This is the story of my first baby's beautiful, sacred and earth-shatteringly transformative birth. If you're looking for a very raw, real, detailed and positive story about a first birth at home, then you're in the right place.
Settle in with a cuppa, because it's a long one! But I figure if you can't tell the full epic tale of your treasured first baby's birth, when can you?
Ned's birth story really begins in the weeks leading up to it. We tend to talk a lot about the ins and outs of birth itself, but there’s very little discussion of the time leading up to birth. But for me, this preparation time in the month leading up to my baby’s birth - a kind of liminal space between the “real world” and the magical portal of birth - was what laid the foundations for the beautiful, gentle homebirth that I got to experience. I want to share about it here in the hope that it’ll help other women to reject the patriarchal idea that working up until your due date is somehow a mark of how tough you are or how well you’re “coping” with pregnancy.
I started maternity leave at 35 weeks, which gave me 5 weeks from my baby’s due date (and 6 weeks from his actual birth) to transition myself from the hectic rhythm of working a 9-5 job with a huge commute, to nestling into my little sanctuary to prepare for the birth of my baby.
The whole month of June 2019 was a deeply magical time for me. My body was naturally waking up super early, so I’d sit in the dark and quiet before dawn, meditating or just dreaming, with a candle lit, oils diffusing, and a pot of tea. Each morning I'd walk (waddle slowly) on the beach with my dog Dug, my bare feet in the cold waves, talking to my baby, collecting shells and bits of sea glass that I’d bring home and pile up on the kitchen windowsill.
Throughout the days I’d bustle (waddle rapidly) around, managing the bathroom renovation and house painting that we were finishing up, buying rugs and lamps and cushions to create a beautiful family home for us. I spent my afternoons in the kitchen, making dozens and dozens of meals to fill our freezer.
In the afternoons I’d rest, meditate, visualise my dream birth, and read the birth stories from Ina May Gaskin’s books, filling my head with the absolute conviction that, when women are left alone in a safe space, birth almost always just works.
My mum and sister came to stay with me for a few days, cooking and cleaning, honouring the wonder of what I was preparing to do. We organised my Mother Blessing, creating a sacred space held by the women I love, which would stay with me all the way to my baby's birth. I had regular massages and acupuncture, so I was swimming in oxytocin. I had a photoshoot on the beach at sunrise with my postpartum doula Briony of The Nesting Place, which was a beautiful ritual in itself, walking in the waves in a bikini with my full-bloom belly. I carefully set up my birth space with beautiful rugs, candles, fairy lights, oils and flowers, a handmade cord tie and a beautiful bowl to hold my baby’s placenta.
All of these rituals - each one a little prayer of love and hope and wonder - helped me to prepare emotionally and spiritually for the birth of my baby. I knew that, as each day passed, I was moving closer and closer to something mysterious and magical - a sacred portal that every single mother since the very first mother had bravely stepped into, alone, to bring her baby into the world.
I’ll treasure the memory of that sacred, magical, liminal space that I occupied that June, for the rest of my life.
From around 26 weeks, or at least as soon I could get a clear sense of his position, my baby stayed in the exact same position in my belly for the entire rest of our pregnancy. He was head down, facing towards my back, and angled slightly to the right. It became so familiar to feel his little feet up around my ribs and his little chicken wing elbows down near my hip points. But at 37 weeks pregnant, I was involved in a car accident (somehow, thankfully, no one was seriously injured). Though I didn’t realise it right away, the shock of the accident, to both me and my baby, caused him to turn to a posterior position. After the accident I agreed to let the ambulance take me to the hospital for my baby to be checked over - the only time in the whole pregnancy that either of us would be “examined" by anyone other than my beautiful, trusted midwife Louise David (the photo below is one of our antenatal appointments, in the comfort of my own home).
