Hugh Charles Aitken – A Birth Story

12 Jun

As a woman and particularly now as a midwife, I have always held birth in incredibly high esteem. I have always been enamoured by the strength and the magnificent beauty of a labouring woman; I have always been in awe of her primal, animalistic, primitive instincts and her ability to bring her baby into the world with very little encouragement or coaching required.

I have always been incredibly inspired by the writings of amazing midwives and obstetricians that truly believe in and advocate for normal birth – particularly that of Ina May Gaskin and the wonderful Michael Odent.

I would sit in class as a midwifery student, listening to our professors wax lyrically about the beauty and the power of childbirth on women, on a family unit, and on humanity as a whole. I would get goosebumps, and more often than not, wet eyes from emotion hearing these wonderful tales and truths. I was in awe of the magnificence and significance of womankind, and I longed with every fiber of my being to experience such a powerful thing as childbirth – something which I held in such high esteem.

Last Friday, the 31st of May 2013, I experienced just that – and my life is forever changed.

This is my story.

————-

On the evening of the 25th of September 2012, I was home alone. Mark was at his weekly basketball game and I was pottering around the kitchen listening to my favourite album Albertine by Brooke Fraser. It was a lovely Spring evening. Mark and I had both celebrated our birthdays in the week prior and we were in a happy and contented place in life.

But we wanted a baby.

This particular evening, I couldn’t shake the niggling feeling that I may in fact be pregnant. Several symptoms led me to believe this may have been the case, but with the grief of a recent miscarriage hanging over our heads and clouding our judgement we had not wanted to get our hopes up until my period was actually in fact, LATE.

Just before Mark got home, I dug out a pregnancy test which I knew I had, but had hidden away as looking at them reminded me of our recent loss. I will never forget weeing on that stick – almost immediately the two most beautiful, dark, convincing and healthy lines came up indicating that I was, in fact, growing a new little life inside me.

I quickly wrapped up the tests (I did two, just in case the first one was a fluke!) and hid them amongst the doona and pillows on our bed. When Mark walked in after his game, I held out a black box tied with a white ribbon and told him to open his belated birthday present. Upon the realisation of what was in the box, there were many kisses of my tummy from Mark and many tears shed by a very grateful and emotional me.

My pregnancy was tough – but I loved it all the same. I vomited every day for 17 weeks, bled intermittently for 25 weeks, had heartburn and back pain. However, I truly loved being pregnant. I will never forget the feeling of his first movements – I was 16 weeks pregnant and felt a tap-tap-tap on the inside. I knew it was very early to feel movements, but I have never been more sure of anything in my life – I knew it was my baby moving.

I loved my belly growing steadily each week. I would look forward to taking my weekly photo every Saturday morning and documenting my changing shape and size as my little child grew inside me. I loved the feeling of him moving and wriggling and rolling and kicking inside my uterus, and I loved that he was all mine, almost like my own little secret, whilst he was in utero.

I never got sick of being pregnant. I never wished it away or hated being in that state. I loved it the entire time, up til the moment he was born.

Mark and I went to bed on Thursday night, the night of the 30th May 2013 at about 10:00. I had carried out my usual routine of moisturising my tight as a drum belly, followed by listening to my Calm Birth and birth affirmations CD. I drifted off to sleep in a comfortable and calm way, thinking I’d wake up in the morning just as I had done so every other morning prior… However, this night was set to be very different.

At 00:20hrs I woke up to my waters breaking. There was a huge amount of fluid, which soaked many many towels! I called Claire, my midwife who I had asked to care for me during my pregnancy, labour and birth. Claire is a beautiful woman with a passion for women and normal birth, a wealth of experience and an infectious laugh! After a short conversation we arranged to meet at the hospital at 09:00 to monitor the baby if labour had not started before then. I was happy with that plan, I felt safe and secure that Claire was only a phone call away, and that she knew what I wanted for my labour and birth. Mark went back to sleep at this point, but I was far too excited to sleep, despite trying my hardest.

