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The Birth of Iva.

My waters broke at 2:30pm - Saturday the 17th of September. (Around 39 weeks)

I was sitting on the couch laughing at a girl on Instagram- (@meaghanranee ) when I felt a strong gush of water. When I stood up the fluid kept flowing with some force. I looked up at Todd with excitement sitting across the room and told him what was happening.

I ran to the toilet with Todd in tow and the water running down my legs.

I hopped in the shower and the waters continued to flow.

Todd and I were blushing with excitement and kept giggling. We couldn’t believe it was finally our time.

Smaller gushes continued for an hour or so afterwards.

Todd went into full swing and cleaned the whole house with speed and prepared some essentials for the birth space (towels, puppy pads, birth ball etc)

We enjoyed chicken wraps for dinner, laughed, chatted about when we met and about the future before us and pondered on who our baby will be.

Will it be Ivar John or Iva Beverley.

We’d already named our babe throughout pregnancy- the same for a boy or girl.

We both had very strong feelings towards a girl, and even before pregnancy Todd had dreamt of a girl.

Contractions started at around 7:30pm and were consistently 10 minutes apart.

They were mild, however I practiced breathing through them calmly. I was getting excited, thinking baby would arrive that night.

We called our birth team - mum, my sister and birth photographer/friend.

I stayed in contact with mum and she decided to come and stay just in case.

Contractions fizzled out and were sporadic over night.

All of Sunday I didn’t feel much other than the occasional cramping.

I felt restless and unsure what to do with myself - I wish now I’d encouraged myself to rest but I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve, filled with excitement, unable to sleep.

