Friday, 11 May 2012

She who made me a Mother.... Lily's Birth Story

In the lead up to the Mother's Day weekend I thought it fitting to share the story of how I came to be a mother in the first place... through the beautiful birth of my precious little Lily...

It is likely no surprise but this story is loooong - read if you dare and if you are not a birth story junkie (well, I know many of you are, like me!), never fear, it's not graphic... though I guess it is graphically emotional!!

a new light in our life...


Lily was 'due' on July 14th 2008, so as that window approached we got more and more ready to meet her - as every first time mother is! I wasn't tired of being pregnant - in fact I felt great and was really enjoying it (once I got past the first 20 wretched weeks of severe *all day* morning sickness!) but I was just SO ready to meet our girl. I knew it was a four week-ish window - 38-42 weeks - and that first timers usually go over, so I tried to be patient! 

I felt truly calm, confident and without fear regarding the birth - which I owe in large part to the incredible pregnancy yoga class I had been doing, and the many books on Hypnobirthing (Calm Birth) and natural birth I'd read. We had happily booked into the local Birth Centre and met with our capable and calm midwife Leanne all through the pregnancy. I felt really prepared and even excited (yes, really) to face this "challenge" of birth, and to put the many techniques and strategies I'd gained into use. I wanted to do my best to have a calm and natural birth, to give our baby the most gentle and natural introduction into our big wide world that I could. I felt honoured to be part of this miracle of birth, and amazed at all I had learnt about how our bodies have been so wonderfully created to bring life into the world! I had been soooo unaware previously...

Seconds after birth... we are gazing into the eyes of our most incredible and precious gift!

Monday the 14th came and went without much fanfare. It was strange knowing it could be any moment - and the constant excited calls and caring enquiries were lovely but kinda made me feel a bit under pressure! As the week went on I could feel my body starting to prepare, but still didnt know what or when it would happen. I was getting stronger Braxton Hicks at certain times, but they never seemed to progress further, though I could feel the baby dropping lower, especially during Mark and my regular loooong late night walks around our suburb! On Friday the 18th I woke during the night with really strong 'tightenings'' - I lay in bed quietly breathing through them, wondering if this was really it! Well, it wasn't. From 3-6am they lasted but started to fade away as morning came. After feeling a bit impatient and in a state of expectency all week, I was then able to relax and enjoy the weekend with Mark - going on dates to the Art Gallery, walking around the lake and out to dinner to an Indian Restaurant (I had the hottest curry they had) and then it was Monday and I was one week ''overdue'.

Monday morning I had an appointment with my midwife Leanne. She did an internal examination at my request (my first for the whole pregnancy) and found out I was 1.5cm dilated. She did a very mild 'stretch' of the cervix to help encourage some movement. Throughout the rest of that day and into the evening I had some 'spotting' and the tightenings continued and we really thought this was it! Again I was up pretty much the whole night with strong intense tightenings but they didn't last. On Tuesday I began to feel quite frustrated and emotional (and hormonal!!) - I guess it was a rollercoaster of emotions really, wavering (sometimes in just minutes) between feeling calm and at peace about it all, and then feeling like I'd go completely crazy if the baby didn't come RIGHT NOW! I tried to reassure myself that it would happen soon, but as 'two weeks over' got closer, the idea of getting pressured to do an induction loomed, which I really didn't want - yet I was getting so anxious (and impatient!) to meet this precious baby of mine!


Tuesday evening, the 22nd, I was sitting in bed typing an email on the laptop, about to go to bed when I started to feel something damp! *shock* I went to the bathroom feeling this strange leaking and realised with amazement that it must be my waters having broken! I was quite shocked as I knew most labours dont really start this way in spite of what the movies show! Mark and I got quietly excited as this meant it was really happening. I called our beloved midwife Leanne to let her know and that's when things took a different turn. She said because I had tested positive a few weeks back for Strep B (GBS) I was now at increased risk of infecting the baby because the waters had broken. She said hospital policy was for me to go in right then for a check and "I'd probably be encouraged to stay there" - but it was my decision. I was shocked and uneasy about this possibilty of intervention/needing to be at the hospital so early. Mark and I discussed it and decided after some prayer that we would stay home for the night and see if labour would start on its own, and either way, go in in the morning - I had really wanted to labour at home as long as possible. I did indeed get stronger and stronger contractions that night, but again they had faded out by morning. ARGH!!

