It is difficult to
know where to begin Nellie’s story, as I’m not entirely sure at which point
true labour began.
The Wednesday before Nellie’s
birth day I recorded on my phone the first mild surge – far stronger than the
Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing in the weeks prior. From Wednesday
evening, right up until the time she was born, my surges were irregular and
unpredictable, varying from 4 minutes to twenty minutes apart.
With my parents
overseas, we had my sister lined up ready to mind the boys for us at any time
we needed her. Between Wednesday and Saturday I kept her informed with what was
happening and shared my frustration with her, that things seemed to be
stop/start and never progressing. Then on Saturday 23rd August I
sent my sister an early morning text message –
‘Morning sister. It is
looking like today might be the day.’
Throughout the morning
I rested in bed, and bounced on the fit ball, all the while contracting
sporadically, never able to predict when the next surge would arrive.
Around midday Michael
dropped the boys over to my sister’s place, to allow us to relax at home and
see what might eventuate. By late afternoon the surges were increasing in
intensity and coming anywhere from 5-9 minutes apart, and although still not
regular at 5pm I said to Michael that I needed a change of scene and needed to
know if anything was happening. So feeling a little frustrated and confused as
to why labour was not establishing, we headed into the hospital.
The midwife at
hospital felt my tummy and felt for baby’s head and to everyone’s surprise we
discovered that the head had disengaged and was completely out of my pelvis. ‘This
is common for a third baby’ we were told. ‘They muck about and then when they
decide to come, they come very quickly.’ The midwife’s words brought me very little comfort. This meant that all the hours of early labour
hadn’t been opening my cervix at all. I left the hospital feeling tired and
We returned back home
around 7pm and let my sister know what was happening and asked her if she was
okay to have the boys for the night, just in case things did end up happening
quickly. It was so comforting for us to know the boys were happy and safe with
her and they had been prepared and excited for a sleepover anyway.
Michael and I ate a
simple dinner of ravioli whilst I continued to bounce on the fit ball and lean
forward during each surge to encourage baby to move into the correct position.
We went to bed early, around 8pm, wanting to rest as much as possible in anticipation
for what was to come. I was emotionally and mentally feeling drained. I snoozed
on and off, waking for each surge that ranged anywhere from 4-12 minutes apart.
I focussed on my breath as each wave came and grew in intensity. I was
managing, but only just. Michael slept beside me, which I was pleased about, as
I knew I’d need his strength and energy later.
By 2am on Sunday morning I was on all
fours on the bed, breathing through the surges that were now coming between 4-7
minutes apart and lasting 60 seconds. They were increasing in intensity and
this is the time I woke Michael and said ‘I think we should go to the hospital’. I
still doubted things were imminent as I had in my head that labour wasn’t
established until you could set your watch to your contractions. With the boys,
labour had progressed every hour, and contractions with them had been like
clockwork. This was so very different.
Once we’d grabbed our
hospital bags and hopped in the car the surges became very strong and seemed to
be coming faster. It was at this point that I’d stopped timing them and decided
to just ‘let go’ – I shifted my focus and concern away from when they were
coming and focused only on getting through ‘just one at a time’ (one of my
The twenty-minute car
ride into hospital was so uncomfortable. Michael pulled the car over to the
side of the road as each surge came so I didn’t feel every little bump on the
road. This helped so much. I was nervous returning to the hospital, a little
worried they would tell me the same thing as earlier; but at the same time, I
felt it was the right place to be and was sure I could feel more pressure
moving downwards, telling me baby was now engaged and close.
We arrived at the
hospital around 2:30am and by 3am the midwife gave me the best news I’d heard
all week – baby’s head was engaged and I was 5cm dilated. This news gave me a
new burst of energy and determination. I now knew for sure things were
happening and that the surges were now bringing my baby closer to being in
I laboured on my feet,
wanting gravity to assist. I moved from leaning on the back of the bed, to the
shower, taking some relief in the hot water running on my lower back, and then
back to leaning on the bed. By this stage, I was making noise through each
surge, helping to slow my ‘out’ breath down and also giving myself somewhat of
a distraction. I leant my head on the cold shower tiles and stared at the small,
square tiles beneath my feet. I could smell the faintest hint of chlorine, not
really noteworthy, but a memory none-the-less.
