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Sometimes Home Births Don't Quite Happen. And that's ok! Shit Happens

Sometimes Home Births Don't Quite Happen. And that's ok! Shit Happens

Posted by Sophie Stuut on 5th Oct 2023

Sophie's birth experience is so beautifully written, and was super wrapped when she agreed to share this amazing story with us on the Birthmother community blog. Before we get into the story il just add that:

Sophie is currently a doula in training with the Australian Doula College. She's looking to support a few soon to be mums/dads in Adelaide. Also covering the Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills areas. If you are looking for an amazing and extremely knowledgable  trainee doula in Adelaide and surrounds, please get in touch with Soph on @body&birthbysophie on IG. She has some amazing packages on offer.

Part One

On Sunday the 27th of November 2022, I woke up at 3am to some mild cramping. I noticed these cramps were coming rhythmically every 15-20 minutes. I just lay there and observed, and after a few hours got up to use the toilet, which is when I lost my mucus plug, and knew for sure that I was in the very early stages of labour.

I couldn’t contain my excitement and I rushed to wake Brodie and tell him. We imagined with excited anticipation what the rest of the day would look like, and what time that evening we might meet our baby! (Jokes on us ?).

We got up and started our day, and as the day went on these tightenings spread apart, some up to 30-40 minutes apart.

I spoke with my gorgeous doula, Sonja, and she reassured me that this was totally normal, and that things might kick off tonight, but not to be disheartened if they didn’t.

As the evening came, the contractions definitely began to increase in their intensity and frequency. I put on the TENS machine, and Brodie and I watched ‘The Holiday’ on the fold out lounge. We tried to get some sleep, but I felt that I needed to move my body as the intensity was building more now. Brodie slept and I laboured hours in to the night. I used my breath and hummed through each contraction. At around 3am (now Monday morning) I asked Brodie to join me as I felt I needed more support. I continued to labour through the night, the sun rose, and things were getting more intense now.

On Monday I tried to get as much rest as I could, while still keeping somewhat active and moving to manage my contraction pain.

I had this consistent and relentless pain and pressure in my tailbone that meant I couldn’t sit or bounce on the ball like I hoped. We suspected there could be something positional at play, so as suggested by Sonja I did inversions through my contractions and releases throughout the day to help baby in to a more optimal position.

By night time things were even more intense. I really had to vocalise through each contraction, and I felt that really I needed that TENS machine to match the intensity I was feeling. This continued throughout the whole night.

In the early hours of the morning I spoke to my midwife (Emma) and Sonja, and we made a plan to meet that morning at 7am to check up on myself and make sure bub was doing well. I had a bath for a couple of hours and listened to my hypnobirthing tracks.

At this stage none of our family knew I was in labour. We were on day three now. I had not slept, and I felt like I was running on empty. We called Brodies sister, as soon as she answered we both absolutely broke down with emotion and exhaustion. We told her what was happening and she prayed over us.

At 7am (Tuesday) my birth team all arrived. We discussed the idea of a cervical check, but concluded that the outcome, regardless of how dilated I was, would be the same. I would just continue labouring.

We listened to my baby’s heart beat. I sobbed and was reminded that this was my goal. This baby would be in my arms SOON, no matter how much longer I had left of this labour. My mindset was made right, and my motivation and strength was renewed.

I continued to labour, mostly on all 4’s, still with the TENS machine and now with combs in my hands. Brodie squeezed my hips and brought me sips of water. I needed him through every one now. I used increasingly stronger vocalisations and focused on the most specific things that I could find to keep my mind distracted from the pain.

I then felt it was time to call Sonja back to my home.

As we got closer to the evening, I felt my contractions starting to spread. They became 8-10mins apart. I was so disheartened. I asked Sonja “do I need to stand up?” I think I already knew the answer ? She told me “yes, stand up, and move your hips.” I rocked hesitantly side to side. “No, bend your knees and REALLY move your hips!” I am so grateful.

I had to go in to a whole new vulnerable place to allow myself to do this. I had to welcome this new level of discomfort and pressure. I had to move my energy and focus internally and literally allow my pelvis to open for the descending of my baby. And from here there was no questioning that it was on!

Part two - The birth.

Sonja suggested I get in the shower. I was scared to take off my safety which was the TENS, but my gosh, it was a relief when I did.

Brodie and I sang worship songs, we smiled at each other between contractions, and it was beautiful. This was my favourite part of labour.

I found my rhythm, circling my hips as I circled the shower head on my belly. I replayed a visual flow of energy in my mind over and over, and repeated the mantra: breathe in cervix open, breathe out baby down.

If I lost focus of one part of this cohesive system that worked together as one, I think the intensity could have overcome me.

I was so present and focused and grounded within those shower walls. But beyond that, there was no world. There was no time. In that moment the only things that existed was within the walls of that shower. There was every detail of every tile. There was every feeling of the water against my skin. There was the steam and the sweat and the groans. There was me and my babe. And there was nothing else. I was in the shower but the shower was not in this world.

The contractions lost their start and their end. It turned into wave upon wave and I knew this was good.

I moved to my hands and knees as my body began to bear down; my final moments of dilation. I had one powerful wave, my body pushed and my waters ruptured.

