When I envisioned what pregnancy and birth would be like I expected to have loads of support from my doctor for my choice to have a natural birth. I quickly came to realise that a natural birth wasn’t a common thing in our city anymore and seemed to be quite an inconvenience to many doctors. From quite early on in my pregnancy I felt the subtle pressures to opt for a C-section because my baby might be too big for natural.
I am so thankful for Colleen and the way in which she encouraged us (Matt and I) to be as educated as possible and to stand up for our desire to attempt a natural delivery. Some of the conversations we had before the birth were so helpful. She got me to think about what my desire was for labour and what my fears were. We also went through a few ‘what if’ scenarios so that Matt and I would be as mentally prepared as possible.
At our last gynaecologist appointment (at 39 weeks and 3 days) we were informed that our baby would be over 4kg and that the amniotic fluid was running low so we needed to make a decision as to what to do. We asked for an hour to think about it and to chat to a few people before we made a decision. After Matt and I spoke, we chatted to Colleen and another close friend and then decided that we still wanted to attempt a natural birth. The option we were given by our gynae (based on our decision) was to have an induction the following morning. After a good cry, I was happy and at peace with the decision and I was excited and nervous knowing that the next day we would meet our boy even though I wouldn’t go into a spontaneous labour as I had hoped.
The following morning at 7:30 I was put on a foetal monitor and induced. The induction itself was not a pleasant experience. I was instructed to stay on my back for the next hour to allow the medication to work.
About 15 minutes after the induction the monitor started screaming because it had picked up quite a big dip in our baby’s heart rate. The midwife rushed in, moved me onto my side, placed an oxygen mask on my face and proceeded to call our doctor. When he arrived, the doctor told us that I would have to be monitored for the next hour or so to make sure that there were no further dips otherwise I would have to have a C-section. This was a scary experience.
Colleen arrived about 30 minutes later, by then I had started with steady contractions and was in the first stage of labour. Thankfully there were no further dips in heart rate, however I still had to be monitored on and off for the duration of my labour.
Because of the induction my contractions came very quickly one after the other and very soon the pain was intense and overwhelming. Throughout the labour Colleen encouraged me to manoeuvre into different positions to help cope with the pain. She massaged my back and feet and was a constant support. She showed Matt how to be a support to me in managing the pain and how to be involved in the labour process.
There were many times I wanted to give up on my decision to have a non-medicated delivery, but Colleen was there to calmly reassure me that I could do this and that each contraction was bringing me closer to meeting our son. By the time I was begging for an epidural (yes, I begged!) I was already 8.5cm dilated. Within an hour of that, and a mere 5.5 hours after my contractions started, we welcomed our son, weighing 3.9kg, into the world. This could only be described as a holy moment filled with such awe, wonder, relief and joy.
Colleen’s support before, during and after the birth was incredibly valuable. Her visits, messages, encouragement, advice and assistance in breastfeeding, bathing, caring for and loving my baby were a gift. I am so thankful that she was such an integral part of this process. What a blessing!
Although my birth experience didn’t start as I had originally planned, the end result was still the amazing and empowering arrival of our most precious gift, our son Finn.
Through the pregnancy, it was evident that the man’s role is to be a support to his wife. I found out at our first meeting with Colleen that I knew very little about what was going to be happening. She shared and constantly affirmed us that we were going to be great. As I came to embrace this role, I came to realise that it wasn’t as real for me as it was for Sha. The woman has bodily changes and the man feels rather helpless and disconnected from the process. So what I did was I made a decision to be as active as possible; buying things for cravings, and thereafter trying to wrap my head around the fact that soon I would not only be a husband, but a father too. Both roles involving support and protection with lots of love! Colleen made this very clear and she made sure that I knew I was very much connected to this process and my role was extremely important.
The day of labour felt very surreal. Again, finding myself having to endure completely helpless feelings as my wife went through what could only be described from my point of view as excruciating pain.
15 minutes after induction was one of the scariest moments of my life. Sha described what happened. From my point of view, this was very scary.
As I was sitting with my wife, while we were waiting for the labour to kick in after the induction, I noticed the monitor beeping and numbers flashing. Thankfully I had paid attention during the process of putting the monitor on and therefore I knew what was going on. As I glanced across at the monitor I must have looked concerned, because Sha continued by saying, “It’s ok love, the monitor did that earlier.” I walked out the room calmly and called the midwife. The moment erupted into frantic oxygen masks and Sha rolling on her side. It might not have been as dramatic, but I can assure you, it was not fun knowing that my boy was in a little bit of trouble and my wife was scared. Helplessly, I phoned Colleen. I couldn’t help but weep in concern and fear as I shared what had just happened. Colleen had a soothing way of assurance over the phone which was all I needed to gain strength for the moment. She assured me that she would be with us soon and all was going to be great. Before the phone call I remember thinking to myself that I just want my wife and my boy to be ok in the end, and if that means a C-section, then so be it. We learnt a good lesson from this. Even though we have an ideal way that we want our birth to happen, it might not happen that way, and that’s ok! The induction was a part of that realisation as we wanted spontaneous labour as our ideal.
Being a support to Sha during labour was the best feeling I had during the entire pregnancy. The feeling of helplessness seemed to drift away as Colleen showed me how to be an anchor of support for my wife. I felt like I could do this. I felt like I could be a support. I felt like I was making it easier for her. I felt helpful. These were good feelings.
My wife felt supported and loved from what I did during her labour. I know this, because she told me so…afterwards. This is only thanks to Colleen and how she was instrumental in making me feel a part of this very special time in our lives. I cannot even imagine how it would have been without her there.
Our son, Finn, is beautiful and absolutely perfect. Our lives have changed. This was a good day.