Every birth story is unique and each one is special in its own right. It tells a story of the birth of a new baby, a new life, and a new Mother. Every pregnancy and birth journey tells and different story.
This is the birth story of Rosie Belle Sullivan born 2.34pm on Wednesday 17th June 2020 weighing 7.6 pounds.
Rosie’s pregnancy and birth story started five years ago with the delivery of her brother Ari. Though I believe that each birth is its own, past experiences can be brought into the present and effect the whole journey. When I was pregnant with my first born, Ari, I developed an illness called Preeclampsia and Hellp Syndrome which theoretically could have taken my life. I won’t go into detail here only to explain that his birth required a lot of intervention, and I subsequently became very sick from the illness with a 1.6 litre blood loss. Even though his birth was beautiful, it left me with some trauma associated with birth.
Following on from that experience, 19 months later I birthed our daughter Chloe. Her birth was far less complicated then Ari’s however it was not completely stress free. On the morning of her birth I discovered I had a placenta abruption and needed intervention to encourage a faster delivery, and we also realised she had meconium in the waters.
I would encourage you to read both Ari’s Birth Story and Chloe’s Birth Story before continuing, so that you can have a full understanding of my journey, my anxieties, and see just how much Rosie’s birth meant to me. But in short, neither of my first two births were stress free, and both left me with issues I needed to work on should I ever become pregnant again.
So, with that, let me tell you about the pregnancy and birth of my third and final baby…
This pregnancy was the most stressful of all three pregnancies. The flow on effect of the trauma I experienced from Ari’s birth, added with the fact that Chloe’s birth had its own complications, weighed heavily on my shoulders for the entire nine months. Once the initial joy of finding out I was pregnant for the third time wore off, the anxiety set in. What if something happened again, what if the baby or I didn’t make it this time? I remember during the first appointment with my midwife, (who delivered all three of my babies,) I was fighting back tears the whole time. I told her that I felt like labour day was a time where something always went wrong, and that I was just counting down to a day where something bad was going to happen. I had to do much work on my mindset and my mental state in this pregnancy just to hold it together, and not let my anxieties get the better of me. I regularly exercised, took time to relax, to journal, to check in with myself. I also took part in a Calmbirth class, just as I did with the other two pregnancies. Honestly it is amazing how much this stuff works! Whether it was Ari’s more ‘traumatic birth’ or the beautiful birth of Rosie, I drew on everything I learnt in these courses to deliver all three babies’ in the most beautiful, calm way that I could.
Given that I got sick at the end of my previous pregnancies, it was the final two weeks of carrying Rosie that I found the hardest. I decided this time if I ever didn’t feel quite right, I would go to the hospital, and that’s exactly what I did… twice. Nothing was wrong of course.
Once I turned 35 weeks pregnant, I started to get strong Braxton Hicks, which felt very much like contractions to me. They were reminiscent of the day prior to Chloe’s birthing day. This continue every day, for four weeks, up until the day that Rosie was born.
At midnight on the night before Rosie came, I woke up feeling as though the tightenings were a little different. I still had the same front and back sensations, that felt like burning period pain, but this was a little more. I decided to time them using a timing app, but they were all over the place. They were however unsettling enough that I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got two hot water bottles (one for the front and one for the back,) and settled into riding the waves of what I presumed was pre labour.
Two hours later when I went to the bathroom, I noticed some blood. I was immediately alarmed as this was exactly how Chloe’s labour stated, which turned out to be a placenta abruption. I woke Ryan up and told him, then called my midwife after sending her a photograph of the blood. She assured me that everything looked normal and in fact it looked like I had lost of mucus plug. She said to try to get some sleep, and that I would most likely be calling her in a few hours to go to the hospital and have the baby.
Without asking her I stupidly took two Panadol, which sent me back to sleep, but I now know that it can delay labour progressing in the early stages. Something about it messing with the flow of oxytocin. Anyhow I went back to sleep for a few hours, waking in the morning to notice that the contractions were gone. I felt disheartened, it was just another one of those nights that led to nothing, how much longer would this go on for. However, I did have a nice burn all over my tummy from the hot water bottles… lesson learnt!
