“You were so calm and quiet, I couldn’t read you and how much pain you were in. You had some serious poker face going on girlfriend like you were at the day spa. Fairly well opposite to the usual screamers we can get in here”
I’m Larissa Halls and this is my birth story. I share it for a few reasons.
- I have a myriad of women eagerly awaiting to hear how our plan to go natural went (I’m sure many want to hear how it failed. Sorry skeptical Suzies, it didn’t)
- To spread awareness that you don’t have to be doped up on every drug possible to manage pain, as long as you have the right tools.
- When I was pregnant I was totally addicted to reading birth stories, reading them left right and center. So here’s mine for any other addicts out there.
The big day all started with me feeling like Tom Hanks in Castaway – ALONE, yelling out to the world “Is anyone out there, I’m stranded”. The only difference is that I wasn’t on a deserted Island. I was stuck in a deserted bathroom, in a Sports Centre where I was to be teaching Yoga that night.
I bent over to stick one of my elephant looking fluid laden legs into my yoga tights when I heard a popping sound. It was like a Hubba bubba bubble gum bubble popping. I looked around to realize I was the only one in the bathroom and when what felt like Niagra Falls flowing down my legs into the catchment bay that was my ballet flats, I knew instantly it wasn’t Hubba bubba popping. It was my membranes release.
All at once I felt excited, mystified then worry kicked in as I was only 35 weeks and 5 days into my pregnancy, then excited again as I remembered I turned out fine as I was a little impatient when coming into this world myself, surprising my Mum 4 weeks early.
First things first though, how am I going to get from this deserted bathroom back to the gym where my phone is, past 4 basketball courts full of sweaty men without drawing too much attention to the rocky swells of amniotic fluid gushing down my legs. By now my ballet flats catchment area is over-flowing and I’m leaving a puddle wake behind me on the floor.
Thinking, thinking! Yes!! I know Steve the cleaner at the sports center is always looking busy up this end of the hall, so I start yelling. “hey Steve, STEVE, STEEEEEVE, are you out there”? No answer, maybe I should yell a little louder. Sounding like a monkey on crack I screech out “STEEEEEve, anyone, is there ANYONE out there”. No one answer!
Ok, abort mission of putting on yoga tights and keep the long skirt on, it will make a good nappy. I regroup! Then I strategically place the skirt between my legs, creating a silicon tight seal, glue my knees together and start waddling out of the bathroom. I stop to mentally prep myself for the embarrassment that awaits, for when the sweaty basketball fellas notice the pregnant lady, with the super soaked lower half, waddling up the hall.
I CAN DO THIS!
My first of many affirmations I learned at Hypnobirting enters my head. Although I don’t think they were designed for this kind of situation.
With each step, a gush of lukewarm liquid runs down my legs. Honestly, at antenatal class and even hypnobirthing class, they assured us pregnant fatties that when your waters break its “not like the movies”!! Apparently its “just a little dampness in your knickers”!! Um, NOOOO to that. This is LIKE the movies, this is worse than the movies, as the tsunami of water keeps flowing down my legs.
I get halfway to the gym when a few blokes came out for a drink stop. I’m between them and the water fountain. SHIIIIITT!! I nod and do a version of the River Dance shuffle that even Michael Flatley himself would be impressed with to get out of their way. Finally, I reach the gym doors.
I walk in and yell out to our gorgeous Exercise Physiologist Bri, who’s manning the front desk. “hey Bri, my waters have broken in a big way, get me some towels’. She ushers me into the office, passes me about 10 towels and starts crying. Haha!
Me in the Gym office, surrounded by a sea of towels
“Bri, why the heck are you crying”
“oh my god, you are going to have a baby Larissa”
“Yes I know Bri, it’s exciting, hopefully, I won’t have it here, so go and tell someone in the office and I’ll call Paul”.
2 troops arrive from the main office, Lynne from marketing and Leanne from bookings. They looked worried, but I assure them I’m fine and I’m just need to check with the hospital as to what to do and contact Paul. They sit down with me to keep me company.
I call Paul, but I swear the person who answers is an imposter. Paul’s a firefighter. He’s usually calm and collected and quick-acting in times of need. I told him to come NOW as the midwife at the hospital wants us to come into the hospital straight away. Paul starts going through his list of afternoon chores he needs to get through before proceeding to the gym to come and get me. Um, I don’t give a flying kahuna about your chores, I’m sitting in a pool of my own filth, I want normal Paul back and he needs to come and get me RIGHT NOW! Why is he being a little too cool calm and collected! Act NOW!! My expectations were that he’d drop everything and arrive in warp speed.
