Theodore’s birth story
Having endured a marathon posterior birth in hospital in Sydney with my first born Jimmy, I knew I didn’t want to feel like ‘just another number’ ever again. It wasn’t until I fell pregnant with my second son that I started to process what happened during Jimmy’s birth – a 3 day pre labour, back and forth to hospital, tens machine, sleeping pills, pethadine, morphine, more pethadine, constant gas and air, 4 different midwives and finally an epidural.
Feeling totally at the mercy of others was not what I had envisioned birth to be like, for some reason I expected the hospital birthing system, that so many women before me had chosen would also work for me. Little did I know that unless you made sure you had booked in to the birthing centre by 6 weeks pregnant (!) you were going to miss out on the crucial personal care that is so important in such a vulnerable moment in life.
In hindsight, I just wasn’t ready to let go enough of who I thought I was. I believe that’s why i didn’t make any conscious decisions to plan for birth and I didn’t have the support from Chris who was just as petrified as I was. I was unsure of what lied ahead for me and I was trying to be something I wasn’t. I was born in mullumbimby to a super-earth-mama then raised in the hills in a shack with no hot water. My little sister was born in that same house on the lounge room floor. We were raised with not many material possessions but a whole lot of love and amazing nature all around us. I am forever grateful for my parents giving me my creative and colourful childhood. And the amazing job my mum did as a single mum from when I was 4. The endless hours of exploring the forest with my sister and making potions and climbing trees, imagining fairytales. Starting life in that way has made me sure of how I want to raise my boys.
But when I fell pregnant with jimmy, my whole life plans were thrown out the window. My partner and I were finally back together after a break and I wasn’t sure where my life was headed but I didn’t have children on my agenda. I wanted to save children for when I was more ‘grown up’. I wanted to find a career that I loved and get gratification from that more than anything. We were trying to make it work again after being apart for 7 months when I fell pregnant. I saw it as I sign we should stay together.
At Jimmy’s birth I did have some beautiful and skilled midwives attend to me during my labor though the perimeters of their job as ward staff meant they finished their shift after the 8 hours and changed to a new face whom would greet me and check my cervix dilation then check on my pain medication and leave the room. I can hardly remember their faces. I don’t remember much of my labor with jimmy, It is memories clouded by extreme exhaustion and drugs. Though the best decision I made during the labor was to accept the epidural and sleep for 2 hours so I was able to push him out myself. I’m pretty proud of that. It was all worth it to finally meet my boy.
Falling pregnant with Theodore was not planned and marked an intense turning point in my life. Things with the boys dad had been rocky since before we conceived jimmy, who is now 3 and a half. Falling pregnant added even more to my already full plate. But I always feel that things happen for a reason so I worked as hard as I could to change my life, our life, for the better. I separated from the boys father and found a place to live in a small costal town with the amazing help of my mother and sister. It was really hard to not have the daily support and affection of a lover during such a vulnerable and special time. I am so lucky that I had so much support from family and friends and I decided to give it one last shot with the boys dad. And He wanted to be there for me during the birth so he lived back with us for the month leading up to the 20.10.13.
Theodore was born on the full moon, one week before his due date, just like his brother was 3 years earlier. I was having light contractions the Thursday evening but was able to sleep that night and when I woke the next morning they had calmed back down. I went about my day on Friday, my mum came and picked jimmy up to take him out for the day. I tried to rest and I let my midwife Karen know that I had gone into pre labor. She laughed and told me that 3 other women had also started laboring, typical of the full moon!
By the evening when my mum brought jimmy home the contractions were stronger but not any closer together. I was starting to feel nervous that I was going to have to endure another really long labor and I cried because I was tired but I also didn’t want the labor to stop, I just wanted to meet my son! Chris was helpful in grounding me and told me I should just try to sleep, he heated my wheat pack and I had some Bach flower and went to bed. I woke up at about 2am because the contractions were intensifying. I went into the lounge room and tried to get comfortable leaning on a body ball on my knees. I burned lavender and rose geranium and tried to sleep between contractions but they were getting much closer together. Chris came and lay on the couch by my side, heated my wheat pack and massaged my back until the sun rose then he called my mum to come pick up jimmy. He also called deb, my other midwife and told her it was heating up but my contractions were still bare-able.
