Author Archives: Jo Durdin

Nina’s birth story

On the 29th of March 2015 when I was 36 weeks pregnant some of my favourite women came to our house for a special party called a Blessing Way. The party was to celebrate your imminent arrival and help me feel supported for your birth. Your Dad and big brothers were away that week end for a bushwalk. My lovely friend who I studied midwifery with came early and made the house pretty and another friend gave me a nice foot massage. When everyone arrived we sat in a circle and my wonderful friends gave me presents, flowers and little messages or pictures. I read them out loud and cried because they were so beautiful. We tied red wool around our wrists and I wore mine until after you were born to remind me that my friends were thinking of me and sending me luck. My friends also gave me some special beads which we made into a necklace for me to wear during the labour. We had a yummy lunch and chatted lots. After lunch we painted my belly with henna. There were lots of pretty patterns – flowers, little feet, hearts, a hand print, stars, spirals and more. The henna wore off slowly over the next few weeks and was gone by the time you were born. After the party I put the necklace and messages on the dresser and kept them there until I went into labour.

Towards the end of the pregnancy I was impatient to meet you. I had been getting the house and all your things ready for weeks and felt very prepared to meet you at home with your Dad, big brothers, Nanna and midwives. I loved going under the house and finding all the tiny baby clothes and washing them for you. I even managed to finish making your blanket which I had started about 3 years before. I thought you might come early because my belly was very low but you didn’t. Then I thought maybe you would never come out! I said to your Dad one evening that I hoped I would wake up one night soon in labour.

Birth story (1 of 5)

That night I woke at about 2am. It was Monday the 27th April and I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. I felt restless and like I should go to the toilet. I also felt something a bit wet between my legs. I felt you moving inside saying hello and reassuring me that you were ok. I got up slowly and went to the toilet and did a poo. There was something wet running down my legs and I realised that your amniotic sack had broken and your water was leaking out. I was super excited! The water was clear which was good because it meant that you hadn’t done a poo inside so we could stay at home and not be worried about you. I had a wash and put on a pad and some undies so that I didn’t drip everywhere. Our old dog thought it was strange that I was in the laundry getting things out of the cupboard in the middle of the night! Then I went into our bedroom and told your Dad that my waters had broken. He sounded rather surprised and sleepy! He went and turned on the urn to make hot water for the birth pool. He had only just got around to making a special stand for it on Sunday afternoon and had filled it with cold water so it was all ready to go. I didn’t know how long it would be till labour started – I hadn’t had any contractions yet. I decided to go back to bed.

After a few minutes in bed I started to get some mild contractions with pains in my lower back. We waited a while. They kept coming every 5-10 minutes and I realised that they felt very different to the practice contractions I had been having for the past few weeks. Mainly because my back was hurting while my belly got tight and hard. Also I could feel things changing very low in my pelvis. After a little while in bed we decided to call your Nanna at 2:36 am. I told her not to rush too much but that it would be a good idea for her to leave soon.

When the contractions got closer together I tried kneeling on the bed and did some of the pregnancy yoga I had been practicing to encourage you into a good position. It didn’t help much so we decided to get up and began preparing the lounge room. Your Dad put the heater on full blast to make the room warm for you and then he got the big purple birth pool and pumped it up and put it on a plastic sheet in the middle of the lounge. He started filling it from the hose attached to the kitchen tap. I folded some washing and tidied away your brother’s toys. Some of the stuff I just pushed under the couch to get it out the way! The contractions were getting stronger and closer together especially when I walked around. I realised I was definitely in labour but I still didn’t know how quick it would be. I had to go back to the toilet to do another poo and I noticed the liquor on my pad was pink which meant my cervix was starting to open.