30 minutes passes, no Paul. 40 minutes passes No Paul!! I call back!
“Where the hell are you” I am no longer as cool as a cucumber.
“Just on middle Rd on my way. They’ll probably send us home. Just because your water has broken doesn’t mean they’ll keep us there” says Dr Google Paul.
“They will not send me home. I’m over 4 weeks early and half the contents of my womb is on the gym floor, Just shut up and HURRY up”!!!!
I get off the phone and look at Bri, Lynne, and Leanne. They have the Cheshire cat smirk on their faces and they are in hysterics! I explain to them that I don’t know what that guy that I just spoke to has done with the normal Paul but I wish he’d return him.
In the mean time, we had time. Lots of time so Lynne cut a hole in a garbage bag that could be used to cover the passenger seat of my car.
Paul arrives – everyone cheers. I stand up, lose more of the contents of my womb, so they get the wheelchair and wheel me out to the car whilst I proceed to do a queen like a wave to all the gym members.
We’re halfway to the hospital and Nikki the midwife I spoke to on the phone previously, calls my mobile and asks what’s taking us so long. Instead of explaining that I think some Alien life force has given Pauls’s brain a lobotomy, I lie and tell her that there’s been so much traffic. A tall tail! I turn to Paul and say
” Mate it’s on the right, press it a little harder”
He turns to me and says “you can walk if you like”
We’re clearly off to a great start!!
We Finally Arrive at the Hospital
I get out of the car and start walking. Paul suggests getting a wheel chair. I yell back “I’LL JUST WALK, I”LL BE RIGHT”
He walks off and abandons me. I’m thinking what the heck! He returns with a wheel chair.
“oh my god, where did you get that”?
“I just found it sitting in the foyer”
I say “I’m not getting in that it could be some old mans and now he can’t go anywhere because you stole his wheel chair”
Paul looks at me and roles his eyes; “stop being so dramatic, just get in”.
He starts pushing me down the hill to the hospital foyer. Then he shoves his hand in my face “look, no hands”. Oh my god, I’m thinking, this IS like the movies. I think he thinks it’s Nitro Circus. We arrive at the birthing suites, I’ll need to check for bruises on my shins from the amateur wheelchair manoeuvring.
Nikki the midwife comes out and introduced herself and says “you guys have finally made it”. She takes me in to the birthing suite and hooks me up to the monitor. I love that sweet sound of the little life inside of me. Our amazing Obstetrician arrives. He looks at Nikki, he says “so is it her waters”?
She smiles and nods “It’s definitely her waters, I could hardly even lift the towels she came in with, they’re soaked”.
Within the first 5 minutes my OB is telling me the game plan. “We are going to try keep this baby in until at least Friday (it’s currently Wednesday night). We’ll give you a steroid injection to hurry up his lung development. You’ll be staying here until you have him and we’ll be monitoring you”.
Phew! Ok time to change my game plan a little
The past 8 months I’ve been visualising a calm birth. My plan was when I went in to labour I would stay at home as long as I possibly could, managing pain by hanging out in a warm soothing bath tub, enjoying some light yoga in the serenity of my yoga room being soothed by the sweet aroma of my essential oil diffuser. So far it’s been more like a Rosanne Barr appearance on the late show, comical yet a little bit of a cluster F%$k! As I learned at Tony Robbins, you need to remember the F work! Flexibility! You gotta stay flexible, the plan doesn’t always go to plan.
I trust my obstetrician, so I know I’m in great hands. I met him on my birthday 2 years previous. I ended up in his office after pinky swearing the emergency room Dr the night before that if he let me go home I’d go see this private OB the next day. I was having my 3rd miscarriage, which was an ectopic pregnancy. It’s funny how things work out. I thought what a shite birthday, but now looking back it was actually one of the greatest gifts I ever got.
Ok, being a yoga teacher I’ve got the acceptance thing down pat, I’m being flexible with the plan and I’m just going with the flow. At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to get this baby out safely. I’m all hooked up to machines by now, an IV line is in and my precious cargo is being monitored. I feel stuck on the bed, which is not in line with the way I usually roll, which is free and dancing around the house like the mad hatter. Then I get told I tested positive to the strep B test, so now I have to get antibiotics continuously until the baby is born. This is getting more exciting my the minute.
