I was sucking on a hydrolyte icy pole (by the way, those things are gooooood!) as Paul packed the car.
All my swaying, bouncing and moving came to a halt as I was now bound to a seat. Later I found out the ride was only 21 minutes long, but boy did it feel like forever. I held on to the bar, wound down the window and groaned my way through each contraction that came.
As we drove, we spoke to the midwife and birthing suite and all I remember saying 'can someone please get the bath running'. I had it in my head I wanted to get straight in as soon as we got there.
It was going to be after 9pm by the time we arrived, so we had to enter through emergency.
We walked in and all the counters were taken, so I just interrupted someone and said 'we need to go to the birthing suite' they took one look at me and said 'do you need a wheel chair?'. For some weird reason I said no. Then I took two steps and said “yes, wheel chair, I'd like a wheel chair please'.
Thank goodness! That would have been a long walk!
Paul was right behind me with all our bags and some guy was wheeling me around.
We got to the birthing suite, the lights were dim and I could hear the water of the bath running. It instantly calmed me.
I had a contraction coming and I walked in, stood at the edge of the bed and as the midwife greeted me, I groaned my way through the contraction.
I felt safe that I was now here in the hospital. I knew what I wanted, and I trusted in my body that my baby was on its way.
I knew that all I would want is my husband and the guidance of my midwife where needed.
My poor student midwife who is just the most lovely person came to greet me and placed her hand on my back. I literally said 'don't touch me'.
I didn’t know who it was, but I knew it wasn't Paul.
I went to the wall and placed my forehead against the cool touch of it and started with my PregActive breath skills. Low deep tone sounding out the vowels A, E, I, O and U.
I’d come to the birthing room equipped with a range of skills, not knowing which ones I would want to use. I had talked Paul through each of them and just days before he'd said 'how do I know which ones you'll want to use'. I reassured him 'I will just know' and sure enough, it was the vowels that I used.
I did them with me each and every time. Except once. I can't remember exactly when it was, but I started doing them and he didn't do them with me, so I yelled at him.
It's funny saying this, but each contraction didn't feel that long. For any pregnant woman reading this, I'd like to remind you that the contraction, although intense, doesn't last forever. It comes, it becomes more intense, and then it fades away.
And so, as a contraction was coming, I'd say to my husband, 'ready?' and then I'd start with A. It was a long A. It probably went for 20 seconds or more. And then I'd move to E and do the same. So by the time I got to O, the contraction had faded.
It made each contraction seem bearable. I basically knew I needed to get through three sounds and had back up of two more if I needed. Or to be honest, to start the sequence again at A if I needed more sounds.
I wasn't scared of the contraction; I knew I could handle it. I knew my body could handle it. I just had to be bigger than the contraction. Louder than the contraction. Stronger than the contraction.
I moved from walking around the room to the toilet with guidance of my midwife.
As with all babies coming down through the birth canal, they rotate their way down. And then there’s this bit, where it feels like they are heading straight for your anus. Then need to do this turn and that, my dear, is intense.
Movement and changing position helps the baby to move down. It's about knowing where the baby is and how to encourage it in the right direction.
This is exactly what I wanted from my midwife. Guidance on change of position if I needed it.
So her suggestion to go to the toilet was great.
I know so many women poo in labour, I didn't, but it certainly felt like this baby was going to come out that way!
This bit, and him crowning.
I have no idea how long I was there for, but I needed a change up. They had these bars in the bathroom you can hold on to and do a squat, and that's what I did. Again, still using the vowels through each contractions, I'd drop down holding on to the bar and pressing my hips down and back.
I'm glad I had the strength to come back up between each contraction. Take a sip of water and reset for the next one.
The room was dark with just my one little battery candle creating ambience. I had my PregActive Birth Prep Spotify playlist playing and the sound of the water of the bath still running. It all calmed me and made me feel safe.
That weightlessness. That calming touch of the warm water. The bath still wasn't ready yet, so I opted for the shower. My goodness that was amazing.
I used the poles on the wall of the shower to hold on to and continued the squat with each contraction as Paul held the head of the shower with warm water on my back.
