Hi! I’m Ashley. Wife, mother, sister, friend. Budding photographer, amateur writer/feeble blogger, knitting fiend, and obsessive babywearer. I’m 28 years old, married with 3 tiny beasts, Emery, Isolde, and Ausha. We live in the middle of nowhere, land of quiet and space, in a big old farm house. This isn’t so much my story, as it is Ausha’s, my youngest daughter’s.
The funny thing about pregnancy is how unbelievably long it is, yet short at the same time.
This was an exceptionally hard pregnancy for me, for everyone in the house I think. You name the minor pregnancy induced ailment, I had it. Carpel Tunnel, hives, morning sickness lasting more than half of my entire pregnancy, and returning again at the end, sciatic pain, and braxton hicks the entire time. Strangely enough, as done as I was by the time Ausha was born, I would do it again. Generally pregnancy leaves a sour taste in my mouth, always saying I’d never do it again, only two weeks later the pain and irritation of everything I felt was gone. Will I do it again? I’m not sure quite yet, but I’m not going to say no.
But this isn’t about being pregnant, so much as it is about birth. Specifically Ausha’s birth.
With my first two, I went “early”. One week early with Emery, and four days early with Issy. At my 39 week appointment with our Midwife, she joked and said maybe each of my pregnancies was panning out to be longer with each baby. She was right. By 40 weeks I was so restless I dragged the family to town frequently. We walked the mall and did a lot of shopping, parking as far away as we could at each store so I could walk this baby out. I was 40 plus 3 the morning of what would be my last pregnancy appointment, and I was hoping Jill could do anything to help give this baby the final nudge to get her out.
The morning of my appointment I woke up around 6am and was having contractions. They were more intense than the previous false labour I’d had (more than once) before. I got up and started walking and timing them, they were about every 4-5 minutes apart, they were intense enough I couldn’t sit through them and had to pace, but not increasing in strength or duration. By about 8 or 9am they petered off and became much less intense, I actually went and had a nap since I had my appointment at 11 that morning.
If you’ve ever experienced prodromal labour, you understand how unbelievably frustrating and tiring it can be.
When we got to the office, I told Jill what was going on, and she suggested checking my cervix, I had denied any other checks previously. Mainly because I was 2cm dilated with Em for a month, and didn’t want to get my hopes up. She checked, and I was already at 3cm. She also tried a stretch, but my cervix was already so stretchy she could stretch it to 7cm and feel my waters insanely easily. Essentially, I just needed to have some contractions and things would get going. I left the office with a small bottle of blue and black cohosh tincture, pretty sure at this point she was stubborn enough nothing would ease her out.
I honestly can’t remember what we did that day, but I’m sure it involved a lot of lazing around and nothing. I started taking the blue and black cohosh around 6, and I stopped around 8 because it wasn’t causing any contractions and I didn’t want to anymore (you’re supposed to take a dropper full with a small glass of water every half hour). Basically I was convinced I would be pregnant forever, and this baby had ultimately staked claim on my uterus for life.
We went up to bed around 10, and I all of a sudden started to have the same intense contractions I had had that morning. Initially I told Sean there was no point in timing them, they’d go away like just like that morning, but he should get some sleep just in case. He told me to time them anyway, probably since I couldn’t lay down while they were happening, and had to get up on all fours every 5 minutes. After an hour of fidgeting and moving around, I decided to get into the tub and text a friend letting her know what was going on. I probably should have called our midwife at that point, but I was in complete and utter denial anything was progressing.
I laboured in and out of the bath for another hour before I finally woke Sean up around midnight and asked him if he’d make me some tea. They were starting to be every 3 minutes or so apart. Sean asked if he should call the midwife, and stupidly, I said no, I didn’t think they were close together enough or intense enough for her to come quite yet. Honestly, someone probably should have told me I was being stupid, but Sean trusted my judgement and I didn’t think they were that intense.
