Updated: Mar 24
5 years ago today I became a mother! Within a week of giving birth I wrote out my birth story and have never done anything with it. So last night when reflecting upon the birth, I figured now is as good a time as ever to share the birth story! The story has been left as it was 5 years ago though I have edited a few things to make them easier to understand. Since then I have started training to become a birth keeper and had 2 more children – both free birthed. So this story is kind of funny to read from the more experienced and educated place where I stand now.
Born at 2121 on the 14th of November 2015 after a 16+ hour labour which took place entirely outside on a sweet homestead in the bush on the far south coast of NSW, Australia.
The outside bath warmed by a fire underneath where Achillea was born. This was taken several hours before he was born.
I was living on the ground level of an apartment near Bondi Beach, Australia, and was terrified of having a homebirth in a place that didn’t quite feel like home. Dan the father of my unborn child found the most amazing midwife in the world. Anki lived on a beautiful big bush property about 20 minutes outside of Bega, on the far south coast of NSW and welcomed us to stay and birth on her property. (though I found out later she did not actually think we would come lol)
Baby was due on the 27th of October and we arrived at Ankis on the 13th of October. It was such a relief!
I was terrified of having my baby in Sydney and had experienced Braxton Hicks contractions many times before we arrived.
There were many, many things we had left to do at home – but I didn’t think we had time! We had to leave ASAP!
The drive down was super chilled, many scenic stops along the way plus a snorkel break.
We got to Ankis around 10pm and I made lentils before she took us to the gypsy van where we would be staying.
It was so warm and beautiful! Very cozy and homey with flowers and candles everywhere.
We basically spent the next 5 weeks thinking we were going to have the baby that night and be back in Sydney in 3 days. Each time we went to the store we were shopping as if we were going to have the baby that night!
We start to worry about how much time we will have to wrap up everything stuff in Sydney.
It was a beautiful time regardless.
Everyday waking with the sun and sleeping as it got dark. Eating from the garden and picking wild foods from the bush.
Watching the many birds and the little kangaroo family nearby.
Going on bush walks and trips to the beach, snorkeling and gathering seaweed.
Dan spent a lot of his time making different handcrafts.
He made spoons with axe and knife, pottery fired in a giant fire, and tanned a wallaby hide from roadkill.
I spent most of my time in the outside fire bath, napping and reading all the birthing books in the van.
The due date was 27th of October, I hoped it would come a few days earlier on Dans birthday.
Though they both came and went with no baby – we were meant to be home already!
A week or 2 later I started to take homeopathics to induce labour, then I started to take cohosh, then there was talk of the witches brew! Both methods of inducing labour naturally.
The cohosh and brew terrified me!
Surely the baby would just come when it was meant to!?
Each night around 2am I would wake up with contractions and nausea and all kinds of crazy stuff and think I was going to have the baby… Then I would wake up in the morning and be so surprised that the bay hadn’t been born!
I stopped taking the cohosh after a day or so.. It will happen as it should!
We thought it would be lush to start going into labour in the morning on a sunny day and finish up in the afternoon in time for a nice sleep in the night!
On Friday night Ben (Ankis husband) offered Dan a ride up to Sydney for the weekend to sort stuff out there – Ben would drive up with him that night and come back Sunday. Anki was sure me being bothered and stressed out about loose ends in Sydney was stopping the baby from coming.
We all talked long and hard about it and thought out all the options.
We decided it was better to stay and deal with the mess later rather than Dan missing the birth or having no energy.
We ended up getting to bed after 10pm! Super late for us!
The van was a total mess and it was the first time I’d gone to bed without tidying up first.
At 2-3am I started having the usual sleepy contractions and kept half waking up. Almost in dream land I started thinking about Ally, and how we were both going to have babies at the same time! (Ally is 38-39 weeks pregnant with twins. Anki is her midwife)
As the sun came up, I woke and realized things were pretty serious! Dan took me to the outside shower and started a bath. I tried to eat some light things but kept vomiting everything up, I went to the bathroom many times and the contractions were getting stronger and stronger.
I got my bloody show and kept walking from the van to the shower to the camp near the shower and back.
Each time I got a contraction I could not really stand and would just drop to the floor. It was just so much easier to handle on my hands and knees.
Dan kept rubbing my lower back and it helped a lot!
After a while I realized I had to settle somewhere – it was getting too intense walking around from place to place. Dan set up camp in the fairy glade!
The fairy glade where I spent the first half of labour
A glade full of soft Nymeria grass, with casuarinas, geebungs and little sedges.
It was really beautiful and nice and sheltered.
I lay down there on many pillows and blankets, Dan just sat beautifully and patiently. He seemed very peaceful, sometimes he rubbed my feet or my back in a very soothing and helpful way. I pushed off of him with my feet during strong contractions which was helpful on the slope. He mentioned how hard it would have been for his mother who laboured alone with each of her children. I was drifting asleep between each contraction – I was so tired! It was around 11-1pm. I was a bit sick again, but also managed to keep some food down, Anki came over with oils, drinks, snacks and tried to do some butt shimmy to get the baby to shift into an anterior position, but it hurt too much so I don’t think we went on for very long. Dan told Anki the contractions were every ten minutes which totally surprised me. They seemed a lot closer than that. I had no concept of time at all!
The glade was beautiful and peaceful. Everything had a very magic feel to it – almost surreal.
Little birds were all around us, curious, in the sedges and trees.
We made the pilgrimage to the shower when things got too intense.
The warm shower was great!
The hot water on my back was bliss.
