Photo by Free Spirit Photography
Frankie Jade Bertuch Haynes was born 5:50pm on Tuesday Feb 27th 2018, weighing 2.8 kgs, measuring 47.5cm long, with a 33.5cm head circumference. After a three hour all natural labour and birth, she arrived healthy, pink, and with loads of hair! This is our birth story….
It was the last stretch of summer days and the morning had been drenched in sunshine. We woke, had brekky and got ready for our 16 month old daughter Mia to spend the day at Nanna & Malpa’s, as she does every Tuesday. I had also awoken to the calendar marking this day our due date, and the 40th week in my pregnancy. Since I was 40 weeks and feeling good, I decided I felt up to a walk around the corner with Mum, Mal & Mia. It was too nice a day to be stuck inside. On the walk, I bumped into Nonna (my step-Mum Elisa) who asked how I was feeling… I said “pretty good, no labour signs yet though”. Through the last week I had been having a few treatments such as acupuncture and massage to nourish my body and prepare for birth. Some people mentioned they thought I was still a week away…. I tended to agree, although I was conscious not to attach to any expectations of dates or timelines. It was going to be when it was going to be! This little lady would, of course, come when she was ready.
I walked home from Mum & Mal’s on my own and had a thought of the women I had read about in Ina May Gaskin’s book “Guide to Childbirth” on how when they walked outside in labour they had a sense of heightened awareness for everything around them: light, colour, how the sun lit up leaves and flowers and whatever it touched and made it glow that much brighter. Everything seemed a little more vivid and high definition. I could relate to this and although I wasn’t in labour at that stage, I mused on whether today would be the day.
Once home I moved about the house a little aimlessly, just pottering. I had been having plenty of lower back pain and discomfort for days and wondered if that was a sign along with some period pain like cramps. I guess they were signs. By 2pm I was feeling pretty uncomfortable with cramps. I started to take a bit more notice. We put the last of the bits and pieces into the hospital bag that I had been meaning to finish packing for weeks! By 3pm I needed to start timing the surges as I had decided these where in fact real contractions I was having. It had started a little more subtly than with Mia’s labour and I hadn’t had my show or waters break.
As this was going on, Gary had been sleeping on the couch, and luckily we hadn’t gone out to the movie we had considered going to in town on an afternoon date together. I let Gary sleep though I was starting to think “we need to get this show on the road, literally!”. It was a 45 min drive at best to the hospital and the question “when to go” was always a looming one. Gary woke to see me bent over the couch and asked if I was ok…. I reported that my surges where 3 mins apart by then and lasting about 1.5 mins. Walking around made them more intense but I couldn’t stay still. I tried to call the Community Midwife Program (who had kindly provided our pregnancy care) but had no answer so I said it was time to get in the car and go!
On the drive over, I wasn’t looking forward to having to sit still for nearly an hour knowing the surges were as close as they were and how much I wanted keep moving. I closed my eyes as we drove and tried to ignore the rapidly approaching rear ends of vehicles as Gary swiftly navigated the highway and it’s afternoon traffic. I opened them occasionally to check and see which towns we had made it past like a checkpoint in a competition! I did not want to have this baby on the side of the road like a few friends had experienced (brave hearts and wonderfully capable Goddesses they where). I called the CMP and got Sally. “Hi Sally, it’s Kylie……. (pause)” “Hi, she said. You’re in the car”. “Yes” I replied, and explained where I was up to. “How exciting! We will see you soon” she said. I was pleased to hear Sally’s bubbly voice on the phone. We had met her the week before on our check up and thought she was lovely, as were all the CMP midwives. Dianna our assigned midwife would have been at our birth, though she was off sick. So we got Sally, who apparently wasn’t giving us up for anything when she knew we were on our way in. She later explained that she had wanted to be at our birth after meeting us, and there she was.
My breath and the car door handle where my absolute focus. I hummed my way down the highway through every surge, starting to feel the “labour land” affect getting deeper and more intense. I had to bounce my foot the entire way to shift some energy and channel some sort of movement. I kept the hypnobirting affirmations track on repeat in my head as I checked in with my mental checklist: deep breaths, deep hums, soft jaw, relax my body, relax my face, passed the next town, tick!
We got to the hospital safely and walked on up to the ward. We saw Kate (another CMP midwife) in the foyer and were guided to our labour room. It was a different room to last time. I was a hoping there was going to be the pool, ready for us to labour in as I had hoped that for Mia’s birth too but there wasn’t enough time to set it up. No pool. I would have to do without. Sally greeted us with a smile and Gary put down the bags and started to get things ready. From the moment I walked in the room, I wanted to get close to the ground. I just wanted lie flat on my belly, but that obviously wasn’t an option. An overwhelming sense of being drawn down closer to the earth took over slowly but surely and I sat in the chair for a bit, then put a mat on the floor and got on all fours. After a few surges, I managed to get back up and move around a little. I went to the toilet and discovered I had had my show while in the car. I knew we weren’t going anywhere now. I walked back to the chair. Gary got busy setting up a few things from our bag: my water bottle, oils diffuser, some snacks, a little speaker for some music. I moved and breathed, hummed and did my best to find a relaxed position. I stood and lent on Gary for a bit. But soon enough needed to return to the floor.
Sally asked me to lie on the mat so she could check how far down in my pelvis our little bub was. As she checked, she couldn’t feel her head down low in my belly and mentioned that she wasn’t really engaged, that she was “kind of sideways”. I thought I had a long way to go after hearing that. But my surges suggested otherwise. I returned to all fours and then Gary asked for the bean bag with a belly whole. It was my saviour! I had used it during Mia’s birth and loved it. I could lean on it and rest more effectively between surges, though there was only seconds between them by that stage it seemed.