I spoke to Ryan and my midwife, and both encouraged me to get up and moving for the day so that it might bring something along. I pottered around the house doing chores, put extras bits in my hospital bag and watched the children play. At times the waves came back and at times they went away, it was all very confusing. We got my Mother in Law to come and collect the children early, deciding that having them there wasn’t the peaceful experience it appeared to be on You Tube, and that the distraction was probably blocking me from progressing.
Ryan and I went for a beautiful walk along the river, it was a perfectly sunny day. I thought what a beautiful day it would be to be born. We held hands as I timed my contractions, which were still all over the place ranging from four to sixteen minutes apart. None the less we headed to hospital to meet my midwife and figure out exactly what was going on. Ryan was hungry so given the casual people that we are, (we stopped for Callipo icey poles in Chloe’s labour) we stopped to get him some food.
My midwife greeted us in the birth suite, at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. This was to be my first birth at the hospital and the rooms were a huge improvement to the older Nambour Hospital that it had replaced. There was a private bathroom with shower, and a huge bath that you could birth in. This was very appealing to me as I had always dreamt of a waterbirth, but due to both complications could never have one.
My midwife observed me and checked my tummy for the contractions. I think the fact that I seemed so calm and comfortable was probably quite confusing to everyone including me. We talked about doing an internal just to work out what was happening. She said that if I happened to be 3cm dilated and mostly soft, that she could break my waters to help the tightenings progress into proper active labour. I was nervous and this wasn’t something I wanted to do, as I wanted it be totally intervention free. Though after four weeks of this, and now being unable to properly sleep, I wondered how much longer all of this as going to continue for.
Upon doing the internal she declared “Well you are 5 possibly 6cm dilated!” I burst into tears, I couldn’t believe it! Even though I wasn’t in ‘textbook’ labour my body had in fact already been labouring. We were going to have this baby!
We decided to get a blood test done prior to deciding whether to break my waters. The blood test was for my own peace of mind, to make sure that I wasn’t developing any illnesses like Hellp Syndrome again.
I decided that we should start setting up the room for the birth of our baby. I was already naked, apart from my bra, and began to enjoy walking around the room. We put out my battery-operated candles around the bath, and dimmed the lights. I lay out an outfit for my baby, Ryan stuck birth affirmations and the baby’s scans all over the wall. I popped my headphones in my ears and popped on my birth play list, walking and sometimes dance around the room. I packed many tools in my birth bag to help me to visualise during the birth, but my favourite was a very special seashell that Ari had found for me at our favourite beach. The day he gave it to me I took a mental photograph of the children playing in the sand, during labour I returned to the moment many times.
Somewhere between setting up the room and dancing to Xavier Rudd ‘Follow the Sun’ and a bit of Justin Bieber, I realised that the contractions were much more regular. I told my midwife that I didn’t think I even needed my waters broken now, and she agree. Ryan said, ‘We just needed you to realise that you were already in labour and let it happen.’ Aren’t our minds clever like that.
I spent two hours walking around the room feeling very much at ease with the sensations in my body. I was incredibly calm and enjoyed everything that was happening. Even stopping to cry with joy. I had gone deep into labour completely spontaneously and there were no complications!
The bath was ready and waiting for me, so I hopped in and instantly felt soothed. I spent a lot of time in the bath during my pregnancy and that calm, comforting familiarity was so relaxing. As each wave came, I closed my eyes and let it wash over me. I would feel the build up to the peak and then it fade away again, then resting ready for the next one.
About half an hour into being in the bath I felt my body give one push to bring the baby down. I was delighted. Could it really be happening already? Was my body really ready to push the baby out? But in fact, I wasn’t to feel that sensation again for another hour.
