I reached King Edward Memorial Hospital a little after 6:30pm, As I walked past the Family Birth Centre to the main hospital my heart gave a little pang. Rachel’s original hope was to go into spontaneous labour and have a water birth but things had changed and she was now being induced.
I walked out of the lift and buzzed to get through to the birth suits. They called for Rachel’s Midwife, Dani, who met me with the hugest smile and the news that she was progressing well. I could hear Rachel’s powerful moans as I approached her room. I had my camera out and ready.
Rachel was standing in the pitch black of the shower, completely in her zone.
Mal, her partner, showering her labouring body with water as she clutched the gas and roared her power through another surge.
This image right here speaks to my soul.
It was such a divine moment.
Here was a woman, standing in her power. On the verge of motherhood. Transforming right before our eyes. Being supported, loved and cared for by her people.
This is Rachel’s journey…
On Friday the 26th of April I went to KEMH for a routine 41 week ultrasound appointment. It indicated the baby was big, there was lots of fluid and her head was not engaged into the pelvis. I was admitted overnight on the ward. The doctor gave recommendations to have an elected C-section birth but instead, with the advocacy of my midwife I chose to attempt a vaginal birth and decided to try an induction of labour.
The next day, Saturday, at 12.30pm the Cervadil (hormone on a tape) was inserted.
By 3.20pm Sunday, after more than 24 hours my cervix was 4cm dilated and I was ready.
By 4pm it was time to go, I had my waters manually broken and the ultrasound was accurate: SO much fluid came out of me.
With every small surge more fluid emerged. It was a juggling act trying to find something absorbent enough. We tried a maternity pad. It didn’t stand a chance. By the time the pintosin drip had started surges were 4 every 10 minutes and I’d completely undressed myself and found a bath towel to hold between my legs...nobody prepared me for that one. Anyways. It all came on very suddenly.
We tried using the TENS machine but my surges were already too powerful and gas was introduced. I had started to enter what Amber liked to call “labour land”. From this moment on I have a nostalgic recollection of each minute-long surge and the whistling of the mouth piece as I deeply inhaled the gas.
I began to focus and I could feel all external noise fading. I could only focus on riding the wave and guiding my baby down.
By 5pm my midwife, Dani, arrived at the hospital to take over my care. With each surge the waters were still trickling out, although they now had meconium in them.
The intensity of labour had increased dramatically over the next hour and I was considering my pain relief options (MORPHINE!!!), when Dani and my partner, Malcolm encouraged me into the shower.
For the next two and a half hours I leant on Mal in the shower. Physically and emotionally.
Although I wasn’t entirely polite, he remained by my side the whole time. He showered my aching back, helped me with positions and listened to me when it began to be too much. All whilst Amber was discretely clicking away in the corner. These moments right here were the moments I wanted frozen in time.
When I reflect on these images now and how much we have accomplished together since, I’m reminded that in hard times we have a bond that this moment had cemented in place forever and we can guide one another through any obstacle that arises.
7.50pm… I was assisted out of the shower for a vaginal assessment (nobody tells you how uncomfortable these are). I told Dani that I was exhausted and demanded an epidural. I Just needed a break.
Dani asked me how far along I would have to be to carry on. I said, all the way. But the cervix disappeared with the exam and I was fully dilated!
I decided to have my baby instead of an epidural.
At 8pm I began to Push. It felt so good to be able to actually do something about the feeling inside of me.
Malcolm again was right by my side. Spritzing my face with cool water and making sure I remained hydrated during breaks. He truly was an amazing birth partner. Amber was again capturing every moment. Capturing strength and determination of us both whilst we moved through utter exhaustion.
It took 20 minutes of pushing, before the first signs of my baby’s head. 55 minutes of giving everything I’ve physically and mentally got before my baby’s head was born.
The familiar feeling of her whole body turn inside of me accompanied by the wriggle of her neck and head from outside of me is something I will never forget.
She was alive and she was minutes away from being in my arms.
The rest was easy. Her body followed a couple minutes afterward and at 8.57pm Billie was born into Malcolm’s arms.
I wasn’t aware of this at the time but Billie was not crying. She had to be transferred immediately to the paediatrician’s trolley for airway suction and some oxygen.
Malcolm finds it rather difficult to look back on the delivery photos because of how afraid he felt in that moment. Her body was apparently very floppy in his arms.
Once Billie began crying and had been cleaned up she was straight back into Dads arms for skin to skin whilst I birthed the placenta. It felt as though I was birthing my last bit of energy left.
I was given local anaesthetic and gas whilst the doctor commenced stitching me. I remember watching Malcolm hold our baby and feeling an overwhelming sense of pride. She was licking his arm and my heart became full.
Billie is 7 months old now and I marvel over these images. How small she was...how courageous I was...our first ever night as a family.
They mean so much to me.
Birth was an experience I thought would be engrained into my memory forever but apparently that’s not the case.
Life with a new born is very distracting and things become a blur.
Whenever I re visit my photographs my mind and my feelings return back to that night and I feel the magic all over again.
If you're facing an induction I highly recommend you read this beautiful piece by Amy O'Brien from The Written Elixir - Preparing for an Induction: how to feel empowered, centred and strong
And if you're interested in having your birth journey documented, you can get in touch with me here or if you're still unsure and have some questions, just do the same and ask away – can’t wait to hear from you!