So we went into the hospital to see Leanne and she took us upstairs to the general Maternity ward instead of our beloved Birth Centre. We spoke to a doctor and found out the recommendation was for me to be induced - which would mean being 'upstairs' in the maternity ward, being hooked up to an IV of Syntocin and an ECG machine. No more waterbirth, active labouring, home-like enviroment etc. I was pretty devastated and stressed at how quickly everything changed. Of course it was our decision whether to go ahead with inducement but it was so difficult to process all this new information. I guess it was like a process of grieving for the natural birth we had planned to have for our child. Of course I always knew things could rapidly change, and of course the baby's health was paramount - but it was just so hard to evaluate the real versus percieved risks (especially in such a pressured, urgent, emotional situation), and I was also nervous about getting induced and where that might lead in a cascade of intervention. 

The first feed... 

After prayers, tears and talking, Mark and I decided to go ahead with the inducement. All I can say is that we made the best decision we could at the time, in those circumstances, and with the information we had. At about 2pm I finally got hooked up to the IV. It seemed so surreal that it was happening like this! Mark was an angel in trying to support and encourage me, setting the room up as best he could with the things we had prepared - calm music, lavender oil, lights off etc. He was such a gem the whole time, especially trying to calm me in a non-ideal scenario. The contractions started coming softly but surely. I determined to try and just have the best birth I could in this situation. I laid in the semi-darkness breathing quietly through each contraction (deep breathing, counting 20 in and 20 out) - they still seemed quite mild so I tried to rest while I could. My Mum arrived and was being really supportive, but I found everyone hovering over me and watching me just too much pressure and distracting, especially with the changed circumstances so I suggested she go home and we might contact her later as things progressed. 

Things then started to get complicated as Leanne was analysing the ECG reports and said there was an issue with the baby's heart rate siginificantly dropping through each of my contractions. She said the baby was perhaps not responding well to the syntocin - and if so I'd probably have to come off it - leaving a ceasarean as the next step. I was appalled to hear this, and determined right then that this would not happen - I just felt strangely convinced that our baby was doing just fine and that we could get through this on our own, and naturally. Labour progressed and I just tried to focus on my breathing and getting through each contraction, trying to not let all the people coming and going and machines beeping etc distract me. I felt frustrated and upset still at times over the interventions and what I felt was like others trying to put fear into me. I had made up notecards with motivational phrases on them, and a picture of a lily blossoming, I kept staring at these through contractions and they really motivated me "I trust my body to birth my baby", and "I can, I will, I am giving my baby a natural birth" etc. I was determined to put no more drugs into my system and therefore into my baby. Something inside me was just fiercely convicted that Mark, my baby and I could DO this, if people would just let us!! Through each contraction I visualised my cervix opening, my baby flowing out, and various other things, which really helped me to make the absolute most of every contraction. Leanne said afterwards that she kept writing in her progress notes "Kate seems very relaxed and calm"!! That is truly how I felt (about the birth) though I had this underlying anxiety (about the location and the medical interventions and numerous staff). I just chose to ignore the outside world and just focus on birthing this baby of mine... we were in this together and we could do it

Her gloriously dark little full head of hair... she ended up blonde within a few months though!

Leanne kept coming and going with the charts. I was distressed at being "chained to the bed" as the contractions got stronger and I really felt the urge to move around. The best I could do was sit on a fit ball next to the bed as Mark massaged my lower back and pressed hard into it during contractions. Leanne said I was still "an hour behind" expected progress (of the induction meds) because they were slow in putting in the syntocin because of what she called the baby's decelerations. She said she would do an internal examination (my first since coming to the hospital) at 5.30pm to see my progress and consider where to from there. Before she started I asked if I could go to the toilet. This was my favourite thing to do (make trips to the bathroom!) as it meant I got to take the blasted ECG monitors off my stomach! In the privacy of the bathroom I felt I could be away from the medical stuff and just breath and let my body do its work. So I went to the bathroom and discovered a lot of blood. Then as I was  still sitting there, I had a contraction and suddenly felt the most irrisistable urge to bear down - it was incredible. I felt something inside me just open and move down. I was shocked and didn't know what it was, thought I was doing something 'wrong' and had to literally jump off the toilet to try to stop myself from pushing, as I just couldn't stop but thought it would somehow 'mess with something'. 