The real Paul seems to have returned and is being a huge help. He goes and gets me a bunch of food from the fridge, even though I insist I’m not hungry. A sandwich, a muffin some cheese and crackers. Oh these supplies come in handy later when I’m starved and stuck in my room alone in the ward. My Ob goes home and I get monitored for a few hours before being moved up to the maternity ward. Paul goes home because I’m supposed to get some sleep. Sleep!! That turns out to be a joke.
I have a new midwife now, Karen as Nikki has gone home. She’s equally as amazing which is lucky as we spend half the night chatting. I couldn’t sleep! I yoga’ed, I meditated, I repeated my hynobirthing affirmations but every time the carrot of sleep dangled in front of me I would get a mild contraction (in hypnobirthing we call then surges). They weren’t strong enough to hurt but strong enough to keep me awake. It was fine though because I knew I had the whole day Thursday to sleep.
6am comes around and my OB is in his scrubs and standing in my room.
“Good morning Larissa, I’ve got your blood tests back and your white blood cell count is high, we’re going to induce you today if that’s ok”.
I smile politely and reply ” you’re the professional, whatever you think is the best course of action”.
He looks at me with his reassuring tone “you better ring Paul”
In my head I’m thinking “holy shit, they say giving birth is like running a marathon. I can’t run a freakin marathon today, considering I haven’t slept all night. Who does that! I’m not bloody Whim Hoff the ice Man who can pull off crazy feats of human abilities”
I call Paul “you need to come in now, no chores, just come straight away please, I’m being induced’
“but yesterday they said they were going to try keep him in as long as they could”
“well that was yesterday and today is today and this is whats going down. Please just get here”.
Before I could get off the phone a new midwife is in my room.
“Hi, Larissa, I’m Genna, I’ll be your Midwife today, I’m going to take you down to the birthing suites and get you hooked up on the drip and start your induction”
“geez’, I thought, they don’t muck around. ok, this is my 3rd midwife, what are the chances she’s awesome too. I hope she’s open to our hypnobirthing plan, I’m going to need to give her the low down. Next minute She looks on the bench where my toiletries were sitting and noticed my Young Living Natural Theives toothpaste.
“I seriously friggan love that toothpaste. I just ordered 3 tubes of it last week” she says
Jackpot!! I thought, she’s a keeper. I approach her about how we did the hynpobirthing course and we want to do hynobirthing.
She’s all over it!!! She says “I love hynobirthing”
Wooohoooooooo!!! We have our woman!! Something is going smoothly – FINALLY
We go downstairs and she hooks me up again to all the machines. She looks at me and says:
“Sorry, you’re not going to be able to get in the shower today”
In my head, I say about a thousand F%$KS!!! The water is my happy place, the water is my therapist, the water is part of my pain relief plan. I get myself together and ask what else they have. They have a yoga mat and a fit ball. Ok, I can make do with that. I tell her I don’t want any drugs as pain relief and she says she’ll stand firm with that even if I ask for it.
Hanging out on a fitball
Paul arrives in a half decent time frame and does a renovation rumble to the room. The lights are dim, the electric candles are on and the relaxation music is dancing through the air. Genna starts referring to our room as the day spa.
I realise I have a list of things I need to do before I have this baby as I’ve literally come from work to the hospital with no time off. I spend the next 45 minutes, making orders, messaging all of my coaching clients and yoga participants, stopping direct debits and putting in my essential oils order for the month. I message my Sister and my Mum and Paul, Genna and I get chatting about life and Pauls bee’s.
The surges start off nice and mild so I try out a few yoga poses and positions on the fit ball that are comfortable. Childs pose is relieving, doing figure eight’s on the fit ball feels good too. Before I know it, it’s 12pm. I’m approximately 2 cm’s dilated. I eat some lunch.
It’s Game On
By 1pm the surges are hitting me hard. It’s game on. I start my pranayama (breathing techniques). The chatting, laughing and mucking around have taken a back seat. I start relaxing deeply between each surge and Paul tries a few different acupressure points for me to see which one helps the most. There’s a gamut of them on and around the sacrum and many people swear by them, but they all seemed to intensify my pain as the sensation was all in my back. The one that worked best for me was the Kidney 1 point at the bottom of my foot. It was amazing when the surges intensified.
Each time I got into a position for a surge, say on the fit ball or childs pose which was feeling amazing, the babies heart rate would decelerate. I tried a different position each time but to no avail. This baby wasn’t cooperating! Genna went from funny, awesome, hippy chick to matron sloan!
