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  • Writer's pictureklynelove

Rumi's Birth Story

Ah the first blog post on my new website. What a sweet place to be!

What better way to commence this new relationship than with the story of my Rumi's birth.

My rebirth.

The genesis of my work with post-partum mamas and the peak embodied experience of my life so far.

I've learnt and grown so much from the person I was then, even from the time when I first shared our birth story and if/when I have another bubba there are definitely things I would do differently.

But I also know in my Heart of Hearts that everything went exactly as it was supposed to, and it's all lead me to this point right now. And for that I am infinitely grateful.

I first wrote this birth story last September and I'll share it as I shared it then because I think it has a raw and honest quality to the storytelling that I wouldn't be able to repeat in a retelling.

Every single day I am in awe of all the mamas and all the babies traversing this wild and primal landscape; more than just the continuation of our species, but an innate and primal part of the fabric of Life.

Ever since Fathers Day, I've felt the urge to revisit and put into words my journey with bringing Rumi into this world (labour and birth). I always know I'm ready to tell a story when the words just want to pour out of me. Sentences circle in my head for days, until I finally sit down and give them the space to exist. So here it is. The most epic, intense and transformative experience of my life... Obviously if you're not interested in birth or get squeamish, these may not be the posts for you :)

It started at about 9pm. Well, to be fair it had probably already started much earlier that day but I only realised at about 9pm when I thought my waters had broken.

I was sitting on my exercise ball, watching an episode of the Graham Norton Show on YouTube (something that had been a staple part of my pregnancy, because- laughter and joy) and rolling my hips as my lower back had been aching all day. At that stage of pregnancy (40 weeks + 5 days) it was hard to distinguish what was just general bodily aches from carrying a full-term baby and what might be signs of labour, especially as a first time mumma. It was a Sunday night and my goal that weekend had been distraction, so my sisters and I had spent the day swimming and looking at old family photos. Seeing the photos of myself as a baby and toddler had been oddly reassuring. In the previous few weeks of pregnancy I had stopped being able to easily visualise my baby, it was so odd... But that day, sitting with my sisters with an aching back, I was able to really connect with the fact that a tiny human was residing in my body, and that I would be holding her in my arms and looking into her eyes very soon.

So it's 9pm, I'm alone at home laughing to Graham Norton when I get a text. My phone is charging so I sit on the floor to reply and as I reach up to get a glass of water I feel liquid escape me without control. I was shocked, even though I obviously knew labour was coming I couldn't believe it was going to be that night. My adrenaline pumped but I realised I needed to stay calm, starting the very beginning of labour by panicking wasn't going to be a good way to start what was sure to be a huge journey.

I called my midwife and described what happened and we made a plan to keep an eye on it. If it was my waters breaking then I should notice a lot more fluid keep coming. After an hour I checked back in with her and there hadn't been any more significant fluid but my back ache was getting more painful and I could start to feel a rising and falling in the intensity. After another hour and not much-no fluid my midwife asked me to come into the hospital to check whether it actually was amniotic fluid. This is because if it is they effectively start a countdown to when labour should begin. I wanted clarity for my own peace of mind, so felt it was a good move and I called my dad to take me in. I remember noticing in the illuminated car clock that it was 11:11pm as we pulled out of my driveway.

Getting to the hospital, it felt a surreal to think that there was a chance I wasn't going to be leaving without a baby (my midwife had told me to pack a bag just in case). Or even, if it wasn't this night that I would be leaving with a baby one day very soon... It's hard to put into words now, how surreal the whole end-of-pregnancy stage felt.

I was taken into a birth suite (SURREAL) and hooked up to a contraction/heartbeat monitor. A little while later my midwife came back and performed a cervix exam/amniotic fluid check. The result ended up coming back negative, which we were all surprised by and the exam looked like I wasn't really dilated... The contractions I was having could have been Braxton-Hicks... So no definitive answers at this stage, my midwife sent me home telling me to rest, try to sleep and take some Panadol if I wanted (I didn't).