On Sunday Todd and I went for a walk along the beach at the end of our road, we spoke of the future, the major life transformation to come and shared some tears of joy. We put the slow cooker on and that night shared a slow cooked lamb curry between the three of us. At around 1am Monday morning contractions kicked in again and were 10 mins apart consistently for some time. I wasn’t keeping track of the time so I’m not exactly sure when things ramped up. My mum, my sister and photographer were all present- respecting my wishes and hanging in the background, unless otherwise needed/asked. I had my birth playlist on that I’d listened to all throughout pregnancy- even through our conception journey. I breathed through contractions, I paced the house, I went to the toilet regularly to wee and often had bloody mucus showing. Todd was so amazing and I didn’t expect anything less. He was always right by my side and read me so well, he almost always knew exactly what I needed. I had shown him some physical touch techniques throughout pregnancy that I thought I may benefit from but also warned him that I may not want to be touched at all - and I was right, I did not want to be touched- particularly on my bump- it was almost like drawing a frequency to my bump that enhanced the intensity of the contractions. I started to become aware that things had stayed the same for many hours now and I felt that things should be changing. I remember making fierce eye contact towards my sister, Keira and my mum and in my mind I was asking for support, for suggestions, for reassurance - but of course they could not hear my mind and the only words that actually escaped my mouth was ‘I don’t know’. I reminded myself to trust. I constantly had my birth affirmations playing through my mind, and Todd often spoke some of them to me. ‘Surrender’, ‘trust your body, trust your baby’, ‘I breathe my baby down’, ‘I CAN do this’. Contractions were really ramping up and I was roaring a primal roar, a sound I’m sure I couldn’t make outside of labour or birth. The contractions had started to spread to my lower back, and then literally inside my bum hole - this was horrendous and proved very challenging to remain calm and with my breath! I screamed out a couple of times and had to remind myself to breath and roar and moan instead of scream. ‘Roaring resembles power, screams resemble fear’ I reminded myself. I spoke to my birth team, in the simplest of ways, about where I could feel my baby. My sister Keira came to me and explained that my baby was in an anterior position- head down but completely to the right of my body. Ideally the left side is best to access the birth canal. My mum and sister talked me through some positions to try to encourage my baby to move. Todd supported me with some of the positions, some were so tricky, I was basically hanging upside down off the couch. I had not prepared a birth pool because I always felt called to land birth, however, throughout the labour I did seek soothing and relief in the bath, shower and The Birth Sling - utilising different positions I had practised throughout pregnancy. I found that the bath was soothing but unhelpful and slowed things down- but the shower I loved and really supported and soothed me through the bum contractions. I was exhausted. I was falling in and out of light sleep between contractions, even while standing. My birth team encouraged me to try and lay down. I huddled over a couch cushion face first and fell into what felt like deep sleeps between contractions that were only minutes apart. Todd rested beside me. Mum bought me snacks, that I literally shovelled in. Throughout the whole labour Todd was giving me coconut water that I sipped on through a straw. I went from hot to cold. Cold in between contractions and would wrap a blanket over me, and then a surge would come and I’d rip the blanket right off me as I would suddenly become super hot. After trying several positions but feeling little change Keira phoned our doula friend, Sarah Bishop. Despite being away on a family holiday- Sarah provided valuable time and wonderful support. Sarah listened to the sounds I was making to measure how I was coping and where I was at in my labour. She suggested a simple position that involved lifting one leg and resting it on a step while leaning against a wall. I found this position far easier then any other I had tried and also soothing. It felt like 10 minutes, but according to my birth team it was about an hour in this position. Todd had gone outside to release some emotion and when he returned I felt the first involuntary push! It was 7:30pm. I was so excited- the contractions had changed from their intense pain in my lower bump, back and bum to pushing and surging. I looked mum straight in the eye and said ‘that was a push! My body just pushed!’ My body consistently pushed with every surge. I was in absolute awe of the body’s natural ability to push. I thought to myself ‘so this is what women mean when they say that your body pushes on its own’. Like when you vomit- that involuntary surge you feel come up your body- only it was working the opposite way. The evening was beautiful, I could hear laughter around me while Todd not only supported me, but also provided a laugh for the birth team, cracking jokes. The laughter was so comforting to hear. I went into my birth space and got on all fours, I spent some time there. I could feel so much pressure in my bum hole- it wasn’t like the bum contractions- just pressure. Todd was directly behind me, and the rest of the birth team not far behind him. I yelled out “I feel like I have a big bulging butthole” and heard my birth team behind me laughing and assuring me that it wasn’t bulging at all (only Todd later on told me the truth of that and shared with me how much it was truly bulging in a video he’d taken ) Not long after I was sure I needed to go to the toilet. Todd said “you told me to remind you that if you want to go to the toilet at this stage that you shouldn’t because it’s probably baby coming out and you didn’t want to birth on the toilet” I said back “I don’t care right now! I just want my baby!” I heard him respond “okay, that’s fair”, but inside my mind I was saying to myself “he’s right”. Todd rushed off to the toilet before me to cover it with a puppy pad to ensure baby didn’t actually fall in the toilet. I let a few surges come and go on the toilet and decided I didn’t need to be there and maybe didn’t need to poo after all. I walked slowly back to the birth space and surrendered to my bulging butthole I got into a deep squat in The Birth Sling that was hanging on the door in my birth space. I swayed there for a while, roaring through the surges. 