While I lay in the ED in a hospital gown, the hospital midwife bustled in, felt my abdomen, and told me my baby was posterior. Still in shock, I responded that he couldn’t be, he’d been in an anterior position for months. I could see her internally roll her eyes at my suggestion that I could possibly know that. She bossily rattled off all the positions and exercises I’d “have” to do to “make” him move into the correct position. It was the only time in my whole pregnancy that I felt disconnected from my baby, as if maybe I didn’t know what he was feeling and doing after all.
I got home, exhausted and still in shock about the whole experience, and messaged Lou to let her know what had happened. “Posterior schmosterior” came back the reply. I laughed for the first time that day. And then I thought about what she was saying.
Did I believe that I could only birth my baby if he was in the “correct” position? Not at all. Did I trust my baby? Did I trust my body, and trust birth? I always said I did, but did I really, truly, when it came down to it? You bet I did, with everything I had.
I knew that my babe would move back to his preferred position only when I told him, through the feeling and energy of my body, that everything was safe and he could relax.
And so my job, over the days that followed, was to get myself out of the fight-or-flight response that my body had entered in response to the accident, and back into the oxytocin-filled state that I’d been in before it. I did none of the exercises the hospital midwife suggested, but I messaged my beautiful acupuncturist, who squeezed me in the next day. She treated some points that would help my baby to turn if he wanted to, but more importantly to me, she treated some points that would help soothe my nervous system. I walked out of her clinic feeling 90% better. The following day my mum and sister arrived, and we prepared for my Mother Blessing. And as I sat in circle surrounded by women I love, eating beautiful food and performing rituals and sharing stories that helped to prepare me for labour, the accident was finally out of my mind and I was back in a place where I was ready to birth my baby.
Oh, and my baby turned back to his preferred position that same day, entirely of his own accord.
I had people telling me from around 36 weeks that I was going to go into labour any day because of the way my belly was sitting. But somehow I knew my baby was going to come late, so while those comments freaked me out enough to make me get my act together and finish getting organised for his birth, I never really believed I was going to go into labour any time soon. I think also that, because I’d read so much about labour but never actually experienced it, there was a part of me that didn’t believe it would ever really happen to me! It seemed too wondrous and magical and mysterious a thing to ever really happen. I experienced very pronounced Braxton Hicks contractions regularly from around 20 weeks, right through until labour began. They were strong enough to be really annoying, and my whole belly would go square shaped whenever I got one, but I reassured myself with the knowledge that my uterus was toning and getting strong for the labour. My worry was that, because my uterus was always contracting, I wouldn’t know when labour had really started. My midwife Louise assured me, “You’ll know”!
On the weekend before I actually went into labour, I noticed a distinct change in how my pelvis felt - it felt loose like there was nothing holding it together, and I had aches and pains around my hips and pelvis where all the ligaments had relaxed in preparation to let my baby pass through. I knew the time was getting pretty close. On the Monday I felt exhausted and grumpy, and remember waddling uncomfortably home from my walk to the cafe and hoping I wouldn’t go into labour that night, because I felt so poorly rested.
But the following day, Tuesday, was a perfect day. I wandered down to my local cafe alone and sat in the winter sunshine for a long time, drinking my chai tea and reading the birth stories in Ina May Gaskin’s books, and luxuriating in the feeling of peace and aloneness that I knew was nearly at an end for me for a very long time. As I walked slowly back home, buzzing with a gentle peacefulness, I remember thinking to myself, “Tonight is going to be the night.”
Early Wednesday morning at around 12:45am I woke up with a very light contraction that, for the first time, felt different to the Braxton Hicks I’d been getting for months. I got up to pee, went back to bed, and waited. Around 10 minutes later I got a second contraction, and again around 10 minutes after that. I knew then that, at 40+6 weeks, we were on at last! The contractions weren’t painful at that stage, but were just strong enough to keep me from sleeping anymore. I’m grateful for having read and listened to so many women’s birth stories during my pregnancy, and I'd heard lots of women describe how they got super excited early in their labour and wasted a lot of energy moving around, so I stayed in bed as long as I could and rested, knowing that I’d need my energy for the day to come.