On the drive home, the contractions felt a lot stronger and more regular. I remember not being able to speak much to my Dad and needing to just breathe. Had the exam stimulated something?

I also messaged my doula on the way home to ask her to come over and spend the night with me. We had been in communication from the moment I thought my waters had broken. Even if I wasn't in labour, I didn't want to be alone and in the event it was labour I figured it would be a good idea for her to be there and for us to start working together.

I figured we would set up the air mattress and we'd both hopefully get some sleep.

Well, that definitely didn't happen.

I got home at about 1am and I think we thought that sleeping might be on the agenda for all of half an hour, but my contractions kept increasing in frequency and intensity.

I had really bad lower back pain, my baby was posterior in position (despite all the work I did in pregnancy for optimal positioning!) and boyyyy people talk about how painful "back labour" is... It really was that intense for me.

My doula massaged my lower back and legs when I felt like being touched, she kept me hydrated with coconut water and eventually I asked her to use an app on my phone to time my contractions because everything was rapidly becoming a blur of intensity, sensation and breathing. At one point I remember getting into the shower and kneeling on the floor, letting the hot water pound my back. It felt so good, I could have stayed there for hours but my legs got sore and I remember being dimly worried about water consumption (haha).

I had my labour playlist playing and there was a particular guided meditation called "Softening and Opening" and I remember it really helped anchor me to the present moment, and to my ultimate goal- to soften and open my body to allow my baby to work with me to come Earthside. I had it on repeat.

I also used a spiky seed-pod that my doula had brought with her, to dig into the palm of my hand during the height of a contraction. The secondary pain distracted my nervous system and meant the contraction didn't feel quite as intense, it really worked for me.

My doula kept in touch with my midwife, I asked her to call a couple of times because there seemed to be a rhythm developing. My midwife was cautious, understandably, since this was my first baby and I had just been into the hospital for an exam.

By 5am I made the decision to go back to the hospital. I knew my body and I trusted my instincts. Knowing the hospital was a good 45min drive away, sunrise was rapidly approaching and my contractions were about 3min apart lasting for 100-120 seconds. I felt that any further and I wouldn't bear the car trip and I didn't want the sunlight to affect the labour hormones.

I called my dad and we made it to the hospital at about 6am (I remember noticing the time on the dashboard of his car as we left my driveway was 5:11). My midwife was initially skeptical, thinking that she might have to send us all home, however on examining me she found that I was about 7cm dilated already! I remember feeling elated, so proud of myself and my body and validated- I had made the decision myself in the throes of early labour to make the journey to the hospital. Backing myself.

I was checked into the birth suite and my midwife suggested I get into the birth pool. I expressed to her that I was worried it would stall labour, as I had heard this can happen to women from the lack of gravity. She just said we could give it a try and see what happened. The minute I got into the warm water it was such a huge relief for my body, especially my lower back. I sat on my knees, with my legs spread and my arms resting on the side of the pool, cradling my head.

My mum and sisters arrived at about 7am, my dad was in the waiting room and my midwife was due to clock off. I was nervous about the new midwife, I didn't have as strong connection to her and my midwife could see the worry in my eyes. She told me she was going to get some breakfast then come back, I was so grateful.

From the minute I got in the pool, my contractions increased in frequency and intensity. It was like the warm water and lack of gravity had taken some of the pressure off my lower back and allowed my body to relax and soften more. I basically hadn't changed position, still hanging off the edge of the pool and just shifting sometimes in between the contractions and stretching my legs out. My doula, mum and sisters took it in turns to bring over the coconut water or "labouraide" that my doula had made me. A few words were exchanged here and there, mostly heartfelt looks and touches on my hand or wiping my hair back. Early when they arrived, during a contraction I could hear whispering/quiet talking. Coming out of the contraction I asked that during a contraction ("wave" was the word I preferred) if everyone could please be totally silent so I could focus my breathing. It felt good to be able to communicate what I needed and know that nobody was taking offence and I was simply asking for what I needed. I thought that by this stage I would be completely incoherent, and I was during the waves, but in between I was still lucid and myself. A bit "out of it"/between worlds, but I was still me and I could articulate what I needed and I felt safe. In between one of the contractions I remember looking up and saying that now I understood why some women chose to have epidurals/drugs and we all laughed.