Sean started to fill up the birthing tub, but since I had been in and out of the shower, there was only enough hot water to fill it up a third of the way! At around 1230am I started essentially losing my mind because the pain was getting fairly intense. I was getting tired too, so tired, I kept saying I just want them to stop so I can go to bed. Yes, I was still absolutely convinced they were going to just go away. I even asked for an apple because I remembered reading some internet garbage about an apple giving you more energy than a cup of coffee.
Here’s the thing. Weeks prior to going into labour, I charged the video camera and DSLR. I mad cleaned (including mopping) every night because I wanted a clean house for when I actually did go into labour. I wanted Sean to take photos, and to set up the video camera, I wanted it documented. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
As I’m screaming at poor Sean that I can’t do this anymore, I didn’t realize that the pausing and squatting I was doing was more than likely pushing. At one point I took my underwear off, this must have been some instinct I didn’t clue into, because I was, again, stupidly in denial anything was progressing so quickly.
I finally caved around 12:55 and told Sean to call Jill. I also repeatedly told him he needed to take me to the hospital because I needed something and I needed it now. Once he got on the phone with Jill, I thought I needed to go to the bathroom, I went into the bathroom, and for once some small sliver of instinct actually told me to feel between my legs, and my waters were bulging. I shouted that they were and he said “What? your water broke?” And I said “NO MY WATERS ARE RIGHT THERE!” Jill heard this, said “Yep, I heard that, we’re on our way!” and hung up.
I got out of the bathroom and as Sean was unlocking the door I climbed into the birthing tub and instantly needed to push. This was the most surreal thing for me, I didn’t have any ounce of need to push until the moment I got into the water. It happened so quickly. I got out and yelled for Sean, he was incredibly calm, and his mental state definitely made me calmer, too. He put some towels on the chaise and I immediately got on and pushed. Her head came out and then my waters finally broke. Sean checked her neck and shoulders, her cord was loosely around her neck, so he told me to wait, slipped his thumb under it and passed it over her neck. I gave one more push and out she came. Two pushes. That’s it. There was a few seconds where Sean said he wasn’t sure what to do, specifically he said he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to hold her up by her feet and smack her bum, I sincerely think this was a joke. I told him to give her to me and he passed her up to me and she started screeching.
Sean wrapped a towel around us and called Jill back at 12:58.
Yes. Three minutes after I told him to initially call her.
I remember apologizing to Ausha profusely while holding her, I felt guilty for not enjoying the moment so much as being worried about everything, even though there was nothing to be worried about. I talked to Jill on the phone and apologized to her too, telling her I didn’t think it was real, she offered to stay on the phone until she got there but I told her I thought we’d be okay. Sean helped me turn around and lay back on the chaise and we waited 28 minutes and the midwives arrived.
Emery had woken up just after Sean hung up the phone and he came down and saw the baby. He was really sweet and interested, when Sean went to go get more towels he helped carry some down too. Making sure everyone knew it was because of his ‘stwong muscles’. Issy slept through everything, and didn’t wake up until just after the Midwives left.
Mianh was first to arrive and she just came over and checked me and Ausha. There was no panic, no rush or fear from either of our midwives, and I think that’s what finally calmed me. All of my labours have been fairly uneventful minus my ridiculous denial of being in actual labour. Issy was almost born in the car on the way to the hospital, and we left a few hours after she was born.
Jill told me she wasn’t worried about us, because generally babies are born beautifully and I didn’t have any indication or previous history anything would go wrong. She told me at our first home visit I shouldn’t feel guilty she wasn’t there to catch her, because this was what was meant to be. I let my anxiety get the best of me, I usually do.
Ausha Serenity Rose was born on June 12th 2014, at 12:58am and weighed in at 6lbs 7oz. She was caught by her Daddy’s hands right here at home. Looking back I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. It was an intense and yet strangely beautiful moment for Sean and I. The kids are absolutely smitten with her. Frequently asking to hold her, or talking to her and making sure she’s okay. She fits, and I had no doubt she wouldn’t.