I could not stand straight though, I had to lean over the bench because the contractions were so full on!
After a while the water stopped feeling so hot on my back. When this happened, I would go to the bath. Dan would come in with me and squeezed a small towel of hot water on my lower back! This was amazing! I told him to never stop!
So he squeezed the wet towel onto my back again. I told him it was so good, that he should put a towel into each hand and alternate so that there would never be a second that there wasn’t a towel of hot water squeezed on my back. Haha. “uh.. Ok sure” he said.
We went back and forth from the bath to the shower. I felt like I was going to do a giant poo! So I felt more comfortable in the shower in case I actually did.
Dan told Anki this and she seemed surprised and said I was in the pushing stage now. Woohoo!
Intense contractions in the shower roughly 10 hours into labour. Babe was posterior so there was a lot of pain and pressure on my spine as both our spines were pushing against each other.
The power in the contractions was real! My legs would tremble with the power each time I got a contraction and I became very vocal!
We moved to the bath; I was most comfortable on my knees leaning over the bath. I had towels everywhere to cushion me.
It started to get really hard at this point.
Dan had been non-stop squeezing hot water on my back – using two cloths non stop!
I would yell at him if he slowed or stopped! Anki took over sometimes also!
This went on for ages! The feeling of having to poo getting stronger -which I just went with- which combined with the baby moving down pushed some little poos out!
I felt a pop and something shoot out of my flower!! “What was that!?”
My water had broken! It wasn’t at all what I expected!
It was more like a ping pong ball or something! I suppose all the pressure of baby behind it made it more like an explosion than stories I had previously heard.
I would space out and gather energy in between contractions and really work through each contraction! Around 4pm Anki said the head was about 2cm away from the opening of my flower. Sweet! So we will probably be done in half an hour! The sun was still up and everything!
The next part went on forever!!!!
Seriously! The longest time!
At some point I felt the little head poking out and touched it! Then it went back in and I went on pushing for hours more! By this stage contractions were super powerful! It felt good to just go with each one – sort of like a team.
I was sort of half standing in the bath with one knee on the edge of the bath – to be more open while leaning with my hands on the edge.
I would squat down in between contractions, I would work really hard and push the head out and try as hard as I could to hold it there with my muscles. Then it would go back and I would try hold it for longer next time. I was getting really tired and drinking water and grape apple cider vinegar in between contractions. Snacks were great at this point also. It was taking so long. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere really, that the same amount of head was coming out each time.
Things soon enough got more intense. I felt like I was going to explode or rip in half if I pushed really hard. But I felt too tired and sick of the pushing, so started to try really hard with each wave.
Let’s just get this baby out and be done with it.
It felt good to work with what my body naturally needed to do other than resist it.
I would try and push really hard then rest and drink water when the contraction was over.
Everything was surprisingly calm and normal feeling in between pushing.
They became so heavy that my legs would buckle and collapse a little towards the end, I started to be able to hold the head for longer.
The noises that I was making started to become a little wild and involuntary, but they helped.
I was concentrating and focusing with everything I had.
Next the head came out a huge amount!!! And it burnt!!! A burning ring of fire!!!
Anki told me to pant!! I remembered reading about this – crowning. The panting is to hold the head there and give the skin time to stretch so it doesn’t explode as the baby shoots out.
This was hard – but the baby’s head wasn’t going back in! Which was super exciting.
All of a sudden I completely left my body! I was floating a few feet above my body. What was left was the wildest, and craziest screaming shell. It was only for a few seconds while the baby came out – but I had to check out.
I felt the wiggling of his body and legs coming out. It literally felt like an octopus haha.
All the feelings and sensations happening in my body became numb and dull. Like they were very far away and not really my own.
Dan caught the baby! It felt so strange coming out. Everything was a dreamy blur! I could hear dan marveling and welcoming the baby! Anki told him to give him to me, I turned and said, “it’s a boy !!”
His cord was all tangled up – Anki passed him under my leg so I could hold him properly. I sat down next to dan and held him! It was amazing and beautiful. He was coughing up some gunk stuff and wasn’t really interested in boob.
I was amazed at him! In total awe!
We sat in the bath a while, I vaguely remember the kids coming over and Ben saying “is there a sweeter sound?” As the babe was crying.
Anki was worried that he was getting cold and wanted to get him inside, but I had to deliver the placenta still. So Dan cut the cord with his hand made Norwegian knife and took him to bed.
Cutting the cord stressed me out and the baby leaving stressed me out – all on the inside though!
I started to get pushing sensations again – but I wasn’t really prepared so was avoiding and resisting a little. I tried to adjust and came forward onto my hands and knees. The placenta shot out all of a sudden!! I gave an involuntary slightly hysterical scream at the instant it came out! It was huge and I was totally unprepared.
Afterwards I hobbled back to the van with the help of Anki – she told me to pee but it was not going to happen at all.
We went back to the van and I held my baby! He was so great! Anki fed me banana, tahini and honey while I held him – it was great!
She also fed me right after the birth in the bath – it was so good to have some food after all the hard work and extreme energy expenditure. ‘
Achillea the day after he was born wearing elven chain mail made by our adopted Mum in Norway and the basket made by our weaving friends in north QLD
What a special night!
We lay him down in between us both and all snuggled up together and went to sleep.
He is a very chilled out, peaceful and calm baby.
This must have been because of his entry to the world.
I’m so glad we chose this way to give birth and I am so pleased that I was strong enough and brave enough to choose this powerful and natural way to have my baby.