It’s funny how one day can be both the best and scariest day you have ever experienced.
Two days past my due date on the 28th of January 2018 at 5am in the morning it all began, our little boy was on his way.
The night of the 27th I had definitely began to feel very heavy and baby sprout was sure doing flips inside. It wasn’t the most comfortable to sit or move around at that point. I didn’t really think much of it though, for a couple weeks I had been having labour signs but nothing that ever led to anything so I just thought this was the same. I decided to take a laxative this night due to how my body was reacting a wee bit to my daily iron tablets and off I went to bed.
Nathan slept so well that night, asleep as soon as he hit the pillow and hardly stirred. It’s like his body knew what was about to begin and that he needed that extra strength. Strong crampy pain is what began for me, throughout the end of my pregnancy I had on and off cramps during the night so once this began on this early Sunday morning I didn’t click it could actually be the real deal this time. Funnily enough all I could think was that I was stupid for taking the laxative and now I was paying for it with horrid bowl and lower tummy pains. Not disturbing Nath I got up and down a couple of times to the bathroom and hoped that eventually as my body cleared it would pass – obviously still oblivious to the fact that my labour had begun.
As I continued to check the clock that was ticking away on my bed side table I started to notice that the pains were forming a pattern. 5am, then 5.20am and so on. I found myself getting onto my hands and knees whilst in bed and those hypnobirthing breathing techniques kicked in fast. Nath eventually stirred come 6.45am and that’s when I finally said “I think I maybe in labour.” As I had said this on and off throughout the past weeks of course Nath was a bit like, oh yeah probably not though. What did make me laugh was him asking what time it was and once being informed responding with “Oh it’s so early!” Easy for him to say, he wasn’t the one who had been up since 5am or even earlier dealing with what I now realised was probably latent labour.
I had quite a clear birth plan in my head in regards to what I wanted/hoped for during my labour and set things in place ready to help me with what was upon me. Most of you reading this will know that I was going into this experience with a natural birth in mind. Labour has always been one of my biggest fears but the only fear that I was 100% willing to tackle and overcome because of how much I wanted to be a mama. Choosing the hypnobirthing path had put me into a really good mindset come the near of my pregnancy and I was ready to believe in my body and baby completely.
Even though I was pretty sure labour had started I somewhat was still typically second guessing myself and really thought I had just been stupid with the laxatives and overreacting. As I had noticed that the surges (if they were just that) were roughly about 20 minutes apart Nath and I decided to start properly timing them. Downloaded onto my phone was a contraction counter app that allowed you to click the button when your contraction began and click stop when it ended. The first one we documented was at 6.50am and didn’t stop until 2.35pm. I definitely recommend using an app like this because it really does help to keep an eye on how frequent the surges are happening and how long each one is. After all they won’t let you go to the Hospital or Birthcare until your surges are super close and have been over at least an hour or two!
I thankfully still felt relaxed at this point but decided to txt my midwife just to let her know what was going on. Again, I went overboard and rambled in the txt saying it maybe just cause of the laxative – ha. As I continued to lay in bed the house was calm. My affirmations in front of me on our bedroom wall I began to read through, knowing that the time had come to really believe in my body. My baby was ready and it was time for us to work in harmony together.
I placed my phone next to me continuing to time the surges and Nath filled a hot water bottle. I began playing my hypnobirthing rainbow relaxation track and Nath then placed the tens machine on my body. I felt as ready as I could be, with every surge my eyes stayed closed and my breathing techniques seemed to be on auto pilot.
At the start of each surge I clicked the start button on the timer, I turned up the tens machine to the level of choice and did my surge breathing – picturing my stomach as a balloon being filled and then the balloon releasing into the sky and slowly drifting away. I was amazed at how well my mind went into this focus, I found it especially worked well lieing down on my side.
Gradually as time went on I was becoming more and more unaware of what the time actually was and I think from 11am onwards I can’t remember looking at the time again until 6pm. At 8.50am I rang my mum to say what was happening, her and my dad were to be at the birth and as they live in Hamilton needed to know as soon as it all began so they could make their way to Auckland as fast as possible. Having not heard back from Laura my midwife at this point my mum said with confidence to me, yes Sigourney it sounds like you are in labour! Its highly likely you will have a baby by the end of today.
