** contains photos of nudity – NSFW **
10 July 2017
Mrs G had just returned from her holiday to France and needed assistance. I'd had a lazy morning, we really needed the cash, so I agreed to go through. While I was there I had a few contractions, but nothing major. I thought it was possibly from sitting at a desk, after being lazy all morning. I left her house at 1530 and drove home. In the car I had 3 contractions that almost took my breath away. The ones you need to do the focussed breathing through.
I got home just before 4pm and decided to lie down for a bit to see what happened with the contractions. I also started timing them.
They were still fairly erratic, but a pattern was emerging. With Kyle I had done this so many times when it wasn't the real thing that I was sure this was the case again. I decided to go have a warm bath.
In the bath I had one or two contractions and then they petered out completely. I stayed in the bath about 45 mins and the contractions didn't come back, but it was warm and comfortable so I enjoyed the peace while the in-laws were keeping Kyle entertained. I got out the bath and before getting dressed lay down for a few minutes again. The contractions started back up very soon after getting out the bath! But this time they were even more erratic!
I messaged Brian to head home exactly on time and then carried on with my evening. I had a feeling so offered to lie with Kyle at bed time. I just knew it might be the last night he was my only child. In the 45 mins it took for him to settle I had 9 contractions! I hadn't taken my phone in, so just counted them. After the snuggles and him drifting off, I joined B and the inlaws at the table for dinner – Prego rolls and chips with apple pie for pudding. I was clearly fuelling up, because I had two helpings of apple pie. Later I regretted that! I ate dinner rocking on my yoga ball and had a few fairly strong contractions. Strong enough that I needed to stop thinking and not have people talking to me.
I moved to the couch and continued timing contractions. I also suggested that B set everything up for the water birth, but even then I wasn't 100% sure that this was it. When he was needing help with setting up and I couldn't concentrate during the contractions I decided it was time to call Leigh, my doula. That was at 20:41.
She arrived just before 21:00 and helped to get the pool and everything else set up. Soon after she arrived I had a succession of contractions 2,5 minutes apart. At that point we decided it was prudent to call Marianne. At this stage I still thought she was in Mooi River and would be 2 hours. Thankfully with the updates I had been giving she had made an intuitive decision and driven down to Melissa's house earlier in the evening. So they both arrived just after 21:45. At this stage I also called my photographer, Lara, and she arrived just after 22:00.
I remember at this stage fussing with my playlist as I couldn't get my phone and the Apple TV to talk nicely, and I really wanted my soundtrack. B eventually fixed it by rather using blue tooth.
The pool was almost ready for me to get in when Marianne and Milly arrived. Before getting in Marianne took my vitals and listened to baby's heart rate. Although the contractions were intense, I was still having comfortable breaks between them and was able to chat and laugh between contractions.
I climbed in the pool and was conscious of 2Cellos playing. I still commented to Leigh how much I enjoy them and that I hadn't included their Game of Thrones medley because I thought it might not be appropriate. She had walked out the room and came back as the GoT theme song started. We both had a giggle. She did a beautiful essential oil massage of my neck and shoulders in between contractions.
I was very aware of not wanting movement when I was in a contraction, but I loved the feel of her hands on me during the contraction.
For the next 45 mins B focused on boiling water and bring pots and kettles through to warm up the water in the bath and also to get the bath to at least the minimum depth. Our geyser barely made it half way to minimum!
As the contractions got stronger and more intense, I changed position and also began lowing through the contraction. At this stage Leigh began with counter pressure during the contraction on my lower back.
It was during a break in contractions during this phase that I remember commenting to Leigh that everything seemed to be moving along pretty quickly! She just smiled at me. Little did I realise how quickly things were moving along.
After a little while Leigh showed B how to do the counter pressure and it was amazing to know that it was my super supportive husband who was now helping me through the contractions!
It wasn't long and I moved into transition. My moaning changed from cows lowing to more of a whale call! I also chose to move into a position on my back again. Supported by B who's hands went numb from me holding his forearms so tight!
