I almost feel guilty telling my birth story. It was nothing like I imagined and everything I had hoped. I was always scared of falling pregnant in fear that I would suffer Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) like my poor sister did or having to have an emergency C-section that she had to accept after labouring for what seemed like days. I'm pretty sure there's an old wives tale that says you'll birth like your mum or sisters?! Although I had a great pregnancy with very little morning sickness and a dream birth, it wasn't the smoothest ride.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first baby girl, I was suffering quite severe stomach and back pain. Only 5 weeks in, I had to have a scan to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. No one knew I was pregnant at that time except my husband, Alex. I went to the scan alone in my lunch break and it was the most vulnerable I've ever been and thank goodness my little bean was safe, healthy and secure in my womb.
At 8 weeks, I got a call from my GP who advised me I was a carrier of the Thalassemia gene and therefore my husband had to be checked too. If he was also a carrier, it could lead to all sorts of fetal complications. I'm sorry what? What even is that?
It took over 6 weeks to get the results back, which seemed like a lifetime. But..we got the all clear and no further testing was required. Speed hump number two over!
We were finally able to share the news and get excited about the time ahead, which seemed short lived. Fast forward to my 20-week scan, and I got a call back from my obstetrician who requested another scan at 24 weeks. They had discovered that the fluid on the baby's brain was at the very top end of "normal" and that it needed to be monitored. This was known as Fetal Ventriculomegaly. I'm pretty sure I can be a doctor now that I know all these terms!
Jokes aside, I was mentally exhausted. Although I felt healthy, it was like I wasn't allowed to enjoy my pregnancy because there was always something to worry about. So at 24 weeks, we had another scan to see that the fluid hadn't increased. An increase would mean intervention, and that's obviously not what we wanted. Although the results showed no increase, there was also no decrease in the fluid which meant further monitoring and another scan at 30 weeks #yipee
As the baby's brain grows, it's expected that the fluid decreases to make room which had not happened yet. By this time, I felt broken. I felt defeated. I was scared of what was ahead and if my baby would come out healthy. At the 30 week scan, we finally got the all clear. There were no signs of growth concerns or defects which is a direct link to Fetal Ventriculomegaly and although no further testing was necessary my obstetrician and I decided to do another scan at 34 weeks. I needed it. I needed to see her and know she definitely was ok. And thankfully she was, all ten fingers and all ten toes!
Given the constant stress of the pregnancy, I didn't have time to think of the birth and wasn't really interested in having a birth plan. I was happy to go with the flow and listen to my body. But of course, amongst all those scans it was discovered at 37 weeks that although bubs was head down, she was still floating very high and not engaged which wasn't too common in first-time pregnancies. Seriously?! What next!
At 40 weeks there was still no progress on her position, she measured very large in the head (thanks husband), and body and my obstetrician advised against trying to birth naturally.
Although I was reluctant and never wanted a planned C-section, I also didn't want to put myself or baby at danger, and so we decided to book in a planned C-section for 40+5.
I went against my gut. Deep down, I was upset. I felt as though I was being weak. I just wanted to try birthing vaginally. I had carried this baby full term and just wanted the opportunity to try.
At 40+3, I was at home standing in the nursery, watching my husband put up the last bookshelf, finally allowing ourselves to get excited to meet her in 2 short days. It was at exactly 12pm in the nursery that I felt like I was peeing my pants. My water broke. Standing in the toilet watching raindrops fall beneath me, I called my obstetrician. She was confident it was my waters, and we planned on meeting in the hospital in an hour. I felt no pain, so naturally, I jumped in the shower, washed and curled my hair and got all glam ready for a C-section #nofilter
Arriving at the hospital close to 2pm, I was admitted, and within minutes I had hands in the most uncomfortable places. Bubs was still sitting high, but my waters had definitely broken with signs of meconium (poo). This meant we didn't have much time, so I begged to be induced and given the opportunity to try. My obstetrician agreed. I was put on the drip to bring on my contractions at 3pm, and if there was little to no progress within 4 hours, I had to have a C-section. I was happy with that. Little did I know what I was in store for. Hold on tight...
My husband called my mum. I had to have both of them with me. I needed my mum, and I think my husband did too. Who knew what marathon we were all in for.
By 3.30pm, my contractions came on hard and FAST. It went from 0 to 100, and I was well and truly in labour. The pain was nothing like I imagined, and for the most part, it was tolerable. In fact, so tolerable that Alex was eating a parma and chips and watching Sunday footy. My only concern was missing the Married at First Sight dinner party!
At 6pm I asked for the gas. It was disgusting, but it was working. Time was passing quickly, and my contractions were too. I was contracting 5 times within 1 minute, but I felt surprisingly good! 7:30pm, in walked my OB. My 4 hour mark was up. I prayed these contractions were working in my favour, and a Csection didn't need to happen. To our surprise, the baby had dropped, and I was 2cm.
My OB said to me that if I was happy to continue, I could. The baby was safe, and things were progressing. I was so relieved but knew that if I was only 2cm, I had a long way to go. I put my hand up for the epidural, knowing it would take at least an hour to get one. So come 8.30pm I was ready to welcome the drugs!
At 8pm, I felt like I wanted to vomit the Nile river. The midwife gave me the sick bag and turned down the gas. I felt so nauseous and yet nothing was coming up. At 8.25pm, the midwife knew my obstetrician and anaesthetist was due any minute, so again the hand went up to check my progress. From between my legs, she looked up with concern "darling, do you feel like you need to poo?... You're 10cm, no epidural for you. I'm calling the OB. It's time to push". I looked at my mum and said: "mum, what the F@#K?!". It was the first time I ever swore in front of her.
I went from 2cm to 10cm in under an hour while watching MAFS. Alex was suddenly a mute. A ghost. Everything had happened so quickly, and quite frankly, I don't think he thought I was strong enough to go on without any drugs. Hell, neither did I.
My focus remained on my obstetrician and midwife. Where ever they moved, my eyes followed. I listened to every word that came out of their mouths And. I. Focused. Bub was crowning, and I got to have my Kardashian moment and feel my baby girls head. It gave me unbelievable motivation, and within the next 2 pushes, I had her out. All I could hear was Alex crying. Til this day he says it was like watching his favourite pub burn down.
6 hours in labour with only 1 hour of active labour, no drugs, no C-section and a perfectly healthy little girl that I pushed out all on my own. I just knew deep down I could do it even though it felt like everything was against me.
7 scans and the endless tears were worth it, and all the stress left my body when she did.