Nath and I knew that not hearing back from Laura wasn’t a super big deal as we knew she couldn’t do to much until my surges were 2 minutes apart, lasting for 1 minute or more in length and that this process had been happening for at least two hours. I planned to labour at home for as long as possible anyway and I did just that. For the following hours Nath and I continued to spend the morning in bed with music playing, the tens machine doing its thing, the hot water bottle wrapped in my arms and the surge timer at my finger tips.
It was actually a really calm time for me and I believe it was what helped me cope with the rest of my labour. A lot of woman express how they didn’t like to be touched during their labour but for me I was the opposite. As we lay in bed together and a surge began Nath gently stroked my arm and I loved it. His gentle, soft touch alongside the music playing and surge breathing really worked in harmony together and before I knew it another surge was over. As it was our wedding anniversary we hadn’t organised anything major as we knew something like this may happen but we did do a small something for each other in paper form. As we lay there together we exchanged a small gift each – a handwritten letter from me to him and a paper of all the milestones we have achieved together in order from him to me. It was really really special and so beautiful to share within that moment.
Continuing to labour at home…
Eventually it came the time Nath offered me some food but I wasn’t overly interested. I did try some Nutri grain cereal though but only a spoonful got consumed. At this point I was still pretty mobile and I ended up walking out to the lounge and picked up my hypnobirthing book. As I lent over the couch some more surges were felt and I began to feel myself starting to loose focus. There was no longer any music or background noise happening and I lay on the couch munching on a banana lollie from my labour bag. Before long I said to Nathan I needed to go back to the room and I needed music on again. As I made my way down the hallway a surge appeared, this was the first time I lost control. I flopped to the ground on the hard wooden floor and cried. The surge passed finally and Nath quickly helped me up and back into bed I got.
By now I felt like active labour was approaching more. My waters still had not broken from what I could tell and my show had only very slightly happened I believed. We felt it was time to ring Laura my midwife as we still had not heard anything back and it was now 11:40am. As the tens machine kept working its magic and the contraction timer being used frequently Nath grabbed his phone and turned it on speaker as he dialled Laura’s number. Someone picked up the call but as it wasn’t very clear Nath just began with “Hi Laura it’s Nathan, Sigourney’s husband” it was the next response that makes this birth story different then I originally thought I would be telling it. On the other end of the phone was Ruby, Laura’s back up midwife and instantly as soon as she said it was her I knew what she was about to say.
Laura had fallen sick and Ruby was covering her women. As soon as Nath and I realised we looked at each other and we knew what each other were thinking. Regardless I thankfully was able to communicate to Ruby most of what was happening without having a surge appear until the very end of the conversation. Ruby knew I was planning on going to Birthcare and I was hoping for a water birth. She asked me questions about what had been happening contraction wise and told us we were doing well and to ring her back when they were closer together. It would be then that she would advise us when to get in the car and meet her at Birthcare. Once I got off the phone I looked at Nath and said “Oh no, Laura is going to be so gutted. She wanted to be there for my birth so much and I’m so gutted she won’t be either.” Laura and I had formed a strong relationship over my pregnancy journey.
Lieing back in bed again the emotions hit me. I began to cry and shared with Nath that this is what I was worried about happening; Laura not being there and now I was about to meet a midwife I didn’t even know. I remember feeling a bit lost at that point and worry was in the back of my mind. Nath of course kept me calm and reassured me everything would be ok and that we could do this. I had also become close with a new mum to be who was in our hypnobirthing class, Courtney. Her due date was the 28th and she also is a midwife herself. I had been chatting to her via private message all through the morning and when I told her what had now happened she reassured me I was in very safe hands. She knew of Ruby and said she was also lovely and all about natural birth. All I can say is thank goodness for Courtney. Although Laura had already told me about Ruby during our appointments it was nice to get that reassurance from Courtney whilst I was actually in labour. It made me relax a bit more again and I knew I needed to stay this way to benefit my baby and I.
