The ability to share and own your birth story is such an incredible and important rite of passage for women. Birth is one of the single most epic experiences a woman can live, and it's often a story that goes untold.
Stories anonymously curated by Natalie O’Driscoll and Kim Ferguson. Introduction by Kim Ferguson @therealistmum
As birthing mothers and parents we are told that “as long as the mother and the baby are healthy, that's all that matters.” Whilst maternal and newborn health are the most important thing, it's not always all that matters.
Speaking your truth, your experience, your journey into motherhood is such an important part of your transition into matrescence and for a mother to truly feel emotionally, mentally and physically supported postpartum.
It's a topic that should be more openly discussed and often an experience that doesn't go to plan. So in light of supporting maternal health, we have spoken with incredible mothers who share their own real, raw and epic birth stories with us.
Nicole: Touch and Go
I was induced at ten days overdue and went straight into full hard labour, screaming for an epidural at only 3cms dilated. It took several hours for the anaesthetist to arrive and by the time she did I had zero dignity left. I had already peed and vomited naked, all over myself, from the pain in front of my partner and mum.
Things were kind of chill until around 12 hours later when suddenly the words “foetal distress” were being thrown around and it seemed like there were a dozen people peering into my vagina. My giant-headed baby was stuck and his heartbeat was dangerously high. They cut me and pulled him out using a vacuum. He wasn’t breathing.
They resuscitated him, whisked him past me for a kiss and swept him off to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit).
Now it was my placenta’s time to be stubborn, sticking to my uterus wall. A midwife reached up inside me nearly to her elbow and manually retrieved it, at which point I haemorrhaged severely.
My BP dropped to the floor and they wheeled me straight into an operating theatre where they did a patch and fix job. I was crying and asking if my baby was alive and I remember the doctor looking at the nurse and saying “don’t worry about that right now”.
Fortunately, we both came out of it breathing, after 40 hours of hell, but it was certainly touch and go.
Allison: The Sunroof
I was wheeled into theatre for an emergency caesarean section after developing preeclampsia during my pregnancy in 2015. I spent the entirety of my birthing experience with the anaesthetist lovingly suctioning the vomit from around my mouth.
A short time after Ezra’s birth I was wheeled into recovery and finally got to hold my baby. My partner told me that during the birth, the obstetrician realised that they had the wrong size forceps for Ezra’s extraction. There had not been enough time for them to get the right size. Because of this, Ezra had a decent sized haematoma on his head and I suffered a significant bleed. It was touch and go as to whether I would need a blood transfusion, but ultimately I didn’t.
I understand that a delivery room can be a busy place, but I did feel upset about the fact that I was the last person to know the details of the events in my own child’s birth. I had been left alone with only the anaesthetist's suctioning to keep me company.
Gill: The Natural Twin Birth
I was having twins at 37 weeks which is considered full term for twins. A natural, vaginal delivery was planned but I had to be induced so I wasn’t sure about pain relief. I definitely didn’t want an epidural. I also couldn’t have pethidine as I had had an allergic reaction previously; so gas and air was my only option. I hadn’t loved those options the first time around so I opted for a tens machine and walking.
That was my first hurdle, at the time, no walking around with twins, I had to be monitored at all times. I persuaded them to let me be sitting on a yoga ball next to the bed so I could still be monitored. I was induced about midday and by 3pm I felt like I was hit by a bus.
At 6.30pm I went into theatre to birth and when you have twins there can be a cast of thousands. One midwife per twin, one obstetrician per twin, teaching hospital so a plethora of students... I think I counted 12 people in this room!
Twin One was crowning and I got him out at 7pm. Man, he had a massive head! The next minute there was panic and chatter as Twin Two's obstetrician told me that it was breach and I needed a c-section.
Twin One was five pounds six ounces and we knew Twin Two was smaller. I was in shock that I had just delivered this watermelon-headed baby and they now wanted to cut me open to take the tiny one out of the sunroof!
I was calm when I said "There is no way you are cutting me open, I will deliver this baby!"
The OB kept telling me that it was best for Twin Two and that I needed to listen to the professionals. Not so calmly this time, I may have used some inappropriate language, and I told her that "I would not be having a c-section today, thank you!"
At this point I heard a Student Midwife say "Oh My God" as Twin Two shot out like a little bullet. Weighing just under four pounds, the Student Midwife caught her in his hands before she slipped to the floor at 7:20pm.
