Saturday, September 30, 2006

Emerson's birth

Born: Sunday 11th January 2004 Wanganui Hospital

I am a mum to a 5 year old and 17 month old at this stage, I am due in 2 dys when my third child is born and I can't wait, I have 3 vaginal infections, yuck. Which my midwife tells me are not sexually transmitted, dont you love that. you have to laugh. It all started on the Friday when my midwife asks me to come into the hospital and go on a monitor to see how we're going. The resultsa dont look too good , the baby isnt moving very much. My midiwfe sends me home and tells me to come back at 4:30pm and we'll have another go. She tells me she will probably have to induce m on Monday. I go back at 4:30 and go back on the monitor. It looks like I am having contractions, though I cannot feel them yet. Which I dont mind. So she sends me home and we'll wait and see what happens. She also gives me some evening primrose capsules to insert ot help things along. I wake on Saturday morning to get up to the kids and I can feel the contractions but they're not too bad. Greg is at work so I carry on my day with the kids, housework and everything. My midiwfe rings and tells me that everything will probably happen once we get the kids to bed that night. We have dinner and get the kids bathed and off to bed. Sit down to watch tele and relax and my contractions become quite painful now. We head off to bed, Greg gets some sleep and I am sitting on the side of the bed squeezing his hand everytime I have a contraction.Yet he is still sleeping. It is now midnight and I am feeling like I wanna push, so I ring my midwife, she says meet you a hospital. ring mum and wake her to come and sleep at our house to be with the kids and while I am waiting for her to get there I am vomiting, something I do everytime I am in labour. We get to the hospital at 12:15 am and I am 8 cms, it is now that I decide that I dont care about drug free birth and I want some drugs but it is too late. The midwife breaks my waters for me again and we are away. My beautiful girl is born at 1:11 am . I do have to say that she also had the chord around her neck and had passed meconium in her waters too. Dont ask me why all my babies had that problem. I am not sure. The only thing that matters is that they are all okay. I did have to wait in hospital with her for 12 hours to be watched as I had a staph infection and we had to be sure she hadnt caught it whilst being born. I had started antibiotics a few days beforehand so we were lucky it was caught. Babies can die from staph infections and they get sick before you can tell. So I am very thankful to have her here safe and sound. She is truly beautiful and tops off the 4 greatest things to happen to me in my life. My 3 gorgeous kids and my beautiful husband.
8 pounds 12 oz, where she hid it, I dont know.
Welcome to the world Emerson Rose.

Submitted by Mistie

Cian's birth

Lincoln Hopsital < Christchurch
10:30pm Friday August 30th 2002.

Well when my eldest daughter Quinn was a year old, I managed to meet a wonderful man, who I had met in high school but not really known very well. Romance bloomed, we dated, moved in together, got engaged and got married. I di it right this time. LOL. My daughter was 3 when I got pregnant again. She was very excited,as my husband and I also were. I was due a week before Quinns 4 th birthday. The pregnancy went well apart from being super hungry and putting on about 20 kgs. I knew this was a hungry child,a dn I was right. On the day before I was due I woke about midnight having felt a little pop and then wet in my bed. I woke Greg and told him that I thought my water had broken. We then rang my midiwfe and told her, she said to relax and see what happens but to meet her at 6 am . I dropped my daughter off to my parents while we went. She met us there and said that nothing much was happening, it could take hours and to go home and she would check on us later. So we went home. Mum kept Quinn for the day. I started to have contractions but they were weird. I had major back pain and my contractions were I'd have one then 1 min later have another 1 and then nothing for 10 mins. Barbara did an exam and said that I was 3 cms dialted and that the baby was posterior. So no wonder the back pain. She told me to walk every 30mins for 10 mins , rest and then go again. When not walking , be on hands and knees trying to get baby to turn. She then said she'd ring later. She did and told us to meet her at the hospital at 8pm. We got to the hospital, a small rural one just out of Christchurch and I was the only person there, that was great. The two midwives decided that my waters hadnt broken properly but merely popped a little, so they broke them for me, yet again, this brought everything on harder and faster. I then began to vomit and was sent to the spa bath to relax. This was great, the jets helped relieve my back pain. Now when it came time to get out and birth this baby, I couldn't move. My husband lifted me out of the bath and helped me over to the bed. I forgot to say, that this baby had also passed meconium and was distressed, so I couldn't have him in the water. After a bit of pushing, burning and pain, Cian was born. It felt like this took forever and I couldn't open my eyes. Here he was, this beautiful boy, but to scare his mother he wasn't breathing, he almost looked like he was gone. I began to panic, the midwives were suctioning him and he had an oxygen mask being held over his nose and mouth. then all of a sudden he let out a big cry and opened his eyes. Thank god. He was beautiful. It took us atleast 5 mins to sse if he was a boy or girl. He was an 8 pond 10 oz big healthy boy. I had no pain relief for this birth either. It all happens so fast once my waters go. Welcome to our world Cian Ethan.

Submitted by Mistie.

Quinn's birth

Born: 6:15 pm Monday September 7th 1998

Christchurch Womens Hospital

I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, younger than I had planned but there was no doubt in my mind that I loved this baby and would forever. I had a pretty good pregnancy, read loads of books and felt as prepared as I could be. I woke early , about 5:30 in the morning, 2 days before I was due, with pains. I thought this was it, so I got up and ran a bath. I lay in the bath breathing through the pains which where about 10 mins apart. Once out of the bath I made myself some breakfast, ate a little and then threw it up on the kitchen floor. Rang my midwife, she said it could be awhile and to ring her later on if things kept progressing. I then rang my mum and told her not to go to work. My mum was my support person, as I was going to be a single mum, this didnt really bother me by this point. I had moved on and couldnt wait to have my baby. Mum was great , she came over and helped me through. I met my midwife at the hospital in the morning and she said she didnt think I would have the baby that day. But I knew I was. She then sent me home with some panadol ( of all things) and some sleeping tablets to help me get some rest. i spent the afternoon on my mums couch, trying to deal with the pain, and no, not sleeping at all. I rang my midwife agian at about 4:30 as my contractions were 5 mins apart and my nose was bleeding, and I felt awful. She told me to meet her at the hospital at 5pm. Mum, Dad and I went to the hospital and my midwife did an examination. I was 6 cm. She asked me if I wanted her to break my waters and help bring on the labour faster. I said yes, as I wanted the pain to stop. She broke my waters at 5:15 pm, and then the real pain began. "Oh my god" . The contractions came faster and stronger, My baby had passed meconium in her fluid , she was distressed, so my midwife got an obstetrician in to assist. She was great. I was offered some gas, which was empty and whistled, so I didnt have any in the end. I had a pain relief free birth.Mum held a mirror for me so I could see, but I had my eyes closed most of the time. Dad stayed up the other end and held my hand and cried. They were great support. I had my midwife, the obstetrician and 2 midwifery students, my parents and I in the room. A bit of a squish. But we got there. My beautiful baby girl was born at 6:15 pm, with the chord around her neck, looking a bit like a pale aborigine.LOL. I could see her looking around when just her head was out. I knew she was going to be a clever girl and she is, the first great thing to happen to me.

A healthy beautiful 7 pounds 4 oz, brown eyes and dark hair.
Welcome to the world Quinn Mistie Karen.

Submitted by Mistie.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Kael's birth

Drinkin' Music ( Kaels birth, part 1)
You know that feeling you get when you've had too much to drink? That must-concentrate-on-something-or-will-vomit kind of feeling? It could be concentrate on something like the spot on your jeans, or concentrate on a movement like frantic hand waving. Concentrate on something to take your mind away from the must-barf-now feeling you've caused yourself.

For me, it's loud techno music.


I was up bright and early on the morning of Thursday, June 8th. I arrived at the hospital at 5:50 am ("You're early! That's always a good sign.") for my scheduled 6am induction. One quick check has me pronounced "3 cm dilated, nice and soft... You'll do well today!" and I was given a half dose of Cytotek as per doctors orders. ( for those not in the "know" Cytotek is used to help prepare the cervix for dilation, making it soft. I was soft when I got there.)
Four hours later (10:30) my doctor arrived to check and see if the ol' cervix had made any changes, or did we need more cytotek, or should we start pitocin. No cervical changes. BUT, still a 3, still soft.... Doc decides that instead of drugs, he'll break my water(A.R.M.) and see what my body decides to do on it's own. That was at 11:10 am.

OK, who likes the feeling of wetting your pants all the time? Not me.

Just thought I'd put that out there.

ANYWAY... I noticed a change immediately. The uncomfortable cramps/contractions I'd been having for weeks all the sudden found the candy jar and were coming fast and furious, "bouncing off the walls". Less then 10 minutes after the A.R.M., I was huffin' and puffin' through each contraction.... And they were coming 3 minutes apart, lasting 1-2 minutes each. Nice, regular, long contractions. 45 minutes of monitoring later I decided I needed to do something about all this... And the tub sounded like a good idea.

The Redmond birthing center has some nice, comfy, HUGE jetted birthing tubs. Matt got up at the first prompting and started filling up the monstrosity with some soothing hot water. While it filled, he brought me his MP3 player.

Prodegy, Lautsprecher, KMFDM, Moby, Paul Oakenfield............. Oh yeah.

My mind goes back to those drives home from the bar... Matt manning the steering wheel, sober. Me, lounged back in my seat, window down, eyes closed, foot thumping, radio blasting. I didn't get that drunk often, but when I did, it was always the same on the drive home. My blitzd mind was somehow able to focus on the beat..... Thump, Thump, Thump...... My stomping foot reminding me that I'm in the car and not spinning in circles like my head thinks I am.

I climb into the tub with much aid from my hubby.... Sink down.... And turn up the music. Now it's just me, the contractions, and the MP3 player. The hot water makes it easier to relax in between. The jets blowing on my back and feet are that thumping reminder that I'm still here. I'm still here. Yes, it hurts, but I'm still here. The music is as loud as it's gonna get. I'm still here......

Half an hour into my soak it starts. I can't huff through them anymore. Huffs turn to moans. The relaxing break between gets shorter and shorter. I hear visitors in the room outside the door between songs. The all thought leaves again as I concentrate on relaxing my muscles, breathing, relax, breathe.. I'm still here...I call Matt in and ask him to go ahead and request that epidural.

I can't do it anymore.

