As the sun rose one morning in late 2012, I gave birth to our son Charlie Reuben in a beautiful and relaxed birth at home. He was the first baby for my man, Brendan and I - and our first son after three daughters from previous relationships - and we were totally smitten.
Almost from the moment I gave birth to Charlie, I knew I wanted another baby. His birth had been so positive and empowering (completely different to my first hospital experience) that I was hooked.
The fertility Gods must have been smiling as I got my period again only six weeks after giving birth (SIX WEEKS!). And sure enough, just three months after Charlie was born, I was pregnant again. Totally unplanned and totally shocked, but we were very happy.(Important side note: exclusively breast feeding is NOT a contraceptive!)
But this pregnancy was tough.
Between breastfeeding Charlie, sleepless nights, and nourishing our newly-growing babe, I was totally exhausted. My poor, pregnant body was really suffering.
I experienced extreme fatigue, breathlessness, varicose veins, heart ultrasounds, blood clots, and very low iron. I knew this would be my last baby.
As my pregnancy neared it's end I was oh-so-ready to birth my babe so I could start rebuilding my body again.
Having experienced two pregnancies that went past their due dates, I have learned how arbitrary these dates are and now prefer to focus on a 'due month'.
I had some labour acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments once I reached full-term and remember my chiropractor saying that I was 'ripe and ready'. She predicted that our babe would be born in the next 24 hours and sure enough, just 10 hours later I was finding it uncomfortable to sit and eat dinner.
My mum was staying with us so once the kids were in bed, I went for a walk with Brendan to try and ease my niggling pains.
We walked slowly for up to an hour whilst I experienced some mild, irregular twinges. I remember saying, 'Isn't it amazing to think that a whole new human could be coming in to our world tonight?' and stopping to breathe in the sweet spring air.
As we neared home, my contractions were getting closer and whilst I had to stop walking to breathe through them, I could still talk and so figured they were probably only Braxton Hicks contractions.
Once home, I decided to time my contractions whilst Brendan watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
So there I was, breathing deeply in our bedroom, to the sounds of squishy Zombies - how romantic!
After about 20 minutes, he came to check on me, took one look at my breathing and rang the midwives.
The amazing, wise women from MAMA who had been my primary carers throughout both Charlie's pregnancy and this one, bustled into our house within the hour and made themselves at home.
They checked on me without interrupting my labour - subtle fetal heartbeat monitoring, no internal exams, and respecting my need for dim lights, quiet and privacy.
I was swaying through my contractions, and I distinctly remember hearing one of my midwives tell me how beautifully I was bringing my baby down.
It was exactly what I needed to hear. I felt strong and feminine and absolutely amazing.
Brendan firmly massaged my hips to help with the contractions. The pressure of his hands as he squeezed my hips made me float.
Candlelight illuminated our bedroom and meditative music flowed quietly in the background. I was on fire - every fibre of my being was engaged.
Another wave started and I focused on the build-up, breathing deep, surrendering to the intensity, riding, riding, riding, and then… throwing my head back, moaning out loud, and letting go.
The sounds emitting from my body were animalistic, sensual, and orgasmic. I couldn't speak. I was high and loving it. It felt like a total birthing goddess experience!
As the intensity picked-up another notch, my midwife suggested I move to the shower to provide some relief, and it sounded great to me. I walked through the house, smiling at my mum and the trainee Midwife on the way.
The shower was bliss. Super hot water drummed down on my lower back and I was soon in my birthing zone, bringing my baby earth-side.
My midwife asked if I wanted to get on all fours on the bathroom floor but there wasn't time. With one strong contraction our babe was born.
Still in the caul - her waters hadn't broken yet - she was born straight into the arms of her dad and our midwife. She came into the world just two and a half hours after we returned home from our walk.
She was passed through my legs and I walked to the couch holding her closely. We settled down and stared in awe at this amazing creature who soon latched on for a breastfeed.
Her older brother and sister woke up with the excitement and came to introduce themselves and inform us 'it's a girl!'.
Our breath-taking Frankie Winter was here.
After birthing the placenta (which I saved for encapsulating) and having a shower, my beautiful midwives had performed their checks, tidied up, given us all a kiss, a hug and a cup of tea, and were on their way home for a sleep.
We snuggled up in bed, a newly expanded family, smelling the sweet scent of our beautiful babe, and fell into a deep blissful sleep. A definite rockstar birth experience.
And before you ask… yes, we have learned to use contraceptives much more effectively this time. With only 12 months between our youngest babes, we aren't taking any chances!
Written by Shalome Doran
Shalome Doran is a passionate believer in women and babies birthing naturally together. Having a highly-medicalised hospital birth and two sensational home births taught Shalome of the importance of putting the trust back into her innate ability to birth.
Shalome works with pregnant mothers to replace their fear of pain with the skills to roar their baby out - by creating their own informed, empowered and amazing birth experience.
You can find Shalome at Rockstar Birth