Two healthy twins. Delivered vaginally, with no pain relief, it felt good!
I was lucky I was able to speak for myself, if I had had drugs the outcome might have been different. I had always said I didn’t want a c-section but I understand that you need to do what is best for mum and bub. Ultimately, women know their bodies and what they can do. I knew I could deliver this baby and I did.
Emily: Baby In Caul
My first birth was quite honestly the most beautiful and healing experience of my life! I was 42 weeks that day and had chosen a home birth.
That afternoon my partner came home from work and my sister arrived, we all relaxed and played cards, my contractions were very mild - a low, full ache. My sister gave me a massage and this kicked things off.
At 3am I began moaning loudly, and woke my partner. He set up the birth pool, and I moved to the bathroom where I felt like I was leaving my body a little during contractions. Getting in the pool at around 4am was utter bliss - the sharpness of the contractions shifted and softened. I crouched in the water and my midwife held the hose on my lower back. I laughingly said to her I was about to do a poo, when she said “it could be a poo, or it could be a baby”.
I reached my hand down and felt a head! I was ecstatic! I thought I had hours to go but this was it!
It was 5am and I could see my baby's head. Once her head was born her body came easily in one contraction into my hands. She was completely in caul, wrapped in a bubble of murky water.
My midwife instructed me to pinch the sac beneath her ear, and the sac burst. I went to lift her again but her cord was around her neck. I instinctively unlooped it and brought her to my chest. She was grey and still, and I rubbed her back hard and blew on her and she took a deep breath and wailed!
The feeling was pure ecstasy. I was riding a high that I could never have imagined, a feeling I’d not known before or since. She was utterly perfect and latched onto my breast within a few minutes. I am forever grateful to my midwife for her expertise and trust in undisturbed birth, as this experience would not have been possible without her.
Megan: The Quicky
For all three of my children, I had quick labours. For my first born five hours, second born was four hours and the last one just three hours in labour. In some ways all my births were very similar with my waters not breaking until immediately before delivery, no doctor in the room until after the birth and no drugs. I was in the hospital for only 15 minutes with my last birth. It was lucky I was even there at all, as I only went in because my husband and sister strongly suggested I get checked.
My contractions were still only three to four minutes apart, so I thought I still had plenty of time.
The midwife met us at reception and we hopped into the lift to go up to the labour rooms. The doors opened, the midwife took off saying she was getting her catcher mitt and would meet us in the room.
Only 15 minutes later, voila; one beautiful baby girl.
My sister was in the labour room with us and later was very unimpressed when I yelped ‘OW!” when the doctor administered an injection in my thigh. In fact, she walloped me across the head in disbelief.
Prior to the labour I'd had a very vivid dream that I’d had this baby at home, it had almost come true.
Anne: Life and Loss
My birth story is probably a bit different to many. My first delivery was a difficult one and I still have the piles to prove it. My first born was a forceps delivery and the poor little baby appeared in this world very battered and bruised.
However, the real pain in my birth was that my mother, Mary, was killed in a car accident six weeks before he was born. My parents were on their way to Sydney to visit me when a car crossed on to the wrong side of the road and hit them head on. The emotional pain to us all was terrible. I was so frightened that the baby would come early or that something might happen to him because of my distress.
David arrived on the day he was due and you know the old saying "It was the best of days. It was the worst of days."
It felt like that. Weirdly I was relieved he was a boy as I couldn't bear the thought of a girl replacing mum in my life. Later, I was fortunate enough to go on to have the most wonderful daughter imaginable.
My partner Steve was in the navy at the time and the day after the birth he was on duty which meant he had to be on the base from 8am to 8am the following day. Jeez, that was a lonely day. My two sisters were able to visit but it was a bit of a tear fest.
Generally after being on duty a sailor could take the afternoon off, but in his wisdom Steve's superior officer (I use the term loosely) said he had to do a full day's work. Steve did the only rebellious thing I've ever seen him do while in the Navy. He came home at lunch time.
David will be 42 in 7 weeks so anniversary time is coming soon.
About Kimberly Ferguson: @the_realist_mum is an online blog and soon to be podcast. Kim is a twin-mum and mother of three, a business owner and a realist uncovering All The Sh*t They Don't Tell You on pregnancy, birth and parenthood.