This is such a beautiful journey of birth. One truly worth celebrating. My time spent with Amy and her family will never be forgotten and the joy I felt when I knew she had a gentle and empowering birth experience was immense. I decided to ask Amy a series of questions in relation to her story.
Her beautiful words...
Tell me a little about your family, how many children you have and your story so far?
I have a very interesting family - 3 babies of my own (Jarrah, Juniper and Jaguar), one 26 year-old stepdaughter and 2 grand babies! I actually became a ‘grandmother’ before I had my own biological children and before I was 30 years old!
I started dating my husband, Jase, when I was 22, so I became a very young stepmother to his daughter, Jess. Jess and I have a super close relationship and it feels like she’s always been family. Our babies are all pretty much one year apart and I love that Jess had her babies early as we will be apart of their lives for such a long time.
I looked after Jess’s first baby, Willow, a lot when she was a baby and it was then that I realised that I would like to have my own babies. When Jase and I first met I didn’t want children! Crazy to think that I have three of my own now and could probably keep going forever!
Are there any more babies on the horizon?
Sadly I don’t think so. I think that I’m probably one of those women that may never feel ‘done’. But Jase is definitely done with four of his own.
I feel like I discovered my true self when I became a mother. Before I was a mum i worked in an office as an environmental scientist, always working on stressful jobs with strict deadlines and I never felt good enough in those roles. When I had Jarrah something in me changed and I have never looked back. I became more confident and feel like I finally found something that I loved and was good at (being a mum).
When you found out you were pregnant, what was important for you when choosing a photographer? What was it you were drawn to?
I chose you as my photographer because I had recently listened to your birth stories on the Mount Isa Birth Stories Podcast and loved how you described your pregnancies and births. I wanted a photographer who was passionate about birth and pregnancy and motherhood and I just knew from your podcast interview that you were really into those things! In addition, I had been following your work since we moved to Mount Isa and I loved the way you photographed - I loved the naturalness of your pictures and the lighting was always amazing.
Did you choose any alternative support systems throughout your pregnancy? What shaped this decision?
Yes I did! At the beginning of my pregnancy with Jaguar, I was planning on birthing in Mount Isa. After my first obstetrician appointment (compulsory appointment to see if I was eligible for the Midwifery Group Program), I decided that I needed some extra support if I had any chance of having a birth remotely close to what I wanted in town. So I enlisted the help of the beautiful Larni from Sage Birthing. Larni is the towns doula and I knew that I needed an educated third party woman in my corner to help me achieve an intervention-free birth which is what I wanted.
When I was around 20 weeks pregnant I decided after having multiple chats with my hubby, Larni and a private midwife from the Sunshine Coast, that I would not be able to achieve my dream birth in town and decided to have a home birth at the Sunshine Coast with the private midwife I had been chatting with.
Also because of COVID I would have only been allowed Jase and maybe Larni with me for the birth. I desperately wanted my two girls present because birth is a family event and I felt like they needed to be there during the birth to see their baby brother or sister brought into this world. I also really wanted this birth photographed, knowing that it was my last birth - I wanted it memorialised and if I had birthed here I wouldn’t have been able to have them present or a photographer.
Even though I was no longer birthing in town, Larni and I still had regular sessions which I 100% believe helped prepare me for my upcoming homebirth. Things that we did in our sessions included fear release and letting go of my previous traumatic birth experiences, meditation, meal prepping so I was prepared when we came back from the Sunshine Coast with a newborn and labor preparation with myself and my husband.
What would you say the most important aspect of planning for birth/home birth is?
I think the most important planning aspect would have to be to make sure that you yourself are mentally prepared and ready for a home birth. Logistics were pretty easy to sort out (hiring a house, Jase taking time off work, the mammoth drive), it was me that needed lots of work!
Personally I had to do a lot of work dealing with and moving on from my previous traumatic birth experiences (emergency Caesarian with my first; and episiotomy and vacuum delivery with the second). I believe if I had held onto my emotions still connected with those births I would not have had the determination or confidence to know that I had the ability to birth naturally and freely without medical intervention. Self-doubt is a killer and I really believe that what you put out into the universe is your reality. If I had thought during the birth of Jaguar that I was unable to birth naturally and needed to be at the hospital then I probably would not have been able to have the amazing birth that I did! It took a lot of self-work for me to realise that I was definitely capable and made for birthing my baby.
How would you describe your birth experience?
It was freaking amazing. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to give birth at home and have my other children there. It was so good to not stress about having my bag and everything packed for the hospital and getting to the hospital. It felt completely right.
Having a space ready for the birth in the house we were staying in really helped me visualise and be comfortable with my surroundings before the birth. I was surrounded by beautiful plants that I had chosen, candles, fairy lights, pictures of my family (that Renee had taken during my pregnancy), drawings by my children and affirmations that meant something to me. I felt completely comfortable in the space as I had made it my own and I think that really helped me relax into the labor, which was relatively short (4 hours total).
Having access to a birth pool in my home was also so incredible and not something I would have had access to in Mount Isa. The surges were definitely dulled in the water and having my baby emerge from a liquid environment in my womb to a pool filled with water made so much sense to me. Just chilling in the pool after the birth with my whole family (the girls both jumped in as well) was also so special and felt so right.
Not having to share a room with anyone else or being checked every thirty minutes by a different nurse each time was also awesome and just being able to be with my family without those interruptions or unfamiliar environments or people was incredible and so natural.
The birth of Jaguar was also incredibly healing. Birth lasts with you forever, the birth of your children is something you will never forget and it not only affects you but affects your children as well. I no longer have any negative emotions associated with my previous births. I now accept them for what they were and feel like I can finally move on without wondering what would have happened if I had done things differently. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted and I no longer feel like I’m responsible for the birth experiences that I had with the girls.
If you were to birth again, what would you do differently?
I would stress less! I think I was so intent on having my dream birth in a home environment that I made myself so paranoid that something would happen to f**k it all up. I literally got tested for everything as I believed I had symptoms of conditions that would not allow me to birth at home. Looking back now I wish that I would have relaxed more and believed that my body and baby knew exactly what they were doing and wanted the dream birth to happen as much as my me!
What is your advice for any first time mamas who are feeling nervous/anxious about birth?
Your body knows exactly what it is doing. We as women are made for the purposes of carrying children and giving birth. Question everything and do your research if you are uncertain about something or feel like you are being coerced into something that doesn’t feel right. Your intuition is everything! Don’t forget that you are in control, your body and your baby are yours.
I would also highly recommend making sure that you have a very strong support system. And get a doula! Having Larni in my corner was amazing and she really helped me work through my anxieties and nerves. If you’re feeling anxious or nervous sometimes it helps so much to talk to someone outside of your family who is able to see the problem objectively and offer you knowledgeable advice without having any agenda other than wanting the best outcome for you and your baby.
Motherhood is life. My world revolves around my children, and my children have made me the woman that I am today. I had children because I want to be with them, I want to care for for them all of time and nothing makes me happier than knowing that I am always available and there for my babies whenever they need me. It gets tough sometimes and there are times when I definitely need my space but I am so lucky to have an amazing husband who is more than happy to look after the three kids so I can get that. Motherhood changed me for the better and I would never long for the life that I once had, I am perfectly and ecstatically happy being exactly where I am now.
Birth Photography by none other than Melissa Jean Photography
~ A huge thank you to Melissa for allowing us to share her powerful images ~
And to Amy, may your story empower others