It was October 2014, and I’d just returned from another long haul journey to Canada and back with my then 17 month old. We’d only gone back for a few weeks – just long enough to see family, stand alongside my best friend as her bridesmaid, and then head back to Australia. During those precious weeks, I reconnected with dear friends & family in a way I hadn’t ever before. I’d missed so much, living away, and it felt like all the years were crashing down on me. In those moments, I spoke of how I would most certainly be back in Canada for the birth of my second baby. But it was not to be…
Two weeks after returning back to Australia, the jetlag still hadn’t left me. I felt sick all the time. I was exhausted. And although it seemed impossible, my husband and I decided to take a pregnancy test. I was pregnant. The guilt that began to rush through my veins was overwhelming. None of our close friends had conceived their first child yet, let alone their second. How would we tell them? I felt as alone and as depressed as I had with my first. Despite having a beautiful community of women around me through my business – it wasn’t the same as family or friends that I’d grown up with, that I so desperately wanted to experience pregnancy and birth alongside. I felt betrayed by my body, resentful of my husband. We had taken precautions and I still fell pregnant. I felt so guilty for how I felt, knowing how many have difficulty conceiving, and here we were. Our first baby wasn’t planned; we’d only just started trying when we conceived her. The second baby wasn’t planned; we were actively NOT trying, and we still fell pregnant. And, of course, there was no way we were going to make it back to Canada to have this baby. I was a mess.
It was three weeks after we found out that we attended a BBQ with our dearest friends, mates of my husband’s since school days. I felt nervous, guilty and ashamed to be around these women again, knowing our secret and desperately not wanting to tell them. And it was at this BBQ that something miraculous happened. One of the women spoke up that she was pregnant, 12 weeks in! And then another, she was 10 weeks in! And then ANOTHER, who was early days, but still knew she was pregnant! In that moment I nearly burst into tears. I found my voice and let them know that we, too, were expecting. Four of the five couples in our tight little circle were expecting. It seriously felt like a miracle. The men in the group nearly dropped their beers when they realized what the giggles and tears were all about!
So our little group continued on to experience the highs and lows of pregnancy. We cried together when one lost her baby in the early weeks, and prayed that she would conceive again (she did). We shared our stories of swollen feet, maternity bra trials and cravings. All of our babies were due within nine weeks of each other, and our lives began to change together! Each birth was completely different, and my Bryson made us wait the longest.
We had planned a home birth, and everything was set. The midwife was on call. I believed in my body that I could do this. I meditated every day, focusing on my Hypnobirthing scripts, envisioning my baby gently entering the world.
The afternoon of the eve he was born, we’d hosted all of these friends and their new babies for a Western Australia Day BBQ. My parents had arrived to be there for his birth. The world was waiting to meet him, and I wonder if he could hear the cries from the other new babies, or the singing from his Poppa, encouraging him to come out and meet us…
At this point I was 40 weeks +2, and eager to meet our baby boy. I’d tried acupuncture to encourage him along, various exercises to encourage him down, and was starting to feel desperate to coax him out. A cousin of mine suggested a plate of hot wings, the hottest I could handle, and a pint of Guinness, to help things along. So at our BBQ, we served hot wings and Guinness…and waited in hope.
That evening, my husband went off with his mates to watch the footy. My parents went off to experience the WA Day long weekend. Our toddler went to my in-laws for a sleepover. I had the house to myself, for what felt like the first time in two years! So I read. I meditated on the birthing scripts I’d practiced for months. I lit candles, poured a bath, and just chilled out by myself, rubbing my belly and thinking of Bryson.
That night at 1am, I was woken by my first strong contraction. And BOY was it strong! I lay in bed, waiting for the next one, and it came – within 3 minutes. Then a few more, and I woke up my husband. He jumped out of bed, grabbed the phone and soon my contractions were 1.5 minutes apart. He called the midwife, ran to the living room and began filling the birthing bath. I put on my meditation music, lit a candle and went into a trance. I was literally running through my contractions, which were happening far too fast.
40 minutes later, our midwife arrived, checked me, and ran to her car to get her medical bag yelling, “This baby is almost here!” as she ran out the door. I vaguely recall she and my husband rummaging around for her car keys, which she had misplaced in the urgency of the moment. By the time she had come back in, she was telling my husband that he’d filled the birthing bath too high, and he was madly bucketing it out! It was at this stage I recall stripping down and saying ‘He’s coming, I can’t wait!” and getting into the bath. On all fours, I felt primal. Empowered. Pain, but not like with my first. I recall my midwife trying to slow things down, and not being able to hold my baby back.
Four contractions in the birthing bath, and he was there, in my arms, his little head just able to get above the water and my dear husband only pausing in awe for a moment before he had to start bailing water out again!
Finally the water level was right, and we were able to just be. Naked, close, cuddled in. I remember he was blowing little bubbles from his mouth. My husband was in tears, as was I. The music was soft, the lighting dim. There was no crying from Bryson; he was just looking around, at me, at his Dad, at his new world. And then he began to nurse. He found my breast with the most basic of instinct. That whole sequence was pure magic.
After a long while, we had to get out of the bath. My husband cut the cord, and we gently moved from the bath to the couch.
The midwife called a surgeon to have a look at me, as my baby was in such a rush that I had torn. The Doctor arrived, and I then realized that having a homebirth also meant all the ‘repairs’ had to be done at home, too, and with minimal medication. They wrapped up Bryson, and while taking care of me in the bedroom, my husband and baby had their first cuddles. There was still no crying from Bryson, he just seemed so content!
The next morning, after the laundry had been put on, the birthing bath packed away, the midwife and surgeon long gone, I sat on the couch with our newborn, still in a haze of ‘OMG did this just happen’ wonderment at the power of my body, and the beautiful creation of human life who was snuggled sleepily into my chest.
My parents, who had been staying with us, came in to make their morning coffee. They came into the kitchen and my husband said with a big smile “We have someone here we’d like you to meet.” My Dad just about fell over when he saw us. My Mom started to cry. They absolutely could not believe that through the night, while they were sleeping, this miracle had happened right under the same roof. I have no idea how I stayed that quiet! We all cried and laughed and cuddled. One of the best moments of my life!
The next BBQ with our close friends set the tone for our futures. Even though my children have many cousins on the other side of the world, here in Perth, we have friends that have become family. They have ‘cousins’ who might not be by blood, but for whom the bond of lifelong friendship, family holidays and many a future BBQ will hold them in good stead.
And for me, I’ve learned that even though life doesn’t always play out as planned, the Universe will always take care of you. Believe it – and believe in yourself and the power of your body. Allow yourself to go with the flow, to relish in the small things, and to embrace the people you have around you with the most open arms – and things will be OK.
Jenine Dilts-Bayman is the founder of Mums With Bubs Fitness, a Perth-based business specializing in pre & postnatal fitness programs for Mums with their children, aged 6 weeks to 4 years. The sessions focus on bonding through fitness in a supportive, fun and progressive training environment!
Jenine holds over 13 years industry experience, her Certificiate IV in Fitness, an Honours degree in Sports Management, and specializes in pre and postnatal training. She is enthusiastic about the positive difference Mums With Bubs Fitness’ services can make to strengthening families, both physically and emotionally. Jenine is also the author of ‘Finding Yourself, & Your Health, After Baby: Your 5 Week Guide to Inspired Motherly Living’, and the ‘New Mumma Mojo Online Postnatal Fitness Program for Mums & Babies.’
“It’s about getting active every day, and making it a social, fun activity to do with your kids.”
Jenine is a mother to her four-year-old daughter Ruby, and 2-year-old son Bryson.
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