My birth centre birth story

I want to share my birth story as nothing more than an encouragement to other women that birth can be positive and things can and do go smoothly.

I know during my pregnancy I heard about a lot of different birth experiences, and while a couple of them were positive, from many of them I felt increased anxiety as I heard about all the things that went wrong and the interventions that took place.

Absolutely those things can be necessary and I’m so glad that in all the stories I heard, healthy babies were born.

From start to end, the birth of our beautiful girl was covered by God’s hand and she followed a textbook perfect entry into the world.

This is not a retelling to brag about how things went or to say this is the way other mums should journey their labour – not at all! My hope is this is simply an encouragement to  expecting mums that you don’t need to fear it.

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My plan was always to give birth at the Family Birth Centre, which is attached to King Edward’s Memorial Hospital. To use the birth centre you agree to a drug free labour, however if you change your mind or circumstances change during the labour they can move you to the hospital to get what you need. This appealed to me because I’ve always felt quite uneasy around the intense hospital atmosphere but I was also glad to know that should something not go to plan I would be in the right place to get the care I needed.

Probably one of the most attractive things was that the birth centre offers water births. It wasn’t something I had ever thought about until getting pregnant, but as someone who loves to swim it felt like it just made sense. If you want a water birth you definitely can’t have an epidural so this was one of the main drivers behind why I chose to go drug-free (as well as some information I turned up through research about the effects of an epidural on the labour) However, while no epidural was a goal I also said to my husband I never wanted to feel like the option was completely off the table should I really need it.

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On a Monday at 1am – 11 days before our surprise gender baby’s due date – I woke up to realise my waters had broken. I instantly went into shock at this point thinking ‘Oh my goodness I’m having a baby today’ and ‘how crazy is this only 10-15% of labours start with the water breaking’. I hopped into the bathroom to wait out the gush and started googling what to do if your water breaks but you don’t feel any contractions yet. The consensus was to try and sleep since this will be your last chance. I grabbed a towel and hopped back in bed but my mind was too far gone at this point.

I chose not to wake John as our birth classes had reminded us to let partners sleep if labour starts in the middle of the night as it will be long and best to have someone who has had some rest. I also knew I didn’t need to call the midwife unless the fluid was discoloured, but to wait until morning. It was pretty crazy to be experiencing all this and not yet able to tell anyone!

Not long after I started feeling mild cramping and noticed it was coming and going. I downloaded a contraction counter and timed them as I lay in bed. From the get go my contractions were about 3 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds. This didn’t really line up with what I had read about early labour contractions starting as long as 20 minutes apart, but since they weren’t very sore I didn’t worry. I’m still not sure why they were so close together throughout my whole labour the furthest apart they got were 5 minutes.

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Giving up on sleep I moved into the lounge to start putting into practice some of the pain management techniques I had read about. I started just by counting 1 to 8 over and over through each contraction and progressed to walking around with the count each time.

At 4.30am I woke John. I wanted to give him more sleep but I also really wanted his help to put on the TENS machine, which they say to use as early as possible before things get too painful. Despite using the machine for 14 hours, I never felt like the TENS actually helped the pain but it was a nice distraction and at least made me feel like I was doing something to combat it.

I called the midwife around 6am to discover my midwife would not be able to attend the birth and someone else would step in instead. I wasn’t too concerned by this as I knew it was likely to happen and every midwife I had met at the birth centre I had felt very comfortable with. After I let her know where I was at she recommend I lie down, try to sleep if I can and also to eat plenty. This was her advice for several hours as I called back each couple of hours with an update. Needless to say I could not sleep, but I didn’t mind the lying down as much as I thought I would. I also tried taking in food in small doses.

As the day went by John notified work that he would be taking his leave now and we let our families know what was happening. We watched a bit of TV to help the time pass and tried to have some lunch. The hours actually seemed to whizz by as by lunchtime I couldn’t believe I had been at this for 11 hours.

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A plan was made to come into the hospital at 6pm for antibiotics as it would have been 18 hours since my waters broke and the baby would be at risk of infection. However at around 3pm there was a noticeable shift. My contractions were taking all of my focus now, I was banging stressballs on the fitball and making loud ‘Ahhh’ sounds to work through the pain. After one ended there wasn’t quite the respite as before, I still felt pain in between and was shaking a lot.

The midwife asked if I could try 10 more minutes at home, but to pack the car and then call when we were on our way. John got all our gear together while I sat on the floor and told him what things we needed. I thought maybe 20 minutes had past by the time we hit the road but it turned out John had stalled us for almost an hour! He was afraid we might get there too early and be sent back home.

The car ride was intense. I remember telling John off for doing less than the speed limit on the freeway. Here, I was banging my stress balls on the dash each time a contraction came. We got to the birth centre at about 4pm and things had progressed even more. A midwife had to help me through the front door. They did a quick examination and then said I could hop in the bath. I later found out that upon arrival I was 9cm!

