If you’re obsessed with Birth Stories as much as I am - you’re in luck! For today is the day I share Lola’s Birth story. I began writing how it all came to be a while ago but as we are in the midst of International Doula Week I felt it fitting to add a few extra bits and share with you.
I’m going to take it back to the day before my waters broke to an appointment I didn’t think I’d attend at the Hospital because I was *certain* I would have gone in to labour by then. Begrudgingly I head on in. I’m terribly uncomfortable and am beyond ready for the pregnancy to end and in all honesty I’m emotionally fragile at this point. I’m expecting to go in, tick the boxes and then be on my merry way - but this is not what happens.
Bloods from the following week return a low platelet count and my fundal height has plateaued. The very lovely OB tells me they may want to induce me and isn’t that great because it means I’ll get to meet my baby sooner.
I burst into tears (told you I was fragile) and tell the OB, probably quite incoherently, that I do not want to be induced. They book me in for monitoring later that afternoon and a redo of the bloods to see if the results are accurate or if the platelet count has increased or dropped.
Once I get home I call my husband to come home from work early and contact our Doula Tanya from Birthwell Birthright.
(Meeting Tanya as our Childbirth Educator 3.5 years earlier was the happiest accident of my life! At 36 weeks I still hadn’t booked into hospital classes and when I went to do so they were full. As it happened Tanya’s weekend intensive class had a place left. I entered that class completely terrified of the ‘pain’ of labour and highly anxious about the possibilities of something going wrong. I left transformed into a confident and excited woman ready to birth.)
Tanya, with her calm and gentle nature reassures me and reminds me if an Induction is what is needed well, that’s ok and we can still honour the birth I want. I calm down a bit.
We spend the better part of the afternoon and early evening at Sandringham. Lola is active and her heart rate is good. The ultrasound shows all the right things. So why has my fundal height growth stalled? That box is still not ticked. They want to book an induction.
I stress to the Dr that I do not wish to put myself or the baby in any kind of danger or compromise, but before I am to give any consent to an induction what can they do to show me that the placenta is compromised, or beginning to show signs of compromise? After a good chat we agree to more imaging and monitoring the following day as well as a stretch and sweep given I am so close to my due date. They perform the stretch and sweep then and there, I am already 1cm dilated. They book in an induction for one week later. We head off home and I take myself off on a short but very brisk walk, during our time at the hospital the weather had turned - squalling winds and torrential rain. The path I had intended to take along the bay had been flooded.
I put on my labour playlist as I had been doing the nights before and go to bed.
At 2am my water breaks.
Regular contractions begin.
I am fucking ecstatic. I am Birthing this Baby.
I call Tanya so she knows to be ready.
I call Birth Suite to let them know and we agree to go in to simply confirm that labour has started. More (uncomfortable and laborious) monitoring and an internal which I consent to but immediately wish I had felt brave enough to stick to my Birth Plan and decline; the events from the afternoon before have shaken my confidence a bit.
The Midwife asserts - not asks - that an induction will be booked for 7am the following morning if I have not progressed further.
Hot diggidy damn. A few hours of very early labour in and I’m already on the clock.
I tell her that I won’t be booking that induction but am open to discussing other ways to manage any risks of infection if and when we get to that point and we go home.
Contractions are about 7 minutes apart and super manageable. I’m really excited and have energy to burn so I put on an enviable old school 90’s hip hop playlist and get my groove on.
Somewhere between Notorious B.I.G "Hypnotise" and Ginuwine's ‘Pony’ things really slow down.
I remember that 7am induction and my confidence slips again. I text Tanya, she reassures me it’s totally normal.
And that’s what I do.
I sleep, we eat, binge watch Netflix and play a few rounds of Mario Kart (64 version, of course)
- Imma’ WARIO! Imma’ gonna’ WIN!
At some point between Royal Raceway and Bowser’s Castle my contractions pick up, I breathe through them all while handling tight corners and dodging bananas like a boss. Eventually I jump in the shower to relax and stretch out a bit. They intensify again. I’m thinking about the hospital and when to head in, I want to labour for as long as I can at home. But I’m not confident making that call. I ask my husband to call Tanya, can she meet us here instead of Sandringham.
Within half an hour, Tanya arrives. I jump out of the shower to greet her. Tanya is nothing but calm and ready. She doesn’t rush into anything but just observes me and puts a glass of water in my hand. I hang over a fitball while she and my husband take turns to massage my lower back with a magical rolling contraption from Kmart. I put on my labouring playlist, we talk and have an occasional laugh. Bliss.
I find my rhythm and confidence
Tanya reassures me I’ll know when it’s time to be where I want to be to have my baby.
Somewhere between Sia “Breathe” and Garbage “Milk” the intensity and frequency surges.
8:20: I get in the shower for some pain relief and to relieve the pressure and all of a sudden I know. It’s time to go.
8:35: I dress between surges and have my last contraction at home hanging on to the side of the car door.
8:38: We live very close to Sandringham and arrive just along with the next surge.
8:39: A parking attendant brings a wheelchair, my lovely kimono robe is open and free in the breeze and I am roaring this baby out at the entrance. Tanya places her hands on my shoulders, she can see I’m becoming overwhelmed in the chaos.
You’re in control.
Somehow she does the impossible and slows down time.
8:42: We make it upstairs and are greeted by a very calm and nonchalant Midwife, arm in arm we walk to my assigned room. I kick of my thongs (Trend Alert! Kimono robe and thongs!) rip off my robe and climb to the top of the bed. I’m perched high on the head of the bed and Roar at someoone to take my underwear off!
I can finally surrender to the urge to breathe her out.
I’m not going to lie. It was intense.
8:46: Our Midwife asks if there’s anything she needs to know, Tanya recalls our birth plan instantly - thank god because I was not present on this earth
Protect my perineum
Don’t direct me to push
Don’t rush me
Lola clearly did not get the memo on that last one.
There’s no time for anything else. I have my husbands strong safe hands on my left and Tanya’s guiding words on my right. Her simple reminder keeps me focused:
You’re in control.
I have completely surrendered to my body and it knows exactly what to do.
And a big gush of fluids
8:50pm: My perfect vernix covered babe arrives into my arms. A girl. 3.300 kg. 52cms long with a very healthy placenta.
Tanya stays on, I know she is making sure no one is rushing us, and waiting for a Dr to confirm whether or not I'll be needing stitches. She knows I'll continue to need her support if I do (I did - that's part 2). There is laughter and we talk excitedly about how quickly everything happened.
I thank Tanya for being there as our Doula, I could not have coped or honoured the birth I wanted without her.
Every birthing woman deserves to feel the way that I did
Thank you to all the Doula's out there serving women everyday.
Engaging a Doula to serve you in labour is an investment in your emotional health and a gold tier birthing experience. Having Tanya attend me during birth was not some fanciful naive luxury, it was an absolute necessity to ensure that my needs were being served and that I was best armed to have the birth I deserve. Doula's are for every woman and every birth. Their benchmark of success is how empowered and satisfied you were with your birth experience. First time mother's know - this matters. Your birthing experience matters. Fight for your right to choose.