4th June 2020
Olive Mackenzie King
7lb 9 0z (3620g) 51 cm
I planned for an 'unmedicated’ littlest intervention possible, water birth at the birth centre. Didn’t exactly go to plan but it ended well. I was lucky to have my partner Aiden by my side the entire time.
I woke up with contractions around 11 pm that were 5 mins apart, inconsistent which stopped and started for 2 or so days with vomiting. In this time I went to the hospital (birth centre) as things got pretty intense a few times. They told me that my baby could be a bit posterior, which was a confused about because I told she wasn’t by the midwife. I used some skills and techniques from JuJu Sanim’s book “Birth Skills” to cope with the pain. I also used the exercise ball at home.
Eventually I could not handle being at home any longer, I was sure the whole neighbourhood could hear me screaming every few minutes and I hadn’t slept or eaten properly in days. They admitted me to the birthing suite 8 am Wednesday. 1 hr after arriving they said I was officially in ‘active labour’ I was in good spirits, using the shower, bath and movement to cope with the pain.
Around lunch time I was told that I had dilated to 6 cm in a short amount of time and I was stoked about this. The midwives were saying, “We are going to have a baby by the end of the day!!!”
Fast forward to after dinner time, some new midwives came on shift and asked if they could check how dilated I was. Turns out I hadn’t made much ‘progress’ since they last checked. By this point I had the worst burning back pain and I’d already endured two round of sterile water injections which are incredibly painful.
I was shattered when I was told how many cm I had dilated in hours and hours.
After this I got up on the bed and let them break my waters. The doctor came in and checked and had suggested it. I was a little scared so I puffed on the gas (first time I’d had it at this point). After this, I realised how amazing the gas was and I didn’t let it go. I actually made myself throw up a few times from having too much of it! After being up and about and very active my entire labour so far, I didn’t leave my bed at this point. I couldn’t even walk to the toilet.
The OB was a bit concerned about my progress and strongly suggested I get the drip (Syntocin). Which I really didn’t want to have because of hearing about how it can make the contractions on top of each other. Reluctantly, wanting to hurry up and meet my baby I finally gave consent to have the drip. About 10 minutes in, I became hysterical and had an out of body experience. I can’t remember much from about 7pm - 11.30 at night. At some point I asked for an epidural and after they administered it I calmed down and slept for about an hour and a half.
I felt my contractions strongly again in the early hours of the morning and started to freak out, I was so done with the back pain. I was stuck on 8 cm, I think they stretched me to 9. A midwife iced my cervix because she thought it has swollen up a bit, she said my baby was coming down on an odd angle on my cervix. I started to push at 6 am. Olive was born at 6.22. I was very fortunate that Olive stayed calm and happy through the entire ordeal.
21st April 2020
Maya Soul Lena King Oman
2.8kg and 50cm
I gave birth slap bang in the middle of a pandemic when South Africa was in total lockdown. It was epic. The fact that Maya was born during this crazy period in the timeline of the world made me feel even more powerful.
We always planned to birth at home so when we were placed under one of the stricter lockdowns in the world (we were not allowed to leave our homes except to buy food or get medical help) we were calmed knowing that ultimately our birth plan wasn’t affected and should we need to be transferred to the hospital we had planned for that eventuality.
On the 20th of April, my 3-year-old and I “hiked” around the garden and up the driveway to help Maya make her appearance - I was 40 weeks and did not want to have to get induced in hospital. I made all his snacks and froze them, cleaned the whole house for the 6th time that week, ate dates and sipped on raspberry tea… something must have worked!
Around 11 pm I called my doula and let her know I thought tonight was the night then I climbed back in bed. Sleep did not come as about 10min after the phone call, my waters broke. My first birth was fast - a total of 6 hours so I got hold of our midwife ASAP and she headed out to us.
Chris began assembling the birth pool - we abandoned the idea as soon as I realised he had no idea what he was doing. We grabbed a mattress and set it up in our lounge.
Louette, our midwife arrived to a half-blown up pool, dim lights and Ludovico Einaudi playing quietly in the background.
Max was fast asleep in his bedroom, the dog quietly whining outside the door. I paced the hall and squatted through my contractions. The shower offered beautiful relief.
Both my doula and midwife were angels on the periphery of our experience. It felt like it was just Chris and me, going through this dance to bring our daughter home alone as they flittered in at precisely the right moments to guide and steer us along.
At 5.50 am, as the sun rose, I reached down and pulled Maya Soul into this world, then placed her on my chest as she was introduced to her papa.
20min later, Max woke up and met his sister.
I showered while our new family got back into bed, snuggled and got to know each other before Chris hit the kitchen for our first breakfast together as a family of 4.
We weren’t allowed to leave the house for another month as the lockdown continued and the following months were the toughest of my life mentally - the antithesis of my birth experience.
I will always be grateful to my doula, midwife and the steadfast trusting partner that helped me bring Maya into the world during this crazy time - it was the confidence in my birth team that made this experience what it was.
Beautiful, miraculous and full of magic.
13th November 2019
Sebastian Anthony Parry & Quentin Alexander Parry
3lb14 & 3lb10
On Monday 11th November 2019 I attended the final antenatal class with my husband after work. We settled in to learn more about caring for a newborn in the first few days at home. Little did I know that by the time I got to implement these ‘skills’ I would have known my ‘newborns’ for 6.5 weeks.
