Birth Story: “I did not consent to that. Remember, I am the captain here”

Posted in Birth Stories.

Catherine, Jake and daughters

Catherine and her partner, Jake first crossed paths at a local bottle shop, where Catherine was the manager, and their connection grew stronger with each passing day. They had been together for three years and were excitedly awaiting the arrival of their second child.

Their journey had not been an easy one. Catherine had been diagnosed with severe Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and was told that conceiving would be a challenge. However, fate had a different plan for them. Against all expectations, Catherine found herself blessed with two surprise pregnancies. This time, it was an even bigger surprise as she hadn’t even resumed her period after the birth of her first child.

The due date approaches

Catherine in labour

As Catherine’s due date approached, she found herself under the care of the Midwife Group Practice (MGP) at the Townsville University Hospital. The MGP program provided her with continuous support throughout her pregnancy, offering personalised care and guidance.

The day of the birth arrived, and Catherine and Jake prepared themselves for the journey ahead. They had chosen to give birth at the public hospital, Townsville University Hospital, trusting in the expertise and care of the medical team.

At 40 weeks and one day pregnant, Catherine had her second stretch and sweep, a technique to stimulate labour. Her dedicated midwife, Lauren, who had also been her student midwife during her first pregnancy, discovered that Catherine was already three to four centimetres dilated. The progress was promising, but Catherine’s cervix needed a bit more time to shorten and prepare for birth. The midwife could even feel the baby’s fontanelle, a sure sign that the little one was ready to make their grand entrance.

‘Natural method to encourage labour’

The following day, Catherine and Jake decided to try a natural method to encourage labour. They shared an intimate moment, and shortly after, Catherine experienced a bloody show and the onset of cramps. Within a few hours, contractions became more demanding of her attention and focused breathing.

“I had noticeable contractions that I had to focus and breathe through, alongside a constant lower back ache from baby’s posterior position. By 10pm things had slowed down and I headed to bed after doing a few jobs.”

‘The pressure was incredible’

Labour comb held by Catherine

“At 40+3 we had a “fetal well-being” appointment at the hospital that was booked when I declined Monday’s induction. The baby was doing perfectly. Afterwards, I went to see my midwife for another stretch and sweep. I was sitting at four centimetres dilated and had a shorter cervix. The baby had moved their position so we weren’t back to back anymore. They must have needed the extra time to move into a better birthing position. By 3.30pm contractions were 30-40 seconds long every 10 minutes. By 5.30pm they were 30-40 seconds and every 6-8 minutes. Dancing in the driveway to music while my 19-month-old, Deena plays with her water table. I cried happy tears during a contraction in awe and admiration of my body and this baby. How beautiful is labour?! How magnificent are women?!

“By 8pm we were contracting every 3-4 minutes for 40-60 seconds and feeling a lot of pressure in the bum. My midwife called and said it was hospital time after I’d sent a screenshot of the timing of my contractions, I had felt the transition and knew it was go time. It felt like I wasn’t going to make it to the hospital, on the drive there the contractions were coming so hard and fast the pressure was incredible”

A flurry of activity

Catherine nearing the end of labour

In a moment of quick decision-making, Jake dropped Catherine off at the emergency department.

The sight that greeted Catherine at the doors of the emergency department was nothing short of comical. Eight ED nurses stood there, their faces filled with panic as they witnessed her intense contractions. One of the nurses, in a flurry of activity, even inserted a thermometer in her ear without consent. With unwavering determination, Catherine swiftly spoke up, asserting her autonomy, saying, “I did not consent to that. Remember, I am the captain here.” Her midwife laughed, acknowledging her strong spirit.

“We were able to get me up to the birth suite and my Dad, Step-Mum and nine-year-old sister made it to take my 19-month-old daughter and wait outside. I asked Jake to coach me with my breathing as I sucked on the lowest setting of gas (really was just to help me focus on breathing baby down) only had the gas for maybe 5-10 minutes.

“At 9:21pm my baby made her way into the world 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital and not even 2 minutes of “pushing” (really I just breathed down and let my body do its thing!)”

Catherine introducing newborn to toddler

“I couldn’t hold her at first, I needed to gather my strength and focus before I was ready, it was all such a whirlwind from happening so fast. Our 19-month-old came back into the room not even five minutes after her baby sister was born and she is absolutely smitten!

Kept saying “more sissy more sissy” when she wanted to be up having a closer look, she’s so sweet with her”

Born on International Women’s Day

Catherine and her daguhters

Catherine's daughters having a cuddle

The “third stage” of birth, the birthing of the placenta, proved to be a bit more challenging, taking 57 minutes. With the assistance of an injection, the placenta was eventually released, and Catherine found herself squatting over the toilet, the final hurdle overcome. They decided to create their own placenta prints, as they had initially planned to send it for testing. Catherine’s dad and stepmom took it home and froze it, ready to be planted as a meaningful reminder of the journey.

“My heart is so full, I am so grateful for my beautiful girls and my body for bringing them to me. Our surprise team green baby was a little girl born on International Women’s Day, this girl will be a force to be reckoned with!

“My gestational diabetes sugar baby was born in the 54th percentile at a tiny 3.5kg (7pound 8ounces) but a long legged 53cm. I am very thankful for my continuity of care and support from my amazing MGP midwife. She encouraged me to make informed decisions on my birth and my baby based on education and not based on fear. My birth was not going to happen based on convenience to the system.”

Catherine’s birth journey is a testament to the resilience and beauty of the human body and the unwavering love that fills her family’s hearts.

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