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Oakley's Birth Story

Written by Caitlyn Stemmer - Earth Child Photography

Our journey to become parents of 3 beautiful boys started early in the morning on Sunday the 16th when I started to feel some period type pains, very subtle. To begin with I had to stop and concentrate to notice them. Throughout the day they got slightly stronger but still so mild I continued about my day, folding washing & nesting. I didn’t tell my partner until after lunch that these feelings were actually regular, 10-15 minutes apart.

I wasn’t really sure if they were the real thing or not but I let my photographer & midwife know just incase I would be waking them up in the middle of the night.

We had dinner & I let Kobey know this might be the last night he will go to bed with just 1 sibling & gave them both some extra big snuggles. Off we all went to sleep. I slept perfectly through all the contractions until around 3:30am when I felt a strange pop/hit to the cervix & instantly jumped up and ran to the toilet - it was my waters! - woo this is really it!

My waters were a slight pinky/yellow colour & I knew this might’ve been meconium. I took a photo with intent to send to my midwife & popped on a pad then laid back down to call my midwife & thought I might get another hours sleep or so before things got going. Before I even had time to wake Lach up or call anyone I had 3 massive contractions within 10 minutes & got up scrambling for the tens machine. Swaying through contractions in the kitchen while getting the tens machine on, I made my way back to bed laboured on for a few minutes before Lach woke up ‘are you okay?’ He asked… ‘I am, but no I’m not I think the baby is on its way.’

Lach got up to have a shower & told me I should probably call Asha (my midi) and my mum. I was in a bit of denial for a few minutes and thought maybe it was too soon. Until Lach got out of the shower & I was now really clearly in active labour - I called mum & Lach called the midwives.

Mum arrived in a few minutes as we were getting ready to head off to Belmont Birth Center, Luka had woken up and was slightly distraught about all that was happening, while I’m a quiet labourer he could tell I was working through some big things.

It was 4:30 by the time we were leaving, both boys were up watching tv. Hugs and kisses for everyone, I grabbed a punnet of strawberries for the drive, I knew I needed some energy.

About 5 minutes into the drive I threw up.. ‘fuck, this is transition’ I thought. A short while after I felt some pressure & felt my baby move down lower. The drive was hard! It rained most of the way & the contractions were coming in hot, thank god for the TENS machine, I had it on full capacity by the time we got to the birth centre.

Lachlan dropped me off at the doors where some hospital staff met me with a wheelchair, that I couldn’t sit in.. I waddled up to the birth centre as quick as I could with the hot shower on my mind. All I needed was some hot water to help me work through the contractions.

The beautiful Asha was waiting for me at the doors to the labour suite, with the bath running, a fresh jug of water & her beautiful calming smile. I was so glad to be there. Straight to the shower, shortly after Lachlan & Emma (photographer) joined me.

I laboured in the shower for a short time & then in the bath, while I was in the bath I decided to feel if I could feel my baby yet, things were intense & I was sure baby was close! Sure enough I could feel his head just inside my vagina, I’d started to feel pushy so followed my bodies lead and began to bare down a little with each contraction.

At this point Asha had let me know that my waters contained meconium (baby poop) and advised this can increase chances of aspiration in water births. So we decided to get out (my last baby had respiratory distress so I was very cautious of increasing this risk)

I was offered CTG monitoring & kindly declined, Asha let me know that policy is immediate transfer to the JHH for mec stained liquor, I let Asha know that baby was just there and I could feel him, we decided to do an exam to check if it was too ‘late’ to transfer - sure enough 10cm & ready to have a baby.

We headed to the shower where I pushed on hands and knees & in various positions for a while before Asha made some suggestions to use some other techniques to bring baby down, we tried the birth stool, standing & the toilet & pushed for a little longer, I felt like baby was just not coming down, he was moving down with each contraction but right back up again in between, I could see his hair in the mirror. I understood that it’s normal for them to be a bit ‘in and out’ during pushing, but this was getting a bit excessive & I was getting slightly impatient, but reminded myself to trust my body & Asha let me know baby was happy and healthy.

After a good 1.5 hours of bearing down and pushing I knew if we didn’t get things happening soon that transfer was imminent. I got into a deep squat & Lach held me up from behind & I pushed, really really fucking hard. I finally felt the stretching of my perineum & reached down to feel my babies head emerging. Thank fuck for that, now to push through the burn and have a baby!

Asha let me know that he was in fact Occiput Posterior and Asynclitic, meaning he was facing up instead of down & his head was tilted to the side. Now I understood why it took so much work to get this baby born!

We used warm compress & warm water to aid with the stretching, I definitely experienced a mental block here but it was short lived & I was so ready to meet my babe ! And for labour to be over! After almost 2 hours of pushing I finally felt the relief of my baby being born, I caught him & pulled him up to my chest (by his head… sorry Oakley)

He didn’t cry immediately, I stimulated him with rubbing, kissing, talking & small breaths in his face to encourage those first breaths & cry. He was alert & reacting to all of my stimulations, making some confused faces. It wasn’t long before he let out his first cry & I felt so much relief that he was ok! I snuggled him and spent a few moments checking him out (he had some intense head moulding & a tiny skin tag on his ear)

I felt a big gush of fluid, I wondered if this was blood or amniotic fluid & Asha let me know it was blood, I looked around & surely was sitting in a pool of blood.

I wasn’t worried & I knew we were changing the birth plan & opting for a shot of syntocin to manage the bleeding. I had planned for a physiological third stage with leaving the cord in tact but previously discussed with Asha that I wanted the syntocin to manage bleeding in the case of a haemorrhage - which was clearly happening.

I got up and waddled over to the bed, it felt so good to lay down after such an intense few hours. I received the syntocin shot (maybe 2? I can’t remember) and we checked that the cord had stopped pulsing before I cut it & we began the assisted delivery of the placenta, i latched Oakley to my boob to help stimulate the uterine contractions & he had his first little breastfeed.

Asha so calmly waited until my placenta had began to detach itself before guiding it out & onto the bed to examine ! I had another bleed.

The paramedics were already at Belmont after being called for the meconium, now they were needed for my haemorrhage instead! They began to prep me for transfer & Lachlan gave Oakley a cuddle while Asha checked me out for perineal tears; no tears! Yay. Asha did Oakleys measurements & weight, 8.5lb our smallest baby so far !

The paramedics advised that it was their policy for the baby to travel to JHH with dad in our car. I politely declined that and Asha snuggled Oakley onto my chest under my shirt where he stayed, latched to my boob for the whole transfer over to John Hunter.

Over at JHH we spent some time in the birthing unit where I received the initial treatments for PPH, IV medications & tummy massage. The bleeding had all but stopped before we even got into the ambulance. Throughout this whole process I did not for one second feel unwell, or like I’d lost a lot of blood, or stressed. I felt calm & in control, I happily just took in all of those precious first moments and sniffed, touched & soaked him in as much as I could.

Blood loss totalled 1.3 litres.

We spent the day in JHH maternity ward, blood test results showed that all my levels were perfect, like I hadn’t even lost any blood. I begged to have the canular out & catheter too, I was able to wee myself & was walking around, I had eaten a tonne of food throughout the day & was feeling great. I requested to go home that night, against medical advice. I was confident in my body & my ability to know if something was wrong. I needed to see my big boys, I missed them so badly & wanted to introduce them to their new baby brother.

We were home by about 7pm where we had so many snuggles and kisses and cuddles, the boys were stoked to meet their little brother, shy but very excited.

Bed felt good that’s for sure !! What a day, welcome earthside baby Oakley !

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