THE BIRTH OF AVALON JOY
Written by Dayna Keil
I woke up at 8am in my 3 year olds bed while he and my partner Corey were snoring away in my bed. Being 39 weeks 5 days pregnant and having to share a bed with those two just wasn’t comfortable. I waddled to the bathroom and was excited to find part of my bloody show, although because I had been going through a few weeks of false starts and wasn’t yet 40 weeks, I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
It was a Monday and the start of Corey’s 2 weeks of paternity leave, so the pressure was on for baby to arrive close to its due date! I dug into a whole fresh pineapple I had bought from the markets the day before, partly because I know there’s a link between starting labour and consuming fresh pineapple and partly because it’s delicious!
The 3 of us spent the day prepping for baby’s arrival; stripping and washing the car seat, buying snacks and maternity pads for hospital, finalizing packing hospital bags. While in Coles I could feel a familiar tightening and releasing of my uterus sporadically. I told my partner, ‘Today could be the day’ (although I didn’t want to jinx it yet again as this was a phrase he’d heard very often in the last week!). I messaged both of my lovely sisters and birth photographer letting them know (once again) that things could be progressing. They all messaged back with excitement, support and love.
Once we arrived home again it was around midday and my sister Bianca text me saying I should start timing the contractions to get an idea of where things were at… I did. They were roughly 10 minutes apart but not exact. I kept eating pineapple. Talking with my mum about labour and birth helped to pass the time. She started timing for me. They were getting closer! By the time mum had to leave for University at 2.45pm they were 7 min apart but still very bearable so I decided to go for a walk with the boys around the lakes to get things moving at 3:30pm.
Once my feet started walking on that pavement the contractions developed a bit of a sting to them, so much so that I had to stop walking during one contraction and breathe through it calmly and slowly. We arrived home and I proudly announced to my partner, ‘Yes they’re getting even closer together and longer in duration. It’s really happening now!’ But I still wanted him to take our son to his swimming lesson. I was still a bit wary of finding I was experiencing false labour again so I decided to do things as usual and see how it all progressed, my mind was racing.
Corey thought I was crazy but obliged and took Max to swimming lessons at 4:30pm. As soon as they walked out the door I got in a warm relaxing shower, enjoying the peacefulness until, ouch! A strong contraction crept up on me… ‘Uh oh’ I thought… ‘His swimming lesson is only 30mins, I’ll just wait for them to come back’… As I dried myself and did my hair another powerful contraction overcame me. I needed to stop and breathe deeply.
The next 45 mins was stressful. I tried to contact my stepdad to come home and watch Max because as soon as he walked through that door I planned to leave for the Birth Centre! His phone was engaged! I tried again. Engaged. When Max and Corey finally walked through the front door I was on all fours breathing through a mighty contraction crying to my Mum. I said to Corey, ‘this is it, it really hurts now’. Mum called back, she said my stepdad was on his way and so was my sister Bianca (who lived locally) whoever reached us first would watch Max while we took off for the Birth Centre.
My stepdad came through the door. Corey loaded up the car to depart. I was trying to pull myself together, there was no more waiting now. This was it. I kissed my only child goodbye for the last time and we drove down the street, Birth Centre bound… Until we passed my sister in her car in a nearby street! We called out to her and she pulled over and jumped into our car. To the Birth Centre we sped!
We joked and ate BBQ chips in-between contractions, I breathed and moaned during them, Bianca coached me on my breathing and offered encouraging words and Corey just drove as quick (legally) as he could! At peak hour on a weekday I was glad we were going against traffic. We finally arrived and Corey pulled into the loading zone. We gathered bags and everything we needed. I waited in the car for another contraction to finish and then we headed on up.
While standing in the lift I had another contraction, a man slowly walked in and saw what was happening. The 4 of us travelled up through the floors all the while I was moaning. When we exited the man sheepishly wished us good luck. The 3 of us walked up to the front desk to let them know we’d arrived, the receptionist said to go on in as they were expecting us, it was now 6pm.
When I entered my room, room 4 (the same room my sister gave birth to her baby in only 7 months prior!) I felt immediately at ease, safe. The room was dimly lit, smelt of familiar clary sage and was all set up just for me. The Midwife, who I didn’t know, checked my tummy during contractions and took my BP while I lay on the bed, a very undesirable position. Once the quick check was over she said there would be a change in Midwives (which was completely fine by me as I knew and felt comfortable with my own lovely team) and told me I was free to do as my body led me to do.
