Beyond the beautiful birth

By the time I was in established labour, I was exhausted after a week of very slowly progressing Braxton hicks contractions. My body just wanted to rest. So after night three of intense contractions, I decided the next morning that I would keep my mind in “the zone”, knowing all the while that daytime labours and births aren’t so common. Things started to progress pretty fast once I had my eye mask with soothing essential oils, candle and relaxation playlist going in the comfort of our bedroom. As we headed to the hospital, the sun was shining, and I felt extremely awake and aware. So different to my previous births. Hubby and I had a full conversation, interrupted by a few intense breaths.

Lockdown was still in full swing, and I felt everyone’s anxiety at the hospital. I tried to keep as calm as possible but myself tensing with each contraction.

Once my midwife arrived, the intensity was building towards that edge where you just wonder how you can keep going. I knew I could work through it as I had before, but I found it harder to relax than I thought. I felt my mind slipping to other worries that were outside that room, with family, finances, health, and of course the pandemic. It was amazing when my midwife saw exactly what was happening and simply said; “Relax your shoulders. You know your body, come back to it.”

Something about her trust in me and those simple words just reset the worries I was feeling. The words we use and hear have so much power, and sometimes what resonates may be something we’ve heard 100 times before. After this, I could hear Isaac’s voice again, running through all the positive cues which helped me power through. Within an hour of this, I enjoyed the comfort of the bath, relaxed over the bean bags (where my waters broke again like last time!) and I quite literally breathed her out laying on my left side. Isla had the cord wrapped twice around her neck, and once around her armpit. Apparently this is quite common, but you can imagine a quick moment of panic. Maybe this is why there were so many starts and stops early in labour; perhaps it was just my body wanting to keep her with me a little longer.

I was so excited to hold her. I can only describe birth as beautiful. This birth, all my three births. I’m amazed at birth can be a place where time stands still and has no bearings. Where your body feels like it leaves this planet, captures some magic, and then returns.

Returning to reality isn’t always easy. There’s the beauty of moments like bringing your newborn home to meet the family. Then there is the challenge of adjusting with a new baby within the family dynamics. The reality of late-night feeds, and demand for 100% of my energy and attention by my other two toddlers who need me all day is exhausting. Days on our own without hubby are the hardest, especially dinner/ bath-time. Breastfeeding one and spoon-feeding the others is depleting. We sit eagerly waiting for dad to come home from work/uni on these days, all with tears in our eyes. These times make me realise how much I need my people, though I can pretend to be strong and independent. That tribe that everyone talks about, I am blessed to have them. Even in the midst of lockdown, I have felt the support of both my immediate and extended tribe. Those who not only hear what I have to say when I’m struggling or when I'm extremely joyful, but those who see what I need before I even say it.

Above all of this, I have come to realise that birth is about more than just me, the mother, the woman who gives birth. It's about all those who surround this process and what comes after. The birth of a baby has an impact on so many people in someone's network. I've always struggled with the "you do you" culture, because doing general day to day life alone is isolating.

There is so much we can gain from communicating our joys and struggles with those who are in our tribe, whilst still remembering that each person on that team has their own joys and struggles that need to be shared.

Now, I cannot believe it has been almost four months already. My baby girl is no longer a new born! I feel like I have been focused on taking it all in this time. Previously, I feel like I followed all the rules but this time I'm enjoying making eye contact before it's bedtime. I'm enjoying walking her to sleep. I enjoy cuddling her in bed in the early peaceful hours of the morning, mostly because it has not made that much of a difference in sleep or routines. Even without following all the rules, I get the rest I need - for now anyway. I've also absolutely been loving the relationship my three kids have with each other already. I won’t fool anyone - there is daily/ hourly screaming and fighting, which moments later turn to hugs and kind words, and then goes back again. But I know you parents out there will understand that we just ride those waves until bedtime.

To my baby girl - I’ll try my best to laugh when I tell you that it’s time for bed and you give me that gummy smile like "ha, I won’t be asleep for hours". When the nights are rough, I’ll remember that I won’t always get to rock you to sleep. I’ll remember to take it all in when I kiss you and smell your gorgeous face, and you nibble my nose thinking it is another opportunity for a feed. I’ll remind myself that it doesn’t last forever, and that tomorrow your brothers will be up before 6am and you will be the easy part of my day.

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