It’s taken me 4 month to write this, I have had no idea where to start. I have struggled with putting my story out there because honestly, it is a very successful birthing story and I would hate to be perceived to be bragging. All the birth stories I have read are mostly about over coming challenges and adversity during the birth, whereas for me the hardest thing I’ve done was this pregnancy.
I have given myself a lot of time to reflect on the experience as a whole and what was “rockstar” about it. Perception is a wonderful tool and as cliché as it could ever sound, I felt, and still feel, so empowered by the process and what the female body will tolerate. Birth blows my mind! Here is my story…
To me, the pregnancy and birth are two completely separate events in my head, I haven’t gotten to a point mentally where they merge. Simply put, I hated the pregnancy and loved my birthing experience. But hey, one does not come without the other and post-baby it now amazes me how strong our bodies are. I am utterly in awe and completely grateful for the gift of my child. Nonetheless whilst living it, it was hard, it was painful and it simply sucked!
I always heard that I needed to be grateful that we were pregnant. But it was a tough place mentally to be completely over something [the pregnancy] but know that it is better for your little baby to keep soldering on, playing it week by week, blood test after blood test. I am beyond thankful for the supportive team at Flinders Medical Centre as they supported my wishes to “let’s just see what happens this week” up until 38 weeks’ gestation. I trusted the decision to have an induction completely (it came with such a relief). I completely trusted the hands I was in and was total ready to have the pregnancy side closing… and to meet my little man!
You see, I was born with gastroschisis, I have had multiple major abdominal and gynaecological surgeries so not only was my ability to conceive questioned but even more so my ability to carry full term, I knew this was going to be hard – I didn’t realise how hard. We conceived naturally after some time of trying – tick for defying expectations there. At about 15 weeks I could feel scar tissue moving and pulling. I’m not going to lie, from that point pregnancy was rather uncomfortable and painful. Being so early every little thing had me on edge, I questioned every feeling, every pain.
Scans all indicated that my little man was growing well despite how I was feeling. At 25 weeks, I developed a bowel obstruction and from then onwards I felt as though the world was against me and my body. Bloods came back for anaemia requiring multiple iron infusions. I developed tachycardia which played havoc on my low blood pressure. And from 28 weeks I was put on Maternity Leave after syncope episodes whilst driving (a result of my high heart rate). Not only did my “work” stop all of a sudden, I also wasn’t allowed to drive due to the fainting incident. I had developed varicose veins and could barely move from the bedroom to the toilet without burning intense pain. I felt horrendous.
It was a tough reality to face. I cried most days, I cried from frustration, I cried from pain, but mostly I cried because this was meant to be an amazing time in my life and I wished so badly for it to ‘just be over’.
This all coincided with the purchase of our new home, I felt totally helpless on move in day, I moved on the couch and that is where I stayed. Over the next two weeks I was getting severe headaches on my right side and my partner noticed the side of my face had dropped. I was flown to our capital city (750km away) as my local doctor wanted to rule out a stroke, but thankfully I was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. My body was clearly under huge stress. The medical team requested I stay in Adelaide until the birth with weekly obstetric check-ups. Surely nothing else could go wrong. At 35 weeks, I developed cholestasis of pregnancy, with medication and regular blood tests, this was monitored until the bile acid levels increased again at 37+ weeks.
I know we are meant to aim for 40-42 weeks, but after everything when 38 weeks come around a huge weight was lifted – full term!!! I was so super proud of myself, in awe of how strong my body was! We went the hospital for the induction. The following morning I had progressed to 4cm, and it was time to break my waters. I had no idea that it would hurt (now laughing at this of course, it hurts). My partner went home and I got “comfortable” in bed. Holy moly…
I was terrified about labouring, I was terrified about labour resulting in a caesarean section. I had a session for hypnobirthing, I had read the Rockstar Birth Magazines and Blog. I has perused different articles and advice pieces to assist with getting through that barrier if I needed a caesarean section. (Note: due to my medical and surgical history, a section was not something myself or the obstetrician had wanted, but we needed to discuss it and have a plan. We had decided to have this delivery at a tertiary hospital on the chance any bowel surgery was required.) I had my plan how to focus, pain management options, labouring techniques. Ready to go!
8.30am, 6cm to go! You got this!
My first contraction was at 9:30am, I remember thinking wow yeah there we go! It did not take long until I needed pain management – so soon I thought? It’s going to be a tough day! The syntocinon had kicked it into full gear somewhere in between 9:30am and 10:30am and the contractions began to be back to back, and extremely intense. The hypno breathing techniques were the ONLY thing I can credit to getting through each one. Together with the gas mouth piece, they became my focal point! I just kept thinking how I couldn’t do this for hours and hours.
My partner thought he would help distract me from the pain and just before one of the contractions he pinched my leg, I lost my focus, I lost my breathing pattern… I was on my way to losing my shit! Thanks for the thought babe, imagine if a simple pinch to the leg could distract a labouring women’s pain! My body knew exactly what needed to be done, the contractions were happening that closely and intensely, the syntocin was turned off. Casually the obstetrician popped in, mentioned that if I wanted to consider an epidural that the Anaesthetist was on the ward. Hell yes! I need one, this was intense, I completely doubted my ability to get through the day and get through this labour I wanted that epidural sorted ASAP. It was roughly 11.30am.
Up until this stage it was the midwife, a very quiet medical student and my partner, in the room with me. It was perfect, small chit chat between them, no anxiety just peace. I had invited my mum who was making her way up there, but being my first she popped by the shops first! When mum walked in, I lost it. I cried and had to tell her how much it hurt (she’s had four children) and then it was back to business seconds later. I really felt it in my bottom, I couldn’t labour on my back which made the epidural pool to my right side only, but I was reassured it was just the way the baby was laying. The Midwife did a vaginal examination as the catheter required inserting. I remember thinking ‘Please be half way, please be 5 centimetres… please, please, please.’
“You are fully dilated, we will do hand over, set up for delivery and then you can get started on pushing” … err wait what?
1:30pm – how weird is learning how to push? The midwives were amazing, my mum was amazing, but mostly my partner was superman amazing… and eventually I had this my “push” thing going for me and it was doing something fast! I did the cliché “I can’t do this anymore” I was reassured that he was “right there”, but I was convinced I was being lied to!
They weren’t lying… my beautiful Jake was born at 2:13pm. I’m a damn Rockstar!! On my labour and delivery discharge notes labour took 3 hours and 48 minutes!
Four months later, I look at this beautiful baby boy’s smile and the pregnancy is totally worth every minute as difficult as it was, and the labour still blows my mind.
Now over to you… Are you ready to rock your birth, Rockstar?
* To read more inspiring induction stories, bring your amazing womb over here:
* To prepare for your own incredible birth experience, you’ll find everything you need at the interactive Rock Your Birth Academy. Four+ weeks of uplifting, informative, evidence-based actions for you to rock your birth on your terms with me right by your side. Let’s DO this! x