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Raef's Birth

Today is my 'due date' so it seemed like a good day to finally sit down and introduce our little on to you!! He is now a whopping 10 days old and has already gained 400g of breast milk fuelled gorgeousness!

Rafferton 'Raef' Joseph Ford arrived on Sunday 4th September at 7:44am, weighing 3.57kg and 53cm long, 14 hours after my waters broke.

So... an hour after coaching a full CrossFit kids class, which, in hindsight I was very dazed in,

"I was sat catching up on admin when I felt a 'dollop' in my leggings... after a quick trip to the bathroom and checking in with a young mum and friend, I calmly told Ben that I think my waters were breaking."

So we packed up and headed home... after sorting out coaching cover for the coming days!! We were not AT ALL ready for the little guy to arrive early! and were in fact banking on him arriving after our due date!

On the way home - which was very surreal, and involved yet more dog sitting, car seat fitting and other logistical planning... my waters went in 3 big gushes... and that was it!!

We got in and after a shower, a nice big dinner, and actually getting around to packing our hospital bags (!!) I sat down with a movie and a magnesium salt foot soak! At this point - around 8pm I was starting to get super low period style cramps, but nothing that made me think they were proper contractions - I was expecting to feel them across my whole stomach.

"Around 11pm we updated Dr. Anni and headed to bed. We settled for about an hour before the 'cramps' started to get more intense. I was still a little confused as they remained very low."

About 12:30pm I got in the bath and we began timing the 'cramps' which were lasting 40-65 seconds and 6 and a half minutes apart. Within the hour they were down to 3/4 minutes apart, but still very low. Around this time I got out of the bath and was very sick... Ben said he felt that this a big physical response to releasing fear... I definitely think he has a point.

"I was starting to get overwhelmed and being sick definitely got something out of my system and allowed me to focus back in."

After a little more time on the ball we moved rapidly from 3 minutes to 2.5 minutes apart and decided it was time to go - mostly because the thought of the 20 minute drive to the hospital with surges so close together was pretty daunting. At this point the surges were still super low and I was not entirely convinced they were 'proper' surges!!

Up to this point surge breathing and calm breathing had been great, but I think in the car it ramped up a notch... knowing that the most that Ben could do was stoke my stomach

"It really made me go into myself and lean in to the Hypnobirthing techniques to keep me focused and as relaxed as possible."

Dr Anni had said to get to the hospital, and if it was ok with me she would let the midwife check me and update her, and then respond accordingly - we were fine with this.

Arriving at Medcare Women and Children's hospital, we left the car out front and headed up to the labour rooms - the valet didn't work at 3am!!! This did mean that Ben has to shoot downstairs again to move it, but the staff got me settled and then came to the room to get all the paperwork, so once he was back he didn't have to leave again.

"The first check found me at 3-4cm dilated. I had expected more, but at this point I was still very calm."

The next hour or so of surges progressed well. Ben walking me through, counting down doing the depthometer from 20 to calm me (they were too close to count from 40!!!). I was also able to doze between surges.

After this hour however, things got a lot more challenging and all the 'I can't do this', 'I'm scared', 'I've had enough' comments started. Ben was great and kept me focused and on point with our plan.

"This was really tough, as he could see I was struggling, but he knew he had to listen to me, but also disregard some of what I was saying in order to keep with our plan."

When it all got too much - I couldn't breath into my surges or find a single position to manage them in, I was check again and only 6cm. At this point Ben got the swiss ball and moved me to the shower... SO GOOD! I proceed to have another 8-12 surges - half of which Ben didn't really notice I was having! A dramatic change from the hour before!!

Towards the end of this 'stage' I moved from the ball to all fours with the water on my low back and almost immediately the need to push started.

After a desperate plea from the nurse for me to get off the floor and come back to the bed, the nurse got the midwife, who called Dr. Anni and we moved into the final stage!!!

"The water was amazing, and I get the distinct impression that the nursing team thought that I was going to be a lot longer! The 6-9cm happened very quickly."

Once Anni arrived it was a very short time between moving back to the bed and my body taking over. The natural expulsion reflex really started to kick in, and after 3 or 4 surges stood on the floor, bent over the bed, I moved onto the bed and hung over the back of the bed.

The pushing stage progressed really well, and quickly. I could feel his head start to engage and with Anni 'protecting' my perineum I was able to breath our baby down. One of my biggest concerns was staying relaxed between surges, and I can honestly say this was the most focused part for me.

"From crowning to baby emerging was honestly more pressure than pain."

Raef gently stretched me as he worked his way out and back in, and only at the very end as his head emerged and his body followed did I have any real stinging pain - I had a small tear, so I assume this is when that happened. Ben & Anni were amazing, guiding me through the whole process and with only a little conscious pushing at the end, Raef emerged at 7:44am.

The cord was quite short at this stage, and I was too dazed to receive him, so Ben did and we slowly tried to manoeuvre me into a position to hold him, which was not possible with the length of his cord. So after 4 minutes we cut his cord and Ben took him skin on skin while I resettled and Raef made his way from my tummy to my breast, latching and starting to feed within 15 minutes of birth.

"He was alert, bright eyed, and after a few big screams at the time of birth, very content."

My placenta hadn't emerged after 20 minutes and as there was a little bleeding Dr Anni asked the nurse to administer a half dose on the injection to help move things along.

After giving us an hour to bond, Dr Anni came back to check on me and give me a few stitches, before taking everyone away and giving us another hour to bond before allowing the paediatrician came in to check and weigh Raef fully.

"We were moved to our own room soon after, where is was just us, skin to skin and chilling!"

One of the best things we did on day one was for Ben to pop home for Raef's Cocoonababy which meant he slept next to me and only went into the plastic cot briefly for the doc to check him or for me to eat.

All in all it was the most incredible experience! Jasmine came to collect my placenta for encapsulation and brought it back the next day.

It was all just amazing!

Hypnobirthing and everything we learnt, without doubt, enabled us to actively plan the birth that we wanted and ensured that we had the birth experience we hoped for.

Candice x

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