The gorgeous @sjbickford shares her incredible 3rd birth! Sarah and her husband attended Calmbirth to prepare for a positive birth experience after her previous births, and she has kindly shared her story. She talks about a looming induction date, care provider discussion around “big baby”, informed decisions making, early labour and home and trusting her body and herself to birth her baby during the most empowering journey.
“I think for me, this story begins a few days prior to labour when it was suggested that I get a growth ultrasound at 39 weeks to see how this baby was tracking in size. There was a distinct unspoken tone that because of my 2nd pregnancy/birth, it would be more favourable if I were to be induced once again. The scan came back with a middle number of 4.4kg, but that meant a minimum birth weight of 3.8kg and anywhere up to 5kg. I’d be lying if I said these larger numbers didn’t scare me. I began to unravel at the thought of having to relive another birth where the induction didn’t go smoothly to the point where I was prepped for an emergency C-section, baby was 4.3kg and had shoulder dystocia on the final exit. The midwives were obviously anticipating a similar situation and I started to believe them too. “
It was decided that I was to be booked in for induction on Tuesday, after all the public holidays. I voiced my concerns around this and made it clear that if induction was going to happen, that I did not want to be a passenger in this birth. I wanted to be physically active and not be knocked out by an epidural from the get go. It’s a tremendously difficult thing to find middle ground between being guided by the medical professional in the room but to also be true to what your mind believes your body can do.
I left the hospital and felt really apprehensive. Nonetheless, my baby and I had 4 more days to go into labour spontaneously, before we even crossed the bridge of induction.
Good Friday morning rolls around. We were all sitting on the lounge when I started to feel small, gentle but rhythmic tightenings around my core. They were different from the Braxton’s I’d been having for months. I kept quiet and enjoyed the time on the couch with my hubby and 2 boys, which I had a feeling would be the last time as a family of 4. After about 4 or 5, I looked over to my husband with the biggest smile on my face and said, I’m pretty sure I’m in early labour.
I don’t think there was a bone in my body that wasn’t equally ecstatic and relieved that this was it. It was happening. My body and my baby had already overcome the first hurdle. Oxytocin was flowing on our own terms!
For the next few hours, I reminded myself of everything I had learnt and everything I wanted for this birth. We took our two sons for a scooter ride, cuddled them so many times, I kissed my husband as often as I could, I rang my best friend who is also pregnant and got her in on the excitement and joy, I pictured everything that had led up to this day and just bathed in the happiness.
We got home from the scooter ride and it was time I submitted to labour-mode. I put my AirPods in, went into my labour space, rode the waves of the contractions and visualised meeting my baby, so very soon. I literally kept smiling and just being in labour bliss. Go figure, someone using the words ‘labour’ and ‘bliss’, in the same sentence!
By about 1pm, the contractions had grown in intensity and length (about 60sec), plus my rest time was getting noticeably shorter (about 5-6mins). I had to focus on my breath and relaxing my face more. I kept changing positions between kneeling over my birth ball and bending over through each surge, remembering space and gravity were my friends.
I had 3 very close and very strong surges where I became vocal through my exhale and made the call to get my two sons picked up and we needed to head to the hospital. They were coming every 3-4mins now so it made for an interesting drive to hospital and the ‘walk’ up to the birthing suite was filled with pauses in the foyer, at the vending machine and lots of low vocal sounds and ‘boosting’ my TENS machine through each contraction.
We got up to the birthing suite at 3pm. I was in very active labour and the midwife was encouraging me to continue breathing. There was a very quick conversation between contractions about what pain relief I was considering, if any. I was told the anaesthetist was ‘just outside’ and if I wanted an epidural, I could get one now. I said no and wanted to work with my body. I also made it clear that I wanted to be on all fours, kneeling or on my side if I had an epidural, because of my physio, Brooke’s recommendations and the conditions associated with my abdominal wall and pelvic floor. By the time I was checked in, and the foetal monitor was on, the midwife recommended we do an internal to see what my cervix was doing – she could see how deep into labour I was. I was at 9cm! I looked at Kurt and said ‘I can do this”.
I needed some pain relief so asked for the gas. My whole body was beginning to shake through the exhales but I continued to focus on ‘floppy face’, deep breathing and creating space for baby. Being on my back for the check was SO uncomfortable so in between contractions I asked to be helped onto my side. This immediately felt better, but not comfortable enough for me to potentially deliver my baby like this. The midwife said we need to create more space – knees in, calves out helped a little but again, not optimum for me, so I suggested to be on all fours. I was assisted up over the back of the bed and was in a kneeling position. The midwives asked to break my waters, my husband said it was fine. We knew it would help.
The next 20mins were the most real and raw minutes of my life, where through wild and at times violent vocalisation and breathing, I birthed my baby. It was as if I had no choice but to push because I became a part of the agenda that my uterus had. I can’t quite tell you what the most amazing part of it was because it was all just so magical in my eyes. And to top it all off after asking my husband and the midwives twice “are you sure??”, before I finally believed them, had a quick cry over the back of the bed because she was a GIRL. They passed her up through my legs and I cuddled the crap out of her on my chest. I finally got my baby girl, who I get to share this story with one day. I get to teach her all about the things that I know now about birth and the f**king queens that females are, being able to do what I did, just one short week ago.
I’m so proud of my attitude, my body, my patience and my knowledge, but equally I’m so grateful for the team of people who supported my wishes and provided me with the tools and guidance I needed, to make this my most rewarding birth I could have imagined.
So there you have it. Blake’s entrance to the world. If my husband hadn’t already got a referral for a vasectomy I’d be very tempted to go again because it was just so bloody cool. Just so different and so much more empowering compared to my last two births. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for playing a significant role in this birth. I’m forever grateful to feel like I’ve experienced what womanhood is all about. We were made to do this and I felt that a million times over.