If I didn't have it in my head I wanted a water birth, I could have stayed there for ages. Again, I pressed my forehead against the coolness of the pole every so often and stayed tuned in.
The next day I had the sorest forehead. Paul reminded me how hard I was pressing my head into the wall and the pole!
After a contraction in the shower, my midwife said to me 'Kerryn, the bath is ready for you'. Like words from an angel, I said thank you and moved my way to the bath.
Although I was certainly in my zone, I was super aware of what I was doing and my surrounds (do a degree). I had arranged the wonderful Sigrid Peterson to take photos of the birth, and whilst in the shower I had said to Paul, 'when we get in the bath, Sigrid can come in'.
As I hoped in the bath, I went straight into an all four kneeling position. Leaning forward, with again Paul having the shower head with warm water on my back.
It was all perfect, and at that moment I said to Paul 'Okay, you can text Sigrid to say she can come in now', the response I got was 'she's already here babe';. I had my eyes closed and I realised at that moment, it's all about to happen. This is it.
As I sounded my vowels with Paul assisting, I could feel our baby moving downwards, it was like he was almost crowning.
And then the words 'Kerryn, the bath is leaking, we'll have to get you out' came from my midwife.
And then I responded 'what do you mean?'
We later found out that most of the baths actually have issues, and that this is not the first case.
My midwife said that I could stay in the bath, but they'd have to lower the water level down to stop it from leaking, and it would be too low to actually birth our baby boy.
I stubbornly said 'I'm staying in the bath.' She said it was fine for me to stay, but repeated that it wouldn't be okay to birth him.
And of course, I disagreed. I'm not sure if I verbalised it, but I said in my head 'no, you're wrong, I'm having this baby in this bath'.
Minutes later, her calm voice said again 'Kerryn, I think it would be best we get out of the bath'
With a baby almost coming out my vagina, I said with a very unimpressed tone 'what's the solution?'
She responded to say we'd get me up on all fours on the bed with a warm blanket.
To me, in that moment, it sounded like a bad option. But to be honest, it was great.
They helped me out, and I walked over to the bed, hopped up and lent over the back of the bed that she'd put on an incline.
That warm relaxed feeling of getting out of the water was refreshing. With the warm blanket laid over me and Paul by my side, I actually felt great.
We had a few more pushes and then, he was crowning.
I changed up my breath from the long deep pushing breaths, to more a panting, short breath to focus on small pushes.
For the first time in the labour, I was wanting the contraction to come on. Holding him in that crowning position and waiting for a contraction to come to work with he pushes felt like it was a long gap, although it would have only been a minute.
I asked her if I push even if I don't have a contraction, and she said not to. So I went with her guidance.
She asked if it was okay to have a warm compress on my perineum, and this was one thing I had forgot to put in my birth plan. 'Yes!' was my answer.
And then, with a few small pushes, his head popped out.
This was it, we were almost done! I thought that once his head was out the rest would just slide on out.
His head was 37cm (which apparently puts him in the 98th percentile), but his shoulders were even bigger.
A few more intense small pushes and then....
I remember that little baby cry. I just looked at Paul and then I looked down. There he was, our baby boy.
Oh my goodness, what an amazing feeling. Instantly I was energised. I was just so happy, our gorgeous boy was here.
As I held him I looked at him. He had so much hair and he was so big. He was absolutely perfect!
Our little boy Max arrived at 12.05am on Tuesday 28th January 2020. Pretty much 12 hours exactly from when my waters broke.
I had always hoped for a drug free birth, but with no expectation that that's how it would go.
The movement, the sounds, the calmness, it all helped to progress my labour, which in turn allowed me to have great energy throughout the final stages.
In all it was a seven hour labour with one hour of pushing.
It’s just one part of this incredible journey of us bringing new life into the world.
The pregnancy has been incredible, the birth amazing and now as I sit here and write this with my two week old baby boy sleeping, I'm loving this motherhood journey.
To see my two boys together just completes me. My husband is the most incredible father and just loves Max so much.
I'm treasuring every cuddle and every day. He's already growing so much, I'm just so excited to see his development week by week and year by year.
I am confident PregActive will help you just like we have already helped thousands of mamas just like you. Try PregActive for free. No commitment. No credit card required!