My nurse comes into the bathroom 15 minutes later... she's informed my doc of my request and he'll put a call into the Bend hospital to get an anesthesiologist over and get me my epidural. OK... Half hour. He'll be here in half an hour.

I spend another 10 minutes in the tub before deciding that this isn't working. They aren't manageable here. I need to get out.

The thumping in my ears is getting quieter. The music.... Harder to "feel". I'm losing my concentration.. And all I can think about is the next contraction. My focus, once outside of me and in the music, in the thump of the beat.... Has faded.

All of the sudden, my focus has changed.

I turn off the MP3 player.


Remember those pain scale you were shown at the doctors office as a kid, with the faces in different stages of grimace... "How much does it hurt, on a scale of One to Ten?" Did anyone else have a hard time picking a number? How would you know?


Out of the tub, I had to stop twice before reaching the bed to moan through more contractions. Fast and furious doesn't begin to describe. I feebly try to dry myself off while putting on the lovely gown provided, Matt all but holding me up. Once to the bed, I request the nurse in here NOW. She wanders in several contractions later. I've lost all sense of time at this point. My whole world exists in the few seconds I have between mind blowing pain.
"When will that epidural get here?" I ask.
"On, Dr. B just called in your request."
WHAT?? I requested that epidural a LIFETIME ago! I can't do this! I can't do this!

I'm getting scared at this point. The are getting harder, faster..... Moans have been replaced with an escalating "ouch, ouch, ouch".

I'm told I got rather loud.

I remember saying I was scared.. I remember seeing my husband across the room, sitting on a chair, a helpless look on his face. I remember thinking... He's scared too.

I remember saying to him, teeth gritted "I'm OK. I'm OK"

I remember the nurse offering me an IV drug to take the edge off. I don't want IV drugs... Baby feels those too!

Another contraction hits.

OK, yes, I'd like the IV drug.. Maybe just a half dose though?

I notice no difference other then a nausiousness when opening my eyes.

I remember feeling terrified that I was drugging my baby. Was he nauseous too? I'm still scared... Is he scared too?

Then things change.

At the end of each life altering contraction.. I have to grunt. Push? What? No.... I can't be ready to push.... Yet there it is again.. With each contraction, I get this overwhelming need to push. The urge is so strong, I can't describe it. Yet, I'm not ready to push! Must grunt, breathe, anything... But don't push! It's like telling a drowning person, upon pulling them out of the water, not to breathe. You can't control it. Grunt. Push.

My nurse checks me... 8+ centimeters. Fully effaced. +1 station.

"I'm sorry honey, I don't think you're going to be able to get that epidural... You're too fast"

Beeps. Dips. I learn later that between each contraction, my son's heartrate is dropping..... It resumes it's speed WITH the contraction... But between, it drops. My doctor is called in. He check me again. I don't know what the results of that check are.

I'm terrified.

I feel all alone with this pain. Nothing else exists. Breathe, Moan, Ouch, Grunt. Repeat. I remember someone telling me to breathe for my baby. Pant for my baby. Don't push!

I remember my doc saying something about an injection..."Go ahead and get it". I have no idea what "it" was.

I remember apologizing over and over for needing it... For not being strong enough... Brave enough. I don't remember any replies.. Matt tells me he said it was OK. I DO remember seeing his face. Still scared.

Me too, honey. Me too.

I am sat up... Grunt. Don't push! And folded over, my spine bared. An anesthesiologist from the ER comes in and pokes a needle in my back. Lightning shoots down my left leg. This is the one and only time in the whole ordeal that I scream. It was such a sharp, unexpected pain! That on top of the somewhat predictable yet horrifying contractions was too much.

"Which leg?" He asks.


He pokes again. More lighting. A yelp. More apologizing on my part.

"Which Leg???"

"Left!" I sob.

Breathe, Moan, Grunt.

"Left again??!!"

A few minutes later I hear him mutter "it's done" and I am helped to lay back on the bed. An Oxygen mask is placed on my face. I kind of remember seeing Davinie and Alyca come in the room... But not really.

I remember asking when it would work.. I can still feel everything!! I'm told to wait, it will take a few minutes.

A few minutes later... They are going away. I can feel them less.. Yet I still can FEEL.. And it stays that way.

This is WONDERFUL!! I can feel the contractions, but they are back to being the easy crampy ones I've felt for weeks now... And I can still feel my legs, the rest of my body! Whatever they injected simply took away the pain in my belly... And that's it.

Finally, I relax. Breathe. Catch my breath.

Next thing I know, the nurse asks me to push. I push.

I remember her asking for 2 people to come hold my legs. I remember thinking I am perfectly able to hold my own legs, thankyouverymuch....At some point in the confusion I'd asked Davinie and Alyca to decide among themselves who would cut the cord ( Matt not at all interested... Alyca cut Raegans cord..) Davinie comes up on my right, Matt on my left... Although I think at some point they change sides. Holding my legs with me, I'm asked to push. My doctor is here again, not the nurse, doing some perennial massage ( hows that for too much information) between each push. I remember Davinie telling me to relax my arm... Apparently I was flexing? I remember my air mask falling off all the time, and she fixed it for me several times. I remember her patting my arm, rubbing my leg. I remember Matt's soft presence counting to ten. Several times. I remember all the blood rushing to my face..

"I don't think I'm doing this right!"

I don't know how long I pushed. I do know that it was both easier and harder then when I had Raegan. I could feel what I was doing. Easier. I could feel that progress was slow. Hard.

Then all of the sudden I've got him. The squirmy blue-ish little man on my chest.

My Son.

A few brisk rubs and he is whisked away to the warmer. The paparazzi ( Davinie and Alyca) go over to assess his condition... He is yelling furiously... So apparently fine.

My foggy memory brings up me asking several times if he was OK. Short laughs from my doctor, patiently waiting for the placenta to be ready to deliver. "Yes" he says, "Hear him? That's One Healthy Boy."

I ask Matt if he wants to go over and see him? He is still holding my hand, rubbing my wrist with his thumb. "I can hear him" he says. "I'll stay right here."

Quiet, soft support.

I look at the clock. 1:43 PM.

My entire labor process, from time of A.R.M. when I started having real contractions to the time my son was delivered, was just over two and a half hours long.

It felt so much longer. It was... An entire lifetime.

Now, one week later, the memory of that day is becoming fuzzier. I remember there was pain. I remember I was scared..... But mostly, I remember that cry. I remember my husband at my side, holding my hand, counting in my ear.

I remember the important stuff.


Hours late, my daughter has met her brother, my sisters and mother are all here again, and my brother-in-law is asking me about the labor.

"So, did you find your ten?"

Yes. I found my ten.

And so much more.

"Things I've done during labour"

Things I've done while in labour.

* Eat at a restaurant (early stages of a long slow part of labour)

* Take my eldest to our local playground while hanging off trees and yelling during contractions ("Mummy tummy working hard?" "YES! Mummy tummy working VERY hard!")

* Drink castor oil (didn't seem to speed up the slow one)

* Machine quilt (brought the sewing machine to the hospital)

* Eat chocolates

* Moan, grunt, growl

* Breastfeed my eldest

* "I don't think the baby will come tonight but you may as well ring the support people just in case, but tell them to bring their books." (Denial)

* Bathe (great!)

* Gaze at a lit Christmas tree

* Hide my head in a pillow

* Visualise pushing a truck up a hill with my support people beside me, cheering me on but not helping

* Bite

* Demand acapella singing, reading aloud, acupressure, no - different massage, food, drink, ice, cold cloths on the back of my neck, silence and distracting conversation.

* Move around

* Wish I could still move around

* Try not to push

* Wish I'd mentioned to my midwife that I'd prefer any vaginal exams on my hands and knees

* Push

* Poo

* Bleed on things

* Forget what people were saying during their sentences

* Have a baby (twice)

* Enjoy the boneless sliding of the placenta on its gentle way out (twice)

Both my babies came out fast once I was dilating, the first was late and I didn't start dilating for 10 days of on-and-off-again patches of labour (and having been through "real" labour I can't call that "false" because it was the same). The second was early. I birthed both kneeling, though I wanted to get into a different position for my second as she was part way through and I just couldn't get up. Both were natural and pretty much drug free (I had a little gas when my midwife broke my waters for the first, late, baby. It felt stupid, like why would I do recreational drugs when I was busy having an important baby). The first was in hospital, the second at home. The home birth was fantastic, the hospital birth was fine.

Contributed by Susan Harper. You can also contact her at "susan at"

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kate's birth

Date: June 1980

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

I went to my doctor one Friday afternoon to have my pregnancy confirmed. I was to meet my husband after work with the news. I'll never forget walking through the Strand Arcade and sighting him walking toward me. I just could not keep the smile from my face. We laughed and hugged each other and then walked on toward the car. As soon as I sat in it I started to cry. I had this overwhelming feeling of emotion and sudden fear that my baby might not be perfect. (My mother's first baby was stillborn). My husband tried to comfort me although he was totally amazed and confused.

I suddenly realised that I did not know a thing about pregnancy, birth or bringing up a child. I was scared but elated to think it was happening to me.

As my doctor no longer delivered babies I had to find another doctor who would. I asked around and came across one who lived in the area who seemed to specialise in delivering babies. When I first met him, he asked me where I wanted to have the baby. I didn't have a clue where I wanted it, which hospital or how I wanted to give birth. I wasn't ever aware that I had a choice in the matter. All I had considered was that I thought I wanted my husband to be present, to which my doctor replied "if he wasn't, I would want to know why not!". That settled it then, obviously it was the done thing to have one's husband present.
Now I would not ever consider to not have my husband present at a birth. For those that for some reason find it impossible for their partner to be present, I strongly recommend that you have someone that is close to you, your mother, father, sister, brother or friend, with you during the birthing of your child.

I began to read books on pregnancy and childbirth. The more I read, the more I realised how little I knew. I talked with friends who had children. Some were helpful, others kept telling me how awful pregnancy and childbirth were. It never ceased to amaze me the amount of horror stories I heard about labour. It seemed that practically everyone had one tucked away somewhere and some people were only too happy to have the opportunity to impart the facts on yet another willing, captive ear.

It didn't stop there either. Friends would point out their children misbehaving and say "look what you've got yourself into". It disturbed me that people could only relate the woes of childbirth and childrearing. Where was the joy, the excitement? I knew there would be rough times but I wanted this child and you've got to take the good and bad with it.

