I had been sleeping on the couch for the last week leading up to the 24th due to pain in my ribs that felt as though I had maybe pulled a muscle off my rib cage or something similar. It hurt to laugh, bend, sneeze, and of course, lie on my side. At about 4:50am I rolled over on the couch to find a new position and with that felt/heard and internal clunk. It was different to a kick. I then felt a small gush of fluid and went to check it out. There was a little pink and brown colour in this and I knew at that moment that something different was happening. I was sure I had had my "show". I called Gary after having a shower and let him know what had happened. He had been at work for about an hour. I then decided to call the midwife and let them know what was going on. Caitlin answered the phone and asked had my contractions (surges) started, I said no. I had been having stronger Braxton Hix and period pain like sensations going on through the previous day and night but nothing serious enough to keep me awake. About 5 mins after getting off the phone to the midwife, my surges began.

At that point I figured I was not going back to sleep and quickly downloaded an app to time my surges. They started at 10 minutes apart and lasted for about 1.5mins. After half an hour, they shortened to 5 mins apart, then 3 mins apart for 1 min. By 7am I called Gary back and said he should come home as it might be time for us to go to Wangaratta Hospital. As we had a 45-minute journey ahead of us, when to get in the car and make the journey was always the question in our minds, that was going to be the hard decision, though we had arranged with Keith & Kerry Marsden to use their house to labour in if we needed to and it was very close to the hospital.

The journey down the road was ok. As we drove along, I looked at the trees, I looked at the blue sky and the green grass. It was a beautifully sunny day and I was soaking in what I could from Mother Nature's display. I was feeling quite nauseous with each surge and about every 5th one would be significantly more intense than the others where I had to focus a lot more on my breath (which helped immensely) to get through them.

When we got to the hospital, I was able to get out of the car and walk up to maternity where Janet from the CMP (Community Midwife Program) met us. We left everything in the car in case we were sent away after they checked where I was up to. At about 8:30am, Janet asked me to lie on my back so she could check to see how I was progressing. This felt absolutely uncomfortable and was the only time my ribs hurt though the whole process. that would be the only time I was on my back and I remember feeling huge sympathy for any woman who had ever been forced to labour on their back! Janet didn't tell me how far along I was as we had requested but instead told Gary to go and get the bags from the car, we were staying! I was so relieved when she said we were staying though in my head I was prepared to be told to go away and come back later as I knew full well I had not been in labour very long by this point. But we were staying I was happy to hear it. Apparently my membranes had broken, it wasn't just a show I had earlier. The "clunk" must have been my waters breaking. I had been trickling ever since.

It was about 9am and by this stage Gary had stopped timing the surges and just focused on supporting me through them. He put on some Hypnobirthing tracks and rubbed my back, continued to offer supportive affirmations we had talked about and gone over in our preparation. He was such an incredible support through the entire experience. We moved from leaning against the bench, to walking around, to hang and swaying off him, to sitting on the bed, to kneeling at the end of the bed - no where was comfortable! We had asked to have the pool set up but as it turned out, we really didn't have time to set it up, though I do remember at this point wishing I could be in a pool and be weightless. As my legs felt as though they were struggling to hold me up and again, it had not yet been a very long journey. We had also bought affirmation posters to hang up, lights, candles, etc. etc. but none of it made it out of the bags.

There was a time where we were sitting on the end of the bed, listening to a track, trying to tune into my body and breath and out of distraction. I sat through a few surges with my eyes closed and just breathed. Though as they went on, I was getting more uncomfortable down south and more shaky and nauseous with each one. The surges became progressively more intense and the nausea I was experiencing during each surge was becoming really challenging to deal with. Janet offered me something to help take away the nausea. I happily accepted! I didn't know it at the time, though I did wonder if that's where I was - I was entering transition.

