I gave birth to my 9lb 7 baby in the back of our car on the side of the highway.
Yes, that’s right. But first I want to acknowledge and honour those mamas who hear stories like this and feel unworthy, like a failure or even a little resentment at women who seem to have these ‘easy’ births, because that used to be me.
My firstborn was an emergency c-section after 30 plus hours of labour, and it took me a long long time to come to terms with not being able to birth my baby naturally. I felt all of the things – weak, not good enough, not womanly enough…and I would get upset, cry and even feel resentful whenever I heard of someone who had a natural birth.
My second baby was a VBAC, however I had drugs, a lot of intervention & fear which didn’t allow me to experience a natural birthing process. I felt all of the feels again, and I actually used to tell people (and myself) ‘I am just not good at giving birth’.
Fast forward five years, and we decided to have another baby, I always wanted more children, but it was the thought of another birth that scared me the most. For the first few months, I was in denial that I would have to actually give birth to get the baby out. I would conjure up reasons in my head why I would have to have an elective c-section – where it wouldn’t be my choice, so I wouldn’t ‘fail’ again. When my beautiful friends tried to organise a blessingway for me, I freaked out and said no, because I couldn’t stand the thought of all of my girlfriends wishing positive birth vibes upon me when I couldn’t birth naturally and I felt like I would let them all down.
This was the turning point; I knew I needed to face what was coming and heal myself mentally to have the birth I had always wanted.
“It took me a long long time to come to terms with not being able to birth my baby naturally. I felt all of the things – weak, not good enough, not womanly enough.”
The first thing I did was hire a doula, and this became the best decision of our entire journey. Our doula Meaghan (details below) is amazing, at my first meeting with her I knew she was the woman who would support my husband and I though our journey. She was strong, yet gentle and nurturing in all of the right ways. She understood where my fear came from and gave calm reassurance, which made me feel stronger.
Next I worked on my mindset, I used an aromatic anchor of geranium (the oil of love and trust) and bergamot (the oil of self acceptance) to anchor in positivity around my birth, I would repeat mantra’s like ‘I am strong, I will have an amazing birth, I can do this’ and I would imagine how I felt when my baby girl was in my arms for the first time. I didn’t dwell too much on the details, just how I would feel after an empowered natural birth. I repeated those words and used that oil blend every day. I honestly believe that those two things; feeling completely supported and creating a positive mindset made all of the difference to our birthing experience.
In the days leading up to Luna’s birth, I had two bouts of false/pre labour. Both lasting about five hours, with contractions that were not too intense, yet were very regular, at about three minutes apart. Both times, my husband and I thought it was on…we prepared, Nick packed the car, we organised my mum to care for our older kids… then, the contractions would just slow down and stop. It was both physically and mentally draining, and a little disheartening, as we were so so keen to meet our baby girl!
On Wednesday, 29th August I had an obstetrician appointment in the morning, they did an internal exam which showed I was three centimetres dilated, this made me pretty excited because it meant that all of that pre-labour was actually doing something.
“I think she is coming out, it feels like she is coming out…We were on the side of the highway, not in a stopping bay, just on the edge of the highway.”
As I drove home I had constant strong period like pains and felt really uncomfortable, however all I could think about was eating a massive tuna salad with all of the yummiest salad ingredients, smothered in avocado oil and heaps of pepper, and eating it outside in the sunshine. So as soon as I got home I started making it, but by this stage I was feeling so heavy and uncomfortable with strong period pains, I didn’t feel hungry at all, but I was so determined to eat that salad in the sun, that I forced it down. After this, I tried laying down, however could not get comfortable so I ran a bath thinking it would sooth the aching in my tummy. I was in there for about five minutes, it didn’t help at all, and I could feel contractions starting.
I told my husband at around 12pm that the contractions had started, but after the previous two days of false labour he was understandably unsure, however he kept an eye on the time between my contractions and began arranging the older kids school pickup and supported me with massage etc.
I was determined that this was going to be the real deal, I could not mentally handle another false alarm. So I did not sit down, I walked laps of our large 12 seater dining table, and squatted right down low in between each contraction. This went on for about three hours, contractions two-three minutes apart.
I began to feel a little shift, and said to Nick I think we should call the doula. He was hesitant, because he wasn’t sure if it was all going to stop again, but I persisted and he called Meaghan at about 3.30pm. In between each contraction as I squatted low, I repeated my positive affirmations, telling myself that I could do this. We also applied my progress blend of clary sage, jasmine & geranium onto the inside of my ankles and lower tummy every hour or so.
