Then there was Eryn
Seven years ago I sent an email to HypnoBirthing Practitioner Diana Fischer of HypnoBirthing Perth. I’ve included the email as I think it sums up the voice of so many second-time mothers, feeling as though birth happened to them and they sort of failed it, rather than it being something they did. I also look back at it and can only say wow when I realise how much the woman who wrote this letter knew, or rather how much she didn’t know, and how much she was about to discover…
I can't tell you how excited I was to see your website! I actually came across it while my husband and I were trying for our second baby. I am now, happily, about 6 weeks pregnant. I know it's early days, but I thought I'd email you now and find out what your availability will be over the next few months and what you can advise in terms of preparation for a hypnobirth.
I had my first little girl naturally, which I feel so fortunate to have done. It definitely didn't go according to plan though, as I just didn't dilate for hours and ended up taking every drug under the sun and finally opted for an epidural. I just think I wasn't prepared for the hospital setting and stressed myself out. I would love to have a natural delivery again and people think I'm a little crazy, but I really want to do it drug free. I would actually love to have a water birth, but I am not sure how possible that is here in Perth??
My GP has asked me which ObGyn I'd like her to refer me to and I honestly have no idea who to ask for. I am not from Perth (my husband is), and we had our first baby in the Middle East, so I feel as though I'm doing it for the first time again, not knowing the hospitals or doctors here. Can you see any ObGyn here and then still have a water birth? I've heard that going through a public hospital (vs private) increases your chances of having a natural birth.
Sorry for all these questions, but I just thought that you'd be the most clued up person on the route I should take if I want to do a hypnobirth and, hopefully, water birth.
I look forward to hearing from you.
So there I was, politely desperate for anyone to point me in the right direction. Little did I know that I’d found that person, but this email would set me down a path to an experience that would change my life and life's work forever. Diana made me aware of ALL of my birthing options, I just had to do my homework and find the one that I felt most comfortable with.
A few months later (HypnoBirthing Courses normally begin when you are around 28 weeks pregnant) Gavin and I found ourselves in the most relaxing “course” we’d ever sat through and felt our headspace shifting. I listened to my HypnoBirthing CDs daily (fell asleep every time) and found myself feeling more and more calm and confident. I’ll be honest, there was a part of me that frequently thought, “What if this just doesn’t work?!” but, if anything, I already felt confident that we’d made the right decision in terms of our birthing facility.
We’d opted for Perth’s Family Birth Centre attached to King Edward Memorial Hospital. All check-ups were performed by familiar midwives, and I discovered, to my delight, that good prenatal check-ups never required latex-gloved internal examinations... EVER. It was liberating and confidence-building and I it reinforced a simple reality, that when a woman's body is treated with respect her self-esteem soars.
I can’t remember what my exact due date was. It didn’t matter to me. I had an approximate window in which we were expecting our new addition and I was ready to listen to my baby and body this time.
On January 6th, Gavin and Leah gardened while I spent the day nesting like a bowerbird, a BPA-free bowerbird. No piles of coloured plastic here folks! I was obsessively making sure every item of food was rehomed in glass jars before anyone else joined this family. That flustered nesting did make me wonder if labour was close but the occasional tightening I felt in my belly was nothing like the Braxtons I’d experienced with my first labour, so I brushed them off.
We went to bed that night at about 10pm and at around midnight I woke up to what felt like a big kick and the pop of my waters releasing. When I woke my husband up to tell him, I was so calm his response was “Are you sure you haven’t just wet the bed.” Ummm, nope, I’m pretty sure that the last time I did that was when I was four!! While he fetched towels, I phoned the birth centre and was told to stay at home until my surges (contractions) began and were three minutes apart. If the surges didn’t start, I would need to come in for monitoring after 6 hours. Adamant that I would not be monitored again during labour, and determined that I would dilate, I went and had a warm shower and decided to go back to bed and do some serious visualisation. One of the techniques was to picture a rose opening. Never a rose person, though, I visualised a protea opening. It was a comforting symbol of the country I’m from and softness yet extreme strength and resilience.
By 3am, surges suddenly went from nil to three minutes apart and as Gav made my Laborade, I suggested he call his parents to come and fetch Leah. They arrived and as Gav hunted for the LOST car keys (some little monkey had put them in a pot plant on the back veranda), I calmly swayed on my birth ball and chatted to his parents. It was when I suddenly had to excuse myself to be sick (sometimes a sign of transition into the final stage of labour) that I realized that this was not going to be another 2o-something hour labour.
We arrived at the birth centre at 5am and was told by the midwife that there was no need to examine me as this baby was on its way and that it was unlikely they would be able to fill the birthing pool in time. Surges were soon so intense that I did request nitrox gas, but again there was no time for that, Eryn was born minutes later into her dad’s hands. He handed her to me and I remember lifting her swiftly up to my chest and can still hear my “hello!” as I held her against me.
The early hours of the morning were spent lying in bed together, my little Eryn snuggled against my chest, and as the sun came up, we couldn’t wait to for her grandparents to bring her big sister to come and meet her. By lunch time that day I was up and ready for our family to go home. I felt like Superwoman and that feeling didn’t leave me for days. Whenever I recall it I know it will be with me forever.