Birth Story: Zoe’s Homebirth in Wollongong

My birth story really starts a full year before Finley was born, and I was starting to consider having a homebirth after having my first son in hospital. I had always wanted to birth at home but talked myself out of it during his pregnancy. I fell pregnant with our second baby at the start of 2019, however lost the baby at around 6 weeks. I fell pregnant quickly afterward and was very firm in my decision to have this baby at home. During my pregnancy I worked through and released a lot of my fears and societies fears I had taken on around birth, and made peace with some aspects of my first son’s birth and the choices I made during his pregnancy and birth.

Fast forward to December 2019 and I was coming into the final weeks of my pregnancy which had been lovely and straightforward, I was as ready as I could be however was trying to mentally prepare myself to go over my “due date” yet quietly hoping this baby would be a little early as well- a summer pregnancy with a busy toddler is tough! I had my mother blessing the weekend before, so that beautiful positive birth energy was still very present.

I saw my midwife Louise on Tuesday- I was 39 weeks exactly, and we made an appointment for 40 weeks the next week. As she was leaving she said “I think I’ll be back before your next appointment”- famous last words!

The next day, I woke up at 3am to my waters breaking in bed- just the same as happened in my first pregnancy. I was only feeling very gentle twinges, and was able to rest and doze until around 7am. Sam told work he wouldn’t be there, and I pottered around at home for most of the day. I was finding it hard to get into the zone with Gordie around and I was having irregular uncomfortable contractions but nothing much happening. I gave Lou and Rachael (our doula and close friend) the heads up and tried to rest as much as possible during the day. Sam took Gordie out after lunch, and I wanted to get things going while I wasn’t distracted by a toddler in the house.

It was a lovely cool day after a hot smoky one the previous day so I shut the blinds, and watched a funny movie to get the oxytocin flowing, I was bouncing on the fit ball or resting on the couch and gradually started to feel things pick up. Louise had clinic that day and let me know at round 2pm that she was finished and was all mine, to let her know when we needed her “you’ll know”. I set up my birth space and put up some affirmation cards on the wall near the birth pool.

I laboured over the toilet as things progressed, my contractions became more intense and regular, but I never timed them, just listened to my body and did what felt right. I was still having big gushes of fluid throughout the day. Gordie was still distracting me so Sam took him outside again. By this point it was around 4pm I was finding it hard to talk through contractions which were all in my back. I got off the toilet and was leaning against the kitchen bench, Sam was putting a warm washer on my back during a contraction which felt lovely. Sam texted Louise and Rachael around 4.30pm and they arrived around 5pm with Trudy (our second midwife) and Jen (student midwife) arriving soon after.

I got in the birth pool at around 5pm, the warm water was beautiful on my back and Louise was pouring warm water on my back during contractions. The energy was beautiful, I knew people were coming but the energy was the same, the space was held and respected so beautifully. I was visualising blowing away the contractions as they came and had my eyes closed most of the time. Around this time, I was struggling with the intensity of my contractions in the pool, I was losing focus and starting to feel out of control. I couldn’t get comfortable, found the pool and the water too hot, feeling as if I couldn’t manage anymore. I was also having some urges to push.

Louise suggested I get out of the bath and try labouring on the toilet for a while for a change of scenery. The pain in my back was really intense as bub must have been posterior but sometime around this time he must have turned as the back pain went. I got out of the bath at around 6pm and sat over the toilet- such a good spot to labour.

This next half hour was incredibly challenging, I was in transition and really struggling. I sat over the toilet and Louise was standing next to me holding my head and my hand. Sam was in front of me and I remember Trudy sitting on the edge of the bath. I was still finding the intensity of my contractions really hard to manage and was so angry about how unfair it was, saying I had had enough, couldn’t do it and asking why it was so unfair and had to be so painful. At this point I remember fantasising about having an epidural or a c section- which was pretty hilarious given I was at home! At the time I remember at the time feeling like I was being ridiculous but being so angry. I kept saying I didn’t know what to do. I remember transition feeling the same during Gordie’s birth too, but the incredible support this time made all the difference.

It was at this point that Louise and Trudy reminded me that the pain was good pain, it couldn’t hurt me, my baby was doing half the work and I didn’t have to do anything and to just surrender to the pain and let go- this was an absolute turning point for me and I calmed down and was able to let go and dilate the rest of the way. My mind cleared, I was quiet and just allowed myself to surrender to each contraction- the pain disappeared as I surrendered. I started to have the urge to push and reached down and could feel his head just inside with my fingers, so incredible! Louise asked me where I wanted to have my baby- I said I didn’t care, I just wanted them born. She said if I wanted to birth over the toilet I had to stand up, and suggested we go to the bedroom instead.

Everyone had made a beautiful space for me and I kneeled over the end of the bed. The contractions and urge to push were so so intense, and once again I just went into my body and let myself be taken over- the urge to bear down was so intense and I kept reaching down and feeling his head. I remember yelling “ow ow ow” and saying how much it hurt, and everyone reassuring me his head was almost out. The ring of fire/burning was such an intense feeling, but as soon as his head was out, the urge to push went away and I panted as his head slowly came out- everyone was saying “we can see his head, his eyes, his nose, his mouth”. Louise suggested I wait for another contraction to birth his body but I wanted him born and just pushed his whole body out. He was born at 6.54pm, the whole pushing phase in the bedroom was only 14 minutes! We didn’t know he was a boy before he was born, and as a I picked him up i saw we had another little boy. he was a bit floppy when he was born but with time and stimulation he pinked up and started crying. I could not believe I had done it!

My placenta came away really quickly and with one tiny push I birthed it soon after. I was bleeding a bit and agreed to the synto shot in my leg. We got up on our bed and we had skin to skin, he did the breast crawl with some help and fed for around an hour! He was quite mucusy due to his quick entry into the world and I continued to bleed and agreed to some IV fluids and synto to slow the bleeding, but my uterus was contracting well- the after pains were terrible! We cut the cord after an hour or so and looked at and thanked my placenta, weighed and measured Finley and he had some skin to skin with Sam. At 4.3kg and 54cm, he was a little bigger than Gordie at birth. We decided that Finley was his name. Gordie came in and met him as well. Rachael ordered us all pizza (thank you Uber ears) and it was so lovely, we were all chatting, laughing and eating pizza in our bedroom together.

It was so ordinary yet utterly incredible and transformational- the sacredness and rite of passage of birth felt deeply honoured and respected by everyone in our birth space. Welcoming our beautiful second son into the world on the eve of the last full moon of the year, in our bedroom, peacefully and simply and surrounded by love was such an honour and something I will be eternally grateful to experience.

Birth team:

Louise David, independent midwife

Trudy Legaudi, second midwife

Jennifer Thorson, student midwife

Rachael Rose, doula

Photo credits:

Briony Goodsell of The Nesting Place

Jennifer Thorson

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