Pregnancy didn't seem to be what it was cracked up to be. I didn't feel as though I was blossoming. I felt sick from morning to night, I felt emotionally vulnerable to criticism and I felt fat. I couldn't believe my stomach was stretching and still stretching some time later.

I attended antenatal classes and a series of LaLeche League meetings. The League meetings left me thinking that these people were devoted to the aspect of breastfeeding, some of them were even feeding their toddlers. Good grief, I thought, that's a bit of a joke, isn't it? I wasn't aware then of the many benefits to mother and child of breastfeeding and that these benefits are not only applicable to the young baby but carry on through to the older baby too. Neither was I aware of the protective mothering feeling that one has for one's own baby and how that baby seems a baby to the mother long after other people have started to see it as a small child.

I'll never forget my first evening of antenatal class. The physiotherapy was fine, the discussion and supper fine, but then we watched a birth film. It was the first birth film I has ever seen. I didn't want to be sick or faint as it is commonly feared will happen, particularly by the men, I just wanted to stop my pregnancy midstream. How could I go through that? All that stretching, all that pain. I just sat there dumbfounded and thought, oh well, it's got to come out, but does it have to be like that? After the film I couldn't help but notice that none of the women present joined in the discussion and I was wondering if they too felt as I did.

On the way home and for quite a while afterward, I just couldn't stop myself from crying. My husband couldn't understand this at all. He thougth the film was great and felt that we could cope with what was ahead of us.

Another valuable antenatal evening for me was the night we visited the hospital and delivery suite. I knew that once I entered those doors the next time would be easier for me.

By the time our baby was ready to be born I had gained a great deal more confidence in myself, my body and the act of giving birth. I had also gained a great deal more knowledge and knew what I wanted from the birthing experience. We decided that to the best of our abilities we would let nothing interfere with making this one of the most memorable occasions of our lives.

We arrived at the hospital at 11pm one Saturday night, 8 days overdue, very excited and not a little scared. Contractions were a little irregular and not particularly uncomfortable. I later learned that this was really preparatory labour (false labour). I was taken to a prep room, without my husband although he had asked to stay with me all the time. I was examined and found to be only 1cm dilated. The contractions I was having stopped and I felt deflated. With my doctor's permission, I was given an enema.

I was then directed to a first stage labour room and informed that my husband had been told to go home and get a good nights sleep as I would be ages yet. On hearing this I started to cry. "What's wrong?" they asked, and I replied that I didn't want my husband to go home and leave me alone at the hospital. As I said this, he walked into the room and said he wasn't going anywhere. The Sister then told me that it was alright for me, I would be nice and comfortable but my husband would have to sit in a chair all night.
Naturally I felt riddled with guilt, at the same time wondering how on earth this woman thought I was going to be comfortable. Luckily my husband came to the rescue by saying that I had been uncomfortable for the last 9 months, one night wouldn't hurt him. So he stayed and dozed in the chair. Within the next hour or so, painful contractions begain in earnest.

Fortunately, the Sister that came on duty next was wonderful. Encouraging, positive, gentle, quiet, comforting. Not only did she encourage me but also my husband, who strangely enough was finding sleeping between contractions quite easy. As I got a contraction, I would growl at him, "rub". Sometimes I would have to say it 3 times before he awoke and rubbed my back. I found the back rubbing immensely helpful through out the contractions.

Time had lost all perspective for me. I got up and walked around a little and spent what must have been a couple of hours in a warm bath. I found it easier to cope with contractions sitting in the bath. My husband still rubbed my back and between contractions I would start to drop off to sleep, only to be re-awoken by another contraction.

To begin with I tried to concentrate on other things or people during contractions. It didn't take long for me to run out of people; Mum, Dad, my brother, my mother in law, sister in law. I was fighting contractions without knowing it. The midwife suggested that I think of the contractions as power and concentrate on them. Power, a force that was moving down into my pelvis and pushing my baby out into the world. I started to go with the contractions.

Sometime later, back in the first stage room, I was still vomiting and was offered some honey, which unfortunately, only made it worse. My urine indicated that I was running out of energy yet I didn't feel as though I was. The midwife suggested to my husband that he go across the road to the shop and get some sweets that I could suck on. While he was away, the midwife stayed with me continually as she promised she would. I had read in "Spiritual Midwifery" that saying the words 'I love you' helped to dilate the cervix so I kept saying them, keeping a mental picture of my husband constantly in my mind because I hated him leaving me. I'm sure initially the midwife wondered what on earth I was doing but she soon accepted my peculiarities. He was only gone a few minutes and returned brandishing a packet of 'lemon sparkles'. I sucked one of these and immediately went into transition. (A good advertisement for lemon sparkles!). At this stage contractions were almost unbearable and I can remember thinking that I hoped I didn't get offered any medication because I would have been sorely tempted to accept it as much as I hadn't wanted to. I could feel the baby moving down and after a minute or two of this sensation, I recognised it as such and quietly, almost apologetically said "I can feel the baby coming". My husband then pushed my bed into the delivery suite. I realised for the first time that it was day time.

I felt excited and ready for the next stage believing that it wouldn't be long before we would see our baby. The midwife helped me to move from the labour bed to the delivery bed in between contractions, consequently I didn't find it an ordeal at all. I couldn't tolerate the contractions in any position other than my side.

Someone started to explain the use of the mask to me, but I interrupted because the fear of having something covering my face was greater than the pain.

Co-incidentally, the Dr arrived at this time, surprised to find me ready to deliver. He had come to give me accupuncture to help me relax. He stroked the back of my neck and immediately I relaxed just knowing he was there. Both my husband and I had built up a trust in him. I'm sure that made it easier. He tried to examine me to see if I was fully dilated but as contractions were following one directly after another I couldn't stand to go on my back for the examination. He told me to go ahead and push. I couldn't hear a word he was saying and kept impatiently saying to my husband "What's he saying", and my husband would act as interpreter. At the point of the baby's head crowning when I was required to pant I had forgotten how to puff, puff, blow. Fortunately he acted as a guide and I followed him every now and then losing the rhythm and panicking a little but getting back to it. After a few good pushes, Kate flew out onto the table. The Dr immediately picked her up and put her on my tummy. She gave a little squeak as she was delivered, but that was all.
I could feel her body against mine. She immediately clasped my husbands finger. He had tears in his eyes. After a few minutes, the Dr said "Oh, we don't even know what sex it is". He picked up the blanket that was over her announced we had a daughter. Wow! The placenta was born about 20 minutes later without the aid of an injection. Kate, all 8lb 10oz of her, was put to the breast which she enthusiastically suckled at. I required a few stitches for a small tear.

Shortly afterwards she was examined in a crib beside me. She just lay there quietly looking around. Shortly after this, we were left alone to get acquainted with our daughter.

(Writen by Michelle, for a book of birth stories she compiled in the 1980s)

Heather & Kay's birth

When I started writing my birth story it quickly became obvious to me that my it is part of a trilogy that begins with my pregnancy, continues with the birth and goes on to the saga of early breastfeeding.

Part I - Pregnancy

I learnt I was expecting twins early. I had a scan at seven and a half weeks and the gynaecologist said, "There's two", and I replied, "I was expecting that", thinking he meant the two fibrial cysts that had been among the difficulties I'd faced in getting pregnant in the first place. Then it dawned on me that the sonographer was measuring a hazy baked bean within each sack of fluid and not the sack itself, and that meant .... The shock slowly hit me.

During my pregnancy people constantly asked, "Do twins run in your family?" Initially I interpreted this as "Do twins run in your family or did you use fertility drugs?" and found it overly invasive. Later on I figured out they might be asking, "Am I in danger too?" or "Were you as surprised as I'd be?" and found it easier to answer. For the record, I had twin great-aunts who were probably identical, and I did use fertility treatment. At one now memorable visit to the fertility clinic I was asked flippantly, "How do you feel about quads?" Then even one pregnancy seemed so improbable that quads was an unimaginable risk. Looking back, knowing there were four developing follicles in my ovary at that time, it seems like a terrifying close shave.

I went on two overseas trips in the first couple of months of my pregnancy. My main memory of them is sleeping. At every break during a conference in Seattle I would pop up to my hotel room, set the alarm clock to wake me in 25 minutes, and be asleep in moments. In Brisbane I napped on park benches between sight-seeing.

Everything I read during my pregnancy made me determined to get as close to full term as possible. I wanted the best start for my babies and I wanted to exclusively breastfeed them (more about that later). I believe sustaining pregnancy is about three things: luck, genetics, and good management. Luck was out of my control. Genetics seemed mostly on my side: I have a strong family history of singleton pregnancies going to 42 weeks. Good management was about focussing on what I could do to improve my chances. Eating well, eating lots - particularly protein. Drinking lots of water. Listening to my body. Sleeping lots - napping frequently. Reminding myself that resting earlier at home would save me from being forced to rest later in hospital.

Two books were particularly helpful regarding self-care during pregnancy: Mothering Multiples by Karen Kerkhoff Gromada (available from the La Leche League), and Holistic Midwifery Vol I by Anne Frye which I got on interloan through the Wellington City Library.

More than anything else my advice to anyone pregnant with twins is to reduce stress, and for me that meant taking maternity leave from my high pressure job at 14 weeks. I was very tired and didn't seem to have the kind of brain I was used to doing my job with anymore. I felt I was letting my team down. I talked to my midwife, who was very supportive of me leaving early. She talked about the increased risk of complications if I pushed myself too hard. Having a medical certificate meant I was still eligible for the usual amount of leave after the babies' birth. I am due back 46 weeks after their due date.

I had been a support person for my sister at the birth of my niece, and attended Birth Wise antenatal classes with her, so when I first found out I was pregnant I felt terrifically well prepared - until I found out it was twins. I decided to go to Birth Wise classes again because I felt that my partner could best learn from them how to support me in being a stroppy patient.

I also chose the same group of midwives as my sister, Domino, because their positive natural birth philosophies suited me and the group's ability to tap into one another's experience appealed. I wanted my midwife as LMC but I was advised I would need an obstetrician, and I chose to go private with a particular obstetrician who would only take me if he was LMC. Nevertheless my midwife was extremely important during the pregnancy and birth. I was pleased with the combination of a natural-birth-oriented midwife and an obstetrician very experienced in delivering twins. I had alternate visits with each.

