Friends of Belmont Birthing

Surprise Pregnancy - Birth of Oakley

We were told we had a very slim chance of conceiving. So, my husband Josh and I were caught off guard when we discovered we were 7 weeks pregnant after recently moving to Newcastle. The pregnancy was overall very straight-forward and positive – I am thankful for this! We asked a GP for a referral to Belmont at around 14 weeks and there was never a doubt in my mind this was the right choice for us. Reassuring, knowledgeable, compassionate staff – I never felt rushed out of an appointment or silly for the questions I asked.

Annette was our allocated midwife (love you Annette!). We also had Janene and a beautiful student-midwife at the birth. I had two nights of tightenings that fizzled out by morning the weekend of the birth. By 11pm on the third night (I think I was 40+2), the tightenings were intense enough that I started timing them and couldn't stay lying down. Turns out timing contractions is pretty boring, so I spent the night cleaning the kitchen and doing some baking to stay busy, then mainly on the exercise ball trying to rest my head on a stack of pillows on the table between contractions. We let Janene, who was on call, know I was in labour early that morning after I had a bloody show. She actually was able to visit us at home on her way to work. I wanted to delay any internal checks as long as possible so I wasn’t disappointed or discouraged by my progress. Janene just checked my tummy and lower back during a contraction and agreed we would meet our son later that day. She gave me a beautiful, reassuring hug, told us just to keep going as long as we could at home and come in whenever we were ready.

Probably less than 2 hours later my husband buckled me in to the car – he was quite concerned about an unplanned home or car birth and so wanted to get the 25-minute car journey out of the way. We arrived at Belmont mid-morning and got settled in to the room. My contractions kind of stopped or slowed for a while until I relaxed into the space and I actually slept for a short time on the bed. I woke up needing to vomit and then things started to ramp up. Josh was amazing – he had our playlist going, affirmation cards set out, my motivational box of Ferrero Rocher’s sitting next to the bath (my request haha!), and stayed cool, calm and collected. Would highly recommend ‘Beer and Bubs’ course as prep for Dads!

Janene got the bath ready after an internal showed me at 8cms – I had hoped for a water birth but in the end the bath seemed to serve best as pain management and a means to rest for me. I spent a couple of blissful hours in there but the contractions didn’t seem to intensify much during that time. With Josh’s help, Janene managed to convince me to get up and try and walk to the loo. Up until this point labour had felt very manageable and rhythmic. I never made it back to the bath as standing up seemed to shift the baby into a better position. For the next couple of hours I held on to Josh in the middle of the room and that is where we all stayed until bub’s arrival. Annette arrived at this point and I remember looking at her in the eyes during a contraction (which were really getting pretty full on!) and thinking ‘how do you bear down? What the heck is bearing down??!!’ She just smiled (and told me to imagine doing a poo haha).

The pushing stage was about 1.5 hours. It was hard work. I was waiting for a feeling of my body spontaneously pushing the baby out, but it didn’t come. I could feel the baby move down, and then back up. Again, and again. My waters hadn’t broken yet so the sac bulged out first before the baby’s head. It was like pushing out two heads. I asked if they could burst my waters because the pressure was overwhelming, but they explained the unbroken sac was actually helpful for getting the muscles ready gently. I don’t remember thinking I couldn’t do this – I just remember reaching a point where I thought ‘the only way through this is to push the baby out myself. Only I can do that’. I had to lean in to the intensity and give my body permission to go for it. Things were loud by this stage (sorry Josh!). But not a sound of terror or suffering – the volume seemed to counteract the pain somehow.

Oakley was born into Josh and Annette’s arms as the waters broke and my legs were shaking. What a birthing high! Women are warriors and midwives are heroes! The cord was extremely short, and I actually couldn’t hold Oakley up to my chest so we cut the cord pretty soon so I could sit down and have a snuggle.

The story from here is a bit of a blur – Oakley had swallowed a lot of fluid and needed to be transferred to JHH for some extra TLC. The midwives didn’t miss a beat here – I knew Oakley was in the best of care and everything they needed to keep him safe and well until the paramedic arrived was available at Belmont. A midwife got me hand expressing colostrum and several Belmont staff made the effort to pop in and say hello to us in NICU during the 48 hours we were there. Janene and Annette then visited us at home over the next two weeks and continued to provide an atmosphere of love, confidence and support here.

You hear people say "well in the end, all that matters is a healthy happy baby". I would add to that and say; a healthy happy Mum and Dad is just as important! Oakley's birth was more enjoyable and positive than I ever could have hoped for, even with an unplanned NICU visit thrown in. I would not hesitate to go through BMGP again should we have the blessing of another child one day!