Born at 37 weeks
Dying to share our story with you.
It was my last week of work beginning on March 1st and for some reason I just had a feeling that time was running out. Over the weekend that had just passed, I had felt a sense of urgency to get our final things sorted for the upcoming birth of our baby, such as button down nighties, my diffuser and birthing oils as well as making my padsicles for postpartum. We installed the mosquito screens to the windows of our apartment and brought some last little bits and then Dave and I enjoyed a gorgeous weekend together where we went for a breakfast date and to Clovelly rock pools for a gorgeous swim and sun bake. We both felt so content, in love and relaxed. Dave had brought me a bunch of lilies on Saturday and had written a card which said, ‘I got you some flowers because these ones are slow to bloom, so perhaps we might have a baby with us to enjoy them when they do. Thank you for being such an amazing woman my darling. I love you very much, you amaze me every day’.
On Saturday night in the shower I noticed what I thought was a little bit of my mucus plug. Nothing more happened until Wednesday when I felt an urgent need to buy a doughnut from my favourite doughnut shop (short stop in Barangaroo – if you know you know) and a steak and red wine pie from Bourke St bakery for lunch! I would NEVER normally eat those two things, especially combined! Clearly my body was seeking the energy and I was listening. I was awake. That same afternoon I went to the bathroom at work passed what seemed like my full mucus plug! Although this time with very faint blood streaks in. I panicked a little and called the midwife who reassured me that I could still be 4 weeks away from giving birth and that the plug can replenish itself.
On Thursday 4th March, I had my routine midwife 36 week appointment (I was 36+6) where they checked everything and said that I had a very happy baby and was measuring exactly to size at 37 weeks. We did the ultrasound head down check, babes head was down and 4/5 engaged. My beautiful Irish midwife Ciara then offered to show me the birthing centre as we thought it would be good to see before my 39 week appointment ‘in case’ anything happened. Little did I know that I would be giving birth in that very room she showed me 24 hours later, and that I only made it into the birth centre by the difference of a day. If I was anything before 37 weeks and therefore not considered full term, I would have had to have gone to delivery suite. The 4th March is Dave’s brothers birthday, his name was Benny and he tragically passed away when he was just 19. Dave and I had joked about whether our baby would arrive on Benny’s birthday. We went out for dinner with Dave’s brothers and their partners to celebrate Benny and had a jolly evening with wine and good food. I noticed that my back was sore and it felt like my nerves were pinching. I had had a nerve entrapment earlier in the week too. I didn’t think anything more of it.
At 2.30am on March 5th I woke up having had a vivid dream that I was leaking fluid, I gathered that needed a wee and there was no fluid there. I went to the toilet and then went to get back into bed when I felt a gush of fluid and thought that I was still peeing. I smelt it and remembered what our hypnobirthing instructor had told us, that the amniotic fluid smelt like ‘Sex’. This smelt like sex!! I ran back to the toilet and shouted to Dave that my waters had broken. He came running in he saw the fluid and we smiled at each other with beaming smiles and giggles and both said ‘we’re on!’ and we calmly decided that I should call the midwife. We called and they asked questions and then told me to go back to bed and try to rest and check in with them in the morning. Very mild cramps had already begun and I was far too excited to go back to sleep! I texted my mum over in England who was out walking the dogs. She told me to stay calm and to try and get as much rest as possible as I could have a long night ahead. I was wide awake thinking of all of the things that I needed to do when it suddenly occurred to me that my Tens machine rental would still be in the post! I texted the rental lady as luckily she is also a midwife and she actually replied back to me and said that she would leave a Tens on her doorstep ready to pick up from 6am. Dave got up at 5.30am to collect his tools from work and to pick up the tens hire. I showered and popped a wash on and tried to busy myself until my sister in law, Alice arrived to keep me company whilst dave was out.
I was flapping around just trying to keep busy and being my normal self with my birth playlist on in the background. Dave arrived back at 8.30am and had brought home some breakfast, he then packed the car before Alice then left and Dave and I turned the music up and had a beautiful dance together with lots of smiles and laughs. We noticed that the lillies Dave had brought me on the weekend were ironically now in full bloom. The surges increased in intensity at about 9.30am but were still sporadic some lasting only 30 seconds others a minute and some would be 10 minutes apart and others would be 2 minutes apart. I popped the tens machine on and checked in with Ciara my midwife. She said that all sounded fine and to keep labouring at home for as long as possible and to not to go in to hospital too early. She said to keep timing my surges. Luckily the tens machine had a timer so I timed my surges this way. Up until this point I had found that controlling my breathing using the relaxation breathing and nasal breathing as well as using the ‘golden thread’ breath, a yoga breathing technique where you breath in deeply through your nose and visualise a golden thread or that you are very gently blowing a feather through pursed lips. This really slows your breathing down and allows for maximum oxygen intake. I was rolling my hips around on the birthing ball and I would alternate between this and kneeling on the floor with my elbows and forearms resting on the sofa. It got to 10.30am and the surges had really intensified and were now lasting for a minute with about 2 minutes rest in between. We called the midwife who said to slowly make our way to hospital. She didn’t want us to rush but Dave and I both knew that we were running out of time. It was time to get in the car! Now!