At 02:00 I began to feel the faintest of period like pain across the top of my pelvis.

At 03:30 I began to have contractions that were 10 minutes apart, but these were still quite mild in their pain levels.

By 4:30 I felt like I’d like a shower because I had liquor all over my legs from my waters breaking, and I wasn’t sleeping much anyway. Almost immediately after I stood up, gravity must have played its part, because my contractions then ramped up to one every two or three minutes. They were increasing in intensity and I was having to breathe through them. These contractions were painful, but the overwhelming feeling I experienced was incredible pressure.

I had two speech bubbles in my head at this stage – the first reminding me that typically primips (women having their first babies) on average, labour for 12 or so hours; but the other speech bubble was telling me that both my mother and my grandmother had very fast labours, so perhaps I too was following in their obstetric footsteps.

I soon felt a sense of urgency to get to the hospital, so I phoned my Mum to come over. Mum arrived by 05:30 and watched me have two contractions, one on top of the other. I felt quite transitional at this time, but was unsure how this could be? I had only been contracting properly for one hour! Mum volunteered that she thought I needed to get into the car and head to the hospital. I was equally reassured by this and alarmed by this.

The car ride to the hospital was one of the hardest things I have ever had to endure. I remember thinking to myself how much I wished I was having a homebirth, as I could not fathom sitting in the car in order to drive the 25 minutes to the hospital! Luckily there was little traffic, as about half way there I began to develop an overwhelming urge to push. No matter how hard I tried, both mentally and physically to control this urge, there was nothing I could do to stop myself from pushing with every contraction. I didn’t say much during the drive, but I distinctly remember telling Mark and Mum that I no longer felt safe and that I was beginning to get scared.

Soon after this, we arrived at the hospital. I have never been so grateful to walk into my own workplace! The first midwife I saw was my dear friend and colleague Katrina, as we had beaten Claire in arriving. I’ll never forget seeing Katrina that morning, she was exactly what and who I needed. She looked me in the eye, touched me gently on the shoulder and said in the most comforting of voices, “it’s alright lovely, you’re doing so well.” Seeing her was like seeing your favourite aunty – someone who just fills your heart with warmth, assurance and safety. She quickly and gently examined me, telling me that I was fully dilated and to listen to my body and to just go with it.

My body was ready, but my mind was not. I felt rushed, like everything had happened with such speed, that I was caught almost unawares… The human body truly is a miraculous thing. It knew that my mind needed time to catch up – and it gave me a break from contractions for a good five or more minutes. I had to talk to myself during this time, and work on stamping out the fear that was slowly creeping into my conscious thoughts. My mantra with every contraction was TRUST.YOUR.BODY.

Claire arrived just minutes later, and again, I was so grateful to be surrounded by people I loved and trusted. There was a happy, expectant, excited feeling in the room. Not a single flicker of doubt or worry or concern. Even though I was very insular during this time, I was aware of the gentle laughing and the clicking of the camera – I found this of great comfort, as I knew as long as I could hear these jovial sounds, there was no concern for the wellbeing of myself or my baby. I knew that everything was normal.

I very quickly found myself needing to stand. I needed to feel the firmness of the floor beneath my feet. I needed to use gravity to help me birth my baby. My legs were strong and unfailing. My husband was a rock to which I gripped and clung to over the raised bed with every surge of pain. The urge to bear down and push was innate. I had never done this before, but alas, I knew exactly what I had to do – my body literally took over. Having my Mum stand behind me, my husband in front of me, and my midwife beside me was incredibly reassuring. Again – I felt safe.

Pushing my baby out was a surreal experience. I had seen hundreds of women do this before, but the experience of doing it myself was incredible. It was painful, tiring, frightening and difficult – but with every push, I could literally feel my baby moving down inside me, a feeling I hope I never forget. A few times I put my fingers inside me and felt his little head maneuvering down, cleverly turning and twisting at exactly the right times to fit through my pelvis and come into the world.

