Alena’s Birth Story
In the past four years, I’ve had two wonderful though very different births with The Midwives Collective. When I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child, I opted for midwifery care. Although I was not at all sentimental about childbirth—at the time, I saw it as a natural but messy hurdle to parenthood—I hoped to replicate the positive experiences I’d heard about from friends: choices offered throughout the pregnancy, a care provider I knew during the delivery, and attentive postpartum care.
My midwives quickly exceeded all my expectations for prenatal care. My pregnancy was straightforward, and the midwives allayed any first-time mom concerns with clear, researched explanations.
On January 16th, I discovered that I was in labour four weeks earlier than expected. I had felt fairly calm throughout the pregnancy, but this new development terrified me. I had plans for those last four weeks— books to read, baby clothes to buy, a hospital bag to pack—and I was worried about the health outcomes for a preterm baby. I lay awake through a long night of early labour, willing the contractions to go away, before finally calling my midwives. When I did, my midwife assured me that babies born at 36 weeks generally do very well, and though I had hoped she would diagnose my contractions as Braxton Hicks, hearing her say definitively that I was in labour relieved much of my anxiety. I had no choice but to let go of my prior expectations.
I remember feeling surprised by the intensity of the contractions, and as a first-time mom, scared of how much worse it might get. At one point, I told my midwife that I didn’t think I could continue without some kind of pain relief since I wasn’t even in transition yet. She crouched down beside the bed, smiling, and responded, “This is transition.” She was right, of course, and just after midnight I held my beautiful son for the first time.
In the days following, we encountered some challenges related to his pre-term arrival. He was initially unable to latch and nurse effectively, and since his blood sugar was quite low, we began supplementing with formula. We remained in the hospital for a couple of days while our midwives and several nurses continued to support us in learning to breastfeed. We worked hard to increase my milk supply, but eventually accepted that we would need to supplement indefinitely.
As someone who strives to always be prepared and in control, I struggled with the unforeseen circumstance of my first son’s birth and the ways in which the postpartum period diverged from my expectations. However, I don’t recall the experience as negative; rather it was deeply empowering. During my labour, I watched my midwife carefully for any signs of concern, and saw only encouragement and confidence reflected back. While I judged myself harshly for not being able to exclusively breastfeed, my midwives remained focused on my and my son’s overall wellbeing. I began to see that my success as a mother was not tied to any particular set of rules.
When I returned to The Midwives Collective pregnant with my second child, I no longer viewed childbirth as merely a hurdle. I felt proud of my first birth, and I understood that my birth stories, whatever they entailed, mattered—they would stay with me.
Although I was excited for this second birth, I was also nervous to encounter the same challenges I’d faced before. I worried that this baby might arrive as early (or earlier) than the first and that my body would once again struggle to produce milk. I watched the clock anxiously on the last evening of week 36, and woke up still pregnant and elated the next morning. At my 37-week appointment, one of my midwives told me that she had been thinking of me over the weekend and had also happily noted my transition out of the “preterm” category. It was a passing comment, but it reminded me, again, how well supported I was.
My first birth, in hospital, had galvanized my confidence in my body and in my birth team, and as I neared the end of this pregnancy, I became increasingly interested in birthing at home. I loved the idea of meeting my baby, for the first time, in such a comfortable and familiar space. My husband and I decided to prepare for a homebirth but not feel committed to one—we knew from our first experience that circumstances can change at any time.
At 38 weeks and 4 days, just after midnight, I went into labour. My mom was staying with us to help care for my toddler, and as they both slept soundly, my husband and I chatted and listened to music quietly in the living room. Our large black cat purred happily by our feet, and just after 4 AM we were joined by our doula and our midwife. Even as the labour intensified, I remember those early morning hours as peaceful. I felt completely safe and in control. The second midwife joined us at dawn, and at 6:38, my second child was born. Outside, the sun had just risen, and light was streaming through our bedroom window.
My recovery was quick and my milk supply, this time, plentiful. However, the things that struck me most about my second birth were the many moments that felt at once so normal and so beautiful: my toddler with his messy hair and shark pyjamas skipping into our room for a first glimpse at his brother, the smell of coffee wafting in from the kitchen, laughter, my doula bringing me a bowl of oatmeal while I cuddled my newborn.
I am grateful to my partner and my birth team who helped me navigate these two disparate birth experiences, and to my beautiful kids who share and complete these stories.
Connect with us!
Our clinic is accessible, child-friendly, and community-focused. We are located in central Victoria, just past the intersection of Cook & Yates. We regularly host evening events and workshops, focusing on the journey from pregnancy into parenthood. (See our upcoming events in resources.) We have on-site parking and are well served by public transit. Our building offers a Lifelabs and a Rexall pharmacy and is fully wheelchair & stroller accessible. We look forward to hearing from you, and supporting you through pregnancy, birth, and the early postpartum.