“Larissa” she says in her professional voice. Then the finger comes out and points to the bed! My heart skips a beat! “you’re on the bed and that’s where you’re staying I don’t want to have to call an emergency c-section”!!
Thank you Meditation Practice
I’m confined to the bed. I feel deflated. I haven old back injury – a bulging disk and hate lying on my back, I have a mental meltdown in my head.
“bloody heck, seriously, 4 weeks early, strep B active, no sleep, no shower, now on my back on the bed and possible c-section”. Then my meditation training kicked in.
Become an observer of your thoughts, notice them, avoid attaching to them and let them go.
I decide to let it all go, the meltdown the thousand F$%ks I was saying in my head, the original plan. I’ve returned from my manic mind back to the moment. I let it go and focus on my breath. I bring everything back to the present moment and calm it all down. An affirmation surface “I embrace whatever path my birthing day takes” (we’ve been practicing Hypnobirthing affirmations for over 4 months)I breathe deep, I made it.
Another midwife joins us. A prac student named Bec. I’ve got my team. Paul, Genna, Bec and of course my OB Dr Kenny.
Someone gets me some apple juice. Its so refreshing but ends up being the devil in disguise. Every surge I had after drinking it, I get a counter surge of fire moving up my oesophagus. Hello horrendous heartburn and hideous hiccups.
My Surge Buster Combination
The surges were intensifying at an alarming rate. I also started to get double surges and a few triple surges in a row (thanks induction). One intensifying contraction after another with no rest in between. Oh how you neeeeeed the rest in between!! Im lying on my back, still and quiet when each surge approaches. The team is ready. I either say now or give them the thumbs up when a surge starts.
I focus on the long 1:1 ratio breath filling my abdomen fully and deeply.
Paul presses on the Kidney 1 point on my foot with 1 hand and apply’s pressure to the Anterior superior iliac spine (top of the pelvis) with the other. One of my amazing midwives is applying pressure to the top of the other pelvis and is holding my hand.
In my head I’m either counting the length of the breath or saying relax, release and let go whilst I focus on relaxing every muscle in my body fully and deeply. Sometimes I visualised a lotus flower opening, seeing the baby moving down the birth canal or doing the white light progressive muscle relaxation I teach in my meditation classes,
Another Silent Meltdown – The Mind Can Either Help, Heal or Hinder.
At 4pm Dr Kenny comes and drop what feels like a bomb. “you’re 4 cms dilated”. I smile and say thank you then on the inside I completely lose my sanity. It goes something like this “What the F$%k only 4cms, 4 measly pissy little cms, I can’t go another whole day with this shit, I’m tired from no sleep oh god just give me drugs, give me some F$%hen drugs”.
Then I remember: The mind can either help, heal or hinder. Ok, I want my mind to help not hinder. Shut up mind, Just like meditation I release the crazy and return to focusing on my breath. Another affirmation that I’ve been practicing surfaces “each surge brings me closer to meeting my little baby”. So I decided to just focus on getting through each surge one at a time. I celebrate when it’s over remembering that I’m getting closer and closer.
I start getting cold, then hot, then cold then hot. Paul is run off his feet trying to keep up with my sporadic changes in temperature. Warm blanket, then ice washer on my forehead, back to the warm blanket. I feel like a drug addict going through a detox!
A Force of Nature Takes Over
Not long after this, suddenly my abdominal muscles start to contract and I can feel my body start drawing the baby down. It’s like a force of nature has taken over my body and I can’t consciously control it. Genna takes a peak down stairs and tells me to stop pushing. Um, I’m not doing it, something else has inhabited my body and it’s on auto drive.
My Obstetrician and the paediatrician gets rushed in to do a cesarian on the lady next door. My body is still drawing the baby down. I try and stop it with all my might. Paul is being wonderful, breathing with me and being encouraging, but each time I do it helps the process. I tried crossing my legs. Oh my god seriously, like thats going to work! Haha!
Genna asked me if it’s ok if she has to deliver the baby. I nod, “of course, I trust you”. I just knew what my body was doing. It was drawing the baby down and out. Time passes, I breathe, Paul is amazing. I’m calm and in the zone, I’m relaxed on the inside – In the meditation calm zone. I even fall asleep between some of my surges. I’m concentrating on my breath, relaxing and or doing an affirmation.