My sister (a 3 time Birth Centre mother herself) suggested I hop into a warm shower to relax and help the contractions re-establish. I enthusiastically agreed. My previous birth wasn’t in the Birth Centre and I was confined to a bed the entire time. I wanted to try movement and natural pain relief as much as possible this time. I stripped off and had Bianca hosing my lower back and Corey hosing my tummy. The warm steady streams of water were bliss. Each contraction I would hold onto the metal bar for support and lean forward and lightly shift my weight between my legs, left, right, left, right, as I breathed very slowly and deeply. I would have one mighty contraction then the next would be not as strong then the following would be powerful again and so on. In between these contractions I would chat, joke and laugh with everyone and take alternate sips from water to cordial.
Bianca asked me if I’d like her to ring my photographer Maddie to let her know to come in, ‘Oh yes please!’ (I had completely forgotten and was so happy someone remembered!). While still in the shower my bath was run and my midwife Jill arrived for her shift. I said goodbye to the Midwife who had checked me in and shouted hello to Jill from the bathroom. After 30 minutes of the glorious shower Jill said my bath was ready and asked if I would like to hop in? Yes! I was helped over to the huge bath and I sunk in, immersing myself in the warm water.
My helpful birth partners set me up with ice chips to crunch on and cups of water and cordial with straws to sip on and put on my premade birthing CDs (consisting of Brooke Fraser mainly). While being very vocal during a rather strong contraction in the tub I felt a sudden POP, once the contraction ceased I was asked what happened, I said I felt something pop under pressure. ‘Your waters must’ve broken’, said Jill. I was relieved that they had spontaneously ruptured as I had had mine artificially ruptured with my first birth (not all that comfortable). It was 7:10pm at this stage and I knew I was nearing the end of my labour. During my next contraction my body was telling me it was ready to push my baby, and instead of vocalizing my pain as I did for hours before I became silent and concentrated.
I closed my eyes as I knelt forward in the bath and rested on the side and just pushed, slowly and steadily. Once the contraction dissipated I would put my head up for a little ice chip or a sip of water then my head would go back down to prepare for the next push. My sister let me know Maddie had arrived, I was so happy she made it, but I felt a little bad I didn’t turn around and greet her (although I think I had a good reason why I didn’t). I continued to bear down and push. Unlike my first labour I felt my entire body work to birth my child into this world. I could hear Bianca’s fantastic gentle words ‘you can do it Dayna… You’re doing a great job… I can see the head…’ what a comfort!
Then I could feel my baby’s head crown, but once each contraction was over the head would creep back a bit, which was fine as it was helping my perineum to stretch gently, without tearing. I could feel secure hands on my back, my support in this journey. I took a deep breath, preparing for a huge push to get my baby’s head out.
And then finally, it was out! What a relief. And then came a brief moment of relaxation before preparing to birth the body. My little one was so close to being in my arms! I could hear Jill telling me, ‘Come on Dayna, this needs to be a big push, give me the biggest push of your life, you can do it’, then the contraction came and I pushed! At 7.51pm Jill guided my baby out and placed them on my back, I sighed a big sigh of relief and slumped on the edge of the bath before taking another breath and turning around to hold my baby.
A baby girl! I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. She was tiny, perfect and gorgeous. Avalon Joy. I looked at Corey grinning from ear to ear, ‘Look at her! Isn’t she gorgeous!?’ I held her close and offered her my breast as she stared at me with her wide eyes. She latched on immediately and began to suckle contentedly.
Then it was time for third stage, to birth the placenta. I stood up and was helped down to the birth stool as I still cradled my baby. Bianca and Corey contacted family and friends to tell them the good news. Maddie, a quiet observer, continued to take pictures as we all chatted and laughed together. Once the placenta was birthed I lay on the bed and continued to feed my hungry little girl, when she was finished I allowed Daddy to have a hold for a while, and then Aunty B.
‘Let’s weigh her’ I said eager to find out her size. She was happy, wide awake and very chatty, making lots of noise. She was put on the scales and what a surprise! Our little princess weighed in at 9lb 13oz (4.45kg), out weighing her big brother by a couple of grams.
After the excitement of her birth we started to settle in and I wanted to have a shower. Bianca and Maddie left and Jill left Corey and I to spend some time with our new addition. I called my Mum and asked if she and my stepdad could bring Max in to see his new little sister, who he was delighted to meet.
Then finally we snuggled into bed after a fantastic day. I was so humbled to have such a gentle and calm birth, and so pleased that my daughter had been brought into the world so peacefully. Every woman deserves the chance to give birth in such an empowering manner and I’m so thankful to be given the opportunity to do so through the Birth Centre with my beautiful partner, fantastic doula sister and wonderful photographer all by my side.