Part II - The Birth

I was due on 16 February. Throughout my pregnancy I told everyone, "They're not allowed out until February." It was my mantra against premature labour, my answer to all the many people who told me twins are always early, and my best maternal advice to the two inside.

On 26 January I had the first sign that the birth was approaching - a pink watery discharge and some very tiny red clots. Fortunately my waters weren't breaking, but it was an unusual 'show'. Unfortunately blood tests showed my liver was no longer coping so well. I had slightly raised ALT levels although not so high they were a definite problem. The obstetrician talked to me about induction but we settled on monitoring in hospital every other morning. The 'show' continued and I had some definite contractions which petered out at night.

Then at 5pm on 31 January I looked in the mirror and thought, "It's going to be tonight." I promptly ignored my intuition. But I started to take it more seriously as the evening went on. As the contractions got stronger I found that I was most comfortable sitting very upright on the sofa pushing my back very hard against a cushion. (Later this position made the drive to hospital much easier than I expected). I closed my eyes to ride the contractions and held my partner's hand to stay anchored. The wind raging outside seemed the perfect accompaniment to something so natural and primal.

At 1am I was 4cm dilated with bulging membranes and the first baby seemed correctly positioned., I felt very successful. At 3am I felt ready to go and get settled in hospital. Delivery Suite at Wellington Women's was quite full so they put us straight in a theatre. Another disappointment followed as my obstetrician advised against a bath - something I'd been looking forward to. I found it frustrating that the midwife talked to the obstetrician on the phone and I couldn't argue with him.

Through the night my labour progressed slowly. My sister says I slept between contractions, but I only remember holding Damon's hand and thinking that it was amazing it still worked as my anchor even though he was dozing. Meanwhile my sister was trying to keep monitoring two separate heartbeats with all her determination and focus.

In the morning dilation paused at about 7cm. I agreed to the rupture of the membranes of the first baby - lots of nice clear fluid but no change in my labour. No progress so I agreed to having a gradually increasing dose of syntocinon to increase the strength of the contractions, but no epidural. By 1pm I'd been on the highest dose of syntocinon for an hour. The contractions were very intense but I still felt able to cope with each one without pain relief. However, an exam showed that although I'd reached 9cm my cervix was now a thick rim as the first baby was facing my front and not providing the even pressure I needed.

The obstetrician told me he advised a caesarean and I remember collecting every ounce of composure I had to ask calmly, "What are the alternatives?" In this surreal situation with my body still intent on each crashing wave I still demanded to make my own informed choice.

For me what tipped the balance was the safety of the second baby - I might have been prepared to continue a difficult anterior birth for a singleton (like my own birth) but then that would mean a dangerous delay for the second baby.

The next hour was the roughest of my life - the syntocinon was off but my body didn't know the labour wasn't needed. From welcoming each contraction as a move toward birth, now they were unnecessary. I now tried (as unsuccessfully as you can imagine) to ignore them and sort my head out. I had put everything I had into it and it hadn't been enough. My sister reminded me of the three things I'd written at the end of the birthplan:

"No plan survives contact with the enemy."
"The birth is not the important thing; the family it creates is."
"All mothers are heroes; it is not necessary to be the most heroic, there are no medals."

The caesarean was a whirl and I was euphoric when the babies arrived. Two big girls: Heather first (7lb 2oz), and then Kay (7lb 11oz). They were so beautiful. In recovery I just wanted to hold them both against me. The recovery midwife was worried I was too tired to be safe with them. I cuddled them and fed them and couldn't bear to give them back.

Part III - Beginning Breastfeeding

I was extremely confident about breastfeeding. My mother and sister had both breastfed successfully with ample milk supplies. While I was pregnant I'd read about breastfeeding, been to a couple of La Leche League meetings and talked to Maggie Morgan, the Wellington Hospital Lactation Consultant. Whenever I read that most women can fully breastfeed their babies I took it for granted that I would be able to. I knew that many (some say most) breastfeeding problems can be resolved through correct latching, good support and persistence.

Things started well. The babies latched on in recovery and were eager to feed. A couple of days later however things weren't looking so good. Heather and Kay were very unsettled and they suckled constantly but I didn't seem to have much colostrum . I kept hoping that everything would be okay when my milk came in. It started to sink in that a caesarean or a difficult birth can delay that.

Three days after the birth, no milk yet and only minute amounts of colostrum. Both babies had lost more than ten percent of their birth weight and were very hungry. I didn't want them to have formula and after discussions with my midwife, Maggie Morgan and a paediatrician we agreed to "top up" using a lactated-like arrangement with my sister's expressed breastmilk. So my sister, who was breastfeeding my one year old niece, starting pumping for my twins. It was a tremendous gift. She pumped at the hospital and at home, her husband delivered milk at all hours.

Still at the hospital that night we got the midwife from hell. At 3am she decided to start an argument about our decision making and independence. We requested not to have her again and when I made sufficient fuss this happened (it helped that what she had written in my notes backed up our complaints). I think they save them for the night shift when you're at your lowest ebb.

Next day I vomited and continued to be nauseous for a few days. After some trial and error I discovered I could only eat dairy products and bland stuff I couldn't smell ( e.g. white bread).

Day 6, finally, MILK. I was over the moon and convinced that it was only a matter of following the advice to increase my supply. But when I gradually stopped supplementing, my babies stopped growing. I fed almost constantly. I even slept propped up so I could sleep while tandem feeding through the night. My milk supply simply could not meet the demand even following all the advice available to increase it.

There have been some case studies published that suggest that insufficient milk supply can be a symptom of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which was one of my barriers to conception in the first place.

Heather and Kay were exclusively breastmilk-fed until they were 15 days old. Nine months on they are still primarily breastfed, I top-up three feeds a day with about 75ml of formula and they are also on solids. This is a impressive success given the problems we faced but it still looks like failure when they are sucking on a bottle.

The hardest thing to deal with was the grief I experienced. For months thinking about feeding would make me cry. Writing that my babies were hungry tears at my heart. I will never know if I should have done things differently. Breastfeeding IS best and sometimes it takes persistence to get it established. If I had formula fed earlier or topped up more maybe I would never have established as much supply as I have.

I found it hard to get good information about mixed feeding. The La Leche League is focussed on exclusive breastfeeding and can seem to have the perspective that any formula feeding will inevitably lead to early complete weaning. This misses an important message - if you do mixed feed the more breastmilk the better. The women I know with twins of similar age are all mixed feeding but all of us do it differently for a variety of different reasons.

The best advice I can give about breastfeeding is to keep trying, get as much help from family as you can and talk to a lactation consultant if you have a problem. The lactation consultants at the Plunket Family Centre are available free or you can contact Maggie Morgan through the hospital. There are also private lactation consultants who will come to your home. The La Leche League can provide a friendly ear. Support from my partner and family has helped me more than I can say.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Christopher & Stephanie's birth

Christopher and Stephanie - 28th September 1995

Auckland - New Zealand

Pregnancy was difficult - had to stop work at 12 weeks due to the safety factor of the twins and was on bed rest for the 9 months with stays in hospital when required.

September 27th 8am – arrived at North Shore Hospital for a planned induction. I was 35.5 weeks, and the twins were becoming stressed. Don’t remember much of the next 24 hours but here goes.

Pains began at about 11am, also at this time they placed an epidural in (not fun) so we waited and waited, later that afternoon, nothing much happened so had my waters broken. When the midwife came back and checked I was about 3 cm dilated – the pain was bad at times, I remember saying the f**k word a bit and having soaks in the bath by about 7pm still not a lot happening. I tried the gas and hated it. Still pains and starting to get tired from all of this. Still only about 5 cm dilated so knew I was in for a long night. At this stage my parents were there and Andy and MIL. Anyway not a lot happened for another few hours at about 11pm was told I was about 7 cm dilated whoohoo I thought “I am going to have these twins naturally”. A sudden enthusiasm came over me and I got excited thinking it was all going to happen in the next hour or so I tried to push when told and did everything in my power to have these twins naturally – how wrong could I be!!!!

By 3.10am I was exhausted and the twins were in danger especially Christopher who was getting more distressed by the second, so the specialist said enough and we decided my only option was C section – my heart was broken, because I knew we were probably only going to have the twins I really wanted a natural birth. But then another bout of pain and I screamed get me to theatre, I had, had enough, I was exhausted and in great pain. So within what seemed like seconds but was proberly minutes I was in theatre wide awake waiting for the twins to be born and out came Christopher at 3.31am followed 1 minute later by Stephanie at 3.32am. I heard them cry they gave me a quick look and took them away. I remember panicking thinking what was happening, I heard them cry again what a relief that was. They were 2260 grams and 2080 grams

Anyway I assume I was stitched back up and then got told we needed to transfer in an ambulance to National Women’s Hospital as the twins needed to go to SCBU – well that made me panic as no-one bothered to tell about what SCBU was. Anyway this is where the nightmare began…….

Waited for an ambulance and we had to wait for one from National Women’s for what ever reason, meanwhile we are in a corridor waiting by the ambulance bay – this being the twins, nurse and me as we thought the ambulance was only a few minutes away. They told me one was on the way well 1 ½ hours later it arrived – by this stage panic was setting in with the nurse re: the twins they were having trouble breathing and very cold. At this stage Andy had taken the car and gone home and gone to National Women’s and still bet me there – and he was starting to wonder what had happened to me. Why they could not take an ambulance form North Shore I will never know. The worse part was they wanted to leave me at North Shore Hospital and take the twins to National Women’s (over my dead body).

Finally the ambulance arrived at 5.30am and we had to share an ambulance with another lady who needed to go to Auckland Hospital so we had to make a detour there, meanwhile she was vomiting in the back of the ambulance all the way there…… dropped her off and finally got to National Women’s at about 6.30am. They rushed the twins to SCBU and took me to a ward – I mean what the hell I wanted to be with my babies. Andy came and got me, found me a wheelchair and took me to them. I finally saw my babies properly for the first time, they were so tiny (well they looked tiny) and so perfect. They were on breathing apparatus and had needles coming out of them….. but they were alive and that was alI I was worried about. Finally the tears arrived, I cried and cried….

My stay in National Women’s was nightmare, as because I had the twins at North Shore Hospital the politics took over, my specialist (who I had had, right from when I knew I was having twins) had to come and visit me as a friend because he was not allowed to be my specialist there - I felt like an outsider no nurses in the ward spoke to me…… It was a disaster but having said that the staff at SCBU were AWESOME and the most FANTSTIC nurses anybody could have asked for.

