Quinns Birth photo

Being a newborn photographer, I feel extremely privileged and lucky to have new mums share their birth experience with me and over the past 5 years in this industry I have learnt that no birth is ever quite the same. Each birth is unique and reveals a different story.

I thought I would share our Birth Story as I found great comfort in my later weeks of pregnancy reading about inspiring birth stories and watching positive birth videos. I spent numerous hours practicing yoga, working on breathing techniques and listening to hypnobirthing affirmations. I knew that in order to have the best possible birth I had to release control, fear and any doubt going into this experience and understand that whatever happens, happens. I had to trust that my body and my baby knew what to do!

Quinn’s Birth Story

…our baby was brought up onto my chest, with Matt pronouncing “its a girl!”

But let’s go back to the beginning…

Thursday, 6th February, Waitangi Day, was just like any other day. A few chores were accomplished around the house, we managed to tick off a few items from our ‘what to pack for the hospital’ checklist and we also had a few visitors during the day, including my mum, whose famous last words to me were “You’re not having the baby this weekend are you? As I’m off to Wellington tomorrow.” Literally as soon as my mum had said her goodbyes, I had to rush to the toilet with diarrhoea. I started questioning the Burger Fuel meal that we just had for dinner, “Matt do you think the aioli was a little off?” Or maybe, I pondered, am I ‘clearing out’? However, I was still 6 days out from our due date so I didn’t think much of it and decided that a bit of sleep should help me recover. Unfortunately, the night did not fare well. At 1.30 am I woke up with period like pain in my back, I needed to pee 3 - 4 times and by 4.30 am I reluctantly took some paracetamol to help me get back to sleep. It was a very restless night!

I woke up the next morning a little tired but surprisingly feeling pretty good. I had my final newborn session that I needed to prepare for, and I put last night’s events down to nerves about doing a shoot at over 39 weeks pregnant. The session ended up going really well, however, soon after, I noticed that my tummy had morphed into a really odd shape, almost rectangular. With fears that baby may have turned back into a breech position I decided to ring Partners in Pregnancy to ease my mind. I asked for my midwife, Annette, but it was her day off, so it was her colleague, Melissa, that called me back moments later. She was super helpful and suggested a few options for me. We decided that it would be best to meet up at the hospital at 3pm that afternoon for a bedside scan. Matt also joined us for the scan and we soon discovered baby was still head down and 4/5s engaged! I was reassured that there was no way the baby could turn out of that position now! Phew!

I returned home feeling much more relaxed knowing that everything was ok. Having that piece of mind, I managed to finish off a wedding, read the last of the hypnobirthing book that Liah Roebuck kindly lent me and snuck in a little nap.

At 7pm, Matt arrived home after catching up with some friends and we decided to go to Fitzroy beach for a walk and a bite to eat. It was a beautiful night - the walk and fresh air was just what we needed. Matt went for a swim while I found a big piece of driftwood to sit down on and managed to be Zen with the last of the evening sun striking my face. It was short-lived, as the words “Hey Aimee” broke my Zen. Friends who were back in New Plymouth for the weekend stopped by and we had a nice little catchup with them both until we parted ways at the Fitzroy Kiosk. As soon as Matt and I walked down to the bottom of the hill, I felt liquid ooze into my underwear, unsure what exactly was happening I made a mad dash to the car while Matt quickly washed the sand from his feet. At this stage it was after 8pm and we were starving so we decided to grab some Thai before making our way home to check out the underwear situation. No doubt you would have heard this theory before, because a lot of people believe that spicy food can get things going, so we opted for a medium to hot chicken cashew. Whilst I was waiting in the car for Matt to collect dinner, I started experiencing mild contractions, well, that is what I thought they were? It’s hard to know what you are feeling when you have never been through something like this before. The ‘contractions’ were about 20 seconds long and happening every 3 minutes or so.

This must be the start of labour?

Friday, 8.40pm - We arrived home and I swiftly waddled my way to the toilet and the next thing I heard was ‘plop’… was that ‘the show’? Matt decided to goggle it, of course, and he confirmed that it says labour is imminent – labour could begin soon after ‘the show’ or it could even take 1 - 2 weeks before things start happening. At this stage, I was still having mild contractions so it started to feel very real and genuinely exciting that our baby will be with us soon.

Somehow, I managed to eat the Thai meal between each contraction (which I would later regret). They were occurring every 2 minutes now but still only lasting around 20 – 25 seconds. I was feeling the contractions mostly in my back, so once I had finished eating, I asked Matt to massage this area whilst I was leaning over the swiss ball. I also put my headphones on to listen to the hypnobirthing soundtracks which helped me get into some sort of rhythm and relax.

