From the night I toured the hospital maternity ward with my antenatal group I knew I didn't want to birth there, it was cold, sad and uninviting.
Zeke: I carried Zeke until 41weeks 3days gestation, on the lead-up to my birth the staff at the Birth Centre were welcoming for tours and allowing my pre-labour monitoring to happen there as I was low risk. I went into natural labour. Upon arrival at the Birthing Centre the staff had already heated the room and run the bath for myself and my partner. The staff were welcoming and warm from the moment my partner and I entered, offering drinks, ice, and snacks throughout my labour. Zeke was born at 12:45am in the bath with my husband by my side, sister in the room helping with music and my midwife in charge. Each respecting my space. The midwife on duty and my midwife Kerry assisted me with breastfeeding positions and allowed for delayed cord clamping to occur.
They also took my placenta and bagged it with my name on it and placed it in the freezer for me to take home. As they were aware of my cultural need and desire to keep it for a whenua committal.
Once we were clean the midwife on duty brought in a ham cheese toastie and a milo because I hadn't eaten since 5pm. (This may seem small but it is one thing that has stuck with me since and something that I came to appreciate more after the birth of my daughter.) At approximately 4am, my blood wasn't clotting and I was experiencing pain that was keeping me awake, I called the midwife who immediately gave me a drip in my arm and helped me by manually clearing my uterus of clots, it was painful but she helped to talk me through it and calm me down. From there I was able to sleep and only be woken when she came to remove the drip. I felt safe and comfortable enough to close my eyes.
The next day was filled with a lot of learning for both my husband and I, which was made easy by the midwife Jenny. She demonstrated to us both how to bath Zeke safely and again how to breastfeed competently. We felt awhi.
The food was always amazing throughout my recovery and there every time I needed it. As a new mum who was breastfeeding, I never realized just how much food I needed just to sustain myself. When we left we were hugged, congratulated and given more aroha than I have ever experienced from a health organisation and we knew we would come back again.
At my next appointment, I told my midwife who then said, I was misinformed but it didn't matter because I was being induced which can't happen at the birth centre. It hit me hard, but I had to stick with the positive of having a healthy baby at the end and maybe the hospital wasn't as bad as people said. Still I tried every trick in the book for natural labour induction, acupuncture, spicy food, exercise, sex. To no avail.
1pm: I arrived at 1pm for in induction at 1:30pm. Nervous excited. 1:30pm came and went, we were still sitting in the reception area
2pm: someone came and showed me to a room and left. The room had wallpaper peeling from the walls, random strangers walked in looking for other people, my bed had no brakes or blankets. Finally at
3pm: someone came and inserted a line into my arm in preparation for oxytocin. Then, I saw no one until
6pm: it was dinner time. My husband asked when induction would begin and if a balloon was inserted could we go home, the answer from the midwife "feel free to leave, but your wife will stay here" and that I was "not a priority so it will happen when it happens".
8pm: I could not take it any longer and asked again "when will we start because I want to go home." and began to cry again. I felt forgotten and unimportant, if my husband had left when she said to earlier I would've been alone for hours!
9pm: the Doctor came in and inserted the balloon, excitement hit me again finally.
The next morning:
8am, I had my breakfast and went to shower and was met by a nurse who literally ripped the balloon out while I stood in the doorway. I felt like my mana had been quashed.
9am, 5cm dilated, syntocinon begun and the excitement returned.
Lunchtime: came and went, no changes with baby and I was hungry. It wasn't until then that I was told I wasn't allowed food or liquid apart from water, the hopes for a water birth were no longer there. I felt so uninformed and frankly annoyed.
5pm: syntocinon was increased from 2mg to 4mg, the contractions increased hard and I used the gas as pain relief. I was told she may be stuck with the cord around her neck. I broke down again. I went from natural water birth to possible C section. I felt my autonomy had gone.
5:30pm: I requested an epidural as the pain and exhaustion became too much and I was close to passing out. I told the nurses and doctors no one was to touch me until the epidural had set in and finally they respected my wishes.
6pm: I gave permission to be checked and they found I was 10cm dilated and Māia was fully engaged.
7:45pm: Māia was born vaginally at 8lb 5oz, no complications or intervention as initially suspected - 2 Doctors, 2 Midwives, a Nurse and an anaesthetist present.
I finally had my girl. However, after her cord was cut everyone disappeared and left us alone. My placenta bagged and on the bench. I was exhausted, hungry, full of emotion, like I had nothing left to give.
10pm: I had my first meal since breakfast at 8am, after my husband drove to Burger Fuel. (In my opinion no birthing mother should be left that long without food.)
3am: I requested ibuprofen and panadol as my pains were becoming too much, the nurse agreed to bringing me some however, never came back.
In the morning, I focused on getting ready to discharge/transfer. A midwife came in to check over Māia and made a comment that my husband "hasn't done a good job of keeping her warm." I was anxious to leave all the more. The discharge midwife came around at
8am and was delightful. She provided me with the pain medication I requested at 3am, as well as a prescription for more postpartum.
Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre: We were met at the door with smiles, they led me to room 12, the very room I gave birth to Zeke in 2.5years ago. I was overcome with joy and love. The Staff helped us settle in, offered to comfort Māia when I slept, make me a milo and toasties. It was the best milo I had had in days. We felt whanaungatanga and awhi and my husband was never shunned. The quiet calm nature of the place and staff were a big part of my recovery and I wholly believe that had I not been able to recover here, I would have post natal depression. My newborn baby slept five hour blocks, we felt safe.
I recommend Te Awakairangi Birth Centre to all my friends and family and I'm devastated to hear of the potential closure of this brilliant facility, it's people and of course the food.
I'm grateful for the beautiful uplifting experience with Zeke and I will always hold that dear to me and tell the story for years to come. I hope funding is approved because every province needs a birth centre for low risk mothers, not only to take the strain of the hospitals but for the mental health of new parents and babies.
Thank you for taking the time to read my stories. I felt as though I needed to share both in their entirety to encompass how true of an asset this facility is.
Ngā mihi nui koutou,
Nicole Heron (nee Nevin)