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River's Birth Story

February 08, 2018 8 min read 4 Comments

Oh little River James – he who initiated me into this crazy amazing world of Mamahood.
Disclaimer: This is my version of the events told more than two years down the track and I’m fully aware that things are probably as rose tinted as the sexy red light I gave birth under.

Anyway, where to begin?

Well first things first - I was 100% told by every Tom, Dick & Harry that with number one you totallllly go over your due date. So there I was preparing myself to go to like 41 weeks and be totally chill, super zen mama about it….. which is why I was pretty skeptical but quietly stoked when I started getting some holy-shitballs-those-are-not-just-Braxton-Hicks feels a few days before my due date.

River's Birth Story - pregnancy photo shoot

{The week before I went into labour. Hmmm seems the lemon belly is a trademark pregnancy look for me. Photo by the incredible Captured By Keryn}

It was Monday morning and I’d just dropped Steve at the ferry to head to work and was off walking through the park trails trying not to get my hopes up or make anything of it. I texted my midwife just to let her know that there was a possibility that something was up – to which she replied…. “okay cool, let me know if things start to get funky”. She was totally my kinda woman.

So, I went home, started doing my usual ferreting around – noticing that crampy feeling getting stronger and well, slightly funky.

I called Steve to say it was on like Donkey Kong (hopefully didn’t use those words – that would’ve been super cringe) and he started to make his way home. Meanwhile my Mum and her business partner were in the area so they popped in and while they drank tea I made my Grandma (Naenae)’s banana cake recipe (these were my pre-cheese-scone days). But true to form I managed to double the butter quantity and ended up with the world’s greasiest but most delicious banana cake.

I was relatively chill at this stage, it all seemed so normal, even uneventful – contractions would come, I’d do some breathing, swaying, pacing and then they’d be gone and I’d potter a bit more. I was incredibly grateful for the tools i'd learnt at hypnobirthing and for all of the epic positive birth stories i'd read and watched on you-tube that gave me such a feeling of calm and, as cheesy as it sounds, a real 'I've Got This' mentality... (I completely ixnayed anything that wasn't told from a positive perspective - not to say I only watched super orgasmic quick labours but just ZERO horror stories, totally didn't want that swimming around in my psyche!).

Anyhoo, Steve arrived and started setting up the pool where the dining table usually sat, I sellotaped up the mandala pictures my friends had coloured in at my baby shower, and the midwife popped in to say hey and announce that yes I was definitely in early labour and yay there would probably be a baby by the next day (she was cunningly vague about any time-frame).

River's Birth Story - labour

{Left: Pretty stoked with the whole pool situation and wearing a disturbing array of patterns and my trusty old slippers. Right: Getting home after a walk through the park put me into full labour mode - this was when it felt the most intense for sure.}

Keen to do the whole ‘active labour’ biz Steve and I then headed off to the park behind our house for a walk. The walking definitely cemented the 'about to have a baby' thang and by now I was that woman in labour straight out of the movies stopping every 3-4 minutes to breathe and groan and clutch at their partner for dear life. All the while Steve was teasing me with some of the hypnobirthing mantras from the CD we had – (said in a thick American accent) “Yourrr baaaby and yourrrr booowdy know what to dooo”.

We walk/stop/clutch/breathed/repeat-ed our way back home and on arrival I thought that surely this would be a fantastic time to fill up the pool and jump in. Totally made it waaaay too hot and spent the next however long not loving life: sweating away while my mum sat next to me timing my contractions getting very worried that the midwife was needed and that I was seriously about to have a baby.

So, the midwife was called back. She took one look at me and straight up said that it was definitely NOT pool time yet and for my mum to back off with the stop watch and that we all just basically needed to chill the F out (Yassss Queen).

Cue me taking up residence lying on one end of the couch while Steve and Mum made themselves a cheese platter, poured glasses of wine and settled in to some episodes of Suits on the other– no jokes.

This totally suited me as by this stage I was really getting into my birthing zone, focusing on my breathing, trying to relax my jaw and my shoulders, not wanting to be touched or bothered (despite Steve having learnt all these amazing massage, relaxation touching techniques at a labour massage course I made him do – whoops).

The only crazy-lady-in-labour moment came when Steve made me a green smoothie but then announced that we didn’t have a straw for me to drink it through – which was going to be an issue as I had found the perfect position lying on my side on the couch and well, I needed a straw yo. Pretty sure my exact words were “If you can go up the road to get yourself a fucking wine, you can go up and get me a fucking straw”. It was most effective.

I guess I went into “active labour” at about midday, after getting my first contractions at 7am-ish and by the time I got to fully untamed birthing woman stage it was around 7pm. My midwife had told Steve to call her back when he heard the “birthing song”. She wasn’t specific about what exactly this would sound like but said he would mos’ def know it when it came.