5 Days later the twins and I were transferred back to North Shore Hospital where it was wonderful, because I had twins I got a room of my own and a double room. I got treated with respect and 2 days later I felt confident enough to go home.

And that is my story…….

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Sonny's birth

Date of birth : 12th June 2006

Location: California, U.S.A

Click here to read all about Sonny's entrance into the world - fantastic story!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Zoe's birth

Date: 29th August 2006

Location: Sydney, Australia

Monday 28th August
- Doctors appointment at 11:30am. Blood pressure was up slightly and therefore the doctor thought it would be best to admit me for induction. So off to hospital at 6pm. The gel was applied at 8pm and I was given a mild sedative to ensure a good nights sleep for a very hectic day that lie ahead. Jamie headed home about 10pm for a decent nights sleep also.

Tuesday 29th August - Woke at 5am for a shower and to prepare for the big day ahead. Jamie arrived at 6am and the midwife came about 10 mins later for an internal and to apply a second lot of gel. After the second lot I started getting some cramps but nothing that gave any real discomfort. Just mild period like pains. The doctor came about 9am and performed an internal. This proved that the cervix had come around a little from the previous day but was still quite high. I was given until 1pm to make any real progress. If nothing had happened by then it was off to delivery for my waters to be broken and get the ball rolling. We spent all morning pacing the corridors of the maternity ward trying to encourage something to happen but no real progress so as planned off to delivery suite for the real action to begin. The doctor arrived at about 2pm where she broke my waters and put my on a syntocin drip to encourage the contractions. Boy did they encourage then alright!! None of this 10 mins apart crap!! They were super painful to begin with but just very regular which was tiring. Another internal was done at 6pm when it was revealed I was only dilated 2cm. What??? All that for only 2cm!! At this point I was having difficulty with the pain. Mainly because I was confined to the limits of the bed or standing beside the bed with the syntocin drip and the fetal monitor which was permanently attached to my belly to monitor Zoe's condition at all times. At this point I opted for the gas. What a weird feeling that is! I was a little spaced out with it but I more so remember the tingling feeling it gave me in my face. Very strange indeed. It did take the edge off the pain though so it did the job. At 8pm another internal was done to reveal I'd now dilated 3cm! WTF!!! How could I be in so much pain and not even be half way there!!! The doctor said we would have at least another 8 hours of labour before getting anywhere near then end. When the doctor looked at the monitoring of baby Zoe it showed she wasn't coping very well and her heart was a little on the erratic side so in the best interest for her safety we chose the c-section. The anaesthetist came to see me where I signed my life away and he did the usual run down on what would happen and various complications associated with the procedure. I was taken immediately up to the theatre where I received the spinal block/epidural and at 8:41pm little Zoe arrived into the world!! It was without a doubt the most memorable experience of my life and nothing will ever beat it. To hear that little cry for the first time just brings tears to your eyes and it's like she already knew who we were. She was so alert!! That was what really surprised my the most. She was without a doubt the most beautiful little thing I'd ever seen (biased!!) before in my life. After she was cleaned up and wrapped I got to spend about 5 mins with her while they were stitching me up. After this she was taken back to maternity with Jamie where she was weighed and measured etc. The doctor came to see me before I went to recovery and gave me a run down of what happened during the procedure. Basically little Zoe was in no hurry at all to enter this world on her own accord. She was stuck and had to be removed using the forceps. Yes that's right forceps even in a c-section delivery!! She was apparently entering the birth canal face first with her head tilted back. This would have been a very ugly natural birth indeed so in the end the right decision was made. We are all healthy and that is really all that matters. In reality I was pretty terrified of a c-section before I went into hospital and the thought of a epidural was just as horrifying but it wasn't all as bad as I thought it would be. I suppose an epidural in my circumstances was not the same as with a natural birth and I couldn't imagine a c-section under general anaesthetic so I really can't compare the two. Anyway, after half an hour in recovery I was back in the ward with my beautiful little baby at 9:45pm and in total awe! Needless to say I didn't sleep much that night. Although I was totally exhausted I was running on pure adrenalin!!

Wednesday 30th August - Not much sleep the night before. With both the nurses coming in every 30 mins - 1 hours to do obs etc and just pretty much lying awake looking at my beautiful little baby who could sleep! Jamie woke at about 6am and we just sat there admiring our daughter. I had the catheder in so I was unable to get out of bed or anything but was itching for a shower. The doctor arrived at 9am to check up on us and at that time I was advised I was allowed to have the catheder removed. Yes!! I don't think the nurse had left the room and I was already out of bed and headed for the shower!! It's amazing how much more human you feel after a nice shower! From then on it was motherhood for me!

Zoe Marie -
Weight - 3.88kg / 8lb 9oz
Length - 51 cm
Hair - Strawberry Blonde

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Kaylee's Birth

Kaylee Brooke, Born 10th July 2004 at Waitakere Hospital, Auckland NZ

My due date was the 22nd of July, so I wasn’t expecting to go into labour for a while, however when I had a show around the first week of July, I started getting excited and thinking maybe I may not reach my due date!

At around 5pm on the 9th of July 2004 I was online with my mother and I felt a bit of a twinge, little tiny cramps, I joked to her, “im in labour” haha little did I know that it was indeed the beginning! The cramps were regular right from the start and as much as I should have been resting, I was too excited! I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I just lay awake, and I think a small amount of dozing happened!

I eventually fell asleep at around 11pm and woke quickly at 1am busting to go to the loo, I sat up and my waters broke! Thank goodness I had put a lot of towels down on the bed, it was the weirdest sensation I had ever felt before in my life! I went through so many towels and sanitary pads! Just kept gushing! I had no idea there was THAT much “water” to come out, with so much more to come!

So that was it, I was completely awake, and nothing in me could go back to sleep, I texted Mum and told her that my waters had broken, of course she panicked and rang the house a few times to see if she should leave then (at 1.30am, she was at the time a 4 hour drive away!) we told her to go back to sleep, because we wanted to, and come up in the morning. Somehow I don’t think she got back to sleep!

Darryl went back to bed, and I got up and sat in the lounge, backwards over a chair (was the most comfortable position for me at the time) on a huge pile of towels, and watched Animal Planet! At around 3.30am I woke Darryl up again as the contractions were getting stronger and I needed someone to keep heating my wheat bags as I was finding it a bit harder to get up and down all the time, I remember when he got up standing in the kitchen with him, having a contraction come and instead of breathing through it (like any normal person would!) I sang! I think with every contraction I got through every TV ad I knew at the time! God knows if the neighbors heard (in the house we were in the windows had been painted open… couldn’t be closed…but we wont go there, that’s a whole different story!) but here I was at around 4am singing TV ads at the top of my lungs… haha

I sent Darryl off at around 4am to the supermarket to get some more supplies, (god bless 24 hour supermarkets!) I was ripping through the sanitary pads like anything! And I think he got chocolate and energy drinks too (great healthy food!), and I kept sitting backwards over my chair watching Animal Planet!

At around 6am (ish) I noticed I was bleeding, and did a bit of a panic, because I was told that if you bleed, there is something wrong, and get to the hospital NOW (have since found out this is wrong, it was just my show coming away fully! – had started showing about a week before) So we tried getting hold of my midwife, turns out it was her weekend off, so we rang the backup midwife, whose mobile phone was turned off! We left a message on that and tried to get hold of her in other ways, and finally she rang back, she said she was at the hospital anyway (at another labour) so we should come in, so we took off to the hospital at around 7.30am with Darryl’s mum closely following.

Once at the hospital I got hooked up to a monitor for a bit to see how my contractions were, and there were pretty decent, but they said to me I could either go home for a while longer, or wait around and see what happens, I asked for an internal because I needed to see how far along I was, the midwife was surprised to see that already I was at 5cm, she said to me at 5cm I would be nuts going home, so stay in the hospital we did!

I had planned a water birth, but unfortunately wasn’t put in a room with the birthing pool, there was however a nice deep bath, so I asked if I could go in that for a while, it was bliss, I loved being in the water, I felt weightless, I could move with each contraction with ease, I could relax, I could lie back between contractions, I recommend being in the water to anyone! The only problem I had was every so often the midwife wanted to do an internal, and I had to get out of the bath for them, I didn’t like that! Darryl had the job of keeping the temperature of the water regular, and after a couple of hours the contractions started coming thick and fast, I had some gas come in, but the canister was faulty, had another canister come in, that too was faulty, so I ended up sucking on the nozzle anyway, as it gave me something to concentrate on, and my breathing was SO much more regular with something to concentrate on! I had an internal in the bath and the midwife said I was at 10cm and it wouldn’t be too long at all, I remember thinking at the time, “wow, im going to have the perfect birth!” hmpf… after several more contractions the midwife asked me to get out of the bath so I could have a proper internal (OMG nobody tells you these things damn well HURT!) I got out of the bath, and yep I was at 10cm, but by then I didn’t want to get back in the water again, I thought I was going to have a baby really soon! (This would have been about 10.30am) and I was told that by lunchtime we would be parents!!

Lunch time came and went… the contractions stayed the same and after another internal (I lost track of how many I had, but there were a lot!) it was found that I was not 10cm dilated, I was 7cm… I was devastated! So we jumped in the shower for a while, the hot shower really helped, sitting on the toilet was comfy too, however as my room and an adjoining birthing room shared a toilet, I had the midwife next door knocking all the time as THEY wanted to use the loo…. I found that really hard to deal with, I didn’t want to be rushed and hurried, I wanted to relax!!

However I was completely exhausted, I could handle the contractions, but the tiredness and lack of food was really getting to me, but I still didn’t see the need for any drugs, around 3pm however I could barely move, I was just physically and emotionally exhausted, millions of woman every day push out a baby, why wasn’t mine coming out!! So the decision was made for me to have an epidural, WHAT BLISS! It was amazing, and as soon as I had it I slept for a good couple of hours, much needed sleep to bring me some energy! I was hooked up to all kinds of monitors at this stage and had a drip in my arm, but I really didn’t care anymore, I just wanted this baby out! I remember looking up after I woke up (I was pretty much naked my whole labour, I have no shame and think if people don’t want to see it then they don’t have to be there) and seeing a family of people looking through my door, one of the nurses had left the door open and they were having a good old gawk, Mum (who arrived just before I had the epidural) got up quickly and shut the door in their face!

