Birth Stories - The Birth of Indigo Elm
Surprised by a gospel choir.

The Birth of Indigo Elm


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Surprised by a gospel choir.

Indi’s birth unfolded, mainly due to the trauma I had journeyed with her brother’s birth. Experience and naivety lead you in many directions and I will firstly say that I am so very happy that I had the traumatic birth I did with Ky. Because without it, I would never have discovered the beauty of homebirth and all that it holds.

Ky’s birth, 3 years earlier was a highly interventionist hospital birth, that left me very traumatised and scared from the experience. The second time around, I knew it had to be different. So after many discussions and meeting just the right people at the right time, we decided to have a home birth.

When I first met my home birth doctor, Peter, I couldn’t believe how warm, nurturing and caring he was. He spent nearly an hour with us, discussing Ky's birth and talked about our hopes and wishes for this next baby. When I met Jenny, our midwife, I instantly fell in love. Two beautiful care providers that were committed to natural, empowering birth and wanted for us what we hoped for.

The pregnancy was amazing.

I felt strong and agile; I had acupuncture weekly and felt so positive about the upcoming birth. I was still very naïve as to what natural birth involved, but I asked two of my friends to be present, to be my guide. Both of them had birthed naturally with all their children and represented to me what I wanted to achieve. My mum was to be there to look after Ky and I had also asked my acupuncturist to come and put needles in if I needed them.

As the weeks drew closer to my due date I started to experience a never-ending pre-labour. It began around 38 weeks and each night I would have contractions as the sun went down. They would last for a few hours or so and eventually I would get tired and go to bed. I would fall asleep and wake up in the morning to nothing going on at all. Sometimes they were really strong and others time very mild.

We had quite a few false starts where I would assure my husband this was the real deal, only for it to stop. It was a great exercise in patience and trust and knowing that nothing was wrong. It was just my body preparing itself.

Eventually, around 12 days past my due date, I woke up around 6 am to strong contractions. As I got up out of bed I felt a trickle of water come from me. It was like I was weeing, but I couldn’t stop it. The contractions felt stronger and more consistent and I knew that this time it really was the real deal. I called my midwife and she said she would come on over and check me out and I rang my mum who was in the country to drive down to be with Ky.

This real labour was very different to the pre-labour. The contractions at this stage were quite mild but were very consistently every 5 minutes. Throughout the morning my birth team arrived, and there was a bit of a theory, that with all my pre-labour and being a second baby that it would happen pretty fast. Well – I think that theory was a bit off the mark. Slow, seems to be the pace for me!!!

As my team filled up the birth pool and as my doctor arrived for a cup of tea and see how I was going, we began to discover that the birth pool was flooding. My husband had turned off the taps, but my Mum thought he hadn’t, and well, the result was a flood in the lounge room of now very cold water. I stood in the doorway with Peter, having mild contractions and laughing that you just can't get good birth help these days!! They then had to drain all the water out and start to refill it. Our plants got a good soaking that day!

Peter left with a promise to come back later and I decided to go out into the back yard for some air. It was the middle of winter, but a divine sunny day, so I was rugged up and stood in the sunshine. I remember leaning over my husband with the sun on my face, feeling calm and relaxed and excited. We went back inside as the contractions started to pick up and the next few hours seemed to be a blur. I leant over a bean bag for what felt like hours, each time I would have a contraction I would have to be upright on my knees. The contractions stayed at 5 minutes apart but started to get stronger in their intensity. Jenny my midwife was there, my mum, and my two beautiful friends, Kari and Rachel.

The day seemed to pass in a haze (thanks, oxytocin) but I remember pivotal moments that added to this amazing journey. I asked if my son could leave because I was finding him very distracting. My mum took him to my mother in laws and I was quite concerned for a while that he was all right. After much reassuring, I went back to concentrate on me.

At one point I was standing up against the birth pool and I felt so overwhelmed with a wave of emotion. I called for my mum, who stood beside me and I held her hand and couldn’t stop blubbering, “You’re my mother, and I’m your daughter and I’m having a daughter and I’m her mother and you’re my mother” and my mother and I held each other as we cried and cried. I was so struck with the generational legacy that was being passed. I felt incredibly connected in that moment to where I had come from and where I was going. The women in my family continuing on.

I must add at this point that I really do believe in the saying that 'you birth how you live'. I am a very emotional person that feels things deeply and often has to process everything emotionally before I can move on. So my births are very much the same. There is a lot of emotion that comes out in me in birth and a great deal of the time I was in tears. Happy tears and painful tears and tears of joy and elation. It was beautiful being surrounded by a team that was so accepting of my process.

As it started to get towards night time, I remember my birth team in the kitchen eating and me feeling like I was getting nowhere. The contractions were still 5 minutes apart and very strong and I was getting incredibly tired. At one point Jenny (my midwife) came into the lounge room where I was and closed the blinds. I thought this was a rather strange thing to do and then I realised why.

All of a sudden out of nowhere I heard these angels singing. For a minute I thought I had died and I actually looked up to the roof and all around me. My whole birth team looked back at me, with beaming smiles. It took me a minute to twig and then I realised what was going on. My dear friend who lived across the road and who had a baby 5 weeks earlier was part of a gospel choir. I was blessed enough to have been at her birth and she was very aware of me being in labour. That night the gospel choir was rehearsing at her house. They came and stood in my back room and sang me a birthing song. The sound was unlike anything I have ever heard. Of course, tears rolled down my face as they sang and the contractions kept coming. It truly was one of the most magnificent experiences. I think every labouring woman should have a gospel choir sing to them!

