Mila's birth story & her mother's pregnancy journey: raw and very real
I met Mirana and Freddy during the HypnoBirthing course. Curious, joyful, and eager to write their own story.
The story below covers not only the birth of Mila, but also the true emotions that assisted Mirana during her pregnancy:
fear and anxiety over a miscarriage, and later baby health,
curiosity for what comes with becoming a family,
and pure excitement when the date was coming closer.
Reading her story, I felt somewhat drawn to my own memories from almost 7 years ago when I was pregnant with Lily. And I have a feeling that many more mamas may find themselves close to Mirana when reading it.
Thank you Mirana for taking the time and sharing your story with us <3
On 27th of June 2022, I woke up extremely hungry. I’m not a big breakfast person, but that morning I was starving. I went to the shop and bought the weirdest combinations of foods. I put everything from the bag on the dining table and started eating, mixing pickles with fish pate and mayonnaise.
I bought an early pregnancy test that afternoon.
Lo and behold, it was positive and showed that I had been pregnant between 1 and 2 weeks already. My little baby was there.
It took a long time for that information to settle in. I spent the entire first trimester worried sick. I hoped to God that the embryo would develop well. I searched for million examples of what a good 6-week ultrasound is supposed to look like so I can immediately recognize if everything is okay. Every day, I would open page 21 of Expecting Better to check the stats of miscarriage rates per week of gestation. I kept looking at my week number and the percentages dropping, 25%, 15%, 10%… I could not stop worrying about this 5mm long creature.
When the day of the 6th-week ultrasound came, the sun was shining. I was ready. I sat at the table. The midwife turned the lights off and the machinery on. We saw a heartbeat. The embryo was the perfect diamond shape. 'Nothing to worry about', said the midwife. 'Everything looks great.'
9,4% - miscarriage rate at 6 weeks after a detected heartbeat.
I continued worrying until the 13th-week ultrasound. By then, Mila had already developed into a tiny teeny little human. We saw her little arms and legs, counted her toes, checked her heart, brain, lungs, kidneys, and liver… and left the examination room happy. Everything indeed looked great and I finally accepted the fact that I was pregnant and that I would have a little baby. Mila was coming and her due date was the 8th of March 2023.
I was going to have a baby. There was a baby growing inside of me. A baby was on the way. We would have a child. Wow. Freddy and I will be mama and papa. There will be a little human running around. We will have a child. We will be parents. I was pregnant with a human baby. Ok! Great!
Calm mind, at last. My second trimester was glorious. Absolutely heavenly and divine. I felt at peace with the entire universe. So unbelievably calm and relaxed. I was constantly stroking my little bump and explaining to Mila what we were doing, what we were eating, where we were going, and what everything looks and smells like. I was one with my baby. I was growing my own child. The feeling I will never forget and will always want to go back to.
Mila and I did yoga, Mila and I walked a lot, Mila and I worked and cycled Mila and I rested at the end of the day. There was no me without Mila and there was no Mila without me.
Later on, I will realize that this feeling won't change even after she’d leave my body. Whatever I would do, I would do with her or for her. Mila was and continues to be, permanently intertwined with me.
The third trimester was marked by backaches and a giant, huge, enormous belly in front of me. We were waddling around the neighborhood for an hour every day. I felt like a penguin. A penguin preparing for labor.
I frantically washed and folded baby clothes, organized the kitchen, bedroom, wardrobe…
I had multiple to-do lists.
I cooked 3 months' worth of food and froze it.
I took a newborn sleep training course and a breastfeeding course.
I read everything there was and there ever will be about babies.
More importantly, I was obsessively listening to podcasts on natural birth.
My absolute favorite one was a podcast hosted by a Swedish midwife, The Natural Birth Podcast, educating women on birth and everything surrounding the beautiful process of laboring and birthing your own child.
I was excited beyond words about this event and wanted to experience labor badly. I was so curious about what it would feel like to push a tiny baby outside of me. How long it would last, what sensations I would feel, and would it really be that painful?
I was about to transition from maiden to mother and I was so ready for it.
Planning for birth
I planned to give birth at home in a birthing pool. I knew that my only job was to relax and stay calm, letting my body do what it was made to do. It grew my baby without my help and it could deliver my baby without my help as well. I only needed to allow it to perform without interference. Without fear. Without panic. Completely calm.
Also, knowing how difficult it is for me to relax in new surroundings, I realized that the hospital would probably be the worst place for me to give birth in. I could not imagine staying calm under LED lights, with strangers walking around, expecting progress. I wanted my baby to enter this world as peacefully as possible, without any trauma and without anyone poking her with cold hands. I wanted her to immediately know that she is safe and at home with her mum and dad.
Getting closer to the due date
For the last 5 weeks of pregnancy, I’d been experiencing Braxton Hicks every evening, immediately after nightfall. My body was preparing. Mila was positioning. My cervix was thinning.
The 8th of March came and passed, but Mila was not ready yet. The 15th of March came and passed and Mila was still quite shy. 17th of March came, together with the midwife, who performed a membrane sweep on me, hoping to induce labor naturally so we can avoid going to the hospital. The sweep worked.
I started having contractions at around 16.00h in the afternoon of 17th of March and I decided to completely ignore them, thinking they were simply a small reaction to the membrane sweep or perhaps again an episode of Braxton Hicks. In any case, nothing to reck my brain about yet. Instead, I went to Albert Heijn for a big weekly shopping, pushing the supermarket trolley around the vegetable stands, contracting away and ignoring the pain.
The day before, I had made a big batch of beef bone broth so I was eager to make a nice, healthy soup (which turned out to be a perfect post-delivery meal). I was chopping onions and leeks and carrots and making tiny meatballs from leftover hamburger minced meat.