Active labour begins…
By now the surges were getting closer and I could tell the difference in the strength of them. It wasn’t to much later and my parents turned up. Quietly appearing into our room mum smiled a big smile. Instantly I cried, saying “But mum, Laura is not going to be there. She’s sick.” Mum being someone who adores the concept of labour, birth and everything in between she also reassured me that everything was going to be ok and I could do this. She reminded me I was doing well already and I had all the techniques and knowledge behind me especially hypnobirthing wise to be able to do this. And that I was soon going to have a baby in my arms! A few more surges followed shortly after this and they were definitely stronger then before.
The next part is slightly a wee bit of a blur in regards to how it all happened but out of nowhere a surge appeared and it was big. Big to the point it took over my entire body and I felt my body spasm as such. I then felt a sensation I had yet to feel and water came fountaining from below. Luckily my lower half was lieing on a pillow and a towel was already present, as Nath dealt with that end Mum held a bucket to my face as I vomited up the very minimal amount of food I had eaten so far.
My waters had broken and I believe this is when active labour started to begin.
Now the surges were coming strong and definitely a lot closer together. It was now a lot harder to stay focussed and I really had to put a lot more effort into doing so. Thinking my waters had now broken it made sense this was happening and in my head I pictured my baby boys head pushing on my cervix. It was then that I had another surge and it was big just the same. Luckily I didn’t vomit again and never did throughout the rest of my labour but out of nowhere water poured from below again and I felt like I had absolutely no control, such a weird sensation. Having no concept of time I continued to labour at home for quite some time. Nathan took over timing the surges as it just became to much for me, from memory I think he took over the control of the tens machine too as I just let him know what setting I wanted it on.
After a while mum suggested I try get up and move around a bit but this is something I found I didn’t like in labour – moving around lots and changing positions. It scared me because the thought of changing to a different position and it being worse was not something I wanted to happen. When I was comfortable enough to be in control I felt the best despite the situation.
Over the space of what I believed was the next hour or so I got up and squatted over the toilet whilst Mum placed cold flannels to my forehead and continued to offer me sips of water. I could hear Nath on and off the phone to Ruby informing her of the progress and in my head I just thought it sounded like he was bothering her. I made it back to our bed and all I can remember is feeling out of control, probably the most out of control I felt until it came time to push at the very end. As I lent on the bed on hands and knees I couldn’t get comfortable and the surges were double barreling. My mum didn’t leave my side at this point and it was now that I was quite emotional and even thought to myself, how on earth am I going to get in the car and get to Birthcare. I can’t, I’m going to have to have a homebirth.
Heading to Birthcare…
As I had kept telling Nath to wait and that I wasn’t ready to move he got a bit firmer with me stressing that if we were going to go we needed to go now. He had packed up everything into the car and was running around the house making sure everything was in place. My Dad helping also. Mum began to say “Come on, you can do this. It’s time to go they are waiting there for you. You don’t wanna have your baby here.” Eventually I got myself up. Water bottle with me, no longer needing to time the surges and with the tens machine still attached I slowly made my way outside. I think I only had undies on and a light singlet at this point, I made it to the car grasping my hot water bottle and phone which had the relaxation hypnobirthing track on repeat. I lent over the back seat of the car and wasn’t ready to get in. I concentrated on the track intensely and jumped into the backseat in the middle with the baby carseat on one side and Mum on the other. I faced backwards the entire trip with my butt between the two front seats which I’m sure lots of people had a good show off the entire trip. I thought the drive would be worse, it wasn’t thankfully. The corners were the worst but I just kept focusing on the womans voice talking into my ear.
We pulled up at Birthcare (I think it was around 3pmish) and I felt relieved we had made it. I didn’t know how I was going to get inside though, again I now did not want to move as I was currently in control. A wheelchair was collected for me and in we went to the birthing unit. As I was wheeled in I was greeted by Kayla my student midwife and I could not have felt more relieved to see her face. Not having Laura there was hard but knowing I had Kayla who knew me and what I wished for meant so much.
The birthing unit…
All of a sudden a surge hit me and I went into a bit of panic and fell off the wheel chair onto the edge of the bed clutching below. I tried to stay focused but it was now hard especially with a lot going on around me and it not being my own familiar space. The room was dark though just how I wanted it with just some natural light coming through the window. The pool was being filled and it was just Nath, Mum, Dad, Ruby my fill in midwife and two student midwives Kayla and Lia with me.