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I put my lovely necklace on and your Dad heated up the wheat packs that my friend had made for me. Then I started leaning onto the back of the couch during contractions with my feet apart swaying my hips. I also started moaning ‘oooooo’ and ‘ahhhhhhh’ in a low voice like we had practiced in yoga. It really helped me to focus and to breathe and relax all my pelvic floor muscles. After a while I started to make the sounds naturally without any effort. I put the big wheat pack on my back and the warmth helped with the pain which was still not too intense. I lit the candles and began unrolling and reading the messages on the dresser. I only just managed to read everything before the labour got so intense that I couldn’t read or even talk much anymore. Your Dad was so wonderful at looking after me. He kept the wheat packs warm and came and stood near me when I was having the contractions. He said ‘it sounds like you’re doing really well’ and ‘things are moving quickly’. He also kept checking the water in the pool and putting pots on the stove. A little after 4 o’clock he asked if we should call our midwife. I said I didn’t want to disturb her if the labour was going to take a while. But then I had a couple of really strong contractions and asked him to call her. He called at 4:17 and spoke to her for a little bit. When I tried to speak to her I was crying as I told her about my water’s breaking and how I was having bad back pain.

Our midwife arrived at 04:45 and I knelt on the floor and she took my blood pressure and listened to your heart beat which was lovely and strong just like all the times we heard it during the pregnancy. Kneeling on the floor made the pain in my back worse so I stood up again and leaned over the couch. By this time I was getting warm and was just wearing my undies and necklace. At 5 I got in the pool. There wasn’t really enough water in there yet but your Dad was still going back and forth with hot water to make it deep and warm as quickly as possible. It was a wonderful feeling to be in the warm water and I posed for a few photos. Then the contractions suddenly got much closer together and were really strong and lasting a long time. I couldn’t use the wheat packs in the pool and the water was still too shallow to cover my back while I was on my hands and knees. My midwife used hot towels on my back which felt really good. I swayed back and forth on my hands and knees in the water and it was good that the weight of my belly was held by the water. I rotated by hips slowly first one way and then the other. I also blew bubbles in the water which was funny until I nearly choked when I breathed some water in during a really intense contraction! I felt inside with my fingers and could feel your head low through the vaginal wall but I couldn’t feel my cervix.

My second midwife arrived at about 5:15 and it changed the feeling in the room and took me a while to adjust, although I was very happy to see her smiling face. She also took over the jobs so that your Dad could kneel next to the pool and hold my hand. Someone reminded me to relax between contractions and I was grumpy and said ‘I’m trying to’. But it helped for a few of the breaks when I took some deep slow breaths and relaxed my shoulders and said ‘come on baby’ and ‘everything’s going to be ok’. I was lying on my right hand side in the water and holding onto one of the handles and also onto your Dad. He used a cold flannel on my face and we kissed a couple of times. He said I was doing really well but I didn’t feel like I was because the sensations inside were so strong. I felt pretty desperate.

My Mum arrived at around 5:30 and again the feeling changed in the room. For a while it felt too crowded and noisy but I was happy that everyone was there. I started to wish the contractions wouldn’t come and started saying ‘no, no, no it’s coming again’ and ‘I can’t do it’. I was moving a lot in the water but nothing really helped with the pain in my back.

I felt you do a big wriggly move inside me and I said ‘she’s moving’. Your heartbeat was still strong and I knew you were fine. I also felt a big whoosh as more fluid came out into the water and I felt you starting to move down. I decided to say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ when each contraction started and kept saying ‘come on baby’, ‘I can do it’ and ‘it’s all going to be ok’. My back was so painful and there seemed to be no breaks at all. I started to feel a very strong pressure in my bum like doing a really big poo and I didn’t like it at all. I asked if it was time to get your brothers up. When they came into the lounge room at a bit before 6 I was so pleased to see them. They looked a bit scared and worried about me. I asked them to come over and give me a kiss and I told them it was ok.

I was still on my right hand side in the water and finding it very hard to cope with the feelings of pressure inside as your head came down. I pushed once or twice and made a couple of very loud guttural noises and it felt good to release the tension and pressure. Someone helped me make room by holding my left foot up. I put my fingers inside and could feel your wrinkly head coming down. I was so excited that you were coming at last. It was very hard to relax and let you come out slowly because it hurt so much. I felt pain in my back and my bottom and then I started to feel your head stretching the front wall of my vagina and it was really strong. I did a couple of small pushes during each contraction but mostly just breathed deeply as you made your way down. In the last couple of contractions before your head was born I felt you coming down and then slipping back up again and I said ‘yes, she’s slipping back, thank goodness’ because that took away the stretching and burning feeling. I kept thinking ‘go slow, do it slow, I can do it’.