After about one hour of pushing, my baby’s head was crowning. I felt my Mum’s hand gently supporting his head, and when his face was born, I heard exclamations of how pretty “it’s” face was. At this time, I knew there was only one more push before I met my baby. I stood up straight and with his head between my legs I took off my top and my bra in full anticipation of lifting my baby up onto my skin in only mere seconds. The next push, I pushed with all my strength and might. I felt my mum’s skillful hands guiding him out of me. I felt his shoulders, body and legs slip and wriggle from my body out into the world where we would fall in love on the outside, with him – our child!

My mum passed him gently through my legs, where I leaned down to take him from her, to meet my precious baby.

It’s a boy!! It’s a boy!! I love you, my son!! I must have uttered these words a hundred times, both aloud and in my mind. I was blown away by the fact that he was here, that he was a boy, that he was our son!

My heart has never felt so much in one single moment. It was bursting with love for my new son, this new life that we had just welcomed. It was overflowing with adoration for my husband, my rock, my partner, my ahava. It was filled with gratitude to my body for birthing my baby safely and efficiently. It was brimming with pride that my Mum had been able to deliver her first grandchild, and share in the most significant moment of my life to date. It was singing praises to God for bringing him to us in his most perfect state.

I’ll never forget Mark’s face in that moment. He looked at me with such love. He kissed my face so gently and whispered “I love you so much”. He kissed his son time and time again…

Soon, our family and friends started rushing in to meet our baby. I had been warned to take it easy, to protect this time, to rest and not have too many visitors… However, I wanted to shout him from the rooftops! Our most beautiful, adored baby was here!

One of he loveliest aspects of this day was sharing our joy with our fellow midwives and staff at the hospital. They had been such a source of love, strength and support to both Mum and I throughout my pregnancy, and it was wonderful to be able to share our joy with people who were so genuinely interested and happy for us.

At 15:30 that same day, Mark and I bundled our new little addition into the car and drove him home for the first time. When we placed him in his tiny cradle that night before going to bed ourselves, we were a bit overwhelmed with all that had happened that day. Mark said a goodnight prayer for our baby Hugh, and we commenced our lives as a new little family of three.

Our story does not end here – it is merely the beginning! 12 days later, I love him infinitely more than I thought I ever could. My love for him multiplies exponentially every day. I am so honoured that he was sent to me, for me to love, to nurture, to grow and to parent.

I hope I do him the justice he deserves.

During a contraction vs. between contractions!

During a contraction vs. between contractions!

Pushing

Pushing

Continuity of care at it's finest. My lovely Claire.

Continuity of care at it’s finest. My lovely Claire.

My support crew - Love my Mum smiling in this one

My support crew – Love my Mum smiling in this one

The moment that changed our lives forever!

07:48 – The moment that changed our lives forever!

There are no words.

There are no words

So in love with my child.

So in love with my child

Daddy's first cuddle

Daddy’s first cuddle

Our sweet boy

Our sweet boy

Uncle Guy, Aunty Jess & Aunty Galina and Uncle Lee

Uncle Guy, Aunty Jess & Aunty Galina and Uncle Lee

Nan & Grandma and Grandpa

Nan & Grandma and Grandpa

Overwhelmed with emotion.

Overwhelmed with emotion

Taking him home

Taking him home

Nanna and Papa

Nanna and Papa

Emotional, fabulous, exhausting day

Emotional, fabulous, exhausting day

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16 Responses to “Hugh Charles Aitken – A Birth Story”

  1. Galina Dixon June 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    Erica, this is so beautifully written and captured! A truly inspiring story. I don’t have enough words to express how incredibly proud I am of you and Marko and how lucky I feel to be an aunty (for the first time) to this precious little boy. Can’t wait for the next chapter! x

  2. Justine Mori June 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    What an incredible and beautiful story! I’m so happy for you and your family!