Not seeing Nath do this but I soon realised that there was music playing within the room. Nath had placed some of my affirmations on the wall as well and even though I didn’t even use them it was nice to have them around me and the music playing was perfect. As I lent on the bed Ruby asked if I would be able to get up on the bed to check how dilated I was. I really didn’t want to move and I was nervous. I was already having surges that I was trying to control, the thought of getting up onto a bed and lying on my back so a hand could be put up me was not ideal in my mind. I also never shared this at the time but deep down I was a little worried. I was worried I would have not dilated much at all and have been going through all this for no progress. It would have broken me and I can say I would have asked for some form of pain relief.
Once I eventually got onto the bed and I tried my best to relax finding out I was 7cm dilated made me happy and so proud. I had done it all so far without pain relief and I had coped, I was doing it!
Getting into the pool…
Kayla continued to check our baby’s heart beat as I now leant against the edge of the bed again. I don’t really know how I got into these positions but I know that once I got into one and was focused I didn’t wanna move. At this point I truly felt like I was loosing my butt over and over again. Weirdest sensation to say the least. I was now allowed to get into the pool but it took me awhile to wanna move. Nath snuggled into my side and the tens machine continued to do its thing. My mum gently ran her hands up and down my lower back and bum and it all helped me in focusing on my breathing and the surges that were bringing my baby down.
I knew it was time to get in the pool. It was what I had been wanting all along and my body had been amazing and allowed me to get there. It was a bit nerve raking taking off the tens machine but I did it along with removing all my clothes (I now wish I had at least kept a bra on because we have had to edit these pool photos – ha) and I hopped into the pool.
It was nice and definitely relaxing. I continued to keep my eyes closed and let the water take my body. The surges were strong but I felt like I got them into my own control. I breathed through each surge and imagined my stomach drawing up and expelling the baby gently down like we learnt in hypnobirthing. I pictured my baby slowly moving down my body one surge at a time. During this time Nath gently poured water over my back and continued to gently run his hands over it too. I couldn’t of stayed in that much focus without it. I can remember the music playing also at this point, Nath had put on a playlist I had created and it had some of our wedding songs on it plus some of my other fav loving songs. It was special to hear and made the experience amazing.
Labouring in the pool…
Nath told me he wanted to get into the pool with me which I was all for too but I didn’t want him to just leave my side. If I wasn’t having that touch to my back then I lost focus so I got him to swap out with mum. Once he hopped in he continued to massage my back and from here I feel it all went into a bit of a blur for a while. Not a lot changed and I was probably in the most control I had been since the beginning. The surges made me shudder at the end at times and that was hard but otherwise that focus of my body drawing up and expelling the baby down was working. Ruby wanted me to check if I could feel the baby’s head after a while and gosh that was a crazy concept. He was definitely on his way.
I was then encouraged to change positions to try start getting things progressing a bit more so I lent back on Nathan. Having him so close during this experience was amazing and I’m so glad we got to experience this together. The connection between us was special and it will be something I will hold close to me forever. Nath gently ran his fingers over my tummy continuously and he did everything he could to support me.
Kayla continued to check the heart beat and everyone was really calm and quiet. There was actually very minimal talking throughout the whole labour. Ruby then suggested me leaning forward and squatting as such in the middle of the pool. I needed to now focus on breathing downwards now rather then out.
The pushing begins…
I remember at 6pm Ruby telling me I was fully dilated. It was time I started pushing and preparing for this baby to greet me. The hypnobirthing isn’t really for ‘pushing’ as such and it focuses on breathing your baby down letting your body and baby naturally do the work but Ruby said it was time to get things moving a bit faster. Although our boy was fine he was just getting a bit tired now and well, obviously him and I both! Ruby wanted to guide me in the breathing style I had to now do and it required me to take a short breath in my nose hold my breath and then push through my butt for at least 10 seconds then repeat until the surge was over. It was hard and probably the part I found the most challenging of it all as I went from having lots of breath to feeling like I could hardly breathe at all. So again I lent back on Nath, my legs apart and the student midwives and Ruby in front of me.
