home to cook dinner mindfully with my gorgeous son, and practice Optimal Foetal Positioning to bring my baby into the world on her time, I was going into hospital to be hooked to a CTG monitor because test results indicated Obstetric Cholestasis or Pre-eclampsia (and at 39 weeks it was considered safest to induce).
I was now faced with the need to quickly prepare myself mentally, spiritually and physically, to birth our baby in a scenario that was significantly different to what I had planned, which was a gentle and empowering homebirth. Consciously, I also knew that on some level I had chosen this. I could either resist the situation I found myself in and mourn the loss of the birth I dreamed of, or wholeheartedly give the best of myself in this new environment and make it my own. And that’s what I did.
Friday night was lonely after mum and my husband left and I lay in my crumpled clothes from the day, teeth furry after some stale sandwiches, my body tossing and turning on the plastic-covered hospital bed, feeling trapped in the stiff sheets. My baby girl kicked eagerly inside my belly and I knew I had to flip my perceptions.
On Saturday, I called in my team. Private midwife, doula, husband, mum, and my Chinese medicine practitioner to do some ‘natural induction’ through acupuncture. This was operation ‘get baby moving’, before leaving the drugs to do their work. Julie adorned my room in inspiration, with twinkling lights, my birth affirmation flags, crystals, quotes on the walls. I had my own pillow and blanket, a journal to write in, beautiful cups to drink nourishing tea from, and some of those dearest to me, in the room. The tears flowed. There was music, there was laughter. Our little corner of this shared hospital room drew a crowd, too, with hospital staff drawn to our homely, nurturing vibe.
In between blood pressure and CTG monitoring, I ensured the registrar and midwife on duty were clear on my birth plan, respecting their position and limitations within the system, but also making clear that I knew my options within that. And so they largely left us alone to just be. I took walks, climbed stairs, meditated, and moved my body at regular intervals. I wrote to my baby. On Saturday night my husband and I went out to dinner. That night, I slept the most soundly I had in weeks and woke at 4am, to journal, and reframe my perceptions so that I could balance and align my mindset for the day ahead. What were the benefits I was getting by being in hospital? By not going into spontaneous labour? When I realised, the tears of gratitude flowed, for the higher order at play. I could now focus on the birth, without the hangups of how it ‘should be’, or where I have ‘failed’. I focussed on my daughter and who I had to be for her, to bring her as consciously as I could, into this world.
The acupuncture had worked to help open my cervix, and so minimal induction was needed. At 6pm on Sunday as night, and quiet, descended on the hospital, we moved to the delivery suite and Julie mindfully created the birth environment that I had in the room, and what I’d dreamed of at home. The lights were dimmed, the music turned up, and I moved my body. At 7pm, my waters were broken and we commenced what would be a two-hour window before I was put onto the Syntocinon drip, as negotiated with the hospital staff. In that time I danced with intention, and we made birth fun with an awesome playlist, before the contractions started to become more powerful and we slowed it down. I didn’t want ‘pain’ in my vocabulary for this birth, despite what I knew was coming with the intensity of induced contractions, and so I transformed it, visualising it as a spiral of energy moving through and out of my body.
It was in these moments that I was again reminded – birth is not where you are, it is who you are. It is from within. I could dance with my contractions, and with my fears, or resist them.
My team circled around me, moving in and out of my space like a flowing tide that responded to my energy. They held me when the feeling of entrapment brought on by being hooked to a drip with no movement, threatened to overwhelm me. A birth stool from days of old was like a godsend (in fact, when I sat down on it I exclaimed ‘This is fucking amazing!!’). With some synthetic hormones and no pain relief, I was having a hospital birth on my terms, that honoured both my wishes, and my baby.
Sylvie Elizabeth Wood was born into my arms, and as I touched her crowning head, some part of me knew that this was the empowered birth I needed. This was my message. Not the homebirth I had idealised, but the practice of wading through the bureaucratic red-tape to pave the way for other women who want to birth within the system, in a way that’s their own.
Wondering how you can balance your mindset on your birth experience? Visit Nourishing The Mother and download your guided questions to create freedom and ‘flip your birth’.
Bridget Wood, a mother of two, is Co-Founder of Nourishing The Mother and a lover of life and connecting people to themselves through wisdom, introspection and quality questions. Bridget is also the Director and Events Manager of Suburban Sandcastles. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the bigger picture of human behaviour and how the world works, Bridget is on an inspired path to learn more deeply who we are beyond the limitations that we, and our society and culture, place upon us.
Rockstar Birth images taken by amazing Photographer and Doula Bree Downes:
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