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This was definitely the hardest part of the labour. I remember crying a bit and asking if it could all stop (all of which I hear is a pretty normal response at this point). I took some gas after a while because I had a hard time breathing through the contractions and fighting the urge to push when it was still too early. Having my support people here (John and the midwife) were what got me through. I felt like I must have broken John’s hand every contraction and the midwife was an amazing guide, completely calm and gentle but with the confidence I needed to see.

About 2 hours after arriving at the birth centre our beautiful daughter Bethel Anne was born. It was a very exciting moment to discover we had a baby girl. I was in shock when they handed her to me because it was almost as if I had expected to recognise some part of her but I didn’t and my first thoughts were ‘who are you?’ I was not in the least surprised that she had plenty of hair like her mum though.

 

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Overall I had a 19 hour labour with 17 hours at home. The midwives were super impressed with how everything went, even my blood loss was very minimal. One midwife even suggested I could opt for a home birth next time – not that I’m thinking about a ‘next time’ right now! I did suffer a second degree tear though and needed some stitches at the hospital.

After the placenta delivery, the stitching, feeding Bethel and having her checked by the pediatrician we had a very short cat nap and were discharged 7 hours after her birth at 2am. I do wish we had of been able to stay that first night but since there were no complications we were well aware of the quick discharge protocol of the centre.

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I left that place having been through easily the most intense experience of my life. Physically and mentally it was incredibly demanding but I was also so encouraged by the staff and my loving husband. I also knew that things could not have gone more perfect and have no doubt God had His hand around our little family the whole way through, and still does as we learn to navigate this brand new season.

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31 days of May

Something new I’d like to start on my blog is a monthly round up of some of my highlights from the month just gone and the things I read, saw and did.

May-be May is a good place to start!

So, what did I get up to this month?

  • I was a bridesmaid in my sister’s wedding!! I can’t believe that was only this month. It feels like it was much longer ago. Within three months the Shawcross sisters have become Mrs Okely and Mrs Goff. How can that be! It was a truly beautiful day and I had so much fun being a bridesmaid for the first time. I cried a lot that day.
  • Celebrated mother’s day with John’s family and surprised my mum with a visit. It was so nice to spend time with both our families that day, however brief.
  • Trained for and completed the HBF Run for a Reason 12km for the second time. I had a great first half of the race until I ‘hit the wall’ at the 7km mark and my goal time went flying away. Keen to make a comeback next year!

Something new I discovered this month was…

Dinner Twist! We placed our first order with the fresh ingredient box company and have kept our subscription every fortnight. You get the option of ordering from three different menus and they send you all the ingredients and the recipes you need to cook those meals. It’s a brilliant way to avoid thinking up new meal ideas, try new things and avoid going grocery shopping as delivery is free. You can check them out here. And if you’re keen to give it a go you can use the code 0420408300 for 20% off your first order.

This month I read…

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. You can read my review on my Goodreads account if you’re interested.
  • Continued working my way though the 700 plus pages of Mary Queen of Scots by Antonia Fraser.

This month I watched…

  • Beauty and the Beast and loved it
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and thought it was also pretty enjoyable but not quite as good as the first.
  • Broadchurch season 3. So intense.
  • The new Doctor Who series. So far so good (I’ve only got 2 or so other seasons to compare it to).
  • The Play that Goes Wrong at His Majesty’s theatre. This was just hilarious. I almost completely lost it at several points.

Memorable moment: shooting ‘arrows’ in our backyard with John’s home made archery kit.

Goodnight, no wait ‘Will you marry me?’

It’s been almost one whole month since John asked me to marry him! Time has really flown. We’ve been swept up in a wave of incredible joy, blessing, excitement and busyness as we plan our wedding and start to set up our lives together.

The first few days of our engagement were a whirl and I explained our engagement story in many different long and short variants. Here, I will tell it in full for those who never got to hear it or only heard the main points.

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About a month and a half before, John asked if i would like to go on a date some time the next month where we could film parts of the date and create a vlog from it. I was a little bit suspicious of this and thought it sounded out of the ordinary, but at the same time he had just come back from Vidcon and had talked about doing a vlog for some time so I tried not to get ahead of myself.

August came and went and we never went on the date. When I brought it up John feigned having forgotten and asked if i still even wanted to do it. I was a bit disappointed by that but let him know that yes, i did indeed want to go on a special date. (This was all part of an elaborate plan that would make me think the date was more my idea).

During the week of, John told me he was going to buy a new suit for our date and encouraged me to also get a new dress. I went shopping with Lauren and bought something a couple of nights before and we talked about our suspicions and excitement about this date, all the while trying to make sure I didn’t get my hopes up. On the day dear Susan came around to do my hair and make up beforehand. I’m lousy at doing both of these and wanted to look a little nicer than just diverting to the messy bun.

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John came to my door and picked me up just like he did for our very first date and looked very handsome in his navy blue suit with brown shoes and bright red socks (which he knew i would appreciate). He brought me a huge bouquet of flowers as well!

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He drove us to a surprise dinner at Friends restaurant in the city. We were given the perfect table sitting right in front of the window overlooking the Swan River. We enjoyed an amazing five course meal and were devastated that we both couldn’t come close to finishing our dessert.