Instead the contractions intensified, and I recognised that I was beginning to transition. I knew from my previous births and my Calmbirth teachings, that this was often the quickest but most challenging stage of birthing. I began to feel restless, tired as the waves became more powerful. I switched from listening to my birth playlist to my Clambirth tracks, and enjoyed the familiarity of the women’s voice talking me through what I was feeling. I wanted so much to work through transition and be ready to push my baby out. I grew tired of waiting, and this transition seemed to be going on for much longer than I remembered with Ari and Chloe. I even popped my finger up inside me hoping she would be just there, but she wasn’t. Even though I cold feel her head she still felt so high.
I began to ask if my waters could be broken and whether that would speed things along. In fact, I began to beg. My midwife encouraged me to wait half an hour longer, to see what would happen before deciding on that. I also new deep down that it was not what I really wanted. I remember saying that I ‘might like a little gas soon,’ to which she replied, ’Natalie you don’t need gas,’ and I agreed. If you have ever transitioned before you might remember asking for similar requests, with Ari I even asked of a c section.
Ryan and my midwife suggested I try to stand out of the bath and allow gravity to help lower the baby down. (This is something that worked well in Chloe’s labour.) They encouraged me to do figure eights with my pelvis, but this all just made me feel so uncomfortable and even though I knew deep down that it would help the comfort of laying in the bath called me more. I decided that even though I was feeling so desperately impatient I didn’t need to rush things. I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable, I wanted to just enjoy the warmth of the bath!
Ryan saw that I was fading, and he decided that now was time for a ‘pep talk.’ He told me how well I had done, and how focused I had been. That I just needed to get my head ‘back in the game’ and then the baby would come. My midwife encouraged me and told me that I could do it, and together they got my focus back. They are the best! I switched my mind back on and decided that now I would have my baby, that it would only be another half an hour or so and she would be here. Just as I moved positions slightly, I felt my body give a huge pushing sensation and with that her whole head came out! I could not believe it! I had gone from nothing to her head being out in a matter of seconds and it burnt like crazy! Literally, we had just been looking with a mirror to see if we could see her head and there was nothing!! One or two more contractions and her body followed. I was in total shock, there she was, her whole body in the water. I said that I wanted to bring her through the water and up to my chest. Though as I said that, my midwife told me to lift my bottom out of the water as the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. Neither her nor I were able to physically lift her from the water unless I was lifted too, there just wasn’t enough length. Ryan supported my bottom and my midwife lifted her out and unwrapped the cord not once but twice from around her neck. Then my baby girl was passed to me. I was still in shock, so was she and she hadn’t cried yet. I was instructed to blown on her face, and a couple of second later she let out a beautiful little cry and the whole room relaxed. She was completely perfect, and I was still in shock! Born exactly half an hour after I had asked my midwife to break my waters, so desperately, baby Rosie broke them herself as her head exited my body. It was so fast; Ryan describes it as an exorcism! Not long later I was lifted out of the bath and onto a bed to birth the placenta.
Over the next four hours we cuddled and kissed our baby. I fed her, we weighed her, and Ryan got cuddles too. We decided to cut the cord together. Ari’s cord was cut by Ryan and Chloe’s by me, so it made sense that at the completion of our family we would cut the final cord as a couple.
That night at 6.24pm we took our girl home. I spent the next 24 hours in my own bed bonding with her. It was one of the best 24 hours I have ever had, and I am so grateful for that experience. Ryan had encouraged me to have the children stay the night at his Mum’s house, and I am so happy he did. He is very clever!
After talking to my midwife at length we decided that transition was longer and more challenging this time due to the cord being wrapped about Rosie’s neck, and her not having enough length in it to come down. It would have been like a little bungy cord and as she came down, she would have gone back up. The cord being wrapped around her neck wasn’t alarming and is actually quite common but does explain a few likely things.
Rosie Belle is a true delight and I can’t stop gushing about her.
I am so thankful to my midwife and Ryan for both supporting me through three very different births. They truly are the best birth partners. My midwife has been a rock to me the past nine months. Ryan knows when and how to draw my strength from me, he knows me better then I know myself.
We love you Rosie, welcome to the world. Xxx
Thank you for reading,