I came out and told Leanne what I was feeling and she said 'Ok, well let's just do this examination'. I was still fully dressed at this point! All of a sudden, Leanne says, quite shocked "OK you're fully dilated, yes, PUSH!!" and I say 'WHAT?! Push?!" It had only been less than three hours (they said expected induction labour was about 8 at least) and I was totally not expecting this! She rushes out of the room, people start coming in, grabbing things - she was really shocked I was ready to go - as was I. But then I thought - Way to go baby, we did it!! So I released my body to do its work and let it start pushing. It was so satisfying, exciting, intense, challenging and surreal because it was all happening so quickly and unexpectedly - it has been only 3 hours! Mum then happened to turn up and I said she could come in. I was lying flat on my back and momentarily panicking thinking - after all my work in yoga and preparation for active birth, was I really going to give birth flat on my back!?! I asked to turn over at least to my side but as they started helping me, another contraction came and it was too late - this baby was coming out now!! 

That bendy newborn body... I thought she didn't have any ankle bones at first!
Amazing how squished and curled they are!

So I push (well, rather my body pushed and I just went with it!) and breathed down and it's all happening in a matter of minutes. Leanne tries to put the monitors back on me, and suddenly there is panic - the baby's heartbeat has dropped significantly. Leanne orders Mark to hit the emergency button twice, people flood in, I hear her call for the 'heart cart'' and I dont know what is going on but I'm determined to get my baby out in safety. Leanne tells me to push as hard as I can, the baby needs to come out NOW. I breathe down and out with all my might. It is so intense and chaotic and yet totally exhilarating - it feels like incredible release to work with my baby and my body to bring her out. I keep thinking - I can't believe im going to meet my baby! Leanne says though she would normally never recommend it, but she will need to do an episiotomy because the baby needs to come out immediately. Yeah, well, that is all I needed to hear - no way was that happening! It was go time They grab the scissors, but then a contraction comes, I push with everything I have for the sake of my little girl - and then she just shoots out, up to her waist in one go!!!! Leanne tells me to grab my baby, so I do, lifting her out of me and onto my chest. Incredible moment. She is amazing, crying loudly and beautifully, healthy, and HERE. I ask in bewilderment if she is OK, and they say yes, was just a little stunned at first. She is just fine! She is mine! I love her! I hold her to me, overwhelmed with love, shock, happiness. 

Little Lily Fiel has arrived into our lives.

Turns out I pushed for 17 minutes, and total labour was 3.5 hours. Rather quick for a first labour! I think my many days of pre-labour had something to do with that (in retrospect).

There were tears, joy, excitement and amazement. We had over two hours of bonding time there in that hospital room, skin to skin. She fed for the first time within thirty minutes of birth, it was just so special. Thankfully after a quick shower, we were able to go down to the cosy birth centre and spend our first night there - Mark, Lily and I all snuggled into the double bed together having a wonderful sleep just as I had so often imagined - bliss! However, Lily slept more than us, we couldn't stop staring at her in wonder and gratitude. Our very own baby... fancy that!!!

Our family was  together at last. What a moment.

So my labour was unexpected in so many ways - the intervention of an inducement and the atmosphere of being in the general maternity ward, but then the amazingly short labour without any further medicalisation. I was so thankful for the preparation and everything I learnt that helped me to have confidence in my body and my ability to birth this baby - even in changed circumstances I felt I had the tools and the instincts I needed. I knew I was created to do this. I was so thankful to our loving God that Lily arrived safely and healthily - our most beautiful blessing. Although the birth was so much more 'medical' that we had hoped for, I was glad we were able to do as much naturally as we could. The outside world was chaotic and stressful, but I found the actual labour and birth an incredible experience. The making of a mother is a life-changing thing, no matter the path by which we arrive there. 