By 4am the contractions were coming around every six minutes and were beginning to get a little uncomfortable, so I finally allowed myself to get up and make a cup of tea. I called my mum and sister (who both live many hours away) to let them know we were on! It felt surreal talking to them and not knowing whether we’d speak again before I had my baby earthside. The mixture of excitement and anticipation, nervousness about what was ahead, and surging hormones in my body, led me to feel a little bit nauseous. By that stage the contractions were coming every 4 minutes or so and lasting around a minute and a half, and were strong enough to need my focus to breath through but still very manageable. I finally woke my partner Kane up around 5am to let him know what was happening (I’d been holding off waking him so at least one of us had had as much sleep as possible). I could see the excitement in his face, but he was super calm and casually got up to make us some toast. I called my midwife Louise to let her know we were on and that I’d keep in touch as things progressed.
Then I kept myself busy by making my baby’s birthday cake between contractions. As it turned out I forgot to add baking powder so it was a bit of a flat cake in the end, but it was the most incredible thing I’d ever tasted by the time we were ready to eat it!
I was pretty hungry all morning and kept eating and drinking as long as I felt like it. I thought this was odd as I’d been told I wouldn’t feel like eating, but I listened to my body and kept snacking. At that stage I was feeling super positive and happy, needing to breathe through each contraction but really welcoming each one. I focussed on calling the birth force into my body and relaxing my jaw and keeping my mouth open and loose to allow each contraction to do its job. After each one that wasn’t super strong I’d joke with Kane, “That was a pussy contraction. Give me a decent one, I can take it!”. I noticed that I seemed to have some control over the intensity of contractions at that early stage – I could tell myself “This is going to be a really strong one”, and it would be, and then if I felt like I needed a bit of a rest, I’d tell myself “This will be a gentle contraction”, and it would be less strong. During these early stages of labour Kane gave me lots of space to feel into what was happening in my body – which was exactly what I needed. After a few hours I needed to change things up so I got in the shower. The warm water felt so nice, but after about 20 minutes I noticed that my contractions were getting less strong and less frequent, so I got out. I had a few more decent contractions, but then it seemed to fizzle out again. I lay on the bed to take a break for 10 or 15 minutes and then got up to try and bring things on again, but not a lot was happening. I was frustrated and started to worry that I’d psyched myself out of it. At around 12:30pm I called my midwife Louise and she assured me that you can’t psych yourself out of labour, and it was more about my body trying to get bub into the right position. She said this early stage could sometimes go on for two days, and advised me to go for a walk with Kane and Dug, and if I was tired when we got home to try going to bed with a heat pack and try to sleep through a few contractions. I was a bit disappointed so I called my mum for some moral support and felt a bit better. I got dressed to go for a walk, and then suddenly my contractions started picking up again. Now they were further apart at 4 minutes and shorter than they had been (lasting around 1 minute), but suddenly much stronger and very regular in their timing. This was when I started needing to make some noise to get through them. I definitely wasn’t up for a walk all of a sudden!
I spent the afternoon working through each contraction, first in the lounge room and then in our bedroom. I knelt on a cushion while leaning over the seat of the couch or the bed, and had a hot water bottle on my back.
I really used the breaks between contractions to focus on releasing any tension I was holding in my body, and to rest as deeply as I could. Then in each contraction I’d stand up on my knees and bury my head in a pillow on the bed, and use sound to move through it.