Meaghan arrived a little after 4.30, and she brought with her the confidence, calm, support that we needed right then. I instantly felt stronger and calmer, as did Nick. She had so many tricks up her sleeve – applying pressure in all of the right places, guiding me on breath work, and at 5.30pm as she was giving me these amazing hip squeezes we heard this very loud cracking/slapping sound, Nick even heard it from the kitchen! Even Meaghan was like ‘what was that?!” A moment later my waters began to trickle out – it was the strangest experience!
“I remember this inner calm where things felt in slow motion, I could hear semi trailers screaming past, feel the cold air when the door opened, see my leg shaking like crazy pushing on the drivers seat.”
Everything escalated from that moment. Contractions were so strong, I could no longer focus through them, all I could do was yell. I decided to get in the shower, hoping the hot water would help the pain. It did to an extent, but I couldn’t get comfortable, and the surges were so so intense. My sounds began to deepen and I started to feel the contractions get lower and more downward pressured. At this point Meaghan showed nick the distinct brown line that had formed up my lower back and gave nick her ‘serious face’ saying “we need move to the hospital, now”. They asked me if I wanted to stay here in the shower to give birth or go to the hospital, as our baby was coming soon. I said I wanted to go, and get settled into the birthing tub at the hospital (in my mind I thought there would still be a few hours).
We made our way to the car, my outer body was screaming the whole time, but I had this inner dialogue that I remember so clearly. I was thinking ‘shit, the whole neighbourhood can hear me right now’, and I was also thinking about the logistics of getting to hospital, being admitted and them all wanting to monitor me and check me and do tests, and I didn’t know how I was going to handle all of that in this state – luckily my body had other plans!
I got into the car, lying on my side in the back seat, with my head up the passenger side and legs pushing on the back of the drivers seat. I remember looking out the front windscreen thinking, ‘far out, we are going really really fast’ all while that outer body kept yelling through what were now constant contractions. I began to feel an almighty urge to bear down, I yelled ‘I think she is coming out, it feels like she is coming out’, to which Meaghan again with the serious face said to Nick ‘you need to pull over, now’. We were on the side of the highway, not in a stopping bay, just on the edge of the highway.
Still, I remember this inner calm (outer body certainly not calm) where things felt in slow motion, I could hear semi trailers screaming past, feel the cold air when the door opened, see my leg shaking like crazy pushing on the drivers seat. Nick was in the car at the ‘business end’ and Meaghan was by my face. She kept repeating ‘you are safe, everything is ok, your baby is coming, everything is fine’ which was exactly what I needed to hear, and it made me feel calm (on the inside). Luna came out in three surges, I didn’t feel like I had to push strongly, just bare down and growl with each surge. Her head came out and she turned up to look at her Dad, quickly followed by her shoulders and then out she swooshed in a stream of fluid into her daddy’s arms. I didn’t feel the burning or ‘ring of fire’ that I had heard about, I could feel her crowning and coming out, but it didn’t feel entirely painful.. perhaps the adrenaline had blocked that out, it is hard to explain what it felt like, but it was magical.
Luckily Nick had thrown heaps of towels in the car… my new car by the way that I purchased only a month previously! He popped her up onto my chest, I felt all of those feelings that I had manifested in the weeks prior. Here she was, in my arms, safe and sound. I was instantly giggly with endorphins, I just kept repeating…’I cant believe that just happened’.
Nick said he had a bit of a breakdown and had to pull himself together and get into the drivers seat to drive us to hospital. We pulled up to emergency and several midwives came out to assist, popped me in a wheelchair, umbilical cord still attached to the placenta inside me and baby outside of me, and up we went to a birthing suite. We had a lovely midwife who looked after us, and delayed any kind of intervention as the placenta took a whole two hrs to detach.
The birth was everything I wanted and dreamed of, well, maybe accept for the car situation… but even then, it meant I had no intervention, no monitoring or clock watching, no pressure placed on me or fear. My body did what it was designed to do.
Thank you Luna Grace for helping me re-write my story – I am good at birthing, I am strong, I can do it.
* I absolutely believe that every birth is beautiful, no matter how you decide to bring your baby into the world. I have friends who are amazing C-section warriors, mamas who actively choose pain relief and have beautiful calm experiences as they intend, and mama friends who home birth. These were just my own thoughts about myself and the pressure that I placed entirely on myself and my experience, by no means any reflection on anyone else’s decisions.