Next minute I feel the head surface, the room explodes with noise. I open my eye just a little, enough to see the Paediatrician slide in the room at a hundred mile an hour. The midwives are relieved as there is a possibility the baby wouldn’t be breathing properly when born. I stay in the zone, breathing, relaxing, affirmations on repeat in my mind. A few minutes later my OB arrives straight from the cesarian. Immediately he applies a warm compress to my perineum, then tells me to push. I gently push, the midwife tells me to stop and breathe short sharp breaths. I do. All is quiet, I’m still in the zone, quiet and inwardly focused. I gently push again and that’s it. Everyone’s shocked and surprised!! My beautiful baby arrives in 2 short gentle pushes.
They place him on my chest and I remember looking and thinking, “woohoo! I did it!! Where did this alien looking thing come from. haha!” Then he pee’d on me! Fresh baby wiz runs down my deflated belly and straight into the opening he just popped out of. Thanks mate! We’ll get along just fine, I think.
My OB apologises to me. I asked “what for” and he said that my baby came out with him arm next to his face, there was nothing he could do, so I had a 2nd degree tear. He proceeded to stitch me on up after the placenta had been birthed. Bub was probably doing some sort of birth path yoga pose.
My baby was breathing on his own and all looked well. We cuddled and he attempted to have a feed. Paul was amazing, he was my rock!! We did it!! After all the twists and turns we birthed our baby safety and naturally at 6:19 pm.
My boy arrives alert and with one eye open. He still does that today. He needs to know whats going on at all times
Paul had to take Finn (our little mans name that took us an additional 3 days to confirm, as if 8 months of knowing we were having a boy wasn’t long enough) up to the Special Care unit as he was 4 weeks early and needs care .
I got straight up, had a shower and had a yarn with Bec like we were long lost buddies. She strategically places my magic carpet pad in my hospital mesh undies without even a pause in the sentence she was saying. I felt normal (not like I’d just pushed the preverbal watermelon through a garden hose) and amazing. It turns our Dr Kenny let Bec catch Finn. She was so excited she got to do it. She said she’s been to many many births, and “by far this was the calmest and the best. It was magical”. She said she even smeared her mascara because she cried the big sook. I was really happy she got to experience that. The first human hands to touch my baby was a prac midwife who has the most beautiful soul! Winning!
Paul came back down. Genna had to leave and go home (I wanted her to stay and enjoy the festivities), but she would be back the next day. Paul and I sat and had some dinner together in awe that we have baby. He told me he was so very proud of me. I was amazed by his immense support.
We can’t thank Melissa Spilsted from Hypnobirthing Australia enough for sharing her knowledge on natural birthing. It really gave us both the tools to avoid any pain intervention, and to birth safety, calmly and naturally using my own natural endorphins as a pain reliever.
We also went to hospital antenatal class and the 2 things that were of any real value that we got out of that were 1) where the after-hours phone at the hospital was located and 2) Paul needs to bring shoes other than his usual attire of thongs, just in case we have to have an emergency C-section.
Moral of the story: if you’re pregnant or thinking about getting yourself into that state book into your nearest Hypnobirthing Australia course, otherwise the antenatal class will scare the absolute bejesus out of you.
It was sad that Finn wasn’t with us in the room but we knew he was safe up in the special care unit, which turned out to be his home for the next 2 1/2 weeks before we got to take him home. My OB commended us at how smoothly and calmly everything went. He said it was so nice NOT to have another screamer in the room and he wished I could teach his other patients how to do what I just did. He’s an amazing man. The midwives were beyond amazing too. It was so great they were supportive and knowledgeable about hypnobirthing. We couldn’t have asked for a better team.
As I write this Finn is now 4 months old. Although he surprised us being a month early, things didn’t go to our original plan (bloody dreamin, thinking they would) with the birth taking many twists and turns, we look back and wouldn’t have it any other way. It was perfectly perfect.
We’d like to thank all of the amazing staff at Greenslopes hospital. That place is amazing. We call it the maternity hotel.
I’d like to thank my off the wall superstar partner Paul, my rock, the love of my life. He was shocked when I told him about my mind melt downs. He reckons from the outside, you wouldn’t have ever known. Damn, should’ve kept it to myself.
I’d like to thank my beautiful little boy Finn for choosing us as his Mumma and Dadda. The fun has only just begun. After 3 miscarriages and many beautiful friends who couldn’t have kids, I stay eternally grounded and grateful for being his Mum.
Thank you for reading. Happy birthing ladies xx