Charminly my birthing song came in the form of me repeating over and over again “woaaaah this IS so anal”….. something I’d heard about on a birth vlog and felt apparently very comforted by.

So back the midwife came and gave Steve the 'ummm yep that’s the birth song we are looking for' look of validation.

I then went and laid down on my bed where I had my first examination for dilation (I was wanting as little checking/monitoring during the birth as possible) where I was found to be almooost 10 cms. Which would’ve been something super exciting had I not been at that very moment hit with the HUGEST rush of adrenaline ever – like Uma Therman Pulp Fiction styles. Thank god I had read so many birth stories and watched soooo many birth videos hearing about the whole next level craziness of the transition phase because this was totally next level.

My body sat bolt upright as I experienced the most extreme jolt of anxious, swirling energy and did a total power chuck into the basin I had handily prepared earlier. (For those of you who haven’t heard of transition, it’s your body’s fully natural and incredible way of preparing you for the pushing stage by dumping a whooole tonne of ardrenaline into your system so that you’re alert and all gung-ho to push the bub out.) I can imagine it would be holy shit scary if I hadn’t expected it but for me it was like I was watching from the sidelines, like hey this is all happening exactly how it’s meant to – pretty incredible.

Finally! This meant it was pool time and by now it had cooled down to a perfectly warm but not sweat-fest temperature. The midwife asked Steve if he wanted to get in to and after being a bit taken aback at first (don’t think we’d ever gotten around to talking about the actual pushing part) he jumped in like a trooper and sat behind me comforting and encouraging me – and I’m pretty sure acting as a human stress ball.

I know this sounds completely nutty but I’d never actually thought that pushing a baby out would be so much work. Like seriously, it was bloody hard! Riv’s head started to crown quite quickly but it was a good half an hour of his head half in/half out (which was totally freaking my mum out apparently) before I felt with SUCH amazing intensity each little shoulder pop through and then his slippery little body slide into my hands.

I feel like this is the part of the birth that you could never do justice to with words.
At 9:51pm I lifted my first born, my 8 pound 7 ounce son, onto my chest with a look of incredulousness as I repeated over and over “oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness”

 River's Birth Story home water birth

{Left: Relaxing in between contractions, definitely not prepared for how hard the pushing phase will be. Right: The most surreal and amazing moment of my life}
We hung out in the pool for a wee bit longer before I gave Riv over to the midwife while I stood up to birth the placenta. Another ummmm how did I not think of this part of having a baby? You’ve gotta blimmin’ give birth twice basically! I couldn’t believe it – like hey I’ve done what I’ve come to do haha. And to top it off (sorry if this is totally TMI) I had a giant placenta and fully 100% passed the F out as I birthed it and slumped back onto Steve while peeing myself mightily (according to Steve). As glorious as birth is, it sure ain’t glamorous.

Once I came to, Steve and I were able to snuggle up on the couch together as Riv nuzzled straight in to feed. It was all so surreal – we just chatted and ate marmite and butter toast and drank hot milo (a recommendation from my midwife that I thought at the time was the BEST meal of my life!)

At about midnight everyone left Steve and I and baby Riv to ourselves (to which I was like ummm excuse me, how do I know what to do??!). We all hopped into bed and dozed on and off for the rest of the night with River snuggled on a breastfeeding pillow around my waist that I kept carting him with me on every time I needed to pee (which was A LOT – you pee A LOT after giving birth!!)

 River's Birth - home water birth first family photo

{Our first family photo - totally high on all the natural birth juju}

I had put so much thought and energy into this birth, and for me it was an incredibly transformational and empowering experience but man in hindsight I see that it was it just a taster, an amuse bouche you might say, for Motherhood. No amount of preparation can truly ready you for the actual journey of being a Mama – and they say birth is hard, hellllllll it’s just the beginning (of both the hard times and the amazing times – please do not be scared off having children! They are the BEST things in the world!)


Marnie, Steve, Riv & bubba

4 Responses

Morgan Olsen
Morgan Olsen

January 21, 2020

Such a beautiful birth story Marnie!!!

Claire Davies
Claire Davies

February 08, 2018

Amazing birth story, well done!! All the best for number two, from experience mine were all very different births due to circumstances but loved each one with so much pride and they were all so beautiful in their own different way ❤


February 08, 2018

Ditto to the above from another yet to give birth er (unpregnant and no plans for a while). Pretty sure I’d be too scared for a home birth but you sell it so bloody well! All the best for bubba 2 countdown x


February 08, 2018

From someone who has never given birth before, what an amazing experience!! Sounds so magical I think your such an amazing women love seeing your Instagram posts keep up the good work! YOUR AMAZING!! X

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