After the choir left I started to vomit, a good sign that things were moving. We also made the decision to call my acupuncturist to come and put in needles to try and speed up the contractions and help a bit with pain relief. I got in the birth pool. What divine relief that was and continued to contract. As the hours went on, I slipped more and more into an endorphin state. Feeling very sleepy and relaxed but each time a contraction hit, I would tense my whole body and resist it. I couldn’t let go and allow but instead tightened my whole body. It is here that I started to hit my crisis of confidence.

My head was going crazy with lots of self-talk. “I can’t do this anymore, I just want a break. I am so tired“.

I could barely speak in my endorphin state, but I kept looking at my birth team, just wishing I can change places with them. By this time I had some acupuncture needles in and I was really off in labour land. Jenny suggested I get out of the pool and my dear friend Kari, took me by the hand and said we are going to walk. In my dressing gown and slippers, she made me walk around my backyard.

Around and around we walked, not stopping for a contraction. I was complaining and moaning and more tears. Bless her heart, she kept me walking, no matter how much I complained. I hated her at that moment for making me do that, but it was what was needed. My birth team was so strong and so amazing. Mike, my husband was often doing jobs, but so much of the time, I wanted him nearby. I remember quite often just needing to feel his body next to me and call on his strength. He was so solid in his support and belief.

As more time passed and we are getting closer to midnight, Peter returned to see how I am going. Around this time I really want to give up. Jenny suggests an internal examination to see what is happening. Of course, throughout the day, Jennie regularly checks babies heart rate, and she is always completely happy in there. I have an internal and I am around 6 – 7cms dilated. My waters are still intact so we decide to break them. As Peter does it I feel this great release.

I will never forget as I had that internal, Jenny sat beside me, holding my hand so tenderly, reminding me to breathe. So different from my first experience in a hospital. Peter was so gentle and respectful. When my waters were broken, I was worried if there was meconium. My son had meconium in his waters and we had many issues with that, but my waters this time were all clear.

Mike and I were left alone for a while to talk.

I wanted to go to the hospital.

My beautiful husband kept saying to me “are you sure – I know you, if you give in, you will be disappointed afterwards“.

At that point, I didn’t care, I wanted out and the only way I thought that would happen was to get drugs. As we were talking I had an almighty contraction. It was so strong, I stood up and howled. It was a double contraction and so powerful. We told the team, we want to go to the hospital. I didn’t even have a bag packed, so my team is running around, trying to find things to put into it to take to the hospital.

As I am waiting in the hallway, Peter says to me jokingly, "We will just drive behind you, sometimes these babies make their entrance in the car" I laugh and say, “I wish!“ I tell everyone I have to go to the toilet before we go and my husband comes with me. I try to sit on the toilet and I am all agitated and just keep saying “I don’t know how to poo...” Mike calls Jennie and she comes running down the hallway, takes one look at me and puts her hand between my legs and says “that’s you babies head!”

I say “I can’t move, I’m having the baby on the toilet.“

“No your not,“ she says and literally drags me out of the toilet and into the lounge where the birth pool is.

I quickly try and rip my clothes off before the next contraction hits, so I can get in the water.

Jennie yells to Peter, “Quick Pete, get the equipment“ which has since been packed up and put back in the car when we decided to go to the hospital. I remember her laughing that she’s never seen Peter move so quickly.

The energy in the room started to tingle. There were excited claps from my friends and a surge of adrenalin through the room. My body started to push and I went with it. The feeling was very intense, and I couldn’t quite believe she was coming.

5 minutes ago I was going to the hospital.

With the next push, Peter held his hand on my perineum and Jennie gently felt her head come out. Mike was behind me, holding me in the water.

Out came her head and I touched it and said to Jenny “what do I do?” She said, “Are you having a contraction?“ “I don’t know..." I said. There was laughter and she told me to just pant and wait. The cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times and I wasn’t even aware till later that that was the case. Jennie so gently unwound it, without any fuss.

“Do you want to catch your baby?“ Jennie asked me.

I was leaning back on Mike so I couldn’t hold myself to catch her and Mike wanted to, but I couldn’t let him move. I told Mike to stay behind me – I needed his strength and holding.

On the next contraction Indigo Elm slipped into Jennie’s hands and then she placed my daughter into my arms. 1.07am.

I looked around in shock and asked Jenny if she was ok.

She was covered in vernix and looked like a little white elf. Jenny assured me she was just fine as she became pink and vocal and I sat there in an exhausted, shocked, blissful state.

I did it – I gave birth at home, in the water, just like I wanted to.

Indi had her first feed in the water and we delivered her placenta in the water about 2o minutes later. We floated her placenta in a bowl next to her and placed flowers on it. Mike cut the cord and eventually I needed to get out of the water.

I was incredibly exhausted and a little dehydrated, so cups of tea and toast were very welcomed. We climbed into our bed and Jenny checked over little Indi. She asked Peter "What weight do you think Pete?” In his wise voice, he said, “oh I think about 6pounds 14 ounces.“ Jennie weighs Indi and looks at Pete and says, “You're unbelievable! 6’ 14.”

Even though it was the middle of the night we were all completely buzzed. My mother in law arrived about an hour later. She was very fearful about a homebirth, so when she saw her granddaughter she burst into tears. She stayed for a quick cuddle and then about 4 hours later returned with our son Ky. Meeting his little sister was a blessed moment.

Indi’s birth completely changed my life. It made me realise my strength, power, determination and courage. Her birth so profoundly healed me and I will always be grateful to my beautiful daughter.

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