This is the story of the birth of Evelyn Mary. She was birthed by my friend and fellow HypnoBirthing Practitioner, Michelle Berriman. I met Michelle (Shelly) at our HypnoBirthing Practitioner Training earlier in the year. She told me about her first two labours – one prior to learning about HypnoBirthing was filled with pain and fear and her second after learning HypnoBirthing took them by surprise and was too quick (2 hours) to really utilise the techniques. It didn’t help that her husband Matt was locked out of the Birthing Suites to park the car and almost missed his son’s birth! With all this in mind, I shyly offered my services to attend the birth of their third baby and to my complete surprise, they accepted! I will be forever grateful. This is was happened just a few nights ago.
The SMS read ‘Hey Mish, I could be completely wrong but just giving you the heads up it could be tonight. What time is your class starting?’ It was sent at 5.52pm on Thursday 2nd of June. I had just finished dinner, was getting dressed to teach a HypnoBirthing class and trying to get the kids in their pj’s before I left.
This was Shelly’s third baby. She’s a veteran, a pro, so when she wrote that, I didn’t doubt that this could be it. Her first baby took 5 hours to come into the world, her second just 2 so we all knew that the clock was probably going to count down quickly once she determined she was in labour. I gave her a quick call to check in and she described feeling a lot of pressure but nothing else. I heard her breathe out slowly at one point and said ‘Ummm, I think you’re in labour’. Not wanting give me a false start, Shelly said she’d call if anything eventuated.
I rang mum and told her what was happening, that she would have to be on standby to teach my class that night.
At 6.10pm my phone rang, this time Matt, Shelly’s husband. It was a quick 19 second call telling me they were on their way to the hospital. I informed mum, quick kiss to Andy and the kids and off into the night I went.
I made a split second call to jump on the freeway. At this time of night it could be a huge mistake. In those first few minutes I was high as a kite but felt like I was driving with precision. As the traffic built around Doncaster Road I started to panic. I took deep Calm Breaths and sent love and relaxation to Shelly’s car, wherever it was. I knew she was relying on me to be calm so pulled myself together. A quick request to the traffic angels and I was soon on my way, only getting a couple of red lights the whole way to the hospital.
I parked the car and ran to the lift. It was 6.45pm, just over half an hour since Matt called me but knowing Shelly, potentially a quarter to half her labour was already over. I wanted to be there to support her and Matt, I was dreading missing it.
I located the Birthing Suites and impatiently pressed the intercom. I was buzzed in but told that they hadn’t arrived yet and I needed to wait outside in the waiting area. I paced, I sat, I checked my phone and waited. As the minutes crept passed I got more and more worried that Shelly was having this baby in the car somewhere. I was so happy to see Matt rush in, covered in bags.
Behind him, on her mums arm, walked Shelly. She looked so peaceful, she was almost gliding into that hospital. She kept her eyes closed and only stopped a couple of times to breathe through a surge.
The Birthing Suites were busy that night. 17 rooms and they were all full. We got shown to an isolation room that apparently is never used, Suite 14. The fluorescent lights were in full force but we quickly got the lights dimmed and Shelly settled on the bed on her side. I covered her in my birthing gift, a blanket in her birthing colour, blue.
For around half an hour we kept her cosy, a relaxation track on the stereo and acupressure and heat to the lower back. During this time, the baby was monitored externally but the straps didn’t seem to bother Shelly, she was comfortable on her back.
This woman was the epitome of relaxation. Her face was serene, her hands and body were limp. The only sign of a surge was the change to her breathing and a soft sighing noise. A few times I got tears in my eyes as I saw the love between Shelly and Matt. I could almost see it surrounding them. He was softly whispering in her ear and stroking her arms and head.
In between surges, she told us the pressure was in her back and then after a few more, the pressure had moved to her lower abdomen. She expressed the desire to visit the bathroom and Matt and I both thought, ‘This is it!’ She assured us it was just for a wee and we made a start at getting her to the bathroom as her surges stepped up a notch in intensity.
After only a minute or two on the toilet and another very powerful surge, Shelly announced ‘Baby, baby’s coming!’ I bolted for the nurses station, announced excitedly that we had a baby coming right now and four midwives rushed in to assist.
We got Shelly back to the bed. She was on her back but the bedhead was raised. The surges seemed to get a little further apart now, giving Shelly a chance to rest in between. Her composure and the way she gathered herself at those times was a tribute to her and the HypnoBirthing practice she’d done. Matt was right there, encouraging and supporting her when she had a small moment of doubt and he utilized the shoulder press anchor beautifully at one point. Watching Shelly’s head lean to the side and her body go soft when he did that was amazing.
You could see the intensity of the surges in Shelly. She didn’t need to do a thing and those natural pulsations bought baby closer with every surge. Within minutes baby was crowning, a lovely little head covered with black hair and vernix. You could see the top fontanel had overlapped to allow baby’s head down the birth path.
Another powerful surge and baby’s head was out. I’ve seen it plenty of times on video but never in real life. I had previously asked Shelly if she wanted me to stay up near her head but she’d told me I was free to witness the moment the baby was born. What an incredible sight. I’ll never forget the little bub’s face who didn’t yet realize they’ve been born.
Shelly got a few minutes before the next surge to focus her breathing and energy down to the baby. Incredibly, the baby started make some cooing noises at this time. I remember looking at the midwife in surprise and her looking back at me with the same expression saying ‘Yeah, they don’t normally do that.’
One last surge and Shelly and Matt’s little girl was here! It was 7.54pm. She went straight onto mum’s chest and after only a few little cries, latched on beautifully and began to feed. The placenta was delivered soon after and after some lovely bonding with Shelly, little Evelyn Mary went to Matt for some skin to skin.
Shelly needed some attention from the doctor so while Matt bonded with Evie, I sat with Shelly. She was in a bit of pain at this stage so we continued with the Calm Breath and I worked at keeping her face and hands relaxed until the doctor was finished.
I helped Shelly with a shower and we then had about an hour to debrief. Matt had stayed up near Shelly’s face during the birthing so I could give more of a description of what had happened during those last few minutes. It was a nice time, all three of us piecing together the story of Evie’s arrival earthside. We’d all had different experiences, different viewpoints and noticed different things.
Around 10pm, even though I was high on all sorts of hormones and didn’t think I’d be sleeping that night, I said my goodbyes and made my way home to my own husband and babies.
I said it at the time and I’ll say it again, but what an absolute honour to be invited to witness the birth of a child. It’s such an intimate experience and what a privilege to share that with a couple. I got so much out of the experience and I hope that my presence there on the night was one of support, love and encouragement. I’ll never forget that night for the rest of my days. Thank you Shelly and Matt and congratulations.
Learn more about our HypnoBirthing classes here.