Some contractions I just focussed on trying to relax through, while for others I would tell myself, “I’m going to dilate a full centimetre in this one” and then visualise that happening through the contraction, and I could literally feel my cervix opening. While I laboured in the bedroom, Kane was casually hanging out in the kitchen, reading the newspaper and keeping an ear out for me. After a few hours I really needed to try something new to manage the pain (also, my knees were getting sore!). I’d been scared to get back in the shower in case I relaxed too much again and the contractions fizzled out, but I thought I was far enough along by then that I could risk it. Getting in the shower really helped me relax again and stay on top of the pain. I was starting to make a fair bit of noise by this stage, but I wanted to go as long as I could before Louise came, although I had no idea how far along I was. At some point while I was in the shower, Kane called Louise again and she listened to one of my contractions over the phone, and told Kane that she’d leave in the next half hour or so. After about 40 minutes in the shower Kane noticed that I was starting to really overheat, so he got me out and I did a few more contractions back kneeling by the bed. Louise and Jen (the most beautiful student midwife who was part of my care from the very beginning, and also took these photos of my birth!) arrived at around 4pm. Right around when they arrived, my contractions kicked up another notch again, and I was in active labour.
Kane got the birth pool pumped up and filled (we’re lucky to have amazing water pressure and it only took 15-20 mins to fill), and I got into it at around 5pm.
Oh my goodness, getting into that thing was the best feeling! The warm water helped me really relax the rest of my body, and I could isolate the feeling of the contractions not just to my abdomen but to my actual uterus. I’m not sure why that was so helpful, but it really was! I felt light and weightless, the warm water was so soothing but it wasn’t steamy like the shower so I didn’t overheat, and suddenly I could feel my uterus specifically working during contractions, rather than feeling a generalised pain in my abdomen, so I was able to relax the rest of my body and to just focus on the work that my uterus was doing during each contraction.
For some reason this video feels incredibly vulnerable to share, but I want to because I feel like it illustrates so perfectly how I used sound as pain relief during my labour.
Making this long, low tone helped me to keep my jaw and throat relaxed, and hence my cervix relaxed, so that the contractions could do their job.
In the weeks before Ned’s birth I’d been reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth, and her section on “Sphincter Law” really stuck with me. One of the tenets of Sphincter Law is, “As above, so below”. “A relaxed mouth means a more elastic cervix. Women whose mouths and throats are open and relaxed during labour and birth rarely need stitches after childbirth”.
Sound was also an excellent distraction for me - with each contraction I told myself to focus on the sound instead of the pain. As the contractions intensified and the pain increased, I used my diaphragm to push more sound out my throat - so it was a way of directing my focus on the sound, which allowed my body to surrender to the contractions, rather than focussing on the contractions, which would have led me to fight against the pain. Because I’d been using sound as my pain relief for several hours by the time I was in really active labour, I would definitely have lost control of the pain if I’d suddenly had to be quiet.
Kane sat by my side and listened silently to every contraction. Towards the end he held my hand through contractions, and just that touch was enough for me to know that he was right there with me. I love his face during the video - he was right there with me every second, and had the drink ready to offer me once it was over. I love the way he’d wiped every trace of worry and pain off his face by the time I looked up and just mouthed “that was good” to me.
From the time I got into the birth pool, my memory of time and events starts to get pretty hazy. I’ve heard some women talk about having shamanic experiences during labour, such as seeing visions of themselves connected to all birthing women around the world. I’ve heard other women describe their labour as a deeply sensual experience between them and their partner. Still others have described their birth as like some beautiful cosmic dance between them and their baby, and the feeling that they left their body to bring their baby into the world. All of these things sound beautiful, but my experience of birth was nothing like that.
My experience of birth took me so far out of my head, and so deeply into my body, that I’m not even sure I was entirely human during those hours. All memory, all sense of time, all awareness of who I was and what was going around me, is a haze. Apparently at some point Kane took our dog Dug for a walk, but I don’t remember him ever leaving. I vaguely recall my second midwife walking in the door at some stage, and I noted her arrival in the far-off part of my brain that was still human, but didn’t acknowledge her presence. I don’t even remember ever thinking consciously about my baby or what he was doing, apart from at one point when my midwife used the Doppler to check his heart rate and joked about how perfectly relaxed and regular it was (“what birth canal?”, I remember her chuckling).