I started doubting myself completely. I was getting to the point where I thought I couldn't do it anymore. Where I thought "well you have given it a red hot go but this is too much and you have to ask for help". I looked at Janet and said "what are my options?? I don't think I can do it......". I wanted "out". This was about 11:30am. Janet reassured me I could do it and was doing it. She suggested we go to the shower and the water may help sooth the intensity of the surges. It did help. But boy had they ramped up. At a guess they were coming every 30 seconds or so and seemed to last for about the same length of time, though I didn't really have much of a concept of time. I didn't want to look at the clock. I moved in the shower and Gary came in to help support me. I tried to focus on the water on my skin, the feeling of it running down over me. My breath, relaxing my jaw as much as possible. I tried making different sounds. Different shapes with my mouth. I had to lean on the wall every time a surge came on.

I started to feel too hot and got out of the shower to cool off. As I walked out of the shower area, I looked around and thought, I don't know where to go, I don't know that anywhere is going to work for me, unsure how to navigate what was coming next.... Standing in the middle of the room, Janet offered to set up a bean bag on the floor so I could kneel and be belly down. I said yes, but wasn't sure at that stage I could even get down there. Turns out that was a great position for me as it took the weight off my legs and I could actually relax between surges, flopped over the bean bag, a little lop sided at first but just grateful to be down there and feeling some relief. That was where I stayed as when I had emerged from the shower, I felt like it might be time to push - but again I wasn't quite sure if I had been at it long enough to get to that stage. Once down on all fours, Janet checked me again to see if there was any cervix left that needed to thin or move and heard the words come out of her mouth - "No, that's all head, you're going really well Kylie!". Again, another rush of relief to hear her say that. Gave me such a boost of confidence.

From there the surges started changing again. They were intense for sure, but they were different to earlier when I thought I couldn't go on any more. They felt more and more like I wanted to bear down and Janet encouraged me to do just that. I could hear Gary reminding me of affirmations again, like "your baby is the perfect size for your body" and "trust your body and your baby, they know what to do". He was rubbing my back and saying all the right things at the right time.

I realised that Mia was making her way progressively down the birth path and I tried so very hard to relax between surges and let my body have a rest. I had read plenty about all stages of labour but I could not quite draw on the reminders I needed at that moment other than telling myself to breath deep, keep my jaw relaxed and try to rest when I could. I could hear everything the midwifes where saying and by that stage Carli (another CMP midwife) and a student midwife had joined us in the room. Through the process, Janet had been checking Mia's heart rate to see how she was coping and each time, she was fine. It was so reassuring to hear. Janet encouraged me to do what my body was telling me to do, so with each surge, I started to bear down, big time! I could feel Mia come down a little further, then go back up when I relaxed between surges. Come down and go back a little. Again, I had seen this in footage before so I knew what was going on. The urge to bear down with each surge was so incredibly overwhelming that it was a fine line between extreme intensity and feeling good to bear down. I registered that I was making a kind of deep guttural grunting noise with each surge as I was bearing down to get her out. I did not want to tear though and was trying hard to breath with each surge. This was super difficult not to hold my breath and push/grunt my way through it.

Finally, it came time for Mia to crown and at that point I felt the "burning" I had read about. She had made it to a point that she was staying where she was and not going back. Another rush of relief! The next I knew, Gary was showing me footage on his phone of Mia's head crowning - WOW! He kissed me and encouraged me, and all I could say was - "Our bubba's coming!!". At that point I knew we didn't have far to go and with next one or two surges, Mia's head was out. I heard Carli say loudly "Kylie, your babies head is out". In my mind I was fist pumping the air - "You did it, head's out, now for the rest and you're there!". Mentally I was preparing for the next big push to get the rest of her out.

It was then Janet said - "Kylie, the shoulder is a little bit stuck, so you will feel some pulling but don't worry, we need to just get the shoulder free". I felt her pulling on Mia to get her to rotate. With the next surge, I was determined to get her unstuck and with that, I used everything I had in that one last push.. I let out an almighty noise as I felt myself tear when she came through. It was fast, I heard Carli say "Pant, pant!!" which I did immediately. In that moment when she came out there was the internal thoughts, feelings, sensations, the sound of my breath, the sounds I was making, all so incredibly intense and just happening to me to a degree, rather than me consciously deciding to do them. What followed was such a feeling of relief. Gary had caught her, and I bent down and pulled her up to my chest so fast Janet had to tell me to slow down and make sure there was enough cord. I turned around and tried so hard not to drop her as she was slippery and wriggling immediately. She was letting out little squawks which again I was relieved to hear. There was a lot of blood.