I put my hand over my vagina and felt your head slowly coming out under the water. I heard someone say ‘she’s lovely and pink’ as I birthed your head very gently into my hand. I was overjoyed and cried ‘yay, the head’s out’ and told the boys they should come and look. Then I felt a lot of mucous on your head and I rubbed it off. I could feel your silky soft hair under the water and I couldn’t feel your face which meant you were facing my back. I felt inside and could feel a very tight loop of cord around your neck which I couldn’t loosen to slip over your head.

After a little while another contraction started. I waited for it to build then pushed gently. You came out with a woosh under the water at 6:07 and I held you as you came out. I couldn’t believe you were finally here, I was overjoyed. I quickly sat up and saw you under the water. You were perfect. The cord was wound tightly around your neck twice and I couldn’t easily unwind it because it wasn’t long enough. So I gently turned you over in the water twice to untangle you. I picked you up under your arm pits and brought your head out of the water. You were pink and so beautiful. As the cord floated out of the way I saw you properly and I said ‘it’s a girl, it’s a girl’ and laughed and cried. You started breathing right away and opened your clear dark eyes to look at me. You were so beautiful and alert. You cried a little bit to tell us you were ok but then you stopped. I cuddled you against my skin in the water and got your big brothers to come and kiss your face and touch you. They said ‘she’s so cute’ and ‘her hair is so soft’. Your Dad was so happy that he was crying. Everyone was laughing or crying because we were all so happy to see you and relieved that you were out at last.

Birth story (3 of 5)

I made sure I kept your body under the water to keep you warm. There was no blood in the pool at all and I felt pretty good, not too sore. You started breast feeding in the pool after a little while. You were so good at it! I looked up out of the pool through the long window in the lounge room and saw that it was getting light. There were beautiful pink clouds in the sky and I felt so happy. After a while there was a bit of blood in the water and I felt some strong cramps in my belly. I tried pushing in the water but the placenta wouldn’t come out so we decided it was time for me to get out. I held tightly on to you – you were still connected by your cord to me. I managed to step out of the pool then I squatted and pushed your placenta out into a bowl at 06:50.

You had another breastfeed on the couch and after a little while we decided it was time to cut your cord and separate you from your placenta because you didn’t need it any more. Your big big brother was very proud when he cut your cord. Then we wrapped you in a warm towel and your little big brother got to have the first cuddle with you. Your brothers thought you were so cute. They were very happy to have hot chocolate and birthday cake for breakfast and were especially happy that they would get to have the whole day off school!

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Your Dad had a long cuddle with you on his chest, skin-skin, to keep you warm while I had a few stitches and a shower. Then you and I and your two brothers got into our bed and cuddled up while your Dad took some photos and I had a cup of tea. It was so lovely to be at home with my family around all cosy and warm. My lovely daughter was born at last. Welcome to the world little one.

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Anna’s birth story

A year ago right now, 9.30 pm, I lay in bed silently acknowledging the first few, close, intense rushes of energy and movement in my round belly. Little did I know then that the birth I was about to experience would redefine what birth could be for me. Zaki’s entrance into the world was not what I had come to know labour to be. Pain soothed by the cocktail of pain-soothing hormones, a slow increase in intensity and time to journey mentally and emotionally along with my body, the knowledge that all was right and as intense as it was enjoying the moment and welcoming each expansion as it came.

This birth was intense physically and mentally. I did it, my body laboured and birthed but my mind was not on the same journey. I was constantly trying to understand what was wrong, what I needed to fix in order for it to be like the past labours, like my labours should be. In the end there was nothing wrong, I was giving birth. It just happened in a tenth of the time of the first two births and a third of the time of the last birth.

Its hard to welcome each expansion when you have no idea what is happening, where in your labour you are, or why it is hurting more than the other labours even though it *shouldn’t* (bwahahaha). Its hard to welcome each expansion when you are busy trying to think about it and your body is trying to play catch up hormonally and its hurts a lot!

