Births - Welcome, Baby Harriette
Congratulations to Fleur and Curly

Welcome, Baby Harriette


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Congratulations to Fleur and Curly

 I'm really proud to share the story of Harriette's birth as it was an amazing experience and everything I hoped for. Curly wishes he filmed some of the labour to prove to other women that a calm labour can be done. Maybe next time, but hopefully my story will do just that.

So I hoped to birth our daughter naturally, with minimal intervention. It wasn't until I attended the Calmbirth Workshop that I understood it was possible to give birth calmly. My imagination was depicted by scenes from Hollywood movies – women lying on hospital beds, screaming in excruciating pain. I was inspired by a video shown to us in the workshop of a lady simply breathing through her contractions - no screaming, no cursing her partner and squeezing the circulation out of his hand.

Nothing but breathing.

After seeing this video, I knew it was possible to achieve a similar experience.

Along with the knowledge that we were equipped with during the Calmbirth Workshop, Curly and I believe that my regular yoga practice played a big part in enabling my labour (and recovery – which was minimal!) to unfold the way it did.

During one hospital appointment, we found out that our baby was in a breech position. This started talk of a possible cesarian which I really didn't want. I felt myself resist this idea as I was so much looking forward to the experience of a calm and drug-free labour – of course, if all going to plan! The initial resistance that I felt disappeared and I surrendered to the idea that my baby could be born by a c-section. One of my affirmations of the entire birthing process was 'to go with the flow', so this is what I did. Luckily, Harriette turned somewhere during week 36, just before an ECV was due to be performed. Curly and I were so relieved to hear this good news! It's hard to tell, but I have a feeling that all of the acupuncture sessions and use of the moxibustion at home really helped.

We predicted Harriette to arrive late. I'm not sure if this is any indicator, but our prediction came from my family history of late births (Curly also thought it was because I'm late to everything!). My mum and my two sisters were all 8+ days over with their babies. Because of this, I thought I would be too! So, in the lead up to Harriette's birth, I was doing everything possible to ensure that she entered this world on time. The purpose of my acupuncture sessions changed from trying to turn the baby to preparing my body for birth. Along with acupuncture, I was swimming, spending time on the fit ball, drinking raspberry leaf tea and taking evening primrose tea capsules.

I'm uncertain to what brought on my labour, but four days after my due date, Wednesday 28th March 2018, Harriette arrived into this world. I woke up to feeling very similar to that of light menstrual cramping. I had a fair idea this was the beginning of my labour but I went back to sleep, planning to only wake Curly once I was certain. Sure enough, I woke again with the same cramp-like feeling. I took myself to the bathroom and noticed a pinkish tinge that I thought could be my waters breaking. My mucous plug was soon to follow.

“Curly”, I whispered as I gently tapped his shoulder. “I think I'm in pre-labour”.

We remembered they told us in the Calmbirth Workshop that when in pre-labour you should carry on with your daily activities as normal. So, this is what I did. Curly went to work and passed on the exciting news to his colleagues, while I called my midwife Penny, who suggested I call into the emergency department of the Royal Women's Hospital, the hospital that I was to give birth at, and tell them that I thought my waters had broken.

Once at the hospital, Harriette's heartbeat was monitored, along with my blood pressure and I was told, by the help of a quick test, my waters had in fact not broken.

“So, am I in labour?” I asked the midwife, feeling confused about the results.

To my surprise, she said I wasn't and sent me on my way home.

I had planned to do a fruit and veg shop at Queen Vic Market afterwards and was unsure as to whether I should go or not. I felt like I was at the start of my labour but the midwife had left me feeling very confused. I decided to listen to my intuition and I remembered what they had said in the Calmbirth Workshop about carrying on your daily activities as per usual. So, I decided to take on the market with my mild and irregular stomach cramps.

Over a purchase of pineapple, a lady vendor told me she thought I was having a boy because of the way it was sitting. I walked away and then read a text from a friend saying she had a dream last night that I had a boy. All the signs were pointing to me having a boy! Upon falling pregnant, Curly and I both confidently agreed that we didn't want to find out the gender of our baby. And for the majority of our pregnancy, my feelings were that we were having a girl.However, secretly, I knew we were having a boy as I accidentally caught a glimpse of male genitals on an ultra sound I had a few weeks prior to Harriette's birth. Boy, did I get that wrong!! Pardon the pun!

I was exhausted when I got home from the Vic Market! Over lunch, I noticed my contractions were progressing with intensity. During the Calmbirth Workshop, we were also recommended to conserve energy for the labour and rest whenever possible. I had a long sleep and woke up in the late afternoon. Curly got home soon after and we ate dinner in the bathroom – me in the bath and Curly using the toilet as a seat (lid down of course!). I wasn't hungry at all but I knew I should eat, to fuel my body for the approaching labour. The only thing I could stomach was Vegemite on toast!I spent most of the time in the bath during my labour. Both at home and at the hospital. It helped relieve the intensity of contractions so much!