We got down the stairs and I couldn’t even get from our apartment to the car without having a surge and I was leaning over the car seat breathing through my surge before we got in. The car journey was strange. Knowing that you are making the last journey of your life as two. The sun was beaming through the windows and time seemed to slow down. The hyper awareness was something I will always remember but I tried not to take too much of it in and kept my sunglasses on and head down so that I could keep inside my little safe bubble. We arrived at the hospital (only 5 minutes away!) and there was nowhere to park so we parked in the taxi zone where Dave then got told off by a taxi driver. You can imagine his response, ‘my wife is in labour’, the taxi driver didn’t care! Again, my surges were so strong that I couldn’t make it out of the car and into the hospital without having two more surges. Covid check in was fun! We signed in (whilst I was having another surge) and then hopped in the lift to go up to our room. In the lift, we bumped into a new father, whom I’d seen with his wife who was in labour just the day before at my midwife appointment 24 hours earlier. He told us that his wife had just had a 33 hour labour. Good one to tell the labouring woman in front of him!
We arrived at our room and set up our salt lamps, diffuser, speaker, birth affirmations and all of my comforts whilst I continued to breath through my labour whilst kneeling on the floor and resting my arms on the couch. By this point I had turned up my tens machine and found that the rhythmic tapping of my shins and feet on the floor as well as my hands on the sofa was taking my mind off of the intensity of the surges. I had also changed my breath by making more of an ‘ahhh’ sound when I exhaled. ‘Somebody to love’ by Queen started playing and I had a little cry as it is a song that is very special to my mum and I. I missed her. But I didn’t want to lose myself so I tried hard to put the thought out of my mind. In hindsight, I must have been transitioning. The doors then opened and in walked my mother in law Terri and Dave. Terri is a clairvoyant and crystal healer and the room instantly felt calm with her presence, she then put a crystal in my hand which I squeezed so tightly through my entire labour. I was so happy to see her and have her there. She had driven down from Port Macquarie as soon as I had let her know that my waters had broken. Terri and Dave made the most beautiful birthing pair and were talking and coaching me through my labour. They helped me to control my breathing as well as my midwife Ciara who could hear whenever my breathing had changed.
I tried hard not to lose myself, clench my jaw or tense up in any way. The midwife and Terri then suggested that I had an internal check, the first and only. I eventually agreed as I didn’t want to have one and be put off and told I was only 1cm. My surges were so close together that it was hard to find a gap to do the check, especially as I had to be moved onto the bed which intensified my surges immensely. By this point I had the labour shakes and was doing bicycle legs on the bed. Ciara quickly managed to do a check and told me that I was already 7/8cm dilated. I suddenly tuned in to the music, it was AC/DC Highway to Hell followed by Stayin Alice by the BeeGees… time to put my hypnobirthing tracks on! Terri had already run the bath for me and we then decided it was time to take off the tens and get in. I told Terri that I needed to poo (which I really did) but she wouldn’t let me! She thought that was our baby! I then got into the bath. I was worried to take the tens off but as soon as I stepped in, the warm water on my skin felt incredible. I relaxed even more into my dream like labour fantasy world. It wasn’t long before I started to get the overwhelming desire and need to push. I was using Dave as a support for me and holding onto his shoulders, the counter pressure of holding him and bearing down felt great. Dave didn’t move from my face for the entire labour, he was giving me the soft touch massages and constantly reassuring me and telling me that he loved me. I then felt that I needed to push and I let my whole body surrender to this incredible power that was coming from within me. It was incredible. I was shaking all over and still managed to maintain complete trust with my body. She knew what she was doing. It was only about 5 surges and pushes and our babies head was crowning.
The midwife told us that our baby didn’t have much hair and I felt the head and then grabbed Dave’s hand and made him feel the head. He was in disbelief! A couple more surges came, some stronger than others and I could feel her head gradually travelling further down the birth canal. Terri and Dabe were both speaking allowed, giving me mantras saying ‘breathe your baby down, you will meet your baby soon’ One more surge and I pushed the head out! Her head then stayed there for a few seconds and then she turned her head, this sensation will always blow my mind. It was like she was turning like a corkscrew! I could feel EVERYTHING! She was wriggling her little shoulders and I could feel her jaw moving. Two more surges and her body was out and I caught her in my arms at 2.02pm, I brought her round onto my chest and enjoyed 8 minutes of complete bliss in the bath with our little (surprise) girl on my chest, Dave and I both balling our eyes out. Then Dave cut the umbilical cord after we had delayed her cord clamping enough and took her for skin to skin whilst the midwives helped me out of the bath and I birthed my placenta on the bed. I had some minor superficial labial tears but luckily no perineal. We had started perineal massage at 35 weeks and I had been drinking raspberry leaf tea from 34 weeks. I also expressed colostrum whilst I was in labour to store in our freezer.
They took me for stitches and then weighed our baby girl, she was 2.525kg. Just .25g over what she needed to be to come out of hospital the next day! Measuring 48cm!
Hope you enjoy the pictures, happy for you to share to students! I was glad to get some videos with the hypnobirthing tracks in! We are so in love with our little girl and absolutely over the moon that we had the birth we were dreaming of.
Thank you, Samantha and Melissa.
Lots of love,
Lucinda, Dave and Valerie x
Hypnobirthing Instructor – Samantha Gunn – North Shore Hypnobirthing