“At home? Birth centre? Hospital?”

“I’d like to birth at home.”

“Okay that’s great. You also don’t have to decide now. You can change your mind any time.”

And just like that the conversation was over. Such simplicity. It was one of my very first appointments with my midwife, chatting to me from across my dining room table in London.

There was something so reassuring about the ease with which she spoke about our options. Matter of fact.

Fast forward a few months and I was scrolling through the midwife directory on Homebirth NSW’s website – emailing every single one of them.

“Will you take me?”

I’d discovered things were a little trickier in Australia than the UK—and my partner and I were on the precipice of deciding whether to move back or not in time to birth…

I’ll be forever grateful for the response I received from Chantel, simple, yet soothing to my soul.

“Sure! I’d love to help.”

Reassuring us that she’d make herself available if and when we came to our big global move decision.

Little did I know at the time, that this precious midwife would be trapsing hours across Sydney to support us—all because of her love of birth. She made it feel so easy and definitive, which is what you need when deciding when and if you’re moving across the world 30 weeks pregnant in the middle of a pandemic.

With our midwife ‘locked in’, we could take that next leap of faith to board the plane.

I’ve been finding it hard to put words to paper to fully express my Birth journey—because where precisely does it begin, really? And I have no doubt there will be many more variations of the story to come.

So here’s what I have for now.

I’d been up all night with feelings similar to period cramps. But it was my ‘first time’. The anticipation could have been messing with my belly. By 5am I turned to my partner and said “I think I’m going to text them”.

The flurry of excited celebratory emojis from my midwife and doula said it all:

We were on.

I had a momentary wave of “should we duck out and grab a coffee?” before time took on its own dimension.

I’m reluctant to put exact timings into a labour and Birth story. Was it long? I don’t know. Was it short? I don’t know. It just was. My midwife would probably say “yep, it’s normal”. A comforting phrase I came to love and lap up in my immediate postpartum period.

Here’s what I do know, those waves captivated my whole body from the start of that day through to baby’s earthside arrival just before midnight. Calling me to surrender to myself somewhat immediately and surrender to the notion of time too. I’m told later that because of baby’s positioning that’s why they felt more intense for longer, making the labour feel more in its active stage.

I felt the urge to call my doula (my partner tells me it was around lunchtime), her loving words ringing in my ears giving me permission to ask for what I need: I’ll come anytime you want.

It felt soothing to know my support team were forming. My partner hadn’t left my side. I’m sure he was looking forward to a toilet break. 😉

The immense comfort and wave of love that came through my front door with each arrival – more anticipation, more excitement, and also so much calm. Emma (my doula) was this loving, knowing presence in the background. Immediately by my side offering a hand, a soothing touch, a herbal tonic we came to refer to as my ‘whisky shots’ (not that I even drink whisky). She was ‘keeping track’ so my partner could keep hold of me and I could surrender to my body.

The in between moments, where Emma would pass me my “whisky” shots (gentle, soothing, homeopathic blends). Photo: Emma Burke.

At some point Emma and my partner made the call to my midwife. I didn’t have to think about a thing (very handy when your body is asking you to fully surrender). I felt so held, so taken care of.

Chantel’s loving and strong embrace, the eagerness and glistening in her eyes as she walked through my bedroom door. She knew what was going on. She was ready.

My midwife’s arrival, stepping straight into the moment with gentleness and a loving touch. Photo: Emma Burke.

I’d never met my second midwife before. I may only have heard her name mentioned once or twice. Yet when Mel walked through the doors and embraced me, it was a feeling of immediate family. Strong. Soft. I knew I would be held through this journey no matter what.

I was in and out of the birthing pool a few times. Spent hours on the toilet (or so it felt). My partner literally perched on the teeny tiny corner of the bathtub, holding my hand and not letting go. At one point I had about six hands on me on my bed, massaging my body to allow it to open more.

Out of the birth pool, supported by my partner, with my midwife observing and giving us our space too. Photo: Emma Burke.

Being in my own home allowed me to fully release – to allow everything that needed to come up, to surface. There was so much comfort in that feeling, so much safety, so much joy. Even in those moments of exhaustion, wondering what was next, I always knew my team had me.

My daughter was birthed, on the floor on her Daddy’s foot—my partner somewhat pinned behind me holding me.

Supported by my partner. Photo: Emma Burke.

I recall momentarily attempting an apology of sorts to my midwife the next day for being so ‘rude’, so loud, so direct and forceful with my requests, and it was brushed off instantly.

“There is no ego in the Birth room.”

And on we went.

What safety.

What love.

May all women be held in this same sacredness of birth, wherever physically that may be.

My doula texted me the next day, “you are the strongest and most fierce woman I have ever seen”. And I knew she meant it.

Our incredible Birth Team tucked us up in bed before clearing up the house and leaving us to rest. Photo: Emma Burke.

And fierce I am. Fierce is what gives us our strength, our joy, and full ownership of our voice. My Birth team have forever imprinted themselves in my heart, my body and soul—in allowing ME to be birthed as much as my daughter.