I laid back in the bean bag and looked at her, letting out huge sighs of relief. Then Janet asked "What have we got" - I looked and there she was, a little girl!!! She was soooooo beautiful - even for a newborn. I thought she would have a pin head, but Janet said she didn't have time for that. Gary and I lay there and gazed at her for a while. Gary took a few photos - I look completely blissed out in on taken moments after she was born. It was time to then deliver the placenta. I was still feeling pretty full on surges, but they had of course change again. This time, their job was to get the placenta out and I was ready for them to be over.

We had asked to allow for a physiological third stage if possible. Janet was coaching me to push when I felt a surge, but I pretty depleted and like I had virtually nothing left to push with. Janet advised me to go to the toilet and sit there for a bit. I was holding Mia and trying to push and not really getting anywhere. Due to how much blood I had lost, Janet was keen to get the placenta out. About 15 minutes later, she checked the cord which had stopped pulsing. So Gary cut the cord and took Mia so I could finish the job. Within a few minutes, I gave another big push and there it went, into a bed pan that was sitting in the toilet. When I birthed the placenta it felt like my whole stomach contents had fallen out of me! Both Gary and I looked at each other with gapping mouths! And then the intensity inside me was gone. My legs where like jelly, I made my way to the bed and hopped up to receive Mia for some skin on skin time. She took to my right breast instantly and fed for about 1.5 hours as we lay there in awe. I was completely blown away by what had just happened. I was so incredibly in love, grateful, feeling proud, feeling overwhelmed. We did it, not a sniff of intervention and she was so perfect.

A little while later, as I lay there getting stitched up, I was going through some feelings of disappointment that I had pushed too hard and fast and tore. But I was so ready for her to come out, and doing what Janet encouraged, I did what my body felt it needed to do at the time. And that was PUSH!! I could have taken another 15 minutes, a few more deep breath surges to ease her out a little slower, but at that point, I was far from slowing down! I stopped beating up on myself and started celebrating that fact that we had laboured for 7 hours, given birth naturally to our beautiful daughter. And I could not have wished for it to go any better. All the ward nurses, midwives, doctors all kept saying how great I did and that they were really impressed. I wasn't sure if they say that to everyone to help them feel better after such an experience but I took it on and gave myself a bloody big pat on the back. The stitches will heal I told myself, and you did it! She is here!!

I was just so grateful for the whole experience to unfold the way it did. Grateful to myself for having down the work before hand, grateful for my years of yoga practice, grateful for having done the Hypnobirthing course with Emma Mathews at Indigo Gentle Beginnings who was a wonderful support through out my pregnancy. We had asked her to be at the birth but it wasn't to be. We had also asked our dear friend Katie to be present if she could but that was also not to be. I was so happy to hear Janet and Carli where on shift when we got to the hospital as I felt I had connected with them well through our visits to the CMP. Gary had known Carli from a previous job many years back and felt really good about them too. Gary's support was unwavering, his back was killing him, he was probably exhausted as he got up at 3am that morning to go to work. But he was there the whole way, by my side, being my number 1 support. Grateful to Mia for choosing us to be her parents, for helping Mumma birth her naturally, for being such a beautiful blessing in our lives. Thank you!



Mia Grace Bertuch Haynes was born at 12:13pm (after my waters breaking at 4:50am at home) on the 24th of October, 2016. She was 7.14 pounds (3.58 kgs) and 52cm long. Head circumference of 35cm. I remember saying repeatedly I would be very happy with a 7 pound baby & 7 hour labour through my pregnancy. Mia, you’re absolutely positively the most beautiful thing I have ever seen! We love you Mia!