  3. Miranda Dunstan June 12, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    Such a beautiful birth story and photos:) he is beautiful!

  4. Kim June 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Beautiful story and photos Erica xx

  5. Bec June 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    Sooooooo glad you birthed a blog post on this historical event, Ek. It’s the best!!! Xo

    P.S. I love you HC and your sweet cheeks Xo

  6. Rachel Bennett June 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    Oh erica, how beautifully you’ve written your story..brought warmth to my heart & tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing 🙂 xx

  7. Sharyn O'Hara June 12, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    What an amazing and honest account of your pregnancy and labour and birth, I have tears in my eyes. Hugh is so lucky to have you and Mark as parents! I have thoroughly loved working with you & Jen and look forward to watching this beautiful boy grow up in such a loving family x

  8. nicholasdixonNick Dixon June 12, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    Darling Girl,
    Such a wonderful and inspiring story that you have given us all.
    You are such a clever woman, I can hardly express it and Mark is truly the best husband and dad in the world. Thank you both for the privilege of sharing in this most precious and private of times. You are a beautiful couple with a beautiful baby and I am proud to be your family.

  9. Claire Maitland June 13, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    Erica, Mark and Jen,
    What a truly inspirational, beautiful, emotional and memorable story. We are the blessed, honoured and lucky ones to have been privleged to have you share your miracle with us. Hugh is a gorgeous baby boy whom will continue to blossom and grow into a beautiful young man with his admirable loving family and friends around him. Congratulations and thank you for sharing the happiest day of your life x x x

  10. Heather Cole June 13, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Such a beautiful and honest account. I am sitting ion the train moved to tears. So happy for you al. X

  11. Natalie June 13, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    Beautiful Erica.
    I am bawling like a baby whilst reading your words and seeing your gorgeous photos. The most beautiful I have ever seen. It is so generous of you to share them. You, Mark and your darling little Hugh are a spectacular looking family. The love and pride in my dear friend Jen’s face brings more tears of joy. Hugh is in such very good hands. Much love to you all and I look forward to meeting this little man xxxxxxxx

  12. Katrina June 15, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    Well my lovely 😉
    I had not read your birth story as i felt i knew all about it haha but i so glad i did….not only did you find out your exciting news on my birthday but to mention me in your story is a true honour !
    It is always an amazing proud moment to share birth with families but to be part of it with a friend is truly special…
    You were amazing and woman like you make me feel i have the best career in the world, your story as with the others bought a tears to my eyes as it was filled with such love which is what motherhood has the ability to do !
    Enjoy the thrills and spills of parenthood , your photos are beautiful as are you and your gorgeous family(mama Jen)
    Congrats to the 3 of you, look forward to watching your little boy grow in our own home away from home “work family”

    love “Aunty” Treen xx

  13. Monique Long June 19, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    This is too precious Erica! Thank you for sharing your birth story, particularly with those of us who are yet to have birth stories! Hugh just looks like the most beautiful little boy. Congratulations to you and Mark. x

  14. Geraldine June 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Dear Erica & Mark,
    Our excitement for you and our eager anticipation of your birth has culminated in the birth of such an exquisite little boy. Your story and pictures are truly inspirational. The beauty and honesty of your words melts my heart. I felt like I was in the room with you. Hugh is so blessed to be born into such a loving precious family and I know he brings such joy to you all. You are an extension of our family and Hugh has inherited many ‘aunts’. Enjoy parenthood…being a mum and dad is wonderful.
    With love always, Geraldine

  15. Natalie July 18, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Oh this brought tears to my eyes and love and awe to my heart.
    Congratulations on your beautiful son he is absolutely stunning.
    And you looked radiant in every photo through your labour.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I love Hugh! | Galina Loves - July 18, 2013

    […] uncle as my sister-in-law, Erica, began labour (you can read her beautifully inspiring birth story here). Needless to say, we didn’t get much sleep that night and early in the morning raced to […]

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