By 8am my body started pushing. It was one of the strangest sensations of my life! Without control at all, my body/muscles started contracting and bearing down. At first it took my breath away and I felt a surge of adrenaline-this was it!

I could feel everything shifting dramatically inside me with every wave and push and breath. After a couple of waves I felt something come out of my body and I was totally bewildered because it definitely didn't feel like a baby's head! It turns out the amniotic fluid test was correct and my waters hadn't broken, the fully intact sack was right there to prove it!

This stage of labour was so grueling for me. I could feel that my breathing and pushing was productive, but after I could feel her head it just didn't move any more... My midwives got me out of the pool at one stage and shifting positions to see if that helped. On my back, on the floor kneeling, on my side. Holy shit this part hurt a lot as I felt gravity come back in full force and the back pain was excruciating. I could feel how swollen, open, expanded and tender my body had become and the room felt so cold compared to the water. My Mumma got on the floor with me and held my hand, I could tell it was hard for her to see me in so much pain but she was right there beside me facing it.

Eventually I got back in the pool. It had been about 2hr at this stage and I was starting to feel helpless and beyond exhausted. At some point my membranes had broken thankfully because it was the strangest sensation to walk/move with what felt like a water balloon in between my legs. I was so drained from the back pain and lack of sleep. The fact that no progress had been made in a long while had me starting to feel seriously scared. I could feel that my body was reaching its limits and I wasn't sure if I had anything left to give.

Another half an hour later and no significant change and I remember looking up at my midwives and basically telling them that I give up, that they'd need to get a doctor and get this baby out somehow. I felt like I had failed somehow. My midwives had been monitoring the baby's heartbeat every 15min (that was unpleasant, necessary but unpleasant) and watching my body and they both felt that my breathing and pushing was productive and that I could do it.

I had reached the maximum time you were allowed to be in the water (they had also been generous) and we decided to sit me on the toilet to see if the gravity could help. They encouraged me to feel my baby's head and use that as my guide to push. I did and everything started moving very quickly. My midwife explained that this was good but we couldn't have my baby delivered into the toilet so they quickly pulled a mattress into the toilet and I got down on my hands and knees.

I was pretty "out of it" at this point but I remember being vaguely aware that I had had a number of dreams that this was going to be the position I would give birth in. An almighty push, some movement from my midwife and I could feel that her head was out. I definitely knew it was by the sobbing I could hear behind me; my mother, sisters and doula were standing in a semi-circle.

Another big push and her body slid out of me and all of a sudden I'm sitting on my knees as they pull my daughter through my legs and rest her on my stomach. My whole body felt like jelly and I was beyond-giddy with relief and disbelief that it actually worked and that I was holding my baby. She was born at 11:11.

One of the midwives started talking to me and was holding up a needle and I recall having to shake my head and become more present to figure out what she was asking. Apparently there was a lot of blood and they were worried I was hemorrhaging so instead of the physiological stage 3 of labour that I had wanted (when you allow the placenta to be born in its own time without intervention) they were asking permission to inject me with synthetic oxytocin to hopefully stop excessive bleeding. I was so beyond exhausted by this point and I obviously didn't want to die from blood loss, so I said yes and she injected the top of my thigh.

Then they started talking about moving me to the bed and I just couldn't imagine being able to get up and walk on my own. They knew this wasn't going to be a possibility either so with a lot of help from a few people I somehow held onto my baby and got up and made my way to the bed. My doula had called my dad in by this point and I vaguely saw he was there, and looking a little pale from the trail of blood on the floor and over my legs.