I now experienced what is called the ‘rest and be thankful phase’. I slowed my breathing, I relaxed my body, I hummed and knew this was my time to regain strength for the 2nd stage (pushing).

My midwives arrived and I moved in to the pool. For a good 30 mins I experienced gentle contractions. I barely remember these. I think I was falling asleep between them.

Then my body pushed. I didn’t need to tell it. Nobody needed to tell it. It pushed and all I could do was roar sounds I’ve never heard before. The intensity was incredible. I don’t think I felt pain, just a marvellous force that was beyond anything I knew possible.

I held Brodies hands and he was the strength I needed.

I moved from one position to the next with the guidance of my doula and midwives, feeling my baby’s head moving down millimetre at a time. A new position. Another. I had been pushing in the pool for over 2 hours and could feel the power becoming less and my maternal effort becoming more. I remember asking my midwife “how much longer” she said “oh, a little longer” and I knew things weren’t exactly moving along as they should.

We decided to move out of the bath, in the hopes gravity would work with us. I sat on the toilet. With every contraction I told myself “this is the one that will birth my baby.”

I moved down to my hands and knees on our tiled hallway floor. I dripped meconium (my babies first poo) and my midwife asked if she could perform a vaginal examination. It was now that she could confirm my babe was not in an optimal position for birth. He was deflexed (chin lifted) and asynclitic (head tilted to the side). I had been pushing for over 3 hours, his head crowning and still slowly moving down but still with a way to go. I asked whether she could perform an episiotomy then and there in my home, but she didn’t feel comfortable or sure that this would open me enough to allow his head to pass through. I trusted her when she said we needed to transfer in to hospital. I hobbled to the front door, a head coming out of me, and was put on a stretcher and in to the ambulance.

I really struggled in this ride. I lay as much on my side as I could, my body still uncontrollably pushing with each contraction, squeezing my midwife’s hand with our eyes connected.

We arrived at hospital and I was swiftly taken to the room in which I birthed my son. Brodie cried, I looked up at him and reassured him that “it’s okay, I’m okay!”. His heart broke that this was not what I envisioned for my birth. He still says how crazy it was that I was the one in labour comforting him.

I had an episiotomy and breathed some gas, then on my back, with chin to chest, legs in stirrups, and peoples hands on my baby, I pushed and his head was born. With another push, at 2:17am on Wednesday the 30th of November 2022, out came his body. He was brought straight to my chest and the weight of his body on mine was everything. Brodie and I sobbed. My baby sobbed. There was finally the three of us, our family. We were so safe. I was on such an oxytocin high. It’s a feeling I couldn’t understand until experiencing it for myself! The most incredible feeling in the world.

I was bleeding a fair bit so promptly had the syntocinon injection to manage the birth of my placenta.

Brodie cut the cord and announced that “it was a boy!”. He fed from my breast and our tears just kept flowing.

We were shown his beautiful, life giving, meconium covered placenta. Then I was wheeled in to a birthing suit for recovery.

What a surreal and beautiful experience.

Part Three - Post birth

I will never forget the feeling of standing up for the first time after birth. I really thought that every organ in my body was going to fall out, that if I sneezed I might just die. With short breathes, the support of my midwife, and a towel held between my thighs to catch the blood dripping out of me, I very slowly shuffled my feet across the floor towards the bathroom. This is such an image of post birth. It’s an experience we birthers share but often isn’t talked about. It is humbling and empowering. I never had been SO proud and in love with my body.

We stayed until around 4pm that afternoon. I was then wheel-chaired out to the car (I still absolutely could not walk ?) and we drove home with our precious boy.

We arrived home, to the place I was supposed to birth. Everything was set up just as we left it. A post birth cake baked by Sonja waiting to be eaten. The lounge ready with waterproof sheets and a lamp for me to have my first skin to skin with my baby. The pool, still filled. I had a moment of grieving those dreams I had for my birth. I imagined my midwives, my doula, my husband and my baby there in the lounge room, sharing cake and laughs and love. I imagined the way it was “supposed” to be. But this is birth. This is MY birth. And I had the most perfect birth for my body and my baby. There is no other way to birth your baby than the way your body and baby decide to birth. And then I was fulfilled again.

Sonja came and visited me a day later. She suggested filling the pool up again with warm water, and having a bath in there all together. And so we did. In the quiet evening we put on my birth playlist, my husband, my baby and I got in the pool, and we gave Grover his first bath, in the place I dreamed would be his first touch of water. I cried. Grover screamed (haha). But it was exactly what my soul needed. A moment I will treasure for the rest of my life.

What I want anyone reading this to take away is that birth itself is NOT traumatic (although unfortunately so many people do experience trauma during birth). Even in the unplanned and unexpected; when you are surrounded by people you love and trust, you can feel completely SAFE and have no fear, just like I did. Your support team is everything during birth!

Thank you to my doula, Sonja. You gave me such confidence in my body and my ability to birth.

Thank you to my midwife, Emma, and my student midwife, Alice. I never felt scared because I trusted my safety and my baby in your hands.

Thank you to my husband, Brodie. You were my rock and my safe place and you grounded me through every single moment.

And thank you, Grover Charles, for making me a mummy.

I cannot WAIT to birth again ❤️