Meadow was born on Sunday the 11th of October at 12:30pm, but I’m going to take you back to Thursday the 8th of October.
I had a 41-week appointment with my midwife which I went to with my sister. At this stage in pregnancy, I was feeling the pressure. Not from myself but from everyone else. For some strange reason, as soon as you get to 40 weeks, everyone thinks any time over this is an issue or not right. It got to the point where I would see someone I didn’t know well and I’d get the question of when am I due and then it would be followed by shock saying…
So when I saw Mae’t (midwife) I was now feeling a bit worried and down about the what if’s…. what if the baby doesn’t arrive by 42 weeks. This was what everyone else was worried about and now that I was over 40 weeks it was being planted in my head nearly every single day by someone. I know these people mean well, but it’s so damaging to an overdue pregnant mama’s mindset.
I was reminded that anywhere from 37-42 weeks is when baby can safely arrive and I was only at 41. I was told that baby WILL arrive before 42 weeks and that I needed to let go and surrender to the process. So this is what I did. The next day (Friday) I went and bought some Epsom salts and then ran a nice warm bath with oils and salts. I played my birth playlist and I lay back and closed my eyes and relaxed in the bath for about an hour. My body instantly knew what I was trying to do and it started to release my mucus plug while I was in the bath. I couldn’t believe it! Prior to this, I had zero signs of anything happening. The exact moment I actually surrendered, is when my body started preparing for birth.
Over the course of Friday and Saturday, I continued to lose more of my plug. As well as a few pains here and there but nothing consistent. I went to bed as normal on Saturday night thinking that things would happen during the night and sure enough at 11:30 pm I woke to an ache in my belly. Matilda just so happened to wake around midnight so she ended up coming into my bed.
I was in and out of bed from then until 2:30-3 am when I woke up to Belle (my dog) standing up next to my bed scratching the bed, something she has never done before!!! She must have known something was going on with me while I was asleep.
I decided to get up at this point. I had been messaging my sister throughout this time as she was going to be coming over when I needed the extra support. She came over around 3:30 am and contractions were about 5mins or so apart. Todd came over around 5 am which was perfect timing as Matilda woke up within minutes of his arrival so he was straight onto dad duties.
By sunrise, my contractions had spaced out. They were 5 mins apart and now they were 9-10mins apart so Michelle went home for a few hours and Todd took Matilda to the markets. I was fine on my own at this point for a little while and then ended up getting Michelle to come back as they were then back to 4mins and feeling a bit more intense than before. Michelle arrived back and it was close to 9am. We then started to set up the birth pool which involved laying out a tarp, making sure the pool was pumped up enough and filling it with water. I was perfectly capable of doing this with contractions 3-4 mins apart. I just had to stop once they arrived then when it passed I was good to go again.
Just before 9:30 am I messaged my midwife and said that contractions were 3-4mins apart but manageable.
I remember messaging her while I was on the toilet and I had a contraction come and I thought “fuck this is happening now”, as I held onto the toilet seat during the contraction.
After that intense contraction, I decided now to ask for Mae’t to make her way as she was 45 minutes away and I wanted her here before they got more intense and before I got to the next stage of labour (active labour). Todd arrived back with Matilda around 10 am. From 9:30-10:30, I laboured upstairs and at this point, I was feeling quite uncomfortable. Then around 10:30 am, it was time to get in the pool. I got in the pool about ten minutes before Mae’t arrived. My photographer Kirby had also arrived around this time too. With each contraction now, I closed my eyes and took some deep breaths. In between, I was still able to talk and watch Matilda being silly and making us all laugh. She took on the role of wetting a face washer with cold water and putting it on my face or sometimes throwing it at me, or she went around ‘cleaning’ the pool and wiping all the water away. I’m pretty sure another one of her jobs was to just eat aallll the snacks in the house too.
As I laying in the pool, probably around 11 am, Mae’t noticed that my face was frowning, (maybe this explains why Meadow’s main facial expression is a frown haha) implying that I had something on my mind, that I was holding something in and needed to say something. She asked me what I was thinking and I said that I was wondering how much longer and when things would ramp up as I still wasn’t in active labour yet and I felt bad that everyone was sitting here waiting. I was told to stop worrying about everyone else (I know, crazy I was concerned about others while it was ME who was in labour) and that everything was moving along perfectly.
Not long after speaking about my worries, at about 11:30 am, that is when things got more intense. I was now in transition stage. Full-on active labour. Everything prior to this was manageable, but now things were getting serious. I could feel Meadow moving inside me and making her way down. With each contraction now I was reaching up and holding onto the handle on the pool edge.