When I got home I took my twin-strength iron tablet and sat on the bed. I had developed a fairly dramatic gag reflex while pregnant and laughed with Charlie that I was going to quietly heave on the toilet. While he playfully shouted “Will you not heave out our little boys” I did a wee that I couldn’t stop. It took a while to register that I wasn’t in control. We had learned earlier that evening that term babies had to be born within 24 hours of waters breaking and a rumbling panic started to build. I was just over 31 weeks pregnant.
The 12 minute car journey felt like it went on forever. I was blind panic by this point, keeping repeatedly saying ‘it’s too early, they are too small.’ I had test which showed my waters had broken and was then admitted for observation.
Two Days Later
Fast forward to 2 days later at 4am I woke up with bleeding and cramping. I was moved up to the labour ward, and told that Charlie needed to be here within half an hour, that these babies were going to be born before 8am. At 8am everything had settled down. Then it started again at 10, settled by 11am. Then it revved up again at 12 and didn’t stop. The contractions were now every 4 minutes and I got a different opinion every so often about what would happen. At 1pm I was visited by the consultant who said that I would have a c-section within the hour and then all of a sudden it was go go go.
As I was being wheeled down to the operating theatre the tears started to quietly flow. The midwife who had been with me all day stayed by my side. She hissed at the operating staff as they started to prepare my top half for skin to skin which I wouldn’t be able to experience as they would need neonatal attention as soon as they were born. She nodded at me as the spinal anaesthetic was administered. She made me feel safe and I will forever be grateful to her. As my boys were delivered Charlie and I didn’t break eye contact. Tears filled Charlies eyes. We heard a little squeak of a cry and after 15 minutes or so a swaddled set of twins in fisherman's hats were presented to me. “Give them a kiss and they’ll see you later”
Life in NICU
We then spent the weirdest 8 hours chatting and joking while I laid under an inflatable duvet that blew hot air on the feet I could not feel as a midwife squeezed my boobs trying to syringe colostrum that needed to be whisked up to the NICU. Eventually I was wheeled up to see my boys and we were given matching blankets that swamped their tiny little bodies. Seb was 3lb14 and Quentin was 3lb10.
They didn’t look real with their little white hats holding the CPAP masks in place so they could breathe. I didn’t feel like a mother that day. My feeling of being a mother grew like a snowball rolling down a mountain. Little decisions here and there about their care in the NICU was my transition to motherhood.
The 6.5 weeks we spent in the NICU were weird, intense, joyful, heartbreaking, long and short.
You wouldn’t know to look at them what they went through in those first few weeks. They are utterly delicious and chaos in equal measure.
25th July 2020
3.08kg and 48cm
After a smooth pregnancy I gave birth on my due date after, what I guess you could call a fairly straight forward labour.... as labours go.
My waters broke at 3am 25th July. I woke as usual for a pee in the early hours but this time my waters went. We rang the hospital to see if we needed to head in. I was told to pop in a pad and ring back in an hour. 4.15 came and I rang. Midwife confirmed it sounded like my waters had broken. I went in for a check up.
I was placed on a CTG to check baby’s heart rate and another monitor to track my contractions. After an hour of monitoring, I was sent home for what the midwife expected to be a long slow labour being a first time mother. We got home at 6.30am. Hubby went to the shop to pick up breakfast after setting me up with my TENS machine. He got back, had his food and helped me through my early contractions by pressing on my hips as each one hit. 9.15am; the app tracking my contractions stated “go to hospital”. We rang the midwives again to check to be told to stay home longer. Within fifteen mins we were on the phone again telling them we were coming in!
After a forty min drive in Saturday morning sports traffic, we got to hospital at 10.30am. At this point I was 4cm dilated. Yet again the midwife expected I had gone to hospital prematurely. I had the TENS machine on while on all-fours using Cat-Cow to help control my breathing. From about 12 my body started to push but due to only being 4cm dilated at 10.30am, I was instructed to fight the urge to push. This was extremely difficult.
At 1.30pm the midwife told us she was going on her lunch and would do a another examination upon returning. At, 2.40pm, to her amazement and my relief I was fully dilated. She said that usually they wait one hour after you're fully dilated to ensure everything was supple but as she could see baby’s head she suggested we try a push. One small push and she could see this baby was coming sooner rather than later.
She left the room to gather a few necessities and upon returning, helped me into an upright kneeling position facing the head of the bed. Twenty minutes later, baby Finn arrived at 3.10pm 3.08kg and 48cm. The midwife passed me the gas and air for the post birth exam. She confirmed I had a second degree tear and would require stitches.
The doctor gave me a local anaesthetic and I received six stitches. Within two hours Finn had latched on and after some time Dad had skin on skin and I had the best shower ever. Granted it was a seated shower but felt so good to freshen up.
Two and a half hours after giving birth, I was told due to having a medication-free smooth birth we could be discharged the same evening. I requested one nights stay to rest a while and for the security of having midwives on hand to ask any questions.
Three hours after birth we were moved to the ward for a much needed rest and time to cherish our newborn. We proceeded to make the emotional video calls home to tell our families the news.
Did you love these birth stories as much as we did? What was your birth story like? Let us know your thoughts and comments below.