By Karen Gault
This labour, my third, was tricky but also full of triumphs.
It was tricky in that I felt so heavy and huge in the last weeks of my pregnancy and I had a history of being past my estimated due date rather than before. This time I was desperate not to go longer. It was a triumph that I went into labour on my due date. Full moon, you may have helped.
It was tricky as my waters broke without contractions. I knew this posed a risk of infection unless things started moving within the day. After a hill walk, self talk, forming a plan with Kass, my midwife and acupuncture it was a triumph that my contractions started late afternoon the same day.
It was tricky having a four-year-old and a two-year-old and not knowing whether I would want them present at the birth. I prepared them for being there by reading books lent to us by friends (the Birth Wise Siblings Kit was on loan already). Vida lent us “Runa’s Birth” by Uwe Spillman and Inga Kamieth and Sarah lent us “Hello Baby” written by Jenni Overend and illustrated by Julie Vivas. It was a triumph that I went into established labour as the door to their bedroom shut for the night and they woke to a surprise in the morning!
It was tricky having a best friend and sister who both had babies just before me and were unavailable for this birth as they were my key support people in my previous births. It was a triumph that I had in mind my friend Rachel and Kass, also suggested Rachel. Rachel squealed with delight when I asked her several weeks prior and she arrived with a red suitcase fully prepared with Mary- Poppins-like goodies such as a pre-baked cake to celebrate baby’s day of birth. The suitcase was of special significance as Rachel’s mum had packed it to go to hospital and birth Rachel.
It was tricky having a small hot water cylinder. It was a triumph having a birth pool that required less water and a husband who made an exact science out of filling, emptying and packing away the pool.
It was tricky feeling like I wanted to get into the pool and worried about contractions slowing down and then they did slow down. It was a triumph to have Kass as a midwife who sat quietly observing over her knitting and knew I had a bubble of fluid preventing me from dilating further. She ruptured this and labour progressed again.
It was tricky when Kass discovered I was 6 – 7 cms dilated and she also noticed baby’s head was slightly to the side, and should be optimally chin tucked under. It was a triumph that I visualised baby moving into position. We were a great team!
It was tricky feeling like I was pushing really hard but not feeling the head crowning. It was a triumph having Kass unhook the anterior lip of my cervix and after about four pushes to birth my baby.
It was tricky feeling I had a big baby on board and worrying about birthing him naturally. It was a triumph to birth a 10lb 6oz baby at home in the water without tearing by feeling the impulse to move into a lunge position and listening carefully to Kass suggesting I proceed gently. I eased him out, guiding his velvety head with my hands.
It was tricky people strongly suggesting I had a girl baby by the way I was carrying, because I had two girls already, and then to look in the mirror and not seeing anything obvious myself but feeling like this was a boy. It was a triumph to hold my baby up and exclaim “It’s a boy! It’s a boy! It’s a boy!’ and feel vindicated by my intuition.
It was tricky looking at the clock and realising that I wasn’t going to birth my baby on the same birthday as our dear friend John Ryan. It was a triumph to discover that the day baby chose was super cool and rare 01/02/2010 a palindrome! And we named him Archer John Cleaver. This also acknowledges Granddad Gault (Lindsay John), Great Granddad Cleaver (Kevin John) and another dear friend Andrew John.
It was tricky feeding and manoeuvring a baby and placenta (Lotus Birth) and worrying about the comforts of visitors. It was a triumph to allow myself a quiet(er) babymoon period, let the cord fall away in his time and feel liberated by the experience.
To my birth team: I started this journey exploring the possibility of free birthing for next time. Through this experience of birth I have come to realise that this is not for me. The clink of our champagne glasses as we all basked in the triumph and glory of Archer’s arrival is the essence of what I would miss if it were just Matt and I. We are indebted to you for the magic of your company.
Kass – we marvelled at the way you sat quietly observing during the labour and then knew exactly what to suggest next. Your calm presence was reassuring and your knowledge invaluable. You honour our family with your love of our newest addition but also his sisters, your helpers, whom you included as part of this pregnancy.
Rachel – we loved your joy and enthusiasm. Your back rubs were awesome and the notes you recorded capture an extraordinary time in our life that we loved sharing with you. Your words of encouragement and your wonder at Archer added to the celebration.
Susi – your gentle presence, though brief, made an impact on us all. We felt your warmth and developed an instant trust in your opinion and appreciated your positive energy.
Matt – you are my rock. I made the best decision of my life choosing to marry you and raising a family with you is a pure joy. You are steady and constant and have unwavering faith in me. I draw courage from your calmness and strength from your love. I adore you. You are an awesome dad and you make me want to keep our family growing!