Penny, first time mum, family birth centre

To my beautiful first baby, this is the perfect story of you and your birth.

In early 2019 your Dad and I went on a month long holiday to Canada. It was our first time visiting and it was the most amazing time of our lives. We saw snow fall almost every day, we skied and snowboarded on lots of different mountains, we went dog sledding, we saw the magical northern lights dance in the sky in Yukon, and at the end of the trip we conceived you. It took Mummy a little while to work out why she didn’t feel quite right. First I thought it was the altitude difference in Alberta, then when we got home I thought it was jet lag, then I thought it was the tiredness of working night shift. Finally, I thought I had better do a pregnancy test just in case. I had been having dreams of you almost every night and knew the answer before I even saw the pregnancy test result. I was already almost 7 weeks pregnant. Your Daddy and I felt so overwhelmed with love, we knew you were going to be the most special little person. We kept your gender a surprise, and since you were our Canada baby, we had nicknamed you Snowflake.

You were so kind to me during our pregnancy journey together. I was never sick, I was never uncomfortable, and I felt like the time went so quickly. You were so active that I was convinced you were a little boy, I felt you move for the first time at just 14 weeks. My tummy grew as you did and I loved all the new changes I saw every week. I carried you in my belly for 41 weeks and I loved every single moment.

Preparing for you was such a special time for your Dad and I. We were a little sad that our days of being just us were almost over, but we were also more in love than ever knowing you were coming into our lives. I did pregnancy pilates so that my body was strong for your birth, and your Dad and I did the Hypnobirthing Australia program so that our minds were strong and we had all the skills we needed to have you naturally and calmly. You were going to be born at The Family Birth Centre, with your Daddy and Aunty Grace there to support me. Our friend Fiona was there and captured your birth and those photos will always be so special to me, I hope you love them too. Your Midwife was a sweet lady named Kate who will always have a big place in my heart for all the care and love that she gave us both. There was so much excitement while we waited for you, our family and friends couldn’t wait to meet our precious Snowflake.

The night before you were born your Dad and I went on a nice long walk down at the river with our family dog, Coco. I was slow and heavy waddling around with you, I knew you were close. The next day we were supposed to be having an appointment at the hospital to check you were still healthy and happy, since it seemed you wanted to stay put. I really didn’t want to go to this appointment because I was so worried your gender would be revealed or that I would be pressured into an induction. I knew that you would come when the time was right. All week I had been saying that I would have you on Tuesday the 10th of December and you decided that was in fact the perfect day to be born.

That morning I heard your Dad leave to take Coco for a walk. I saw that it was only 6:50am and decided to go back to sleep. As I rolled onto my side I instantly felt the most intense pressure in my back and knew that I was in labour. I wanted to stay in bed focusing on my breathing knowing that this was just the start of labour, but the feeling in my back was too intense and I couldn’t sit still. I got up and started pacing around the bedroom, I couldn’t believe how intense things already were. I needed support so I went and woke your Aunty Grace up announcing “I’m in labour and I’m not okay!” Gracie is a midwife so knew all the right things to say and do to help me. She reassured me that I was okay, that you were okay, and together we would get through it and have a beautiful birth.

I remember saying to Grace that I couldn’t get comfortable and just needed a break from the back pain. She told me you were positioned posterior and that I just needed to find my rhythm, and for me that was in the shower. I instantly felt so calm with the warm water on my back. I put music on to distract myself, and I focused on my breathing while I rocked on all fours. I knew you were coming into the world quickly so I text your Dad saying it was time to come home because our baby was on the way. By the time your Dad got home things were intense. My waters had broken only an hour into labour, and I could feel my body taking control even quicker from then on wards. I wanted to hide my face and constantly move around, both of these things helped me.

Your Daddy and I danced in the shower together, your Aunty rubbed my back, and they both kept telling me how amazing I was doing. Everything felt so special.

I think you were just as excited to meet us because things kept moving fast. Grace called the birth centre and told them we were coming in because she knew you were on your way. While your Dad and Aunty were packing the car I felt a shift in my body and my thoughts changed as well. I didn’t know at the time, but I was transitioning and I had decided I wanted to give birth to you in the bathroom at home. And so I told your poor Dad that I wouldn’t be getting in the car because I didn’t want to. He was too sweet to tell me how silly that was so your Aunty had to firmly tell me “Penny, it is time to leave, get in the car.” And luckily I listened to her.

The 30 minute drive to the birth centre actually went very quickly for me. On the way there I rocked on all fours along the back seats and kept looking at your car seat thinking ‘soon my baby will be in there and coming home with us’. It was all so real now and I was so happy I couldn’t stop smiling.

When we got to the birth centre the backup midwife wanted to check me straight away because she thought you were close. I didn’t want to sit still on the bed and luckily I didn’t have to for long, because after a few seconds of examining me she said “Congratulations you’re 10cm dilated!” I burst into tears. I was so happy. And so proud of myself. I always knew I was capable of birthing you on my own and I felt like the challenging part was over. I knew that very soon we would be meeting each other.

I waited in the shower while the midwives raced around with buckets to quickly fill the birthing pool up. Our midwife, Kate, had now arrived and I was still crying happy tears telling her “I did it, I’m fully dilated”, she squeezed my hand and told me how proud she was of me. While labouring I visualised you working your way down and I repeated positive affirmations to myself. My favourites were “I am strong, I am powerful, I am brave” and “My body and my baby work together”. And that really is how I felt, you and I were a dream team from the beginning and worked together so well.

Stepping into the birthing pool was the most euphoric feeling in the world. The weight in my body disappeared, the intense pressure in my back eased, and I felt so much oxytocin flowing through my body. I kept saying how happy I was and that I felt like I was floating on a cloud. The room was dim, lit with tea light candles and soft music playing in the background. The love in the room was contagious and so calming. I rotated through lots of different positions in the pool but couldn’t find the one that worked for us. Kate suggested that I sit on the toilet to open up my pelvis and see if that would work. After only a few minutes I physically felt you turn and drop down so low. I couldn’t get back in the water because I couldn’t walk with you being so close.

Kate placed a birthing bean bag on the ground and I laid down with your Dad behind me and Grace and Kate by my feet. I had to use all of my energy to bear down because you were in a tricky position. It felt like only a few minutes but I was pushing for an hour. With everyone encouraging me I pushed your head out and then waited for the next surge. That moment in between was so calm, I was quiet and stayed focused by holding hands with your Daddy and kissing him. Kate asked me if I was ready to meet my baby. With the next surge I pushed you out so easily and she placed you on my chest straight away. You were here, in my arms. I couldn’t believe it.

Seeing your little face for the first time was the most special moment of my life, I felt like I had known you forever.

You were so alert but it took you a little while to cry, instead you held onto your Daddy’s finger so tight and looked us both in the eyes. It was like you were introducing yourself to us. I kissed you over and over again and said “Hi, so you’re our little Snowflake baby” and your Daddy and I told you how much we loved you.

Kate wished you a Happy Birthday and suggested that we have a look at your gender. We had been so caught up in the moment that we completely forgot! I lifted you up and your Daddy announced “It’s a little girl!” We were so shocked and couldn’t believe it, we had a daughter! You were healthy and so perfect. We named you Macie, meaning ‘Gift from God’ because that’s exactly what you felt like to us.

Your birth was the most empowering day of my life. You have been earth side with us for a few months now and I still think about your birth every single day, I think I always will. Thank you for teaching me how strong my body is, how powerful my mind is, and how big my heart is. I loved being pregnant with you, I loved your birth and I especially love being your Mummy. Love Mummy

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Renee Bradfield, Perth WA

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