My first pregnancy was easy, so easy in fact, that I didn't even KNOW I was pregnant.
My birth story, though, was not so easy. At the ripe age of 19-years-old, I was living up my summer with my friends, going out, going to the beach or swimming in pools, going to clubs, drinking, smoking - all normal things a teenager would be doing in summer.
On the 17th of February, 2013, on a Sunday morning, my sweet life changed forever. I had been out the night before watching a friend play at a club, and the next morning I did not feel right. I was in so much pain. The pain felt like hip cramps; they would come and go and were getting worse and worse. It was at this point I asked my friend to drive me to the hospital. The closest one to us at the time was The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne's CBD. By the time we got to the emergency department, I could barely walk.
The day is still such a blur. I honestly don't remember everything that happened that day, and I think a lot of that is due to post-traumatic stress, so I have blocked a lot of it out.
On arrival, the nurse asked me what was wrong, and I said that I felt like I needed to go to the toilet, but when I sat down to try, nothing happened. They then proceeded to ask me to a whole bunch of questions, one of which was "could you pregnant?", and the next thing I remember is someone telling me "you're 8cm dilated! You're having a baby!" At this point, so many things went running through my mind: "am I dreaming? Please don't tell my Mum. How can I be having a baby? It must be really small. I must be having a miscarriage."
The labour was hard, and I was utterly unprepared. The most I knew about birth was from sex education at school, and even then I'm pretty sure I left the room during the video of a woman giving birth. Thankfully, they had a midwife working in another part of the hospital, and she was rushed down to help me. It was too late for pain relief, so I remember being offered the gas, though I don't know how well I used it while not knowing what I was doing. The labour only went for about an hour once they realised what was happening and then a perfect little boy was delivered. He was 2.94kgs or 6p 4o if you prefer the older terms.
Like I said earlier, the entire day was a blur. After I had given birth, my friend who took me to the hospital was allowed to visit, and he was just as shell shocked as me. I remember swearing him to secrecy. I had not given the hospital permission to call my emergency contacts, because I was terrified to speak to my parents. They moved my baby boy and me into an ambulance to transfer us to the Royal Women's Hospital. I still had not held him at this point. I remember being taken into a private room and wonderful lady named Bree, who was a social worker, came in to speak with me. It was at this point I held my perfect little boy for the first time. Bree asked if the hospital could call my parents, but I still wasn't ready. I ended up messaging a close friend of mine to come and see me in the hospital and to bring me some comfy clothes. All I had with me were the clothes I wore the night before, my phone, purse and a phone charger. When Carla arrived, the first thing she said was "whose baby is that?". To which I remember saying "you won't believe the morning I've had!"
I remember being asked lots of questions like "didn't you stop getting your period?" No, I did not. It wasn't regular, but I still got periods. "Didn't you look pregnant?" No, I did not. I was swimming the day before in bikinis and didn't look any different. "Didn't you feel the baby move?" No, I did not. Considering he would have been crammed in there he wouldn't have had much room to move. Also, anything I may have felt I would have just put down to being a bit gassy that day. "Have you drank alcohol while pregnant?" Yes, I had. "Was I a regular smoker?" Yes, I smoked every day, and the list went on. I felt so terrible for some of the things I had done, but the staff were so lovely in reminding me that I was doing the right thing now.
I was gladly letting them perform all the necessary tests on him that they could since we had never been to any maternity check-ups. They checked him out from top to bottom, and the worst thing he had was slight jaundice, which is extremely common.
Eventually, between Bree, Carla and I, we wrote a little speech up for my parents. Carla called my Mum and delivered it to her. It was something along the lines of me being in the hospital and not wanting them to worry, but I had had a baby, and I needed them to come and see me. My Mum thought we were pulling a prank until I got on the phone and cried for her to come and help me. I swear my dad must have got a few speeding tickets that day because they arrived from Melbourne's outer suburbs into the CBD in record time. Once again, I don't remember a lot of what happened after this.
The first photo I ever took of "Baby Thomson" (this is what the hospital had labelled him at this point) was taken that night. I was alone for the first time in what felt like years after being surrounded by family, nurses and doctors all day and I was holding this tiny baby and trying to get my head around what had happened. At this point, I knew I had to contact his father, who I had been dating for around ten months on and off. I messaged him saying that I was in the hospital and asked him to come and meet me the next day. I didn't tell him why as I didn't think it was something you could say over message.
He came the next morning, and when I met him outside and told him what had happened, he cried and was just as worried as I was. He agreed to come inside and meet the baby, but he knew his parents would not be anywhere near as understanding as mine were as there were cultural factors for him to consider. As predicted, they were furious and put me through many struggles over the next few months. From demanding paternity tests, refusing to sign the birth certificate, offering me "compensation" to make the situation go away and refusing for a long time to pay child support. I was given a choice to offer my baby up for adoption and even had a social worker come and explain to me how it works. After speaking with my parents, who completely encouraged me to keep him (they have always been the best parents and support person a child could ask for), I ended up going home from the hospital a week later and taking home my son who I named Elijah Stephen Thomson.
When I got home, I deleted all forms of social media for over a month and slowly in that time introduced him to close and trusted family and friends. When I did eventually announce what had happened, I was met with a lot of distrust and anger. People were telling me "It's not funny to joke about this" and "How could you not know? That's not possible". It was hard to take, but I had also completely expected it. There was also a lot of love and many more people who were there to support me. Looking back now, I still wouldn't change a thing because I know I am so lucky to have a happy and healthy son. Elijah is now six-years-old and in grade one at school. He is a thriving perfect little boy, and he has a heart of gold. Elijah and his father have a great relationship, and I think we do a great job co-parenting. It took many years and lots of communication to get where we are today, but we all work together to give Elijah the best life possible.
I met Ben when Elijah was six months old, and we are now married and so happy with our little family. We have another little boy called Rylan, who is about to turn two, and we love watching him and Elijah grow up together.
My second pregnancy was nothing like my first. Ben and I decided to try for a second baby because while he had been a step-father to Elijah since he was six months old, he always said he wanted another child of his own. When I was pregnant the second time, I was very strict, and I quit smoking and did not drink at all. I still had periods for the first four or so months, and I didn't really end up growing a belly until around 30 weeks. I delivered Rylan at 40 weeks and one day and was induced due to loss of movement in my baby. It turned out my placenta had partially ruptured from the wall of my womb, and if I hadn't been induced that night, it was possible we could have lost our second little boy. Thankfully, he was born naturally and again a swift labour but nowhere near as traumatising as my first experience. I also got to tick off a personal accomplishment, which was successfully breastfeeding Rylan for just over a year. It was something I mentally could not get my head around with Elijah and something I really wanted to achieve with Rylan. I believe that "informed is best" and as long as you are making the right decisions for yourself and your baby, then you are doing the right thing.