Again, it was hard and I felt like I was pushing for so long before anything actually happened. I kept being told you are almost there, he’s coming. Kayla was even holding a small mirror in the water for me to see down there but I didn’t care about that ha! I needed those eyes shut and to try stay calm and in control.
The scariest part of it all…
They wanted me to really make noises when I pushed now. Apparently it helps you to actually push. The sensation came and I could feel his head. It hurt, I won’t lie. Yep it stung but it came through and I felt the release but then came the scary part. I could hear the change in Ruby’s voice. She made the comment “Ok we really need to get this baby out now, Sigourney I think we need to move to the bed” now this is not what I wanted to hear with a baby’s head hanging out of me. How on earth was I suppose to get up whilst still having surges and climb over a pool with a baby’s head there… um noway.
So Ruby said I really needed to push then, it was the worst feeling and I didnt really know what was happening. I felt so emotional because to me I was pushing, I was pushing as hard as I could through my bum and everything but why was my baby’s body not coming.
I’m glad I didn’t know what the issue was at the time but all of a sudden (in saying all this, this is a mixture of what I remember and what I was told) Ruby said drain the pool, Nath lifted my body up into the air, my legs were pulled even further apart and apparently a whole hand was put up me. My beautiful boy’s shoulder was stuck behind my pubic bone and he couldn’t get out. It was called shoulder dystocia. Before I knew it our little or should I say big baby boy was placed onto my chest but he was floppy and a towel was quickly placed on him. I remember my heart dropping, Nath crying into my ear saying “He’s here babe, he’s here” all whilst I cried and said “Is my baby ok?? Is my baby ok?? Am I ok??”
From what I am told it took him 3 minutes to come to and it was hands down the scariest minutes I have ever gone through. The thought that I wasn’t even going to meet my child still plays through my mind today and I think it will for a long time yet. With a lot of rubbing and instant cord cutting he took his first cry, he’s truly our little miracle.
This following image in my eyes says it all. Photo credit given to my mum as she documented this day for us.
The first few hours…
It’s amazing how fast they get you to stand up and carry on. It’s also amazing how instantly the surges stop and you forget for a second you were in pain. I don’t even know if I properly processed that I now had a baby who was only minutes old.
I got up out of the pool and onto the bed. Our precious boy meeting his Dad and Grandparents too. He instantly tried to feed and as he did so my Dad came up to meet him and his eyes poured with tears. It was a huge moment for us all and an experience I couldn’t imagine doing without my support team.
I somewhat feel like I didn’t take in the following hours very well at all really. Even though I knew there was a camera about and people were snapping pictures of us when he was here I have pictures of me never looking at the camera. I’m grateful for the hour skin to skin contact I had with our precious boy and when one of the student midwives said “So what’s his name” I immediately said “Mason” which had been number one on our list the whole relationship we have shared.
Finding out I had a third degree tear was not something I wanted to comprehend or even think about. I had to have surgery and be taken to hospital for it. At this point I was emotional, still in shock and tired. I wanted to not be aware of any of this next part and no way wanted to be awake feeling needles and injections. Needles are not my friend.
As Mason, Ruby and I went in the ambulance to the hospital Nath met us there and watched Mason for the hour whilst I went into surgery. I was grateful I got put under for it because I came out refreshed and so ready to be a Mama to my precious boy awaiting my arms.
The whole birth experience was incredible and it’s empowering what our bodies can do. No one truly knows how a birth is going to pan out as there was no way we could have predicted me to have a shoulder dystocia birth. Regardless though I got the birth I wanted and I’m proud to say that I could do it. I could birth my baby without pain relief, naturally and enjoyed a water birth and it feels so good inside especially having originally had quite a fear around labour. The scare at the end was the worst thing I have ever been through and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone but Ruby was amazing and she saved our baby’s life and I will forever be grateful.
I did it, I believed in my body and it paid off. Taking the hypnobirthing path was the best decision I made and it helped my mindset in such a powerful way. I was told by Kayla and Lia that I was so in control and calm. I hardly made a noise and seeing how my support team worked with me was special, and that it was so empowering.
Mason Rawiri Smith was born at 7:15pm on the 28th January 2018 weighing 8lb 5oz and was 54cm in length.
He’s perfect, our love for him is beyond any words and this day will forever hold a special place in my heart.