OK, let’s just start at the start and see where we go. This pregnancy and birth is so hard to define. Knowing it was the last time that we would bring a new baby into our family was tough for me and I longed to feel worse so I would be OK that I wouldn’t have to do it again! “Trying” to get pregnant got super stressful third time round as month after month the pregnancy test would come back negative. Who knows why this baby took a long time coming, but finally he decided the time was right and just like that, just like Thomas and Tyler, I *knew* before I knew I was pregnant.
I embraced this pregnancy with all my heart. The first trimester fell during the busy holiday photography season and I spent days out in the fields making children smile for their festive family photos before spending evenings and nights sleeping and feeling worn out with no energy left for anything else! We found out in December that we were having our third boy. I wanted to know - with it being our final baby - to be able to process the feelings of not having a girl, if that was going to be our destiny. I didn’t expect the onslaught of “I’m sorry” comments and messages and it made me sad to think this baby would always be viewed as the ‘not a girl’ baby. The idea of three boys was amazing to me and I wasn’t sad like I had always assumed I would be. Bring on three boys! How amazing is it going to be having three men standing by my side as I go into my older years?!
My pregnancy was amazing. After crazy cravings for cheese and eggs in the first trimester, I pretty much embraced a plant-based diet for the second and third trimesters. Running around after two boys and a dog kept me active, and monthly acupuncture sessions, cranio-sacral therapy and the occasional pedicure / massage all contributed to the healthiest of all my pregnancies. In late May I had my Blessingway and spent an afternoon casting aside the feelings of sadness over my final pregnancy and walked a labyrinth to prepare for the enormity of life with a newborn and other family members to care for. I went into the final weeks of pregnancy feeling loved and surrounded by people who cared for me.
My parents were due to arrive five days before my due date. My mum was present at the birth of both boys and it felt right to have her here for my third baby so we planned in advance, and made as good a guess as we could for when the baby would arrive! My first, Thomas, was ten days past his due date, and my second (Tyler) came on his due date, so we figured this baby was unlikely to come early and more likely to be around the “estimated’ date. During week 39 the braxton hicks I had experienced for weeks seemed to ramp up a notch and there were a couple of days where I started to think I was in early labour, so much so that I called the midwife to tell her that things were possibly happening… I think we all willed the baby to stay in that week and were very grateful when my parents’ flight took off and labour still hadn’t started! The rest of that week passed quickly with trips to stock up on necessities and an impending excitement that things were going to happen soon. My due date came and went… and my mum started to stress that the baby wouldn’t arrive before she left! This baby was quite content to stay inside just a little while longer, and once I made peace with the idea that maybe we hadn’t timed it right this time, and maybe my mum wouldn’t be here for the birth, things started to happen…
Wednesday morning, June 24th, started like any other - Thomas and Tyler on each side of me in bed, ribs relieved from lying down all night, check for baby movements and up we get! That day we pottered around, buying more last minute food necessities and taking my parents to the mall. As I was walking through the shopping mall I felt a braxton hick coming on - this was nothing new, the endless walking caused BHs to happen pretty much endlessly in the last few days, but as I carried on walking I realised that maybe, just maybe, this one felt slightly more… contraction like? That feeling of “ohhhhhh, *now* I remember what contractions feel like” came upon me and I smiled to myself but didn’t tell anyone. This happened again two hours later, and again another two hours after that. Contractions two hours apart, I thought to myself, this is going to take some time!
We went to bed around 10.45pm and I played a last minute game of Words with Friends and Candy Crush [don’t judge me!] and as I moved my leg into a more comfortable position, I felt a small pop and warmness. Was it bloody show or water? I thought to myself and as I struggled to an upright position, I realised water was spilling down my leg! Not a gush like Tyler, just a trickle. I started to laugh to myself. A good friend of mine in the UK had recently shared her birth story and she had also remarked how her last labour began with her water breaking first, something that had never happened to her, and here I was having the same thing happen! I decided to leave David sleeping but dutifully called my midwives, knowing how quickly Tyler had come in the middle of the night.
I wasn’t having contractions so I knew that there were two possibilities - contractions were going to start up pretty quickly, or I could go another few hours or more before anything happened. I still hadn’t had any other signs of imminent labour so I planned to go to bed and get some sleep and see what the night brought. Well, contractions started about 10 minutes later so that idea didn’t last long! I still didn’t wake anyone and I decided to time them to see what was going on. I think I dozed on and off during this time and I was surprised when I looked the next day and saw how many times I had logged a contraction! 8 minutes, 8 minutes, never anything more, never more intense, doze, contraction, doze, contraction. Then around 1.30am I started to get more uncomfortable with the contraction and was needing to moan. I decided it was time to wake up David and get him to call the midwives. My mum was still sleeping and I told David not to wake her yet, I wanted her to get as much sleep as possible, knowing that someone would need to look after the boys tomorrow.
Andrea, the midwife assistant, showed up first and I knew then that everything was going to be OK! I remember saying “Andrea is here! Now we can have a baby!” :) I was still stressing that I had called everyone out too early. The contractions were still 8 minutes apart and were getting more intense but weren’t getting closer together. I laboured on the bed on all fours, burying my head in a pillow to moan through a contraction. My mum woke up around this point and I remember I kept telling her to go back to sleep, that it was going to be hours before anything happened and she didn’t need to stay up… She didn’t listen to me, haha!
