Hi my name is Stephanie and I gave birth to my first son 5 months ago at Warkworth Birthing Centre.
Oddly enough my birth experience wasn’t that bad! I had prepared myself for the dreaded “contractions that make you want to die” and the “burning ring of fire”, from the moment I found out I was pregnant. All my “friends” thought it was funny to joke about the pain I would go through, as if they had earned the right to pass on the fear.
I had 2 midwives, as we decided to move from the South Island to Mangawhai 2 months before I was due! I thought I had the best midwife the first time and was a bit nervous about changing (you hear so many horror stories!) but as soon as my new midwife visited me for our first appointment all those nerves went away. She had the time to really talk me through everything and answer all my silly questions, putting me at ease. As I hit my due date I was anxiously waiting, although I was only 5 days over, it felt like 5 weeks! It was like waiting for a bomb to hit, you know its coming and it’s gonna be big but you don’t know when. And I don’t like surprises! I remember drilling all my mummy friends about their experiences so I could prepare myself as much as possible.
My mum came to stay with me which was nice and it’s her first grandchild so she was actually more excited than I was – I was too nervous and worried about giving birth! So when we were watching TV one night and I felt mild period cramps, I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to alarm her, I quietly timed them and they were coming regularly so I told mum, and her head spun around so quick as she looked at me with this huge excited grin and said “ooohhh Stephy, it might be happening” I laughed and told her to calm down, it was a tad early to be getting all excited.
So we thought we’d ring my midwife to let her know, she suggested I get some rest while I could, so I went to bed, I don’t know how I went to sleep, I kept thinking OMG OMG is this happening? Poor mum didn’t get much sleep either waiting for me to call her to say I was having a baby! But I woke up in the morning, and nothing.
This happened again the next night too except the cramps were a little stronger and more irregular, so same deal – I took some Panadol and went to sleep. I woke up in the morning confused, so as you do, I jumped on google which only confused me more. The third night I was slightly too uncomfortable to sleep, so I did some squats & lunges to try and really kick things in. I downloaded an app to time the contractions which although were stronger, were very irregular which was confusing, but I was sure it must be happening this time. But alas, as the sun came up my contractions slowed and I fell asleep. The next day I rang my midwife to ask what is going on, I was getting frustrated & tired now and in the back of my mind was wondering why it wasn’t happening and how many more times did I have to go through this?! My midwife reassured me it is quite common to go into labour during the night and for it to stop in the morning. She came over that afternoon to check on me anyway and said I was 4-5cm dilated despite not having any contractions at the time! I was pleasantly surprised! I thought all those nights were wasted but apparently not.
We were both confidant tonight would be the night so after she left I took a long bath and when I hopped out the discomfort kicked in. I didn’t feel like sitting, so I knelt next to the fire until dinner was ready. I sat up with the family, while everyone watched my every facial expression, ate my beautiful thai chicken curry, quickly, then went and hid in the bedroom while I tried to get comfortable. Knowing we had a 45 minute drive to Warkworth, I didn’t want to leave it much longer so I rang my midwife and said we’re on our way. My mum and sister jumped up from the table and we headed off - while mum was trying to figure out how to work the contraction app on my phone, my sister drove like a boy racer to the birthing centre. My midwife was there when we arrived and we went into the birthing room, I remember looking around as she prepared the baby’s bed, still unable to comprehend that my baby would be here, lying in that very bed, in a few short hours.
By this stage I was 7cm dilated and it was getting more intense but honestly it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting after what I had seen on TV! I couldn’t see why people like the Swiss ball, I thought it was terribly uncomfortable, I hated lying on my back, on my side or sitting on the bed! So I paced around the room, before finding a comfy (as could be) spot sitting backwards on the toilet with my head out the window for cool fresh air. I had planned a water birth so the bath was ready but for some reason I didn’t want to get in too early, but as soon as I did, it was immediate relief. All the weight was taken off and the water was so warm and soothing I wished I had gotten in earlier. We put some relaxing quiet music on and I was just silent, I worked through the contractions, knowing that the more intense they got, the closer I was to the finish line and meeting my baby. In between each contraction, the pain stops briefly and you get a break, I just closed my eyes and totally relaxed. I wanted to conserve as much energy as I could for the next one, my natural hormones helped counteract the adrenaline and aided the pain so I was just concentrating on keeping my mental strength. Then my least favourite bit was when I got the uncontrollable urge to push as I was transitioning, and up came the thai chicken curry.
After trying not to push for a few contractions until I was fully dilated I was ready to push and that’s when my waters finally broke. That felt much better and my big strong baby and I worked together for about 15 minutes to push him out. I was trying not to push too quickly in case I tore (another fear of mine). I did end up tearing a little (not that I knew until my midwife told me afterwards) and it wasn’t until she stitched me up that I had the gas. I had been afraid to use it during the birth as I was so focused and strong willed and I didn’t want to lose that by having drugs. I always said hell yeah if there’s pain relief I’m having it! And I was worried about an epidural not being an option at the birthing centre, but my midwife reassured me and I wouldn’t have wanted one anyway. The poor baby is left to do all the work with a higher risk of needing medical intervention. I am a firm believer that the woman’s body is amazing and designed perfectly for the job. Interference at any stage, can affect the body’s natural stages. I now have a great memory of my 8lb 13oz baby’s entrance into this world and I will be looking forward to doing it again instead of being afraid.
The feeling afterwards is one of great achievement. You have so much more respect for women and the miracle their bodies are capable of. Now you understand. Your body has done something that your mind wasn’t even sure you could do. It is an amazing feeling to finally hold your baby that you could feel, but not see, for 9 long months. And then the journey really begins – your life is changed forever; you see things with more compassion and appreciate what’s important in life. I love being a mum, and had been looking forward to it for years and now I finally have my own little family.
It’s the most important job in the world, being a mum. Some days it doesn’t feel like it when you’re “just” changing nappies, washing clothes and cleaning the house. But you have such great power to mould the lives of our future generations. Every little thing that we do will turn them into the people that one day someone will befriend, work with, and marry, so I consider it my responsibility to do the best job I can.