At one point I did think “please someone come and hold my hand” but I didn’t voice this.
Feeling Meadow moving down inside me was an intense and sharp feeling as well as super weird. I never felt the moving inside when I was in labour with Matilda so this was a new feeling. During my labour I was so much more in tune with my body hence me feeling different feelings this time. I really had to zone out in these moments and my mind went to another place. I never spoke or said when a contraction was coming, I simply closed my eyes and reached up for the handle to hold on to. Once it passed I could open my eyes and I would just lay there floating and relaxing as much as possible until the next one came. During this stage is when I did shed a few tears, it was so hard! Transition is such an intense part of labour and usually the part of labour when you say you can’t do it anymore. I never said once I couldn’t do it which I really thought I would have. I remember thinking to myself “this is the moment I’ve been waiting for, I’ve planned this, I’ve been dreaming of this, this IS the moment!”. It was not the time when I really needed to go within… focus, breathe, repeat.
Close to 12pm Mae’t suggested that I get up and go to the toilet to empty my bladder. I had no urge to go toilet but Mae’t knew that if I stood up, got out of the pool and walked as well as sat on the toilet and released my bladder, it would help get baby moving down more. It was a tactful move from Mae’t. We spoke for a little bit, me not really keen to get up and move, knowing I would have contractions out of the pool and it wouldn’t feel nice. I told Mae’t that I tried to move before and I couldn’t get comfortable. Eventually, I agreed to get up, so I stood up slowly, putting one leg over the edge of the pool, Mae’t held my leg as soon as I lifted it and moved it over the side of the pool and onto the floor. I then stood on the other side for a moment. When I stepped over the pool there was some blood that came out as I was moving. This was a positive sign but of course, it scared me slightly. I walked to the toilet naked, with a towel between my legs and realised quickly that my bladder was so full. I went toilet and then I opened the door and my sister was standing right there and I said to her still worried “is all this blood ok???”. All was fine and things were happening perfectly.
I got back in the pool, with zero sign of Meadow being close to arriving. She wasn’t crowning yet so I still thought we had some time before she’d be here. I continued to lay in the pool while holding onto the handle on the side of the pool. During this time I was still in my own world, going completely within during each contraction. Mae’t had ducked out of the room for a moment and during that short time, my body naturally started to push during a contraction. I was still in my own little world, just following my body’s lead, surrendering to the process. No one was telling me what to do, but I knew from Matilda’s birth that this was it, I was close to birthing my baby. I remember hearing my sister say “where’s Mae’t!!? She’s pushing!”. At 12:20 pm Mae’t messaged the second midwife to start heading over as she now knew birth was going to be happening at some point soon. But little did we all know it was happening right now. Over the next few minutes, I had huge urges to push. This is called FER (fetal ejection reflex) where the body pushes on its own. So I’m now surrendering to this moment and working with my body.
At 12:28 pm as I was pushing, I felt a huge pop and looked down to see that my waters had broken. I actually said with shock “what was that!?”.
There was still zero sign of Meadow’s head at this point. Todd was holding Matilda on the side of the pool behind me, with her legs in the water. For some reason, I actually thought Matilda was in the water next to me.
Michelle was putting pressure on my back and once she realised it was happening quickly she went to go get the camera to video but as soon as she walked away I had another contraction come and I growled at her to come back right away! The next second Kirby my photographer said “I can see your baby’s head” and they were all shocked as I had gone from nothing to my waters popping to the baby is coming. The next moment I was pushing and her head was coming out. I remember that I kept making eye contact with Matilda at this point to see if she was ok and not scared.
During the pushing stages, my plan was to really take this slow to avoid tearing however there was no possible way I could slow this down. Her head was coming out and she was coming quick
I placed my hand down onto her head, the most surreal moment feeling her head. I guided it out gently with my hand and then her head was out. What a relief! In this moment I felt zero pain. I sat there holding her head for what felt like forever, waiting for her body to be born.
As her head was out, everyone could see her hair swaying in the water which from what they have said was quite amazing to see. The next moment I pushed again and her body came halfway out. She stayed like that for another moment and then I pushed again and she was born at 12:30pm. From the moment my waters popped to her being born was 2 minutes. She went from not even crowning to coming out so quick. There was no stopping or slowing down her arrival.
