Jason and I had our first son in May 2014 through emergency cesarean. We had gone to the antenatal class up at the hospital, learned about the different stages of labour, as well as the different types of pain killers available. That’s all that really stuck with me; also, I knew that we were happy to “wing it,” and not bother with a birth plan. So when I developed pre-eclampsia at 34 weeks gestation – and had an emergency cesarean at 35 weeks, it was all very upsetting, and we didn’t know we had any options to make it a positive experience for us – aside from the happy face that we became first-time parents!

When we found out we were expecting our second child 13 months later, we knew we wanted to come away with a different story. I first heard about Bendigo Positive Birthing from one of the ladies in our mothers group, and am ever so grateful I did!

Jason and I attended two of the sessions in November 2015, and were excited to discover just how many options we had, and what questions to ask, what choices we could make, and what materials to read to become empowered to have a positive birth experience. It was there we also first discovered what a doula was, and hired Kim to support us through our hopeful VBAC and birth plan.

On Friday, 5th February, I woke up at 5am with contractions 5-6 mins apart. The contractions never completely went away all day. Sitting on the gym ball and using heat packs helped me immensely. I was very uncomfortable and couldn’t nap well. I had been hoping that I wouldn’t be overdue, so going into labour at 38 weeks and 5 days was a great thing for me, but I was still expecting everything to fizzle out.

At 6:30pm, contractions came every two minutes and lasted up to 50 seconds.  I kneeled over my husband’s lap, now needing to focus and breathe through them.

Not knowing what our next step should be, we called Kim at 8pm and agreed she come over to keep us company and see how things progress or didn’t progress.  Jason’s mum came to pick up our toddler to sleep over at her place, and Kim arrived at 9:30pm.  By then I was kneeling propped up on the bed and it was getting more difficult to move around. She confirmed it was the real deal and that any time now we could head up to the hospital (as that was the birth we wanted).  It took about half an hour to get to the car because the contractions were getting very intense, I had to hang onto Jason to focus on my breathing.

It’s amazing how during labour you can feel every bump in the road! Finally I got up to the labour room between contractions. Soon after arriving, I got contractions in waves with no breaks.

The night wore on. I had read Confident Birth by Susanna Heli, and that really helped prepare me mentally for the labour. The labour became more and more intense. Distraction was one coping mechanism I used – I  squeezed the raised top half of the bed with all my might, or crushed Jason’s or Kim’s hands during contractions. Listening to Kim gently reminding me to “breathe in, breathe out” during each contraction also took my mind off the intensity. Jason was also amazing; from the husband who was very concerned about not being able to support me as I needed, on this night he very easily fell into the loving role I always knew he would fill. I allowed myself to fall asleep in between contractions. Obviously I didn’t get more than a minute or two at a time, but I knew that focusing on getting some sort of shut-eye was better than focussing on the next contraction. Kim taught me “get through one contraction at a time,” and I found that wonderful advice. My favourite positions were kneeling on all fours on the bed, or leaning forward.

Soon after I finally conceded to a Vaginal Examination – the result of which we chose not to be told – the midwives started preparing the baby bed. That was comforting! The waves came much stronger than ever, but not once did I think of asking for any form of pain killers. I was too busy riding each wave and resting in between.  When I finally thought of maybe asking for an epidural, I knew I was too dilated for it to be of much use anyway.

At long last the urge to push came. I was amazed just how uncontrollable that urge is! I pushed for about an hour, but Jared was getting distressed, so the suction was used just to get his head to crown.  One doctor explained they might need to cut me, but I firmly declined, opting to tear instead. I pushed my baby boy out. Jared Isaac was immediately placed in my arms as the sun rose above the horizon on Saturday, 6th of February. In my birth plan I had wanted to have a physiological third stage, but due to some circumstances this wasn’t able to be the case. We had been consulted first though, so we still had a voice through the whole process and felt empowered.  Jason and I achieved the positive birth story we wished for!

Somehow I thought that all the research I had done, and its implementation, would take at least the edge away from the intensity, but such was not the case. However, I look back and realise that it HAD well and truly prepared me mentally and physically – this time I felt informed and equipped. Not once did I feel any fear or need for any pain killers because I knew I was designed to give birth, and that I had the power to do so! Our VBAC story is one we look back on with much joy and gratitude – I would happily go through it again in a couple more years!