The contractions were still thick and fast as they had been for hours, but babies heart rate started dropping, I was apparently back to 10cm dilated again and started pushing, but I think I lost all energy again, and before I knew it the room was full of doctors, nurses, midwifes, my mother, Darryl’s mother and Darryl! Heaps of people in a little room, my legs got put up in stirrups, the doctor tried to explain to me that I will be cut (episiotomy) and baby will come out with the help of a ventouse (Vacuum) I really didn’t care and just kept pushing, I remember being told at one stage to stop making noise as it was using up all my energy, once again, I really didn’t care!

After a snip and a suck, at 6.41pm on the 10th of July 2004, Kaylee Brooke made her grand entrance into the world, fully awake, completely covered in vernix, they put her straight up onto me and I remember lying there holding her with this amazing sense of love and guardianship, I was now responsible for another life, I was blown away by how beautiful she was and instantly I was in love. It was a surreal moment.

Unfortunately that moment went away all too quickly when it came time to deliver the placenta.

The birth of the placenta sticks in my mind as one of the most painful things I have ever experienced in my life, I had the injection to help it come away, but there was no waiting for any contractions (although there were some mighty ones!) the Doctor was between my legs (still in stirrups) and the midwife started pressing very hard on my stomach, the doctor was grabbing the cord with (so I got told since!) one foot levered up against the bed pulling the placenta out while the midwife pushed on my stomach, not a pleasant experience and never one I want to repeat ever again. Then, as I had an episiotomy, I had to have a lot of stitches, and unfortunately for me even with a few injections of local anesthetic I felt every damn stitch, for me, the part that come after the delivery of my baby was the worst, hardest and most traumatic thing I have ever had to go through, and I will do everything in my power to never repeat it again.

After all the doctors, nurses and my midwife had left, a couple of hospital midwifes came in to help Darryl help me shower, I was so weak and so tired, so we got into the bathroom, where I promptly fainted, I was helped up onto the toilet and ‘brought to’ and then we tried for a shower a couple more times, fainting each time, I was helped back to the bed where the midwifes made me some toast with jam and a sweet milo, it felt SO good after not eating for so long (last meal was way before I even went into labour!) however it wasn’t enough and I kept fainting, the decision was made for me that I would not shower that night, I was too tired to argue, and I was put onto drip bags for much needed fluids, I wasn’t taken off the drip for over 12 hours.

At around 10pm I was moved into a private room with Kaylee, Darryl went home for the night, and I remember lying there, exhausted, Kaylee was looking at me, and I was looking at her and I knew right then and there that words could not explain my love for this child, and every ounce of pain, discomfort and exhaustion was completely worth it.

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Natalia's Birth

Date: 13th June 2006

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

12th June

Had cramps all day long - which wasn't too unusual - they had been going on for a few weeks, but today seemed a bit stronger and more regular - nothing I could time though.
DH stayed home from work with a cold, and I was really glad to have him home. I felt safe and happy and loved. DD, DH and I went for a drive out to Piha. The weather was stormy - windy and wet. We drove over all the bumps in the road, and all the judder bars and speed bumps down at Piha - which gave us a laugh, and I could definitely feel it doing 'something'.

This afternoon we had an appointment with G (our midwife). She did a stretch and sweep - and said things were looking more progressed since our last appointment 4 days ago. A good sign! Lost a bit of the mucous plug and had a light pinky discharge, with some clear mucus throughout the evening. Took some caullophylum around dinner time. Did some nipple stimulation after putting DD to bed. Lots of walking around and keeping distracted.

At 9.45pm I started to notice I was leaking fluid!! How exciting! Not too much at first, but lots more of the bloody show too. Around 10.30pm had a big gush of fluid. Folllowed about every 20 mins by another big gush. We've been giggling and running around with towels, mopping up puddles.

13th June

It's now 1.06am - I'm having somewhat regular contractions now. About 5 minutes apart, but only lasting for around 30 seconds. I can still talk through them, and I'm finding being on my feet and rocking or swaying is helping.

DH has got a few things organised, including the plastic sheet on the bed, after my second huge gush in bed, hehe. I'm walking around the house and trying to distract myself, while he is having a bit of a sleep. There is nothing he can do as of yet to help me - and I will certainly wake him up when I need him - but since he has a cold and is feeling pretty yuck, I figure he can do with the sleep!
I'm going back to bed in a min to lay down again for more rest - but here's hoping today will be our baby's birthday!

This first part above, I actually wrote while I was in labour - I was in the kitchen standing up against the bench and rocking my hips through the contractions and typing away while the others slept!

I continued having reasonably strong contractions for the next couple of hours - I read my book, walked around, had a shower, sat on our swivel chair and rocked my hips some more (for some reason it really helped!). I didn't manage to get much of a lie down because of the pelvic nerve pain I had been having all through the pregnancy, I was far too uncomfortable, and the fluid just kept gushing out!

I was going to wake DH up at 3am, I had decided, because I felt like I'd prefer some company - but at 5 mins to 3, he opened his eyes on his own, hehe. Good timing! He helped me mop up some of the puddles I had made on the floor (I had given up bending down to clean up!), and helped me change my knickers and pad for about the 10th time of the night!
He stoked the fire, chucked some more wood on, and we settled down in the lounge with 'Love Actually' playing - while I had more contractions, and we talked excitedly about how our baby might be here soon.

With DD's birth at this stage the contractions were quite mild, but during this labour I was having to breathe through them, and move around to try and get some relief. I felt like maybe I was further along than I actually was, because everything was already more intense.

I decided I wanted a bath, so DH ran one, and what a relief that was from the pain! Not just the contraction pain, but my whole body was aching and sore from just being pregnant. I lay on my stomach (floating, not resting on it), and rested my head on the bath pillow - and I think I even fell asleep for a while.

I kept thinking I should ring my Mum, but in the end we waited till around 6am to let her know I was in labour -so I was glad that she had got some sleep!

Mum and my sister B arrived at around 6.30am - and by this stage my contractions were stronger again, and I was really having to concentrate on breathing through each one to get me through it. I was also really conscious of not waking DD - otherwise I probably would have been moaning my way through these contractions. At this point they were about 2-3 minutes apart and lasting from 30-60 seconds.

I kept trying to be mobile and walk around more, to help with dilation. I alternated between sitting on the side of the bed, and sitting on the loo. I got up to the toilet and asked Joseph to leave me alone for a few minutes as I needed to be sick. My Mum came in when she heard me being sick, and helped me get cleaned up. Ugh, horrible.

We decided to ring G at 7am, because I really felt like things might be getting stronger, although I was starting to get a bit freaked because the contractions were hurting a hell of a lot, but they weren't feeling really 'strong' yet. It's hard to explain what I mean, but I knew they weren't yet as strong as the ones that I had at the end with DD. (edited to add - I understand now that this was due to her being posterior)

G came at about 8am, and by now I really was having to moan out load with each contraction just to cope. She asked me all sorts of questions and felt my stomach, and then examined me. (I'm using her notes to figure out the times that all of this happened, because it just feels like a blur to me). She found that I was 3cm dilated, and could stretch the cervix to 4cm - and the cervix was almost fully effaced. She could feel the baby's head, and it was nicely engaged and low.
I was a little bit disheartened that I wasn't actually further along, but at least now I knew where I was at, and how much work I still had to do. G could see I was pretty tired at this stage, so she told me to lay down for an hour or so, try and sleep, and take some panadol. She went off to do some home visits and told us she would come back later on, or when we needed her.

A (my sister) arrived at around this stage, as did DH's parents - so we had a little house full of people which was great, as I could hear DD playing and having a great time, which was reassuring. I took the panadol, and had a 'power rest' (this was at the stage when I updated my blog, for those of you who read it). I had a bit of a cry, as the contractions were getting stronger, and lying down meant I could feel the whole contraction wash over me, and I didn't feel like I was in control of anything. Mum and DH kept popping in to see me, but I did manage to get some sleep.

After about an hour, I got up and went back to the bathroom to have another shower and some more contractions in there. I was still having to moan to get through each contraction, and I was mindful of making the noise nice and low, rather than high pitched (which made me feel stressed and panicked - when I kept it low, I felt in control).

At about 1130 I felt like I wanted G back, because the contractions were so strong and painful, and I really wanted to know where I was at. I was sure that I would have had my baby by now!! I couldn't believe I had got to lunchtime - I thought second labours were supposed to be faster!

G examined me again at around 12, and found I was 5cm dilated (WTF only 5 - I thought!), and that the cervix was fully effaced. Her notes say that the head comes down and rests on the cervix during each contraction. The only thing that kept me from losing it completely here, was the fact that all these contractions HAD been doing something, but I really was finding it harder to cope with the pain. I think the thing that was scaring me, was that I knew it needed to get worse, and stronger, so I could get the baby out, and I was trying really hard to go with the contractions, and welcome them, instead of fighting them.

From now until about 2pm, G's notes are saying that I was working really hard with the contractions, and basically that they continued to get stronger, and that the baby's heart rate continued to be lovely and strong and regular. I think the contractions were about a minute apart, and lasting around a minute to a minute and a half.

I love the way G works - her notes at this point say "All set up and ready for this gorgeous baby" - she's just so nice, and she really helped me stay calm and not fight against the pain. Mum and DH were there and being fantastic too, but one thing G kept saying was really helpful - she kept saying "Trust your body Kate, this is all normal" - and that REALLY helped me relax and go with each wave of pain.

She called the other midwife at about 2pm, as I was beginning to feel like I might be ready to start pushing. K (back up) arrived, and G examined me again at about 2.30pm, and I was 8-9cms dilated. Oh how I wanted her to say 10!! I was starting to feel like I just couldn't cope any more, and I had completely had enough. The midwives got me to get up and have a few more contractions standing up, and on the toilet, to try and help the last of the dilation. I nearly burst into tears (actually, maybe I did), because I was just SO fed up and it bloody hurt, and I knew that sitting on the loo set off the WORST contractions. I really didn't want to do it, but I did, because I knew it would help.