When she came out Mae’t said to me that she was going to keep her underwater for a second as she had the cord wrapped around her neck. There was no panic or worry as this is very common with cords being around the baby’s neck. She took it off and then I was able to pull her up onto my chest. Unsure at this point if she was a girl or boy, I just held her and sat back into the pool with relief. That was a few hard and intense minutes! I really thought I was going to cry once she was born but I didn’t cry at all. I think because those last few minutes were SO intense I was just glad it was over and maybe more so in shock with how quick it happened. When she came out, she didn’t cry right away. Her eyes were open so wide, just looking around. So calm. She was also holding her breath. I asked if she was ok. After a few moments, Mae’t asked if she could rub her head which I said yes and then that encouraged her to take a breath which she then let out a nice big cry. After 6 minutes of holding her, still no one aware of the sex yet, I looked down between her legs to see that I had another girl.
Her name being Meadow Grace ✨💞
After Meadow was born, I continued to have contractions that I had to focus on and breath through. These contractions are to help with releasing the placenta. The next two hours were emotionally draining for me. It took me TWO HOURS for my placenta to release and come out. I know for sure if I was in a hospital setting, it would not have been as calm as it was. I’m not sure on the exact timeline of this part as some of it is a blur for me, but I sat holding Meadow for about an hour. I think at this point my placenta had started to come out however it was only slightly out. After an hour I was encouraged to change positions and move to my knees to see if gravity would help the placenta come out fully. Mae’t asked that everyone leave the room so I could focus on this next stage so now it was just me, the two midwives and Kirby in the background.
I sat up and got on my knees and asked if someone could hold Meadow (at this point she is still attached to the placenta) as I didn’t want to hold her while I was trying to do this. Meg (second midwife) held on to Meadow and she was now floating in the water next to me. After moving and trying to do a few pushes, my placenta started making its way out further. However, it was only half out of me now, with some of the membranes still attached inside. Mae’t suggested I try and wriggle the placenta, which I really didn’t want to do this. This part was one of my big fears, and here I was with my placenta half out of me, but still stuck. I eventually slowly put my hand down to touch and hold my placenta. I tried to move it, wriggle it, gently pull it but this hurt me which I thought was it pulling from the inside hurting me, but I now know that the pain I felt at that moment was my tear. Mae’t asked if she could feel to see what was going on and how much was out. I wasn’t keen on tis. I didn’t want this to happen as I had a fear of someone pulling it out like they did with Matilda’s placenta. I voiced this and Mae’t promised to gently feel. I allowed this and she confirmed it was the membranes and that if I pushed and gently moved the placenta that it would come out.
I tried to do this and wow what a moment. It worked! I slowly pulled my placenta up out of the water and placed it in the floating bowl. Such a huge relief, so big that this was the first moment after birth that I cried. I was so relieved that it was finally over, I just started sobbing. With Meadow floating ever so peacefully next to me, staring at me the whole time. I wiped my face with a face washer and Mae’t grabbed my hand and held it tight as I sat there crying tears of relief.
I decided after this that we could cut the cord. Todd and Matilda came back in and this time I wanted to be the one to cut Meadows cord. So I did. Todd then tied the little umbilical cord tie on and Meadow then was able to be with Todd and Matilda while I got out of the pool and got changed, then went and lay on my bed. Once I was on my bed, I was checked to see if I had any tears and I did end up with a second-degree tear, the same as what I had with Matilda’s birth. However this time I opted for no stitches and to heal naturally. To do this I had to keep moving to a minimum, keep my legs together whenever I did move, keep the area clean and apply manuka honey to the tear. I am so glad that I chose to heal naturally as I had zero pain after my birth, even with a tear! I honestly think this comes down to me having no stitches which pull, making it sore and uncomfortable.
Meadow’s birth weight was 7lb 8oz and she was 56cm long.
Overall, my birth experience was better than I ever imagined. I mean, I knew it would be amazing, I did plan this after all. But I never knew it would be that good. Coming from someone who in the past said I would NEVER have a home birth, thinking it was unsafe and crazy, I now 100% recommend home birth as the way to go for birthing your baby. I even more so recommend it if you have had a traumatic hospital birth full of intervention after intervention.
Hayley lives in Brisbane, Australia, and is a single mama of two little girls, Matilda and Meadow. She’s passionate about all things motherhood. You’ll find her sharing her journey as she navigates through motherhood as a solo mum, advocating for topics such as gentle parenting, pregnancy, birth and beyond and sharing educational, informative and helpful content.
Her aim with The Soulful Story is to be a support for mothers. You can find her on IG: @thesoulful.mama