Monday 23/1 at 5:30am.
I woke up with mild contractions, I knew this was the start so I nudged Benny and told him with excitement! I texted my Doula Jess letting her know as I truly thought I would meet Avani sometime today. (I did not get any more sleep after waking) Contractions were pretty slow all day, fizzling out and starting back up again. Benny and I started tracking them to see if there was any consistency. I spent a massive chunk of the day in my blow up pool out on the back deck, I popped some herbs and rose petals which was super relaxing, it was such a warm sunny day.
12:30pm I lost my mucus plug in the pool, I remember yelling out to Ben and showing him and also texted Jess to let her know, still no sign of my waters breaking. Now I should add that I did not tell anyone I was in labor except a few people I knew would keep it a secret as I did not want any external pressure and energy from anyone and wanted to be fully absorbed in my birth journey.
3:00pm my contractions were roughly 20 minutes apart and had been for the last hour. Benny and I prepared an early dinner as I assumed the more I progressed the less I could be bothered (haha). An hour passed and my contractions started getting a little more powerful and I could feel them down my thighs when the surges were at their most intense. They were bearable at this stage. I was in contact with Jess most of the afternoon keeping her updated on the progress. Jess only lived 30 minutes away from us so she was ready to come whenever I felt was the right time.
I texted Jess around 7:30pm and asked if she could come over, I wasn't sure how quickly I was progressing as there was a little bit of inconsistency in my contractions with them slowing and then starting up again, I did feel they were quite uncomfortable but I knew this was the journey and I just tried my best to surrender to the unknown.
My beautiful Doula Jess is also an osteopath so I was given a beautiful oil massage in bed and some treatment, I also had some cbd to help calm my nerves. I spent some time using the birth sling also created by my Doula Jess. (This was so amazing in my early labor and beyond!) I breathed through my contractions as they came, at this point Benny and I were timing my contractions and they were coming every 10-15 minutes they were bearable but they were intensifying from previous surges. Jess asked if i would be able to sleep as I had been up since 5:30am. (Crazy thing is I didn't sleep all of the next day and night) Jess ended up leaving and going back home around 10:30pm as Benny and I decided we will just spend some more time together at home cuddling and getting the oxytocin flowing.
(Another thing I want to add is throughout my pregnancy I wasn't 100% set on having a hospital birth. I really wanted a home birth. It was was something I was interested in doing and something I thought I wanted but i didn't really work towards it. I made the excuse that we were living in a teeny tiny house we rented off my in laws..which was true, it was extremely small. It didn't have that homely warm positive feeling I wanted I always complained we had no space and I didn't like the area we lived in so that was my first excuse. Now second was fitting a birth pool in this place, which only could have fit in our kitchen. I did have my blow up pool on the deck..and let's be real I could have used that. But in the end I did do a tour of the Coffs Harbour hospital (public) they are beautifully renovated birthing suites, you can play music and make decorate and put affirmations up. Your totally free to set up your little space, for me I had fairy lights near the birthing pool, (The pools are stunning and huge)
I knew how strong I was with my birth plan and no one was getting in my way and ruining the atmosphere I set, unnecessary cervical checks, constant fetal monitoring (a Doppler was used at times) I was extremely lucky the midwives I did have throughout my labor were amazing, I was left to lead my birth physiologically as we all should be! My midwife just sat back as I went into the birth realm. And of course I had my amazing Doula/friend Jess and my fiancé Benny advocating for me if I needed)
Tuesday 24/1 2:30am
I decided I was ready to take the hour drive to coffs Harbour from our home, my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and had been for the last few hours and I had to take deep breaths through each surge. All I wanted was a nice warm bath to move around in (so I was eager to get into the birth pool).
Benny texted Jess to let her know we were set to leave, Jess met us on the road in her car and we drove up separately. I remember sitting on the back seat on all fours arched over Avani's car seat with pillows everywhere for support, I remember crying at this stage and knew again i had to surrender to it all. I had in the back of my mind I could birth Avani in the car and I was not at all worried about this, we were well prepared with towels and blankets if this did happen.
We arrived at around 3:30am, we were taken up to the birthing suites and I met the first midwife who (I had 2 midwives all up, I was in labor for around 30 hours so we had a shift swap, and I had a 3rd midwife as I started pushing Avani out) I asked to have the pool filled as we entered. We set up my fairy lights and popped on my birth playlist, I remember listening to "like a river to the sea album by Jahnvani Harrison' as I spent years as a practicing devotee (hare krsna) it just took me to a really calm warm place. (I was in active labor a few hours after settling into the birth suite and all day until late in the evening). The whole day was a blur, time was literally non existent and it's like I stepped into another world or dimension. ( I just knew I had to stop holding back and accept the pain, it was such an internal battle with body and mind but I truly feel every bit of Avani's birth was sacred, protected and totally empowered.) Birth is different for everyone and It was taking as long as it needed to take. The midwife who I had did not interrupt in any way or offer any cervical exams nor was I offered any pain relief. The hospital already had my birth plan and no one had to step up and advocate for me in any way which was perfect. (I think and I know if woman are respected we can and will have empowered births in the hospital system, we just need to be educated and advocate for ourselves)
As time went on throughout the day I tried to eat, I had dates, bananas and I did eat a lot of sandwiches (hahaha) Jess was offering me electrolytes and Benny was comforting me through surges. I got out of the birth pool a lot, using the birth sling and also kneeling in the shower, squatting on the bed. I did what felt right for me at the time and Jess also suggested some some movement with the birth sling which was great. At this point I was totally sleep deprived! I felt almost high. I was totally delirious and at times I was nodding off asleep in the pool and my eyes were rolling around my head.