2nd stage was by far my favourite and truly felt amazing. Eventually I got out of The Birth Sling but continued a deep squat position. I told my team that my legs were getting sore and numb and I needed support. Mum and Todd came to me and propped their knees under my legs so I was basically straddling them and continuing my deep squat. Bless their souls, they were having trouble holding me up as they were in awkward positions, but they did not let me down and stayed right where they were. I worked with each surge to absolutely roar through and could feel my baby’s head descending further down. My partner, mum and sister were behind me and had a mirror underneath my vagina. I heard Todd say with the uttermost excitement “oh! Is that a head!” My mum looked in the mirror and I heard her say “oh my goodness! It is!” I heard Todd again “is that hair? there’s so much hair!” During the pregnancy I had visualised baby with dark thick hair and I just knew when he saw the head it would be flowing with hair. I reached down and touched baby’s head, it was so soft and amazing to feel. Todd moved the mirror closer in my direction so that I could see. What an incredible sight! It was such a relief to know that I was going to meet my baby soon. I continued to roar through each surge and at one stage I yelled out ‘ring of fire!’ and heard my birth team laugh, their energy bought me comfort. Todd held a warm cloth to my perineum area to soothe and help avoid tearing. I placed my hand down to my baby’s head and could feel so much more of it. I had always visualised either myself or Todd catching our baby. As my body pushed I guided her heads descent with my hand and with the most wicked and relieving force I felt baby’s whole head come out, Todd and I both cradled the head in our hands. My body had a nice break before the next surge came. When it came I did one last big roar and the rest of her body slipped out with ease into my arms. It was absolutely incredible. I DID IT! I had gone through the greatest challenge of my life and gone through waves of doubt and then back to trust and surrender. At 10.05pm on the 19/09/22 Iva was born I held my babes body in my hands and heard someone say ‘do we know the gender’, I hadn’t looked but instantly responded ‘yes, she’s a girl- I always knew! Iva, Iva Beverley is here’. She was quiet when she came out, her eyes open wide, she looked up into mine, she scanned the faces that were close by- she’d been here before. One of our dogs Finn gently sniffed the area, Iva and myself greeting her into the world. I wasn’t worried that Iva did not cry- she’s a peaceful soul- but I could see she had some fluid in her mouth. I instinctively pulled her up and sucked on her mouth and spat out the fluids. We knew she was completely fine and the fluid was clearing with ease. At this point my photographer/friend had also sat beside Todd and I to provide support as she recognised our exhaustion. We all sat back and enjoyed Iva and waited for the placenta. I took 3 doses (overtime) of the placenta release tincture from blissful herbs- but it was not releasing. I tried various things- squatting, standing, bringing Iva to my chest to assist the oxytocin (difficult as she had a short cord), the placenta remained. It had now been around 2 hours. I had lost blood while waiting, sometimes in gushes. I wasn’t worried about the timing of the placenta, but was more concerned about the blood that was gushing out. Again, I got into a squat position to assist and became very faint. I sat back again and let my team know how I felt, they bought me barley sugar, coconut water, toast and raspberries. It helped, until I threw it all up and the dizziness came back and I became pale. The blood had fully passed through the cord so we decided to cut it so that Iva could be closer to my chest. I got onto the mattress beside the birth space that I’d prepared for us to sleep in as a new family after the birth. We tried fundal massage and breastfeeding. I was feeling very out of it, shaky, hot, cold, dizzy & appeared pale. I let Todd know that I needed extra help. Todd agreed and my sister called an ambulance. I said to Todd, ‘if I go, I do not want Iva to leave your side at all- nobody is to take her from you.’ I was airlifted to a hospital in Melbourne, the staff tried fundal massage again which was extremely painful and I only passed large clots-I agreed to have the placenta removed under anaesthetic. I was taken to a private room where Todd and Iva awaited me- I held Iva to my chest and she remained with me while I received 5 blood transfusions- it was suspected that I lost around 6 litres. I discharged myself from hospital and returned home with my new family. It was all so beautiful and surreal. Todd and I shared many moments of just simply staring at Iva and crying, or saying to each other ‘we have a daughter!’ And crying with joy again. We were filled with nothing but love and happiness. Truthfully, the last part of my story was not the easiest part of my birth story to share - throughout my pregnancy and birth documentation I have addressed my fears towards the medical system- rather than birth. So, as you can imagine, transferring to the hospital after the birth of Iva was a significant journey for me and an important part of my story. While I understand not everyone has positive experiences with the medical system - I did, and I think this had a bit to do with standing my ground and being clear on my boundaries and expectations. I cannot fault the staff who cared for me. I was not judged or ridiculed for my birth choices- instead surprisingly admired by some. This experience has helped me to address my fear with the system- though my trust still remains with birth above all else. I know with absolute certainty that if I had of chosen to birth Iva in the hospital it would not have been the experience I’d wanted, and with how long my birth went for I know there would have been various intervention methods and potentially even c-section. Another thing I have always stated is that the medical system is there to be utilised when truly necessary- and that is exactly what I did- I implemented their services when I truly required them. And I am grateful. I’ve had people comment things like ‘surely you won’t freebirth again’ - but I will, and Todd is in full support. We both continue to trust birth, as birth is. Written by Caley Kimber.

A big Thank you to Haley for sharing her amazing story with us here at The Birth Sling.

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