By Doris Martensson
Photography by Hannah Webb
If I had to describe my first birth in one word, it would be unpleasant. Like many other young mothers, I had a less than ideal experience with a midwifery team who treated me more like a naughty child instead of a first-time mother-to-be. I was 19, on my own in a foreign country and scared. After I had my first daughter Darcy at a birthing centre in England, it took a long time for me to heal, physically and mentally. I resolved that, when I had another child, it would be different.
Fast forward a few years, and I felt ready to embark on the journey of motherhood for a second time. I had been a single mother by chance since day one and felt secure and confident in my role. Why would I waste time desperately searching for a partner now just because I wanted another child? So, I didn’t. I took my chance and turned it into a deliberate choice. I spent a few months scouting out the perfect DNA match and found a sperm donor to help me conceive my second child as a single mother by choice. With that choice came a whole other world of empowerment from a community of wonderful, likeminded young women on the same journey! I was incredibly fortunate to fall pregnant with my second child after just one try. I partially attribute this to my age, being only 23 years old. I understand that there are plenty of young women who struggle to conceive – but in my mind, this further confirmed the fact that choosing to be a young mother was absolutely the right choice for me.
My pregnancy was about as straightforward as they come. I found a wonderful midwife who was supportive of my unconventional story, and we started planning my home birth. I hired a pool, printed out affirmations, strung up fairy lights and practised my meditation exercises frequently. I was determined to have a better experience than the first time around.
On October 29th, the day before my due date, I was feeling impatient and restless. One of my best friends and my mother were staying with me to support me during my birth and the three of us went for a long uphill walk! That night I woke up a couple of times with some cramps, but it was barely anything. I knew I had an appointment with my midwife the next day so I wasn’t stressing.
On the morning of October 30th, my ‘official’ due date, I was feeling pretty normal. I got my daughter Darcy ready for kindy and went to drop her off with my mum and friend on our way to my midwife appointment. While we were driving to see her, I started to feel some cramps come and go pretty regularly. When we were almost there, she cancelled the appointment as she was attending another birth, so we went to a nearby cafe and when I used the bathroom I noticed a lot of my mucus plug was coming out. I let my family know, but added that I wanted to just go about my day as normal. We headed to a hardware store to get some last-minute home birth items and as I was walking around, I really felt the surges start to get intense. This is when I thought that it might be the real thing. I had to stop and breathe every time they came, but I still felt very calm and in good spirits. I was smiling and talking as normally as ever in between surges.
When we got home, I tried to tidy up the kitchen and put away groceries, but the surges were really stopping me in my tracks now. I remember telling my mother that this was definitely the time when I rushed to the hospital in a panic during my first labour. She convinced me to lie down for a few hours, so I went to bed and shut my eyes for a while. I still only remember feeling calm. I felt excited to meet my baby and ready for a long night ahead. I anticipated that I could have another full day to go before anything really happened, as with my first daughter I was sent home at only 2cm dilated when I felt like this.