Jim was oblivious to my loud moaning on all fours and he tried to seize the moment to jump on my back for a pony ride like he had done so many times before!
Mum arrived at around 7am, after Jim had breakfast and got Chris onto timing my contractions that were now between 5 and 10 mins apart, still pretty inconsistent. Then I kissed jim farewell and told him I would see him later and he could meet his baby brother. It was a very emotional moment for me knowing that was the last time I would be with him as my littlest baby. But I felt more relaxed without him there and knowing he was with loving family I could focus on my labour.
Chris called deb again at about 10am when I had a bath which really brought on the contractions. She asked to speak to me and I told her I needed her to come to see me. I also texted Cassie my good friend and student midwife and told her to come around too. Luckily they were both just around the corner because when they arrived to find me on all fours in my bedroom they knew I was quite far along. I asked deb to check my dilation and she found that I was 7cms! She told Chris calmly that I needed to get the rest of my things organised and to go straight to the hospital (that was 20-30 mins away) and that they would meet us there. I wasn’t sure I could make it!
Deb hugged me tightly and looked at me excitedly and said “you’re gonna have a baby Azz!”. That hug have me the strength I needed to keep going.
For the car trip I was on my hands and knees on the back seat gripping onto the empty baby capsule and thinking about trying to be calm while moaning through each contraction and hoping I wouldn’t have to have this baby on the side of the road!
We made it to the hospital at about 12pm, Chris walked me inside stopping with me while I crouched down in the middle of the hospital hallway then finally made it into the birthing room. Deb and Cassie hadn’t arrived yet but they had phoned ahead to tell them I was on my way. I immediately started bossing staff around to get me a Matt on the ground and a body ball. I felt as though I was in my own bubble now and I was hearing myself speak before thinking. my body had taken over. There wasn’t time to fill a birthing pool so I tried kneeling on towels in the shower while Chris and Cassie sprayed warm water on my lower back. By this time the pain was really something! I wanted some relief and I asked deb for gas and air. Then Karen, my other midwife arrived too which made me feel so lucky, special and at ease. I felt cared for by these three women that had witness so many births, each one as wondrous as the next. I felt so safe with them, they had gotten to know me over the past months and cared so much for this sacred process of birth.
I decided to get out of the bath and kneel on the Matt on the floor near the bed. I was trying to have power-naps between contractions and breathing the gas through the pain (which felt like it was doing absolutely nothing!). Karen and Deb needed to leave the room and Chris wanted to go out too but I told him he couldn’t. Chris started talking to Cassie and saying “I wonder what we should call him” I yelled at him “Theodore!” Next thing, my waters broke and I had the incredible, guttural urge to push. Cassie was by my side and I was leaning my head onto Chris’ lap. I remember feeling so overwhelmed by the animal inside me that took over and had the strength to push Theodore out. I was feeling scared and excited and amazed all in one moment and tried to calm myself and roar as deeply as I could. Karen returned and was helping me to slow my breathing. On the next contraction Karen told me to reach down and touch my baby’s head. I was frightened to feel my vagina like that and said ‘no!’ But almost immediately reached down and felt his squishy scalp. I felt annoyed when he moved back inside a little and it felt as though he went all the way back in! But on the next contraction his half his head was born and Chris took a quick look and exclaimed “you’re doing it baby, you’re nearly done!” I had another contraction and his head was born. Karen told me he had heaps of hair. I felt so determined and on the next contraction he slid out into Cassie’s arms and she immediately passed him through my legs. He was born at 2.02pm
I held him to my chest grinning and crying. He had beautiful big black eyes and lots of black hair and latched on to my breast straight away, he was hungry! I held him, still kneeling and breastfed him and smelt his beautiful, fresh vernix covered skin and birthed his placenta naturally, like I had intended, about 15 mins later – it felt like a second and an eternity. Then Chris cut the white, calamari-like cord and gagged a little! That moment when a daddy holds his new baby is a heart stopper. I’ll never forget those moments, so perfect. It’s amazing how you can love one child so much that you could never imagine being able to expand your heart even further. But when i met Theodore and he was in my arms my heart exploded all over again. And daily our love grows even deeper.