Friday, 11pm - We knew it was probably going to be a long night, so we decided to try our luck and jump into bed to get some sleep. There was no sleeping for me however, as each contraction was now averaging around 45 seconds long. Matt placed a hot water bottle against my back to try ease some of the pain. I managed to survive in bed until 1.30am when the contractions became so intense it had me scampering to the bathroom to vomit up my dinner. There was no going back to bed now, I knew I was in for the long haul. I spent the next hour or so kneeling at the end of the bed and ended up vomiting another 5 or 6 times. I started regretting the choice of a spicy dinner as it was burning my throat so bad. Soon after, I begged Matt to ring Annette which he was hesitant to do as my contractions were not quite 60 – 90 seconds long yet. He eventually, albeit reluctantly, rung Partners in Pregnancy but Annette didn’t answer, Melissa was at the other end of the phone, as it was Annette’s weekend off! At first, I was fearful knowing that Annette would not be at the birth, but I remembered back to my hypnobirthing practice, “I am prepared to calmly meet whatever path my birthing takes.” Also, it felt like it was meant to be as we had met Melissa earlier for the bedside scan. Melissa was great at asking Matt lots of questions over the phone and suggested that the best place for me to be was at home for another few hours or until I feel pressure in my bum. The most important thing that I had in my “birth plan” was to try stay at home for as long as possible. Ok, I thought, if we are going to do this, let’s run the bath!

Saturday, 2am - The bath turned out to be the best decision! The warm water was exactly what my body needed as it eased the pain in my back, and we were able to create a truly calming atmosphere by dimming the lights and spraying lavender mist into the air. Matt provided me with a cold flannel for my forehead and spoon fed me yoghurt which was a genius idea as it counteracted the spice for the next time I vomited. I had my hypnobirthing affirmations soundtrack on repeat, which Matt had hooked up to a boom box so my headphones wouldn’t get wet, and for the next 2.5 hours I was completely in the zone. I was riding the waves, surrendering to the surges and completely letting go. Matt would check on me every now and again to keep me hydrated and to see what else he could do – obviously, at this stage, I wasn’t up for much of conversation, so he had to decipher my grunts.

Saturday, 4am - The contractions were now well and truly over a minute long and averaging 2 minutes apart; my last recorded contraction was at 4.22am because this is when I felt the sudden urge to push. Matt immediately rung Melissa and we were told to meet her up at the hospital straight away. Getting out of the bath, chucking some clothes on, climbing into the car, the 10-minute drive to the hospital and walking down the hospital corridor - all whilst experiencing some pretty intense contractions - was no joke.

Saturday, 5am - We arrived at the labour ward. The hospital midwife greeted us and showed us to our room. She dragged a birth mattress into our room for me as I mentioned I’d like to kneel over the bed. Contractions were very strong at this stage, but I was able to breathe through them nicely.

Saturday, 5.30am - Somehow, I managed to get up onto the bed for Melissa to do her routine checks. She tells me that I’m fully dilated! Thank god, I thought. I remember her saying “Good work Aimee, you have done this all by yourself, you should be so proud” this was the best feeling ever as that was my main goal all along. This moment brought tears to my eyes, it was very empowering, and I knew our baby would be with us very soon.

Saturday, 5.45am – Melissa tells me, “It’s time to start pushing during each contraction!”, so I begin to push and eventually my waters break. It took me a while to push ‘effectively’ as I initially found it difficult to get the breathing technique right. It didn’t help that I was so exhausted from being up all night, but Melissa was able to talk me through it and shortly after I was pushing well. I started suffering from some intense back pain during this time too so just after 6.30am I was told to flip over on to my back which would help release a lot of the pressure.  

Throughout this time, Matt continued to hydrate and support me. He also remembered that I told him during the weeks leading up to this moment, that I would like a few photos of me in labour. The hospital midwife noticed Matt taking photos of me and she kindly asked us if we would like a few photos of Matt and I together. I remember her asking me, “bits or no bits”, to which I originally responded, “no bits”. I did change my mind after a little convincing and in the end, I was very thankful that I had been persuaded. She even got a few photos of when baby’s head popped out which is utterly surreal to look back on now.

Finally, Saturday morning, 7.09am - our baby was brought up onto my chest, with Matt pronouncing “It’s a girl!”. The sheer relief was instant and at this moment in time, an experience so incredible, it was all very overwhelming. I felt so relaxed in this special moment; taking in all her little features, and trying to figure out what facial features were more like Matt or I.

20 minutes later, I felt the dull ache of back pressure again and with just a few final pushes I birthed the placenta. Once the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, it was Matt’s turn to get involved and he was able to cut it. Melissa showed me the parts of the placenta where it was attached to my uterus and the sack that our daughter had spent the last 9 months in. It is truly amazing what the female body can do.

Melissa stitched up two small tears while I attempted to feed our delicate little doll. Everything felt surprisingly natural. I was so proud, content and happy that the birth of Quinn is what I had envisioned it to be like from the start. I believe the hours spent practising yoga, reading and listening to hypnobirthing techniques and most importantly, teaching myself the ability to release all fear, played a huge role in my mindset during Quinns birth.

Every birth is different. No matter how your baby was brought into this world it truly is the best day of your life. It is the day you finally meet your child and begin the journey of parenthood.

The first 3 weeks of being parents to Quinn have been bliss. She has already brought us so much joy, happiness and another level of love to our family.

Quinn Evelyn Ander, thank you for choosing us.

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