As the night went on, my contractions got more intense. They were always irregular. It was so hard to rest but my body knew exactly what to do. It was amazing - in between each contraction I would instantly fall asleep. Contract, sleep, contract, sleep, contract. I would contract on all fours and then lay on the floor to sleep. This went on for hours. It felt like there was no respite! It wasn't until I started to become nauseous, before vomiting, that we decided to call our midwife Penny. Along with the chills, we didn't know this was a part of labour! Penny reassured us that this was normal and to try to get some sleep. It was so difficult to sleep when every couple of minutes you have to get on all fours to contract with such intensity! Curly slept well (for about 4 hours!) but I definitely can't say I did. After two more phone calls to Penny, we decided to make our way to the hospital. She wanted us to wait for my contractions to become regular but I couldn't wait any longer! It was getting INTENSE!!

I use the word 'intense' a lot, don't I?!!

It was around 5-5.30am when we arrived at the Royal Women's Hospital. I got offered a wheel chair but didn't like the thought of sitting down so instead, I contracted all the way from the ground floor to level three, slowly walking, taking short steps, just like a penguin. At one stage I was down on the ground during a contraction because there was nothing to lean on. I'm so glad we didn't wait any longer at home for my contractions to become regular because they never did! And, I was 8cm dilated when I arrived at the hospital!!

Once in the birthing suite, I spent some of the time on a padded mat and then the rest of the morning in the bath. It was an amazing experience. I breathed through all my contractions and just like at home, how I instantly slept, this time I would instantly enter a meditative state – I was able to completely be in my body and use my breath to remain calm and grounded. Curly was an amazing support. He encouraged me to extend the count of my breath during my contractions and reminded me to relax different parts of my body like my shoulders and jaw.

During one intense contraction, there was a dramatic increase in the pressure I had been feeling throughout all my contractions. As quickly as I could, I jumped out of the bath and sat on the toilet (for about the 20th time in the last 12 hours) and kerplunk-splash-splatter!!!

Feeling confused and emotional, I asked: “Did I just do a massive sh**?”

Penny who was on the computer on the other side of the room looked at me and said, “Your waters just broke!'”

I hadn't even realised that hadn't happened yet!

Either Harriette was showing off her impressive digestive system or she was in distress, as she passed meconium in my womb (baby's first poop). Unfortunately, due to this, a water birth was now out of the question because both myself and baby had to be monitored on the hospital bed. It was actually really difficult to get on the bed during such intense contractions but once lying down, I felt a sense of ease and my contractions slowed down. A second vaginal examination was done and I was told I was fully dilated – there was no cervix. Yessss! Harriette's heart rate dropped and I was told to turn over and swap the side I was lying on.

Fortunately, this brought her heart rate back up. The contractions were at their most intense at this point of my labour. I'm still unsure as to why, but I was told not to push during my contractions. I was able to breath through one contraction but I found it extremely difficult not to push during the others. My body completely took over and pushing was utterly involuntary. Alarmingly, every time I pushed, Harriette's heart rate would keep dropping. In no time at all, a team of doctors were at my feet helping with the situation. Soon enough, I was told to push. Curly said he got quite emotional seeing my face strain with apparent agony. I looked like a raging bull on steroids.

When Harriette'shead began to crown, Penny guided my hand down to touch her head. I was surprised by how soft and spongy it felt. The words “you're going to meet your baby on your next push” gave me the final strength to push for one last time. Can you believe this stage - the transition stage of labour - took only ten minutes! Afterwards, we were informed that this stage typically takes around two hours.

8.55am. I'll never forget this moment. The moment when you first meet your baby. YOUR baby. She was beautiful. So beautiful.

“And what do we have?” said one of the midwives.

“Oh my God, it's a GIRL!?!!” I said with the uttermost surprise.

Remember earlier, how I mentioned we were having a boy? I was SO sure that I gave away a pink jumpsuit that had been given to us. So as you can imagine, I was in absolute shock.

“Harriette?” Curly said, jokingly transforming the name 'Harry' we had for our baby boy. I don't know why but it just suited her. The hospital staff that were in the room thought so too.

So that's it. That's the story of our baby girl's arrival. We're so grateful to have been able to attend the Calmbirth Workshop back in January - it really did equip us with the knowledge that helped us have such a smooth start to Harriette's life. Us women are made to do this. And when you surrender to the process, it can be an extraordinary and empowering experience. We can't wait for number 2!

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