At some stage I had a new midwife on shift who had such a beautiful motherly energy, she came in calm introduced herself..she knew the go. I remember at some point the OB on shift knocked on our door as I was midway through a contraction, this was probably around 5pm in the afternoon, the midwife went and opened the door and I knew he wanted to come in and see me, she asked what I wanted to do and I said i didn't want to see him and not to let him in, she passed on the message and he did not enter the birth space.
As the evening progressed I started feeling totally and mentally defeated, the pain at this stage felt almost unbearable, I tried my best not to hold back and tense myself up. I screamed and moaned through each contraction. (During my pregnancy I watched so many birth videos, I did a hypnobirthing course my doula ran which was amazing and informative. The funny thing is I almost convinced myself I wouldn't feel the pain I did or I could just breath calmly through the intense surges) I think i did a lot of soul searching throughout that day and afternoon and realized as time went on this was probably going to be the most painful thing I may ever endure, which was fine! As it all had a purpose in the internal battle of Avani's birth, I had to not be afraid of it.
Later in the evening at around 8:30pm my waters released, from then on things really intensified. I was back in the birth pool using the birth sling which we had attached to the door, I screamed and made the most intense deep noises that just came out naturally. I kept complaining about the pain in my back, I felt my labor so deep in my lower back! it was the most intense pain I have ever felt. It literally felt like my back was breaking (that's the best way I can describe). Contractions were 10 seconds apart at this point and I had little time to catch my breath. I started doubting myself and crying throughout surges, asking for help off Benny, off Jess, the midwife. Saying "I can't do this". Jess said "you already are doing it honey" she also explained to me "i need to accept this pain and go into the depths of it to collect my baby" I cried a lot, I was slowly in my transition from active labor to the pushing stage. ( just to add, I feel so deeply that birth was the biggest teacher for me! We as a society are always trying to avoid or numb our pain in every aspect of life! but by accepting it we can find our power! I truly fell into my power as a woman this night!
Benny was right next to me the whole time, holding me through my screams and cries, keeping me hydrated.
10:00pm came and I remember asking "is it gonna be okay" I was screaming a lot through my contractions.
This was my transition and my body started pushing, I could feel Avani moving down the birth canal, i knew we were close and I would soon meet my baby. A mirror was in the pool, all the lights were dimmed and my midwife and Jess were at the back with a torch, Benny was at the front holding me through the deepest surges and pushes.
Jess whispered to the midwife "breech" to which I said "what" at this stage I pushed once more, the lovely midwife said calmly to me "I think your baby is coming out butt first" she asked if I could stand in the pool. She said (and i thank her for this and being a calm energy in my journey) "it's okay, it's just a variation of normal, you are doing great" (now we know why my labor was mostly all in my back!) Benny was holding me with all his strength. I was having issues standing and kept dipping her back into the water, so I was carried and popped on all fours on the bed, I waited for a contraction and one last push Avani was out and she was passed through my legs. She was quite stunned, Avani had a steady heart rate and was still receiving the oxygen rich blood from the placenta but they decided to cut the cord to take Avani to the CPAP cart and she was given some extra support with the oxygen mask. Avani took a spontaneous breath at 2 minutes and 20 seconds! While Avani was receiving oxygen I birthed my placenta (which was the most relieving feeling!). Avani's legs were up near her shoulders due to the way she came out (Frank breech) but later the next day went down. Avani was placed on me. Benny was sitting behind me this whole time, it was so nice having him hold me in this way, I was laying on him, it was such a surreal moment. I remember Jess walking back over and saying to me "you are amazing, you just had a breech baby"
(The funny thing is I watched a lot of unmedicated vaginal breech birth videos while I was pregnant, but not for a second did I think I would birth my baby this way!)
I stayed in bed for a while, it was all quite a blur, the midwife asked if I wanted to keep my placenta and i did, I plan on burying it once Benny and I buy some land 💕 I was in awe of myself, I in shock in the best way! I no longer felt tired due to all the oxytocin and Adrenalin and I finally had my baby Avani in my arms.💕
-Avani Grace born 10:26pm 24 January 202