Home Birth Story
Words by Grace Candetti
Where does a birth story actually begin? Does it start with all the preparation I did to re-wire my mind to accept birth whole heartedly and without fear? The courses I did thinking I wasn’t strong enough to do it alone. The decisions that took me down the path of paying for a private midwife vs private OB, public Hospitals or birth centres?
Because compared to my first birth, I did a lot of preparation for my second, in many different ways but the most powerful would be my way of thinking. This time around I wanted a birth where I could jump into my bed afterwards, I could stay in a familiar environment and be surrounded by those who love me and have a midwife I knew well, so after my 9 month journey of seeking this out as best I could this is where it all began.
Birth never goes to plan, my mum and sister came all the way to Newcastle from Adelaide for two weeks, but bubs didn’t want to greet them, and even then a week on after they left he wasn’t earth side. It wasn’t until the day of 6th of December, I woke up just feeling good, I can’t explain it but I had let go of not fitting the “norm” yes I don’t gestate the usual 38-40 weeks. I go to 42 weeks. That morning I didn’t care about everyone else expectations and just enjoyed the day for the present moment it was and possibly the last time I will ever be pregnant. I saw my midwife around 3pm and had a great talk about the next steps if bubs doesn’t arrive soonish, normally this would get me down but I knew deep down he would come when he was ready.
After our midwife left we all went to the grocery store, my stepdaughter, son and hubby. I felt this discomfort every so often (I had so many different “discomforts” leading up to that day that I didn’t think too much about it because I didn’t want to jinx it). During the shop I just felt like we needed to stock up so I did. As we were waiting to pay at the counter I told Micheal that I’ll go wait outside the store with Harvey over by the benches. I sat there with this discomfort every so often, as I went to get up from my seat to walk over to Micheal I felt this click inside my body and all this water came out. I was filled with excitement, I never got to go into natural labour with my first and this time I got to feel my water break, how exciting right? As Micheal came out the shop I couldn’t wait to tell him my waters broke, I was filled with nerves and excitement, he wanted to go straight home I could feel him go straight into “action” mode but I told him I didnt' want to jinx anything and still pick up dinner on the way home, we compromised and agreed he would drop me home while he went and picked up takeaway with the kids.
So here I was at home alone, this discomfort started to come a little more often, I lay on my bed, noppppe that didn’t feel good, so I had a shower, got into my comfortable bra, undies and a dress and decide to head down to my birthing den. What do you do when you’re potentially in early labour, I had no idea. Was I in labour? I had no idea I just knew I needed to be present and work through every moment.
So I bounced on my birthing ball, I put on a Spotify birthing music mix (thank you stranger who shared her music list on a Facebook group your music was the bomb). Every so often if I sat on the ball bouncing the discomfort would be incredibly strong and then a gush of water would come out, I put my body and arms across the ball, I got on all fours, I danced like a hippie at a music concert just moving with the rushes, I tried to lay down on the couch and instantly knew it was a bad idea. It got to a point I thought I should see how far apart my rushes were because it felt consistent and it started to feel a bit more intense, I messaged my midwife Karen letting her know that I was 4 minutes apart and 40 seconds long roughly, now while I studied everything there is to know about home birth, I never actually looked into or tried to re-jog my mind about how far along that means I am in a textbook because I was well aware that has nothing to do with how far away my birth was, Karen told me she’d be at ours in an hour and a half, which is how far away her house was. I didn’t understand why she came over so early, in my head I had another 7 hours to go.
My husband came down stairs to check on me between putting our eldest to bed and sending our youngest to our neighbours because he had an unusual 2 hour nap that day. I was by myself for about an hour, before Micheal came down to support me and fill the birthing pool up. It’s funny I was full of such fear with my first birth I didn’t stop to smell the roses or have that excited feeling I had that night, yes it was hard but I got to feel what a rush was, I didn’t even think I went into real labour with my first.
This was my inner dialogue for most of that night “I feel safe, I feel secure, I feel relaxed. I am safe, I am secure, I am relaxed”.. “someone give me water”… "I can do this, I will do this”… “I can’t fucking do this….nooo, Grace you got this”….”I got this”…”loose lips and relaxed hands”…”I don’t know what I’d do without this damp cloth” - I literally ended up biting on it in some rushes, had it on my head to cool me down and over my eyes other times through rushes, it was like a safety blanket for part of my labour.
My rushes got to the next level just as the birth pool was finishing filling up. I complained next to Micheal one moment it was too warm, but once I was in it was heaven. I can’t tell you when Karen arrived but when she did arrive she didn’t upset the balance and it was nice to have another support there - someone with years of experience who could now support me in a different way. Time stood still, the outside world was there but I didn’t want to be there and the couple times Karen or Micheal tried to get me to respond to them I would rudely say “I dunno” and go back in. Micheal disappeared to get Harvey from our neighbours and put him to bed, I knew I was in for the long hall, in my head a 7 hour labour at least. I was on my knees the whole time in the pool and I would sway and rock every time a rush would happen, once it got more intense the angry cow noises came out. I felt like I needed to poop again and started to get pushing sensations. Karen told me the baby will be coming soon and she needs to go get Micheal, I honestly didn’t believe her I just needed to go to the toilet. Once Micheal got our neighbour back around to look after Harvey in his room Micheal came back down. Karen never told me to push and I never thought to myself push my body just did it. I never felt this with my first because I had an epidural and potential emergency c-section because his heart beat went up. So here I was feeling like I just pooped my pants, Karen asked me to check for the babies head, I was like “yeah right” in my head, I checked and while I think I knew it was a head, it felt bizarre. I kept pushing and the second midwife Jess arrives just in time. I held my hand down there, worried he would just shoot out little did I realise was I was actually supporting my perineum. I push again and start to crown, I yell “I can’t do this”, one of the women responds “Grace you have no choice now”, I read so many books knowing the best way not to tear was to go slow and slowly let them out, I go through two rushes with his head crowning, the second one doesn’t feel as bad. Then out comes his head, Karen suggests I go on my back to get the rest out, I go through one rush like that and can I just say noooope shoulders can be just as painful. I go back onto my knees and body leaning against the pool, I push his shoulders out and out comes the rest, Karen pushed him down so I was able to retrieve him myself. I was so gobsmacked at seeing my beautiful baby boys black hair (just as I had imagined him) that the midwives both said “pick him up” but I just wanted to soak up that magical moment before he took his first breath. I picked my baby boy up and put him on my chest, the midwives rubbed his feet and hands to get him to take his first breath. Here was my baby, I could have sat in that water all night being in absolute awe and shock that my baby was here and I actually had a home birth. Karen helped me deliver my placenta and we moved to the spare room which was already set up for me and our little man to sleep in that night. He tried to crawl to my boob for some food and I just hugged him and soaked it all up, here was my 5 kilo boy and I was able to walk away without a graze.