At around 4:30am I
asked my husband to phone Bec, our friend and photographer who was expecting to
hear from us after a day of texting back and forth. I had been hesitant up
until now to text or call her, still uncertain, with my irregular surges how quickly things would progress. But the pressure I felt with each surge was telling me things
were getting very close.
The bath had already
been running while I had been labouring in the shower. I hadn’t wanted to get
in too soon and hadn’t been drawn to it until now.
Bec arrived around 5am
as things began to really step up. I was having surges that now seemed to be
coming thick and fast. Through some of them I kept great focus, groaning
through them and remaining positive. In my mind, I went to where my baby was
and worked with her, to move her down. Other surges completely took over and I
would struggle through them, unable to gain any focus at all. Just before I
hopped in the bath I told my midwife I needed to try the gas and air as I felt
I was losing control and focus.
I moved to the bath
and sucked on the gas and air for two surges. If nothing else, the gas provided
me with a momentary (and much needed) distraction. It felt nice to be in the
warm water, leaning forward on the edge of the bath with Michael’s head close
to mine. With the next surge I felt an almighty ‘pop!’ that was my waters
breaking and an immediate, remarkable amount of pressure that took my breath
away. Looking back I guess this was transition, I’m not sure, but it was the
first time I looked Michael in the eye and said ‘I can’t do this.’
‘You’re already doing
it’ he told me.
‘Hold my hand’ I said
to him, needing to draw from his strength.
There seemed to be longer breaks now between surges, but
with the next surge I put my head down and made a deep, animal like roar that
took me by surprise, but felt so good and necessary.
‘I can see a nice
patch of hair on baby’s head’ our midwife said.
Another surge came and
my body completely took over. I struggled to catch my breath to slow things
‘I can’t stop it’ I
said, making my husband and midwife laugh. ‘You don’t want to stop it’ said
Michael; ‘Why would you want to stop it?’ asked my midwife.
That wasn’t what I had
meant. I had all good intentions of slowly breathing my baby down, not pushing
too hard, wanting to prevent unnecessary tearing. I didn’t have the words at
the time to explain what I had meant to them.
‘Her head is out’ I
heard the midwife say, but the surge wasn’t stopping, nor was our baby girl,
who was birthed in one contraction – there was no stopping her, my body just
did it, I had barely time for a single breath.
It was 5:29am.
My midwife passed her
through the water and between my legs. I held her tiny body as the midwife
removed the cord from around her neck, somersaulting her in the water in front
of me – And then I lifted her out of the water and up into my arms and onto my chest.
‘Oh my sweetheart! Oh
my goodness! Oh my gosh! My baby!’
I was elated. Relief
flooded through me. It was over and happiness was the only thing remaining. I
took a look between my baby’s legs… ‘Look baby’ I said to Michael. He looked
and cried even more than he already was.
Nellie is named after
my grandmother and is Greek meaning ‘Shining Light’ and Iris is after Michael’s
In the lead up to
Nellie’s birth, Michael and I had decided that if it were possible, we would
travel the six hours ‘home’, to my parent’s house, to have our baby at the same
hospital in which both our boys were birthed. There are many reasons for our
decision and I couldn’t be happier that this was the outcome. I birthed in a
familiar environment (the same room in which Ronan was born), in a capable
hospital that is equipped for whatever circumstance, has wonderful midwives,
and could offer me the opportunity to have a water birth. We didn’t know which
midwife we’d have at the birth – how fortunate we were to have such a lovely
midwife named Karen, who completely respected our birth wishes and couldn’t
have been more suitable for our needs and wants.
'A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2014.'
Ronan: A day of bike riding, playing by the seaside, rainbow paddle pops and soaking in the sunshine. Finnian: You are slowly but surely gaining confidence by the ocean. Today is the happiest I've ever seen you on sand. Nellie: Welcome precious girl, welcome. --- Nellie's photo taken by Rebecca Thorogood