Shortly after that change Marianne appeared from the bedroom and mentioned to me that it was getting more intense. It was amazing to have her calm reassurance that she noticed and I didn't have to do anything else – she was on top of things.
I was half expecting her to begin checking me and doing all sorts of things, but instead she positioned herself in my line of sight and instructed me how to change my breathing to cope better. I truly felt that this was my birth, and my body was doing this the way it wanted, without anyone telling it or me what to do.
The intense desire to bear down was incredibly. The first sensation soon after was of my waters breaking. It literally felt like a water balloon had been popped out of my vagina. It all happend in the water of the pool, but I had the sense that you would have heard the pop were it not under water! I remember seeing the greenish liquid flow out into the pool – it's an image that I think only I saw, and so I really want to paint it. Which is strange, because I haven't painted anything creative in years.
Marianne continued to make suggestions about how best to breathe in order to keep supplying my baby and body with sufficient oxygen. I remember becoming conscious of being quite loud and glad that Kyle wasn't there for this.
The intense desire to push continued and soon I could feel my baby crowning. The other sensation that I don't recall from my first birth was actually feeling the baby kicking and squirming as they descended the birth canal.
The head birthed and on the next contraction I pushed my baby out entirely. Marianne scooped baby up and put baby on my chest. I briefly tried to check the gender, but the umbilical cord was thick and between the legs and I wasn't able to see clearly at that point. It was at that exact moment that Kyle called from his bedroom. B went to get him for him to meet the new baby.
K's first words were "you forgot about me!" We had originally agreed that we would wake him up to watch the birth, but I realised while I was in transition that it might have been a bit loud and traumatic for him (he hates loud noises), and so didn't remind anyone to get him. He actually woke at the perfect time. He checked out the baby and then seemed most excited about being up in the middle of the night and being able to play! Typical 3 year old!
He went to play outside on the patio and it was then that I finally could check whether I had had a boy or a girl.
It was a girl!
The girl I have always wanted. The girl we thought we wouldn't ever have. The Johnson family is mostly boys in almost every generation. This was my seventh pregnancy, four of my losses we didn't know the gender, the one loss that was tested was a girl with a genetic disorder and we believed that that might be the reason behind the other losses. So as much as I wanted a girl, we had sort of steeled ourselves to the fact that we might only have boys.
But she is a girl! A perfect, healthy, beautiful girl!
Ayla Gillian Johnson!
Ok. Back to the birth story…
Kyle played, I snuggled our baby girl and we all waited for the placenta to be birthed. Once it was clear it had separated I was told to push it out. It passed without much effort and Marianne proceeded to check it. My team of self proclaimed Birth Nerds, Milly and Leigh, simultaneously commented on how "juicy" the placenta was. It was thick and intact. I found it really interesting to watch Marianne check it.
Blood was taken from the cord for standard testing. Since I am Rhesus Negative we needed to know baby's blood group. She is also Rhesus Negative, so there was no need for the Anti-D shot.
I then needed to hand the baby to B, in order for me to be helped out of the pool to be checked. This was much sooner than I had handed Kyle over, and Brian was more than pleased to be able to snuggle his new baby girl. We all moved to the bedroom.
I was checked. Only a minor tear in the same place that I tore with Kyle. Not bad enough to require stitches. Bed rest, keeping my legs together and nori were prescribed. Everything healed beautifully within about 10 days.
Ayla was weighed and measured and given the once over.
The absolute highlight of my home birth was being able to stay in bed with my gorgeous family straight after my baby's birth! No nurses checking vitals every few hours, no unfamiliar noises, familiar pillow and comfortable sheets.
I had completely lost track of time, as had my photographer, Lara. During a lull she moved the curtains to look out the window. When I asked if everything was ok, she said she was checking to see if the sun was coming up. I laughed and told her it was only 23:38! Less than two hours since she had arrived! My baby was born at 23:11, a little over an hour and a half after my midwife arrived!
By 01:00 everyone was gone and B and I sat in the dark staring at our miracle! Life was good!
* All photographs by Lara Baker Photography!