My surges progressed, my breath and hum got deeper and louder. I had crazy back pain so Sally offered some water injections to relieve the pain. As I didn’t want drugs, I questioned what they where. She explained and eventually I said yes as my back pain got even worse and she said the nurse would come in and do them during the next surge. She said they feel like bee sting… so I waited, but they never came. I was in transition.
Gary gave me a back massage which was great. It provided a little relief. I had completely surrendered to the surges by this stage. Gary suggested I get up and walk around a bit, but I wasn’t going anywhere. My surges got stronger, my moans got louder and suddenly my waters broke with a gush of warm liquid. I breathed on, feeling the intensity build and having absolutely no other choice but to roll with it and breath and trust. I wondered if I could cope as the intensity built. But I just kept replaying the positive affirmations and trusting the fact that I had done it before, I knew I could do it again. I had wondered if my body had the strength as I felt I had spent a lot of time resting in the final weeks of my pregnancy and not doing much exercise (as much as you can rest chasing a toddler all day…). But I had the strength. The surges where strong and effective. They were happening to me but where almost as if they where coming from a deeper more universal force. There was plenty of energy in my body to perform them and have them do exactly what they needed to: bring our baby safely into this world. The rest between surges was very brief but very appreciated. Gary and Sally continued their support and encouragement. I breathed on.
Before I knew it I was ready to push. I kept thinking it was too soon, that I was still to get up and have a shower (because that is what I did last time….) but she was ready to come out. Frankie had done some serious moving in that time. I pushed for all of 5 mins maybe…. As she crowned, Sally asked Gary if he wanted to feel her head first, which he did and I knew she was very close to being born. I felt her head come out and panted to avoid any tearing as that was something I wanted to avoid if I could. Sally asked if I was still in the surge, I couldn’t really reply with words, but a grunt of a yes came as I used the last of that surge and out came her body with a whoosh! Those few pushes where so incredibly powerful I wasn’t sure I could breathe my way through what my body was doing. But I could and I did. Out she came and Gary caught her and handed her to me through my legs. I could hear her cries and had an instant grin of relief beam across my face. At some point a doctor had entered the room and watched the birth. To which he then commented at the end “you guys should open a birthing centre, that was pretty amazing!”.
I looked down at her and wow, she had loads of hair!! She was tiny, 2.8kgs (6.2lbs) smaller than Mia by a whole pound. I was so grateful she was out safely. We had been there nearly an hour. Wow, I was pretty happy with that!! I laughed, I cried, I hugged our little girl, I kissed my husband. I sat back and relaxed against the bean bag and held onto Frankie as she latched beautifully for her first feed.
About 5-10 minutes later, my placenta came out effortlessly on it’s own. Gary cut the cord and we moved to the bed to relax before being fixed up and moved to our next room. Sally was beaming, she was so stoked and happy and amazed at what she had just witnessed. She kept saying that was one of the most amazing births she had ever seen. I forgot to ask how long she had been a midwife but it wasn’t a short time. I knew that. I was blown away and damn proud of myself and our little birthing team. I had managed to avoid a major tear and only needed a few precautionary stitches to help everything heal a little better.
Frankie fed from both sides well and we soaked up some precious skin on skin time before having a shower and settling into our new room. Time to relax and rest. She remained nameless until the morning as we had left the night to think it over after seeing her. But it was pretty clear over night that she was Frankie Jade. We rested up that night and left the hospital to return to our home the next morning. It was wonderful to bring our little girl home. We couldn’t wait to see Mia’s reaction when she met her new little sister.
Being in labour and delivering a baby from your body is one of the most magical, intense, attention demanding, life changing, core shaking, gob smacking experiences we wonder women can have. I have now experienced two incredible natural births and I am eternally grateful for how they unfolded. Was breath my key to everything during those hours? Absolutely! Every breath was my rock, along with my husband, our baby, and trusting my body. My deepest gratitude to the teachings, love & support I received that helped shape these experiences: My husband for his ongoing and unwavering support; my baby girl; her big sister; my body; my teachers; my yoga practice; my doTerra essential oils for supporting me naturally; Ina May Gaskin for all her work as a midwife and for writing “Guide to Childbirth“; our midwives Dianna (through our pregnancy) & Sally (who was present) & the Community Midwife Program of Northeast Health Wangaratta; the maternity ward staff at Wangaratta Hospital; the on-shift doc who watched our birth and promptly told my husband and I that we should open a birthing center; our hypnobirting coach Emma Matthews of Indigo Gentle Beginnings for all her wonderful energy and birth knowledge; our dear family, friends and loved ones…. thank you all. Thank you also to Ailsa at Free Spirit Photography for her stunning pre & postnatal photo shoots; Katie Stephen Kinesiology; Elyse Murphy at Bright Community Acupuncture; Kristy Corcoran at Ovens Valley Physio & Pilates and Catherine McInerny at Pregnancy Massage Australia, Molly Barbara Hair from Molly’s Body Therapies & Mobile Day Spa Bright for my pregnancy care treatments; Emily Rose at Emily Rose Yoga for her prenatal yoga guidance. 💜 This photo was taken by my husband Gary moments before he delivered our little Frankie Jade earth side, Tuesday evening on Feb 27th 2018, at 5:50pm.
Frankie, we love you so much and are so grateful you have joined our family. I look forward to savouring every moment with you on our journey.