Mum-of-two Helen carried with her the trauma of two miscarriages, difficult pregnancies, and hospital inductions. She knew when she became pregnant again she wanted a different experience.
Helen wanted a peaceful birth and a healing journey not just for herself and her husband Stephen, but their entire family.
A healing journey
“I have endometriosis, so we struggled to fall,” Helen told Mum’s Grapevine. “In late 2019 I conceived, but in January 2020 I, unfortunately, had an early miscarriage, my second one (the first was in between the older boys).
“I’ve suffered severe hyperemesis gravidarum with all my pregnancies, requiring regular fluids, hospitalisations, and constant medication. My older boys developed intrauterine growth restriction as a result, so their births were both hospital inductions.”
On top of extremely trying pregnancies, Helen also shouldered the heavy weight of each of her son’s births. “I carried a lot of trauma from those births, as a result of coercion and manipulation. So we hired a private midwife and aimed for a home birth. Incredibly we managed this pregnancy and the HG journey well. The baby was able to grow well, we had regular monitoring of his growth over the latter half of the pregnancy.”
By the end of her pregnancy in June 2021, Helen was relaxed and ready to meet her third baby. “I woke up around 5 am as my husband left for work, he gave me a kiss in bed and joked again asking if I was ready to have a baby yet. Our older boys joined me in my bed around for snuggles and we lay there talking and cuddling. I had a few niggly tightenings, but nothing too exciting.
“About 6.50 am I decided I needed to pee, so got up. As I was walking to the bathroom, a very strong surge caught me off guard and held me for around a minute. I was surprised, but not too bothered, and continued to the toilet. By the time I’d finished on the toilet, another surge gripped me, and I began to wonder if something was starting.
“At 7.03 am I called my husband to say I’d had a few contractions. Maybe today WAS the day! I had another tightening and called my midwife at 7.06 am to let her know I was hopeful. I then called my mother-in-law to let her know the same. I made the boys breakfast and started making a batch of chocolate muffins.”
With the tightenings continuing regularly, Helen called her mum to let her know things were progressing. She called her husband again and he suggested updating their midwife. They timed the tightenings and realised she was having three within 10 minutes. So midwife Sonya started to get ready to head over.
“I called Steve to say I needed him to head home now. I called my mum to say today was the day, and I expected I’d call her to come in the next hour or two (she lives half an hour from me). My dad was confident they’d get to attend their 10 am accountant appointment before I’d need mum here. I called my mother-in-law to update her too, she lives a half-hour away also, but was supposed to teach a class at 11 am and had to chat to the principal before being able to possibly leave.
“The tightenings suddenly really picked up in intensity to the point I couldn’t focus on anything at all but them. At 8.49 am I called my mum and asked her to come now. I hopped into the shower to try and ease the pain. At 9.10 am I called my midwife to tell her things had really ramped up, she said she was almost on her way.”
Just five minutes later, Steve arrived home and began setting up the birthing pool. Fresh out of the shower, Helen kneeled in the dining room, leaning on a birthing ball to navigate the surges.
“My mum arrived and started helping Steve, blow up the pool, fill the urns, and she tidied in my kitchen. About 10 am Sonya and my mother-in-law both arrived. Sonya directed the pool to begin being filled and checked baby’s heart rate. Everything going fantastic.
“From here time gets fuzzy for me as the intensity was all-consuming. My student midwife Yvette arrived soon after, followed by the secondary midwife, Letisha. I hopped into the pool once it was full and at temperature, it was amazing to be suspended in the water, it gave me wonderful break during the lulls between contractions.
“At 12.22 I felt a pop during a contraction, but no obvious signs of membrane rupture. Shortly after this, I began to have a bearing down urge, and that tell-tale feeling of ‘needing to poop’. At 12.50 I began to feel a bulge, my membranes bulging out to about the size of a tennis ball. My waters released during a contraction, everyone in the room heard the pop, it was epic!
“The contractions keep coming, I could feel my baby descend, his head sat at the exit, stretching over several contractions. I supported his head and waited for the fetal ejection reflex. I told Steve to feel his head in between contractions, it was so amazing to feel his head there.
“At 1.05 pm his head was born. Two surges later, he was born! Lots of happy and emotional tears and hugging. We called out to our mums who brought the big boys in from the next room, and they got to meet their baby brother.
“Bub’s temperature started to drop a bit, so we needed to get me out of the water. I had a cup of placenta release tincture, and about five minutes later quickly and easily passed the placenta. I got out of the pool, and onto the mattress we had beside the pool. He was struggling ever so slightly to breathe, so the midwives decided some suction and oxygen would be beneficial. That was the calmest most peaceful intervention I’ve ever had.
“They got the gunk cleared from his airways and he picked up well, so I handed him over to his daddy for cuddles. So proud of and grateful for this man! I went to the toilet and shower with my midwife’s assistance, then moved to my bed, a bit more comfortable!
“Once there, hubby brought baby in to me, and I held/fed him again, while the midwife assessed my placenta. I was made more cups of afterpain easing plain tea and made heat packs and muffins and a corned meat sandwich. The midwives pottered around and tidied up the birth space while I rested and soaked up baby.
“At around 3.30 pm we decided to cut the cord and weigh bub. He christened the midwife’s new baby sling and weighed in at a beautiful 3675g. The midwives all headed off about 4.30 pm and left us to soak up family time.
“It was such a beautiful, peaceful, joyous time.”
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More birth stories from the Grapeviner community…
- Birth Story: ‘I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 20 weeks’
- Birth Story: ‘I gave birth on the lounge room floor’
- Birth Story: ‘You won’t believe it … there are three heartbeats’
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Images: Grace Ploetz Photography