I think the photo below is stunning, but it’s taken me until now to feel any sense of resonance with it, because it looks so sensual and even sexual – nothing like what it felt like to be inside that body at that time. It’s only now, as I reflect on the hazy, animal, deeply embodied, non-verbal, agonizingly sensual (but not remotely sexual) feeling of birth, that I can finally connect this image with my experience. An animal body, doing the most fundamentally animal of things – birthing a new generation.
I spent the next three or so hours in the pool, working through each contraction. After a while I got a particularly strong (and particularly loud) contraction and felt a pop and a small gush as my waters broke. My midwives told me this was a really good sign, which encouraged me a lot. Things kicked up again from that point, and my contractions were super strong and coming every minute or so, so I wasn’t getting much of a break.
After a while longer in the pool, Louise suggested I try getting up and sitting on the toilet for a few contractions. This wasn’t something I would have decided to do myself – the idea of getting out of the water and having a contraction while standing on land was extremely unappealing! Getting out of the pool really sucked, and the contraction I got as I walked to the toilet was one of the worst because I was upright and out of the water. Sitting on the toilet also didn’t feel great for me, but the change in location and position seemed to help move things along so I spent maybe half an hour there, leaning forward with my head buried in either Louise or Kane’s belly. This is one the benefits I see of having an experienced birth attendant present at a birth – much of birth is instinctual, but sometimes having someone who understands birth, and who can suggest positions or strategies that might help shift the energy and keep a labour progressing, is incredibly helpful. Louise offered to do an internal check at that stage to see how far along I was so that we could make a plan for how to proceed, but I knew that if she told me I wasn’t all but fully dilated, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the thought of an unknown amount of time of more labouring, so I declined an examination. And this is the beauty of being supported by a truly hands-off midwife who trusts women and trusts birth – there was never the slightest hint of pressure to accept any level of intervention. Louise trusted my ability to birth my baby, so I never had to doubt myself.
After a while I told Kane I couldn’t stay on the toilet anymore and needed to lay down on our bed. I knew the contractions would hurt worse on the bed, but in that moment my bed was a safe and familiar place where I felt like I could take a rest and “tap out” from the intensity of what was happening. In hindsight, this was when I was in transition. I remember feeling kind of despairing and telling Kane, “I’m not going to say I can’t do this, because I know I can, but I don’t know what to try next to get through the rest of it”.
I’ve learnt from one of my greatest teachers over this last year, Jane Hardwicke Collings, that each of our births teaches a lesson that we’ll need to carry with us in our own lives, and in the mothering of that particular baby. The lesson of Ned’s birth was: trust. Trust the process. Even when you have no idea where the path is leading you or how you’re going to get there. Step into the dark, and trust that your foot will be met by solid earth. Just take the next step. Trust.
And it was at the moment, as I lay on my bed, with no idea how long I had to go before my baby would be born or how I was going to get there, that I decided to simply surrender and trust. I looked into Kane’s face, and I knew in that moment that he would have done anything, literally anything, that I asked of him. So I asked him to help me back to the birth pool. This is the moment you can see in the photo below - this contraction on my way back to the pool was the worst of the entire labour, and I had to literally hang off Kane to get through it. The look on both our faces in this photo will forever bring me to tears. This, for me, is why undisturbed birth is so achingly, perfectly beautiful. It’ll strip you of every pretence, every possible mask, and leave you utterly and completely exposed and vulnerable and raw and true. To be seen in that place, and to be loved in it - this is the earth-shattering power of birth.
I got back into the birth pool at around 9pm, and within a few contractions I began to feel things change. As each contraction reached a peak, I started to lose the ability to keep my abdomen and middle back relaxed, and they began contracting along with my uterus. I started feeling pressure in my bum (turns out birthing a baby feels like it’s coming out your bum, rather than your vagina!), and then the urge to push came in the middle of each contraction. This pushing feeling was completely beyond my control, and if someone had told me not to push I don’t think I would have been able to. I’d also always imagined (probably because this is how it’s depicted on TV), that you start pushing right from the beginning of a contraction and keep going until the end. But with zero coaching from anyone, my natural urge was to wait for a contraction to build, then right as it peaked, my body started pushing without any input from my brain. I gave around three really strong pushes for each contraction, then I was done. This really helped to conserve my energy.
