Today’s Doula Diaries Submission comes from Doula Trish from Shellharbour, NSW. You can find her at https://www.facebook.com/birthalchemy.doulatrish. This is an absolutely powerful account of Anna’s rebirth, following a deeply traumatizing birth. Truly amazing how resilient one’s heart can be, and how determined we can be when pursuing the birth of our dreams – the birth we deserve.
In the beginning I didn’t realise what impact becoming Anna’s Doula
would have on me as a Doula but even deeper than that as a Woman.
I am so honoured to share Anna’s birth story with an open heart. Her
story is such an inspiration to any Mamma wanting to positively
influence her birth story.
Birth Matters, our Birth stories matter, we are ALL Goddesses,
Nurturers, Warriors and Sisters and when we share our Birth stories
magic happens, the divine feminine is awakened within us.
And in celebration of this journey we call Motherhood, I offer Anna’s
Birth Story – The birth of Findlay.
Blessings and Love
Anna’s Rebirth (As told by Anna!)
“It is impossible for me to tell my 2nd birth story without telling my first. They go
hand in hand as my first birth experience, I realise now, was essential, in order for
me to experience the second. So, to my beautiful daughter Charlotte, I thankyou,
for all that your birth has taught me, given me and enabled me to achieve, you are
forever my teacher. I love you.
My first birth with my daughter, was traumatic. Physically, mentally, emotionally.
In every sense. I was dismissed, I wasn’t listened to. I didn’t feel safe or held. I
had begged, screamed and swore but I was not heard. I was cut and stitched badly
and I was lied to.
My wonderful husband did everything he could but once we were in the cogs of the
great medical machine, there was little he could do.
My pregnancy had been beautiful – I had loved every minute of it, finally being in
love with my body as I watched it slowly grow and blossom, relishing every kick I
felt and dreaming of the day I was going to meet the bubba that so regularly could
be felt hiccupping inside of me.
I wrote my birth plan; a water birth, with no pain relief, attended the NCT classes,
took the tour of the hospital, impressed with all the equipment they had to
facilitate a natural birth, birthing balls, beautifully lit pools, amazing Swedish
designed equipment where you could birth in any position that felt right, and
midwives who appeared to really support this. I was nervous, of course, as all the
women were as we walked around the birthing rooms but I was confident, even
when we entered the labour suite and they talked us through all the interventions
and scenarios, I just vowed in my head that I wouldn’t go there.
However nothing can really prepare you for your first birth can it? You never can
know how you are going to respond when you start feeling the intensity of the
contractions building. I was so excited when I realised labour was starting and I
decided not to wake my husband for a couple of hours, while I relished in the
sensations and the thought that my baby was coming earthside but the excitement
slowly turned to apprehension.
I had always had it in my head that I would have a fast birth, as my mother and
grandmother had both experienced quick deliveries, and so as the time between
contractions shortened, I became more anxious to get to the hospital and after
projectile vomiting my fruit smoothie all over the bathroom, we decided it was
At hospital and we were greeted by the midwife. I had my first internal and it was
discovered that I was 4cm dilated which I was really pleased about. However the
first warning bell rang when, after asking to use the birthing pools, the midwife
stated that she would just find out where they were! We found out later that she
had not attended a birth at this hospital for many years and actually had not
attended any birth for a couple of years and that day she was in for her
compulsory update. I realise now that we should have turned around at that point
and demanded another midwife, because already I didn’t feel safe under her care.
If we look at nature, we can see many examples of how mammals will delay birth
or even re-absorb their foetus, if they do not feel safe (Gazelles in the Serengeti
can actually delay their birth to up to 2 weeks if necessary and if after this time,
the rains have not arrived, they will re-absorb their foetus as they know there will
be a shortage of food in the coming year) but this understanding of how our
physiology works, has been near forgotten in the western medical world, but can
explain so many examples of labours that are classed as ‘failure to progress.’ We
did not feel safe.
From the moment that our midwife said this, I had no confidence in her or her
ability to support us, and although I was able to further dilate, when I reached
transition the panic set in. I demanded another midwife, but this was ignored. I
was told to push, but baby was stuck against an anterior lip of my cervix, causing
internal and external swelling as well as nerve damage to my pelvic floor and
bladder. Eventually after over 2 hours of pushing against my cervix, they called in
the doctor. They realised that baby was posterior and stuck and then offered me
an epidural so they could manually turn her. I begged for more time and so we
tried other positions but she didn’t turn. So I had no choice but to have the
epidural, At that point I just broke down in tears. Tears of exhaustion, tears of
pain, of desperation, of grief of the dream that I had held of the way I was going
to meet my baby, and tears from the sense of losing complete control.
