I can’t believe that it is nearly a year since our bea-utiful daughter, Beatrix Frances Timms, was born on the 22nd March 2009.
Becoming a mum is the most amazing thing that I have ever done; in an already deeply rich life. Nothing could have ever prepared me for the joy and abundance of sharing our lives with her; or for seeing the world and the magnificence of life through her eyes. I feel that the whole experience has been enhanced by the support I have received from the RBWH Birth Centre.
When I first found out that I was pregnant I knew right away that I wanted to try to give birth naturally. But – as the primary goal in my birth plan was to ensure the safety of our baby and myself – I also wanted to have the support of medical services, in case of any complications.
We initially missed out on the Birth Centre ballot and were receiving wonderful care through the Pegasus Team. However, I was delighted to get a call when I was about 24 weeks pregnant, to invite us to join the new Birth Centre Team. From the moment my partner Steve and I went to our first appointment with the team at Nundah – and at each subsequent visit to see Jayne, Debs, Carolyn and Martha – I felt confident that we had made the right choice. It was empowering to be attended to by a group of strong women who believed in the power of my body to labour naturally, as women have throughout time.
I loved every moment of being pregnant and wondered throughout at the incredibleness of nature that knew how to grow a baby. Steve and I had decided to have no interventions to bring the labour on because we trusted that the baby would know when the right time to be born was. I went into labour at 8pm, when Steve was just about to leave to play a gig on the Sunshine Coast, at exactly 41 weeks pregnant. I had made us a really hot curry for dinner and just Facebooked my sister in England to say the baby definitely wasn’t coming today! I thought that all first babies took at least 24 hours to be born.
So I was shocked to soon be vomiting intensely and virtually unable to stand or talk. Within half an hour my contractions were coming powerfully and regularly every two or three minutes, and I felt absolutely engrossed in my labour. I knelt on all fours as I found I needed to be connected to the ground. I chanted through each contraction, a deep and primal noise, which helped me to allow my exhalations to slow. Steve held me tightly as each contraction peaked and spoke affirmations to me. It was incredible to feel my body opening and our baby moving towards us.
At midnight we called Jayne at the Birth Centre and she said it was time to go to the hospital. I was so happily labouring that I wanted to stay at home. Even when Steve coaxed me towards the car I spent some dear time kneeling in the garden suggesting “maybe I can have the baby here!”, to which he said “we won’t be having the baby here!”. The next day when we came home from the hospital the garden was abloom with beautiful red bromeliads that hadn’t even appeared to be in bud the day before.
Steve drove quickly to the hospital through lots of red traffic lights. On arrival, in the midst of a contraction and kneeling on the pavement, at the main entrance; I was able to see the humour that here I was at my old place of work wearing only a T-shirt and some knickers!
When we got to the Birth Centre it felt totally peaceful. Our midwife Jayne had a tremendously calm presence and I trusted her totally. She offered me an examination and told me I was 8cm dilated. I felt able to stay in my ‘zone’ and totally in the moment.
However, shortly after we arrived, when my membranes ruptured there was meconium in them. Jayne explained that this meant that the baby may be in distress so we would have to go next door to the Birth Suite. She explained that nothing else would change, that she would still be my midwife. The transfer was immediate and seamless. The room was set out exactly as the Birth Centre had been. I felt safe with Jayne there who I knew would advocate for me. I knew if I was told that any interventions were required, that they would be absolutely necessary.
Throughout the birth Jayne explained every step of the process, so I felt totally in control and there was never a moment anything unexpected happened. I had to wear a continuous fetal heart monitor round my waist. A beautiful student midwife who came to help us (and later told us that the 22nd of March is also her birthday) knelt on the floor next to me, so I could stay on all fours where I felt I needed to be.
There was increased pressure to birth the baby as soon as possible, in case of any complications and to avoid any interventions. I felt ready to push, but found pushing by far the hardest part of my labour. After trying and trying I remember getting up to leave and I thanked Jayne who I said had done her best, but told her I would go home now and just stay being pregnant! I have since heard that this is quite a normal experience in transition and is akin to a climber, just before they reach the top of the mountain.
My contractions seemed to ease for a few minutes and Jayne suggested a change of position – to lie on my back to help the baby. I was doubtful because this was a position that I thought would the worst to give birth in. But I was willing to try anything to avoid intervention and surprisingly it worked well. I pushed and pushed and pushed and then when I pushed again with all of my might, I felt our baby crown and I looked down and saw their head.
At 3.53am, with my next push our darling baby was born.
As our baby was passed to me, and I wrapped my arms safely around them and held them close, it was the most precious moment of my life. My face hurt from smiling at her and all I could say was “it’s our baby” and “hello baby” again and again. The midwives laughed at us and asked “do you want to find out whether the baby is a girl or boy?”. Steve checked and told me, “you were right”, because I’d had a dream a week earlier that we had a daughter…Our daughter: Beatrix (eternal voyager) Frances (after my mum’s mum, Beatrix’ great grandma) had arrived!
Jayne had explained that if the baby had swallowed any meconium then they might need some interventions at birth. A doctor and the resuscitation trolley were already present in the room with us, but very discretely so. Jayne had explained to the doctor throughout, that I wanted a natural third stage, if at all possible. But Beatrix needed some suctioning and so she needed to be passed to the doctor for about half a minute; but at all times remained within vision and arms reach of me. I trusted – because Jayne was advocating for us – that it was necessary for Bea’s safety for this to happen. The lights were kept low and as soon as her airway was clear they passed her straight back to my arms.
We were left then to have some quiet time to get to know each other as a family. No words can describe this remarkable experience, as we all three gazed at each other for the first time. We continue to try to spend some such time each and every day; and I remain incredulous at the wonder of Beatrix in our lives.
We were able to return to the Birth Centre to stay together as a family and were given support to establish breastfeeding and to learn to care for Beatrix. I had been able to have a totally drug-free labour and even sustained no tear, but it was still valuable to be able to stay in hospital for the next 24 hours, to have the wide variety of expertise and nurturing of the midwives.
The Birth Centre has been such a blessing for our family. During pregnancy, I was able to use all the wonderful evidence based
literature and ante-natal classes that they provided to educate myself. Just before I had Beatrix I attended a Friend’s of the Birth Centre “Mpower’ morning tea and I was able to meet strong women who shared their positive birth stories with me and inspired me. Since becoming a mum I have continued to attend Mpower and had the opportunity to meet other families there too who also aspire to Natural Parenting. I greatly enjoy the peer support and cakes that these sessions offer! I would definitely recommend the Birth Centre to anyone who would like to try to have a natural birth. I was able to achieve this with the support of Jayne and the Team there. I will forever be grateful to have been given the chance to offer our cherished little girl such a gentle start in life.