Birth story: the shy start of labor
While the soup was boiling, I decided to start tracking the contractions. It seemed as if they had a certain rhythm. They were approximately 5 minutes apart and lasted around 30 seconds. Nothing to worry about, I thought, and suggested to Freddy that we go for a long walk with the dog.
It was Friday evening and he had finished work around 18.00h. We fed the dog, ate a bowl of, soup, and left the house around 19.00h. We decided to have a very long, relaxing walk, holding hands. If it was indeed labor in question, we figured that walking was the best thing to help the baby position properly and speed things along. We were correct.
Contractions were increasing during the walk. The entire sky was pink. It was a beautiful evening with just the three of us. I could hear the wheels turning in both Freddy's and my head. We could finally meet our baby tonight. The contractions were around 3 minutes apart and they lasted between 30 and 40 seconds. I could walk through most of them, but for some, I needed to stop to breathe them out.
I really craved labor and hoped the contractions would stick around. We walked for around 5kms and at the end of the walk, I needed to stop and hold onto Freddy to manage the pain.
When we came home, we started preparing everything.
We had stations of labor circuit set up around the living room, following the guidelines of our Hypnobirthing course.
Freddy inflated the pool,
and I was bouncing on the Pilates ball,
listening to the labor meditation I’ve been practicing throughout the pregnancy.
We made tea and sat on the couch. Suddenly, the contractions slowed down. They started coming only 7 minutes apart and they didn’t last so long. There we go, I thought, yet another false alarm. I decided it was best that we go to bed and call it a night. I was tired of constant false alarms and didn't want to get my hopes up.
We went to bed and slept for one full hour. The pain wouldn’t let me sleep.
I stayed in bed for a bit longer, hoping the contractions would go away, but stubborn little buggers stuck around. I got up, had a shower, and brushed my teeth. I started making noise during the contractions.
Birth story: not a false alarm anymore
I didn’t want to wake up Freddy, but the noise woke him up regardless. I saw on his face that he was getting serious. The game was on. I still wasn’t particularly bothered by it as I could still cope with contractions easily. I thought we were in for a long run. Who knows how long this would last? It could be days!
I returned to the pilates ball and my meditation. The contractions were 2 minutes apart and lasted 1 full minute. Freddy insisted that we call the midwife. I refused. Freddy insisted that we fill up the pool. I refused. He then packed the hospital bag and the car seat in the car, just in case. I didn’t care. 'Do whatever you want'. I needed to stay calm.
During every contraction, he would run back to me and lean his cheek on my cheek. He would kiss me and repeat that I am doing a great job. I would forget everything around me at that moment. It was so beautiful to have him so close and feel so much love. I could not wait to meet our baby. I was breathing deeply through every contraction.
Until one contraction came that was so powerful that I could neither control my breathing nor utter a single word. I realized it would be a good time to call the midwife at that moment. It was 02.00h in the morning. Freddy started filling the birthing pool.
The midwife came in 15 minutes and checked how dilated I was. I was already 5 centimeters open. Great news, I thought, definitely not a false alarm! We decided that it would be good to get into the pool.
From that moment onwards, I do not remember many details or how the time went by. I had contractions more and more often and they lasted longer and longer. They were overwhelmingly powerful. I needed Freddy’s closeness for every single one of them.
The midwife sat on the couch and was filling out some paperwork. How great that she didn’t arrive sooner, I thought. Having a stranger with you at the most intimate moment of your life seemed inappropriate. I did not think much else in those moments. I noticed that Freddy spilled some water from the pool hose in the kitchen. And that was it. I was not aware of anything else happening around me. I completely surrendered myself to the contractions and the pain. I was breathing through all of them and enjoying Freddy’s presence. The next day I will find out that quite a lot of preparation went into setting up my home birth. My husband did 10.000 steps in our living room that night! I did not notice a single thing.
Around 04.00h, I was 10 centimeters open and the midwife broke my waters as she noticed during the cervix exam that Mila defecated in the amniotic fluid. We could not wait much longer and we needed to prevent infection. The baby needed to come out as soon as possible.
Birth story: birthing phase
That didn’t seem to be a problem as my body started to push her out as soon as the waters were broken. I went back into the pool and felt that my uterus was contracting in a new way as if it was trying to push Mila out. I decided to go along with it. I was helping and pushing with every contraction as much as I could.
The pain which I experienced in those moments was not something I can currently remember. I recall that the sensation was so unbelievably and incredibly strong, but I cannot remember what it felt like.
I remember thinking that I was unable to do it. I remember feeling desperate. I remember wishing that I’d taken a painkiller. I so desperately wanted that baby to go outside of me. Mila was passing through the birth canal and I could feel her head turning and moving downwards. I screamed. I groaned. I behaved like an animal. I did not want Freddy or anyone else close to me. I was hot. I was boiling. I focused all of my power on every contraction and pushed as hard as I could. I didn’t know that it was possible to feel so weak and so strong at the same time. In the photos that which midwife took, I saw that Freddy was leaning on the pool and gazing at what Mila and I were doing. He was in some sort of awe.
Birth story: welcome little baby
After 40 minutes of pushing, at 04:40h we saw our 3,850kg baby. Mila came out. She was extremely calm.
The midwife put her on my chest and Mila and I looked at each other. 'Kako si lijepa!' I exclaimed in Croatian, telling her how beautiful she is. She had beautiful big eyes and the cutest round head.
She was just looking at me and I was looking at her.
I would go through that pain countless times, over and over again, if it meant I could relieve that moment one more time. The moment I finally kissed my firstborn in her perfect little face.