At around 3pm, they got me to do some more nipple stimulation, because the contractions had petered off a bit. Everything with the baby looked great - they continued to check her heart beat about every 15 mins or so. I was taking big gulps of water in between each contraction, and was starting to feel really hot and sweaty, and a bit out of it. G suggested starting some IV fluids as I was looking dehydrated. I readily agreed because I felt SO dry. I started to fall asleep in between contractions, and nearly fell off the loo!! They tried 3 times to get an IV in, but I was so dehydrated that my veins just kept blowing (I still have huge bruises on my hands!). Luckily I don't mind needles, as they were using bloody huge ones, lol.

It was about 3.45pm by now, and I had completely had it. I think I had tears pouring down my face, and I was so completely drained. My contractions had pretty much stopped, and I knew I might need to go to hospital, which I think took my last bit of energy to admit. I knew before they suggested it. I felt lower than low, like I just couldn't take it anymore, and I couldn't figure out why my body wasn't doing what it was supposed to. At this stage, I didn't really even mind going to hospital - it was the trip there I wanted to avoid, and also the medical intervention I was likely to need once I got there. I had this huge sense of helplessness and despair at this point, because I knew I just needed to do what needed to be done to get this baby out.

When I read back over this it doesn't sound like I was in labour for that long, but with all the weeks before hand of false contractions - and basically having contractions ALL of the day and night before 'proper' labour started, I really felt exhausted.

I think my Mum was beginning to panic, and realised at the same time I did, that hospital might be the way to go. The midwives suggested that I go back to my bed and they examine me again, and decided about hospital from there.

So the examination showed that I was STILL 8-9cm, but my cervix had started to swell. I knew at this stage there was no denying that I needed a bit of help - so I agreed to be transferred to hospital.

This all happened so fast. G rang an ambulance, DH, Mum, and my mother in law rushed around getting stuff together to take, and I put on my dressing gown (lol, which we had to throw out after the birth!!), and by 4pm the ambulance was in our driveway.

I felt so incredibly sad and tired and let down as I climbed into the ambulance, not to mention scared. I imagined all the neighbours looking out their windows at me, and my family all in the lounge looking out at us - and I was hoping like hell DD wasn't watching!

DH and G came in the ambulance with me, and Mum drove behind, as did DH's parents. The ambulance men were really lovely, and helped me onto the stretcher - which by the way was suprisingly SO comfy!! I just lay there wanting to cry, and I remember saying to G, that when we got to the hospital, I was going to need some pain relief because I just couldn't do it anymore. I felt so sad admitting that too, because it REALLY wasn't what I had planned or wanted at all. I felt broken. I kept imagining that I would need a caesarean, because I couldn't imagine going through any more contractions - let alone coping on the IV medication they were going to give me to speed up and strengthen the contractions!

The ambulance pulled out of our driveway with a big bump.. and that was it - it set off mighty contraction after mighty contraction. I had never in my life felt so much pain. They just rolled one after another, each one stronger. DH was holding my hand, and I'm not sure if I was screaming, but I sure felt like I had completely lost control and I was going to die. (Sorry you girls who are yet to go through this). G explained later that the endorphins from early labour had worn off, and that is probably why I was not coping as well with the pain.

I tried some entonox gas (laughing gas), in the ambulance, and I tell you - it did shit all. I could taste it, but it made me cough, and didn't touch the pain, not even remotely - so I threw the mouth piece away.

I started to wonder if maybe I could push now.. so I gave it a little try, and found that I could feel the baby move a bit, which was great - because I had tried at home a few times and nothing was happening. G had joked before hand that we could have the baby in the ambulance, so I knew she was prepared.

I told G I might be feeling the head moving down, and she told the ambulance drivers she might need them to pull over soon. I started thinking "What?!! Aren't we going to make it to the hospital?!!" LOL. I started to get strong urges to push with the next contraction - and G was fantastic - not once did she make me feel like I should try and hold on or anything.. she just calmly called out to the ambulance drivers to please pull over.. and she kept encouraging me the whole way, lots of "good girl, good girl". I think I was gripping DH's hand at this stage. The pain was incredible. All I could think about was getting it all over and done! It never felt this bad with DD - mostly because she moved down slower, with this birth her head went from cervix to crowning in about one or two pushes. My Mum suddenly appeared beside me (she'd seen the ambulance pull over and knocked on the window to be let in, lol), although I think I had my eyes closed at this stage, and had no idea where we were! G told me she could see lots of black hair - and I remember saying "That's good", and with another push or two our baby was out! This was about 4.20pm.

DH caught her as she was born, with the help of G. The gave her a quick dry off with a towel and put her on my chest. I cannot reiterate enough the relief I felt at this point, both physically and emotionally. Her birth was SO much more painful than DD's! I was so shocked by this, and I think it was the thing that left me feeling the most shaken up at the end of the day. I really didn't expect it to all hurt more! G explained that our baby's head didn't have time to mould (squish up to make birth much easier). Usually baby's heads get kinda pointy, to get through the birth canal better, but hers wasn't. Ouch!

G gave me an injection in my thigh to help the placenta along (we had already discussed this in the weeks before the birth because DD's placenta took a long time to be born, and also due to having a long labour and being tired she was worried about me haemorrhaging). I didn't feel it at all! She asked me to try and push the placenta out, and I did, but didn't really have the strength in me to give a good push - so she asked the ambulance drivers to just continue on to the hospital.

So we drove the 3 more minutes up the road to the hospital, with poor DH looking the most pale I've ever seen him, and me just staring in wonder at this gorgeous wee girl in my arms! I tried to get her to latch on for a feed, but she was too busy crying.

It was quite scary at her birth because she was born purple. It gave us a fright, even though it's quite normal, and we knew that, DD was lovely and pink when she was born, and there is quite a difference between a purple baby and a pink one! She pinked up quickly as she started crying though. DH didn't get to cut the cord this time as they didn't have the right cord scissors and G had to do it in the ambulance with a scalpel.

When we got to the hospital the head midwife was waiting at the door for us, and they wheeled us into one of the birthing suites. DH's parents had no idea that she had already been born, and they were walking in behind the stretcher with DH, when he told them - and I don't think they really believed him, lol!

We got into the room and they helped me onto a proper bed, and G got me to push again to get the placenta out. Ouch. Lol - it sucks that when you have finished giving birth there is still more to do! It doesn't hurt like giving birth, but it's not very comfortable or pleasant. This was about 4.30pm.

The placenta was very interesting, and had what is called a velamentous insertion - where the 3 vessels of the cord all have separate entries into the placenta, instead of one entry, like normal. We have photos if anyone is interested. They are pretty gory though! Within a few minutes we had medical students and midwifery students wanting to have a look at it, hehe.

My Mum and DH's parents were in the room at this stage, and I think my Dad arrived around now too. G made me some toast and a cup of milo, and I latched the baby on for a feed.

G did my last (hurrrah!!) vaginal examination, to check for tears etc. Luckily, I just had a small graze, which I was amazed by because I was sure I was ripping in two when she was born. No stitches again - wooohooo!

At about 5.30pm G did the baby's newborn check - weighed her, checked reflexes and all of that stuff, and DH dressed her. The grandparents then got to pass her around amongst themselves while DH helped me up to the bathroom for my first proper pee in months (man that felt good!), and for a shower. I was feeling pretty wobbly and had that strange empty belly feeling, but was so on top of the world - no longer pregnant - woohoo!

We were allowed to go home at around 7.30pm, once we were sure she was warm enough (the ambulance birth, and being wheeled from the ambulance to the hospital dropped her temperature a wee bit), and that I wasn't bleeding too much.

G came home with us and packed up all her stuff etc, and had a glass of champagne with our parents (none of the rest of us felt like any!). And we got to introduce the new baby to DD, and the rest of the family.

So was I disappointed not to get my home birth? Yes and no. Yes because that was the ideal birth I had in mind, and still is - but no because I managed to avoid a medicalised birth anyway, and to be honest, the hospital wasn't too bad once I got there. It's not the hospital as such that I hate, it's what it represents, and the way birth gets taken over and medicalised that I object to. I was pretty happy with the fact that even though we were in hospital, I was only cared for or seen by G, and we had no medical intervention - so essentially, I got the birth I wanted.

And do I think I shouldn't have tried for a home birth? Absolutely not! I've had a few people say that I must have been put off having a home birth again. Hehe, no way! I believe that if I was in hospital and the same thing had happened, I would have been put on the syntocin drip faster, and would have had a higher chance of needing even more medical intervention.

I'm really happy with the outcome. Not only did I get another beautiful daughter, I also got to experience something different, and it helped to challenge my ideas around labour and birth - something which is always healthy I think.

Welcome to the world, beautiful Natalia Raine. Weighing 9lb 4oz. Born 13th June 2006 at 4.20pm, on her due date. Apgars were 9 and then 10.

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Amelia's birth

My baby was due on the 2nd of July, which was a Friday. I was absolutely huge by this stage - so much so that people stopped me in the street and asked if I was having twins. (Yeah thanks for that by the way!).

In the 8 days that I was overdue, I was so grumpy and tearful and really ready to give birth. I think I had a cold this week, and I was scared that I would have the baby while I had a cold and was feeling miserable anyway - but everyone assured me that my body wouldn't let that happen as it needed all it's energy for the birth.. and they were right. I remember feeling really itchy this week. All over. I was constantly wanting to scratch, although there was no rash or anything - my midwife sent me for a blood test to check if my liver was functioning ok (it was) - as the itching can be a symptom of your liver starting to protest about the pregnancy.

I had an appointment with Glenda (our midwife) on the Wednesday after I was due - and while I was at that appointment Glenda offered to try and attempt a 'stretch and sweep' to try and kickstart labour. Although this didn't sound like much fun, I was keen to try something to get things moving. Well... OUCH. It really hurt and basically my cervix wasn't dilated enough to be able to do much at this stage, but after this - and for the next few days, I had a 'show'. It felt like the worst period pain I've ever had (during the stretch), and continued to be a bit crampy through that day. We went off to have lunch with Joseph's parents that day, and I was excited thinking that labour could possibly start some time today.

Well, it didn't.

I got hardly any sleep on the Wednesday night - honestly there needs to be a better word than uncomfortable to describe the last few days of being pregnant. Nothing is comfortable. We waited through Thursday, and still nothing. On Thursday night I still couldn't sleep and I felt really strange.. really heavy and really huge. I got up in the middle of the night and read as many birth stories online as what I could manage (I had already read hundreds of them - literally) - and I chatted to my best friend on MSN through the night (she was living in London). I finally got to bed around 4 or 5am, and fell asleep.