The sounds that I’d been making also changed at this time – I went from the long, low tone that you can hear in the earlier video, to a kind of primal, guttural growl that came from deep in my throat. No quiet, tranquil birthing for me – I roared my baby into the world.
I’d been squatting and facing the side of the birth pool until then, but at that stage my midwives encouraged me to turn around and put my back against the edge of the pool. Kane took up his position behind me, linking his arms through mine, and he stayed like that for the next hour, holding my weight as I pushed our baby out of my body and into the world. I had a midwife supporting each leg so that my bum was suspended off the bottom of the pool, and as I pushed I kicked against each side of the pool.
I could feel my baby moving down my birth canal with each push. It was a very weird feeling, because the urge to push was so strong, but there was also a conscious thought that, “There’s something inside me coming out of my bum that I really don’t want to push out!”, and then there was also the thought that, “I want to get this bloody well over with so let’s just push it out!”.
As my baby’s head started to come into view, Louise held a mirror in the water so that I could see what was happening. I heard her and Jen commenting on his position. “Oh, it’s transverse”, someone said. It turned out my baby was coming down not facing directly towards my spine, as is the “correct” position, but facing towards my left hip. And instead of having his chin tucked and the top-back of his head coming first, it was the front of my baby’s head towards his forehead that was presenting. This means that the diameter of his head was much bigger as it passed through the birth canal than it would have been if he were in the “normal” position. Had I been birthing in a hospital, the midwives in attendance would have seen that position, believed that I couldn’t possibly birth a baby like that, and performed an episiotomy and manual extraction. I would have seen the fear in their faces and believed them when they said my baby couldn’t be born without help, and would probably have consented to this traumatic intervention.
But I wasn’t in a hospital, I was at home in my own space, held by my loving partner and supported by midwives who trusted my body, and trusted birth. There was no fear when they noted my baby’s position, only interest. They didn’t jump to intervene, but simply watched how the birth was progressing. They saw that with each push, my baby’s head was moving slowly down the birth canal. And so there was no need for worry or interference. Had there been a problem, they were ready to act – but there was no problem. Just a variation of normal.
After a while one of my midwives suggestion I try holding onto a little bit of downward pressure between contractions, to keep bub from moving back up the birth canal between each contraction – which seemed to help keep things progressing. I remember at one point asking how many more pushes, and somebody responded, “Maybe 6 more?”. I thought, “Fuck that”. Four more massive pushes, and my baby’s head was born. I remember the intense burning feeling around my perineum as he was crowning and almost screaming, “It hurts!” as his head came out.
Looking down and seeing my baby’s head between my legs was a moment I’ll never forget. He looked like a little statue of a gnome carved out of stone, with the strongest forehead wrinkles, and his face so still because he didn’t know he’d been born yet. I’ll never forgot that image.
We waited for the next contraction and I felt my baby kick his legs inside my vagina – a very strange and uncomfortable feeling. Then the next contraction built, and with one more push he was finally out. The biggest feeling of relief! At 10:10pm, around 21 hours after my labour first began and around 55 minutes of pushing, my baby was born and my world was forever changed.
My biggest hope was to be the first one to pick up my own baby – and I got my wish. I just looked at him for a moment, there on the bottom of the pool, and then I picked him up and brought him to my chest.
I’ve read that, in an undisturbed physiological birth, a mother will always put her baby to her left breast, closest to her heart which helps to regulate the baby’s own heart beat in this moment of extraordinary transition between life in the womb and life on the outside – and without any conscious thought, this is exactly what I did.