Towards the end of the meal, I said I might order a cup of tea with dessert, to which John said he had thought that maybe we could go next door to the Hyatt to have tea, but then added that I could have one in the restaurant instead if i wanted. I said we would stick with what he had in mind, but it did make me think i must be wrong about the date and he didn’t actually have a particular plan.

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The restaurant gave me a flower as we left and went next door to the Hyatt conservatory for tea. As we often do on dates we talked a bit about marriage and the future, and John said he promised to make a decision about us before we got to four years of dating as he knew he needed to make one soon. I got quite sad at that point, realising that I was obviously all wrong. (Later that night John told me that he said it because he felt i was getting too close to guessing, but tried to change the topic when he saw how it affected me).

After leaving the conservatory John suggested a walk around Elizabeth Quay if i felt up to it, but that maybe I would like to go home as it was getting on in the evening and we were both still recovering from colds. At this point i was fairly convinced he couldn’t have anything planned since so much of the date seemed to be my prerogative. We did end up going on a little walk about the Quay and John set up his camera on a step to film us hugging in front of the changing lights. Something in his personality changed during that moment and he held me for a long time (he later told me he was tempted to propose then but decided to stick to the plan and not do something “so cliche”).

After this lovely evening of talking, eating and enjoying being with one another we drove  back to mine. John walked me to my door (as he does every time he takes me home) and said goodnight. As he hugged me goodbye he said in my ear “just a little bit longer”. It made me smile, knowing that he was thinking about our future and that maybe he had intentions to propose in a few more months (little did i know it was more like a few minutes).

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I went inside and said hello to my parents (who knew and were wondering what on earth happened). I told them about each course of our dinner and went to get ready for bed when John texted me to ask if i had changed yet. He said he lost some of the footage we had filmed and asked if he could come back to redo it.

We walked to a nearby park with his camera and as we entered the park I saw all these candles lighting up the ground and could eventually make out his keyboard with fairylights. I was so confused and happy and completely overwhelmed. In my mind our date was done, so what was happening now!?

He stood behind the keyboard and played the beautiful piano piece he wrote me when we first started dating. I was gone. I completely burst into tears. John said he couldn’t finish the rest of the song as he wanted to come and grab me. He took me around the side of the piano, held me close and said a whole lot of lovely things.

Then he took out a ring box and got on one knee and i couldn’t believe what was happening. Still writing it it feels surreal, but wonderful. More crying followed until i had to take off my glasses because i couldn’t see a thing!

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John asked me to marry him in the same park where I embarrassed myself two and a half years ago by telling him i already knew i wanted to marry him.

All through the date i kept asking what was going to be the end of our vlog as just the date alone didn’t seem like a very good story. Well this was by far the most perfect ending. John set up the camera before he played the song and filmed the whole proposal.

God has blessed me with a love story better than what I could have ever been praying for.

 

 

 

 

South West is best

I just can’t seem to get enough of our South West.

I’ve been down three or four times the winter just gone. Sometimes for camps, and the other times for a weekend getaway.

There’s something about leaving the ‘burbs behind and getting out into the fresh country air that feels so good for the soul.

My last trip was with my dear friend Allison to show her a bit more of our lovely state before she heads back home to the US of A.

We spent two nights at Dunsborough Railway Carriages and Cottages – a place I had remembered staying with my family at least 10 years ago. Then we stayed in a cottage, now we had a cute old railway carriage. It was simple but neat and just what we needed for a weekend.

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This weekend was about getting out and seeing the Margaret River Region and we managed to squeeze a whole lot into our day and a half.

I enjoyed a morning run on Saturday, exploring the grounds of the place we were staying. They had cows, alpacas and chickens on the property who all stared at me as I ran past as if to say ‘why on earth would you do that?’. I also saw several kangaroos as I ran a small trail through the trees, finding bridges and native flowers. It truly was incredibly refreshing and serene.

Our first destination was to explore the town centre of Margaret River. We found an amazing bakery for morning tea that was a little squishy due to it’s popularity but offered an amazing selection of breads and desserts.

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Next stop was Rosa Brook for some hose riding. It was a pleasant ride despite a bit of drizzle. However we both wished we would have had the opportunity to canter our horses but we rode in quite a large group with several young children.

Afterwards they served some fresh bread with dukkah to enjoy, which was a nice touch.

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Having worked up quite an appetite we drove to The Berry Farm for lunch. It’s a sweet little spot for a meal. Expect a few little chirpy visitors at your table as you eat. The birds are quite happy to come close, especially if there’s some sugar to eat on your table.

I imagine there’s more to do here in the warmer months as visitors are free to pick berries, but as our visit wasn’t seasonal there wasn’t anything growing.

We did really enjoy sampling all the unique jams and couldn’t help grab a couple, as well as a bag of avocados for $5!

We hit up the Margaret River Chocolate Factory for some free samples on our way to Indijup Beach.

Another stunning location, we trekked across the beach to watch the sun start to go down atop some impressive rock formations. It truly was a beautiful sight.

I love how it doesn’t seem to matter how often I visit our South West, each time I discover just how little of it I have seen and just how many more hidden gems there are to find.

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