As the epidural started to work and I could no longer feel the contractions, I lost
connection with my body and the process. I could see when the contractions were
happening on the monitor but I couldn’t feel a thing. It felt like it was no longer
my birth, this was something happening to me. They tried to manually turn her
and when this also failed, I was moved into theatre, given a top up of epidural,
and then an episiotomy and forceps were used to pull her out. I can remember the
sense of them tugging and pulling, I can remember asking them to delay chord
clamping, (which they ignored) I can remember them taking her away from me to
be checked and screaming at my husband to ‘stay with her’, ‘keep touching her’
and then panicking when I couldn’t hear her. At last they bought her to me and lay
her on my chest. My beautiful daughter, battered and bruised but just divinely
beautiful was here.
It took months to heal physically but the wonders and pressures of new
motherhood meant that I did not take the time to heal emotionally. I buried it as
deep as I could so that I could be the mum I needed to be for my daughter.
Fast forward nearly 2 years and I found myself pregnant again, in another
continent, walking into a hospital for my first midwife appointment, and bursting
into tears. All the emotions, all the pain, the disappointment, the fears all came
flooding back. I cancelled my appointment and walked straight back out again. I
couldn’t do it. The hospital, the smell, the clinical environment, the anonymity of
the system all felt so wrong and agitated every cell in my body so I drove back
home and phoned my husband, who was away for work, and told him that this time
was going to be different. I didn’t know how and I didn’t know in what way, but
this time I was taking control. I was never going to be made to feel like I did with
So now started my quest for that something different. Here I was in a completely
different country, I knew hardly anyone and had absolutely no idea of how the
birthing system worked here, but I had Google and Facebook. I discovered that
there was such a thing as a private midwife (something I had never heard of in the
UK) and so I started contacting them all. But everyone I managed to speak with,
was already booked up ( I was already 15 weeks pregnant) and I started to get a bit
panicked. I researched the nearby hospitals to see whether any of them offered a
different service, tried to get on the MGP program, only to be told that there was
a waiting list of over 10 women and so really no chance of that either.
Eventually we found a Birth Maia (un-registered midwife) who agreed to meet us.
Technically she was fully booked also but she agreed that she would consider us if I
also hired a Doula, so that there was some form of back up should she already be
attending another birth.
The moment we sat down with her to discuss what we wanted we knew she was
exactly what we were looking for. She had been a midwife for 30 years, she
believed 100% in a womans ability to birth naturally, she wasn’t afraid of a fight if
required, and yet she was so incredibly gentle, nurturing and was able to set our
minds at ease immediately with inappropriate jokes and wonderful laughter. We
signed her up there and then. She recommended a Doula and again, the moment I
spoke with her on the phone, I knew that we had our team.
As my pregnancy progressed, many emotions, fears and anxieties were brought to
the surface. Not just for me but for my husband too. In fact he probably held as
much fear and trauma as I did from our first birth, as he had actually witnessed it.
He had seen the blood, had heard my screams, had not been allowed into theatre
for 30minutes and seen the faces of the surgical team when things were not going
to plan. He heard the lies and was fully aware throughout (unlike me). So we had a
lot of talking, healing to do before we could both fully embrace the prospect of a
homebirth. We signed up for a Hypnobirthing course, we watched beautiful
empowered births, I had kinesiology sessions to clear the trauma I held physically
and emotionally, and we chatted and we chatted some more and we cherished our
visits with our midwife and doula.
For us, the biggest thing that made this preparation for birth so different, was the
fact that we were in control. At one point I had an obstetrician (who I had never
met) call me at home and basically say to me that I was risking my life by having a
homebirth and my GP then sent me a letter to state that she could no longer be
my GP because of the concerns the obstetrician had. I discussed this with my
midwife (who knew my whole history), I found a magnificent GP, we ensured that
all scenarios were discussed and plans were made, and we carried on. It was so
empowering to be involved in every decision. At no point did my midwife give me
ultimatums, she taught us to always use the B.R.A.I.N acronym when trying to make a
decision and talked through every possible eventuality, giving us the decision at every
My pregnancy continued without any concerns and through my midwife we had
been introduced to a number of her other clients in the area and so we had
already built up incredible support network.
