By Nora Naber
Our little girl was conceived while we were on holidays with my family in Bali. It was a beautiful and healing escape from what had been a very difficult time in our lives. My husband Marc and I had lost our first baby at three months pregnant while I was on placement on the North Island finishing my midwifery education.
Marc and I did not anticipate getting pregnant again so quickly, but nevertheless we both suspected that a little being had come to life only a few days after I had conceived. Marc, who is an artist, drew a picture of a little boy and was convinced I was carrying his son! I took a pregnancy test when we got back to New Zealand and sure enough it was positive! Marc and I cried with happiness, sadness for our first little baby and also fear that we might lose this baby too.
I was very anxious in the first few weeks of my pregnancy, so much so that we decided to have a scan at ten weeks to calm my nerves. Seeing the little jelly bean move its tiny arms and legs was one of the happiest moments of my life.
Slowly I learned to trust my body to carry this child safely into the world and I ended up having a very normal and straightforward pregnancy. I started working as a midwife, which was very fulfilling but also a little stressful at times but all in all I couldn’t have enjoyed this special time in my life more than I did.
Like any pregnant woman I started to grow a little impatient in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and was a bit disappointed when my due date came and went (I should have known better).
When the baby was 9 days late Juliet, my midwife, did a stretch and sweep and could touch baby’s head, which was very astonishing for Marc.
That night we had friends over for dinner and soon after they left I started having some tightenings. I didn’t get too excited about it, as I had been having those on and off for the last few weeks. At around eleven at night I started to think this could be labour and tried to sleep in between the contractions. By one in the morning the contractions were more painful and I got Marc to start setting up the pool. I spent that night resting as much as I could and using heat and the Tens machine to help with the pain. Marc had some more sleep and I enjoyed those first few hours of labour just being by myself and knowing my baby was coming soon. In the morning I let Juliet know I was in labour and she came to see me at eleven together with my friend Claire and my student midwife Adriana.
As soon as everyone got there my contractions slowed right down, which was very annoying! It showed me how delicate that hormonal cocktail of labour really is. Juliet made sure that everything was well and left us to get back into the groove of things. The contractions soon came back and were building in intensity. I needed more of Marc’s support now and we started breathing through contractions together, which was really helpful. In the afternoon I asked Claire to come back for more support. Marc and her started filling the birthing pool, which involved boiling lots and lots of jugs and pots of water, as we had exhausted our hot water supply. Juliet and I had been in contact all day and I asked her and Adriana to come and join the party at seven in the evening.
By this stage I was ready to hop in the pool and the heat and loss of gravity provided instant relief from the pain of the contractions.
I spent the next few hours in and out of the pool, with hot towels on my back during contractions, and awesome support from my team. Marc was right there with each contraction, breathing with me, and in between contractions I rested and Marc sang to me. By eleven thirty I was interested to see what I was up to and asked Juliet to check my cervix. I was 5 cm dilated, fantastic news!
The contractions were getting stronger and closer together, and apart from that first moment of noticing the next contraction coming, I almost enjoyed the intensity of it all. I rode each wave of pain using my breath to keep me grounded.
By two thirty in the morning I felt that I was not entering the next stage of labour despite good strong contractions and asked Juliet to check my cervix. Still 5 cm, how frustrating! Funnily enough Juliet and I had discussed earlier on that we don’t agree with midwives who break the waters. However, we felt that in this case it might help my labour to move on and since we were sure that my baby was in a good position Juliet broke my waters. At this stage I felt overwhelmed by the contractions for the first time. I felt that I could not last much longer without knowing that I was making progress and I asked Juliet to check again in an hour to see if there was any change. After another hour of strong contractions I was still 5 cm! We quickly agreed to transfer to hospital for some pain relief to help me relax and hopefully help my cervix to dilate.
We got to the hospital at 5 am and it took 2 hours for me to be pain free as my first epidural did not work. Looking back this was the hardest part of labour, I was so exhausted after two nights of no sleep that I would fall into a deep sleep between contractions and woke up quite disorientated and not really able to get myself to ride with the contractions and so I ended up fighting them instead, which obviously did not work.
Once I was pain free Juliet checked me again and surprise, surprise I was nearly fully dilated! I like to think that I got to this point myself while waiting for the pain relief, or it might be that the epidural just really was what I needed to help me open up.
After that happy discovery Marc and I had a two hour sleep and Juliet and my support team went home to have a sleep as well.
I woke up feeling quite refreshed, as did the rest of the team, and Juliet checked to see if I was ready to start my second stage of labour. Indeed I was! I was fully dilated and my baby’s head was quite low and ready to come. I needed a little bit of convincing, but finally decided to let the epidural wear off, which was probably one of the best decision I made in my life.
I could soon feel the contractions again, but now that I was pushing the pain was totally different. I got control over my body back and was changing positions every few pushes to help the baby come down. When I could first see the head in the mirror I cried out: ‘It’s my baby!’ and cried with joy.
I remember this part of my labour so clearly. Every push seems forever locked in my memory. After what seemed like quite a long time I could feel my body stretching and opening up and the baby’s head about to be born. I was kneeling on the floor over the bed and held Claire’s hands who was kneeling on the other side of the bed. Juliet was beside me and Marc was behind me and ready to greet his baby.
A few more pushes and the baby’s head was born. Juliet said to Marc to get ready to catch the baby and he thought in his mind: ‘ Yeah, right. It took nearly two hours to push out the head, I doubt the body will just slide out in one push!’. Which is what happened of course, but he was ready and welcomed our baby into this world, passing it to me between my legs.
That moment of holding my baby for the first time is indescribable and no doubt the happiest moment of my life. Marc and I were overwhelmed with love for each other and this little being that will be with us for the rest of our lives. It took a while until I asked: ‘Is it a boy?’. No one had noticed, so I had a little peek and announced: ‘It’s a girl!’. We all had a good laugh at this discovery.
My placenta came without any problem and I only needed a few stitches for a labial tear. Marc and I spend the next hour starring at our daughter in amazement while she had a long and leisurely feed. Juliet had a quick check of Maya and weighed her, 4350 grams! (9lb 9oz). I had a shower, Marc dressed Maya and then we went straight back home to start our life as a family.
Even though our baby wasn’t born at home the birth was a very positive experience for Marc and I and we will forever treasure the memory of Maya’s amazing entrance into our lives.