Story by Liz McGimpsey. Photography by Chelsea Kirby.
I had always wondered what ‘real’ labour would feel like after experiencing lots of Braxton Hicks and niggles around my due date. On the 4th of November 2014, I woke up knowing I would be having this baby soon. I was in early labour. My friend Chelsea had driven up from Wellington to go op-shopping with me, the perfect distraction. As we were about to leave, I felt a pop and a warm gush, my waters had broken! My midwife Jenny told me to take it easy and see how things would unfold. Chelsea and I persevered with our shopping trip, and at one point as we were waiting for our friend to finish her swimming lesson, I leaned on a park bench to get through a strong contraction.
Time to head home to birth this baby! We jumped into my husband Caleb’s VW – thank goodness there weren’t any seats in the back! – for the 18km drive to the farm we were living on. Since conceiving our baby we had set our minds on a home birth, it felt right and safe for us and we wanted to make the Bedford House truck we were living in ‘Home’.
We got back to the truck and at this point I was having a lot of back pain and my contractions were like waves crashing down on me; I already felt like I was drowning. Jo, my main birthing support partner, who has had four of her own home births, wondered if I was in transition – the contractions were regular and overlapping and I was in another world.
At 3pm our back-up midwife arrived to check on me. I was 3/4cm dilated and my waters were still intact. The midwife told me she thought things were progressing well and it wouldn’t be long until I got to meet my baby, I was feeling encouraged.
I spent a lot of the time kneeling and leaning on one of the couches, the back pain was so intense and I felt completely immobilised. The birth pool had been set up in a little nook nestled amongst the trees. I managed to get out and jump into the pool, it was amazing respite for the irregular, strong and relentless contractions I was having. At one point I was using a tree branch for support during contractions.
My midwife Jenny arrived at 8.45pm. After checking that baby was fine, Jenny let me know I was 5cm dilated, and that baby was posterior. This explained the irregular contractions and back pain. I remember not being discouraged by a number or the fact I had only dilated 1cm in 5 hours, as Jenny held the bigger picture and affirmed how well I was doing.
It’s important for people to get a sense of how peaceful this all was. Although I was uncomfortable, tired and sore I felt at ease with how things were going.
It’s important for people to get a sense of how peaceful this all was. Although I was uncomfortable, tired and sore I felt at ease with how things were going. My birth support team were singing songs, telling jokes, the weather was perfect and the stars were out. I walked alongside the river leaning on my husband Caleb and felt a sense of awe at what was happening, what my body and this baby were doing.