On Friday, I woke up around 8am with a funny wet feeling, and mild period like cramps. I went to the loo and thought that my waters may have broken. Nothing like the big gush on tv (that came later, lol). I put a pad on, like the midwife had told us to, and basically waited. I hopped back into bed and told Joseph I thought I might be going into labour. When we got up I rang my Mum to let her know, as the cramps were continuing - and at this stage they still felt like period pains. My waters kept leaking, and we had been told to ring the midwife if they looked green at all - and I wasn't sure. It wasn't obviously green, but there was some doubt in my mind so I rang her anyway. I knew this was really important because if the amniotic fluid is green, it can be a sign that the baby has passed meconium (the first poo), and may be distressed.

Glenda came around and looked at my pad, and decided that things were ok, but told us if I wasn't in active labour in 24 hrs, then I would need to go to hospital to have IV antibiotics - because of the risk of infection as the waters had already broken. I was quite determined that I wasn't setting foot in a hospital unless I really had to.

By this stage Mum was over at our place and it was around 11am. I was having regular contractions around every 10 mins. These felt like bad period pains.. the worst I'd ever had, and I used to have quite bad ones when I was younger. I took 2 panadol at some stage during the day, I can't remember.. but they didn't touch the sides at all. It was my first medication of any sort throughout the pregnancy, and my last. I was able to cope with these contractions quite well. We played board games , and talked excitedly about what the baby might be like. I remember I wasn't that hungry but I ate an orange. Mum had brought around some food and her and Joseph had some lunch. I was rather too busy to eat. I was still able to talk and laugh at this stage. I kept saying to Mum "I don't like this, it hurts", and she was laughing at me!

Glenda had the weekend off so we were going to have to ring her backup (who we had met and really liked), Louise, if labour progressed. At around 4 pm Glenda rang to see how things were going, and suggested we went for a walk to try and get things moving along a bit faster. So very reluctantly I let Joseph take me for a walk, with our dog - we went around the block and I was feeling really uncomfortable, and heavy and sore. The contractions continued while we were walking, but I didn't have to stop for them.

At around 5pm Glenda dropped in on her way home to check how we were. She offered to do another stretch and sweep to see if that would help things too.

I got up from the bed after the sweep and had a gush of blood, and then waddled into the lounge and sat on the bed we had set up in there (I had planned to give birth in the lounge). While I was sitting there, Glenda was explaining what would happen next, and when to ring Louise for support. I had a huge gush of water.. and I couldn't stop laughing. It felt like a bucketful of liquid! My waters had finally broken properly! I waddled off to get changed, and Glenda left and Mum left to go and get some dinner and sort things out at home - she told us she'd be back in an hour or two.

About 10 mins after they both left I had my first intense contraction. I was kneeling backwards on the armchair and trying to breathe through it, and moaning a little. Joseph looked at me in fright.. this was different! The contractions came faster and harder after this. Afterwards I learnt that this was because my waters had broken properly, it had sped labour up hugely. The contractions went from period pains every 10 mins lasting for about 20-30 seconds.. to intense pain every 3 or so mins lasting for a minute each.We rang my Mum to come back to the house. While we were waiting for Mum Joseph rang Louise our backup midwife (who was actually having dinner at Glenda's house 5 mins up the road!) - and told her what was going on. She told us to ring back when we needed her support. I had read so many birth stories where the midwife came and found that the birth was still hours away so I didn't want her to come too early. When Mum arrived back with my sisters she took one look at me, and listened to my groaning and asked Joseph to ring Louise straight back.

Louise came down quite quickly and started setting up all her gear. It must have been around 7.45pm at this stage. I really had no concept of time, I was just concentrating on getting to the next breather in between the contractions. She checked the baby's heartbeat and everything was fine.

For the next little while I alternated between sitting on the toilet (was surprisingly comfy, and it helps to dilate the cervix further, and helps the baby to descend), and sitting or lying down in the lounge. Mum and Joseph were great support - Mum was rubbing my back and they were just being present for me, which really helped.

At around 8.30pm I needed to vomit - and basically only just managed to say to Joseph "I'm gonna be sick", and then promptly spewed. Hehe, luckily I had only eaten an orange so it was mostly liquid. All I could think about was how I'd never been sick in front of Joseph before and how embarrassed I was - luckily he was really reassuring.

Arie (Joseph's best friend) arrived at around this time, and Joseph and I were in the bathroom still - he shouted through the door "Love you guys", and that really was what the atmosphere was like for me. Surrounded by love and support.

Spent some time in the shower after this - which was a nice change of scenery. During all this time the contractions were still coming every 2 mins or so and lasting for a good minute and a half. They were incredibly painful and I really felt like I was in a different world most of the time. The only thing that was keeping me present, was the voices I could hear chattering away, and the smell of my Mum's perfume.. the jingle of her bracelets, the smell of Joseph, and the cool feeling of resting my forehead on his t-shirt. Those things stopped me from freaking out and panicking. Louise was checking the baby's heartbeat every 15 mins or so - and everytime she did, another contraction would start, so I really started to dread seeing her face poke around the corner, as lovely as she was! Her notes say that my moaning was sounding more 'grunty' at around 10pm, which is a sign that things were progressing. I have little to no recollection of these hours. Just intense pain, a floaty out of this world feeling, and incredible fatigue.

Just before midnight Louise did another internal examination which found that I was 8 cm dilated, and she stretched my cervix again to help things along. This time with the contraction already being so strong, it was no where near as bad as the first two stretches.
I went into transition after this - the contractions intensified in a way I could never have imagined. They were now coming one on top of the other. I would have less than 5 seconds inbetween each contraction, sometimes for 3 or more in a row, and they lasted closer to 2 mins now. This was the hardest bit ever. I thought I would die. I thought I couldn't keep going. I never imagined labour would ever be this sore. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. I got to one point where I grabbed the facecloth off my forehead and started to bite down on it, in a panic.. and luckily Mum took it off me and focussed me on doing loud deep grunts and groans instead, and it really kept me calm. If she hadn't helped me through that bit then I think I would have started screaming, and I really believe that staying calm was the key to not let the pain engulf me fully. I kept some control, and that was really empowering. Apparently when there was a gap of a min or two between contractions I was snoring!! I don't remember that! I just remember the blessed relief of one finishing, and this blackness pulling me under.

At around 1.30am I was really really fed up. I felt like I couldn't do it a second longer and I desperately needed it to be over. Louise checked me a few contractions later and I was almost fully dilated, with just a lip of the cervix in the way, which she pushed aside.

At 2.10 am I got up to try and push - and Louise suggested I go to the toilet to try because this was great for helping the baby descend and it's a more natural feeling to push on the loo. What fantastic relief! As soon as I was able to start pushing the contractions faded into the background and felt more like the early ones. I was human again!! I could laugh and talk and joke. I only had to push two or three times before I felt the head starting to be born! Louise came in to see how we were going, and I remember saying to her "I can feel the head" - and she went to have a feel / look - and said "Right, back to bed now!" (I had decided part way through labour that instead of birthing in the lounge, I really wanted to be in our room, on our bed). I remember giggling as I waddled down the hall with a really odd sensation of having a head right between my legs. I think I remember walking past the lounge and saying "The baby is nearly here!!"

Louise quickly called Glenda who came right away. As Glenda was walking in the front door Louise told her to get her gloves on "we're delivering now". While Amelia's head was crowning, Louise kept telling me not to push, just pant gently and let the head ease out. It stung a bit when her head was crowning. I remember saying "Ow, ow, ow, ow".

At 02.45am Amelia was born! After her head was born Amelia cried - so incredibly surreal.. and then her body just slipped out easily with another push. Joseph and Louise caught her and lifted her up onto my chest. It was the most intense experience of my life - seeing my baby's face for the first time - looking up at me with bewilderment. I can't remember if she was crying or not. Joseph was, and I just couldn't believe that I had just had a baby! We have a photo of me looking so surprised, it's really funny!

Our midwives are very much into keeping things as natural as possible so they put a warm towel around Amelia and I held her close to me for the body temperature. I offered her the breast and she latched on straight away and fed for about 15 minutes. What a clever baby!

I can't remember when the cord was cut - sometime around now - Joseph cut it :-)

About half an hour after she was born, the placenta was passed. The midwives inspected me, and I had a second degree tear, but the edges of the wound sat close together so I decided I didn't want stitches, even though they thought they would put some in. No thanks! Been through enough down there!

Joseph had some skin on skin time after her first feed (she was laid on his naked chest, which helps bonding). I went off for a shower, with Mum helping me. Joseph got Amelia dressed into her first warm clothes and a nice warm hat, and everyone got a quick cuddle before she came back to me for another feed.

Now to round up some details:

* Only Louise, Glenda, Joseph, Mum and I were in the room as Amelia was born. The second the others heard her cry they came rushing to the door, and they got to see Amelia in her first few seconds on this earth. (Amie, Arie and Becky - my sisters and Joseph's best friend).

* While I was in labour they had all kept the fire going, cooked food, done dishes, played board games, watched movies, done washing, chatted online. Hehe, I had no idea!!

* Arie did most of the washing, even the stuff I bled and spewed on. He is a true friend to Joseph, myself and Amelia!

* I always get asked if I had any pain relief. I had those two panadol at the beginning and that was it. It was a decision I made when I decided to have Amelia at home. Because of the risks involved in any of the pain relief options, they are not offered at a home birth. Even though it hurt, I don't regret for one second that I did it with nothing. I truly believed I could get through it without the drugs, and I did. Afterall, that baby is coming whether you have the meds or not!

* As soon as Amelia was 'out' I was astounded to feel like I could breathe again!! I hadn't realised how much she was squishing my diaphragm and lungs!

* The first shower was a bit scary... felt dizzy, but exhilarated and estatic to finally have my baby!

* I hopped straight back into a nice clean fresh bed (my own!), with my beautiful little baby, a plate of toast, and a nice hot milo. Bliss!

* Everyone left at around 5-5.30am - and then Joseph and I were parents!! By ourselves! We were in charge! Incredible feeling. We sat in bed marvelling at this gorgeous girl we had created and brought into the world.

* It took a good 5 mins after she was born for us to think and check if she was a boy or girl. A girl!! Just as I had suspected! Welcome to the world Amelia Paige! She was nice and healthy - her Apgar scores were 10/10 both and birth, and five minutes later. She weighed 9lb 13.5oz.