It was like mental see-saw. ‘This is happening. Just get comfy. Go to the centre of the pain. See you can do it, you just need to find the way.’ “Ow, ow, ow, ow. Arrgh, it hurts. Why is it hurting so much? I want it to stop, I want to run away!” Two hours of mental see-saw, yelling, groaning, pacing, shifting position, seeking and seeking again the *right* position to make it feel like it *should*, pacing from the lounge to the bathroom and back again, getting in the pool, its not full enough (and it never would be full enough).

Maryam was there, laying out towels around the pool, getting my water bottle, leaving me alone when I needed it. I hope one day, if she becomes a mother, she will draw from her experience that night.

Bellowing at the warmed, brightly lit floorboards in the bathroom. ‘Why am I labouring with my eyes open?’

Joyful memories of feeling the thick, strong sac, bulging like half a tennis ball through my cervix, just after I had called my midwife. ‘I’m gunna have the baby before she gets here. Will that be ok? Yes it’ll have to be.’

The rush between expansions to plait my pony tail whose loose hairs tickled my shoulders annoyingly. Rush of pain and intensity diminishing, ‘Right. Do it now!’ Undo hairband, slipping hairband onto wrist, ‘Quick plait! 1, 2 ,3 strands. And plait, plait, plait, plait, plait, plait, plait. Oh, here it comes again. Quick!’ Hairband slipped over the plait. ‘Ahrgh, I have to stop. Hurry, hurry!’ Twist, twist… ‘Oh please it hurts, just need to lean forward, get weight off pelvis’… Twist. ‘There, done!’

The mental fatigue to keep up the positive side of the mental see-saw. “Tell me something good!” “You’re doing really well”. And again “Tell me something good!” “You’re going to have your baby soon” ‘Baby? What’s a baby got to do with this??? Tell me about me, that I’m doing ok, that I’m labouring with strength, that everything looks perfect. Baby? Why did you have to go and distract me by talking about a baby!’

A few minutes later, ‘Oh yes, a baby is coming. Surely it musn’t be long now!’

The relief when he came strongly, smoothly, continuously down through my pelvis. It made sense, finally I understand something about this labour, birth is here.

Oh shit! I forgot the stretch. The conundrum: wait and prolong it, push and increase the burn. ‘But its ok I get it. I know what’s happening. Sense.’

Sweet, sweet joy. Feeling the downy soft hair waving in the water, the ridge where the frontal skull plate had slipped under the side ones as he descended rapidly, the squished face, the chin, the neck, the cord.

The head-already-born negotiations with my midwife, the mental mantra ‘Im gunna catch this baby myself’, the ongoing discussion as to why this baby wasn’t turning to birth his shoulders. The waiting.

The discussion I have, baby’s head protruding from my vagina, with my daughter about how she was born with her hand up next to her cheek just like this baby

The discovery, when he slid out onto the towel hammock slung between Joey’s hands, that he was wrapped up in his cord so tightly that I couldn’t sit back down in the half-full birth pool and unwrap him without a helping hand to keep his face out of the water, and his cord from pulling his belly out like a little skin tent. ‘Dont break the cord!’ Around his neck twice, around his wrist, over one shoulder and around the waist, over the other shoulder and around the waist in a criss-cross jelly safety harness.

The mystery was solved. He was so wrapped up that he needed a few more contractions to bring the top of the uterus down to give his cord enough length so he could turn enough to birth his shoulders. He tried, believe me he tried a few times to turn but had to turn back again to wait.

The wait for him to decide to breath. “Come on baby, we all want to meet you. We’ve waited so long to see you. Come on baby, come on.”

The crying that went on from the cooling pool, the mother who wouldn’t get out, the placenta that wouldn’t come out till mother got out of pool. The stunned feeling after a slamming labour mixed with possibly the second biggest oxytocin hit of my life. I have pictures to prove the stunned thing

Dazed.

Thus life with Zaki began.

Anna and Zaki

Zaki now sleeps in his pram next to me as I type, on the spot where he was born 1 year ago.