For some reason I’d been pretty sure my baby was a girl throughout the entire pregnancy, so the giant, swollen set of testicles was a big surprise! But the relief and love I felt in that moment was indescribable. He grizzled a bit but didn’t really cry - pretty typical of Ned’s chilled out personality. He pinked up quickly, and lay on my chest looking up at me with the brightest eyes. The best moment of my life.
I looked up at Kane and saw an expression on his face that I’ll never forget. It was very much like the look in this photo. He was gazing at me with awe at what I had just done, and he spent the next few weeks telling anyone who’d listen about how amazing and strong his partner was.
And he was gazing at the slippery, pink skinned baby on my chest with an expression of wonder. He’d known there was a baby coming of course, and he’d seen babies before. But this one was his, and it was no longer an abstract concept but a real, living, breathing baby. His flesh and blood. His son.
His life would never be the same, and neither would his relationship. For Kane and me, our experience of birth was relationship-affirming. We felt like we brought our baby into the world together, as a team - and that’s because we did.
My sense of time is still pretty vague at this point, but I think I’d been in the birth pool around 10 or 15 minutes after Ned was born, holding my baby to my breast in a haze of love and relief and oxytocin, before I began to feel some uterine contractions again. These were so mild compared to the contractions that had pushed my baby out, but even so the feeling of them returning was almost more than I could bear! I gave some very gentle pushes with each contraction, and I felt something slide out of my vagina. I thought it was the placenta, but it turned out to be a giant, placenta-sized blood clot. Louise estimated that I probably lost around 500ml of blood (almost, but not quite, a post-partum haemorrhage), which had congealed in my womb into a soft, slippery clot. Perhaps another five or ten minutes later, I stood up in the pool and birthed my baby’s placenta smoothly and easily.
Kane took our baby boy into his arms for his very first cuddle, while my midwives helped me step carefully out of the birth pool. I immediately felt extremely lightheaded – a combination of blood loss, not having eaten or drunk much for 12 hours, and the mammoth effort of birthing a baby. Knowing that I was on the verge of fainting, I quickly squatted down beside the pool and waited for the blood to return to my head. Then Jen, my beautiful student midwife, helped me to my bed where I climbed in on top of an absorbent pad to catch any bleeding, my baby once more at my breast.
Once Ned’s umbilical cord had turned white, we were ready to cut the cord. We tied Ned’s little handmade cord tie in place, then I held my baby boy, thanking his placenta for nurturing and growing him during his pregnancy, while Lou showed Kane how to cut the cord. “It’s just like cutting through squid”, she told him.
Kane left us to cook our much anticipated post-partum meal – fried rice! But before anyone gives him too much credit for his domestic skills, let me add that I’d prepared and frozen all the ingredients a week earlier, with instructions on a sticky note about how to finish the dish! That fried rice was the best thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. Jen brought in a giant slice of the very flat birthday cake I’d baked for our baby that morning, and it tasted so good I could have eaten the entire cake in one go!
Jen helped me to the shower, with instructions from Lou to only wash my lower half so that my upper half still smelled strongly of me – this was to help my baby bond to me and initiate breastfeeding.
Then I climbed back into bed with Ned, and held his hand while Lou took his weight and measurements. I’d never changed a baby’s nappy at that point, so Lou showed me how. “Where do I start?!” I laughed as I looked at the sticky black meconium that covered Ned’s feet, legs and bum, suddenly realising that I had no bloody idea what I was doing. “Start at the lowest point and work up”, Lou told me. We dressed Ned in the little comfy outfit I’d laid out for him with such wonder and love in the weeks prior, and then at last we climbed back into bed together.
Kane saw our midwives out with assurances that Lou would be back to check on us then next morning, then he took his own victory shower before climbing into bed beside me and Ned. And at around midnight, we snuggled down for our first night together as family. My world was changed forever – suddenly, it was right there, sleeping in my arms.
10 July 2019
Born at home
Birth photos by Jennifer Thorson. Pregnancy and newborn photos by Briony Goodsell, The Nesting Place. All other photos by me.