And at the end of the day - Lily was here, safe and sound, and we love her!


She continued to be the most contented little baby I could have ever imagined and I have so many delicious memories of those snuggly, dreamy, newborn days. It was delightful, and she was such a treasure - still is, of course! 

Thank you Lily for coming into our lives, and thank you for making me a mother. The very best job I have ever been privileged to have, teaching me more than I could have imagined. You have given me untold joy, blessings and happiness. Loving you is so easy, darling girl...

And then we were three...


  1. Although I was lucky enough to read this story before (I remember being THRILLED to read this after Lily was born), I had to re-read it again. Kate, even though things didn't go to plan regarding the start of your labour you should be congratulated on how you handled the shift in environment and procedures and how you made decisions based on what you felt was best for you and your baby.

    Every photo you have posted here is beautiful. Just beautiful. The one of Lily with her mouth open. Ahhh the newness!

    How lovely that you have reflected on the moment you became a mother. Such a clever post idea :)

    1. awww thanks Amber for getting through this mammoth read - twice!! :) Appreciate your support as always! yes looking back i think... would i have gotten induced, knowing all i know now? i dont know... probably not if it was my decision alone (eg not factoring in mark too) and yet we had to make a big call at a very difficult time so i feel at peace knowing we did our best that we could at that time. and thankfully all went well in the end! yes, becoming a mama is such a transformation isnt it?? you should post Finns story next, pls!!! :)

    2. You did what was best at the time and I think you had a great outcome too :) I was, and still are very impressed with how you dealt with the unexpected changes.
      Finn's story, hmmmm. Maybe ;)

  2. Kate, that was amazing! As you might know, I am TOTAL birth junkie so this was exciting for me to read. Seriously, you were amazing! I am so impressed that you continued to have positive thoughts after being induced unexpectedly. I am sure your positivity, strength and calmness led to such a fast birth. And what a great pusher you are! haha that is a funny thing to say but 17 minutes?! That is just nuts!

    Lily chose well when she chose you and Mark to be her parents. I am sure she knows exactly how blessed she is xx

    1. thanks Andi!!! so appreciate u reading, fellow birth junkie ;) yes i do feel a lil bit proud that i managed to focus inwards on the task at hand even when so much else flew out the window!!! such is the great task before us, it draws so much out of us that we dont even realise, huh. LOL at the 17mins... well i have to say, really my body did the work, it just was happpening whether i liked it or not. amazing how different we all are, talking w amber, for her the pushing needed to be a very conscious thing (as is mostly the case) but yeah, my body just took over whether i was ready or not! (even more so the 2nd time around but that is all to come!) which im grateful for ;) sooo looking fwd to Hannah's story tomorrow x

    2. Yep, 17 mins. That's pretty incredible in my book. And yes, my gosh pushing has been so hard for both my babies. They just don't want to budge!

  3. Such beautiful pics - isn't birth miraculous? did you give birth in a birth centre? Something that really resonated with me was when you said that you just wanted to be alone in the toilet so that you could get away from everybody and concentrate. I clearly remember that from my first birth. Just wanting to be left alone, and running back and forth from the toilet, with the midwives calmly (and not-so-calmly) telling me to! lol. I believe that the less intervention the better (even though I have had various levels of high intervention in my births, which I really wished had not happened) and if women were left to have more control over their birth, it would be very clear just how capable we are! Happy Mother's Day!!!

    1. i'd planned to go through birth centre but due to the induction gave birth in the general maternity ward though my incredible birth centre midwife was with me through the whole thing and got to sleep in the birth centre after! LOL at you locking yourself in the toilet - whatever it takes huh!!! So true that its so important for birthing mothers to have more support to make choices in their births.

  4. Kate - so beautiful, Happy Mummy's Day. Lily was such a beautiful baby, just like she is a little girl. Congratulations.

  5. Such a beautiful birth story, Kate! I loved reading it.

  6. wow! Li tudo! de tirar o fôlego! Que estória linda Kate! Parabens pela sua incrível família. Deus os abençoe!
    Um beijo!


  7. Amazing Kate!! You and Lily did great!!


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