Once on the bed they got me comfortable and set up with Rumi on my stomach/chest.

The next task was to birth the placenta safely and make sure I wasn't losing excessive amounts of blood. I vaguely remember the birth of the placenta and it being assessed by the midwives before my dad got it packed up in the cooler bag, ready to be taken to the lady for encapsulating (best dad ever- placenta delivery man and maker of yoni steaming chairs)

It turned out that the reason Rumi had gotten stuck in the birth canal for so long was because she had her first curled up by her face and this was the reason why I ended up tearing as she exited my body (the midwife had luckily reached up and in to prevent it from being worse)

This was also the reason why it initially looked like I had lost a lot of blood- the tear.

While the midwives called a doctor to come and stitch me up, it started to land with me that my baby was here. That she was on my chest, looking up at me and that we had done it. Together.

I don't remember a coherent chain of events from this point onward. I know that Rumi and I stared at each other for a long time. I know that my family came to me one at a time to offer their congratulations and to see Rumi for the first time and to tell me how proud they were of me. At some point Rumi started crying and we figured out our first breastfeeding experience. She was eventually taken to an area in the room for examination, I can't remember which of my family members went with her...

A female doctor eventually came to perform the stitches. Boy, that was up there with the very hardest parts of labour. To be touched in that area after giving birth to a baby, let alone be stabbed 12 times with an anesthetic needle then have stitches. Yep, it's as bad as it sounds. I'm so grateful that my sister held my hand throughout the whole ordeal. I was offered gas for pain relief, but I get notoriously queasy and I figured if I'd been through labour than dammit I could get through this (yeah I didn't expect it to be quite as uncomfortable as it was!)

After the stitches I remember my other sister helping me to have a shower, even getting down on the ground to get the dried blood from my feet. These two memories of the total love and support from my sisters at such a huge moment in my life, still brings me to tears.

By this time we were approaching the maximum of 4 hours post birth in the birthing suite. They like you to be ready to go home at this point but my blood pressure wasn't looking good so we ended up being checked into a room. I felt pretty faint/drained and my family felt that I needed some food so they went to get some Thai takeaway from our favourite restaurant down the street, while my Dad took the placenta to the encapsulating lady.

I was in a room with tiny Rumi in the crib beside me, dressed in an oversized onesie with vernix still in her hair and wrapped in the hospital blanket. She started crying and I gingerly got out of the hospital bed and picked her up, not even sure how to hold a baby properly but letting my instincts guide me. I opened the front of her suit and unbuttoned my shirt and I laid down with her on my chest, skin-to-skin. I tried to nap but I still felt a little keyed up on adrenaline and I was nervous about letting myself succumb to sleep with her on my chest.

So I laid there, in total awe and wonder, trying to process the magnitude of what had just happened.

Eventually my family came back and I managed to have something to eat, realising how famished I was. A couple of hours later, feeling a little revived we got the all-clear to go home.

My post-partum experience is a story for another day. An epic period of my life that has had unexpectedly large ripple effects for me and my future hopes, dreams and intentions.

One of the biggest takeaways I've had from my entire pregnancy and birth journey is that no matter how you give birth to your baby; whether it's with or without painkillers, elective or emergency c-section, water home-birth or some combination... You are a fucking Warrior. There is so much judgement out there as to what makes a "good" birth, but ultimately a "good" birth is one in which you felt empowered to make the choices that were the best for you and your baby. I know women who loved giving birth and I know women who carry deep trauma from their experience. We are very lucky to live in a time where birth doesn't carry the same mortality rates as it used to, however there is still a long way to go in giving women more autonomy, more information and more support throughout the entire pregnancy, birth AND post-partum periods. Watch this space because I'm feeling so inspired and aligned and ready to play my part in making this world a better place... xx

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