All births are special, but perhaps none quite so moving as the birth of rainbow baby Fíadh Boyle, who came into the world two years after her stillborn brother, Aodhán.
Mum’s Grapevine expert, Hypnobirthing Practitioner Stacey Astley-Clark was lucky enough to guide Gillian McCaughey through her second pregnancy, and witness the re-birth of a mother.
Childbirth can be scary for anyone, but it’s hard to imagine how a mother who’d experienced the horror of losing their baby could ever face labour again. In this situation, most of us would surely surrender to fear and shut down until it’s all over.
Not Gillian McCaughey. Gillian is one of the bravest women I’ve ever encountered in my time as a childbirth educator. Driven by the intensity of love for her babies, Gillian found a way to transform the trauma of her first birth into unwavering strength – a strength that enabled her to birth consciously and meet her little girl in a state of calm, connection and beauty. I had the honour of supporting Gillian and her partner Kevin during their pregnancy when they took a private Hypnobirthing class with me.
This is their story.
Fíadh Boyle – the Hypnobirth rainbow baby
“When I discovered I was pregnant I was thrilled beyond belief, but at the same time grieving for the baby boy I’d lost two years prior, who would never get to meet his siblings. I was thankful to get a second chance but it was a real mix of emotions. Understandably, my biggest fears were losing this baby too, and I was dreading labour for fear something would go wrong. I couldn’t relax and woke every morning thinking ‘yes we have survived another day!’
“I’d never heard of Hypnobirthing until a former colleague, Stacey (who’s now a Hypnobirthing Australia™ practitioner) suggested it might be a helpful way to eliminate my fears. I began researching and it seemed like Hypnobirthing might help me feel more mindful and positive during my pregnancy. I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical at first because I’m not really what you would call Mother Earth! And a few people told me that I was crazy and should take all the meds I can get, but I wanted this birth to be as different as possible to the terrifying, medicalised experienced I’d had previously.”
“The course itself was transformational for us both. Discovering a whole new language to describe labour and removing the word ‘pain’ from our vocabulary made such a difference to our perception and experience of birth. By the time I was full term, my doubts were gone. I was ready and felt empowered to trust my body to do what it was built to do.
“On New Year’s Eve I felt contractions the entire day but they were more like bad period pains. When my waters broke at 2.30am, I still felt so calm. I just kept breathing and riding the waves of pressure as I’d learnt in class. I was seven centimetres dilated when I arrived at the birth centre and got into the shower. My midwife was about to start running the birthing pool, but it was already too late.
“The pressure was intensifying so I got onto all fours on a floor mat and birthed my little girl. It was just as I’d imagined, It was very quick and calm, the two most important things for me. So quick that I didn’t even have time to put batteries in my TENS machine! What really amazed me was how strong and in control I was on the day. I honestly feel like I can do anything now! I can’t think of a better start to motherhood and I’m loving every minute with our precious little girl.”
What an incredible triumph over fear and loss – such a beautiful birth story. Be sure to read about the mum who says Hypnobirthing helped her give birth in the car.