I geared up for what was to be the greatest moment of my life. My partner and I had made the decision to try to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) for our second child. It is an uncommon enough decision to require some strategy and planning. I had employed the services of an experienced and well-known independent midwife and was booked into the only public hospital birth centre in Melbourne that would accept a woman with my obstetric history. At this birth centre I attended antenatal appointments and a childbirth class for women having second and subsequent births. My experiences were all positive. On the morning I went in – sort of in labour but also on the cut-off point for intervention – I was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by a midwife – who introduced herself and then enthused about being on duty to support me through this day as I was a bit of a cause celebre for those who believed VBAC should be possible and encouraged when medically appropriate. She was to be my birth centre midwife while I was also supported by my independent midwife. Fast forward through the day…it was a very long and very hard day and much more so by the evening. At various stages we also had the GP/obstetrician attending as well as my partner. To sum up it was a rather difficult labour mostly because it was a very big baby and it was ostensibly a first-time birth. There was nothing particularly complicated – it was just hard work. At the end of it all, my team and I produced my darling second son, Sean Pierre, and in the days and weeks after this amazing and life-changing birth I had plenty of time to reflect on the experience. What I concluded was that although it was my independent midwife who had basically coached me to the point of believing I could do this and ably supported me through the pregnancy and afterwards with breast-feeding difficulties, it was our midwife who had been our angel that day. Even now 8 years to the day (as I write) I can remember her calm, reassuring, confidence-inspiring tone, her extraordinary professionalism, and yet the personal and loving way in which she cared for me. My partner and I both felt so supported, “held” if you will, by her competence, her technical expertise, her focus on my needs and on ensuring that our baby was birthed safely.
In the weeks and months afterwards my midwife and I became friends and when I became pregnant again in May I asked her if she would attend our next son’s birth as the hospital midwife. Through this pregnancy I saw the GP obstetrician and the antenatal clinic, and toward the end our midwife and I met up specifically to plan and prepare for the birth. At this stage we spoke about pain-relief options and explored what my birthing intentions were, as I was becoming unclear about my commitment to a drug-free birth. I remember my midwife facilitating those conversations in a clear, uncomplicated and focused manner. She was concerned that I was unwittingly opening myself up to drugs and medical intervention because I lacked clarity about what I wanted. If you want to have a drug-free birth (and I completely respect women who don’t!) then you have to be clear about it from the outset. This could have been a tricky conversation with a heavily pregnant friend who was having second thoughts about a “natural birth” but my midwife handled it beautifully.
The birth of our son Ryan Patrick in February was another marathon effort. The photo below speaks volumes about the experience – another huge baby born after days of sleep-depriving early labour followed by a solid 7 hours of the real stuff. By now, there was no doubt that for both me and my partner my known midwife’s presence was fundamental. A few weeks after Ryan’s birth I made a little photo book as a thank you present to my midwife. In it I wrote
“you really are the most fantastic midwife. We couldn’t have asked for a better person – we are in awe of your patience, calm, professionalism, concern and competence…so thank you again (and again and again!) for everything and for sharing this momentous experience with us”.
In July we had one more child. As may be obvious by now we couldn’t have imagined childbirth without our known midwife around and she agreed to be our dedicated midwife again. On this occasion there was one small difference. Our midwife was herself pregnant and made the decision not to tell me so that I would not be in anyway concerned or affected by her condition – leaving me once again to be the centre stage star. I remember when I found out later being struck by what a perfect example it was of her calm clear-thinking decision making process and, of course, her thoughtfulness. The birth of Holly Judith was a different experience to that of her brothers. Holly was born quickly, without much fanfare, and in fact was born as I stood up to get out of a bath. My midwife and I are always thrilled to share with Holly that she “fell out of me” and the slippery little fish was caught by the multi-talented (and pregnant!) midwife!
So nearly 5 years have passed since the last birth and my midwife and I still enjoy remembering our birthing experiences (as well as the parenting moments that come with it). It is an honour to tell you my story and to encourage you to invite a private midwife to be part of your birth story as she is part of ours. My recommendation of her midwife and labour support services is unqualified; she is a top-class midwife and will give you highly-skilled and professional midwifery care with a calm and supportive approach throughout.
– Caroline Hutton