The morning of my due date arrived. I was feeling pretty good, well as good as you
can when you are 40 weeks pregnant and have a 2 year old to run after! Baby had
been 2/5 engaged for a couple of weeks and I felt that we didnt have long to wait.
I was due to have an appointment with my midwife that afternoon but she
contacted me at 10am to say that she was attending to another birth (my gorgeous
friend Naomi) and so wouldn’t be able to make it. I told her that I didn’t think
baby was far away and so she said if she got a chance she would pop over quickly.
At about 2pm I got a call to say that Naomi was resting and she had 30 minutes to
pop over, so she came and was happy to report that baby was still only 2/5
engaged and seemed pretty happy in there.
I carried on with the day and later started to prepare dinner for the family, give
my daughter a bath, and put her to bed. I had noticed that from 4pm I had been
having Braxton Hicks and they hadn’t stopped and seemed very regular, so after
Charlotte was asleep I asked Nathan to time them. They were 10 minutes apart. I
could still talk through them and there was relatively little discomfort. However
within another 20 minutes they were down to 7 minutes and def building in
intensity. We decided to text Trish and Sheila to warn them that baby was on its
way that night and to also see how Naomi was getting on with her labour. Sheila
immediately texted back to inform us that Naomi had only just given birth and her
placenta was also birthed and BAM that’s when my contractions really started.
They went from 7 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart and then down to 1 minute
apart within 30 minutes. Nathan was desperately trying to fill the pool, with a
hose and buckets, Trish had jumped in the car and was on her way as was Sheila. I
quietly prepared my altar and room; stop regularly for the contractions which
were now incredibly intense but I felt calm and ready. There was no panic (from
me) no doubt in my mind, just a certainty that my baby was going to be born
tonight at home.
By the time Trish and Sheila arrived at 8.50pm the contractions were almost
continuous. They immediately helped me undress and got me in the pool – ahhh
the relief, I had forgotten how blissful the warm water on my skin was, how it
made my muscles instantly relax, and how supported I felt in the cosy, dark room.
Trish stayed with me and Nathan and was incredible at guiding me in my breathing,
keeping me connected and present, calming me, while Sheila grabbed a quick bowl
of soup for sustenance (she had been with Naomi since early that morning).
Then I started to feel babys head bearing down, the intensity, the stretching, the
feeling of being opened like never before, was beyond words. I had never
experienced anything like it but I wouldn’t call it pain, it went beyond that, it was
deeper than that. More soul based than pain, but wow was it intense. Each time I
felt I couldn’t bear any more, we surged and reached another level, baby and body
working together, separate of all conscious thought or control, I felt all I could do
was hold on and try to breathe my way through it. Trish guiding me throughout
while Sheila jumped into the pool to try and stop baby coming quite so fast.
And then he crowned…….
And I remember screaming at Sheila to stop moving the baby, but she wasn’t.
Babies, once they crown, if left to their own devices, will start to turn to enable
the shoulders to be birthed, and that was exactly what he was doing, but that was
just a whole new level of intensity…..and I remember waiting and both Sheila and
Trish just calming telling me to wait, wait until he is ready, until your body is
ready…. And then there was one final push and he was born. My beautiful baby boy
was born in the Caul, into water, 35 minutes after Trish and Sheila arrived at
My daughter had been woken by my final scream and came in to the
room, just as he was lifted out of the water and into my arms….
And that is where he stayed for the next hour… in my arms, as we sat in the water.
He had his first breastfeed as we sat there in complete calm, the room still dark
and deliciously warm and it wasn’t until I had to birth my placenta and stand up
that the chord was clamped and cut and he was passed to Nathan to hold. There
was no rush to weigh him or check him. We had already gently counted his fingers
and toes and fallen in love but there was no rush to do anything. I was gently
helped out of the pool and into the shower and then wrapped up in my pyjamas
and dressing gown and slowly helped to walk down the hall into our living room
where I was made tea and toast and we all just sat, looking in complete
amazement at our son.
I had just had the birth of my dreams.
Footnote: 3 years on I look back at this and can see the pivotal moment that this truly
was. Findlays birth and the preparation I undertook to enable me to have this birth, truly
changed my life. It changed my perspective on birth and what it should be and can be. It
introduced me to some incredible women who have changed the way I view so many things
due to what they stand for and the work they do. I was introduced to Trish, my doula, who
has remained a beautiful friend and I was introduced to kinesiology, which I am now
trained in and it set me on my lifes path: To help other women and children to heal from
birth trauma and prepare for birth, so that we can re-connect with and learn to truth our
bodies innate ability to birth and our own true power.