Nannette showed up around 3am (I think) and asked if I wanted to go in the bathtub. I had mentioned a couple of times during prenatals that this baby seemed to be drawing me to water. I had not liked the birth pool with Thomas, the intense back labour had made me unable to get comfy in the water, and Tyler’s birth was just too quick! Earlier in this pregnancy I had a need to go and see the ocean, and the last couple of weeks we had the luxury of the swimming pool to take the weight off my baby-laden body. The tub sounded amazing, and Nannette and Andrea got to work filling it for me.
Nannette asked if I was OK with Grace, the student midwife, being present and that was fine with me. By that point, I was getting to labour la-la land and I didn’t really know what I wanted any more! I got in the tub and the relief was immense. People had always told me about this relief from contractions that they felt in the water and I had never experienced it. Now I understood. It felt so good. Contractions were still 8 minutes apart, although I think everyone had stopped timing them now. I kept exclaiming “we’re having a baby!”. I remember feeling so excited, we had waited so long, and finally we were going to meet this little man. I got concerned that I had got in the tub too early as the contractions didn’t seem anywhere near as intense. Andrea was sitting to the side of me and once I vocalised this to her, she pointed out that maybe I was just getting more relief from the water, and after that the contractions seem to ramp up and become more frequent (I think it was around this time that I told David to call Jacqie, my friend and photographer).
David was in front of me the whole time; he was my gate keeper, my protector. Nothing mattered beyond him. I knew I was safe, and I knew I could trust this team of birth keepers. My amazing mummy who had witnessed the birth of Thomas and Tyler, the beautiful Andrea who held the birth space with so much grace, and the midwives who knew when to be in the room and when to leave. I was surrounded by love, as well as affirmations from my Blessingway, my Blessingway candle and I had even put on my beaded necklace! The friends who had come and shared that sacred space with me were all around, and my heart felt like it couldn’t be happier. I was so open and so vulnerable and yet felt so strong. I talked to my baby “come on baby, we can do this, I love you”, I moaned into David’s arms, he stroked me and gave me water and when I started to sweat, he mopped my head with a cooling towel. This was intense. This was birth.
Andrea commented “Lindsey, are you starting to feel a bit pushy?”, “maybe” I replied… Apparently the labour sounds had shifted a notch and I was needing to bear down more at the end of each contraction. My body felt wide open, the pain of each contraction was breath-taking and I had to remember to keep my jaw soft and to keep the frown from my face. Soft, Lindsey, soft. Keep everything soft and open. I felt down to see if I could feel anything but there was nothing there. Nannette asked if I could feel anything, “no” I responded and then felt this wave of immense sorrow wash over me. I cried, briefly. I don’t *think* I said “I can’t do this” but I know I felt it! And with that cry and that immense emotion, I felt him move down in the birth canal. I reached down again and felt his head.
This part to me is the most amazing. I remember it so vividly, even though I know I was in a primal place. I remember his head, I remember the fear of not being able to do this again. I felt like I needed to do a big poo! but my logical brain told me “Lindsey, you’re having a baby”. I needed to be sick, “Lindsey, you’re having a baby”. I needed to vocalise all of these things in order to allow my body to do what it needed to do to get my baby to come down. I knew he was going to be a big baby. My other two boys were big and this pregnancy had been so similar, with rib pain for the last month as he had no room to move. My mind needed to let go, but I also needed to have a little bit of control, so I didn’t force him out too fast. I breathed into my cheeks, softly, Lindsey, softly. I felt him coming, so slow. There was no need to push, my body and my baby were working together to come out. And all of a sudden, with a flash of pain and an allowance to get over that ‘ring of fire’, his head came out. It felt like the world paused. I felt his shoulders rotate, one then the other and as he came out, I sat back and caught my baby in my hands.
The cord was wrapped around his neck so Grace helped me untangle it and I brought him out of the water. I did it! We had a baby! He was real and perfect and healthy and covered in vernix. There I had been, wondering how I would ever top Tyler’s amazing birth, and here I had the perfect birth. No interventions, no-one touching me, an amazing birth team holding my space and allowing me to birth my baby. What an incredible powerful experience!
I had to breathe into little man Welch’s face to stimulate him to breathe a little better and it wasn’t long before he was pinking up and testing out his lungs. The placenta didn’t take long to come out and then we were finally two. No more pregnancy. I was done.
David took the baby for some skin-to-skin and I got out of the bath. My iron levels had bordered on the ‘low’ end of the scale during this pregnancy (and do in general) and we were very aware that a slight excess in bleeding may necessitate pitocin. This did end up happening but at least the baby was out and it was better to stop the bleeding than risk my iron levels dipping too low to come back up easily.
And there we have it. Casey Bryson Welch was born on June 25th (40+5 weeks) at 4.15am after five hours of active labour. He was born into his mummy’s arms in the water, weighing in at 10lb 6oz, length 21”, head 15”. Thomas slept in our bedroom through the whole thing and woke up during the newborn exam. Tyler slept in his bedroom all night for the first time in forever and didn’t wake up until 7.30am! We are done, our family is complete and it feels just perfect. All of the feelings of sadness over my last pregnancy have gone and have been replaced by a calm contentment. I feel good. I feel complete.
Many many thanks to the amazing birth team at Riverside Midwifery, Nannette, Grace and Andrea. To my mum and dad, for being there, for looking after the boys and looking after me in the days post-partum. To Jacqie, for jumping up in the middle of the night to come and take photos - thank goodness you made it! To Olive, my beautiful dog, who never left my side. And lastly, to my beautiful, ever-present, strong and loving husband, David. There are no words to express how happy I am sharing this journey through life with you by my side.