I received a text message at 5.30am yesterday from my birthing mother’s partner to say her waters had released and she was having some waves, but had gone back to bed. I asked him to get her to talk to me in person if she was unable to sleep. I could barely sleep myself with excitement.
I received a second call at 6.30am and could hear Abby breathing through her waves which were only two minutes apart and lasting 30-40 seconds. I reminded her to use her Inside birth breathing and she said, “I’m trying Therese”.
I got ready quickly and was at their home by 7.30am. Abby was on her knees in the bedroom leaning against the bed. She had vomited a few times. Her waves were strong and she was unable to talk during them. She said she was feeling pressure and didn’t think she could do the car trip to hospital. Of course this for me indicated we needed to go.
Her partner calmly prepared and we helped her into the backseat of the car for the 15-minute trip. I followed and watched her, positioned leaning up against the backseat on her knees, hoping we got to hospital in time! I watched as we passed two policemen with a radar on the Iron Cove bridge and one turned to watch as Abby and Mick travelled past, beckoning to his partner.
We arrived at the Birth Centre and despite Mick & Abby having rung earlier the Midwife was not prepared for them coming in and we all received a bit of a growling. Fortunately, there was no one else birthing at the time and the midwife was able to concentrate on Alison. In the room Alison knelt on the floor leaning up against the bed as she had at home. She couldn’t find a comfortable position and said she needed pain relief as she couldn’t do this for 14 hours! It was hard not to say ‘I don’t think you’re going to be in labour that long!’ She wanted to get into the bath, but had to wait for an IV cannula to be put in.
Once she was in the bath she found a position on her knees which she remained in for the duration of the birth. Between waves she rested her head in the arms of her partner who stroked and caressed her and quietly whispered encouragements to her. She was in her zone and managing beautifully. Occasionally she’d ask how much longer, and that she couldn’t keep going without pain relief. The midwife asked her what she was thinking and she said Pethidine! Which of course wasn’t possible. Abby had refused any vaginal examinations and it wasn’t long before she started to feel an urge to nudge her baby down. We encouraged her to follow her urge.
Slowly and gradually Abby birthed her baby which the midwife passed to her under the water and between her legs. The baby, a boy they discovered, covered in vernix, was very quiet and relaxed. The cord was very short and the baby needed to be held low in the water. The midwife was concerned about the baby’s colour and that he hadn’t cried, so she cut the cord and dried him a couple of times, returning him each time for skin to skin with his mother.
We helped Abby out of the bath and to the bed to birth the placenta, which she did naturally about half an hour later. She had a small graze and tear which didn’t require stitching. The baby was a good size, but there was no rush to weigh and measure him.
While Mick was out phoning family and finally shifting his car, I stayed with Abby and watched as she placed her baby close to her breast and her baby lifted his head and put himself over her nipple. When Mick returned he asked me if they needed me for anything else and I knew it was time to leave. I hugged them and congratulated them on an amazing journey and beautiful way to bring their baby into the world.
I know the weeks I spent with this couple participating in the Inside Birth program contributed significantly to this beautiful birth. This couple were well prepared, calm, strong and confident. A week before this I had visited Abby at home, I took her through a fear release script and I remember thinking how different she looked to the first time I’d met her. She had a serenity and feeling of readiness, despite needing a bit of pushing to finish packing her bag and complete her birth plan. She had only finished work three days before that visit. Her birth plan was presented to the midwife on her partner’s phone!
Baby Max was born at 39weeks. First stage of labour was about 4 1⁄2 hours; second stage 1 3⁄4 hours; third stage 1⁄2 hour. Total 6 3⁄4 hours!!! I did very little, fill a bath, fill a water cup, help position, watch in awe, and I hope most of all, to have blended into the background because I didn’t need to do anything. As Susan Ross from Birth Right would say, present without being a presence.